Copyright © 2010, Lorin Friesen
This book is a Programmer’s Guide to the Mind. In it, we will attempt to do two things: We will try to explain how the mind works, and we will also show how a person can make it operate more effectively. If we compare the task of developing the mind to that of taking a journey, then this volume could be described as a combination road map and tourist guide.
While there are many similarities between a brain and an electronic computer, there are also several factors which make the human ‘computer’ unique: First of all, it is rather large. The electronic chips which are contained in the computers of the 1990s are constructed from flat little squares of silicon, no bigger than postage stamps. In contrast, the human thinking apparatus is a three pound, three-dimensional, solid chunk of neurons and interconnections. The average human brain contains about one hundred billion neurons and around one hundredtrillion connections. Compare this to today’s computer chip with its total of about ten million transistors, and you can understand why, at present, we have about sufficient technology to simulate the brain of a slug.[A]
Unlike computers which are made from silicon, the human mind is not just a conglomeration of mathematical calculations and dry logic. Rather, it feels as well as thinks, it has a personal interest in its surroundings, it makes friends—and enemies, and it has both a self and a self-image. All of these factors will be included in our analysis of human thought.
Those of you who work with computers have discovered that computer manuals generally fall into one of three categories: User’s guides, Reference manuals, and Programmer’s guides. A User’s guide is for the person who says, “I do not want to know how this gadget works, just tell me how to use it.” I suggest that bookstores are full of User’s guides for the mind, each containing a few nuggets of wisdom aimed at helping us to use our minds more effectively. This book is not a User’sguide.
What you will be reading is also not a Reference Manual. These are deep, heavy tomes full of specialized words which plunge into the depths of the machine, never to return to the surface of normal speech and everyday life. They deal with theoretical questions such as interrupt levels, capacitive loading and assembly language. These volumes seem to forget that the computer is also a tool which is used by the average person in daily life. I have done my share of reading the specialized literature of neurology and engineering and sometimes it appears as if some of those writers have gills for breathing apparatus, for they never ‘come up for air.’
What I have put together is a Programmer’s Guide to the Mind. It is designed for the individual willing to take the effort to understand and to program his mind in order to develop it to its maximum potential. What I will be presenting in this book is a new theory of mind and personality based in years of original research. Most of the material which you will be reading has not been published before. While theories cannot be learned overnight, especially ones about the human mind, I have done my best to make the information as readable as possible. You will not need a knowledge of advanced mathematics or esoteric logic to grasp this material. An ability to think rationally, combined with a good dose of common sense should suffice. Personally, I have found that when I am studying the mind, what I need more than anything else is the ability to combine head and heart. This is because when we and our emotionsbecome the topic of research, then the tendency is either for the heart to win over the head—the approach of the User’s Guide, or for the head to suppress the heart, resulting in a Reference Manual.
As the title suggests, we will approach the mind from a logical viewpoint. While we will try to stick to the straight and narrow path of rational analysis, we will also make a point of enjoying the mental vista of understanding through which we are passing. We will stop to smell some of the flowers of feeling which grow beside the trail and we will also slog through mudholes of emotional trauma which we encounter.[B]
If the brain is so complicated, how can anyone figure it out? Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that within this mass of complexity are hidden a few fundamental principles which determine how we act and think. It appears that these basic laws of mental processing can be represented by a single structure which I call the diagram of mental symmetry. This diagram is both a summary of mental interaction and a highly simplified map of brain circuits: Each of the names corresponds to one major section of the human brain, and the arrows between the names indicate paths along which information can flow. So far, I have found that this simple model of the mind can be applied to fields as diverse as neurology, economics, art, music, politics, artificial intelligence, history, mathematics, psychology, religion and philosophy.
Our research on the mind originally started with a concept which psychologists refer to as cognitive styles. This states that people can be divided into different groups, depending upon how they act and think. If you could compare a group of people to a pie, then cognitive styles uses a ‘knife’ to cut this pie into separate pieces. There are many ways of dividing individuals into categories, just as there are many ways to slice a pie. Some of these systems have been around for a long time. For instance, the four divisions of sanguine, choleric, melancholic and phlegmatic were initially proposed by Galen, a Greek physician from the time of the Roman Empire.
The scheme that I will be using in this book arranges people into seven thinking styles, called Mercy, Perceiver, Server, Teacher, Exhorter, Contributor, and Facilitator. Each name describes a prominent positive character trait of a certain type of individual. Each name also starts with a different letter of the alphabet.
This system of categorization is not original with us. It is used by others—although at a fairly rudimentary level. What attracted us to this particular scheme was that it seemed to be the best way of slicing the pie of human personality. Other methods ended up with leftover bits of ‘crust’ and ‘filling,’ whereas this method of seven thinking styles appeared to divide people cleanly and accurately.
While others use the same scheme of cognitive styles, no one else who follows this system has developed a comprehensive set of traits for each type of person.[C] We also are the first to relate personality types with brain regions. It is this correspondence between the ‘software’ of human personality and the ‘hardware’ of human neurology which makes us think that we are on the right track—that we have cut the pie in the best way.
Notice that I use the words ‘we’ and ‘our.’ This is because the initial work on this theory was done by my brother Lane Friesen. He discovered most of the personality traits and worked out the first sketches of the theory. This basic understanding was then developed by the two of us. For years we spent hours a day on the phone, discussing ideas. More recently, my brother has chosen to focus on documenting these traits from history, while I worked out the implications and details of understanding and of programming thought. This volume summarizes my work.
As I have already mentioned, this book contains original research. While most new discoveries are fairly minor and add only small fragments to the body of knowledge, my brother and I have had the fortune of stumbling across the motherlode. Talk about being ‘cursed’ with success. Each step we took revealed another vein of rich ore begging to be refined into the gold of integrated understanding. This ‘mining’ and ‘refining’ was so exciting that we ignored the task of ‘selling’ our nuggets to the world. We did occasionally try to publish our findings, but the mine which we had discovered was so rich that the inevitable frustration of getting new material accepted simply drove us away from the town of established science back to the hills to dig for more gold.
Because so much of this book contains new material, you, the reader, are going to have to put on your thinking cap. You have to test the theory to see whether it is true gold, or only the ‘gold’ of fools. This is a Programmer’s Guide to the Mind. One of the first steps in mental programming is to take information from others and to evaluate it for yourself. Testing ideas in this book will give you practice.
To do this effectively, you will need some tools. Let me suggest the techniques which I used. Whenever I came up with a new aspect of theory, I had to decide whether to accept it or to throw it away. I have found that certain guidelines are effective for separating ore from gold—fact from fantasy:
First, observe. This book talks about the mind. You have one. Your family, children, partner, neighbors, even the people in magazines and on television, also have minds. Observe their behavior. See if this theory describes how they think, act and react.
Second, use logic. If you discover a contradiction, then something is wrong. Check this book for logical errors, and mistakes in facts. See if the ideas make sense.
Third, look for patterns. Expect to find similar principles popping up in different areas. When patterns emerge, then that is the sign of a good theory.
Fourth, compare. Other people also study aspects of the mind. Since the subject of research is similar, the ideas should also be comparable. However, do not get side-tracked by opinions or preconceptions. Rather, stick with the facts and see if they are consistent.
Finally, try it out. This book is a Programmer’s Guide to the Mind. Apply principles and see if they work. However, be sure that you are willing to pay the price in time and effort. There are no instant answers, and it is better not to start at all, than to quit halfway through the process. If you turn off your computer when information is being written to the disk, you may lose your data. Similarly, I suggest that it is dangerous to shut off your mind in the midst of reprogramming your memories.
Before you go further, let me orient you. You will find the diagram of mental symmetry at the end of the book. If it looks complicated, don’t worry. I don’t expect you to understand it right away. However, take a look at it; we will refer to it throughout the book.
Think of the mind as a house with seven rooms. Every normal person has the same mental house with the same seven rooms. Each room corresponds to one type of thinking style: There is a Perceiver room, a Mercy room, a Facilitator room, and so on.
I suggest that the cognitive style of a person describes the room in which he ‘lives.’ This is the mode of thought which is conscious in that person. By conscious, I mean that it is possible to see what exists in that ‘room,’ and to control what happens. All seven modes of thought are present in each person, but only one is conscious. The other six modes are subconscious, or below the surface.
It appears that cognitive style is determined genetically. In terms of the illustration, I am born ‘living’ in a specific room and it is not possible for me to move to a different room. I suggest that I can only see and control what happens in my mental room. In contrast, the other parts of my mind are subconscious and operate automatically, outside of conscious control or awareness.
We can illustrate the idea of consciousness by stretching the picture of the house a little further. When I live in a room, I can do what I like to it: I can paint the walls blue; I can rearrange the furniture; I can furnish it with bric-a-brac. Or, I can fill the room with garbage, tear down the wallpaper, and ruin the furniture. The choice is mine. Similarly, I can do whatever I like to the mental room in which I am conscious. I can fill it with information, or stop anything from entering. I can decorate it with tasteful thought, or use it as a garbage dump for worthless ideas. The choice is mine.
One of the major differences between the conscious and the subconscious lies in awareness. If a mental room is conscious, then I can see whether its contents are good or bad. On the other hand, aspects of thought which are subconscious lie outside of my inner sight; I cannot observe how these rooms appear. However, while I may not be able to see the other rooms of my mental house, I can experience the mental benefits of a well run household. If the ‘kitchen’ room is working well, and I do not ‘live’ in the kitchen, I may not be able to enjoy the pretty paint on the wall, but I can savor the good food which is sent my way. For instance, the diagram above illustrates the mental ‘house’ of a Server person. He cannot see ‘next door’ into Mercy thought. However, if his Mercy ‘room’ is operating, then he will experience the mental benefits.
On the other hand, suppose that my mental ‘kitchen’ is broken down and full of cockroaches. Obviously the food which comes my way will not be very appetizing. It may even make me feel sick. Similarly, if one of my subconscious modes of thought is crippled, I will not see this damage, but I will suffer the consequences.
Another major contrast between the conscious and the subconscious lies in the area of control. When a room is conscious, then I can make it operate even when it is only partially finished. In other words, if my ‘room’ is half-filled with garbage, or cluttered with building material, then I can use conscious thought to ‘walk around’ these obstacles, and get my mental work done. I can also do the opposite. Even if my conscious room is well constructed, I can stop it from operating simply by stepping in and waving the ‘arms’ of conscious thought. Of course, conscious control can only go so far. If my room is sufficiently messy, then it no longer becomes possible to step around the mental garbage. No matter what I do, nothing happens until some of the rubbish is cleaned up. Similarly, there comes a point in the mental construction process at which even conscious control cannot prevent the conscious room from operating.[D]
In contrast, mental rooms which are subconscious do not seem to have these luxuries. Getting them to work is a more tedious and lengthy process. If they fill up with too much mental trash, then they will grind to a halt. Keeping them functional, therefore, means regular garbage collection. Finally, once a subconscious room is functioning, there is no instant way to stop it from operating. It will keep ‘chugging along’ whether I like it or not. If I decide later on that I do not appreciate what it is doing, the only way to stop it from working is to throw ‘sand in the gears’—to cripple it with sufficient mental trash.
I have stated that each person is conscious in one and only one mental ‘room’ and that all of the other ‘rooms’ are under the surface. The situation is actually a little more complicated than this. Some of the ‘rooms’ are aware of some of the other ‘rooms.’ If you look at the diagram of mental symmetry, you will notice various lines and arrows connecting certain modes of thought. These links indicate which rooms can see into which other rooms. For instance, you will notice a line running from Exhorter to Teacher and from Exhorter to Mercy: This means that it is possible to look from the Exhorter ‘room’ into both the Teacher and the Mercy ‘rooms.’ On the other hand there is no line or arrow pointing from any of the other four ‘rooms’ to the Exhorter ‘room’ (there is only an arrow heading away from the Exhorter). Therefore, the Exhorter room cannot see either the Contributor, Perceiver, Server, or Facilitator rooms. These modes of thought may influence what happens in the Exhorter ‘room’—they may send ‘food’ up from the ‘kitchen,’ but Exhorter strategy will not be able to see the source of this influence—it will not notice how this ‘food’ is being prepared.
I have listed in a table exactly which rooms are aware of which other rooms. For instance, if you look at the Perceiver ‘room,’ you will see that it can see the Mercy room. This means two things: First, the Perceiver person is aware of subconscious Mercy thought. Second, the Perceiver part in every person is aware of Mercy thought. In contrast, you will see that the Mercy room cannot see any of the other rooms. This tells us first that the Mercy person is only aware of Mercy thought, and then that Mercy strategy in every person lives in an isolated mental environment, unaware of other modes of thought.
Other Rooms Visible from this Room
None, influenced by Perceiver
None, influenced by Server
Teacher and Mercy
Perceiver, Server, Exhorter, some Mercy and some Teacher
Limited awareness of all other rooms
I suggest that many problems and misunderstandings arise because we assume that other people think exactly as we do. Suppose that I am a Mercy person. It will be obvious to me that all situations should be approached with Mercy thought, because I am consciously aware of that type of thinking. I will also find it equally obvious that the other six ways of thinking are not as important, because I am not aware of them. Out of sight is out of mind, so to speak. What happens when I meet a Teacher person? He will tend to assume that the only type of thinking which really matters is Teacher thought. Each of us will observe the behavior of the other and come to the conclusion that the other person is either trying to be obnoxious or else acting less than sane. After all, we both know that no person in his right mind would act and think like that other person. But, what is a right mind? Is it just the room in which I live, or is it the whole house? [E]
On the other hand, if I know about cognitive styles, I will realize that other cognitive styles are not crazy, but merely blind. Just as I live in one ‘room’ and may not see the ‘room’ in which another person lives, so he may be blind to the ‘room’ which I call home. No one has the whole picture.
I have suggested that each mode of thought, or room in the house, corresponds to a physical part of the human brain. Lane and I reached this conclusion after comparing personality with neurology. Our research began in about 1978 when Lane stumbled across a scheme which divided people into seven different categories. Using this ‘pie-cutting tool’ as a hypothesis, Lane analyzed the biographies of about 250 historical figures, individuals such as Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Napoleon Bonaparte, John F. Kennedy, Florence Nightingale and so on. Amazingly, the ‘cutting tool’ survived, and the result was a list of character traits for each of the seven cognitive styles.
When we examined these personality traits in more detail, we realized that most of them could be ‘boiled down’ into a few fundamental characteristics. For example, we noticed that the Exhorter person is an emotional driver who always pushes and prods others. He continually uses excitement to ‘exhort’ people from one task or vision to another. This single attribute of motivating and pushing kept showing up throughout the behavior of the Exhorter. Similarly, when we looked at the traits of the Contributor person, we saw that the idea of value was deeply rooted within his thinking. This allowed our examination of personality to move beyond a mere description of ‘what’ to a look at ‘why’ and ‘how.’
When I looked at neuropsychology, I found that the underlying mental strategies which we had discovered in personality also described the functions of specific parts of the brain. The location of Exhorter strategy, for instance, was easy to discover. In the same way that the Exhorter tends to be an emotional driver who prods others, a part of the brain called the basal ganglia acts as a mental pump driving thought and action. Strangely enough, there is a brain disorder, called Parkinson’s disease, which appears to be a paralysis of the specific part of the brain which corresponds to Exhorter thought. The patient can still act and think, but he is severely handicapped at prodding himself into a transition from one task to another, especially when emotions are involved. Even walking from one physical room to another may involve too much of a mental change; the person with this disease may literally freeze when he reaches the doorway to the next room and be unable to move further.
I mentioned that most of the personality traits which we discovered were variations of a few basic ways of operating. The rest of the attributes seemed to fall into one of two categories: First, there were a number of traits which differed from one individual to another. Sometimes these characteristics would be present, other times not—even though the individuals had the same cognitive style. As we began to understand the mind in more detail, we realized that these traits were dependent upon the way in which the mind was programmed. The mental room of consciousness was the same, but different people had ‘furnished’ their rooms in different ways. Thus, we could divide each cognitive style into different subcategories, depending upon how an individual had programmed his ‘house’ of thought. For example, while the Exhorter person is always someone who pushes and prods, some Exhorter persons lead by irresponsibility—prodding others on to greater effort while remaining static themselves, whereas other individuals lead from the front, always in the thick of things.
Likewise, we slowly realized that some of the characteristics which we thought were solid could themselves be changed. Gradually we sorted out the differences between mental ‘software’ and mental ‘hardware.’[F] Some traits really were built into the house of the mind, while others were due to its contents. Sometimes, so many individuals with the same cognitive style would have the same mental furniture, that we would assume these aspects of thought actually belonged to the house and were not just part of the interior decoration.
For example, for a while we were under the impression that every Exhorter person learned all of his lessons from the school of life. Then we uncovered another subcategory of Exhorter person which, rather than shying away from books, plunged into them with great enthusiasm. The mental room was the same, it was just operating in reverse. The Exhorter was still a pusher and prodder, but rather than going from life to theory, he was moving from theory to life. Therefore, we had to modify our picture: It wasn’t the trait of learning lessons from life that was fundamental. Rather, it was the connection between life and theory which was basic. The direction of mental flow could vary.[G]
Second, as our research progressed, we began to see that not all of the traits were the result of conscious thought. Instead, many of the characteristics of a certain cognitive style were the result of subconscious processing, as seen from the viewpoint of the conscious room. For instance, the way in which the Exhorter person prodded others depended upon the operation of the subconscious Perceiver room. Again, the fundamental trait of exhorting was there, but it was being modified by the rest of the house, working under the surface. And, if we looked hard enough, while we could not see exactly what was happening in these ‘basement kitchens,’ we could examine the ‘food’ that was coming up from the ‘kitchen,’ and from it deduce the type of ‘furniture’ that existed within subconscious thought.
The result was a composite picture of the mind. Each person has the same house, but each cognitive style can only see the whole mental structure through the lens of conscious thought. And yet, in each individual thinking style, the vague outline of the rest of the house is clear enough to allow us to determine that particular room’s place in the completed structure. It is as if each cognitive style is one piece of a puzzle. Around the edge of each of these fragments are clues suggesting how this particular piece connects with the other bits. By putting it all together, we can come up with the big picture—a model of human thought.
I mentioned that the fundamental traits which we discovered from personality matched the function of different pieces of the human brain. The correlation between mind and brain went further than that. We also discovered that the relationships between the various modes of thought corresponded to major physical connections within the brain. Not only did the pieces match, but also the connections between those pieces. While neurology did not seem to contain enough information about human behavior to build a general theory about the mind, sufficient details were known to allow us to test our theory of personality and to confirm that we were on the right track. This is the approach which we will take in this book. We will base our discussion upon personality. However, we will include enough information about neurology to show the connection between mind and brain.
What about the idea, for example, that each cognitive style is conscious in a different part of the mind. Does this difference show up in physical brain hardware? The question is difficult to answer because very little research has been done in this area. Until now, no one has come up with a general theory of personality which relates cognitive styles to the function of different brain regions. What I can say is that information from neurology is consistent with the idea that the brains of different cognitive styles are wired up in different ways. For instance, there is a fairly major connection between the two hemispheres, called the massa intermedia, which ties together the two thalami. This set of wires is present in two thirds of humans and absent in the other third. Another major connection between the two hemispheres, called the anterior commissure, is up to eight times larger in some humans than in others.
In this book, we will be touching upon a number of different subjects. I realize that most readers are not that familiar with either neurology or psychology. Therefore, you may find yourself wondering how much of the information which I mention is accepted by other researchers, and which facts I am making up myself. I will try to keep this distinction very clear. If I refer to neurology, this means that you can find this fact stated definitely if you study books and articles on the brain. If a fact is more or less generally accepted, then I will state that ‘research shows’ or something similar. When the information is fairly recent or less well known, then I will include a reference indicating my specific source. On the other hand, if I suggest a fact, then, as far as I know, it is original with me and not found either in brain research or psychology.
Of course, not every idea which I suggest is original with me. Many times I have found other people saying similar things. After all, we are all studying the same minds and the same brains, and should be coming up with similar conclusions. Sometimes, what is original is not the idea itself, but rather the way in which it connects with other concepts and ties into a general system of understanding.
I apologize for not always giving credit where credit is due. Unfortunately, in a work of this magnitude it simply is not always possible to decide exactly who was the first to come up with what idea. I spent many years sifting through reams of partial facts and uncertain data, and by now, I cannot remember where most of the original concepts came from. After all, when the gold miner strikes it rich, he concentrates on the digging and the refining and can easily forget which ore came from what location. While many of the individual pieces were gleaned from the thinking of others, I know that the overall structure is definitely unique.
I have tried to make a distinction between the house of the mind and the contents of each mental room. In computer terms, I have separated the hardware of the brain from the software of the mind.[H] This addresses the old question of ‘nature versus nurture.’ Researchers often ask which personality traits are inborn and which are acquired. I suggest that the model of the mind presented in this book provides a way of sorting through this confusion: On the one hand, nature appears to be responsible for the wiring and construction of the mind. There are seven mental rooms, they are connected together in a fixed pattern, and each room deals with information in a specific way. In addition, the brain seems to be wired up so that each cognitive style is conscious in one of these seven rooms. This wiring pattern forces thinking to develop along certain paths; it is the channeling of nature.
This explains, for instance, why the Exhorter person is constantly pushing for change: His conscious room is fed with emotional memories; it has mental access to what could be; it gets pumped up chemically with the power of excitement when something new flashes upon the screen of inner vision. With this type of conscious hookup, it is inevitable that this room, and the person who lives in this room, would become a pusher and a prodder.
On the other side of the balance, we find nurture. A human baby is born with a specific cognitive style. The mode of thought in which he is conscious has already been determined. But he is also born with a mind which is practically empty. The house is there and the wiring is finished, but nobody is home and the lights are not on. As the senses of the baby are exposed to the external world, the mind starts to fill up—mental programming occurs and the rooms in the house cease to be just bare walls.
When enough information fills a certain part of the mind, then this mode of thought becomes ‘alive’ and begins to operate; the lights come on in that room. Parents notice that the child has graduated from food processor to person: Not only do lights come on, but someone is home. Environment, parenting, culture, gender, and birth order all influence this process of mental development—they determine what is fed into the mind.
What is mental ‘life’? In order to answer this question, we have to look at how memories work. It appears that as far as the brain is concerned, thinking and remembering are very closely related. When I try to remember what I ate for breakfast, I do not reach into my mental filing cabinet and pull out the image labeled ‘breakfast.’ Rather, my mind uses thinking to reconstruct what happened: “Let’s see, I was sitting here, and I opened that, and then...oh, now I remember.” The further I have to dig, the more difficult it becomes to rebuild the past.[I]
The reverse is also true: Not only is thinking used to rebuild memories, but memories lead to thinking. I suggest that it is this combination which produces mental ‘life.’ [J] A habit, for example, results whenever I repeat something enough times. The repetition fills my mind with memories, and these memories develop a life of their own: A habit wants to be fed, it wants to operate, it wants to live. Anyone who has tried to break a habit knows what it means for memories to become ‘alive.’
We have talked about nature and nurture. There is also a third aspect to human thought. If nature ruled me, then I would be a robot, driven by instinct. On the other hand, if nurture determined everything, then I would be a creature of my environment. The human mind also has the third element of choice.We are not total robots, and our thoughts are not all determined by the world around us. It is true that the choices which we can make may be limited, butit does seem that they are real choices.
Does man have a free will? I would like to answer this question and end this section with an illustration. I suggest that for the average person, the situation of personal choice is somewhat like watching television. Nurture fills the mind with sounds and pictures, like images and noises from a television set. Just as we have no direct control over what we see and hear on the tube, so we often have little say in what we observe and experience on our way through life. Nature, in contrast, separates the flow of sensory input which we experience into distinct channels. Choice is like changing the channel. We can decide which channel to watch, but we cannot mix channels or alter the content of a certain channel.
This illustration may sound somewhat fatalistic, but I suggest that it describes the situation for the average person. He thinks that he is completely free, but his choices are limited and his paths are predetermined. He has his job channel, his weekend channel, his sports channel and his family channel. As he moves from one activity to the next, he flips his mind to the desired mental channel, and calls into play the appropriate mental rooms. The ability to change mental channels and to move from one activity to another gives him the impression that he has free will, but all that he is really doing is moving from one culturally determined course to another.
When this type of person begins to feel limited and restricted, he usually responds by demanding more channels—more choices. He wants more entertainment options, more places to work, and so on. Channel surfing through eighty possible programs may give theillusion of freedom, but I suggest that it still does not attack the root problem, which is the content of each channel.
As we all know, the content of a television channel does not come from the television set itself. Rather, it is recorded in some far-off production studio and then broadcast from a central location to millions of different television screens. Similarly, the mental ‘channels’ of culture are not programmed by the individual person. Instead, society exalts a few people—either dead or alive—from its midst and sets them up as role models for the rest of us to follow. How we act, where we go, what we wear, what we buy, and how we live are then determined by the examples and words of those whom we respect. Given this type of situation, it is natural for us to question the concept of ‘free will.’
Modern society has responded to the perceived lack of ‘personal choice’ by adding more ‘channels.’ We have allowed our world to split into various specialized segments, each with its own role models. However, I suggest that this does not solve the problem of ‘free will’ because it does not tackle the central issue. Society is still divided into ‘broadcast studios’ and ‘television receivers.’ The only way for us to escape from this situation is to turn off our ‘television sets’ and to create our own worlds. In essence, each individual then becomes his own television producer. That way we can create exactly the type of programming that we wish and truly have a free will.
So why don’t we get up, turn off our mental and physical television sets and develop a life of our own? I suggest that there are several hurdles which must be overcome before we can take this radical step.
First, the average individual feels much safer following the programming of others. Doing ‘my own thing’ is risky. I might fail, or be condemned by the rest of society. Second, society feels much more secure when individuals follow established patterns and do not ‘rock the boat’ of social convention. If people are given too much freedom, then the result could conceivably be total anarchy. Third, plotting my own course takes a lot of thinking, preparation and hard work. Following some predetermined channel is much easier.
Finally, there is the hurdle of prior commitment. As a society, we have invested trillions of dollars and billions of man-years setting up a system of existence based upon ‘broadcasting’ and ‘receiving.’ We have established exactly who are the ‘broadcasters,’ how an individual becomes a ‘broadcaster’ and how he should act as a ‘broadcaster.’ We have developed countless channels through which a ‘studio’ can get its message across to the masses. And we know all of the emotional ‘hot buttons’ to press in order to get the optimal response from each ‘television viewer.’ Changing our way of operating would mean abandoning all of this societal infrastructure.
It is precisely these issues which we will attempt to address in this book: How do we graduate from being mental ‘users’ who only choose between existing channels, to being mental ‘broadcasters’ who can develop our own programs and gain some control over the content of our lives. I should emphasize that this is not an easy process. Post-communist Eastern Europe has shown us that people cannot handle instant freedom. They must have some type of transitional mental and societal structure.
The path to freedom is a long, hard road. At the beginning, our need for passive stimulation is still high and our ability to choose rather small. What we will attempt to do in this book is to outline the various stages of mental freedom, show whichchoices arepossible at each step, and describe which decisions will lead from where we are to greater freedom.
Free will and cognitive style are strongly related. My experience is that when a person goes through life passively, then his cognitive style is often difficult to determine. The cause is rather obvious. If an individual never uses conscious effort to mold the furniture of his mental house, but rather accepts all of the furniture which is given to him by his environment, then it will be hard to discern which room really is conscious. In some societies, the cocoon of nurture is so stifling that it becomes impossible for individuals to break out of the mold and to discover who they really are. It is only when a person gains the freedom to become himself that cognitive style emerges from the shadow of nurture and culture. And when a person learns what he can change, then he is able to live with what cannot be altered.
Learning about a theory is somewhat like getting to know a person. So far, we have been at the level of “Hello, how are you? My name is…” and so on. Now that we have a general idea of our theory of the mind, it is time to add content to the overall impression.
In a relationship, the next stage usually begins with asking what a person does. By learning his profession or skill I can uncover much about his essential character. For instance, suppose I learn that someone is a banker, a lawyer, an engineer or a professor. Instantly, I know things about that person. Some of my ideas may be mistaken, but most of them will probably be correct.
At the beginning of the book, I suggested that the operation of the mind could be summarized by what I call the diagram of mental symmetry.[K] Think of this diagram as the ‘profession’ of our theory of the mind. While knowing the profession of a person tells me much about that individual, I suggest that this diagram can encapsulate all of our theory of the mind.
Of course, if I do not know what a banker really does, then learning that a person is a banker will not tell me much. Similarly, the concepts in this book will not make much sense unless we clearly understand the meanings of key terms. I will be giving precise definitions to a number of words. While I have done my best to pick terms which already have the appropriate connotations, it is inevitable that my meaning will often be slightly different from the popular definition. Therefore, the back of the book contains a glossary of terms. If you cannot remember the meaning which I give to a certain word, look it up in the back. From now on, whenever I introduce a term which is defined in the glossary I will underline that word.
Let us step back now and look at the big picture. Notice that the diagram of mental symmetry contains two axes (we are looking here at the first of the two diagrams). The top axis describes the type of thinking which can be used. Thought may be either analytical or associative (the underlining means that these are defined words which I am using for the first time). It is fairly well known that analytical thinking occurs in the left hemisphere of the brain and associative thinking in the right.
The left axis describes the way in which information is evaluated. Three modes of thought—Mercy, Exhorter, and Teacher—operate emotionally. They think with their feelings. Three other styles of thinking—Perceiver, Contributor and Server—work with confidence. For them, thought involves knowing. It appears that, statistically speaking, the male tends to emphasize confidence, while emotional processing is more dominant in the female.
Notice that the diagonals of the diagram are also labeled. They summarize the type of information which is used. The content of thought can be either abstract or concrete. Abstract information looks at theories and facts; concrete information consists of experiences and actions.[L]
Finally, you will notice that there is one style—the Facilitator—which seems to be added almost as an afterthought. As I mentioned in the table of awareness, this mode of thought has a limited awareness of all of the rest of the mind. The type of thinking which it uses is neither analytical nor associative. Rather, Facilitator strategy operates by blending and mixing between various aspects of abstract and concrete thought.[M]
Remember that a mental ‘room’ describes either a way of thinking which is present in all people, or else the specific way of thinking which is conscious in a certain cognitive style. This means that the diagram of mental symmetry can be approached in one of two ways: First, we can use it to summarize the conscious traits of a specific cognitive style. For example, notice that Mercy strategy is described as associative, concrete and emotional. This means that the Mercy person is conscious in a mode of thought which associates between concrete experiences and which evaluates each experience using emotion. In other words, the Mercy person lives in a world of feelings, where every situation brings to mind similar experiences from the past. This leads naturally to a sense of appropriateness and etiquette, as the network of concrete memories colors the reaction to the present. Notice also that the Mercy room is not aware of any other modes of thought. This means that not only does the Mercy person live in an internal world of experiences and feelings, but he is mentally aware only of this one mental world. See how many character traits we have extracted even with the little that we know so far?
Second, we can use the diagram to describe how the mind operates in all cognitive styles. Every person with a normal brain has all seven modes of thought, and the lines in the diagram describe the major connections between these different mental modes.[N] It is important to remember that when we use the term Server, for instance, we can be referring either to the mode of thought which is conscious in the Server person, or to the Server mode of thinking which is present in every person. In this book, when we are referring to a person with a specific cognitive style, we will talk about the Server person, or the Teacher person. On the other hand, when we are describing the functioning of a certain mode of thought, we will use words like Mercy mode, Perceiver strategy, or Exhorter thought.
The term Perceiver can refer to either:
1. The person who has the cognitive style of Perceiver.
· The Perceiver person is one of the seven possible cognitive styles.
· He is conscious in the Perceiver mode of thought.
2. The part of the mind which carries out Perceiver strategy.
· Every person has this mode of thought.
· In those who are not Perceivers, this mode is subconscious.
The terms analytical, associative, abstract, concrete, emotion and confidence are very fundamental to this theory. They are also used widely in both psychology and in common speech, and I have explained them in the glossary. However, let us see if we can define them a little more precisely in the light of some examples.
I mentioned that the left axis of concrete and abstract refers to two different kinds of information or memory: Concrete thinking looks at experiences and objects in the real world. When you tell a concrete thinker an idea, for instance, he will ask for an example. For him, everything is interpreted by experiences. Mention the word ‘car,’ and the 1973 green Honda Civic with the dent in the left door may come to his mind. ‘Love’ may mean the special card, hug and visit that he received after learning of his father’s death.
An abstract thinker, in contrast, deals with ideas and concepts. Put him in the 1973 green Honda Civic and he will think of transportation, and the effect that the automobile has had upon twentieth century society. Mention the word love and you may start an intellectual discussion about the benefits of emotional bonding in times of crisis.
Now turn to the top axis of analytical and associative. Each describes a different type of thinking. Let us contrast these two ways of mental processing, first by comparing a list of characteristics, and then with the help of an illustration.
Speech is a good example of analytical processing. Neurology tells us that the left hemisphere is responsible for producing words and sentences. Notice that a sentence is a sequence of words which are connected together and spoken over time. When a person speaks a word or a sentence, his mouth makes a succession of verbal sounds which we call speech: “H-e-ll-o…h-o-w…a-re…y-ou.”
Words are not chosen at random. Rather, each word has a specific meaning which determines where that particular sequence of acoustic noise can be applied. For instance, we all know when and where to say the word ‘fire.’
Finally, speech is full of general patterns and order. Sounds are formed into words using rules of phonetics: We can be quite certain that the sequence “qthc” will never show up in an English word, and be equally positive that the letter ‘q’ will almost always be followed by the letter ‘u’ (ask Scrabble players for the exceptions). Principles of grammar are used to organize words into longer chains, called sentences: “The fox jumped over the dog,” is grammatically correct, while “Jumped dog the fox the over” is not.[O] Sentences themselves are grouped into paragraphs, chapters, and books. At each of these levels, we find that certain sequences of letters or words go together quite often, and that other sequences never occur. In other words, we find that language contains order; it is not total chaos but contains patterns which can be discovered.
Left Hemisphere processing
Right Hemisphere processing
Strings elements together into sequences
Links elements together to form objects
Adjusts where sequences are applied
Adjusts the label of each object
Sensitive to general patterns and to order
Sensitive to details and to the exception
I suggest that a road map provides an example of associative thinking. Neurology tells us that the ability to work with maps depends upon a specific part of the right hemisphere called the parietal lobe. Notice that a road map is a piece of paper on which the spatial locations of different towns and cities are shown as dots of various sizes. These dots are connected with lines which indicate the roads that go between the cities.
Each dot on the paper is also labeled. In the case of a road map, this label usually tells the name of the town or city. Maps can contain differing amounts of detail. A simple road map will show only the main cities and the freeways, while a detailed map will also indicate the side roads and the small villages.
Finally, it is easy to find what is out of place by comparing one map with another. This can be illustrated by the familiar puzzle in which two pictures of the same scene are shown and one is asked to find the differences between the two sketches. The easiest way to solve this problem is to place one picture on top of the other and then hold them both up to the light. The differences pop out, especially if the two sketches are drawn in different colors. It appears that associative thinking uses exactly this type of process when comparing mental objects or pictures. For the associative person, unusual situations andexceptions are easy to notice—they are continually ‘popping out.’
The two diagonals in the diagram are labeled confidence and emotion (these words appear at the bottom of the diagram). These are two different ways of evaluating information. The Teacher, Exhorter and Mercy use emotion, while the Perceiver, Contributor and Server work with confidence. The emotional person evaluates information based on how it makes him feel. Emotion can vary all the way from horrible, to bad, to ‘blah,’ to fair, to ecstatic. In contrast, the person who uses confidence knows what is right and wrong, what works and what doesn’t. Confidence also can vary from uncertain, to reasonably confident, to absolutely certain.
Confidence and emotion interact with each other. The level of confidence determines the emotional pressure that a memory can handle without falling apart. This interaction can be compared to driving a car down a road full of potholes. The bumps are the emotions, while the confidence is the structural integrity of the vehicle. A poorly constructed car will fall apart if the road on which it is driven is too rough. A tank, on the other hand, can handle the ‘emotion’ of roaring across hills and gullies and still stay in one piece.[P]
Stage fright is another example of emotion affecting confidence. A person may be able to perform adequately at home where no one is listening, but he easily loses confidence when standing in front of a big crowd. His level of confidence is great enough to handle the small emotions of home, but it is insufficient to deal with the stronger feelings associated with public performance and audience response.[Q]
You will notice that the diagram of mental symmetry has been drawn in two ways. In the first picture, abstract and concrete form the left axis, while in the other drawing, the left axis contains emotion and confidence. These two diagrams contain exactly the same information, and are drawn in different ways to make certain features more obvious. The first drawing emphasizes the different types of thought. The second makes it easier to see the flow of mental processing. Notice in this diagram how thought starts at the top with emotion, moves through a layer of confidence, and then is channeled through Facilitator strategy. These three stages of mental processing will become very significant when we look at the three styles of Exhorter, Contributor and Facilitator.
The mind uses two types of processing with two types of information.
· Thinking can be either analytical or associative.
· Information can be either abstract or concrete.
Finally, I suggest that the seven cognitive styles can be divided into two groups which we will call the simple styles and the composite styles. The simple styles are the Teacher, Perceiver, Server and Mercy. These are the four names which are placed in the corners of the diagram. Each of these four styles uses one of the two types of thinking (associative or analytical) on one of the two kinds of information (abstract or concrete). Two methods of thought combined with two types of memory produce four possible combinations. The Perceiver, for example, uses associative processing with abstract information.[R]
The composite styles are the Exhorter, Contributor and Facilitator. These names are shown in the middle of the diagram. The composite styles are based upon the foundation of the simple styles and tie them together. The Exhorter combines Teacher and Mercy modes, and the Contributor integrates Perceiver and Server thought. The Facilitator is the ‘secretary’ of the mind, mixing and balancing the rest of thought.
The seven cognitive styles can be divided into two groups:
The simple styles emphasize content.
· They use one type of thinking with one type of information.
The composite styles emphasize action and progress.
· These combine the thinking modes of the simple styles.
The simple styles deal with the content of thought. The composite styles, in contrast, work as a mental pump which drives thought and action. I suggest that this pump is the source of imagination and creativity. Notice that the diagram shows an arrow leading from the Exhorter through the Contributor to the Facilitator. This arrow shows the direction in which information flows on its way through imagination (this flow is easier to see in the second version of the diagram). The separation between thinking (by the simple styles) and acting (motivated more by the composite styles) shows up in personality. Unlike the simple styles, the composite styles are generally much more interested in doing, creating and developing than in learning and filling the mind with more content. This means that Exhorter, Contributor and Facilitator persons often end up building their activity upon a rather limited or inadequate mental foundation.
For instance, this theory of the mind was developed through cooperation between two simple styles, myself a Perceiver person, and my brother Lane a Teacher person. If either of us had been one of the composite styles, you can be sure that we would have stopped our research long ago and used our theory of the mind to start some highly profitable business or organization.
I hope that it is becoming clear by now that the mind really is based upon connection, flow and interaction. We tend to think of the brain as a static glob of protoplasm that just sits there and cogitates. I suggest a better illustration is that of a modern economy, with factories producing material, trucks and trains hauling goods from here to there, telephone lines strung from one location to another, research centers working out new gadgets, and crowds of people all simultaneously doing their own thing—talking, buying, phoning, working, and so on. Or, if you want to compare the mind to a house, do not think of a bachelor’s suite with one lonely individual going through his daily routine. Instead, imagine a huge rambling residence with dozens of people trying to get things done while continually bumping into one another. Conscious thought is by no means the only person living within the home of the mind. Rather, it is more like a harried landlord attempting to bring order to his hotel, or like a government trying to steer the course of the economy.
We have talked about the mind. I have suggested that each mode of thought is associated with a specific region of the brain. For those of you who know something about neurology, I will point out—later on, when we look at each cognitive style in more detail—which mental strategy corresponds to which part of the brain. I suggest that the simple styles are associated with the part of the brain called the cortex (remember that whenever I suggest something, I am telling you that the idea is original with me). This is the wrinkled sheet of gray matter that you see when you look at the surface of a brain.[S]Neurology tells us that the cortex is where the memories are stored and where thought occurs. This is shown in the behavior of the simple styles. As I have mentioned, these styles—Teacher, Mercy, Perceiver, and Server—are usually more concerned with the content of thought and action than with using that content to do something.
As the diagram on the next page indicates, neurology tells us that the cortex of the brain can be divided into four parts—the top and bottom halves of each hemisphere.[T] Teacher mode uses the bottom half of the left hemisphere; Mercy thought uses the bottom of the right hemisphere. Server processing occurs in the top half of the left hemisphere and Perceiver thought in the top half of the right.[U]
Neurology also divides the cortex of the brain into front and back. Neurology tells us that the back of the cortex interacts with the external world. This is where sight and sound are interpreted and where memories of specific actions, objects, experiences and words are stored. In contrast, the front of the cortex contains the internal world. It is this part of the brain which allows us to become individuals who are persons. Someone who loses his frontal cortex becomes a creature of his environment—a Pavlovian dog who can only salivate in response to the bell of external need. He may still be able to act, talk and respond, but he has no internal world of love, hope, planning, or understanding with which to integrate the fragments of his personality.
Our research suggests that each of the four simple styles has a sensory part in the back of the brain and an associated internal world in the front. Mercy strategy, for example, has an inner world of emotional memories. It is this internal world that determines the emotionally appropriate way of reacting to the external world of experiences—it appears to contain the core mental ‘furniture’ of the Mercy room. Take away this part of the brain and a person will act inappropriately, doing things such as going to the bathroom in public places without feeling shame. Of course, some people act inappropriately without the benefit of a lobotomy. In their case, the behavior is not the result of missing brain hardware, but rather of inadequate mental software. The influence of the internal world can also be reduced through the help of drugs and alcohol. To misquote an old saying, “I can either have a bottle in front of me, or a frontal lobotomy.” [V]
The composite styles, in contrast, do not seem to be associated primarily with the cortex of the brain. I have mentioned that the three composite styles form a mental loop which drives thought and action. A loop, just as we have described, exists in what is called the subcortex of the human brain. This is the region that can be seen when the brain is opened up and the cortex removed, which is why it is called subcortical.[W]Memories are not stored in the subcortex. Instead, the subcortical brain takes the information from the cortex in each hemisphere, processes it in a region called the basal ganglia and then sends it back to the cortex through another brain center called the thalamus. I suggest (final reminder: This is original with me) that this is the loop which is used in visual and verbal imagination, with verbal imagination occurring in the subcortex of the left hemisphere, and visual imagination happening in the subcortex of the right hemisphere.[X] In other words, what we call imagination is actually the operation of the three composite styles, and the way in which we react to imagination and the control which we have over imagination depends upon which mental room is conscious.
The four simple styles are located in the cortex of the brain.
· Each is divided into an internal world and an automatic part.
The three composite styles are located in subcortical regions.
· They form a loop which travels from the cortex back to the cortex.
Evidence from neurology also supports the idea that this subcortical loop drives imagination and action. For example, if the place in the brain called the SMA (the primary location where this loop re-enters the cortex) is damaged, then a person will experience a very peculiar form of paralysis. He can still talk and act, but he has no desire to do so. He can respond intelligently if he is forced to, but otherwise he reacts like the proverbial couch potato—pure thought and all eyes.
I have suggested that learning a theory is like getting to know a friend. So, how far have we come? By now, I have introduced you to my model of thought, and I have told you something about ‘him.’ At this point in the relationship we need to answer the following questions: “Do I like this person? Do I want to spend time with him? Is he the type of individual whom I find interesting?”
Some people are great at creating first impressions, but the more we get to know them, the less we want to be around them. Others may not appear so brilliant at first, but they wear well; over time, we find that they turn into faithful friends. I suggest that theories are much the same. Some ideas seem really exciting at first, but they have no depth. Other systems of thought may take a while to understand, but they then survive the test of time.
Most of us have close friends. However, not all of us have learned to make ‘friends’ with a theory; we have not acquired the art of appreciating a general understanding. Therefore, I would like to mention a few aspects of a quality relationship with a theory.
First, having a friend means that you will be seeing the same face over and over again. I have mentioned that this book uses one general theory to explain many different aspects of human thought and personality. This means that you will be seeing the same basic concepts repeated page after page—wherever you turn, the same ‘person’ will keep showing his ‘face.’ In fact, if there is a simple model which describes all of human thought, then once you know it, you will find that the same words and concepts occur endlessly, everywhere.
How can I handle reading about the same ideas for the next several hundred pages? Well, how does a couple survive marriage? I suggest that the same answer applies to both situations. Initially there is the excitement of novelty—doing things together for the first time, or experiencing the thrill of grasping a mental concept. However, if the relationship is to survive, then excitement must grow into love. Long-term friendship is fed by the satisfaction of accomplishment, the pleasure of relationship, and the joy of discovering new aspects in one’s partner.
The person who reads this book purely for the novelty of encountering new and exciting concepts will probably end up becoming bored: “You keep saying the same things over and over again, you force me to think logically, and you don’t tell enough stories.” On the other hand, the individual who is searching for the pleasure and satisfaction of a unified theory will find that each repetition simply adds another facet of grandeur to the gem of understanding.
Therefore, I suggest that this book should not be treated as an intellectual challenge to be overcome, or as a psychological bandage to place on an emotional sore. Rather, it should be seen as a work of elegance to be enjoyed and appreciated, and as a guide which can help to bring meaning to life. If there really is a general theory which can explain human behavior, then as long as I continue to behave as a human, this understanding will be with me, mentally ‘looking over my shoulder.’
Let me illustrate this point with a personal analogy. I enjoy playing violin in a string quartet. For a long time, my greatest thrill came from sight reading a new piece of music at the edge of my technical ability. The challenge of finding the right notes, coupled with the possibility of musical disaster, produced a feeling of excitement. Once I had played a piece for several times, though, it tended to lose its appeal and became just another set of notes on paper. Over time, however, I gained the ability to appreciate music: I was not only challenged when I tackled new works, but I could also find elegance, beauty and harmony in perfecting and expressing existing ones.
Secondly, building a quality relationship takes time and effort. I cannot walk up to a person on the street at random and expect instant companionship. I have to earn the right to become someone’s friend. The same applies to a general theory. In order to gain understanding, I must first lay a proper foundation. Just as learning mathematics starts by memorizing the times tables, so an understanding of the mind must begin with an explanation of the basic components of thought. I will try to make it as interesting and as readable as possible. The rest is up to you.
Third, if learning about an ordinary everyday theory could be compared to forming a platonic friendship, then I suggest that studying about cognitive styles is somewhat more like dating. Normally, when I understand some theory or make friends with some person, I have the benefit of emotional distance. Whenever I need a break from the relationship, I can retreat to my own personal world. However, if I fall in love with someone, then that individual becomes part of my personal world, and very difficult to get out of my thoughts. I suggest that a theory of human personality behaves in similar ways. Once it begins to explain my personal world, then it also follows me around wherever I go.
Analyzing the mind requires a combination of head and heart.
· The method of study involves the head and rational thinking.
· The object of study includes the heart and personal feelings.
It probably sounds strange to compare a theory of the mind with ‘falling in love.’ The scientist may well look at this statement and conclude that a discussion about ‘love’ must of necessity abandon logic and head down the garden path of mystical musings. On the other hand, the individual who is searching for love is equally positive that he will not find the answer to his quest within the sterile hallways of rational research. However, this is precisely what we will attempt to do—combine the emotions of the heart with the rational thinking of the head.
I suggest that music provides a good example of subjective feeling combined with objective analysis. On the one hand, this topic can be studied from a physics textbook where mathematical formulae are used to describe resonant frequencies, string tensions, and harmonic ratios. On the other hand, the musician may learn about the topic by ‘feeling’ the chords and allowing his gut instincts to guide his fingers. Put the two together and you come to the conclusion that the musician is really ‘feeling’ a set of mathematical equations and that the physicist is actually analyzing an aspect of subjective emotion.[Y]
This concept is so important that I will say it one more time: Why do I compare studying a theory of the mind with forming a friendship? Because, when it comes to emotional topics such as ‘falling in love,’ our natural tendency is to throw logic out of the window and to follow the dictates of our heart. Similarly, I have found that the biggest obstacle to understanding the mind is subjective feelings. Therefore, one of the recurring themes in this book is that of cooperation between head and heart.
Suppose that I decide to visit a foreign land. I can prepare for my trip by purchasing a map and a tour guide. By looking at the map I can see what is where, and how to travel from here to there. While the map shows me the various cities, towns, and roads, it does not tell me which places are worth visiting. This is where the tour guide becomes useful. By combining advice from the tour guide with information on the map, I can figure out what I want to see and where these various sites are located.
Of course, I could always board a plane to some unknown destination, rent a car and start driving at random. It would work if I landed in a civilized location. Charging blindly into some wild untamed jungle, however, could be quite dangerous.
I suggest that the journey through life is no different. In order to have the best trip, we should start by programming the mental ‘rooms’ which contain the maps and the tour guides. Therefore, we will start our analysis of the mind by looking at Perceiver strategy, which contains the mental maps, and Mercy thought, which has the touring tips of the guide book. We will ask, “How can I construct a mental map which can guide me through life?”
But that takes work, you say. Isn’t it easier to tune in to the ‘travel channel’? If I have some big brother to watch over me, then he can save me from the ferocious tigers and the poisonous snakes lurking about in the jungle. True, big brother may save us from the dangers of life, but who will save us from big brother? If you like the idea of going through life as an emotional ‘babe in the woods’ under some impersonal big brother, then I suggest that you read no further. On the other hand, if you want to plan your own journey, and learn about jungle survival, then follow me as I describe the path which I discovered in my own search for a map of human existence.
[A] Now in 2010, the count is up to almost one billion transistors per chip.
[B] I personally have both intellectual and artistic training: I have a Master’s degree in Engineering, and I play violin professionally.
[C] The information was first published in 1986.
[D] Technically speaking, it appears that conscious thought and the mental mode in which I am conscious are distinct. It is as if there is both a room and a ‘person’ living in that room. Therefore, in order to make the conscious room operate, I can either use conscious control, or else program the room so that it works by itself. If my conscious room operates autonomously, then conscious thought for me is like living in a room full of labor saving tools and gadgets.
[E] I specifically chose to mention the Teacher and Mercy persons because neither can see the rest of the house. As the chart indicates, most styles can see at least some of the other rooms. The styles which have greater awareness tend to fall into another type of mental ‘blindness.’ They can see the contentof other rooms but they are unaware of how those rooms operate.
[F] I suggest that other schemes of dividing people into categories tend to make this mistake of confusing the ‘walls’ of mental hardware with the ‘furniture’ of mental software. Therefore, with other systems of cognitive styles, it is usually possible for a person to move from one category to another if he applies enough time and effort. This error of confusing hardware with software is even made to some extent by others who use the very scheme of cognitive styles that is presented here in this book.
[G] In the diagram of mental symmetry, you will see that the line connecting Exhorter with Teacher and Mercy has no arrow on it. That means that information can flow in both directions.
[H] Technically speaking, this is not completely accurate. Brain software does contain an aspect of hardware: Memories are formed as new physical connections grow between one brain neuron and another. We will also see that there is a strong mental connection between memories and thinking. However, these physical changes are always limited, and those who study linguistics will tell you that the brain is prewired to interpret input in certain ways.
[I] This is not the whole picture. The Contributor and Facilitator persons often do retrieve memories like files from a filing cabinet. However, I suggest that this is because their subconscious rooms are retrieving the mental fragments, putting them back together, and then handing the completed reconstructions to conscious thought.
[J] The reader who is familiar with computer science will notice that what I am describing is consistent with the idea of the mind being organized as a series of neural networks.
[K] This diagram is at the back of the book, after the references and in front of the glossary.
[L] I used to draw the diagram with Abstract and Concrete on the left axis and Emotion and Confidence on the diagonals. There is no logical difference between these two forms, but it looks less twisted this way and the relationship with neurology is more obvious.
[M]A general principle: Each ‘room’ seems to have the same total amount of mental awareness of thinking and memory. The Mercy and Teacher rooms are most aware of thought but see the least memories. In contrast, the Facilitator room sees most memories but his awareness of thought is limited.
[N] Brain damage can cripple or destroy certain modes of thought, depending upon where the injury occurs. The effect of brain damage will often depend upon the cognitive style of a person. If conscious thought can be used to compensate for disabled mental strategies, then the mental deficiency will not appear as severe. Also, if one part of the brain is destroyed, it may be possible to relearn many tasks using alternate strategies.
[O] In some languages, word scrambling is permitted. This is because words themselves are modified to indicate their function within a sentence.
[P] When it comes to physical construction, the sturdiest structure is not always the one with the strongest material. Instead, the best choice is usually a well-engineered combination of strength, shape and flexibility. I suggest that a similar principle applies to the mind.
[Q] As a violinist, I know about stage fright, and have found public performances to be excellent for applying principles of mental programming.
[R] Notice that this backs up our earlier suggestion that memory and processing go together in the mind: Abstract memory, for instance, does not just exist by itself. Rather, it is organized either associatively or analytically. Similarly, analytical thinking does not work in a vacuum, but operates either on abstract or concrete information.
[S] There is a simple difference between gray and white matter. Brain regions where neurons are located will appear gray, while those areas which contain mainly connections between neurons will appear white.
[T] In a few pages, we will look at the neurology in more detail.
[U] I could ‘get technical’ and refer to brain locations such as FEF, IPL, SMA, or STS. I would manage to impress some people but I would also lose my audience. I know what it is like to be snowed under by neurological terminology. I learned about the brain simply by going to the medical library and starting to read. Occasionally a researcher would slip up and actually define one of his terms. Two hundred tomes and about one thousand esoteric papers later, I have acquired some knowledge about the subject. However, I have found that the useful information in a paper is often contained in the little asides which a researcher throws in just ‘by the way.’ So, I decided to gather all my ‘little asides’ into a book and only add technical detail where necessary.
[V] The medical history of the frontal lobotomy is a real horror story. In its most popular form, the surgeon stuck an ice pick behind the eye of the patient, pushed the blade into the front of the brain, and stirred. This procedure was carried out in the doctor’s office under local anesthetic. Thousands of humans were mentally murdered this way in order to further the careers of a few aspiring physicians.
[W] Many terms in neurology are equally inspired. The substantia nigra, for example, is simply Latin for the black substance. The term which I like best is the substantia innominata, Latin for the unnamed substance.
[X] Some of the latest papers on the basal ganglia describe exactly this concept of a loop of imagination and even mention the distinction between Exhorter and Contributor type processing.
This does not mean that the composite styles do not use the cortex at all. It appears that each of the three composite styles is also associated with a certain region of the cortex. However, the simple styles use predominantly cortical processing and the composite styles focus upon subcortical thought.
[Y] It is amazing how often you find people with mathematical ability who also play a musical instrument. This suggests that there really is a fundamental relationship between the two.