NP2 Home Essay Competition

Congratulations to “Distopia” who has earned a copy of NP2 Home for the following piece. Thank you for participating.

Dissociation and symbolic orders transfer

The human being is a complex machine that does not exhaust himself in his mind. He completes and defines himself in the world. His boundaries are not limited to his flesh.

For this reason I consider fundamental to explore the tribal psychology that, in my opinion, saves something that we, as modern humans being, have lost.

For Mary Douglas the fundamental difference between the modern man and the pre-modern one does not rest in the quality of the mind processes. The real difference lives in the fact that we have lost the ability to transfer symbolic orders from a context to another: our experience is fragmented.

Our rituals create a lot of little sub-worlds, unrelated. They are one single, symbolically consistent universe.

How can this be related to AVS devices and their possibilities? In a deep way.

An AVS device is only a machine able to transduce stimuli. But, to make stimuli useful, we have to build a theory to define the parameters of these stimuli.

The use of audio and visual stimuli is not a modern discovery. We can tell, on the opposite, that it is a science ancient as the human being. Shaman, healers, medicine-man… they hold an ancestral knowledge about how the symbolic orders can be altered and merged trough the manipulation of external stimuli.

So, what should be our path?

Rediscover our legacy through our modernity.

We have to use a modern device, such as an AVS machine, to recover a lost and ancient quality: the ability to create unity of experience. To understand what a unified experience means we have to refer to an example.

The modern man lives in a world totally fragmented, infinite existence fields, all deeply separated. We can focus on a particular aspect of this disposition, the mind-body relationship.

The modern man usually considers the mental experience divided from the corporeal one. Body problems are usually separated from mind ones. Only in recent years has science started to study the psycho-biology of the corporeal experience (Rossi). But, except few meaningful research fields, modern science considers as “placebo” (word that still has a negative value) the effect of the mind upon the body.

For the modern man, mind and body are separated. For the pre-modern man this is not. He has kept the ability to make unity of experience. And the shamans, the healers use this ability to unify mind and body, allow the first to work on the second.

But how can the modern man recover the ability to unify the experience…  merging, for example, the link between the mind and body, exploring the numberless possibilities of this connection? Through dissociation.

This can seem an odd joke but dissociation is the most important instrument that man can use to reach the unification of experience. The same idea and ability of dissociation defines a deep difference between the modern man and the pre-modern one.

Try to think how easily a pre-modern man can reach altered states of consciousness and deep dissociative states. This shows us how much we have lost. The modern man has lost the keys of his own world. And he must recover these keys.

A deep dissociative state is the main instrument to make unity of experience. And only inside a deep dissociative state the modern man can work on himself, in a unified symbolic order.

Unfortunately we can not deny our actual nature. Our fragmentary experience is an adaptive process to the augmented complexity of our world. And we can’t change that. We can’t go back.

So the easy way is to use our modernity. To use AVS devices for example.

How to obtain a deep dissociative status with an AVS device? And what to do then? These answers will need several books but, in brief, we can follow a predesignated path.

Everything that compromises the usual perception leads to a distorted equilibrium.

Sensory deprivation, over-stimulation etc… these are instruments that shamans and ancient tribes use since ever. Moreover particular frequencies structured following precise sessions can drive, such as shamanic rituals, dominant brain waves frequencies (Hoffmann, Keppel Hesselink, da Silveira Barbosa).

But we have to keep in mind an important point. AVS devices are just the first step, they are not magical instruments able to create by themselves a symbolic order transfer. An AVS device can induce altered state of consciousness, a deep dissociation… but the device can not make this state useful. Not at all.

AVS devices can be a key to open a door, but what/how to do after the door will be open is a complete different argument.


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