Archive for February 10th, 2002

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Sunday, February 10th, 2002

In part one of this article, I introduced the concept of the Dual Mind. All humans have two minds — the space-mind and the time-mind. These two minds create two worlds  —  the world of “is” and the world of “ought to be” — a picture of the real world and an opinion of the ideal world.

It is our ability to create these two worlds that makes us human.


The Dual Mind and Progress

Timothy Wilken, MD

Remember, Korzybski defined Time-binding as that unique human ability to pass that ‘knowing’ from one generation to the next generation. We humans bind time and are bound together in time. The record of our time-binding is everywhere. It is in all that activity that we so innocently call progress. It is the very motor of obsolescence. It is imbedded in just about every thing associated with humans and yet most humans are unaware of the very power that makes them human. We humans catalogue and store our various knowings in libraries, universities, colleges, data banks, and information services. We store our knowing in many formats — books, tapes, films, movies, newspapers, magazines, video, microfilm, photos, computer files, etc., etc., etc. We are time-binders and the mark of human power is everywhere.

Both animal and human offspring begin their lives in nearly total ignorance. The differences that exist between them are small, but what advantage in knowing that does exist belongs clearly to the animal. While the animal seems to begin life with a greater store of inherited knowing, it possesses little ability to learn from its parents. The animal is condemned to rediscover over and over, every generation must discover anew the knowings of its parents. The wise old owl may know a great deal, but he has no way to pass what he knows to his offspring and they have no way to receive it. Animals have only the space-mind. They are confined to living in the world of “is”.

Only humans have access to the dual-world. We can and do pass our knowing from one generation to the next.


Progress —defined—> The progression from the world of “is” to the world of “ought to be” —  the progression from the real world to the ideal world.
We humans need our space-mind to survive in space. To be safe in the world of “is”, but we need our time-mind if we want to create a better world  —  a world that “ought to be”.

Albert Schweitzer, the great humanitarian who worked with the poor and ill in Africa, said he wanted to see a world where there was no disease. Well, I think most of us would probably agree that represents a good “ought to be”.

Now, its important to remember that not all “ought to be”s are good.

“Ought to be”s are just opinions. Adolf Hitler wanted a world where there were no Jews. Not such a good “ought to be”. An “ought to be” is just an opinion. At its very best, it becomes an ideal. At its very worst it can become nightmare of crime and tragedy. Animals kill for food or to eliminate competing genetic lines, but only humans murder each other because their time-mind has decided that someone “ought not to be”.

The space-mind and the time-mind are partners. Universe is space-time.

When we use our dual minds intelligently, our space-mind tells us what is and our time-mind tells us what could be. What could be. Our world of “ought to be” is an opinion of how realty could be. The term should is best left to describe the picture of how reality is. This is also the scientific definition of the term should.

The dual-world model is also very helpful in determining whether your relationship with someone should continue. I have used this model in couple counseling. Not uncommonly, when a husband and wife come in to see me, they are at war with each other. After I have got to know them and learned how they perceive their problems, I teach them about the dual-world. Then it becomes a simple matter to ask each of them to define their “ought to be” mates. Then the next step is find out if they are willing to “could” on each other and work together to move in the desired direction.

The human space-mind often gets injured by its experiences in life because it thinks in pictures and images and feelings. These three always go together. So if a lot of pictures in your memory are attached to negative feelings, then you will carry a lot of beliefs and associations that are hurtful. All of us carry some of these painful pictures around. Most of us have seen somebody, that we care very much about, when they were very angry, screaming, or crying. And further, because no one is the way they “ought to be”, nearly all of us have felt some time felt rejected by our parents even though they may loved us. And, if you are not the way you “ought to be” then there must be something wrong with you. This makes us feel second rate and inferior. These old injuries often occur in our childhood and are carried throughout our lives unless they are repaired.

Let me use an example from my own life. My wife carries an injury from her childhood that Rational Psychologists call catastrophizing. Her mother was a catastrophizer and my wife is one as well. Do you know what a catastrophizer is? Let me give you an example of catastrophizing. Imagine you are sitting at the kitchen table and one of your kids knocks over a glass of water. Now a non-catastrophizer might say, “Oh,here, let me get a towel. You could be more careful son.

Now lets look at the same situation with a catastrophizer. One of your kids knocks over a glass of water. The castastrophizer responds, “OH NO!. MY GOD! WHAT HAPPENED? OH CHRIST, MY TABLE IS RUINED. YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN MORE CAREFUL.”

Catastrophizing. Do you know anybody who acts like this? Unfortunately, catastrophizing behavior which is never intentional still injures little kids. Why? Because children’s space-minds create pictures with strong negative feelings when events like this happen. They believe they are bad. They think, “What did I do? Something terrible. I ruined mother’s table. I must be a horrible person to have created so much havoc for my mother. Maybe she won’t love me.” And so children who have catastrophizing parents duck. They get gun shy. And by the way if you are a catastrophizer it’s almost always because you know a catastrophizer who was usually your parent. And your parent knew a catastrophizer who was probably her parent, and so on.

We always get two things from our parents. We get their ‘knowing’ and their ‘not knowing’. So, if mom was really good with a checkbook, always had the budget balanced, knows where every penny is, then probably I’ll also be good with a checkbook. But if mom was a catastrophizer, then I may be a catastrophizer too.

So in my world of “ought to be”, my wife would learn not to catastrophize. Now one of the injuries I carry from my childhood is called by Psychologists a touch disorder. What’s a touch disorder? Being uncomfortable when you are physically touched by another human. Many Americans have this injury. Where does it come from? Not getting touched very much. So, if one or both of your parents were uncomfortable being touched or touching others, you may not have gotten touched much as a child. I can remember whenever my father would try to give my mother a hug or a kiss, she would withdraw or pull away saying, “Oh no, not in front of the children.” So I grew up uncomfortable with being touched and with a tendency not to reach out and touch others.

And, in my wife’s world of “ought to be”, I would learn to be more comfortable with being touched and in touching others.

After learning about the dual-world, we were both able to could on each other. I was able to tell my wife Judy that my “ought to be” Judy would be less catastrophizing. And she told me that her “ought to be” Tim would be warm, affectionate and more comfortable with touch.

So, after thinking about it for a while and I said, “Well, my “ought to be” Tim would also be warmer, affectionate and more comfortable with touch. And she said, “You know, my “ought to be” Judy would be less catastrophizing.” So we helped each other move towards our mutual “ought to be”s.

If you can’t agree on “ought to be”s with the important people in your life then you don’t have sound basis for a successful relationship, and you will be better off terminating that relationship. But before you decide to end a relationship, you need to make sure both of you understand the dual-world.

When I worked with couples in stressed and troubled relationships, I would teach them about the dual-world. This was often the very first lesson, because it  explains so much about human relationships. And when we reached the point in counseling were I felt they understood the dual-world, I would say, “Now let’s talk about what’s wrong.”

The wife would say, “Well he’s doing this, and it really annoys me.”

“All right, so your “ought to be” husband wouldn’t do that. He would do something different.”

And then the husband would say, “Well, she is doing this, and it really annoys me”

“All right, so your “ought to be” wife wouldn’t do that. She would do something different.”

Are the two of you willing to could on each other, remember no shoulding, but inviting each other to change, pulling each other a little bit with an invitations, can you pull each other a little bit in the right direction?

And you would be amazed at how often individuals using this model can decide that they really would like to move in the directions that the other individual really does want. And that it hasn’t been that they didn’t like the idea, often they agreed. It’s they didn’t like being pushed. They didn’t like being shoulded on. They didn’t like feeling NOT OK, bad, defective, not all right. They didn’t like being treated as inferior and without respect.

Imagine you are occasionally late getting home because you work overtime to help pay the bills, sometimes you forget to call your wife and she always gets upset. One day she gives you an ultimatum, “You never call me when you’re going to be late. If you don’t start calling me, I’m going to leave you.”

Now you start thinking, “Why should I have to call her? I am working hard for her and the kids. She knows I’m not goofing off. She should trust me. How dare she threaten to leave me for working so hard for the family. I shouldn’t have to call her.”

So my wife is shoulding on me, and I am shoulding on myself. Maybe one of my friends is shoulding on me as well, perhaps telling me that I shouldn’t let my wife tell me what to do. And I become reactive and say, “No. I’m not going to let anybody tell me what to do.” Remember the space-mind is in charge of survival. Survival is an individual experience. When you are angry, when you are hostile, when you are in a rage, you are fighting against the world.

So if we can get rid of the shoulds, and the badness, and the NOT OK’s, then very often human beings can say, “You’re right. I could call you when I am going to be late. If you’ll stop telling me that I should call you,then I could call you.”

Now the time-mind doesn’t think there is much difference between saying, “You could call me,” rather than, “You should call me.” But the space-mind feels an enormous difference.

Remember, its not what you say its how you say it. The time-mind focuses on content, while the space-mind focuses on the process.

And, your could has to be genuine. If the tone of your voice is demanding when you say “YOU COULD CALL ME!” then your words will not be heard as a request. The space-mind is an expert at reading tone of voice and body language. We cannot hide our true feelings from the space-mind of others.

So if we want to make progress in our personal lives or as a community, we must learn to could on each other to pull our fellow humans from the world of is toward the world of ought to be — to pull our fellow humans from the real world toward the ideal world.

We humans could solve our problems. We humans could work together. We humans could love each other.


 Read Dual World Part III