The Three functions of the Mind and Sex

SHIRT & TIE [small] (final)Throughout the study of the virtues one glaring fact repeated itself over and over again – all our sorrows are centered in our human mind. The exciting and expanding study of neurobiology has led to some interesting insights into the human brain and how it develops into the human mind. Coupled with psychology and psychiatry we are just beginning to understand how the mind develops and how it functions. Keeping in mind the neurology, we will focus on the psychology as we look at the – count them – the ninety-six known functions of the mind. We will also focus on how the mind relates to what we call soul and spirit by attempting to solve the mystery of if and where the mind ends and the soul or spirit begins.  We will then apply these findings to our sexuality with special attention given to bisexuality and to the sexuality of our fellow members in the LGBQT community.

According to studies by Dr.’s Linda and Richard Elder[1], the simplest way to look at the functions of the mind is to consider it as a three function organism – thinking – feeling – wanting. They suggest that the mind doesn’t just think; it also feels and wants. They conclude that feelings are influenced by powerful emotions or desires that result in egocentric tendencies that function automatically and unconsciously. This results in what they call ego-centered reality that sees the world from a narrow self-serving perspective. The Elders suggest that egocentric thinking is responsible for negative feelings such as anger, depression, defensiveness, apathy, and indifference. According to the Elders the one saving grace is our capacity for reasoning which frees us from self-delusions. They suggest that rational tendencies arise only from active self-development resulting in bringing thought and desire into consciousness. However, I believe that reasoning cannot be relied upon because thought and reasoning themselves are governed by what we feel and desire.

First of all let’s look at thinking. According to the Elders “thinking is the part of the mind that figures things out. It makes sense of life’s events. It creates the ideas through which we define situations, relationships and problems. It continually tells us: This is what is going on. This is what is happening. Notice this and that.” They appear to be referring to the conscious mind which uses its array of memories of past events to make decisions about the present. But to look at the rational or conscious mind in isolation leads to a whole nest of errors. We have to face the fact that we are not rational animals.  We are indeed emotional and controlled by our desires. Without considering that the schemas are there to achieve our desires, we find ourselves with the false hope that our reason can solve all our problems. Reason in merely the tool of our desires.

Now let’s consider feelings. According to the Elders “Feelings are created by thinking — evaluating whether the events of our lives are positive or negative. Feelings continually tell us: ‘This is how I should feel about what is happening in my life. I’m doing really well.’ Or, alternatively, ‘Things aren’t going well for me.’ “  I believe that feelings are not really a part of the thinking process; they are an entity in themselves. They come from the old brain, specifically from the reticular and limbic systems. They are natural pre-thought-responses to our environment. They are the rooted in our fears and our sexual desires long before our frontal cortex even gets involved (just speaking figuratively – it only takes a few nanoseconds before the frontal cortex is activated). Most of these fears originate from implicit memory formed during our infancy which directs the workings of the subconscious mind. The brief time between feeling and thought makes all the difference. From that point on our fears and desires take over and the frontal cortex merely rationalizes what is already in place.

This takes us to the third function, desire. According to the elders, desire occurs when we allocate energy to action, in keeping with what we define as desirable and possible. It continually tells us: ‘this is worth getting. Go for it!’ Or, conversely, ‘This is not worth getting. Don’t bother.’ “. This is the same blind alley. Desire and feelings are synonymous. They are the ends of the same construct. As soon as feelings are formed, the emotions are activated and the desires are born from the marriage of the environment and the feelings about the environment. Only after a desire is formed do we activate the frontal cortex to provide us with a plan to fulfill our desires.

When we try to separate our minds into distinct functions, we run into several roadblocks and some faulty conclusions. The major problem in relying on thought and reason is that it then becomes the focal point in problem solving. According to any form of verbal therapy, the issues we face are because of our inability to control our feelings and therefore our desires. The premise is that we can allow our feelings to express themselves through images and symbols in the form of thoughts and words. The hope is that once we understand what our feelings are telling us, we can then develop a rational plan that will achieve our new desires.  Even this form of cognitive therapy is based on a faulty premise because we do not control our feelings through thought. It is like taking a pain killer to numb the pain, thereby dealing with the symptoms without ever getting to the root cause.  We have to realize that most of our fears and desires are coming from our implicit memory which composes our subconscious mind. We cannot use the mind to control these feelings and desires because we are using the egocentric part of us to solve the problems created before the sense of self and the advent of reasoning.  This requires a paradigm shift. We have to find some way to reach the feelings coming from the subconscious mind.

So this is where the soul comes in. We have to stop relying on our mind for healing and look for something beyond the mind. I believe the soul or spirit is the instrument that can bring our feelings to a second level of consciousness. The spirit brings a counterbalance to feelings, or more accurately, embodies the feelings so that fear and sexual impulse can be momentarily neutralized for a second look to take place. This look comes not in the form of thoughts and words, but in a new feeling. It says “something is wrong with this feeling” and it provides a mirror by which we can examine our feelings in light of some universal truth. It then changes the feelings and alters the implicit memories associated with anxiety and fear to ones of peace and well-being. I am worthless and I fear the present” can become “No! I am beautiful and I welcome the present.” Only with the advent of this new feeling can the human mind come under the influence of the second level of spiritual consciousness and heal the implicit memories and reroute the self-defeating neurological patterns. This is the function of the human soul. The mind’s desire to fight or flee becomes the spirit’s desire to stay, understand and to do something to make a difference for ourselves, the ones we love, and to contribute to the universal source of life and love. Healing then becomes a function not of the mind but of the soul.

My five applications to bisexuality:

  1. As expressed in previous blogs, we have a genetic predisposition towards both men and women with no built in aversions to either one. According to research, the predisposition may also contain a prenatal stress factor absorbed from our mothers during pregnancy and accentuated during infancy. This may have resulted in anxiety filled implicit memories and subconscious mental states.  If we fall into these categories we usually need inner healing before we can enjoy our sexuality.  In order to deal with the implicit subconsciousness we have to seek out our higher self before we can find peace.
  2. We can get in touch with our higher self by seeking a state of peace during meditation or nature baths. Once we capture that feeling we can tuck it into our memory banks and recall it whenever we have a sense of low self-esteem.
  3. Implicit memories usually result in a continued feeling of being unattached or separated  during our developing years thus causing additional stress and anxiety. This usually affects our explicit memory experiences and our sense of self. We therefore have a conscious issues  which can be dealt with through cognitive therapy once our subconscious self has been addressed. We can work on our explicit and autobiographical sense of self by constantly repeating “I am better than that,” every time we feel a self-defeating wave of anxiety.
  4. We recognize our freedom to choose any life styles we wish and deal with self-criticism by saying to our egocentric self, “I understand your concerns but I choose to enjoy this experience.”
  5. We do not accept any feelings of guilt. We simply say “I chose to have that experience and I have a right to enjoy the pleasures associated with my choices.”

[1] Elder, Linda and Elder Richard. The Human Mind.


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