The Whole Human Race Has PTSD

Created June 4, 2021

Post Traumatic Shock Disorder (PTSD) is usually associated with combat veterans, but civilians have also had it after being in violent or dangerous situations. To millions of whites in this country having Obama elected president was a traumatic shock, and to half of Americans the Trump years were a prolonged traumatic shock. On top of these conditions came the pandemic, having to teach your own children what they were supposed to be learning at school, having your home turned into a submarine of compression togetherness, the insurrection, and the escalating publicity about police and domestic violence, the collapsing environment, overstretched national debt levels, threatening signs from other nations, and the ongoing sense of unreconcilable differences tearing us apart.

More than enough to account for the mass PTSD, leading with help from certain media to a degree of mass hysteria.

Maybe we should call it OTSS: Ongoing Traumatic Shock Syndrome.

The first step is to admit the possibility that you have a degree of PTSD. You may feel unmoored lately, unsure of your place in the world, unsure of where the future may be going for you, troubled by frictions within the family that had never existed before, challenged to keep the same level of income coming in. You may not be as certain what you believe in as you always had been. Letting yourself acknowledge such feelings is essential to begin to process those feelings into constructive thought and action.

My theory is that the human race has been in a degree of PTSD for a very long time. In MIND MAGIC I refer to the somewhat milder PTSD condition as EOP: Emergency Oversimplification Procedure. I believe we began to develop pandemic EOP about 5000 years ago when we started to see written language, which did something to our minds that has never been equaled.

The spread of EOP accelerated as written language led us to invent tools, weapons, machinery, media, governments, technology, science, and innumerable other things.

EOP results when we do not feel we have the attentional capacity to deal with the many questions in our minds, and so we decide to short-cut our thinking.

This increases the tendency toward:

  • dichotomania, the predisposition to perceive that everything fits neatly into one of two boxes which are polar opposites of one another;
  • subscribing to and becoming fanatically loyal to pre-packaged notions such as religions and ideologies;
  • increasing power to confirmation bias;
  • avoiding consideration of the largest questions in life;
  • replaying the same tapes over and over in one’s mind and in one’s speech;
  • actually hallucinating that one is seeing exactly what one expected to see and to hear exactly what one expected to hear, although that is not what really happened;
  • hasty closure, making up one’s mind too fast;
  • not thinking for oneself, although one may see oneself as a paragon of individualism and independence;
  • over-generalization: one person of that ‘type’ does X so all of that type do X
  • and a horde of other self-hypnotic, robotical microbehaviors, all of which underestimate the desirability of more objective self-observation, therefore keeping us out of the Observer state, and significantly reducing our chances of getting into the Flow state.

I started to write about EOP nearly half a century ago, and expected that in my readings I would eventually discover that someone thought of this a long time ago. Strangely, despite my wide-ranging reading over the years, I never came across the notion of EOP by any other name.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday I was reading about the work of a fellow marketing/media researcher, Professor Karen Nelson-Field, whom I’ve met a number of times. What never came up in our brief conversations at conferences is that she has observed EOP and describes it using other language:

KNF: I’d like to give the attention economy a bit of background, if I may because it’s quite a buzzword now. Many people don’t really understand the context and its background. We all know that we live in this age of extreme distraction and our capacity to process is very small. What happens is that humans make decision shortcuts, and give little thought to what it is to avoid information overload. They give little thought to researching every single thing that comes past the desk.

The attention economy comes from the concept that taking decision shortcuts when you’re an air traffic controller or when you’re driving a car is not ideal. I think the study of information overload started during the World War II era. What impact does that have on our economic and social systems?

By its nature, the attention economy is a study of inattention and its economic or social impact.

Essentially, we want to understand not only the cause of inattention, the consequences of inattention but also some ethical solutions to correct it. MORE

I applaud Karen’s thinking and am grateful to now know of another scientist giving credence to what I call EOP.

Brief takeaways for countering EOP and thus returning to the more natural Observer state, doorway to the Flow state:

  • Stop moving, breathe deeply, observe your mind as if from afar.
  • Hold off on agreeing with the thoughts and feelings that arise in you, reconsider them from the other side with a fully open mind, reset the basic assumptions to zero just for this interlude.
  • Feel, look and listen for small “voices” (could be feelings or images) that are hunches about something you hadn’t been considering, trying to break through to your attention.

Best to all,

Bill

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