In 1980, Chris Huntley and I had just
finished making a low budget movie based on our original screenplay. Quite frankly, it was
awful! Much of the blame for this lay with our dysfunctional story. We both had a strong
desire to write another, better script, yet had no idea what was actually wrong with the
first one, nor how we could learn from it.
Early one morning, perhaps two a.m., the two of us
were working late in a small office I had behind my house. One of us (we don't remember
who) suggested that we compare our story to other well-written stories of a similar genre
in the hope of uncovering some truisms we might apply to our next project. This began an
investigation into the meaning and mechanism of story that lasted fifteen years.
The results of our work became a book, Dramatica:
A New Theory Of Story, and the dramatic algorithms we discovered were implemented
into a revolutionary piece of software, also called Dramatica. Although Dramatica
deals solely with understanding and creating stories, one aspect of the theory suggested
the possibility of psychological implications as well.
According to Dramatica, every complete story
represents a model of a single human mind dealing with an inequity. In other words,
each story is not just about the characters in it, but in fact, characters, theme, plot,
and genre, represent different families of thought and collectively form a model of the
human mind itself. We called this model the Story Mind.
Historically, many theorists had sought to
establish a link between story and psychology. This resulted in a number of philosophies
built around archetypes and myths. What made our concept unique was the view that
archetypes and myths were only aspects of the mind, and the entire story must be taken
into account if one was to construct a complete cognitive and affective model.
That alone would have been a fine contribution to
the field, yet Chris and I were not content. We felt that as long as this new model of
psychology remained mired in its story origins, it would never be accepted as a
scientifically based theory. So, while continuing to develop Dramatica, both Chris and I
gave considerable attention to the problem of presenting what we had learned as a theory
in its own right.
Eventually, we succeeded in developing a complete
theory of mind that stretches from lower-level neurology to higher level psychology, and
more important, answers the questions, "What is mind?" and "How
does self-awareness work?"
Once we had filled in the last details, Chris was
personally satisfied that we had found the answers we had sought. I, on the other hand,
became increasingly discontent in that we had not made these insights publicly available.
Hence, the creation of this book.
Mental Relativity: A New Theory Of Mind
presents the most powerful of our original discoveries and also offers a number of my
personal areas of interest which I have gone on to develop on my own. It is not my
purpose, in this book, to argue for Mental Relativity or its concepts. I simply offer
these pages as a document of what has been discovered in the hope that others more
qualified than ourselves might be inspired by these thoughts to new insights in their own
fields of expertise.
In conclusion, it is with great pleasure, and an
even greater sense of relief, that I present a view of the human mind as seen through
theory of Mental Relativity.
Melanie Anne Phillips
Mental Relativity Basics
The theory of Mental Relativity
touches on four broad areas:
- Each of these areas serves as a major section in
this book. This chapter provides a brief description of the essential concepts covered in
each. Armed with this overview, you need not read this book in order, but can easily jump
to any chapter in any section with all the preliminary information required.
What follows is not meant to necessarily
represent the actual physiology of the brain, but should be used as a model of the dynamic
functions present in the brain.
Mental Relativity is concerned with two principal
aspects of the brain: neurology and biochemistry. It is the contention of the theory that
self-awareness in not found in either aspect, but in the relationship between the two.
Further, each of these two aspects consists of two distinct systems.
Neurology can be divided into the neural networks
of the ganglia and the overall network of neurons that connect the ganglia and respond to
sensory stimulation. In other words, in the brain are little neural networks called
ganglia that contain several thousand tightly interconnected neurons. In addition, there
is a network of neurons that carry signals between ganglia and also carry sensory
Biochemistry can be divided into the localized mix
of neurotransmitters in each individual ganglion and the general mix of neurotransmitters
in the brain as a whole. In other words, each ganglion has its own micro-climate zone of
neurotransmitters that most strongly influences (and is influenced by) the activity of
that particular neural network. In addition, the biochemistry of the brain as a whole
reflects the collective influence of the larger network of neurons that connects the
ganglia and handles sensory information.
If this was the extent of it, the whole system
would be binary, and insufficient to describe the actual functioning of the mind. In fact,
the local biochemistry of each ganglion slowly assimilates into the larger biochemistry of
the brain as a whole. Simultaneously, the biochemistry of the whole brain infiltrates each
ganglion, providing a stabilizing and averaging effect.
In a like manner, the processing of the neural
network in each ganglion will have an influence on the information sent between ganglia by
the larger network. Simultaneously, the data flow of the larger network and influence,
trigger, and inhibit the operations of an specific ganglion.
As a result of these four kinds of interactions,
each of the four aspects of the brain's physiology has a different kind of influence on
each of the other three. The whole brain neurology directly influences the whole
brain biochemistry and the triggering of the neural networks in the ganglia. It indirectly
influences the micro-climate zone in each ganglia through its effect on the neural network
and its effect on the whole brain biochemistry.
The whole brain biochemistry directly
influences the whole brain neural network and the micro-climate zone of each ganglion. It indirectly
influences the processing of each ganglion's neural network.
The neural network of each ganglion directly
influences the micro-climate zone of biochemistry in that ganglion and the signals sent
from that ganglion across the larger whole brain network. It indirectly influences
the biochemistry of the brain as a whole.
The micro-climate zone of each ganglion directly
influences the processing of that ganglion's neural network and the biochemistry of the
brain as a whole. It indirectly influences the firing of the whole brain neural
It is a contention of Mental Relativity that the
four aspects of the brain account for our perceiving the four external dimensions of Mass,
Energy, Space, and Time, and that the four interactions account for our perceiving four
internal dimensions of Knowledge, Thought, Ability, and Desire (explored in the major
section on the brain).
Because each of these areas is influenced by each
of the others, neither linear nor non-linear models can fully describe the mechanism. In
fact, a complete model of the mind requires, linear, hierarchical, non-linear, and
ultimately relativistic equations. It is for this reason this theory of mind has been
named Mental Relativity.
The Mind is a machine made of time. It must be in
motion to exist. The mind does not exist in the physical world, but as a result of the
physical world. Taking this all together, think back to a time when you drifted away on
some mental tangent until suddenly you were jolted back to "reality", and you
realized that several minutes had passed unnoticed. During that lost period, your mind
simply did not exist for it had ceased to be in motion. The moment some external stimulus
triggered a response, however, the physical nature of the four aspects of your brain
re-created your mind more or less as it was when it ceased.
More precisely, it was not your whole mind that
ceased to exist in the example above. Rather, it was only that quality of the mind called self-awareness.
In fact, there are four areas of the mind that are related much as the four aspects of the
brain are related. They are: Conscious, Memory, Subconscious, and Pre-conscious.
Self-awareness is the synthesis of these four areas of the mind.
The four areas of the mind are not as simple as the
four aspects of the brain. Each aspect of the brain has its own unique kind of process,
and is also influenced in unique ways by the processes of the other three. In a sense,
each aspect of the brain has it's own Memory, which consists of the state of it's process
at any given moment, for that is indicative of all that has happened to it up to the
moment. Also, each aspect of the brain has its own Subconscious for that indicates the
direction or iteration of the process. Each has a pre-conscious that indicates the
momentum or inertia of the process. And each has a consciousness, which is its response to
the collective influence of the other three.
Self-awareness, then, is a complex synthesis of the
four areas of the mind, each of which is itself a synthesis of one portion of each of the
four aspects of the brain. This model is explained in much greater detail in the essays
appearing in the major section on the mind.
Even with all this complexity, for a machine made
of time, the above description sounds rather static. This is because we have described the
processes of the mind as objects - standing waves that represent an interference pattern
caused by dissimilar systems, each interacting in a larger system.
There is also a progressive nature to the mind as
it evolves, changes, learns, and adapts. Understanding this requires a different side of
the Mental Relativity model. Let us think of a single neuron as an empty pipe that could
hold 10 billiard balls from one end of the pipe to the other. Every time this neuron were
stimulated it would receive one more billiard ball. Eventually, the pipe would become
filled to its capacity of 10. If one more stimulation occurred, the new billiard ball
would enter the pipe and the one at the other end would pop out. This is a model of a
binary aspect of the mind.
Now, add to this model that the pipe is made of
rubber, and is coated on the inside with oil. If this pipe had only one billiard ball in
it, it might take a whole day, but eventually the billiard ball would slide out the
bottom, even without any additional stimulation from above. If two billiard balls were
present, the combined weight might make the first ball drop out in only half a day. With
the maximum capacity of ten billiard balls, it might take only a few minutes. In other
words, even without additional stimulation, this model of a neuron would spontaneous fire
on its own, shedding itself of its built up potential. How quickly it would fire would
depend upon the degree of previous stimulation. The information contained in the neuron
would have a half-life.
Next, let us add a temperature control to the room
in which the pipe hangs. When the room is hotter, the oil in the pipe is thinner and the
billiard balls drop out more quickly. When the room is colder, the oil is thicker and the
billiard balls take longer to fall through. What if the temperature in the room was
controlled by the frequency in which new balls were added to the pipe: more balls = a
hotter temperature, fewer balls = a lower temperature. In this case, the greater the
stimulation, the greater the speed of the balls through the pipe. But even if the
stimulation stops for a while, it takes time for the room to cool down. So, even if the
pipe is currently empty, but the room is still hot, a single ball of stimulation will
slide right through. The intensity of the previous stimulation is "remembered"
by the temperature of the room and creates a learned pathway through the pipe that favors
experience at the expense of observation. This is, in truth, more than a model of a neuron
- it is a simple model of the basic relationship between neurology and biochemistry.
Now, imagine that there are many pipes in the room.
The output from the first pipe falls into a second pipe. The second pipe's output falls
into a third, and so on. Imagine that each pipe has a funnel at the top and a sprayer at
the bottom so that a single pipe's input might come from several other pipes and its
output might go to several. Add to this a second kind of billiard ball that lowers the
room temperature, instead of raising it (like neurotransmitters that are exciters or
Put this whole model together and you get a very
complex synthesis, indeed - one in which recursive, self-sustaining patterns are possible,
and one in which ripples of force might occur. In such a system, standing wave patterns
might occur and be relatively stable in the short run, yet change over time. In addition,
a single pattern might hold its integrity, yet not be anchored in one place. Such a
pattern of standing waves might flow through the system, reflect off the sides, invert, or
collide with another pattern. When standing waves remain anchored in one place,
consideration is not occurring and self-awareness ceases to exist. When the standing wave
patterns are in motion, consideration (of one of the forms mentioned) is occurring, and
Clearly, from this simply analogy, a very complex
model can be derived that, on the surface, reflects the observable dynamics of the human
mind. This model is developed in much greater detail in the complete section on
Imagine that to begin with, there was only one sex.
This was because there was only one kind of mind. This mind had no space nor time sense,
and was only aware of mass and energy. A brain that would develop such a mind would have
no ganglia, but only a single whole brain neural network and its attendant biochemistry.
As creatures with brains of this limited nature
evolved, those with greater processing capacity survived to pass on that quality down the
evolutionary line. It may be that this would occur with organisms that had but a handful
of brain cells. As long as the cells constituted a single neural network in a single
biochemistry, a minimal system of response would exist. There would be memory, for this
kind of brain could learn (based on the billiard ball example in the section above). There
would also be pre-conscious, for this kind of brain would allow the organism to habituate
or sensitize to various stimuli over time. There would not be, however, a subconscious or
conscious, as there was no spatial or temporal capacity to anticipate or put things in
When it came to survival situations where context
or anticipation would increase the odds, this simple organism could not take advantage of
them. But, through random variation, it is not unlikely that some mutated variety of brain
might develop more than one neural network, and in so doing, enjoy two new dimensions of
awareness: space sense and time sense.
At this stage, the creature's mind would be
perfectly balanced between the two appreciations. Through natural variation, a creature
might develop lobes of the brain that favored space and time appreciations respectively.
So, although it could now employ experience and apply it to the future, when situations
arose where the context was at odds with anticipation, the creature's mind would go into
brain-lock. This poor organism could not longer respond to immediate stimuli, and was
trapped between what the bigger picture of surroundings indicated versus what the
progressive direction indicated. Like a deer, frozen in the headlights of a car, this
early thinking machine would stand in the road until it was run over, or more likely,
Through random mutation, some creatures might have
more or simply more efficient neurons when it came to producing excitatory
neurotransmitters or inhibitionary neurotransmitters. (Both are natural requirements for
the model explained in the section above.) Those that had more exciters favored the
neurology. Those that had more inhibitors favored the biochemistry. As a result, these
minds were no longer balanced, but could actually pay more attention, with more accuracy
to one appreciation or the other.
The downside of this kind of split, is that while
more attention is being placed in one direction, it is being deprived from another
direction. So, each kind of mind could be "blind-sided" in the area it saw less
clearly that its adversary. Those creatures that tended to group together in binary pairs,
would have a greater chance of survival than an unbalanced individual alone. Each could
see clearly into the other's blind side, and together they could peer more deeply into
space and time, context and anticipation, than any single organism could by itself.
The more specialized the minds of the bonded pair
became, the more successful the survival value. But, of course, this required the
organisms to be attracted to one another, for if they were not, their line died out in
favor of those that were. Spatial and temporal creatures became attracted and bonded
together for survival.
The mechanism for attraction was sensory
stimulation that indicated an opposing bias in neurotransmitter production. The sex
hormones Testosterone and Estrogen each have an impact on the production of
neurotransmitter. Testosterone triggers the creation of more exciter neurotransmitters
(such as Seratonin). Estrogen triggers the creation of more inhibitor neurotransmitters
(such as Dopamine). In addition, each ganglion of the brain has "L" cells and
"R" cells, which are suspected of producing exciters and inhibitors.
Let's jump ahead to the human species and see where
things ended up. At the twelfth to fourteenth week of pregnancy, a flush of Testosterone
either floods the brain of the developing fetus or it doesn't. If it does, for a two week
period the brain is bathed in exciters. If it doesn't, the brain is bathed in a greater
ratio of inhibitors. This hormone wash affects the production efficiency of the L and R
cells. During this time, the lifetime efficiency of these two kinds of cells is
established by the wash and set into the cells. From this time forward, the biochemistry
in the ganglia will favor Seratonin or dopamine - space or time.
The hormone wash recedes at the fourteenth week.
The newborn human, therefore, is almost nearly balanced in appreciation of space and time,
with only a slight bias toward one or the other. This helps the youngster who is below
reproductive age to function as efficiently as possible as a balanced individual in behalf
of its own survival.
Once the infant reaches the age of puberty,
hormones in the body simultaneously do several things. Secondary sexual characteristics
show up that make the spatial and temporal minds more physically attractive to each other
so that they will bond. Reproduction is enabled. And, a second flood of hormones enters
the blood stream and the brain to tip the nearly balanced mind heavily in favor of space
or time appropriately.
All of these well-timed functions serve to ensure
the greatest chance for survival of the young, and the greatest chance for survival of the
species as a whole.
Before society, men were men and women were women,
for any other arrangement, deviation, or lack of bias led to a lessened chance for
survival. When society grew naturally as a fractal reflection of an organisms natural
organization, it was based primarily on a structure, as opposed to a flexible, dynamic
system. This is in line with the immediate survival needs of the society.
Such a structure would best survive if spatial
thinkers were motivated to employ spatial skills and temporal thinkers to employ temporal
skills. And, since the functions of child-bearing and territory-taming had fallen into
line with the mental bias of the two species of organism, it was quite natural that those
would be the jobs incorporated into the society's structure.
To motivate each species to function according to
its capabilities at the greatest efficiency, rewards and punishments evolved that were
appropriate to each kind of mind. The rewards functioned as exciters and the punishments
This worked fine for several thousands of years.
The initial heavy bias created an inverse bell-curve that was so spread to the two sides
(space and time) that it was almost truly binary. The world was inhabited by spatial
thinkers who were more or less alike, except for experience, and temporal thinkers, who
were equally cut from a single cloth. But, as society became so successful at its task
that it moved farther and farther away from immediate survival needs, those natural
variations in the bias toward space or time had a better chance for survival. The trough
in the bell-curve began to fill in. Same sex partnerships began to find ecological niches
in society where they could prosper. Some women were born with a bias still temporal, but
more toward the spatial, and some men born vice versa.
In the present day and age, there are more
individuals in the trough than ever before. Some are even born to the bias opposite to
what their physical sex would indicate. Many of these are unhappy when puberty hits
because the meatball is stewing in the wrong juice, so to speak. Even those that are born
to the bias consistent with their physical sex may be so close to the center that the
rewards and punishments offered by society are no longer appropriate and fail to function
as intended. Spatial women tend to become feminists, because as spatial thinkers, they are
more interested in territory. Temporal men tend to become cross-dressers, for as temporal
thinkers, they are more interested in environment.
But, this is all part of the natural evolution of a
society. The rigid nature of the roles provided is essential during survival times, but
hard to change as the society moves more toward information and relationship than physical
organization. Structures cannot really be changed, but must be dismantled and reassembled
in a new form. An information society requires a more flexible form, more like a Rubik's
cube, where it always maintains its integrity as a cube and corners always remain corners,
but the arrangements in which it might be manipulated can bring an astronomical number of
variations to bear.
And this is supported by our bodies as women are
growing in height as much as an inch per generation, puberty ages are dropping
consistently, and the average testosterone level in men is dropping as much as twenty-five
percent per generation. All of these things lead us through an evolutionary period in our
society in which the spatially/temporally balanced individual is more suited to the new
tasks of our times than the highly biased men and women of old.
So, men and women: they aren't what they used to
be. But that is as right for our time as being almost binary was for theirs.
Several essays later in this book explore very
specific applications of Mental Relativity to the physical sciences. In fact, it is a
tenet of the theory that since we organize data according to the operating system of our
minds, there is no real meaning in the external world, only information. And, the patterns
we perceive when we see a spiral in a tea cup, a sea shell, a head of hair, or a galaxy,
do not occur because there are really spirals there, but because of all the patterns we
are capable of understanding, a spiral comes most close to the data.
Look at the half-lives of the potential created in
neurons, as in the billiard ball model above. They seem a lot like the electron shells in
quantum theory. And this is not accidental. Although the billiard ball model of the mind
was developed before we realized an connection to quantum theory, it was the same kind of
mental operating system that created both.
The math that describes a black hole is uncannily
similar to the math that describes a prejudice. Fractals and magnetic forces have their
parallel in the Mental Relativity model of the mind. And, there is even a hint that the
mental element is the missing link in pulling together a unified field theory. Not being a
physicist, I don't pretend to be anything near an expert in this field, nor even to fully
understand the scope of considerations involved. But being a human being and therefore a
pattern-maker, I am convinced that new perspectives created which enhance our
understanding in one area are might also be advantageously applied to other areas as well.
What follows is a collection of essays written over
a great number of years. Some may be incomplete, different in tone, and even contradictory
to others. My purpose is not to purport with absolute conviction an inflexible model of
human, God, mind, and the universe, but simply to offer some new perspectives on several
of the crucial issues that have perplexed us through the ages, and will no doubt continue
to do so for ages to come.