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 Post subject: Reflections Ch. 3 - Verbal Hallucinations & Preconscious...
PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2006 11:47 am 
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Verbal Hallucinations and Preconscious Mentality by Julian Jaynes

Post a reply in this section to discuss this chapter with other readers.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 5:13 am 
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I have a question about the following passage written by Jaynes (pp. 86-87), in particular the part that I have rendered in bold print:

"Another was a deeply religious man who one summer, following an interest in spiritualism, heard at least 20 divine voices extremely similar to the voices heard by Schreber described in his famous autobiography. While he was hospitalized at the demand of his family, he never received medication or therapy or lost his objectivity, and was sorry when the voices went away. If you have a tendency to say this was a schizophrenic episode with spontaneous remission, I wonder what you would say about Emanuel Swedenborg, the brilliant early 19th century scientist who heard voices he identified as everyone from Socrates to Jesus, and whose verbal hallucinations founded the Swedenborgian religion. Or his one time follower William Blake, whose poems were heard from believed-in angels all about him. It is to be noted through this material the important relation to belief in those voices and particularly religious belief."

Does the context suggest that Jaynes is proposing that Swedenborg is an example of a normal person who hallucinated a lot?

Does the linking here by Jaynes of Swedenborg with Blake imply that Jaynes considers Swedenborg to be, like Blake, "'a new kind of man,' one who had both consciousness and a bicameral mind"? (see "The Ghost of a Flea").

In any case, what I would say (in answer to Jaynes) is that Swedenborg probably hallucinated due to having temporal lobe epilepsy. There is a good article (originally published in the journal Epilepsia) on this at the following link:

http://www.chez.com/asklepios/XIX/foote-smith.htm

I'm about to start--any day now--a series of posts on my blogsite about "ecstatic" epilepsy, which I think is a disorder that sheds a lot of light on the neurology of extreme religious experience.

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My blog (essays+forum) site is godmemes.com


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 6:49 pm 
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I think the underlying question here is what is the function or cause of hallucinations in general? If they are indeed a vestige of the bicameral mind, then it makes sense that they can be elicited in a wide variety of ways, including temporal lobe epilepsy, what we now call schizophrenia, and among so-called normal people exposed to stress, high altitude, or sensory deprivation. Muhammad is another case similar to Swedenborg. Were his well documented hallucinations the result of what we now call schizophrenia, temporal lobe epilepsy, or some type of self-induced trance-like state? We may never know, and, to a certain degree, it may not matter. The important question to me being: "Are all modern manifestations of hallucinations vestiges of the bicameral mind?"


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 12:28 am 
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Moderator wrote:
The important question to me being: "Are all modern manifestations of hallucinations vestiges of the bicameral mind?"


What sort of approach do you think would be capable of providing an answer to that question?

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 1:25 pm 
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I think over the next decade we will see great advances in our understanding of the neurobiology of hallucinations. Several recent studies mentioned in Ch. 4 implicate the right temporal-parietal lobe as Jaynes suggested. The fact that patients with temporal lobe epilepsy often have both hallucinations and heightened religiousity also supports the neurological model Jaynes put forth for the bicameral mind. So I think a better understanding of what's happening in the brain with regard to hallucinations and religious experience would be a big first step toward understanding the history of hallucinations, how they are intertwined with belief, and their previous role in the bicameral mentality. More study of hallucinations throughout history from the bicameral perspective is also needed. I often see anthropologists commenting on trance and hallucinations in ancient cultures but they are usually unaware of Jaynes's bicameral mind theory.

As a side note the most searched phrase on Google for visitors to the Julian Jaynes Society website other than "Julian Jaynes" or "bicameral mind" is "hallucinations in children" followed by several variations on that. I think we're only just beginning to understand how pervasive hallucinations are in normal children.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 8:12 pm 
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Jaynes seems to have written the metaphor for the transformation of pure pre-verbal animal consciousness to modern subjective conscious mind. From the first animate creature, there was the need to interpret internal needs and translate them into choices from increasingly elusive external resources. The more complex the animal, the more sophisticated the essential choices must be. By the time the bipedal posture and inflection of the pharynx enabled expression of consonants encouraging development of language, it seems reasonable that pre-conscious synthetic processes were already very much in the habit of directing choices. While the overlay of language and its analytic processes resulted in unprecedented social stress such as population pressure with consequent migrations and violent encounters with competing god systems, what I take from Jaynes is that the underlying synthetic mind put the stress and the felt sentiment together into nostrums, quite out of the blue, such as the Golden Rule, taken as ‘divine revelation.’ With continuing stress, and prior experience holding no answer, the primordial underlying synthetic faculty may well respond, and more or less dramatically, as from nowhere. With the synthetic faculty so essential to animate life, having evolved over hundreds of millions of years, if it is not still ‘down there,’ how did it suddenly vanish in 2-3 millennia? What is ‘conscience?’


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 Post subject: Modern manifestations of hallucinations
PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 10:40 pm 
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Quote:
The important question to me being: "Are all modern manifestations of hallucinations vestiges of the bicameral mind?"


For Julian Jaynes evolution was extremely important. It is an important aspect of evolution - i.e., a law of evolution - that all attributes and characteristics of the ancesters are inherited by the newly evolved kind.

When J.J. explains what he means with "consciousness" he first of all emphasizes what is NOT consciousness. And by doing so he only refers to examples of abilities of the modern mind and all those examples belong to the abilities of the subconscious mind (or subconscious soul or subconscious psyche). Implicitly he says therefore: yes, our subconscious soul is alive and active or else we wouldn't be able to play piano.

In my understanding of J.J. I assume that the subconscious mind is identical with the bicameral mind. We have all the abilities of pre-conscious, bicameral beings with the only exception: we have in addition consciousness.

I think the problem with understanding J.J. lies mostly in our inability to become aware that most of our mental abilities are executed by our sunconscious mind. Our consciousness corresponds with our subconscious mind by sending a task and receiving a result. Our conscious mind fights very hard to admit the process between task and result. This process is executed by our subconscious mind.

Back to your question: hallucinated voices are very dramatic vestiges, indicators for the fact that the bicameral mind is active and alive in us modern beings. But they might indicate that the "normal" correspondence between conscious and subconscious mind is somewhat disturbed. Another way to look at this phenomenon: it shows us that the subconscious sole finds a way to make herself heard when she is otherwise - maybe - suppressed. With this "suppression" I mean that the circumstances of life might be such that the consciousness is unable to receive the message. If there is a block of any sort for consciousness to receive this life-protecting message the subconscious soul refers back to the pre-conscious way.

It could be that people who hear voices are afraid of their own subconscious soul and their consciousness suppresses the messages from this unknown area with abstract despotism, caused by anxieties. Therefore, the subconscious soul makes herself to be heard the very old way to reach the conscious mind.

This is just a theory, a speculation.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 11:23 am 
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I agree that we tend not to realize the extent to which mental processes take place outside of conscious awareness. I think I understand what you mean by your comparison of the subconscious mind with the bicameral mind, in the sense that they both involve information processing outside of conscious awareness. But there are also important distinctions, the subconscious mind being a more general term that encompasses all thought processing outside of conscious awareness, while the bicameral mind refers to a specific mental model involving hallucinations to convey behavioral commands in those that lack subjective consciousness. So just in the interest of clarity I would not say they are identical.

Your use of the term "subconscious soul" perhaps adds an unnecessary layer of confusion and implies a dualistic or mystical element to the subconscious mind.


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 Post subject: Re: Ch. 3 - Verbal Hallucinations and Preconscious Mentality
PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 11:34 am 
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My mother was diagnosed schizophrenic,she was never aware enough to talk of hearing voices,but when I am stressed I hear voices,but I can never could recall what they said afterwards.I have had Julian Jaynes book [i]The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind for 30 years I am reading it at this moment. (Consciousness is not necessary for thinking) page 36. Brilliant thought, I personally think all thinking is done in the subconscious mind (course no one would be aware of its thoughts, with out the conscious mind). Everything I have written just popped out of of my mind I was not aware of anything I have written before I wrote it. I am endless surprised, also my subconscious mind cannot spell word come out rubbish, and it gets me to correct it, after I have written it, then it can correct it, it uses my eyes to observe, my fingers to type. I must have split mind! Well goodbye from both of us. (We are aware that people may think,it remained rubbish after correction.) But you cannot blame me, I am only the messsenger boy.A thought occured to me My mother used the clothes line to send messages to the neighbourhood,she would tear a shirt in half and peg it on the line,message "my father was only half a man"and she would pile up these messages all along the line then,blurt out the meaning to me.But you could not communicate with her.


Last edited by oldhead on Sat May 16, 2009 3:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Ch. 3 - Verbal Hallucinations and Preconscious Mentality
PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2009 12:59 am 
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I am listening to The Secret History of the World by Jonathan Black. On cassette 2 it describes what it calls the ancient mind, that their minds worked in a different way than than it does now, how dreams were taken very seriously, also their thinking had a dream like quality very much like the bicameral mind theory. There are 13 cassettes, 19 hours of listening to go! .After further listening,Jonathan goes through all kinds of ancient and early minds and their ways of thinking Jonathan's writting style is very simple,not highly literate as Julian's,but the coverage of his subject is very wide.


Last edited by oldhead on Sat May 16, 2009 3:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Ch. 3 - Verbal Hallucinations and Preconscious Mentality
PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 6:40 pm 
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oldhead wrote:
I am listening to The Secret History of the World by Jonathan Black. On cassette 2 it describes what it calls the ancient mind, that their minds worked in a different way than than it does now, how dreams were taken very seriously, also their thinking had a dream like quality very much like the bicameral mind theory. There are 13 cassettes, 19 hours of listening to go! oldhead


Really? I have this book. I'll have to read it soon. Been meaning to for some time. I've read a lot of highly critical reviews of it in the press though. Let us know if he goes even further into Jaynes territory.


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 Post subject: Re: Ch. 3 - Verbal Hallucinations and Preconscious Mentality
PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2009 3:09 am 
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I have been rereading Julian Jaynes' The Origin of Consciousness & Bicameral Mind, and it is amazing how much more intelligent he appears now than when I first read his book 30 years ago. I am looking for the cause of the breakdown of my subconscious mind. Where it fails in its purpose,which is to respond to my every requirement, it lets me down in all sorts of situations, it refuses to print what I want it to, disturbs my sleep, it interferes with my golf swing, and generally misbehaves. Is it because I am too demanding? I expect too much of it? Some days it makes me depressed, other days happy. Could it be that it has it's own itinerary that it wants me to follow, that I ignore? Can Julian enlighten me now, because he did not 30 years ago.


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 Post subject: Re: Ch. 3 - Verbal Hallucinations and Preconscious Mentality
PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2009 2:17 am 
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I never noticed any reference in Julian Jaynes books to Carl G Jung though they covered simular ground with Jung's collective unconcious,archetypal images, and theory of dreams.


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 Post subject: Re: Ch. 3 - Verbal Hallucinations and Preconscious Mentality
PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:17 pm 
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I don't think Jaynes was a big fan of Jung, particularly the concept of a collective unconscious.


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 Post subject: Re: Ch. 3 - Verbal Hallucinations and Preconscious Mentality
PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2009 2:41 am 
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Dear Friend,

I find Julian Jaynes' bicameral mind and schizophrenia views glaringly obvious, but I can see why they are ignored by contemporary science.

To me the mind contains a blocking mechanism — a sort of built in bigotry — that is only able to view
material that fits in with personal views. I am aware of flaws in my thinking and how I can read things one year and the following year shock horror I am aware of something I had previously completely missed — it happens to me all the time.

I have books by many great minds — Einstein, Jung, Julian Jaynes's Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind — that I have kept reading over the decades... 50 years plus. I have the 1976 edition of The Origin of Consciousness at my bedside. I read the comments I have made over the years
inside the covers. I liked one: We all experience life differently, bicameral mind was a split mind? With out consciousness nothing exists.

Carl Jung was spot on with his statement "We are pitifully unaware of the human mind." That was 50 years ago.
With present day scientific thinking nothing has changed — JJ Society being a exception.

My octogenarian mind enjoys being made aware of new thoughts as my mind expands.

I enjoyed reading your new newsletter,

Merry Christmas. from oldhead.


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