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Dr. Jim Carpenter's First Sight theory not only finds a role for psi in the creation of consciousness; it has a wide range of implications for what it means to be human, the nature of personal development, and potentially the development of life itself. With its focus on the importance of meaning, it has particular relevance to the practice of psychotherapy.

Today on the Truth Perspective we discuss a chapter in Carpenter's book on the subject, as well as a talk he gave in which he expands on the ideas presented there. Carpenter compares his theory with the Control/Mastery theory of psychotherapy, in which conscious and unconscious motivations play a central role. Last week we asked how to bring unconscious and conscious intentions into alignment. Carpenter's discussion of pathogenic beliefs and the role of the therapist in correcting them provides an answer: on an unconscious level, patients wish to have their unconscious pathogenic beliefs disproven. And psi can play a role in helping that process along.

Running Time: 01:23:45

Download: MP3 - 76.7 MB

Here's the transcript of the show:

Corey: Hello everyone and welcome back to the Truth Perspective. My name is Corey Schink and joining me on the show today is Harrison Koehli.

Harrison: Hello.

Corey: On last week's show we discussed a book called First Sight: ESP and Parapsychology in Everyday Life. As the title suggests, it is a book that pretty much turns the fields of parapsychology and psychology on their head by looking at things like clairvoyance, ESP, telepathy and doing them not as unpredictable, illusory or dangerous but as just basic parts of every person's daily experience. So we've discussed a lot of the technical terms on last week's show so I would highly recommend, if you haven't listened to that already, to go ahead and check it out.

But just to give a little bit of that background for anybody who's still getting up to speed, the author was Dr. Jim Carpenter. He's a clinical psychologist still in practice and a research parapsychologist with decades of experience in the field. So he came at it from the perspective of somebody who's been trying to wrench meaning from the suffering of normal people in their lives as a clinical psychologist and also to wrest meaning from the often crazy experiences of people who exhibit ESP or PK and how it can be studied within the laboratory and what that means for everybody's life.

So used a lot of technical terms in order to explicate his theory. I'm going to go ahead and read a paragraph that lays that all out short and sweet so that everybody is on the same ground for this conversation. So he writes,

"I think the following constructs are useful in accounting for some aspects of how the mind works and producing experience and behaviour out of unconscious processes: meaning, intention, prehension, weight, signing and somatosensory. Meaning means what we ordinarily take it to mean while intention refers to the goals that someone is aiming to realize. Intentions can be unconscious and this is especially important in the functioning of Psi. Prehension means to grasp and Psi is a form of an unconscious prehension though it is not the only kind since you can have subliminal prehensions and other kinds of unconscious prehensions.

But weight that means the mind unconsciously prehended is important or unimportant to some degree in light of one's intentions in the context of the situation. Signing can be either positive or negative and means that something that is prehended is either included or excluded, i.e., avoided, in your experience or your behaviour so that something that is prehended is heavily weighted, it's contribution, either positive or negative will be strong and potentially obvious. If lightly weighted its contribution will be negligible.

Somatosensory refers to that sphere made up of all the things that impinge in some way upon the physical organism with its sensory systems. Extra Somatosensory refers to the universe beyond that ken, a universe that we are in touch with all the time."

So that is the ultimate takeaway from that book. In our everyday life we are in constant contact, although completely unconsciously, with a world of information that is not available to our senses and that we pick up on that through ESP and through PK and various other forms of psychic what you would call 'ability', I suppose, but that we don't normally get to register in our consciousness just because it's not relevant or we don't need it. It's not as important as other forms of information.

So on this week's show we're going to discuss some of the implications that this theory has for different fields, especially evolution and the clinical setting, the psychotherapeutic setting. So with that, Harrison do you have any thoughts on where you want to go with that?

Harrison: Yes. First I want to expand on your introduction a bit to give some examples to place those concepts in the sphere of actual practical, concrete reality. So on the last show I gave the example of mistaking a stick in the forest for a snake as an example of how this process works. I was thinking about that some more, prompted by a question, so I want to clarify that as a way of providing an example of how Carpenter says the mind works.

To start out with, he references the vast literature on unconscious processes which has been going on for decades now. It's pretty confirmed in the scientific community, the fact that subliminal information can affect your physiology, emotions and cognition. You can do that by priming people, as we talked about last week, with emotionally relevant images that they're not consciously aware of seeing but they respond physiologically as if they were conscious of it. So they might start sweating more. They'll show various physiological signs of arousal of one sort or another and that can affect their decision-making in various conditions.

There's just a vast amount of literature to confirm that there are unconscious processes going on that, as Carpenter says, seem to be if not conscious, are still intelligent. These processes are going on as if this unconscious part of yourself is, on its own, conscious to some degree. It has its own intentions, sense of agency, is goal-directed and it responds and interacts with the world according to meanings and purpose, like he says.

So if you have an example of how that works, he says that using all this literature to confirm or support it that at any given moment what goes into the creation of a conscious experience is a holistic mingling of all different kinds of streams of information; you have memories, you've got your immediate feelings and sensations and you've got your conscious beliefs and knowledge which is tied into memory. All this is tied into memory of course because you can't do anything without memory. You can't communicate. You can't think because even to think one thought requires the span of memory it takes to start and finish that thought. Then when you get into long-term memory, you need memory in order to be conscious.

But in addition to that he says that there are these Psi impressions, Psi-derived information that is basically received by the mind in some way. The mind grasps out and receives that information and he argues that it receives all available information - we can get into that in a second - and then the way that consciousness seems to work is to highlight the most important and relevant information for the unconscious and conscious goals in the moment. So if something isn't relevant in the moment it won't be perceived or weighted as important and if it is important it will be weighted either positively or negatively to either bring it to consciousness or not.

So all these streams of information are entering into any conscious moment and that maybe their relative strengths will be determined on a case-by-case basis in the context of the moment. He gives the example of a tiger in the forest and either being aware of it subliminally or not, but to use another example, I'll say maybe you're walking through a minefield and you don't know that you're walking through a minefield. In this hypothetical scenario what he would be saying would be if some kind of Psi exists, if some kind of non-sensory information is being received in this moment, of course a mine in the path that you're walking will be highly relevant to you personally because you might die if you step on it.

So he would say in that situation an individual might receive that piece of Psi information, the mind is grasping out into the world for potential meanings, that is a highly meaningful piece of information potentially. That's the first step. It gets weighted as important. But whether it gets signed positively or negatively, let's look at an example of that. If it gets signed negatively that means it's important but it doesn't enter into the conscious experience. At the same time it might be signed positively. I don't know what he'd say about this because it can affect behaviour without coming to consciousness. I'm not sure if he'd say that's signed positively or not. I can't remember how he would distinguish that. But you can imagine for instance, walking along this minefield, not realizing that you're coming up to a mine and then all of a sudden you just lose your balance and you trip over the mine whereas if you wouldn't have tripped over it you would have stepped on it.

You might just think, "That was weird. I just kind of lost my balance there for a second", having no awareness whatsoever that you just avoided total disaster. He would consider that coincidence an example of Psi-derived information that is resulting in an inadvertent behaviour on your part. You're not sure why you did what you did but it was significant in the sense that you just saved your life without knowing it.

Now in the case of a misperception, like when you see a vague shadow and you're not sure what you're seeing so your mind plays tricks on you, if nothing was really there I think what Carpenter would probably say is that there's no Psi-derived information coming from it because it isn't relevant on a subliminal level. That might just be a stick in the bush or that might be just a person-shaped shadow, cast by a mannequin or some random collection of objects that by chance happen to make a human formed shadow.

So on a Psi level, on the unconscious, non-sensory level, that won't be weighted as a positive thing because there's no actual relevance to it. The relevance comes when you see the vague information. This happens in a split second where you see something and you get that startle response right away. In that case there might not be any Psi-type information going on but it's still activating the same unconscious processes because subliminal and Psi information act subliminally in the same ways. You see that and it's a vague sensory picture and what he says is when there's uncertainty or vagueness, the mind then searches for meanings. It searches for potential meanings, "Well what could that be? Well that could be a person and that looks kind of shady. That could be dangerous. That could be a snake. That could be very dangerous."

So it prepares your body for a response by just cycling through a catalogue - again dependent on memory - of potentially significant things that that vague stimuli could be representing. So it prepares you for that action. It's not necessarily going to be right. It could just be a guess. This ties in to the work that Daniel Kahneman and Timothy Wilson and other guys have done on the adaptive unconscious, on how these unconscious processes are basically heuristic. They aren't perfect. They look at a situation and go for the best bet. Sometimes it's wrong but it ends up being advantageous because you're better off being wrong in the sense of being scared of something that's not there than you are of not being scared of something that is there. It will pay off, essentially.

In those instances of behaviour and experience you've got all these streams of information coming in from the senses, from memory - because your memories are contributing to your perception so that you know what you're looking at. You can't know what you're looking at if you don't remember what that form actually is. You can't recognize your friends if you don't remember what they look like, who they are and what kind of people they are. That applies to every situation. So memory is a great contributor to the construction of a conscious experience.

Carpenter would add that Psi too is a contributor to all conscious experience but you just don't necessarily see it all the time because it gets fully incorporated into the conscious experience and by the time you're consciously experiencing something, you've got that sensory confirmation of whatever Psi might have been there so you don't recognize the Psi because you have the experience. You've got the conscious sensory experience. You have no need for Psi and no way of detecting it because it's submerged within and underneath the actual experience that you're having.

I just wanted to give those examples as a way of seeing how it might work in actual concrete examples. So if we move on to the topic that we want to get into today, we'll see how much we get into them. We might have to do another show at some point. He's got a chapter in here on how this works in the consulting room. First Sight in the Consulting Room is the name of the chapter. He's got a great talk that he gave at the Rhine Center, I believe, a year or two ago on this very chapter. He goes a bit more in-depth and gives some case studies from his own experience and the experiences of other psychotherapists, laying out how the theory applies in the wide context of psychotherapy and how it can help looking at situations like this and even help in a therapeutic sense. So not only the theory and understanding what's actually going on in psychotherapy but how to explain certain phenomena inherent in psychotherapy and also how in certain situations that can actually help the process.

So maybe we can get into that. I recommend checking out the video. We'll try to include a link in the show description so you can watch it because it's nice to get an idea of what Carpenter himself is like and to see the examples. He's a good speaker and the stories are really good too. We wouldn't be able to do justice by trying to give all the details of them. At the very least watch it for the stories because they're pretty interesting.

Maybe to start out with, before he gets into his examples, he's only got a page on this in the book which covers most of the ideas but it's good to see it in the video too because he expands on it. It's this theory that's been developing pretty recently called Control Mastery Theory for psychotherapy and it's kind of like an attempt to describe the kind of dynamics of psychotherapy, what's going on, how it works and I guess why it works. The basic principles on which the theory is based is that people are innately seeking control of their own emotional lives and mastery over their problems. That's one of the basic axioms or principles of this thing; when people are going to psychotherapy it's actually because on some level they have a wish to get better.

So they have some awareness that there's something wrong in their life and some awareness, however unconscious it is, that they can get better and that they want to get better. Another axiom or principle would be that we think, decide and plan unconsciously as well as consciously. That's been inherent in psychotherapy of all sorts back to the original psycho-analysts like Freud, that there is this unconscious thing that's doing its own thing and that it does have some kind of agency.

One more basic principle is that many people have powerful, unconscious pathogenic beliefs that make them unhappy and ineffective. The way they describe these pathogenic beliefs is that they're unconscious beliefs that form, usually in childhood, as a result of usually trauma and neglect. For example you might have a kid who develops the belief that if they get too attached to people those people will disappear because in their life everyone that they got attached to disappeared from their lives. Maybe their father left them, their mother committed suicide, they were put into foster homes and shunted from one family to the next. So anyone in their life that they actually cared about and that might have cared for them doesn't remain as a fixture in their life.

So that will create an unconscious belief that you can't get attached to someone. It's a protective mechanism because if I don't get attached to someone then they can't leave me and a bad thing can't happen. Of course it's pathogenic because it isn't based in reality. It's a good conclusion to come to, it's not the best conclusion to come to and it works at the time, especially for a child who can't understand all the details and all the context and then can't see as an adult that it doesn't apply in the same way as it did when they were a child.

People who follow this kind of theory would say that people enter therapy with the unconscious wish that the therapist will help them disprove these beliefs. Again, there's an unconscious awareness that these beliefs are pathogenic, that they aren't healthy and that having them dispelled would make them better. So they enter into therapy with the unconscious wish that this person that they're going to be engaging in therapy with will be able to help them by bringing some reality to the situation, by clarifying and correcting these false beliefs that they have.

This is also a description of the psychotherapeutic process, is that a person with these pathogenic beliefs will then carry out what they call unconscious tests on the therapist because they've got these beliefs and now comes the testing period. "Okay, on some level I think you're going to help me but if that's the case, I've got to test you out first and you're going to have to prove yourself that you can actually do what I'm hoping that you'll do." It too is an unconscious process. If you ask a person in therapy why they're acting in a certain way, they won't be able to give you the answer. That's why they're going to therapy, to try to find the answer and that's what the therapist is for, to try to give them the answer, to try to say, "Oh, you see what you're doing here. You see how this is playing out to confirm or deny this pre-existing belief that you have."

An example that he gives of that is a patient that came in and just sat very close to him, uncomfortably close and that is a test. Depending on how you look at these things, you can see them as tests, manipulations - which essentially are the same thing - or you could see them also as self-fulfilling prophecies because a lot of these things are like that. If you believe that everyone you get close to is going to leave you, the behaviours that you have are going to be pushing them away. That's just the way these things kind of work.

So here the woman enters his office and sits uncomfortably close to him. The test there is to see if he is going to reject her because she's making him uncomfortable. Of course it's a totally manipulative thing to do, especially in everyday life because if you don't know someone and you do that to them, they're going to be put off and they're going to be made uncomfortable and then they're just going to confirm your pathogenic belief. So this is a test of "I'm going to sit close to you because if you do get too close to me then you are just going to leave and that's going to prove that I'm right."

Again it depends on what angle you're looking at it from, right? On the one hand you could say that's the part in control and it's actively trying to push people away, but the control mastery people would be saying that no, there's actually an unconscious wish to get past this and to understand it so it's actually a test for the therapist. If the therapist can actually maintain interest and not be put off by you, you're like, "Oh wow! Maybe this person actually cares." It's usually only going to be the therapist in this kind of relationship that will be able to do that because as I said, in everyday life, these kinds of things might be considered unacceptable in everyday life. You wouldn't expect some totally random stranger to put up with that kind of behaviour. They're just going to move on.

So that's a lot of what the psychotherapeutic process, the patient constantly testing the therapist and therapist in every example of this, has to guess what the right answer might be. "I think this might be the belief that they're going for" and depending on what the belief is, it can determine whether you do one thing or the other thing because there might be a situation where someone who is sitting too close is doing it for a different reason and they're asking for correct. So it might be the right thing to say, "You're sitting uncomfortably close to me right now and that's not really socially acceptable so I'm going to have to ask you to move back."

In that situation that might be the right thing. In another it might be the right thing to just smile and nod. As he said in the book, a lot of psychotherapists don't like that idea because it means that every situation is different and they don't have simple black or white rules to follow, 'always do this in this situation, always do that in that situation'.

Those are the basics of that theory and what he does is compare that to his own theory and show how they're compatible because his first sight theory is also that there are unconscious and conscious intentions and motivations going on all the time. That's the same between both theories. For first sight theory, the idea is that prehensions of this non-sensory information don't have clear content that's available to consciousness, to awareness and that they function as orienting instructions in the creation and construction of experience and that almost all extra-somatic, non-sensory prehensions are excluded from awareness because whenever you have a perception, you're not seeing infinitely more things than you are seeing. You're usually focusing on a very strictly defined set of things within the direct sphere of your awareness.

Another part of first sight theory is that sensory experience is usually much more useful in achieving goals. That's why we are usually, in the vast majority of cases, tied to our bodies, to our sensory information and the conscious awareness of what is immediately around us. That's what's most immediately relevant to us as physical beings, starting with the survival of our bodies. That's very important in order for us to continue and to keep experiencing. So it makes sense that the most immediately relevant things are going to be direct sensory experiences.

But the way this plays out in a psychotherapeutic setting is that you've got all of this stuff going on beneath the surface that isn't available to awareness. You're not aware of your unconscious motivations. You're not aware of these pathogenic beliefs. You might have memories that you've forgotten, a lot of things that happened in your past that you don't have conscious access to. It's the therapist's role to - as he put it and as therapists have been putting it since the beginning - to make the unconscious, conscious, to see the signs in that relationship and in that dynamic and then to bring those to light as a way of making clear the things that are usually unconscious and that the patient is not aware of.

Corey: Right. That's why they're going to the therapist, not even necessarily to figure out why they have this belief, but to have this belief disproven to them because they might not even know that they have this belief. You used the example of this guy who is convinced that everyone is going to reject him and that there's no reason to have any attachment and he gives the example of a man who was abandoned as a child. He remembered his parents and then he was adopted by his grandparents but these were two strangers to him. Obviously the family was broken. The parents and grandparents didn't get along but the grandparents took him in, but shortly after that he's taken in by foster parents. So his early memories are that as soon as you get attached to someone they're going to leave you.

It seems like as long as your unconscious is working fairly well you could probably just slide through life completely unconsciously. I think at some point he even speculates that the only time you really become conscious of things is when they're difficult, when you actually have to become conscious of trying to figure out what's going on. So when you are going through your life and you keep on bumping your head into the same wall over and over again, it creates this pain, suffering, for yourself, for others. Something isn't right. Consciously you know that something isn't right but unconsciously your unconscious is continually trying to test this belief out and everyone that it tests this belief out on proves the belief. I think that's the fundamental problem.

If you think that everyone is going to reject you and then you are unconsciously provoking people to reject you in order to prove it wrong, most people don't go to school for psychotherapy and they have enough on their plates to spend time disproving your unconscious hypothesis. So then eventually, if you're lucky enough or perhaps through unconscious reasoning you go in to see the therapist, finally here's somebody who is paid to sit there and listen to your nonsense and listen to you spew, "Psychoanalysis is stupid, therapy is dumb, blah, blah, blah." You have all these conscious reasons for all these conscious narratives for why you behave the way that you do, but through the therapist mirroring that, your unconscious starts to unpack what was this belief and then your therapist is able to disprove it and now you have this new information to go on.

I think he says the therapist's job is just to repeat these tests until therapy is boring and then you're done. Then you're like, "Well there's nothing to do here anymore. This is boring so it's time to go back to living my normal life." You were mentioning some of the things that make therapy very conducive to Psi and one of the big things that he points out is the safety, the fact that when you go in there you develop this unprecedentedly safe situation where you can risk accessing this information. If you think about going into therapy as trying to do this soul work then you've created an environment where you're open to this information from wherever and it often manifests in really strange ways.

He has a really excellent bibliography in the book of different books by psychoanalysts and other more modern therapists who recount all of the strange ways that the psyche appears in the therapeutic relationship, whether it's in dreams or in the sense that the therapist is going to leave you. I think he mentions Freud once had a patient who once WWI was over, Freud was going to leave and go take in other patients...

Harrison: Yeah, there was a patient who was a prominent person, some Englishman...

Corey: Yeah.

Harrison: ...because the war was over, he was now able to take more foreign patients so he was looking forward to this new patient because it was someone special and he didn't tell anyone about it, but he was privately thinking, "This would be great".

Corey: I don't remember if the patient had a dream about it or some sort of a premonition, but he was extraordinarily jealous.

Harrison: Yeah.

Corey: I think it was a dream where he was extraordinarily jealous of Freud because Freud was abandoning him for somebody else. Then when he confronted Freud with that, Freud was a little bit shocked. He couldn't believe that this guy had this information. Where did this information come from? He hadn't told anybody.

But that was just one of many examples of patient picking up on something from the therapist that was sometimes secretive, stuff that the therapist did not want anyone to find out about and as Carpenter points out, most often they didn't post the explicit details in their books but that it was something that happened relatively frequently; this bond that occurred between the therapist and the patient resulted in some sort of a psychic ESP connection, this transfer of information that would be highly relevant to the patient, something that they wanted to know, something that on an unconscious Psi kind of level that would be information that would be signed as worthy of getting to consciousness in one way or another.

But as he points out, it's not that you know something. It's not something that you could bring to a court of law and say "I had a hunch about Freud leaving". It's always this hunch that you can act on, you can choose to act on this kind of information, but most often - and one of the reasons why it's not something that we regularly act on - it's just a hunch. We don't really weigh it as being extremely important. It's just a sense, something that you might put into the back of your mind as "I've got this feeling", or if I have a dream about something. Just like the other day I had a dream that I was going to win $35,000. I haven't won $35,000 yet, but the information still has to be weighed consciously.

You can't just take it and then run with it, just acting on every hunch. He points that out in his talk too. You have to be reasonable and as a therapist he sometimes does use the information that comes up through Psi, clairvoyance, dreams. He does use that sometimes, but just as often he'll have people come into his office and on several occasions saying, "Oh you're the Psi psychologist. You're all about ESP. I have all these stories I want to tell you about ESP and he said he'd find himself being entertained by some of these stories. But then he asks, "What did you really come in here to talk about?" That's when they start to divulge the issues they have going on.

So it's not that Psi information is the most important but that it does sometimes provide an avenue to get at information that is otherwise completely unavailable to your conscious mind, information you could never get at yourself. It's not recorded in any book. You might not know anybody who could ever give you this information but for a lot of people who are going into therapy because their life is in a crisis, this information is so critical to them. It's salient that some part of them is saying "Give me anything! Just give me some hope that there's a way out of this mess that I'm in."

Harrison: I want to give a couple more reasons why the therapeutic relationship is conducive to this kind of thing and then a couple of further examples. You mentioned that the environment is a very safe environment because you can share all this stuff and say things without judgment. If you tell someone else you might get in a fight, your marriage might be ended, etc. So a therapist will listen and that creates an environment and a bond that isn't normal in everyday life. As he points out, if you look at the relationship between a therapist and a patient, it is something that is usually totally alien to most people's experience because most people don't have that kind of deep interaction where you're talking about these important things, even with the closest people in their lives. They see each other passing through the kitchen. How much time do they actually spend talking about the most important things with each other and really paying attention to each other and listening to what's being said and really trying to get behind everything. That doesn't usually happen in everyday life.

So it is this super charged environment and one of the reasons it's supercharged is because presumably in that relationship, in that process, you are dealing with the most important thing to you. Your life is going through a crisis. It is the most important thing to you to be able to get over this stuff, to fix something in your life, to understand something in your life in order to make it better, to make yourself better.

So you're dealing in this process that is perhaps potentially the most meaningful thing in your life. Again, that's the most important part of first sight theory. It deals primarily with meaning and with the most important things in any given moment and that might be just pushing the right button on your stove in the morning to get the right temperature. In that moment that's the most important thing but in other moments it's going to be something else and over a wider span of time it's going to be something completely different. So over a wider span of time the most important thing might be getting your life together or figuring this thing out or it might be a relationship problem or an issue at your job. It takes place over a longer span of time.

So when you're in the therapeutic environment, you're dealing in a highly charged environment of the most profound and deep meaning possible in your life potentially. So that in itself will facilitate these kinds of things because you're looking for the most important thing. It's this oftentimes unsaid subtext or overriding context to the situation that creates this charged environment in which these things can then take place.

Maybe to give a couple more examples from his own experience that Carpenter talks about, he had a woman as a patient and when he finished one session with her it ended with him suggesting "I'd like to try to lightly hypnotize you a bit. I think this might help." He wasn't aware of just how dissociative she was at the time. So they did that and then she was spacey when she left but he thought everything was okay. Then he had a couple more sessions with other patients and then he went off to work out. The point he made was that none of his patients know that he works out. He doesn't say anything. They don't know where he works out. He said he works out at this obscure place where you have to drive down a main road and then off to a side road and then there's a semi-main road with businesses on it but the gym is on the other side of the building in the alley and you can only access it and see it from the alley where the little parking lot is.

So he was there working out and then after he finished his workout he went out to his car and he saw that there was a spoon on the passenger seat of his car with a note saying something like "I'm so glad that I found you. You're exactly what I need" or something like that and he thought well isn't that nice. I did something right. The next time that he talks to this patient he asks her about it and she describes what she experienced and how she went home and said that at the session that they'd had, she had had these almost uncontrollable impulses to get underneath his desk and curl up under the desk. It was probably something that she'd done as a child to hide from something. It was where she felt safe.

But she had this whole process going on inside of "Oh no, I'm too old for that. That would be ridiculous" etc., going back and forth about all these issues. So she went home and decided "I can feel safe by going underneath my own kitchen table" so she had her lunch underneath her own table. But then she had the urge to go see him again because she had to say something. She found these spoons because...

Corey: I think they were her grandmother's spoons.

Harrison: Her grandmother's spoons.

Corey: Her grandmother was this wicked grandmother.

Harrison: He said that she was a totally malevolent person in her life, one of the worst people in her life. I can't remember if she saw that her grandmother's chest in her apartment was open or if she was just drawn to it, but she looked in it and she found these spoons and one of these spoons was the spoon that she had found in the garbage when she was a kid and her grandmother had accused her of throwing it away or losing it or something. And she hadn't. She was the one who actually found it. So she'd been falsely accused by her grandmother of doing something nefarious with this spoon when she hadn't. So this brought back these memories of her grandmother who was this evil person in her life.

She just had to talk to Dr. Carpenter about this so she went back to his office. His car wasn't there. She couldn't find him. They were dealing with sleepwalking so I think part of the hypnotism was to bring out the sleepwalker, find out which part of her was doing the sleepwalking. He didn't really give details of what they found during hypnosis but she said that she decided that she didn't know where he was but she was just going to go looking. She entered the mind space of being a kid again and riding her tricycle. So she got in her car and she said she just had the experience of driving aimlessly and it was almost as if there was a voice - there wasn't a voice I don't think - in her head saying, "Okay, now turn here. Now turn there."

So just driving on this aimless path she stopped in this parking lot of the gym, saw his car, left him the note and the spoon and then drove off. The way he describes it, she didn't know where she was going because this is the way Psi works. She was just "guessing". At least that's the experience that she had. "Oh well it feels right to turn here." She doesn't know that that's the right way to go. She doesn't say, "I'm going here and this is how I turn to get there." It was just this nudge in the right direction that she felt and it got her to that place that was impossible for her to have found. So given the situation, it was very important for her at this moment to do so and she was in a slightly more than normal dissociative state and this played itself out so that she found and could deliver this message.

That was the important thing too, finding him, having access to him because not being able to find him would have meant unconsciously that he was repeating the dynamic that she'd had with other people in her life of not being available so she couldn't find that person. Also, she did have this one person in her life who was important to her, an older female - I can't remember what relation to her - that was the stable, caring person in her life. I think it might have been her nanny and at one point she went away for whatever reason and so as a child she looked for her in the neighbourhood and couldn't find her. So she had lost the most important person in her life and couldn't find that person. So this dynamic then plays out in her adult relationship with her therapist and she found him.

Like all these moments, that was a pivotal moment in the therapy, to have that confirmation. So in this sense he didn't pass the test. She was presenting a test to him but he didn't have to do anything to solve it. He just had to be somewhere and she essentially solved it on her own and probably because, like she said, she was glad she found him because he was the right therapist for her.

To give one other example, this was also a very interesting one. He had a male patient who was married and had a session with this guy. I can't remember if this was the session where he was bored. Do you remember if this was the one where he was bored?

Corey: Yeah, he was extremely bored during that session.

Harrison: So he has a session with this guy and the only thing he can remember about it was that it was extremely boring and he says that it was so boring that he couldn't even ask himself why it was boring afterwards. He just blocked it out. "That was the most boring hour-and-a-half of my life." He says being a therapist sometimes that happens unfortunately. You don't want it to happen but it was this experience that then gave him the insight for what that might mean but that's getting ahead of the story.

So he has this boring session with this guy. He goes home that night. They've got another session planned in a few days or something and he goes home and goes to sleep and then he has this nightmare almost, this really charged dream. It didn't have this guy in it. It had another guy that he'd known previously that he had dealt with. I can't remember the details exactly of that previous patient but there might have even been a boredom element there too.

Corey: Something like he was bored with him and then he went and attempted to commit suicide.

Harrison: Yeah. So he has a dream about this previous patient that he hadn't seen in years. I don't think he died.

Corey: But he attempted suicide.

Harrison: He attempted suicide but he was probably still alive because he'd moved on from therapy and so Carpenter hadn't heard from him. So he has a dream about this other guy, but in the dream he says he realized that even though the guy looked like his previous patient, it was actually this patient that he'd just seen. You have dreams like that all the time where you're talking to one person who has the body of one person but in your dream you know it's someone else and you're interacting with them as if it's this other person.

So he said that's what the dream was like and he woke up from it and he was really nervous and shaking and said, "This is really important!" and he had the urge to call this guy. He asked, "Am I going crazy? It's 2:30 in the morning. Can I really call this guy?" So he went back and forth in his mind over it and he said, "If I call him and he thinks I'm crazy well then he' just going to think I'm crazy and he's going to find another therapist and if that's the case I've got 10 others that I can send him to and that's going to be fine." So he decided to go with his gut and called the guy at 2:30 in the morning and his wife picked up the phone, groggy, he'd just woken her up. He said, "I'm sorry. I'm your husband's therapist. I just need to talk to him. I'll explain it all to him. Just don't worry." She says "Okay" and gives him the phone and talks to him. He's just woken up.

So he tells him, "I just felt like I really needed to make contact with you and see how you were doing and it felt really important." The guy says okay and goes to bed. That was it. And then the next day I think, they have a session and the patient tells Carpenter, "Man, I'm really confused. I don't know what to do." He says "About what?" "That conversation we had." Carpenter asks, "Why? Tell me what's going on." The patient said that a day or two before, around the time that they'd had their session, he had gotten his father's or grandfather's pistol. He knew that his wife that day, the day after Carpenter had that dream, was going to be out of town. He had sent a voicemail message to a friend that he knew wouldn't get a message for a day or two, but when they did get it, they'd get it while his wife was gone. He'd said he was going to kill himself. Sorry. It's emotional just putting myself in this situation.

So he says that he had planned it all out and he was going to kill himself that day and his friend would get the message. His friend would be able to call the authorities and come and clean him up before his wife got there. So he says to Carpenter, "I don't know what to do anymore because I had it all planned out." What Carpenter had done in that moment was to reach out at the precise moment - if he hadn't done that, this guy would have killed himself for sure. He had it all planned out. But he didn't do it.

Again, just like the previous one, this was a pivotal time, a crisis point. It was completely diverted because Carpenter had just followed his intuition on this one. He had a crazy dream and decided to call this guy up and it threw this guy into a state of confusion. So what Carpenter said was "Good! That's good. I'm happy that you're in a state of confusion because that's what I want right now. That's where I want you to be" because he was sure of himself. He had his plans all set out and what that did was challenge that pathogenic belief, whatever it was. I can't remember if Carpenter speculated on what it might be, but it was probably something like "No one cares enough to reach out and actually be interested in me" or something like that.

Corey: Yeah, that was what he said that the pathogenic belief was. That's why he was so intensely boring because he had learned that no one cared about his suffering or who he was. No one cared enough to find out about who he was so he just would test that by being completely so boring that only someone heroic would try and inquire into who he really was and try and find out what his life was like. So then when he got that call, Carpenter just completely smashed that test. Three a.m., he's calling saying, "I'm worried about your suffering." He'd only met him once!

Harrison: Yeah.

Corey: He'd only met him once and that one thing was what saved his life.

Harrison: He says that after that he learned that if he's super bored, chances are that's the person's intention. They're trying to be super boring on an unconscious level because that is one of these tests. So again, you meet people everyday and if they're super-boring, you're going to ignore them. You're going to confirm that belief for them. That's unfortunate but that's just the way it works.

But in a relationship with a psychotherapist, if they're trained then it's their job to ask, what are you really doing here and what is the right action to take because of that knowledge. If I can figure out why you're doing what you're doing, then what choice do I make? Like I said, it could be different. If a person is presenting the same behaviour, the same test, the correct answer to that test might be completely different in each situation because it really does depend on the individual.

So he learned that lesson and now he pays attention if he's getting extremely bored. He said he asked the guy one thing afterwards. "Why did you end up even coming to the session?", the one that they did have the day before he was planning to kill himself, and he said the guy just got this icy look on his face, tight mouth, and he just said, "I didn't want to disrupt your schedule." That was the same kind of boredom-inducing lack of connection. "Oh, I just didn't want to mess up your schedule." Totally shut down, no connection whatsoever, not being open. It was just business. So that was the front that this guy was putting up when really he needed to disconfirm the belief that - how did you put it?

Corey: That basically nobody gave a crap about him or his experience enough to find out about who he was as a person. He was just that icy cold death incarnate.

Harrison: But at the same time this would be a guy that is suffering extremely on the internal level but won't give anyone a hint. He joked in the talk that it would be nice if a lot of these patients would give hints and say things like, "Oh I could really use some attention right now" or "I could really use you asking me this question" and he says some do that. Some still have that level of self-awareness to be able to engage at that level, but there are some people who are just so trapped within this pathogenic belief that they can't even do that much and it really does take a skilled therapist to be able to see through that and then by observing and identifying and then bringing that pathogenic belief to light in therapy, by verbalizing it, that itself is part of the therapeutic process; to bring that pathogenic belief to light and be able to say, for both of them, "This is what you're doing right now. it seems like this is why you're doing it." That gives some insight to the patient who can then see themselves, see their own unconscious behaviours for what they are and then grow from that.

Corey: I think that story really illustrates what first sight brings to the table in terms of humanizing psychology, really adding that full human element of the experience that everybody has, the strange experiences that everybody has, especially with the information delivered through that dream. You have different ways of interpreting dreams, these new agey or Freudian dream interpretations but with the theory of first sight, it gets put into perspective, into this more holistic system regarding other unconscious processes going on, your conscious intentions, the intentions of a person as a whole and it takes on a different kind of meaning.

It's not just a bunch of interesting symbols but it really drives home how important it is to take it into the context of the intentions of the dreamer and the life that they're living, the different situations that they're coming into contact with. Jordan Peterson points out in one of his talks, if a dream is a conscious me, just another part of conscious normal me, how does it give me information that I don't already know? That's answered. First sight is part of this Psi function that everybody has that's constantly gathering information. It's like the pre-modern internet, maybe dial-up, but just like that woman who's trying to find Carpenter while he's at the gym, she's tapping into this pre-modern GPS system. Literally, it is saying, "Take a right here. Take a left here. Go straight. There's his car in the back. You've reached your destination!" [laugher]

He talks about how this distinction between consciousness and unconsciousness and how more oriented you are towards conscious manipulation of objects and life events, the more conscious and intellectual, I guess, you are the more egocentric I guess you'd say, in the original psychological sense of up in your mind, then the less likely you are to reach out to that kind of information. Dean Radin wrote about this in his bookReal Magic: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Science, and a Guide to the Secret Power of the Universe Real Magic: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Science, and a Guide to the Secret Power of the Universe. What he was studying in the lab, all these parapsychological phenomena, when he started to look through the anthropological literature and looking into history, he realized that he'd spent 40 years studying magic! This was the only thing that pre-human tribes really had to rely on. They couldn't Google things!

But magic and all of these different gods and goddesses, messages, myths and all of this stuff played a much more important role in a world where you didn't have explicit definitions. You didn't have explicit technologies and a conscious awareness of matter and how to manipulate material. You had to rely on this Psi function and it was probably a lot stronger then. I'm not saying it was any more reliable because obviously it led to all sorts of crazy witchcraft and who knows what. I'm not an anthropologist myself. But it's really interesting to see how people can fall back on that system in times of need and in times of crisis. That system is always there.

[Technical difficulties]

Corey: I'm going to try and continue my thoughts. Sorry, technical difficulties.

Harrison: We were talking about magic.

Corey: As Carpenter writes in one of the final chapters of his book, this Psi function doesn't give you concrete intelligence, but like any other science, it could possibly give you some sort of a practical technology that you could apply. So just when I was thinking about the difference between now and then in terms of prehistory, more mythological magic-based societies that honour these perhaps higher aspects of human consciousness, that this theory - I'm not saying that it paves the way towards that kind of a breakthrough - but it is suggestive that maybe there is some sort of a spiritualistic science that humanity could find, that there is something there that isn't just magic, isn't just witchcraft, isn't just ritual, but that there's something there that people could practically use if they were aware of how to use it, for instance in these charged situations we're talking about in the psychotherapeutic situation.

If you could access this kind of information and you could apply rigorous tests to it just to make sure you're not believing any airy-fairy lie that's coming through a dream, people could access this kind of information from a higher, more broad perspective than we have as little specks on earth.

Harrison: At the end of this chapter is that he asks the question of whether an awareness of this kind of thing happening specifically in the therapeutic relationship will affect the therapists themselves', their opinions and beliefs. He said a bunch of the previous therapists engaged in this kind of research or practice just thought once people are aware of this everyone's just going to get it and start realizing these situations. I think it was Jule Eisenbud who is a psychotherapist in New York and also a parapsychologist who said that but then Eisenbud was disabused of that optimistic hope and Carpenter himself says he had the same experience.

He'll talk to other therapists and he says there are two groups. There is one group that will say, "Oh, that is really interesting and listen to all these experiences that I've had that are just like that! Oh, isn't that cool!" And then there are the people who just give him a blank stair like, "This guy is crazy!" Well, according to them they have never had an experience like that and it's impossible etc. So he wonders if it might be the case that these other therapists don't actually have experiences like this and maybe it is only the ones who are open to it, that openness - and he gives two other features, I can't remember - might actually contribute to the experience happening.

So with your speculation about the possibilities, I think you can get a precursor of that in just looking at what already happens in the world. If you just look at the psychotherapists who are open to this idea and they're actually experiencing this thing regularly and it's integrated into their life to a degree, and then a whole bunch of other people who are not. I guess the question would be, if this were accepted on a mass level there would always be people who would reject it presumably, but if it were accepted on a mass level, what kind of an effect would that have? Would we just be seeing more of the same or would there develop a more specific, specialized field where new things come to light? Who knows?

Just thinking about it in terms of some of the PK studies that have been done because PK studies are pretty expansive - one example of that is what I think they call mental influence on biological systems, we talked about it last week - where there might be a microbe in a petri dish and you're trying to make it do something or there are prayer studies. You get a group of people who are praying for a person with a certain disease and you have control groups. You look at the patients who were prayed over and those who weren't and you they've found actual effects where it seems like praying actually does work for people.

Coming back to my previous point, there are already a whole bunch of people who believe prayer works and who do it, presumably having some effects. So it might just be more of the same or it might be some revolutionary new thing where you have national prayer groups who are doing this thing. Who knows? Maybe they might have some increased effects.

So one of his main points is that this does happen and it does seem to fulfil a meaningful role specifically in this environment, in the relationship between therapist and patient. Prayer just triggered a memory in me; first a few things that I've heard Jordan Peterson say. For those listening who might be fans of Jordan Peterson and who might think we're crazy for talking about Psi, I don't know what Peterson would say about this. I will just say he is a fan of Carl Jung who was very into parapsychology, did his original research on his cousin who was a medium and was interested in these kinds of things his whole life and who had similar experiences. That's how he developed his theory of synchronicity. I'm pretty sure of these types of experiences in the consulting room, very interesting meaningful coincidences that happened in that relationship.

He has talked about how his wife Tammy seems to have some prophetic dreams every once in a while. And then he describes his own therapeutic practice when he still had an active practice and his mind set is pretty standard. Carpenter describes it as being in a state of openness. The way Peterson describes it is that he listens very intently. It's a weird kind of focus but unfocus at the same time where he's just listening, zeroing in exactly on what the patient is saying but at the same time being totally open to what's going on in his body and in his mind.

So if he has the impulse to say something, no matter how crazy it is, he'll just say, "That just made me think of this" and he'll say it. So I'd be interested in actually hearing if Peterson has any stories like this because I'm guessing he probably does, where he would say something that seems to be highly relevant and he had no idea how he knew it would be relevant. It just popped into his head.

That's the way that Psi works, as Carpenter says. You're not aware of it. He even says some therapists will think of it in terms of intuition but they really don't know what intuition is. He thinks that intuition probably is Psi-based. That's where the intuition comes from to a large degree, just to give some crossover with some of the things that Peterson says about how he does this sort of thing.

One of the things about prayer is that - I think it might have been in the debate he had with Sam Harris - but he's said it elsewhere and he's describing what it means to him to pray. He gives the example of when you really want an answer to a question and you're in this state of existential dread and anxiety and you're on your bed just praying for an answer, he says try this out. Lie on your bed and think about this and just be like, "I need the answer to this question. I don't know what it is and I'll be open to whatever comes to mind". He says you try that out and you will get an answer. You probably won't like the answer but it will be the right answer.

That's a kind of creativity but it's also intuition. It's receiving inspiration. All these things are phenomena that we have all experienced in our lives to a greater or lesser degree but we have no explanation for them. How does this actually work? Where do these new thoughts come from? Carpenter says it and I think we said it in previous shows, maybe even last week. Where does a song come from? A symphony? Where does anything new that enters your mind come from? What is the creative process?

Well Carpenter would argue that the creative process is probably very similar to, if not incorporating first sight, these Psi processes. Where does that new thought come from? Well it comes from the unconscious. Well where does that information come from? Where does the unconscious get that information? Well if it's not immediately obvious, if there's no physically causal explanation that can be brought up to explain it, it's probably going to be extrasensory. It kind of has to be if there's no other choice for where this thing comes from.

So there might even be an explanation for inspiration and prayer and for the answer to prayers. Where do the answers to prayers come from? Why do they work? What did he say? Where do the what come from? Oh, the dreams!

Corey: Yeah!

Harrison: Where does the significance of dreams come from? How does whatever makes the dream able to give you information that you don't know consciously? Well it's the same thing in all these other areas. Where does that information come from? How does the unconscious know it?

Corey: Right. And in the case of this man on the verge of committing suicide, Carpenter was given information that he could not have possibly unconsciously possessed. This man was completely and utterly boring. It is possible that on some unconscious level assembled this information but there are plenty of other cases too where you have a dream of something that you have no conscious or unconscious way of knowing, there's no sensory information that you have picked up on that could give you the information that your dream just delivered to you.

Harrison: Right.

Corey: So then, like Jordan Peterson says, where does that dream get that information?

Harrison: Mystery.

Corey: Mystery solved. [laughter]

Harrison: How are we doing for time Adam? Maybe we can do a short discussion getting into the whole evolution thing. It might sound like a drastic change in topic but we'll try to connect them. One of the things that I like about First Sight is that it seems to scale in the sense that it isn't just about human nature and human consciousness. He even argues that it probably applies to every living thing, every biological system. I'd even go further and say it might apply at all levels down to the subatomic, but that would be for a different show and we've probably already covered it to some degree in previous shows.

If you look at it as not just the nature of a conscious being but as something in the nature of reality itself that, for whatever reason, biological forms have this mind - to go back to Whitehead and Griffin to the premise that mind is somehow fundamental to reality - if mind is fundamental to reality, then these concepts and principles will be fundamental to reality.

So it's not just that it's the nature of a human mind that it has unconscious and conscious intentions. It's the nature of reality for reality itself, either in its parts or maybe in the whole, to have intentions, either unconscious or conscious. We did that show on consciousness, the hyperdimensional nature of all the calculations going on to create the patterns in your brainwaves and how that suggests a multi-dimensional, higher dimensional process going on that then gets translated into brain activity. So if we look at that kind of research, like the research of Strange Order of Things...

Corey: Antonio Damasio.

Harrison: Damasio, his idea that consciousness starts at some point. That's what the Consciousness: Anatomy of the Soul guys say too; consciousness starts at a certain point. I think they hypothesize it was the amphibian or something, where at a certain point brain activity gets to a degree that's complex enough to represent a higher dimensional attractor in the patterns of the brainwaves.

So when we were talking about Damasio, well what about the level below consciousness? This was the question we were trying to answer. What about the parts in the single-celled organisms that seem to have some kind of purpose and intention and agency but they can't be considered conscious? Well I think this is where First Sight can come into play because we as humans aren't just conscious. We're conscious and we're also unconscious and there are processes of agency and intention that are happening unconsciously.

So maybe below the level of consciousness and in beings below that level they reach at which consciousness comes about, below that maybe they are unconscious but unconscious in the same way that we are unconscious, that there are things going on and intentions playing out and behaviours motivated by these intentions and aims that are playing themselves out unconsciously but are still mind. Because your unconscious is still part of your mind. It is still a mental process and there is still agency and there are still intentions in all these things.

If we look at that and we try to think of the unconscious and mind in general as universal to nature itself and to all the parts of nature, not necessarily all the collections of parts, because as Griffin and Whitehead would argue, a dead branch won't have a mind in the same way that you think of perhaps even a molecule of that branch having a mind but the tree itself might have a mind of some sort while it's living. Those would be empirical questions to discover by research.

But the principle is that some collections of matter might just be arbitrary collections of matter. They don't have a specific form and certain forms seem to be what has consciousness. There are only a specific set of all the possible forms that can have consciousness and those seem to be fractal creations of beings that are composed of beings that are smaller than itself and that encompass those beings below it.

So that's how subatomic particles make atoms and that's how atoms make molecules and that's how molecules make macromolecules and cells and the parts within cells and that's how cells make an organ or some larger life form or a plant or animal, whatever.

If we take these kinds of principles and try to think about the Darwinism/intelligent design debate and try to figure out how these fit in, I think that would be an interesting exercise. We've kind of already done it in previous shows, just not with the backdrop of First Sight.

Maybe as a preliminary presentation of some provisional hypotheses, perhaps we need to take into account these unconscious intentions in the individual and collective evolution of species because it does seem that evolutionary leaps have a purpose. The question would be whether it is the purpose of some alien intelligence that is looking at this petri dish of life on earth and saying, "Oh I want this now so I'm going to throw in this new species, the stink bug just to annoy the North Carolinians."

Or is the intention in the individual and species themselves on some level and how do you even think about that? Or maybe it's both. Or maybe it's way more complex than that even. I just think it might be the case that on an unconscious level of a species - let's take the category of the species - that life forms exist for a purpose. At the very least they have their own purposes and they might be as simple as the Darwinists would say, survival and adapting to their environment. There's probably more purpose than that. I think there's more purpose to life than that because life seems to have a direction, for instance towards more complexity, not just adapting to existing conditions but surpassing those conditions and growing in some sense, in complexity, in intelligence and consciousness. There seems to be a directional aspect to the whole process.

So it may be that over millions of years of the life of a species for instance, there are certain lessons that will be learned or not in this unconscious testing of the environment in the service of unconscious aims and at some level, who's to say that certain intentions aren't fulfilled and maybe the fulfilment of that intention leads to this tipping point level of consciousness where that consciousness is ready for something new. So again, that's the important thing - for something new.

That's where inspiration, prayer, dreams, all these subliminal unconscious processes come into play. "Okay, well now we're ready for something new." And that something new gets brought into the world through some still mysterious process and that might take the form of several coordinated mutations of that existing genome to create a brand new family of organisms, a new life form essentially or something sufficiently new as to not be just a product of Darwinian devolution in the sense that Behe shows, but what is possible by random changes. But something truly new, like a new type of cell or organ but coordinated throughout the entire body of the new organism because organisms are wholes.

You can't just change one thing and expect all these new things to pop up. If there's a whole bunch of new things those new things need to be coordinated. They need to be finely tuned with each other in order to work as a system. I just think at this point that it's a two-way process. It is very important to take into account the potential unconscious intentions of the species that is evolving and then the source of that new information. It will be non-sensorily derived in some sense but then the question is, what is the source of that new information? Is it just out there? If it's possible, where do those possibilities reside? Do they reside in another mind or other minds? Are there levels of minds and do those levels filter through each other?

So is there an ultimate mind that filters through lower level minds almost like light is focused through a series of lenses? And does that make a connection with lower organisms? I could go on and on but I think we might want to just end it there.

Corey: I think it was a fascinating presentation. I thought it was a great presentation. Well everybody I hope that you enjoyed this show as much as we enjoyed discussing and having it. I think that's going to do it for us today. I'm not sure what we plan on discussing next week.

Harrison: It'll be something.

Corey: We will be discussing something next week, so tune in and if this is on video I hope that you're watching on YouTube and hitting like and subscribe.

Harrison: That's right.

Corey: Have a great week everybody.

Harrison: Thanks. See everyone.

Corey: Bye.