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MicroscopeAnalytical vs. Associative

The reason that I call my model the theory of mental symmetry is because of the deep symmetry that appears to exist between analytic and associative thought. This symmetry first showed up back in the 1980s when my brother and I were trying to work out the traits of the various cognitive styles. In fact, without this symmetry it would not have been possible to do our research.

I am a Perceiver person, my mother is a Mercy person, my brother is a Teacher person and his wife is a Server person. So, obviously all that we had to do was ask each of these people how he thought and then we would have the behavior of the four simple styles totally deciphered. Right? Wrong. That is because observing self requires a certain part of the mind, and if you don’t have access to this part of the mind, then you simply cannot observe yourself.

As far as I can tell, personal identity resides within Mercy thought. That is because the physical body feeds this part of the mind with experiences along with physical feelings. Therefore, if you want to study a mode of the mind that is initially programmed by interaction with the real world, then all you have to do is observe how that person interacts with the real world.

Perceiver strategy, as you can see from the diagram, is next door to Mercy strategy. Perceiver thought works with facts, which it gathers by organizing the world of Mercy experiences into objects and categories. You can read more about that elsewhere in this site. One of the most important mental objects is ‘me’—all of the experiences within Mercy thought that continue to plague me and refuse to go away, no matter how hard I try to get rid of them. In other words, ‘me’ resides within Mercy thought while self-image is the Perceiver object that describes ‘me’.

Obviously, if Perceiver thought is the part of the mind that builds self-image, it should find it easy to build a mental image of itself—of Perceiver thought. Therefore, working out the traits of the Mercy and Perceiver persons was fairly straightforward. It took time and careful observation, but it was doable.

Analyzing the Teacher and the Server, however, was a totally different story. The Teacher person lives in words. He uses words to think. Therefore, when my Teacher brother wanted to study behavior, he read and analyzed hundreds of biographies, taking copious notes and digesting millions of words. For several reasons, I could never have duplicated his efforts. But, he could not analyze himself, because analyzing self is a right hemisphere sort of thing, and the Teacher person lives in the left hemisphere.

However, if we took a Mercy trait, and then used symmetry to work out the Teacher equivalent (you basically replace objects with sequences, experiences with words, specifics with generality, and shapes with lines) we could then examine the behavior of the Teacher person and zero in on the exact trait. For instance, the Mercy person wants ‘kindred spirits’, friends with whom he can share emotional experiences. The Teacher person, in contrast, wants theoretical partners, friends with whom he can share his theories. Or for another example, the Mercy person is very sensitive to visual shape and texture. The Teacher person likes lines and edges. He really appreciates a sunset view in which a sharp visual line separates the sky from the mountains on the horizon. And so on. For every Mercy trait, there appears to be a corresponding Teacher trait.

However, even that method fell apart when examining the Server person. Perceiver strategy, the part of the mind that builds self-image, is deeply subconscious in the Server person. As a result, the Server person is basically incapable of stepping back from himself and analyzing his behavior. Instead, we had to use symmetry to go from the Perceiver to the Server, and then observe the behavior of the Server person in order to work out the precise trait.

For instance, I have gradually realized that the Server person does have a sort of self-image, but it has to do with skills and actions instead of objects and experiences. The Server person is very aware of what they can and cannot do. They know their capabilities, and they like to know how their Server actions fit into the grand scheme of Teacher understanding, just as the Perceiver likes to know which specific subset of Mercy experiences belongs to ‘me’.

Moving on to the three composite styles, it appears that each of them combine two different forms of thought, ways of thinking that are related by symmetry. The Exhorter person combines Teacher and Mercy thought. But, he does this in one of two possible ways. Either he moves through Teacher thought in the light of some Mercy experience, or else he travels through Mercy memories guided by some Teacher theory. When he has an emotional Mercy experience, he derives a theoretical lesson from it. Tell him a theory, and he wants to know how it applies in real life.

The Contributor also functions in one of two modes: which I call practical and intellectual. Practical Contributor thought is fairly easy to work out, because it works primarily with physical actions and real experiences. All you have to do is observe the businessman or the athlete and in eventually becomes clear: The bottom line of the practical Contributor comes from Mercy experiences; these experiences are tied together by Perceiver facts to form a mental grid of value, and then the practical Contributor uses Server actions to move through this mental map of value in order to improve his bottom line.

Intellectual Contributor thought is exactly the opposite. The bottom line is not Mercy things, but rather Teacher understanding. The mental map is defined by Server sequences and not by Perceiver facts, and movement through this map is done with Perceiver facts and not Server actions. If you want to read more, then go to the Contributor page and follow the more detail link.

Working that out was not simple and took years of stumbling and guess work. However, once I arrived on the other side, then examples became increasingly obvious and apparent. For instance, think of a mechanical machine such as a lawn mower. All the parts work together in harmony, producing feelings of Teacher order and structure. That is the ‘state’ of the machine; that describes the ‘map’ of normal function. But, suppose that some part breaks. Restoring the function of the machine means replacing the broken part with one that is whole—and what mental mode deals with objects and parts? Perceiver thought. Similarly, what do you do if you want the lawnmower to operate more efficiently? You clean parts or replace them with other parts that are newer or better. Do you see how Server sequence defines the function and how Perceiver facts change the function?

Again, symmetry plays a major role.

That brings us to the Facilitator person. Initially, we thought that the Facilitator person was a combination of Teacher and Server, because he was so good at simultaneously talking and doing, and because he seemed be both fully involved in life while at the same time observing himself go through life. However, while his combining of Teacher and Server made it possible for him to talk and write about living and doing, it was his bridging of Mercy and Perceiver that allowed him to observe himself and gave him the facts about which he wrote so copiously.

So, it appears that the Facilitator person is also mentally symmetrical. In the left hemisphere, he combines Server actions with Teacher words. He wants freedom in Teacher thought to say and think about anything, but he wants this verbal and theoretical freedom to be guided by predictable Server actions, procedures and official channels. Likewise, he wants to be able to experiment with Mercy experiences but he wants this Mercy freedom to be guided by solid Perceiver facts and rules.

The Mind and the Body

This is when mental symmetry starts to get interesting. Until now, the left/right symmetry has been complete; every associative trait has its counterpart in analytic thought. But, if you look deeper, then you see asymmetry reappearing; behavior start looking messy. For instance, why does Mercy thought work with specific experiences, while Teacher strategy handles general theories? Does all Mercy emotion involves specific objects (I love ice cream; I hate you), and does all Teacher feeling involve universal order and structure (Newton’s laws of gravity explain all movement; look at all those people performing together in perfect synchronization)?

However, if you examine the situation more closely, then you realize that Teacher emotion can come from specifics. For instance, when Perceiver facts about me include personal Mercy feeling, then you end up with guilt, satisfaction, and conscience. Looking at the symmetrical version, when my Server actions create Teacher feelings, the result is grace and elegance—a personal feeling that results from all of my actions fitting together smoothly.

Another major asymmetry arises from the split between confidence and emotion. In the right hemisphere, Mercy and Perceiver thought fight each other. Strong Mercy feelings mesmerize Perceiver thought into ‘knowing’ what is true, whereas Perceiver logic tries to protect itself by avoiding strong Mercy feelings. This leads to the MBTI® split between Thinking and Feeling.

But, in the left hemisphere, Teacher and Server strategy do not fight each other. Instead, they each exist in their own world, operating alongside each other without interacting. Teacher strategy lives in words, and these words give rise to the Server actions of writing, along with the Server structure of grammar. Meanwhile, off on a distant planet, Server strategy handles physical actions, and these actions generate Teacher feelings such as grace and elegance.

So, why does this asymmetry exist? Is the mind actually asymmetrical, or is some external factor forcing it to appear lopsided? Eventually, I came to the conclusion that the mind really is symmetrical, and that it is the influence of the physical body upon the mind that generates all the mental asymmetry.

Why do Mercy and Perceiver thought fight one another? Because the physical body fills Mercy strategy with physical feelings, giving Mercy thought sufficient emotional ammunition to knock out Perceiver thought. As for Perceiver thought and Perceiver logic, they are developed by the world of objects in which we live; objects which sit there and silently stay in one piece. Thus, Perceiver thought learns about objects while concluding that objects have nothing to do with feelings.

When it comes to Teacher and Server thought, then the situation is totally different. Teacher and Server thought can go their separate paths because both have their own unique way of expressing themselves. Teacher strategy has the mouth, and Server mode has the body. Teacher strategy can use the mouth to build grand theories out of words; whereas Server strategy is forced to use the physical body to plod step by step through physical sequence. Again, we see an MBTI® split appearing, in this case the division between Teacher iNtuition and Server Sensing.

But, just as Mercy feelings overwhelm Perceiver confidence, so Server confidence can also be attacked by Teacher feelings. It just happens more rarely. Think, for instance, of the theoretician in his ivory castle. He is so enamored by the emotion of his abstract theory that he finds it very difficult to enter the practical world of Server action. He is so used to jumping immediately to the goal and basking in the Teacher delight of universal understanding that he lacks the patience to apply this theory step by step in the messy, dirty world of physical action.

Mirror Image Existence

This is when mental symmetry starts to get really interesting. So far, we have concluded that the mind is symmetrical, and that all of its apparent asymmetry is the result of influence from the physical body. So, if a symmetrical mind can handle an asymmetrical physical body, then logic tells us that it could handle a mirror-image body just as well. (Physically speaking, the body has a symmetrical left and right side. The asymmetry shows up in the influence which the body has upon the mind.)

If you want to know where that game ends, then read the section on aliens. The last chapter of my analysis of Christianity also deals with this subject. As far as I can tell, placing a human mind within a mirror-image body ends up producing creatures whose behavior would correspond precisely to the sort of bizarre descriptions that people give when talking about aliens, UFOs, and angels.

The point I want make here is that all of this strangeness comes from a search for mental symmetry. I am not taking a nice, rational, logic, symmetric system of natural laws and messing them up with the occasional irrational miracle. Instead, I am taking a nice, rational symmetric theory of the mind and restoring symmetry to it by postulating the existence of a mirror-image universe. And, when I do this, I find out that that people talk about encountering exactly such a mirror-image realm.

But, if such a realm exists, then why do we humans encounter it so seldom. As far as I can tell, there is a gap between here and there which can only be bridged by a creature which has become mentally whole. Because we humans only experience passing moments of mental wholeness, we only encounter momentary glimpses of ‘the other side’. But, as we become more integrated mentally, then the gap between here and ‘there’ becomes narrower and occasionally a portal opens. However, that ‘door’ only opens in areas where we are mentally whole. Unfortunately, Western civilization is far more whole when dealing with things than it is when working with people. Therefore, we experience ‘the other side’ mainly as things populated by inhuman ‘creatures’.

So, mental symmetry may be able to handle aliens, but is mental symmetry compatible with rational science? As far as I can tell, yes. The left/right symmetry between analytic and associative thought corresponds to the quantum symmetry between waves and particles. According to science, everything that exists can be viewed either as a wave or a particle. Waves correspond to Teacher thought; they are sequences that occur over time, just like Teacher words and Server actions. Objects, we know, fall within the domain of Perceiver and Mercy thought. Perceiver strategy is the part of the mind which performs object recognition.

So, if we want to ask scientifically what the supernatural world of miracle and UFOs would ‘look’ like, then we conclude that it would not look like any thing, but instead it would be a realm of energy, waves, and sequences. And, as far as I can tell, physics agrees that such a realm is theoretically possible. Would such a world be strange and bizarre? Utterly. But, mental symmetry tells us that a human mind could be placed within an alien container. In fact, it suggests that humans and aliens are exactly the same inside, but simply reside in totally different ‘bodies’.

And now we have arrived, through a back door, to the whole topic of life after death. We know that the physical body eventually dies. But, all of this thinking about mental symmetry and how the body influences the mind has caused us to make a clear distinction between the mind and body, and to postulate a realm in which the same minds lived in utterly different bodies. So, what happens when a person dies? The logical conclusion is that is body turns into dust, while his mind survives and begins to interact with the alien realm. Follow that path to its conclusion and you end up with a full blown religion. But, which religion? Something totally new? No. Instead, the results appear to be compatible with the religion of Christianity, and when you start studying what the Bible actually says, and not just what the commentaries say that the Bible says, then you find many, many clear references to a mirror-image realm populated by mirror-image creatures, ruled over by a mirror-image God. After all, the word ‘angel’ simply means messenger, and a messenger is a being that lives in a message—a set of Teacher words packaged within a grammatical Server structure. And that is precisely the mirror image of a human body, which is a Perceiver package of Mercy matter.

And what is a mirror-image God? A Ytinirt, or in other words, a mirror-image Trinity. The Christian Trinitarian God is symmetrical. Take the mirror-image of a symmetrical Being and you end up with exactly the same Person, viewed from a totally alien perspective. Thus, you conclude that Christianity is capable of becoming a truly universal religion.

But, why is present day Christianity so provincial? Why is it so locked within its tiny world of study, belief, blind faith and worship? Because of asymmetry. Christianity is currently taught as an asymmetrical religion, one that based in Mercy feelings and Mercy people and not Teacher understanding. But, if you look at the doctrines that lie behind all of the childish, asymmetrical presentation, then you discover, again, that symmetry rules. And if you want to know what Christianity looks like when treated as a rational, universal Teacher theory, then read the section on Christianity.

Do you see now why I call my model the theory of mental symmetry?