• January 15, 2018

    I am not sure I know what it means to be identified. Does it mean that I assume an identity when I am at my job, or my role in the family as a mother or sister?

    That’s partly it, for sure. We do have behavioral programs that enable us to perform our duties largely unconsciously. But these are the uppermost levels of a superstructure of identification that reaches deep into the body and does not always have the usefulness of the programmed roles we assume in our daily lives.

    Each of us has pervasive sensations that were fixed in us by our experiences as children. These sensations have associated physical postures and gestures as well as rudimentary thought patterns similar to tape loops. The result is an identity, an experience of self and the world that is mostly unconscious but comprehensive in its effects. The seeds of these identities are found in sensation-states such as being small, abandoned, angry, unappreciated, guilty, ashamed, aggressive, strong, entitled, pampered, inadequate, frustrated, pitiful or weak.

    These states are programmed into the nervous system and the muscles. Most of us have several such underlying states, therefore several different identities, which are triggered by our experiences.

    Now, as we get older we may have a dim perception that these states exist in us and that certain stimuli will trigger them. This may lead us to enrol in our own ‘finishing school’ where, over time, we invent and rehearse a narrative that supports and ‘explains’ our habitual behavior and may even excuse it. Some of the narrative may even be factual. Thus we may develop ‘refined’ personalities with justified-in-advance personal and family histories suitable for ‘bon ton’ society, as Gurdjieff says.

    But this is only half the story. What I have described is the formation of identities. But the process of identification also requires that these identities be adopted, that is, that we accept them and identify with them. But that is a topic for another day.

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