Dominance, psychological slavery and enlightened awareness as a means to recovery

How do we get coerced into accepting a role within the status quos of power systems without our knowledge?The answer is long and quite complex. We all have three brain systems that evolved at very different stages. The lowest of these is R-complex. The reptile brain is a function without insight, for one would have to employ the higher brain – the cerebral cortex — in order to be able to analyse. It is also without the ability to process emotions that relate to being a person and having a personality. It is more primal than that, and capable of rage, but not emotional intelligence. It is concerned merely with feelings of dominance and submission and is tuned into process this kind of data. Most people would not be aware that such a brain system exists – indeed some people seem to operate primarily by using the upper two brain systems – the neo-cortex (to process complex thought) and the limbic system (processing emotion). They seem less aware than others that R-complex exists. I consider my “shamanic initiation” to have involved becoming aware of R-complex.When I speak about my innocence concerning life, in my memoir, it is largely this lack of knowledge about how power systems work on us at a psychological level that I am weighting up. I had no idea that power systems were operating all around me – including affecting me on a subconscious level – until I had reached the end of my tether in terms of trying to mentally process a particularly noxious case of workplace bullying, and make sense of it.Neither intellectual analysis, nor self questioning on an emotional level produced any kind of explanation of what I’d been experiencing. There was obviously something going on at an even deeper level than either of these other approaches were able to discover on their own terms. All systems – even brain systems – have their own internal form of logic and self-consistency. What I was capable of experiencing and observing was that ‘something’ was operating in my workplace environment that had little to do with emotional give-and-take in the everyday sense. It was something that resisted intellectual analysis, too. And yet it had its own particular logic to it. Then, suddenly some realisation snapped into place, and it was as if I could see power relationships operating with my inner eye – I had discovered what I later came to know as R-complex!

Since that time of suddenly becoming more aware of how things worked around me, I have noticed that people are aware of this factor of life to very varying degrees. Nobody is immune from the effect of group power dynamics – what Jung referred to as “the participation mystique” – which is the domain of R-complex. We are all, to some degree, the victims of group power plays, as well as the willing participants (for involvement produces pleasure). This is what Nietzsche‘s Zarathustra meant when he said that some rule themselves but most are only ruled. So long as R-complex remains a factor that influences us from the level of the subconscious, we are only ruled. Shamanisation, however, means becoming aware of this factor in society at large, and how it operates upon us. Thus one can recognise that nature of R-complex, observe instances of its expression, and intervene in various situations to prevent the domination of R-complex when this seems likely to happen. (Fascism would be an instance of the domination of society by R-complex.)

Another factor that one has to become aware of, in order to thrive, are the number of people who have become mentally ill as a result of not being able to resist the domination of the minds by R-complex. In the case of a healthy mind, the higher parts of the brain rule over the lower parts, sometimes allowing them various avenues for self-expression. R-Complex and its drive to experience dominance would be mediated by considerations of ethics and emotional consideration of others. But in the case of the mentally ill, this is not so! Rather, the lower parts of the mind have gained predominance over the higher parts. A shaman, who recognises that there are two parts to the mind, is best able to recognise when this has happened.

The nature of R-complex is to elude analysis and diagnosis made on a purely intellectual basis. R-complex facilitates a way of relating to others that is devoid of the capacity to recognise and respond to their human characteristics, and it may operate independently from the higher mind in many instances. At other times, it operates in group dynamics in order to dehumanize the participants, and reduce them to a function of the operation of the whole. Only the higher mind is capable of recognizing and responding to actual, individual person. The mysterious and ruthless aspects of R-complex are appealing to many on the Right, and are particularly compatible with fascism. The loss of the higher mind is desired by many people on a subconscious level. They desire release from the work of the intellect and from having to process the subtle nuances that pertain to adult relationships. To lose oneself to R-complex can seem desirable, admirable, and even godly. (Hitler, no doubt, sought to radiate the unmoved and unmovable qualities of R-complex in order to appear to be above and beyond human needs and desires, when he was merely way below them.)

One should understand how R-complex fits us to play roles of which we may not even be aware. In a society where patriarchal values are the norm, men and women play their respective roles (involving dominance and submission, respectively) without consciously giving their consent to these roles. Rather their consent is manufactured for them at the level of the unconscious, by R-complex!

R-complex also reinforces what Nietzsche referred to as “herd morality”, for it allows those whose minds are not so well developed (because they rely more upon R-complex in order to get along, rather than on the functions of the higher parts of the mind) to dominate those whose emotional and intellectual development is more advanced. This is why Nietzsche’s Zarathustra had pity for the “higher man” and suggested an alternative avenue for him – that he becomes shamanised (that is, he should learn to see how R-complex operates in order to be able to defend himself.) The “overman” is actually the shamanised man. In terms of shamanistic logic (ie. knowledge about how the human brain functions), Hitler is the quintessential “underman” who falls backwards, in evolutionary terms, to rely upon R-complex, rather than using the gains of evolution to try to create a bridge to the overman.

The temptation to fall backwards will always be a temptation for humanity. There is a very functional cleverness that comes into operation when one embraces backwardness and intellectual stupidity. “The stupidity of the good is unfathomably clever,” said Nietzsche, in Zarathustra. He was referring to those dominated – largely subconsciously, but not necessarily in the mentally ill sense – by R-complex. It is a significant fact that R-complex is unfathomably clever in its ability to put the intellect (ie. the higher mind) into harness.  The survival mechanisms entailed in the reptile brain facilitated the survival of our primeval ancestors a long time before the higher brain stem came along. One should not be surprised then, that it is able to facilitate survival in a way that seems to be unfathomably clever from the perspective of the higher mind’s cognitive faculties.

How does one who has succumbed to R-complex – a fascist like Hitler, or somebody who has a severe personality disorder – manage to dominate those whose minds and moral sensibilities are more well developed? The one under the spell of R-complex tries various triggers on the population, almost almost randomly, in order to discover what gets a response – more specifically, what can produce, in the experimenter, a sensation of dominance. If R-complex triggers a reaction, it feels gratified. R-complex learns from that and will do the same thing again. Those who are operate in this way, habitually, will generally have an upside down function to their brain, whereby the reptile brain controls and utilises the functions of the higher brain, rather than the other way around. So it will subvert good will (others’ good will –but even the disordered subject’s own) in order to feed its appetites for a feeling of dominance. That is why it is useless to employ one’s cognitive functions in order to communicate with the disordered.

One must use one’s analytical powers to understand this behaviour, but one cannot go so far as to be able to communicate effectively with one so disordered. The reason why such people rarely make any sense is because of their upside-down brain, with a reversed order of executive hierarchy. Lizard brain is in charge — and it does not feel itself to be in the proximity of anything human. Humans we are and those who operate exclusively from this domain are self-deluded.


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