regressive relationships and R-complex: Strongly suggestive in nearly all the psychoanalytic literature on the topic is the idea that our early childhood mindset does not simply disappear as we enter adulthood. Rather, even in the human adult, there seems to remain a brain ‘function’ as it were (I suggest this is R-complex), that enables us to adapt to prevailing (political, social) situations by distorting reality, in order to make those situations appear more conducive to our (long term) survival than they are. So we see that psychoanalytic literature points to a particular mode of ‘adaptation’ under stress that is “regressive”. (See: Isabel Menzies Lyth’s book, The Dynamics of the Social).
My conjecture is that the neurological system that facilitates this regressive mode of adaptation is R-complex. The reason I make such a conjecture is because the literature suggests that a totally different mode of ‘thinking’ comes into play in relation to extreme stress, and that this mode of thinking duplicates, in many ways the emotional characteristics of the dependency relationship of the child in relation to its parents at very early stages of development. (There is, on the one hand, blind trust; and on the other hand,there is an intuitive and very clear perception of one’s relationship to power. The second, more attuned aspect, enables one to adapt to power relationships “as they are” without being burdened by whether or not they are rational — survival, rather than rationality, is at the heart of this primary level of processing.) R-complex is also concerned with issues of power; power relationships. Primitive tribal mindsets, fascism and its mystical perspectives on ‘leadership’, a mystical sense of union with others, a ‘lord of the flies’ mentality, all seem to have a fundamental neurological origin. At least, this is my conjecture.
AMORALITY is the feature that best describes this ethical orientation towards the world. Epistemological distortions (and epistemological skepticism, in adults) are one of its primary calling cards. (See the literature on “personality disorders”.) Impulsivity would be linked to this regressive mindset, via the sense that broader reality is not fixed, nor knowable, and hence “anything goes”. A criminal who was oriented towards the world in this regressive manner might also have a smug sense of self-satisfaction that he had found a different and superior route to happiness via his amorality; a system of thinking that enables him to ‘survive’ quite effectively without reference to higher qualities of mind, such as ethical considerations. He might feel himself to be an “overman” of sorts (reference to Nietzsche’s philosophical term), when he has merely regressed. (In actual fact, the transcendence of one’s narrow, culturally-inculcated beliefs is the sign of the Overman, and not this state of immanence.)
However, the criminal type is right to feel that there is something robust and extremely faciliative of (short-term) survival and even of domination, in this mode of regression. There is also something that feels like mystical truth. An orientation towards power rather than towards ethics has a whole internal logic of its own, for it is facilitated by an entirely different system of the brain than that part of the mind that humans normally identify with the nature of their selfhood. The pathological aspect of this brain function — how it sometimes functions in an independent state from the rest of the mind — hasn’t been my main focus.
My thesis itself is not concerned with this pathology, so much, bur rather with “shamanism” and the ways in which writers like Nietzsche, Bataille, and Marechera, try to integrate the lizard brain with the higher brain in order to produce a more complete human being — less detached from the body and less separated than usual from direct political engagement.
To escape the unconscious control of your mind by R-complex is actually possible, but one has to become “shamanised” — that is one has to have a close encounter with this “primal mother”(one’s own susceptibility to allowing R-complex to determine one’s unconscious motivations). This experience of shamanic initiation shatters one’s previous sensibilities and causes a total revolution of the personality. Those who do not shamanise are, of course, still liable to being manipulated by external forces and can too easily become unconscious victims of this regressive feature of the psyche — or more specifically of their own self-misunderstandings in relation to R-complex.