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It has long been known that there are two types of thinking -- logical and intuitive. And logic comes in two varieties. And we also know that emotions, whether induced by stress or hang-ups, can affect thinking.


From Discover Mar 2003
By Steven Johnson

" is a question with a surprising answer: Would we remember our fear if we had no long-term memory?

"An experiment performed nearly 100 years ago by Swiss psychologist douard Claparde provides a clue: Claparde was treating a woman suffering from a debilitating form of amnesia that left her incapable of forming new memories. She had suffered localized brain damage that preserved her basic mechanical and reasoning skills, along with most of her older memories. But beyond the duration of a few minutes, the recent past was lost to her -- a condition brilliantly captured in the movie Memento, in which a man suffering similar memory loss solves a mystery by furiously scrawling new information on the backs of Polaroids before his memories fade to black.

"Claparde's patient would have seemed straight out of a slapstick farce had her condition not been so tragic. Each day the doctor would greet her and run through a series of introductions. If he then left for 15 minutes, she would forget who he was. They'd do the introductions all over again. One day, Claparde decided to vary the routine. He introduced himself to the woman as usual, but when he reached to shake her hand for the first time, he concealed a pin in his palm.

"It wasn't friendly, but Claparde was onto something. When he arrived the next day, his patient greeted him with the usual blank welcome -- no memory of yesterday's pinprick, no memory of yesterday at all -- until Claparde extended his hand. Without being able to explain why, the woman refused to shake. She was incapable of forming new memories, yet she had nevertheless remembered something -- a subconscious sense of danger, a remembrance of past trauma. She failed utterly to recognize the face and the voice she'd encountered every day for months. But somehow, buried in her mind, she remembered a threat."

This study nearly a century ago was our first definitive glimmer that "thinking" is neither entirely conscious nor even cerebral.

This page will be no surprise to many women who find intuitive thinking second nature, it is so automatic. If you want to see this one in action, play "Twenty Questions" in a mixed group of males and females. The men tend to ask linear questions logically designed to narrow possibilities down to the final answer. In contrast women tend to be seemingly unorganized in their questions, yet they often leap to the answer out of the blue so to speak. Like the patient reported on above, women are often more accustomed to following up on their hunches. One woman advised her friends: Listen to your intuition, it is telling you something.

Emotional Barriers

See Little Boy Saved for an example of how emotions can develop early to the detriment of their owner. In that case, a competitive father put down his son so routinely that the boy began thinking he was a loser by nature. Even after maturing and beating his father at last, the "little boy," no longer little, could still not feel or believe the new reality. His self-image, his hang-up, prevented him from being all that he could be. His "self" was one that examplifies a type Authoritarians love to pounce on, a type they can look down upon.

There are many other ways hang-ups can develop. They all have in common the fact that their owner is typically unaware of them, or of their origins. Common also is that hang-ups get in the way of logical thinking. For example, "The Little Boy" feeling of one down would prevent him not only from voicing his opinions; he could only parrot what his father taught. Radicals feed on people like this, and not just in Islam.

These features bear on terrorism directly. It is no stretch of the imagination that with repeated negative experiences with the more developed world, individuals in Islam can build up an automatic fear response to Westerners and their ideas. Put enough negative stuff in a psyche and you have hatred. This response gains the power of masses once it collectively penetrates the mass psyche. Muslim society is just one example.

In this light, terrorism is indeed a war of psychology, to be fought with psychology in mind. What are we doing instead? First, with Afghanistan and then with Iraq, we are feeding Islam a steady diet of negative stuff (beyond what we already were). Beyond logic, Muslims can grow to hate us because they fear us, whether or not the process is conscious.

Moreover, radical mullahs fear secular governance that separates church and state -- they lose their power. Muslims on the street who have had relatives killed by Israelis cannot help but harbor negative feelings toward Israel, and also toward us as Israel's only benefactor, and without whose help Israel could not exist as a nation for long. See Zionism.

Our support for Israel, our historic betrayal of Iraqi citizens, and in their view our theft of oil from their homeland provide reasons why many Iraqi's do not dance in the streets with our "governance."

Deep down they fear us only a little less than they feared Hussein. At the same time, they view our technology with envy, and that exacerbates their pain and humiliation.

Mr. Bush made this bed; American soldiers now must live with it, male and female alike. And now over 2,000 have died in settling the Bush family score. Over 2,000 have died in dividing Iraq into hostile lands where no American can tread. Over 2,000 have died while Iran and North Korea charge on toward greater terror capability. Over 2,000 have died as a hundred times their number have become mired in a wasteland veneer of oil riches. All this leaves Mr. Bush, more importantly, all of us, unable to answer the larger threats of our time.

This is the end result of emotions controlling actions to the virtual exclusion of thinking.

Maybe Mr. Bush silently invoked "Manifest Destiny!"


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