Why We Contain the Universe

July 17, 2017

The deeper we go within, into the depths of our own Consciousness and Psyche, the more we withdraw our attention from the outside world.  The farther within that we dig, the less influence the outside world has on us.

This can be, and I think usually is, a sign of insight and depth of vision.

As insight deepens, consciousness “shrinks”: its focus is more toward the center of one’s being, and the outer “edges” of awareness tend to shrink (or expand) with the range of focus of one’s attention.

It’s not easy to find the center at first.  It’s underneath “stuff”: the burden of unresolved past painful experience and the fuzziness of things we “learned” that aren’t really true.

The burden is called “negativity.”

The fuzziness is called “wrong beliefs.”

Together, negativity and wrong beliefs are called the “ego” or the “false self.”

Negativity and wrong beliefs are also the substance of which attachments are made.

Ego and attachments cause consciousness to be focused on the “surface” of awareness, where Soul and Matter meet to form “flesh”–that is, the body and its needs, desires, and sensations.

Someone deeply asleep in the darkness of ego is deeply identified with the body.

The bodily identity is called the “(surface) personality.”  It consists of bodily characteristics, innate personal qualities, urges, and a name and mailing address.  It also has a social group, usually a family.

The personality is temporary and constantly changing in accordance with experience.

Experience happens on the outside, in the collective dream-reality of society and sensation.  Experience registers on the inside, at the center of one’s consciousness.

The center goes all the way “in” (or “up”), to a more collective or shared version of consciousness.  The collective or shared consciousness at the center of (one’s personal) consciousness is cause, and the outer world of experience is effect.

A “point of consciousness” is a self-aware, aware, or semi-aware being (or object).  A human or dolphin is self-aware.  A dog or amoeba is aware.  An enzyme or atom is semi-aware.

All points of consciousness are “connected to” this central-consciousness database through their own centers of consciousness.  All points of consciousness are points of exchange of information between the inner center of consciousness and the outer world of experience.

What is exchanged is–and must be–information from other points of consciousness, including thoughts and sensations.

This means that when I (consciousness) look out my eyes into another set of eyes, consciousness is seeing itself–from both sides of the interaction.

In every interaction, something is shared.  This “something” is recorded in the centers of consciousness that are present in the interaction.

All the information collected and stored in the ultimate center of every center of consciousness equals the sum total of everything that has ever been experienced in the history of existence.

As experience becomes more complex, there are more unique situations and opportunities for interaction to happen and be “recorded” in the central center of consciousness.  This is one purpose of Existence: to provide a vast array of different kinds of experience.

We can accurately say that the central center of consciousness “knows all.”  A lot of people call this central center of consciousness “God.”

Since it is causative to everything that happens, has ever happened, or ever will happen, it is.  Since it knows all, it is.  Since it is everywhere all at once, it is.  Since it “can do anything” (because it DOES everything), it is.

Right there in the center.  Small as a mustard seed, small as a grain of sand.  Like a tiny candle flame that ever (not “never”) changes but is static.

This tiny center within us and everything else is enormously huge.  After all, it caused and causes everything.

It is everywhere, in everything, unable to be scraped off or squeezed out of anything.

Unable to be sliced in half.

It is huger and grander than the universe we can see or know.  It contains the universe.  The universe exists within it, surrounded and penetrated by it.

It it, we live and move and have our being.  Literally!

And it’s all there, sitting quietly and patiently, being unaffected, always, free for the taking, hidden but accessible.  Inside you.

God. In you.

THIS is why there’s a Golden Rule.  Jesus understood.  Do unto others…because they ARE you.

Namasté.

(“The divinity in me bows to the divinity in you.”)

Written on July 17, 2010, and freshly edited on July 17, 2017


Exes and Razor Blades

April 10, 2017

Last night I had a dream that involved my first “real” ex-girlfriend. We were together in the dream, or at least living together. I told her things about our relationship “then” (at the “time” of the dream) that would apply to anyone who would be my mate now.

After I woke up, I wondered if she was a symbol of “The Female” in ALL of my past relationships…and if my words to her in the dream were meant to express (to my conscious self) my attitude now.

My real-life relationship with her began a very long process of extracting out of myself an inner brokenness that attracted me to females who personified something lost in me, a battle not won, a love not attained. It was like other romances (both before and since) that brought angst instead of love–dysfunction and demands, incessant emotional vitriol and high sexual energy.

I thought about contacting her today. “Hey, I had a dream about you last night. Is everything OK?” And I didn’t. There’s no reason to.

——–

I wondered today if my dream applies somehow to a more recent ex, or if it even could. But I don’t believe it could. Being in a romantic relationship is like giving your partner a razor blade and letting him or her shave your throat. When you give someone a razor so she can shave you, and halfway through the shave she tries to cut your throat, you don’t want her to “shave” you again.

Short of cutting your throat, even ranting and raving at the sky and waving the razor wildly in the air while you rest your head in front of her is plenty of reason to end the shave (and be reluctant to repeat the experience). Similarly, holding the razor to your throat and “only threatening” to cut it is sort of a deal-breaking incident…even if the rest of the shave was just fine.

I’ve had all of these figurative experiences in romantic relationships.

One ex showed me repeatedly that she can’t be trusted near my neck even with a letter-opener. After a couple of botched shaving experiences with her, I figured we could start again with that and work our way up–first a letter-opener, then a small pocketknife, then maybe a bigger one, and eventually back up to a razor–but every time I was proven wrong.

If you can’t trust someone to shave you without cutting your throat (especially on purpose, but even by accident), that person can’t be your mate. Or am I missing something? Is there value in just giving someone a razor and letting them cut your throat?

——–

Recently, in the absence of both relationship drama and the angst of the pursuit of romantic love, I’ve turned more towards broader ideas about “truth, justice, and the American way” (to quote Superman) or “the nooks and crannies of life and the human experience” (to quote myself).

And I spend time with my kids. And I work. And I write, when I can, about things that I’ve learned in these 42-plus years of living.

What matters most is what matters most, and I’ve learned that what matters most is learning and knowing myself. Romantic relationships, more than any other experience, have taught me this, and they also have brought me my life’s greatest joys: human connection, self-knowledge, the ability to express it in words…and my children.

For that, I am grateful for the romances in my past, whether or not I have one in the future–but I’ve also learned that I can shave my own throat just fine. Or I can keep my beard.


“To know why is to be free” and other thoughts

April 2, 2017

A square peg doesn’t fit into a round hole. Oil and water do not mix. Magnets don’t stick to wood. Light and darkness cannot exist at the same time.

Life is hard enough without adding unnecessary burdens to an already heavy load. Lightening someone’s load means someone else carrying more weight. Some things are meant to be easy; if they’re difficult, that’s a sign that something is amiss. Life teaches what those things are.

People are like billiard balls, bouncing off each other and changing each other’s direction. They cannot move in a straight line for long. To stop, or to fall into a pocket, removes one from the game–and yet the game continues. “There can be only one” is just a line from a movie, a misunderstanding if taken as reality.

Streamline. Keep it simple, stupid. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Simplify. Take it easy. Don’t let that which matters most drown in the puddle of that which matters not. Much matters not…or much matters. It’s your choice.

I want you to be a certain way. Thus, I begin the race a loser. You want me to be different. Thus, you admit that you don’t like who I am. I can take you, or I can leave you. It’s my choice: whether right or wrong, it’s my choice. Take away choice and what’s left? Right? Wrong.

People aren’t perfect, and yet they are. We all fall short, and yet we’re all on the way to where we’re going…and we’re all exactly where we’re at. We cannot be otherwise; to demand such is to inflict folly on ourselves. Too much folly and truth disappears, covered by dark clouds and causing darkness. And yet this is temporary.

Give up? Give in? Give back? Give out? Give off? No. Just give.

Craziness is feeling without reason. Coldness is reason without feeling. Death is neither reason nor feeling. Life is reason with feeling. Both are necessary; to own one without the other is to live only half a life, all the time. At best.

It’s better to laugh than to cry, sometimes. And sometimes it’s better to cry. It’s best to know why. Prisoners do not, nor do children. This is fine for prisoners and children, but not for adults who are free. To know why is to be free.

Friends make mistakes. They are people, too. To demand perfection from friends is to condemn them. To forgive them is to love them–to be a friend yourself. Some friends are worth it, and others are not. Do you know which is which?

Happiness is not rocket science. Do what you like to do. Think about what you want. Then, do that. If you find yourself doing what you don’t want, do something else. Make a plan if you have to. Being scared is okay.

Life is not easy, but it can be. Life is pain sometimes. Life is joy sometimes. The more we see, the more life is joy. The more blind we are, the more life is pain. Sometimes pain is necessary. Sometimes pain leads to joy. Sometimes pain leads to death.

Those who truly love you are few. Cherish them. Human beings are not cheap, but often bring deep rewards. Look into people as deeply as you can. People are full of meaning…and shit. More of one means less of the other. Know how to tell the difference. Then, use this gift.

Treading water gets you nowhere. Dive deep. There are treasures to be found beneath the surface. It gets easier with practice. Stay on the surface if you want to stay impoverished.

To be afraid to dive deep is to be afraid of yourself. Woe unto those who fear themselves, for they fear the greatest gift, the richest treasure, the most bountiful harvest. They will not find it “out there.” The kingdom is “in here.”

There is great power in words, in feelings, in decisions. Would you give a gun to a toddler? Learn to use your words, feelings, and decisions rightly. What goes out also comes back. Life is like a boomerang, a rubber band, a bungee cord. Be careful what you say. Know why you feel. Decide to be right.

What is right? I can’t answer that for you. But you can.

What does Life want you to do? You’re doing it NOW.

(Written on March 31, 2012)


The Power of Personal Responsibility

March 15, 2017

“With great power comes great responsibility.” –Unknown

“With great responsibility comes great power.” –Ven

What’s the difference between a victim of circumstances and an overcomer of them?

Responsibility. Personal responsibility. The victim avoids owning up to his or her contribution to an experience, but the overcomer does not. An overcomer not only “owns up to,” but also owns his or her experiences, rather than attempting to avoid responsibility for them.

It may well be that the person in question had little or nothing to do with the actions that led immediately to the painful event. It may be that the person was an “innocent bystander.”

No matter what the circumstances were–however little you think you had to do with the event–you will never be able to get over it and move on until you realize and accept your own responsibility to deal with the reality of it: its results, the broken pieces, the outcome.

A man standing on a curb who gets wiped out by a speeding car might not have caused the accident (although he was, after all, standing by the road), but he now has to deal with the results of the accident: the injury. No one’s body can heal but his own. No person can feel the agony but himself. He might try to avoid the pain and ignore the injury–maybe by overusing addictive drugs–but in the end, if he wants to heal as well and completely as possible, he will have to take responsibility for his own recovery.

Responsibility brings power. Avoiding responsibility brings victimhood (lack of power).

Why is “power” important, in the sense that I’m using it here?

Power is the difference between a victim of life and an overcomer of life. Power, in this sense, doesn’t mean the Naricssistic ability to harm or control others. It doesn’t mean the stoic ability to not let life affect you in negative ways. POWER means the ability to roll with the punches of life without getting stuck or bogged down in its frequent difficult situations.

Like Mark Twain said,

“Life is just one damn thing after another.”

What shall the “damn things” of life do to you? Shall they make you or shall they break you? Will you rise and accept and learn and grow from (even unwanted) experiences, or will you cower and succumb to their undying onslaught?

Aside from those situations when we seem to be innocent victims of circumstance, as adults we are perhaps far more often participants in the creation of situations that cause us to suffer. It’s very common among us (and even acceptable!) to shift blame (to deny or avoid responsibility).

“What, you’re 40 and you can’t read? Can’t swim? Can’t play music? Aw, fie on those foul fiends who have done you harm for no reason! You can never be better! You can never learn! You can never grow! You have to suffer NOW because of something somebody else did to you long ago. You are doomed to bear it for all your days; you must wait for someone else to free you from your pain; you cannot unburden yourself because you didn’t put the load there.”

Bullshit. We all have the power to unload pain from past experiences. We might not have placed the load there, but we certainly have the ability to remove it from our own shoulders. More often than not, we did help to create the circumstances that put the load there–but even when we didn’t, if we want to heal we have to act as though we DID.

We can pretend not to have responsibility for our own lives, but that doesn’t relieve us of having to live the consequences of our experiences anyway.

We are the ones living our lives. We are powerful, whether we know it or not. But our power is hidden, blunted, sabotaged. We are blind to what we are missing. We cannot see that we have to own our experiences if we wish to move on and live better. This gives us back our power–or, rather, it lets us see the power we already have but have been denying to ourselves.

We have to accept responsibility for our part in creating our experiences, and for the consequences of events that befall us–ALL of them. This is the only way not to be a victim of life, in life, for life.


On the Fake Lines Dividing Our Society Against Itself

February 6, 2017

We The People of the USA are infamously “divided”–in our minds. This division (though beginning in the mind) is expressed in our social relationships. Importantly, this mental division is largely implanted into our minds through our consumption of the mass media.

This American media-driven mental-social division is expressed in the following ways, among others:

  1. rich vs. poor
  2. African-American vs. European-American
  3. liberal vs. conservative
  4. pro-life vs. pro-choice
  5. gay vs. straight
  6. traditional vs. progressive
  7. men vs. women
  8. gun rights vs. gun control
  9. religious vs. secular
  10. urban vs. rural

Amazingly, this division is so defined at present that if someone’s position on only one issue is known, then that person’s position on virtually all other issues can be correctly assumed! This is not natural, normal, or healthy–but neither is the division itself.

The division is a consequence of many factors, including these:

  1. Mass-media promotion of endless ways to divide our society against itself
  2. The inability of people to distinguish their own experiences from propaganda
  3. The (natural and healthy) existence of multiple viewpoints on any matter
  4. The incorrect judgment that there are always only TWO viewpoints on an issue
  5. The incorrect judgment that one’s own viewpoint MUST be right
  6. The incorrect judgment that the (only) other viewpoint MUST be wrong
  7. The unwillingness of individuals to consider their own viewpoint fully and rationally
  8. The unwillingness of individuals to consider other viewpoints fully and rationally
  9. The tendency of “the masses” to abandon reason and “think” emotionally instead
  10. The extreme avoidance of admitting one’s own error
  11. Constant consumption of mass-media programming by people in our society
  12. The (often incorrect) perception of social and peer pressure for a certain view
  13. The belief (and insistence) that others must or should share one’s own viewpoint
  14. The validation and acceptance of the division itself
  15. The media-creation of certain viewpoints that are not real

The solutions to these problems lie in the mind of each person, but history shows that the great majority of people are simply unable and/or unwilling to correct these errors within themselves. I can’t fix them, but I can help to dispel these myths in and among people close to me (if they care to).

This is my purpose here. With that, let’s address the problem directly, as I see it.

The mass (corporate news and entertainment) media include (basically in order of importance/influence) TV programming, newspapers, Hollywood movies, magazines, books (both fiction and non-fiction), and radio programming. Despite theories about public “demand,” producers of these “information sources” decide for themselves what you and I will consume, within certain parameters.

Many of our viewpoints are the viewpoints that mass-media producers want us to have, not the ones we would have without their influence.

The mass media instigate division by reporting on it (as news), or by portraying it in a fictional setting (as entertainment). Then they fan the flames of division by defining a “line” between two (and only two) opposing viewpoints. We The People, not suspecting this sort of control, simply 1) accept the division, 2) choose one of the two opposing camps, and 3) join in the media-created division.

Folks, have we not figured out yet that the mass media are not our friends? Why do we as a society recognize the media as a problem and then continue to believe what they say?

To quote Terence McKenna,

“This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking.”

In my observation, neither side of a fake mental-social division is completely right–and neither is completely wrong, either. Both sides of each issue are partly right and partly wrong. Both sides are wrong for the black-and-white (lack of) thinking that solidifies the division.

Most importantly, neither side of the media-created division has the answer(s) on which it claims to have the monopoly.

This situation has brought great harm to the social fabric of our country, and it threatens to cause further confusion, chaos, and destruction between and among us if we don’t figure out what’s happening and how to stop it in our own lives.

I offer a very simple solution:

If people would stop consuming (and believing) the divisive propaganda that the mass media endlessly promote, and if they would instead rely on their own study and experience to guide them, then they could learn for themselves what’s “right” with regard to any “issue”–and to get along with people who disagree with their own viewpoints.

That one bold-faced paragraph, if understood and put into action, could by itself solve the majority of social problems in the United States.

Of course, nothing guarantees that another person will also be willing to “get along.” We simply can’t control other people…but trying to control other people is a symptom of what’s wrong in the first place. We can only control ourselves.

Unfortunately, the Powers That Be (of which the media are only a part) have anticipated this solution, and have injected our society with a powerful antidote to it:

We believe that truth is relative, everything is up for debate, and no real answers can ever be found anyway, so we might as well just not judge (that is, not use our brains), follow the media hype, be nice to everybody, and treat every person and idea as “equal” like they tell us to.

What the media don’t tell us is that this is a road to destruction, but they don’t seem to care about that anyway. In fact, they seem to promote it at every turn.

Written on February 17, 2014, and freshly edited on February 5, 2017.


Ego and Mind

January 24, 2017

In our quest for “the truth,” let us not confuse ego with self. It seems easy to distinguish them on the surface. “Who knows better than I do what’s me and what’s not me?!”

Looking within, it ALL appears to be “me.” When someone or some life situation pushes one of my buttons, the reaction certainly seems to be ME. It comes from me; I feel the anger, fear, embarrassment, defensiveness, or other negative emotion; I think the thought in my head that accompanies the act and precedes the feeling.

“Of COURSE that’s me reacting!”

Nature of the Ego

We think that the things lurking in the dark nooks and crannies of the mind are–or at least are FROM–the self. This is because we don’t know any better. As part of the process of creating the ego-mind, the mind was programmed to believe that its deeper nature is unknowable. This is because to know the mind is to destroy the ego-mind; the power of the ego-mind lies exactly in the belief that it cannot be known, cannot be discovered, and is forever (safely, for itself) in darkness.

Darkness is merely the absence of light, the absence of awareness. The darkness is where demons lie, and from which they emerge to wreak havoc on ourselves and others—yes, even those we know and love.

“Why did I do that? I didn’t mean to hurt so-and-so. Am I terrible?”

It wasn’t YOU who did or said the thing that hurt someone you love. It was the ego-mind, the darkness, the unplumbed depths of yourself, which if left alone only remains to cause more trouble, pain, misunderstanding, and suffering–THROUGH you.

The ego has many names, many lenses through which to operate through you, many justifications and excuses for its behavior, many rules by which to predetermine future thoughts and actions. The ego-mind BELIEVES it has everything to defend, but it sacrifices everything for fog, for vapor–like a robot programmed by a crazy person to secure nothingness at all costs, and to destroy all that appears to threaten its own existence.

The ego-mind fears even a shingle being blown off its roof by the wind, and it’s the wind of self-honesty, courage, and experience that blows the structure of darkness away, bit by bit–in my experience.

Can the ego-mind be brought into the service of the light, though allowed to remain? Hosed off, dried gently, and hugged, then sent to play? In that case, what the hose washes away is ego; what is left to play is a part of self that the ego had “taken captive” and cut off from the rest of self.

Contents of the Ego

The ego-mind is a confusing mixture of gold and lead: the gold being parts of the self that are hidden in egoic darkness, and the lead being the “substance” of the ego that mixes with captive parts of self and produces a counterfeit self that we mistake for the True Self!

Ego is pure ignorance, darkness, and evil, with no redeeming value, in my experience. What ego releases from its grasp when we hose it off, or when the wind blows–when we shine awareness on it–is part of the self. But that part of the self was NOT itself part of ego. It was a piece of you or me that the ego had held and used for its own purposes for a long time.

Spirituality is not so much about fighting against the ego, but expanding our light so that we integrate the contents of the ego into our awareness. There are parts of us that are suspended in the egoic jelly-muck and we don’t function well without those parts of ourselves.

Indeed, when held by the ego-mind those parts, and their power, are used against us—and others.

When we free those long-lost aspects of ourselves, we can welcome them “back into the fold,” where their power and energy now is at our service instead of parasitically sucking our energy. We become more powerfully ourselves!

False Spirituality

Instead of removing mental images that comprise the ego-mind, some New Age teachers say that we can replace one thought with another, but this is equivalent to replacing a “worse” ego with a “better” one! It means replacing something that’s false and harmful with something that’s false and enjoyable!

This is the evil of New-Agey fluffiness: spirituality isn’t about getting what you WANT! It’s about removing what blocks you (on the inside) from understanding who you ARE! No mental “reprogramming” is needed, no matter what the “feel-good people” might say, or how good their intentions are!

Feeling good feels better than feeling like shit, but if one’s goal is truth, wisdom, and understanding—GROWTH—then one must welcome BOTH feeling good AND feeling like shit as teachers. In this way, one can use all of life as means to remove what is false from oneself. Then we feel better for REAL.

What is false? Anything that was put there by another person, or by oneself because of another person.

The ego-mind, emptied, is just the mind. The ego-mind is just the mind, full of crap that others put into it, probably long ago.


Do Narcissists Suck at Tickling?

January 23, 2017

Tickling requires empathy. It’s a psychological game (in a positive sense). One can’t tickle oneself; tickling requires a partner and, like most human interactions, when done the “right” way it’s a give-and-take.

Tickling is fun! It’s enjoyable. And some people suck at it–or refuse to do it (or do it right) at all. Like many enjoyable experiences, the main point of tickling is to induce laughter–and to have fun while giving or receiving the tickling.

Tickling doesn’t take much effort, and it can build trust and intimacy between people. It tends to be an interaction between children, or between adults and children. Adults who tickle each other tend to be friends, romantic partners, or potential romantic partners.

“Flintstone! Get in here on the double and tickle me!”
“Yes, Mr. Slate!”
(Um, no.)

Tickling can be a healthy or unhealthy interaction, depending partly on the psychological condition of the person doing the tickling. It can be done the right way or the wrong way. People can mess it up or even accidentally hurt whomever they’re tickling. It can even be used to abuse another person.

Tickling, then, can be a sort of barometer for a person’s psychological health.

“Tickler Types”

I’ve experienced several kinds of tickling or ticklers. Interestingly, only one of them is what I consider to be psychologically healthy.

1. The excellent tickler. This person enjoys tickling and being tickled. He or she knows how to tickle–where to focus one’s efforts; how to find the best “tickle spots”; which techniques to use; and when to stop. This tickler was tickled as a child in a healthy manner…or wasn’t, but has recovered the natural childlike ability and desire to engage in tickling. The excellent tickler understands the psychological dimension of tickling, including the fact that physical contact isn’t always necessary to induce laughter while tickling.

2. The doofus. This person wants to be a good tickler, and even tries his or her hand at it (quite literally)…but sucks at it. The “doofus tickler” botches it somehow, messes it up, or accidentally causes pain while “tickling”. The doofus doesn’t understand the psychology behind tickling, but still is willing to give it a shot…but his or her tickling isn’t really fun for the other person.

3. The faker. This person also doesn’t understand the psychology of tickling, but also doesn’t really want to do it. Tickling isn’t enjoyable to the faker, but, for the sake of the relationship, he or she pretends that it is. Fake tickling isn’t really fun or enjoyable, though.

4. The sexual tickler. With sexual or romantic partners, tickling can lead to sex or be an early part of foreplay. It can help one or both partners “get in the mood”–precisely because healthy tickling fosters trust and intimacy between people. For the sexual tickler, though, tickling is intended to lead to sexual interaction. Whether the other person knows it or not, tickling for this person is a calculated way to create physical closeness and induce trust and intimacy (falsely, as it were) in the other person so that the tickler can use it to make a sexual advance.

5. The torturer. This is a sadistic tickler. Rather than tickling to have fun, laugh, and strengthen trust and intimacy, the torturer uses it to dominate and inflict pain on the other person. The torturer enjoys not the tickling itself, but the suffering that sadistic tickling causes. With this person, tickling might appear to begin quite “normally” (to the unfortunate target), but it quickly descends into sadism: holding the target down, tickling “too hard” and digging into soft areas; ignoring the target’s pleas to stop; and even “tickling” until the victim cries or soils his or her pants. (The latter seems to be a goal of some sadistic ticklers.) The torturer was likely “torture-tickled” as a child and now “tickles” sadistically in the same way that other abused people become abusers. Sadistic tickling is abusive.  It is a violation of another person–indeed, it is torture.

6. The non-tickler. This person doesn’t enjoy or like tickling or being tickled–and may even say that he or she “hates” being tickled. The non-tickler was likely tickled by a sadistic tickler as a child, probably more than once. Having lost much (or all) of the joy in the laughter and bonding that tickling fosters, the non-tickler associates “fun” with pain…and probably enjoys other pleasant activities less, too. This person was a target of abuse–torture, no less–in the name of “fun” and as a result has experienced emotional trauma from tickling.

Psychology of Tickling

Many children and adults love to be tickled, but only to a certain point. Beyond that certain point, tickling stops being enjoyable and becomes (psychologically, if not physically) painful. Why is this?

The physical-and-psychological “game” of tickling involves consenting to a certain degree of vulnerability to another person. One (theoretically) willingly allows the intrusion of someone else’s body into sensitive and soft parts of one’s own: mainly the belly, sides, armpits, and neck. Indeed, the armpit is the quintessential “tickling area” in our culture.

These areas are not “public-access” body parts, like the hands, forearms, upper back, or shoulder areas are for some people. “Tickling areas” are semi-private parts of the body, normally reserved for close associates and trusted intimate partners. One does not publicly touch a stranger’s belly, sides, armpits, or neck (or, for that matter, touch these parts of anyone but the closest intimates without permission).

Moreover, these areas are vulnerable to harm. The soft tissues of the “tickling regions” are among the easiest body parts to damage through assault. They are the parts (along with the face and genitals) that we protect when we assume the fetal position or roll up into a ball to avoid physical trauma.

These are also semi-sexual areas. A spouse or romantic partner might affectionately touch his or her mate on the neck, side, or belly. Touching these parts of a child’s body is normally, “properly” reserved for close family members, same-age playmates, and medical professionals. It can be alarming to a parent when a stranger touches one’s child in these areas–even (or perhaps especially) to tickle the child.

[IMPORTANT NOTE:  Tickling a child without the prerequisite relationship might be a way for a pedophile (in this case, a pathological variety of the “sexual tickler”) to get close and gain access to a child. The excuse to a suspicious parent of “Aw, I’m only tickling her! See? She likes it!” can be the doorway that grants a pedophile access (if the excuse is accepted) or denies it (if rejected).]

When we consent to being tickled, we are handing over a degree of power to another person–for a specific purpose (mutual enjoyment) and period of time (until either one of us says we’re done). If that power is abused, particularly if we are helpless to avoid or overcome that abuse, we suffer emotional trauma. “Too much tickling” can be a personal violation.

On the other hand, observing the “rules” of tickling teaches us some valuable lessons.  The main “rules” of tickling might be as follows:

1) Don’t tickle too hard.
2) Stop when the tickled person says to.
3) Don’t tickle inappropriate areas of the body.
4) Be nice.

Following these “rules” teaches us about trust, vulnerability, respect, personal boundaries, consent, and cooperation. Tickling is itself practice in these domains of personal interaction.

Healthy and Unhealthy Tickling

A psychologically healthy person is likely to be an excellent tickler. He or she can tickle (with respect) and be tickled (with vulnerability). In my opinion, it is developmentally important that a child NOT be abused by tickling. Such abuse can affect the child’s ability to trust others, be vulnerable, and even to enforce his or her own personal boundaries against violation.

By the same token, someone who abuses the “tickling game” is showing a lack of respect, disregard for consent, and willingness to take advantage of someone else’s vulnerability.

Observing how someone tickles can reveal much about that tickler’s psychological health. So can observing how willing they are to be tickled. If the person tickles like a “doofus” or fakes it, he or she has likely been “torture-tickled” before. If someone effectively uses tickling to abuse others, that person likely has other issues that cause harm.

Of the six “tickler types” listed above, a Narcissist is likely to fall in types #2-6. Unable to understand the psychology of tickling, he or she will tend to either suck at it, fake it, use it as a sexual advance, use it to dominate others,, or avoid it altogether.

Non-Narcissists might also fall into these categories, but a Narcissist will not be an excellent tickler–because the “game” of tickling requires empathy in order to do it well. Empathy is one psychological game that the Narcissist is not able to play.


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