|Headline:||Network Model of Personality|
|Date:||Sunday, June 23, 2019|
|Posted By:||Plaid Hatter Games|
This post starts with an insight I gained when trying (and largely failing) to develop a geometry based solution to personality in Adding a New Dimension to Personality. I was trying to give personality a three dimensional "shape". I was also trying to develop a system where individuality emerged from the size of the areas of each face, and the length of each edge. Each edge, in turn, represented the push and pull of two forces at a time.
I write software in my day job that is a system of systems model for shipboard casualties. We use a lot of network diagrams. You may hear "network" and immediately think of electronic communications. In our case "network" could just as easily describe a physical system moving fluids, mechanical power, gas or electricity. Our software understands that each type network has its own set of rules. Our architecture allows us to exploit that fact that rules, themselves, have rules. And those higher level rules are extremely consistent.
The nice thing about network diagrams is that they have areas and edges and nodes that don't have to conform to a shape. They just are, and if you can fit it on a page, bonus for you. It's the connections that really matter. Or more specifically, the interactions that occur over connections.
I went back to my source material on psychological models of personality. I started with Carl Jung, and built forward adding in relationships between parts of the psyche that we know now 75-100 years later from follow-on research. This diagram is my best guess:
I ended up having to edit that image in Pages for the Mac, because there were so many blocks moving together. And the "logic" was largely a creative process on my part. If you click the image, it should take you to a printable PDF. I normally edit directly in SVG, but this was too complicated to pull off in my normal workflow. I was also not comfortable throwing this over to a tool like Graphviz, because I had a sense of what it was supposed to look like already. Graphiz produces a visualization. There is no guarantee it is intelligible or otherwise useful.
I started by slinging all of the known areas of mental development on the page. I then semi-organized them into areas by function. I spent a few hours splitting and combining parts of the mind, partly to taste, partly to match what the research actually tells us. I had to be pretty creative because, frankly, research is still pretty early.
That I ended up with three major areas is a bit of a serendipity. I had started with two, "Consciousness" and "Spirit". But over time it was clear that I needed to divide what consciousness actually does into two areas. One for abstract thought, the other for day-to-day survival. I did my best to make the major areas of function conform in function to what the current science supports, and in name to what the current science actually refers to them as.
Emphasis on "try", though. I had to create three new functions in the psyche that are either collections of disjointed concepts in other models, or areas that are outright hostile to being "understood" in a scientific sense.
I use the term "Psyche" because that concept allows for effects beyond the neurological. We are more than just neurons firing off. We can't measure what that "moreness" is, or perhaps even describe it in words, but that doesn't make it any less real. Not "real" in the "you will find in in an anatomy textbook" sense. "real" as in "people find it useful to describe their life" sense.
The Psyche takes input from, and sends action to two different "hosts": Body and Soul.
Our projection into the physical world with a body. Body takes in input from the senses, and modifies the environment through actions. But the body is limited to one place in space at a particular time. While it can slightly control the passage of time, time strictly flows one way for the body.
Our projection into the spiritual world. Soul has no concept of either "Space" or "Time". The Soul is not a solid form like the body is in the physical world. It is an artificial boundary between the whole of the spirit world and the self. Much like a house is an artificial boundary between the environment and your stuff. Don't read too much into analogies, if you think you understand the soul you missed an important concept: it exists apart from understanding.
The Psyche is a complex place. But through studies in neurology and psychology, we can get a sense that there are parts of the Psyche that do specific jobs. We will call those Functional Components. For the sake of understanding, it is sometimes useful to group Functional Components into what this paper will call "Houses". Though I cannot lay any claim that a professional neurologist, psychologist or psychic would agree with my groupings, or that the concept of a House adds anything to the discussion at all.
Also note that I refer to these concepts a components of the sub-conscious. My theory is that they are like tools in a toolbox, or instruments in an airplane. They perform jobs on their own, without respect to the "bigger picture." And while they may have modes and have a certain level of logic to them, they do not make large scale decisions for the Psyche.
Feelings are the reflection of the global state of the mind into a single abstract representation. And pretty much anything I use to describe it from here requires a pretty picture that still only half captures the complexity.
Imagination is the ability to project the power of the three areas of the mind into a single working model. It is the only way that certain portions of the mind can interact. Imagination keeps running even when we are unconscious. (We call that dreaming.) Imagination is a holistic entity, and trying to divide it further is somewhat useless.
Implementation is the process of translating thought into action in the physical world. There are many different parts of implementation. Many important ones even bypass the Psyche entirely (the involuntary). Conscious activities that require "muscle memory" require an interaction between the Will and the Implementation. Examples of Implementation development include leading a target with a shotgun, riding a bicycle, and playing a musical instrument.
Intellect is the ability to reason, apart from the senses or the soul. A mathematician working with pure ideas represents the ultimate development of Intellect. Intellect has many parts which can be developed independently, and favored depending on the taste and experience of the individual. It is the nature of the intellect to develop a singular answer, and thus most tools have a diametrically paired opposite.
Intuition is the ability to make decisions apart from fact, observation, and even experience. Science really doesn't know how it works. But that doesn't make it any less real.
Memory is the way the Psyche can relate current events to past (and sometimes future) experiences. There are many different types of memory, that are developed in different ways.
One one hand, the Mystical realm is not a "real" part of the brain. One the other, because it trades entirely in the "beyond real" interactions that the Psyche is party to, it cannot be "real." That doesn't make it non-important.
For the purely scientific, the Mystical component is simply where we imagine we are interacting with the world at large and our fellow human beings on a symbolic level. We go through the motions because we are all just brains in meat suits and this is the only way to connect to morons.
For the average person, the Mystical component is where you get the sense that someone is going to call your phone seconds before they call. It's also our end of the line when we pray to god.
For the true mystic... well you know what is really going on. And you know that what goes on cannot be explained. One has to experience it for oneself.
Perception is the ability to develop a deep understanding of the world through the senses. Sensation can recognize, perception can analyze. Despite using the same senses, perception and Sensation actually develop in different parts of the psyche, and at different rates depending on individual experience.
Sensation is a quick and dirty read of the senses, sufficient for the Will to make timely judgements for ongoing tasks. Activities that require hand-eye coordination develop both Sensation and Implementation.
This is a component that is unique to this model. The Social Component is the way the Psyche can relate to other people. The Social component has different modes of operation, and certain patterns are what other models recognize as Social "Extraversion" vs. Social "Introversion." In this model, the difference of the two is not a hard wired thing so much as a learned behavior that is changeable with setting. Like Intellect, the social component has sub-components that can can develop at different rates for different individuals.
This model incorporates Emotion as a part of the Social component.
It is the theory of this paper that while we can outline the function of each component, how each is used and developed is strictly under the control of the individual Psyche. The Psyche is also free to use or ignore a function regardless of how well (or ill) developed it may be.
When someone develops a function, and choses not to employ it, we will call that ignorance.
When someone fails to develop a function and choses to use it anyway, we will call that incompetence.
It is also assumed that the understanding of one's incompetence is only realized after achieving competence. Thus phenomena like the Dunning-Kruger Effect
The Psyche has three basic jobs that are often at odds with one another. For each of those jobs, a nexus of decision making forms. Those nexuses are "areas" where unconscious portions of the psyche reflect on themselves to produce consciousness. This model only discusses patterns that seem to form naturally under healthy conditions in the developed world.
It may very well be that these patterns of connections could be different in other cultures. These patterns would likely be different for other species if we tried to describe other forms of intelligent, or semi-intelligent life.
The Mind is the dispassionate area of pure ideas. It exists as a forum for competing analytical interpretations of the world an spirit to interact. Often violently. And the mind is only content when there are no further unanswered questions.
The mind is a relatively recent development in the evolution of the Human Psyche. It was originally a portion of the Perception area. As it grew to take on more functions, it grew into connecting more and more parts of the mind, and eventually, to become an area of consciousness in its own right.
Like Will, most of its processes are time and space oriented. But unlike Will, it can stop, start, reverse, or ignore its sense time and space. But unlike Spirit, Mind eventually needs to eventually tie an idea back to something in reality in order to properly comprehend it.
Spirit is the interaction of the Psyche with the world beyond the obvious. The question "What is Spirit's reason for existence?" is ludicrous. Existence does not apply to Spirit, and nor do Reason or Being. The sheer act or forming words makes describing Spirit to another person difficult to impossible. Anything you can say about Spirit is true, false, does not apply, and is the only thing that matters, all in one.
The Will is the manifestation of self. Will exists to keep the self alive. Will is the source of one's sense of individuality. Well is only satisfied when it can exert control over the world around oneself. As far as Will is concerned, the rest of the world exists to keep it alive, and the rest of the Psyche are tools to that end.
Spirit can shape Will to some extent via Intuition and Feeling. The Mind can influence Will through imagination. But in the end, Will will be Will.
Will is also extremely lazy. If it find a set of inputs that always seem to lead to the same outcome, it lays in a habit. Habits from then on out can bypass the psyche entirely. And anyone who has ever tried to break a cycle of bad habit can tell you, its hard. And get harder the longer the habit is allowed to run un-checked.