What are you ???

Posted by Rex Alexander on Sun 28 Apr 24 in ePrime, General Semantics, Homework |


(1) When you think of who and what you are, do you think your “nature” or “essence” is more like a fountain or a statue?




Keep in mind that neither of these analogies–whichever one you choose–is entirely adequate. The map is not the territory.  But they can serve as a device to give you a fleeting glance into the “nature of things” or as Korzybski refers to it “WIGO” or “What is going on.”


(2) What makes you think so? How do you arrive at that conclusion?

(3)  Why is this being posted on a blog about REBT-CBT?  What do you think the connection is, if any?

(4) Why would REBT-CBT consider one of these “concepts of self” to be more helpful and a more nearly accurate reflection of reality than the other?


Looking forward to hearing your thoughts . . . And no “The dog ate my homework” please!






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Originally posted 2017-05-18 19:27:52.

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  • I teach a model of the self as a transceiver. Some common transceivers are mobile phones, radios, and TVs. This model of the self as a receiver and sender of signals allows near instant and permanent detachment from feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Psychological problems revolve around falsely identifying oneself as various feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. You cannot let go of your self, and if your self is a faulty feeling, belief, or habit, then you are stuck with that faulty feeling, belief, or habit no matter how well you dispute it or think poorly of it.
    People are not things or thoughts. People are beings and exist in the nonverbal and invisible world posited by Alfred Korzybski. Learning to detach from self-defeating habits is easier when one has an understanding of self as not being feelings, thoughts, or behaviors. Hence, the problem of self-esteem a.k.a. the ego which is self as things and thoughts. Reducing and ending self-esteem games allows the freedom to switch to more effective feelings, thoughts, and behaviors because you are not your feelings, thoughts, or behaviors if you are not self-esteem based. More information can be found on my website for free or in many of my books on this and related topics. https://kevinfitzmaurice.com

    • Hi Kevin. It’s a pleasure to see your comments on this subject. I have a beef with Sam Harris and others who so relentlessly and uncategorically describe the “self” as an illusion. I know what they mean, but I think that approach employs antiquated language and can be unnecessarily disturbing and destabilizing to some people. I presume that the “ego” or better, “ego-process” has an evolutionary basis and seems to be universal aspect of human experience. We know that “it,” the sense of self, can be temporarily deactivated in a number of ways such as via meditative and similar disciplines, psychedelic drugs, trips into outer space and spontaneously. We also know that the eye can be temporarily deactivated in a number of ways. However, that hardly suggests that vision or the eye itself is an illusion, nor that it is maladaptive in some way. Maybe “selves” or “self-processes” is a more helpful way to look at it. We can regard or even experience “self” as Korzybski’s “whirling dance of electrons” or even more abstractly as WIGO: What is Going On., or as Joe Sixpack or Betsy Buttermilk, or as a partner in a marriage, a member of a family or society or any other structural relationship. All are valid “lens” to regard self in different structural relationships. E-Prime, I think, goes a long way to getting us out of the weeds in this regard.

  • The idea of the self as an illusion exists in Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and probably more religions. If you understand that a being cannot be composed of things or thoughts, then when you produce a person as self-images and self-concepts what you get is an illusion, or more accurately, a delusion. I believe the self exists. I think the self can be experienced. I do not believe the self can be composed using diagnoses, personality tests, nicknames, or self-esteem games. Yes, e-prime helps immensely. The authentic, natural, or original self does not change. What changes are definitions, labels, and names that supposedly describe the self but only result in ego games (dance of pride and shame).

    • Thanks for the comment, Kevin. I respect the Buddhist notion of self as an illusion. In fact, I “get it.” However, people such as Sam Harris seem to believe it is a “done deal.” The problem of self, consciousness and agency (“free will”) remain BIG PROBLEMS in philosophy. As far as I know, no one has a lock on the resolution to those problems no matter how certain or adamant they might claim to be. Personally, I prefer not to peddle any particular notion of self (or non-self). From the REBT-CBT standpoint, I am happy aa a pig in mud if students and clients choose a concept of self that cannot be rated as “good” or “bad” or any other global adjectives. Just doing that can be life changing. The rest of it can be fun discussing with sophomore buddies late at night over warm beer and stale pretzels.

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