Specializations

War of the Psyche – 1 of 4

When Alexander the Great set out to conquer Asia, he marched under the commission of the sages of Ancient Greece. They ordered him to spread Greek culture to the Pacific Ocean. To assist in the mission, one of their number marched with him. After his death in what is now Afghanistan, Alexander testified:

The seer won more battles ever than I.

Alexander was known for his uncanny intuition in combat, leading his mounted Companions in charge against the enemy lines at exactly the right moment to turn the field. His testimony reveals his reliance upon his advisor’s psychic skills to guide him.

A thousand years later, Central Asia was dominated by walled cities that resisted conquest. It was Ghengis Khan, considered by the Mongols to be not just a warrior but a great shaman, that brought an end to these empires, bringing gun powder from China to the battlefield. This innovation turned warfare into massacre. Men no longer fought face-to-face, but at increasingly great distances. Massed formations were marched zombie-like into artillery barrages. In a single day, losses of tens of thousands were not uncommon.

It was the will of their generals that sent men into slaughter – an indulgence only broken by World War I.

In the modern era, those with grievances against the state no longer dare to rebel openly – the lethality of state security services is overwhelming. The rebellious fight as insurgents, intimidating civilians and setting off bombs in public places.

Peace keepers must walk exposed through those spaces, ready to fight at a moment’s notice. These contradictory roles – peace keeper and warrior – create an internal psychic conflict that builds over days and years without cease. The modern warrior is always close to those that would cause harm – the enemy hides in plain sight until the moment of attack. In the field, there is no respite from the exhausting demands of fight and flight.

Specializations

Hypnosis and Discomfort – 2 of 4

The Mind and Stress

Given the benefits of releasing muscle tension to promote healing and performance, we might wonder what happens if the tension isn’t released. When held at maximum strain, eventually muscles cramp, and if the cramp isn’t released, muscles harden to bone.

The subconscious knows better than to hold a muscle under such strain. It takes conscious will to sustain a cramp.

That extends to other kinds of strain. When faced with a threat, our subconscious promotes either the fight reaction (“I can eat that!”) or the flight reaction (“It can eat me!”). In nature, the outcome is usually resolved in a matter of seconds.

In society, however, those decisions are complicated by laws and social restrictions forced upon our conscious thinking. Confronted with a threat, we rarely can fight, so we transfer our reaction to another context (the gym) or stew in anxiety. At work, we cannot flee, so we either repress emotional expression or withdraw into depression. These are all decisions enforced by a conscious mind that understands the consequences of allowing our natural responses to run their course: social isolation or jail.

In neither case is the subconscious allowed to discharge the stress. In fact, it anticipates additional confrontation in the future, replaying the situation over and over in dreams seeking a resolution. That interferes with its ability to focus on other problems. As those problems degrade into conflict, stress spreads through our life like a cancer.

Part 1 | Part 3