Videofeedback

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Before I show you how to replace your mirror-image evil twin with a more realistic image of yourself, let’s drive a last stake right into its heart. Mark Pendergrast in his well-documented book: MIRROR RORRIM, tells us that in 1949 Jacques Lacan, a Neo-Freudian, theorized that infants go through a «mirror-image stage» between 6 and 18 months of age in which they discover their mirror image and believe it is themselves, thus dooming them to a life of alienation from their true selves.
Now, the good news!

                                          Your video image        VS         Your mirror image


                         
     

 

THE MOST OBVIOUS CASE OF A LESS OBVIOUS REALITY


Van Gogh's original auto-portrait which he painted in front of a mirror shortly
after he cut off his "left ear" is the photo on the right. (Right bandage)
The flopped photo(video image) on the left shows the "real Van Gogh"
after he cut off his "left ear". (left side bandage)


What can we do to remediate this sad state of affairs? How can we get a more real, more authentic image of ourselves? Again, the answer is far less complicated and less costly than we could possibly expect. All you need is a digital video camera and a television set. Just follow this procedure:


  1. 1.Plug the camera into your television set.

  2. 2.Place the camera as close to your TV as possible or better yet, under the TV screen with the objective facing straight ahead.

  3. 3.Turn everything on and go and sit as you normally do in front of your TV. Then adjust the focus so that you get a mug shot of yourself; something like your photo on your driver’s permit.

  4. 4.Now, sit yourself comfortably and watch yourself LIVE for at least 15 minutes or more if you like. Make sure you are recording and you are the only person watching the screen while you are doing this. I’ll explain why later.

  5. 5.After 15 minutes or so, rewind your tape and watch the playback.


It is of great importance that you should observe what you are feeling, first when you are watching yourself LIVE and, second when you are watching the playback. Try to observe the difference between the two events. While you do your playback you can have someone watching with you so that you can share your observations with him. But this is not absolutely necessary.


While you are watching yourself on television you will notice something quite strange about your image: it is not your mirror image but the opposite. You might not even recognize yourself. YOU WILL BE LOOKING AT YOUR MIRROR IMAGE, REVERTED. The video camera has this uncanny feature of turning our mirror image around and allows us to see ourselves as if we were out of our bodies and looking at ourselves. Therefore you see your face as you see other people’s face. Trust me on this one, it is quite a revelation. Now at last, you can see the real mask you are wearing and your right hemisphere can finally get its full meaning. Another important feature: there is no illusory dimension. Your face seems flat against the TV screen.


It is a strange experience. You touch the left side of your head with your left hand and the joker in front of you does exactly the opposite. Try to fix your hair and you’ll see what I mean. It is so awkward and unsettling. You would think you are looking at someone else. I can assure you that in doing this exercise you will learn a lot about yourself, about the real expression you wear on that face of yours. You will probably understand why people react the way they do when you meet them.


All right, now you’ve just had a face transplant and your right hemisphere, the specialist at reading faces, has taken notice and integrated your new face and probably compare it with your DNA. But during your 15 minutes of fame there is more going on at a deeper level of your mind, there is this matter of «The Brain Connection», that is, the relation between the two hemispheres of your brain, between the two consciousnesses.


A few years ago some researchers devised a simple experiment. They wanted to validate a theory they held à propos the effects of television viewing. They placed a subject in a room by himself. They attached to his body devices to monitor his physiological activity (blood pressure, skin resistance and so on). They placed a video camera in front of him. But this time they hooked it to a TV monitor that was situated in an other room, where an experimenter was watching the subject on the monitor. At a certain time the experimenter started thinking negative thoughts while watching the subject on the monitor. At other times he would think positive ones. The timing was correlated with the physiological responses of the subject and what they found was that the subject was definitely responding to the thoughts of the experimenter.

From this experiment we can infer that when you, yourself are watching yourself on TV you can affect your own physiology, to say the least. Now you understand why you don’t want anyone else in the room while you are doing your video.


GETTING IN TOUCH WITH YOURSELF
The power of television is not something to be taken lightly. It has profound effects on the viewer. [The sharks of advertising have long understood some of this power and have used it to get into our minds.] Let’s have a look at what Marshall McLuhan had to say about this matter. I am quoting here an abstract from his March 1969 interview with Playboy magazine. (You can obtain a copy from Google on the Internet.) http://www.digitallantern.net/mcluhan/mcluhanplayboy.htm


PLAYBOY: But isn't television itself a primarily visual medium?

MCLUHAN: No, it's quite the opposite, although the idea that TV is a visual extension is an understandable mistake. Unlike film or photograph, television is primarily an extension of the sense of touch rather than of sight, and it is the tactile sense that demands the greatest interplay of all the senses. The secret of TV's tactile power is that the video image is one of low intensity or definition and thus, unlike either photograph or film, offers no detailed information about specific objects but instead involves the active participation of the viewer. The TV image is a mosaic mesh not only of horizontal lines but of millions of tiny dots, of which the viewer is physiologically able to pick up only 50 or 60 from which he shapes the image; thus he is constantly filling in vague and blurry images, bringing himself into «in-depth involvement with the screen and acting out a constant creative dialog with the iconoscope». The contours of the resultant cartoon like image are fleshed out within the imagination of the viewer, which necessitates great personal involvement and participation; the viewer, in fact, becomes the screen, whereas in film he becomes the camera. By requiring us to constantly fill in the spaces of the mosaic mesh, the iconoscope is tattooing its message directly on our skins. Each viewer is thus an unconscious pointillist painter like Seurat, limning new shapes and images as the iconoscope washes over his entire body. Since the point of focus for a TV set is the viewer, television is orientalizing us by causing us all to begin to LOOK WITHIN OURSELVES. The essence of TV viewing is, in short, INTENSE PARTICIPATION and low definition--what I call a "cool" experience, as opposed to an essentially "hot," or high definition-low participation, medium like radio.


Of course McLuhan is talking about watching television in general when you are watching everyone else end everything else. Just imagine now that you are watching yourself on TV, would not what you’ve just read make you wonder? Wonder again by reading what follows and I quote McLuhan:
• «…The TV image commands immediate participation in depth».
• «…The mosaic form of the TV image demands participation in depth of the whole being, as does the sense of touch».
• «…Technically TV tends to be a close up medium».
• «…When young children are watching old cowboy movies, their eyes focus on the faces rather than on the action even when it is at the peak of the action».


Therefore when you are watching yourself LIVE on TV, all of the above apply with even greater force: the VIEWER becomes the viewed and he definitely feels the impact.


In November 1969 a researcher, Herbert Krugman, decided to try to discover what goes on physiologically in the brain of a person watching TV. His research revealed that the brain’s left hemisphere which processes information logically, sequentially and analytically, shuts down when a person is watching television. This tuning out allows the right hemisphere, which processes information emotionally, and uncritically, to function unimpeded. In other words, when watching TV you’re a sitting duck. This is precisely what Tony Schwartz, an American advertising mogul has to say in his book «The Responsive Chord»:


«We are not concerned with getting things across to people as much as out of people. Electronic media are particularly effective tools in this regard because they provide us with direct access to people’s mind».
While we understand that watching TV is an extremely sensorial experience, it is relatively easy to see why Videofeedback is an excellent prescription (Rx) for the Narcissus Syndrome. We are thus turning the awesome power of television to our advantage. Many years ago I asked myself if on account of this McLuhanian «in depth participation» of the TV viewer, a person afflicted with cerebral palsy could be capable of controlling to some degree his muscular system while watching himself on television. I enrolled a young lady in her early twenties for my experiment. She was severely afflicted. She could only move around in a wheel chair. As she was watching herself on the monitor I could see that some of her body movements were less jerky and that her face at certain moment became less contorted and look almost «normal». At one point I asked her what she was feeling. Here is what she answered: «I feel all crooked». I was really surprised by her answer.


A month earlier I had just read a book written by a medical doctor who was afflicted also with Cerebral palsy and I remembered clearly that he was saying that people with CP do not feel abnormal nor warped. I realized then that the fact of watching herself on television made her feel her own body in a way that was new to her: «the feeling» that she was «all crooked». Of course she already knew that there was something wrong with her body but she never felt it. Somehow she was experiencing the distortion of her body schema. I immediately inferred from her answer that if she can feel her crookedness maybe she could start «uncrooking» herself. Unfortunately, circumstances did not allow me to explore this insight further. I have related this incident to you to show the potential of Videofeedback to make us aware of this important function we all share: FEELING. And the more we feel our body the more we are in contact with reality: your body is always in contact with reality because it is always in contact with the physical environment. Therefore the Brain Connection is really the Brain/Body Connection.


We are more preoccupied by what we look like than by what we are feeling. Dr Alexander Lowen

At this point let’s summarize. First of all Narcissus was not so dumb after all, he fell in love with something he did not identify with: his mirror image. Let’s be honest, we are the true Narcissists, we do identify with our mirror image, don’t we? And we are paying the price with some sort of narcosis or amputation of an important function: feeling. But the biggest price we have to pay is «…alienation from our AUTHENTIC SELF». That’s the bad news. But the good news is that we can claim back our authentic self, our personal power by getting rid of our mirror image (white dot in the mirror) and getting a video-image implant (Videofeedback). A few hundred people have done their «mirror» and their «video» so far, and what I have observed is that they feel more centered, more sure of themselves and many have reorganized their lives according to what they «feel» they should do with them.


After doing the «white dot thing» some people have told me that they felt nothing or that nothing happened. Remember this: this exercise is aimed at doing two important things. First, pulling your face out of the mirror, second, teaching you how to balance the two hemispheres of your brain. With the left hemisphere you focus your attention on the world «out there»; with your right hemisphere, at the same time, you focus on the world «in here». Practice makes perfect.


As for the Videofeedback, doing it once seems good enough. Your subconscious mind knows what to do with the information it’s getting from this «surprising interface». However, you can do it as many times as you deem necessary. After you’ve done your «video» just go about your business as usual…you’ve been BRAIN CONNECTED.


P.S. So far I have done my research with television sets of the iconoscope type of technology which shoots electrons at the phosphorus-coated screen. I have not experimented with the new type of TV sets (flat and thin sets with Liquid Crystal Display). This kind of TV sets have a much higher definition and consequently less involvement and participation from the viewer. However your mirror image is still reverted and the main purpose of the Videofeedback still holds. If you have the choice use the iconoscope type: less definition, more participation.


Suggested reading:
The Heart of Matter by Gary and Linda Zukav.
Personal Power Through Awareness by Sanya Roman.

The Art of Feed Forward, the Collage Technology; surfing the corpus collosum!
Collages are an excellent tool to initiate yourself to creativity on the one hand and a marvelous instrument for self-knowledge on the other hand. For those who have read the seminal book «What a Cirque! My general theory of reality» by Jean David (www.whatacirque.com) I need not comment further. For those who have not read it I recommend it heartfully. Here follows an abstract from his book about collages.

       
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"Everybody should have 15 minutes
of fame during their lifetime"
A. Warhol

"What is necessary to change a person
is to change his awareness of himself"
A. Maslow