Theories - Psychoros


Around 6 January 1976.     8 min read.
A mystical image of a woman with arms casting a spell, a raven, the Moon, stars...

It was not until 1976 that I encountered some technical words for my re-discovered inner reality. A friend "ordered" me to check out the training being offered at the Berkeley Psychic Institute, and I ended up taking the "Healing and Reading Class" from Michael Symonds, one of the first BPI graduates. It was refreshing to be able to connect with a few people who consciously lived in a separate reality, and recognized mine, but talking about psychic space with people from outside the BPI circle proved as hopeless as having no words at all.

So does that background mean my current thought and writing is pseudoscience, superstition? I don't think so. I use the term #Psychic in its sense of "relating to the totality of elements forming the mind, both conscious and unconscious". Some of my concerns are currently "outside the sphere of physical science or knowledge", but I believe most of them are subject to experiment and objectivity.

I've felt occasional hints there may be some non-physical communication across time and space, the kind of things commercial psychics try to sell you. But that is not the energy I'm primarily concerned with here. I'm focused on the nonverbal communication that accompanies direct, face-to-face contact between two living people who can see each other's postures and expressions. We are a very long way from it, but I see no reason why a sufficiently sophisticated visual AI system could not be trained to evaluate such messaging.

About half of us grow up with this communication so well integrated into our relationships we consider it part of everyone's personality. Some people are powerfully charismatic, some are submissive, some are unpredictable or chaotic, but the mechanisms of their presentations are just choices of "emotional expression", they do not define inescapable categories of inclusion and exclusion.

For those of us who don't fit well into this simple society, there are endlessly varied alternative explanations for social stratification. Religions, past lives, politics, genetics, economics, even the shape of one's skull can be adopted as reasons for advantage or disadvantage in social relationships. All of these systems divide humanity into "us" and "them" groups along relatively fixed criteria. Yes, you can be "converted" to a new religion or political party, you can "strike it rich" or "marry well", but the categories remain intact.

My purpose in this site is to look behind these categories to the actual mechanisms that underlie social inequalities. Part of my thesis comes from my psychic training, where I learned a framework of "energy centers" (chakras) that underlie human interaction. Another part comes from remembering how my very young self perceived social interactions before they were codified behind words. Psychology, especially Jung's concept of "container and contained", is also part of it. But the key to integrating all of this is recent neuroscience - place cells, head direction cells, spatial view cells, and the "two streams" theory of vision.

People who are comfortable with their position in society, or who have committed to accepting it despite some misgivings, will probably have little personal interest in exploring my thought. Those who strongly identify with a particular social category are likely to dismiss my thought as some kind of heresy or superstition. Even neuroscientists do not seem to be exploring how humans actually experience the underlying structures they are discovering.

Neuroscience is busy finding more and more vivid brain representations of the space around animal bodies and their position within it. But the research is mostly done in rats and mice, since humans dislike having electrical probes punched into their brains. Speculation about the subjective experience of the new maps has barely begun. I'm extrapolating wildly from what I'm reading to what I'm feeling inside...

Even for someone with the curiosity to study the subject and recognize their position within this framework, the task of rebuilding body and environmental maps is long and tricky. Dr. Antonia Orfield O.D. spent the seven years she described in Seeing Space undoing a strictly spherical space warp of half the diopter power I faced, that didn't begin until she was twelve years old. I've fumbled with my own crazily bifocal shattered map, that began when I was nine and got worse during the next fourteen years, for another fifty years now.

So how did we get from "direct, face-to-face contact between two living people who can see each other's postures and expressions" to "warped body and space maps"? My theory extrapolates Jung's concept of emotional and spiritual containment to the interaction of perceptual mapping. When two people meet, one of them contains the other within their inner map of the environment, and the contained person attempts to include the container's map between their body and their own previous view of the environment.

For the container this is simple and affirming - their view of the situation is not challenged by the people they can easily contain. They remain oriented to the physical environment and easily locate the contained person within it. For the contained person, orientation shifts - the location of the container becomes their primary focus of attention, and the physical environment is mapped relative to the container's viewpoint. I remember this most vividly from childhood... If I was alone, my map was centered around my body. If I realized my controlling mother was aware of me, I suddenly shifted to mapping the world from her viewpoint - what could she see, how quickly could she impact me?

How does this relationship evolve without the obvious power inequality? Among men meeting for the first time, the common strategy is to hide confidence or insecurity, and talk sports trivia until everyone gets a sense of who has the "alpha" containing power in this particular encounter. Among the 1985 women Joanna Russ described in "Magic Mommas, Trembling Sisters", the goal was to hide personal power and avoid competition. Each woman preferred someone else be container, be saddled with the responsibility of hiding personal needs and selflessly caring for the contained. Not a popular idea in modern feminist circles, but I still see it in daily life.

And of course in the stereotypical male to female encounter, the male will assume he is container... But as Jung suggests, it is common for males to be emotionally contained in their romantic partners, to focus their awareness of the world around the target other. At least while the romance lasts...

For the contained person the experience can be wonderfully affirming, if they trust the container knows and loves them and will support them within the shared space. Or it can be humbling or terrifying if the container imposes an arbitrary, manipulative, or degrading view of the person they are facing.

Being contained within an affirming relationship adds shared power to the contained person's map, even though they are obviously not in full control. Being contained within an adversarial relationship forces the victim to at least temporarily adopt the container's view of their position and self worth, to feel their own body and space maps overwhelmed by the container's projections. If they are constantly exposed to the same container, or if multiple containers impose the same relationship, the contained person is likely to give up and adopt the externally imposed self image and body-space map as their own.

In my case, my mother's constant prohibition of "Little Hitler" self-confidence blocked any attempt to contain anyone else. Once my sense of the space around my body was shattered by the bifocal glasses, external containers could only grasp disconnected fragments of my energy. The obvious result was my being treated as contained, but misunderstood and ridiculed by everyone I encountered.

The less obvious result was that most of the self-expressive energy that should have gone into socializing and development of a "normal" personality remained disconnected, splattered across the environment like that of the elderly "uncontrolled psychics" I grew up around. When I was in psychic training, the constant message was "get back in your space" - but my map of personal space was so fragmented and distorted I had no idea how to attempt that.

So the same personal energy that can be constructively shared through "direct, face-to-face contact between two living people who can see each other's postures and expressions" can also exist in an unsocialized, mysterious, often disturbing form, locked to body and space maps that preserve its dysfunction. Analysis of this energy is currently "outside the sphere of physical science or knowledge", but I've devoted my life to recognizing and manipulating it, in myself and others. I believe it can be known and manipulated objectively. It is the subject and purpose of this website.


The Antonia Orfield "Seeing Space" paper, how she corrected her own vision:

That site's certificate has expired, so you'll need to navigate the scary warning pages to reach it. Or eMail me for a copy of her paper...

Her book about how kids with insufficient experience of vision synchronized with body movement may have learning problems despite "corrected" static visual acuity:

Request PDF of the book:


My archive of Michael Symonds information, text, and audio lectures:

BPI is still around, but has abandoned its history and gone rather commercial:

More ancient opinion than anyone probably cares to read:
(Scroll down to "Sat, October 8, 2005 - 1:08 PM" for my favorite bit of Berkeley history.)


Jung's 1925 essay Marriage as a Psychological Relationship, an early presentation of the container - contained concept:


My next 40 years were filled with technology jobs, houses, rural land, girlfriends, stepkids, and the internet. But none of it affected me as deeply as the childhood influences I've described here... I spent untold hours trying to capture my inner experiences in ways someone else might understand, and posted lots of trivial fumbling on my old website:
My 2003 Psychoros site (where I begin exploring my world...)
My 2007-2015 "blog" (a disorganized collection of thoughts...)
I hope this new site is more useful!