Psychoneurology vs. The “Pimple Theory of the Mind”


The concept of the “Pimple Theory of the Mind” is perpetuated in psychotherapy by those ignorant about the workings of the mind and assumes that the brain is like a pimple (squeeze and put pressure on it until the bad stuff comes out), rather than a computer (a well-running machine that can be programmed, or taught), and therefore believes that by expressing anger or negative feelings they are “getting them out.”  All they are doing is sustaining and prolonging these negative feelings and making them more certain to become negative emotional habits. The “Pimple Theory” comes from the false premise that the mind can “figure itself out” and then fix itself.  One supposes that the mind thinks that there is “a problem” and then the mind does what it likes to do the most; figure it out.  All thinking about the problem really does is keep the person recycling it in their own mental dirty dishwater, without changing their habitual patterns, which can only be changed by providing resources that will drive them in the actual direction they want to go.

Psychoneurology understands that the path to joy is a careful cultivation and conditioning to develop patterns of joy.

In the popular Pimple Theory of the Mind, the path to joy comes from driving right towards the things that hurt the most and “facing them” which in actual reality is simply creating a greater level of discomfort and pain until we trigger something called a parasympathetic nervous system response. This is the equivalent of pulling the fire alarm and making the sprinklers in our own mind flush our brain with a chemical known as endorphins. It is a little like deciding that the best way to cool off is to continually set fire to the house, so we can experience the brisk refreshment of the water from the sprinklers to come on as a result of the fire alarm… Psychoneurology would say you’re better off going in the bathroom and taking a shower – it gets you what you want directly,  and keeps you from having to burn up your house every time you want to have a positive experience!

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