Tucson Shooting: Examination of a Probable Cause
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How We Make Major Decisions May Be a Surprise
Seldom are human motivations clear, even our own. More often than not, why we do something is a hodgepodge of reasons, emotions and just plain confusion. Often times, we make a decision just because we are confused and think that deciding will bring us some relief. One thing is clear to me, however, that most of us have no idea of the critical part our subconscious mind plays in decision-making; in fact, it is actually a primary factor in making our major decisions. Interestingly, I’ve heard no one discussing the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, even mention the part that our subconscious plays in our decision-making, and it is substantial and often primary.
Nancy was Killing Herself and Didn’t Know it
I am acutely aware of this, because some thirty years ago, as her psychotherapist, I helped Nancy to cure herself of terminal cancer by discovering that she was subconsciously killing herself, because she blamed herself for something that happened in her childhood that she didn’t even consciously remember. That’s why we call it the SUB-conscious, because it is below consciousness and usually out of our everyday awareness. We sometimes have a fleeting awareness of bits of this immense mental computer full of the data and information we have been collecting since before birth, but it comes in flashes of memory triggered by current incidents in our life or in dreams, both of which we often don’t understand and simply dismiss as junk.
The Power and Immensity of Our Hidden Mind
From the moment our brain was developed enough in our mother’s womb, we’ve been taking in data at the rate of 100,000 bytes per second and cataloging all of it in our marvelous brain for future reference. Because this information is hidden, it influences our decision-making without our awareness and is often the primary cause of our decisions. To use a simple example, I might really want a pet but just can’t bring myself to get one, because subconsciously I am influenced by the fact that when I was a young child my parents made me take care of the family dog that one day attacked me. This would have been very traumatic to the child who hid it away in a “vault” in the subconscious, just because it was so painful that he didn’t want to remember it. The problem with that is that our mind is always aware of painful memories whether or not we are conscious of them and can use them in influencing decision-making.
Ungoverned Subconscious Data Can Be Dangerous
We can begin to see what this has to do with the Tucson shooter. In many ways our mind is very complicated, but in others it is simple. His former girlfriend mentioned in an early interview that he had suffered alcohol poisoning. Many of us have urges triggered by subconscious memories, but we don’t act on them because we are govern by the higher executive function of our brain. However, if that part of our brain is damaged, it may be more difficult or even impossible to control our actions depending on the extent of the injury. The shooter’s motives were probably a compilation of thousands of bits of data collected throughout his life that coalesced into a single fear or hatred triggered by an incident that created the belief that the elimination of the congresswoman would resolve his conflict. Without the control and guidance of his executive function, he may have had little or no control over his actions, which is of no consolation to those of us who are suffering. I am one of those, because I’ve talked with Gabby Giffords who is a wonderful human being, and Tucson is my home.
A Way to Neutralize Troublesome Subconscious Content
This explanation may not be very satisfying to the part of us that would prefer a clear, unambiguous solution as in the case of the man who assassinated the governor of a Pakistani province a week ago, but it is one that is the cause of more decisions than probably any other and can help us understand why we ourselves sometimes do mysterious things. There is a simple, easy and very effective technique prescribed by Dr. Emile Cuè in France more than 150 years ago that can help to neutralize limiting beliefs and unwanted subconscious content. There is another science-based technique that can quiet and clear our minds on a permanent basis so that we can more clearly see our hidden motivations. The more of this hidden content we can neutralize and clarify, the more we ourselves will be consciously in charge of our lives.