Monday, February 23, 2015


Experiments have the property of not having a certain outcome. For this reason, self-experimentation can sound disheartening. I decided to share my own psychological self-experiment; either for the convenience of You not actually having to do it, but still read about the so far progress, or to perhaps bravely try it out Yourself and see where it leads us.

Some of You might already know about the theory that describes how we humans wear behavioral masks for a variety of reasons, which we call personae. For the most part, we do this unconsciously, and I find that to be a shame. My reason for such logic is that, as with most things, if we are letting our psychical reality shape our behavior without our acknowledgment, our fate is less based on our supposed ability of having a choice. Therefore, I decided to coordinate my social roles, or to put it differently, I want to have a core sense for priorities to act upon. I'm sure that throughout history, certain people have already done things like this in Their own peculiar ways. By having an approach of my own which seems different enough from what I encountered so far, though, I consider this effort worth of its own theoretical framework.

The way I came to realize the divergence between my cognitive and behavioral patterns in different social contexts (including the secure feeling of being alone) was when I noticed my wishes changing from one minute to the other. Like at times not eating sugary foods made me a proud person who is pursuing a healthy lifestyle, just a few flickers later the same thought made me suffer and feel as if I'm depriving myself of the deserved pleasures of life. Or this other time when my aunt found me making weird sounds while I was browsing the internet. What made my brain pulsate with excitement was rendered into shame by a simple change of circumstance.

superpersona persona richard burbridge mask
We might portray ourselves to be beautiful...

So I sat down and devised a strategy to even out my tendencies, in order to make my life easier. Hopefully.

I figured that if I could manage to polarize some kind of encompassing intelligence throughout my personae that would consider the statistics of how I think, feel and behave across the forces of an identifiable immensity of the situational puppet-string pull − I might be able to find out what I want overall, and maybe even more. The phrase I put together for describing this harmonizing decision maker which dwells in the background of an observing consciousness, this entity behind masks, is superpersona.

The task is to observe the fluctuations of my relations to separate ideas, traversing as many situations as possible. If this is done persistently enough, patterns, which can be compared between their relative contexts, emerge. Then, the best among all intents can be set to be followed at all times, even in situations in which a persona would prefer otherwise. Thus, the superpersona should emerge as a meta-choice administrator. How I do this is that whenever I have a craving for something particular, let's say a DRM free game, I don't act on the impulse. I let it stay with me for days and I try to remember it in situations when having or not the game is irrelevant. Once I can understand why I want it (cheap, supporting an empowering business approach, having the game to play when I grow grand old), and the reasons make sense in average, I either buy it or not. Another example would be wanting to invest my time into an online course about the interpretation of Queen songs. Why do I want it (understanding how other people see the way the creative minds behind the songs worked, gaining a new perspective on at least some songs, being able to spread this information show off)? Ah, now I see. What about when I'm washing dishes or building robots, does it still make sense? Well then.

Since I coined a term, I wanted to check if there were any previous and similar endeavors. There are only two references I found about such an expression. The first was in an online dictionary (which demands money to show You the definition): "a deity or a collection of persons constituting a transcendent personality". Sounds alright to me. Yet, for my purposes, this definition misses the element of an intersecting awareness within an individual.

The second description I've found is in Karl R. Popper's: The Open Society and Its Enemies:

"Rousseau gave a new and most revolutionary answer. Not the prince . . . but the people should rule; not the will of one man but the will of all. In this way, he was led to invent the people's will, the collective will, or the 'general will', as he called it; and the people, once endowed with a will, had to be exalted into a super-personality; 'in relation to what is external to it' (i.e. in relation to other peoples), Rousseau says, 'it becomes one single being, one individual'."

Although similar to the previous, here the definition is more literal, as in the collective personality of a nation being "above" the individual's will, in the political sense. This philosophy seems to be timelessly intriguing (especially from the scope of the rest of the text) and I can compare it to what I already described - in a way, the general tendency is through which a person with an aim of reliability towards itself should act.

Taking into recognition the above, I propose my definition of superpersona: a consciously developed and maintained individual tendency to lean towards best possible choices, with subordinate regard to circumstance.

It is true, as I can note from my ongoing experiment, that practicing this wide-ranging self-control is, at least in some of its temporary conditions, a painful effort. Like when I won't invest money into something I don't actually need, but the offer is so-so sweet... Obviously, I fail miserably at times. I'm comforting myself with the thought that failing is a crucial part of the process.

Now, what are the possible drawbacks of this approach to life? First of all, what if the overall master of decisions doesn't know any better than a "shattered" person? Or, if it knows for the worse, even?

The second problem that might emerge is that the exercise to make a superpersona can also cast an illusion over the practitioner, so that She/He might develop a false sense of increased self-control.

The third danger I actually got from the comic 'The Mask'. What if a successfully built superpersona ultimately takes over and brings about the complete dissolving of inhibitions? The comparison is a bit ridiculous since, unlike Big Head from the comics, there would be no bizarre divine powers, cracked conscience or wicked tendencies involved.

the mask justice back big head
... or ugly in the eyes of others.

Anyway, for the few years that I'm forming this method, the building of my superpersona seems to be paying off. Overall I feel better about my choices and life in general. If I'm in the false impression that there is a connection between my life becoming better and the alleged effects of my self-experimentation, then I cannot see beyond the fences of coincidence. I do feel that I'm being able to exert a far more effective realization of planning beyond my daily whims. If I'm in illusion, well, I don't see any harm in it. My guess is that this increased confidence also comes with age.

I can only wonder what the actual disadvantages of not doing this experiment could be. Perhaps some supposed akrasia − a confused state of mind which acts against good (if not best) judgment time and again. In retrospect, I feel like I made some decisions in my life that were against my best interest. On the other hand, if I hadn't made them, now I wouldn't be lying here writing this text, so...

Self-experiments have the tendency of not having unbiased evaluations. For this reason, I leave this idea out here, as an initiative to be known, possibly without a functional resolution. If I ever reach a certain conclusion, I will surely let it be known.

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