Beyond Therapy: a set of Essays

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Beyond Therapy: A Set of Essays

On Miscellaneous Topics in Psychology and Psychiatry (2001-2003)

IV. An Exploration of Co-Authored Phenomena:1

Part II - Examining the Distinctive Phenomenology of Co-Authored Phenomena
0. Introduction
The subtitle of this paper is more the desired aim of this paper which, hopefully, will be fulfilled in the course of writing this paper, namely, our ability to successfully discern the distinctive phenomenology of a co-authored phenomenon which means in practice, our ability to successfully discern that aspect of phenomena that is directly being intentionally constructed/re-constructed2 in a co-authored interpersonal 'space' exercised between two or more intentional subjects. (1)
As argued in two previous papers, namely, Part I and Co-Authored Phenomena - A Brief Account, co-authored phenomena have their primary basis in shared consciousness and not in the psyche or soma of a particular individual. Two prime models of this phenomenon are presented in the co-authoring of a book, and, the hypnotist asking a hypnotised subject to answer certain questions and/or perform certain tasks. The 'texts' delivered in both instances being co-authored in intent, in their intentional construction. With this type of theoretical understanding to hand we should then find ourselves in a better position to understanding certain psychological and/or psychiatric phenomena such as, e.g., Freudian 'hysteria', the practice of lying in public in accordance with certain social norms in this regard (as preparation for the next paper in this series titled Deception - Self-Deception), alien abductions, past-life experiences, recovered memory syndrome, multiple personalities, etc. I must stress at this juncture, as I have noted before, our task as a critical philosopher is to adopt a transcendental suspension in these matters and not concern ourselves with the reality or non-reality, the truth or non-truth of the content of the phenomena in general and co-authored phenomena in particular (or specifically when dealing with a particular textual case-study in this regard). So a 'past-life' experience may well be a memory of a past-life experience, or then again it may well not be, either case is not of direct concern for us; as a transcendental phenomenologist is concerned with the 'form' of the experience and not so much the 'content' of its expression.3 (2)
In this essay I would like to look at a number of problematic concerns in this area of determining those aspects of intentionality that appear to be co-authored in orientation. Namely, is this aspect of a text, because we must deal with a textual deposition as 'evidence' of a phenomenon in this regard, authored or co-authored in orientation, and, in its reconstruction is 'memory' at any stage merely faulty or deliberately deceptive and/or self-deceptive in its constructive/re-constructive machinations and to what extent this is true or untrue. As looked at in Part I all texts involve a meta-textual complicity, i.e., an intersubjective component whether that be through the adoption and adaptation of a genre or set of genres, e.g., writing a letter (or the use of a hybrid-genre as in the writing of a novel through the use of a series of letters, e.g.). In essence, therefore, all texts are intersubjectively influenced so how do we determine, indeed, how can we determine if a text is authored or co-authored when all textual formation is 'socially influenced' or 'contaminated' in their production/re-production? (3)
We can answer these concerns by simply noting that all texts are meta-textually complicit but that a co-authored text is one that has a co-authored textual content contribution, i.e., its textual content (as opposed to meta-textual genre context, etc.) is generated co-authorially in part or in whole. How do we determine this difference between the textual input and the meta-textual input in the formation of a text? Textual content is that textual aspect that is deposited in and through its uniqueness as a text, this uniqueness being determined in spatio-temporal terms of reference. So, in the light of this definition, a text is unique through the historical spatio-temporal location of its utterance in what ever form it is emitted subject to its being read/re-read, etc. So in accordance with this definition a newspaper-to-hand, e.g., is unique despite the fact that it's being reproduced/has been reproduced in other copies of that same edition. Moreover, this same newspaper transferred to an electronic medium is also unique in every one of its transformational-manifestations, e.g., on disc, on the hard drive of the company publishing that newspaper, on the page of your computer screen, as transmitted along your telephone wires, parts of that newspaper as discussed by people who had read it, etc. As it is the trans-spatio-temporal 'form' of the content that establishes the sameness of those multi copies of that newspaper we might like to talk about the sameness in content as the form of that content or its content-form. On the other hand the form of a newspaper is its 'newpaperness' without defining that in an open or closed definition of the same. As an intersubjective genre its use usually defines the meaning of that genre. So a newspaper is read as a newspaper, etc. In this light we should note that all phenomenological sense (i.e., reference) has its meta-textual 'meaning' pre-determined in and through a hierarchy of intersubjective categories that, in effect, 'map' our cultural/intercultural understanding of the life-world as 'we' find it there-for-us. Then, through the 'interaction' (namely, the suspended balance) of the same the 'existential' meaningfulness of that phenomenon is discovered as that meaningfulness it is found-to-have-for-us through the production/re-production of its text(s), its textuality-as found-there-for-us by-us. For instance, we might come across a very beautiful Ming dynasty Chen Hua palace bowl, but, if we do not recognise it to be a Ming bowl that bowl is only 'a bowl-for-us' if we only see it as a 'bowl' (and as a 'beautiful bowl' if it is also recognised to be a 'beautiful' bowl). These factors influencing price. So it is 'given away' for a few dollars, or, escalates at an auction when two well-heeled bidders recognise it for what it is. The authenticity and technological richness of its co-authored manufacture finding, in the latter, a realization of its current potential in the market economy in this regard. (4)
A problem that has caused me some concern is how do we determine if a reconstructed memory is merely faulty in its production/re-production of a certain text and/or that textual content is being reconstructed in a deliberately deceptive and/or self-deceptive frame of reference with that person's overall awareness or lack of the same, or worse, to what extent these two aspects of faulty reproduction and mis-representative reproduction both enter into its depositional manufacture complicated by co-authorial influence or influences? In other words, on phenomenological grounds, is there a way to differentiate these particular influences and/or distortions in the formation/reformation of a text/set of texts? In this endeavour let me now proceed to answer this question on the grounds that society does seem to believe that this type of task is performable, witness the time spent in law-courts determining these types of issues, the repeated times scientists try to replicate the 'findings' of other scientists, the effort spent by historians trying to understand the past, the focused energies expended by cultural specialist trying to decipher the texts of other cultures, etc., etc. So in this hope let me come to some theoretical understanding how this type of task of interpretation might be performed in actual practice if this type of task can indeed be done and the work of those professionals, and ourselves, has not been in vain, a mere illusion! (5)

1. So how do We Discern if a Text is Authored or Co-Authored?
So how do we tell if a text is authored or co-authored in its textual content? In the following section let me look at the possibility of utilizing the following dozen or so techniques and through their use ask ourselves what phenomenological insights into the nature of co-authored textuality might be gained through a reflection upon the same? (6)
As a flippant first response we might rhetorically ask what signature or signatures is/are appended to that text? A textbook written by two or more key contributors is usually signed as such. So, at face value, a text with more than one signature has the textual appearance of being co-authored. Now how do we translate this 'insight' to a text under examination that is not so obviously signed? (7)
A 'researcher', e.g., might be investigating 'alien abductions' and decides to try the technique of hypnotism. If the research is conducted 'correctly', or least 'transparently', they should record the course of their investigations with a transcription or tape/video recording of the proceedings. In reviewing that type of documented format we can at least recognise the nature of this dialogue as a dialogue. Moreover, the extent of co-authorial pressure of the questions posed by the interviewer will be paralleled in the responses to such questions, i.e., through an adoption of themes, etc., as suggested by the interviewer. We might like to provisionally suggest the following rule of thumb - the more restrictive the questions of the interviewer the less existentially rich will be the text elicited 'from' the interviewee if, in general, that text is primarily formed/performed in response to co-authorial pressure alone(?). E.g., "were you abducted by aliens?" is a complex question with only four definitive 'answers', namely, "yes, I was abducted, and, yes, they were aliens"; "yes, I was abducted, and, no they were not aliens"; etc. Or, in a not so definitive response, we might have the type of reply that doubts that that event took place, or, that that type of interpretation can unequivocally be applied, etc. So, in this type of response, the interviewee might state "I am not too sure if I was abducted… It seems as if I had been…" etc. Then, to temper the validity of this rule we might also note that it is sometimes through the restrictions placed on form that an artist, poet or musician, etc., can be spurred on to masterfully overcome the restrictions of their adopted medium. Still, co-authored pressure can be discerned to that extent that restrictions imposed by the questions are met by the themes taken up in the responses in the light of the reservations as noted. In this regard there must be a certain poverty of content, relative to expectations 'promised' by the meta-text, if their primary mode of derivation is co-authorially induced subject to the additional qualification that 'in being entertained by the 'apparent author' prior and during their emission it follows that an existential richness will result from this intentional synthesis, intentional (re-)simulation and the intention of its textual emission'. As previously discussed under the heading of a charitable reading or interpretation all texts in some manner will to some extent model reality to some degree or other even if deliberatively fabricated by the author (or co-author). This charitable interpretation implying that even a text primarily emitted in response to co-authorial pressure will be existentially richer as a co-authored text than the mere limits implied and imposed by that co-authorial pressure. In being 'simulated' by the 'apparent author' and prepared for publication a text will be elicited that must be existentially richer than the mere aggregate of its inputs, i.e., reception, simulation, re-simulation, emission. But, despite this last qualification, as a general rule of thumb, we might say that a text simulated and transmitted primarily under co-authorial pressure will be, relatively speaking, a text whose existential richness will not meet its existential richness as 'promised' by its apparent genre. A 'fact' reinforced through a repetition of that type of question/response when it becomes increasingly obvious that a formula, or pattern of response, is more being lived up to in that regard. So, under this type of circumstance, a text will start to look relatively poverty stricken, not able to truly live up to its promised expectations, i.e., those expectations promised by the text meta-textually, as a genre, etc. Therefore, one of the first things we might do is look for the presence or absence of an actual or virtual signature, i.e., look for a set of 'signatures' with respect to an apparent author, a set of authors, or an 'apparent dominant co-author/set of co-authors', etc. A 'signature' being a personal hallmark or feature that represents the presence or trace of an apparent author, an apparent co-author, etc, e.g., signatures, fingerprints, implications of personal identity (names, personal pronouns, etc), images portraying authorial activities, implication of individual and/or collective 'personal' points of view, etc. (8)
What is meant by this expectation of a promise? A text must always invoke a meta-textual dimension - a genre with certain expectations. Then, with the adoption of that genre, or hybrid genre, set of genres, etc., there is also the unique disposition of that meta-text discovered in and through the specific instantiation of that text. Through meta-textual commentary, inclusions, announcements, etc., the text 'tells us' specifically what its apparent intentions are. So a letter tells us it is both a 'letter' and that it is 'addressed specifically to x, (etc.) in regards to a (etc.…)' Hence we have general expectations and specific text related expectations. We should attend to both but the latter are of more interest to us in this desire to determine the presence or absence of an authorial/co-authorial pressure in the formation of textual content. Moreover, we should also attend to the possible presence of a hierarchy of meta-textual genre expectations. (9)
E.g., in the following instructions issued by a hypnotist to their hypnotised subject we can note the following expectations: "you are a Martian, you have just come to Earth and in your new, barely acquired mastery of English you will try to tell us what your impressions of Earth are". In badly structured English stated with a 'Martian accent' the 'Martian' commences to tell us about 'their impressions of Earth gained on their recent trip here from Mars'. The 'Martian' adopts the conventions of a travelogue, or something similar, and recounts their 'impressions of Earth'. However, this 'travelogue' is also seen by us as promoted through the lens of a hypnotically induced set of suggestions - so we have certain expectation in this regard too. Furthermore, I am sure, the hypnotised subject is also aware (in a profound, disconnected fashion) of what is really going on and that by various hermeneutic stratagems (on the part of the hermeneut) this 'self-insight' could also be shown even if barely evident, and self-connected, during this performance of an apparent 'travelogue'. In some disconnected manner the subject is not completely unaware of what is going on (because the texts emitted are constituted by a complex sense of ego or agency in a complex situation with a complex intent and intentionality). At face value, however, the situation is quite different. Therefore, given this hierarchical set of genre expectations we 'expect' co-authorial pressure will be essentially driving that 'travelogue'. Hence we are not too disappointed if the 'Martian' tell us very little about planet Earth, or, for that matter, even less about 'Mars'. In this instance this hierarchy of genre expectations override the 'apparent reality' of the 'travelogue' and despite our being entertained by the travelogue we know it to be a sham even though, if creatively contrived, it might superficially 'appear to be convincing'. Essentially, the text recounted by the 'Martian' is constructed here under the co-authorial pressure of the hypnotist despite being uttered by its more apparent author. We might say that this co-authorial pressure expected in this instance overrides, and virtually signs, all superficial appearances to the contrary (if we were instead to accept this dialogue at face value unaware of the hypnotic input co-authorially induced by the hypnotist and creative component constructed by the subject). So, knowing this type of party trick as a 'party trick' performed by stage hypnotists why do people wish to take at face value reports of past lives, alien abductions, conducted under very similar sorts of conditions, namely, forms of 'examination' involving processes of hypnotism, etc?4 (10)
To answer this rhetorical question it would appear that the existential richness of the texts in some instances seem successfully to overcome a suspension of belief to create, in effect, a suspension of dis-belief. This production/re-production of an existential richness of the imaginative content presented/re-presented through the 'quality' of its 'evidence' at face value writing itself into existence for the person or persons who find themselves convinced by this 'demonstration of reality' when the 'reality of the demonstration' is to be correctly observed from a transcendental perspective with all the reservations therein entailed. With this loss of transcendental depth or transcendental distance what appears is then treated as apparent. From what should be a 'transcendental suspension of belief' (as a necessary precondition for all forms of judgment) there is realized, instead, a suspension of dis-belief. Be that as it may it is then up to the 'reader' to re-evaluate those texts in the light of this positive re-valuation in order to ascertain if we might have positive grounds for this re-valuation. That type of empirical-hermeneutic task is not the province of this paper but as critical transcendental phenomenologists we should treat all texts to a transcendental suspension that essentially puts this type of question to the side. The 'end' of our researches occurring when the suspension itself is suspended therein realizing 'the simulation of reality through the very reality of that simulation' by virtue of the fact that in this 'one' world-of-life through 'the suspension of the suspension of the suspension' we then 'effortlessly' return, at the same time, to our transcendental researches with that degree of authenticity (and self-authenticity) realized in direct measure to the authenticity realized in and through that current process of active-reflection. Transcendental reflection is not a pointless task. But that through the suspension, the suspension of the suspension and the suspension of the same the detail of this world-of-life is realized, i.e., directly simulated-for-us-by-us.(11)
A text founded on a relative loss of integrity is often observed to be a text that 'founders' under critical deconstructive pressure. When a text is emitted in a non-simple situation it intrinsically reflects those disparate points of view that have inescapably entered into its manufacture. Finding and 'pulling' on these various strands, through processes of their dissection or re-simulation, at the expense of other strands, and the edifice more easily crumbles, falls apart, tells a conflicting non-official story. In this regard, 'lies' told, by say politicians, e.g., can be more easily dis-assembled by noting subtle or not so subtle shifts in meaning, emphasis, narrative variation, etc. This extraction of variant narrative strands taking some skill to perform on the part of the hermeneut and is evaluated on relative, non-absolute grounds as all texts are essentially emitted in and from a plurality of frames of reference - those texts emitted in circumstances experienced with a relative loss of integrational integrity revealing this relative loss of integrity more easily under critical hermeneutic pressure. Even subjected to systematic revision a text generated 'inauthentically' or re-generated in a different intentional context (with a different set of intentional objectives) will reveal this type of a signature/re-signature that effectively simulates this relative lack of 'real' integrity.5 Hence the deconstructive susceptibility of this type of a relatively inauthentic/less authentic co-authored text. This type of text in the hands of a skilled deconstructionist being relatively more susceptible to deconstruction wherein one can critically demonstrate this relative inability to completely reconcile, or rather, adequately reconcile, its competing authorial/co-authorial contexts and their miscellany of naturally conflicting objectives intended by the same. All texts suffering therefore, this signature of its relative inherent contradiction through the complexity of reference frames naturally invoked in their manufacture, only, that those texts that are relatively less authentic will more ably self-demonstrate this greater degree of internal/external contradiction when subjected to a critically-deconstructive hermeneutic pressure. At the same time, however, this loss of integrity is counter-balanced by the degree of gestalt integrity currently available to the author, this degree of integrity holistically permeating the textual products and processes performed in those acts of emission uttered by that author. It is my suspicion that in hypnotically induced co-authored phenomena and/or self-deceptive, imaginatively contrived phenomena through a non-transcendental suspension of dis-belief and its parallel loss of transcendental distance, this loss of integrity manifests itself in direct measure to the degree those emitted texts appear to facilitate their own self-deconstruction.6 (12)
Texts manufactured in a relatively inauthentic climate will reveal relative imbalances between the textual, meta-textual and non-textual aspects of their production/re-production. As relative authenticity is generated through the balance of all polarities it follows that relatively inauthentic texts will reflect this loss of overall transcendental suspension wherein the hermeneutic circle is essentially disrupted in part through a unbalanced emphasis, and or suppression, of one or two of its three polarities that are theoretically envisaged to comprise its intentional operation. With this insight to hand we can note the following predicted observations. In an over-emphasised or excessive textual pre-occupation we should observe what might be called textual diarrhoea. With a reduced sense of systematization from the meta-textual point of view, and a diminution of existential richness from the non-textual, we should find the emission of a text with little structure, incoherence of intent, a virtual word salad, etc. In essence the emission of a text with little sense of structure, a mere flowing of content without demonstrable intent (except that which might be determinable perhaps from a statistical analysis of themes, etc.). In an over-emphasis upon the meta-textual dimension (and/or a relative suppression of the textual and non-textual dimensions) we should expect a formulaic production of text with little real textually oriented content. Although, e.g., some past life accounts may seem creditable, often their production is a relatively routine affair with little real surprises or existential detail other than that expected from a meta-textual point of view (as co-authorially induced). Although it might seem elitist to say that the lives of most people are not extraordinary affairs, and a random cross-section of past-lives should express this type of a fact if that was the case, most accounts are produced, or rather, re-produced, in a formulaic, rote-like fashion with very little existential depth and insight. On the other hand, some accounts might be credited with a vivacity as that which a good historical novelist might be able to summon to their subject matter. However, given the situation of an inauthenticity in the production/re-production of textual content in the adoption of a relative emphasis upon the meta-textual (as an excessive meta-textual preoccupation), as might be expected in its induction under co-authorial pressure, this repetitive patterning of the meta-textual should become self-evident (once the hermeneut in their interpretation of such reports is aware of this structural dimension of genre and context that together constitute the sense of the meta-textual). This tripartite understanding of the hermeneutic circle, as previously discussed elsewhere on numerous occasions, then forces us to consider the third situation of an imbalanced emphasis placed upon the non-textual (through an excessive preoccupation with the non-textual) to ask in what manner this type of distortion would deform the authenticity of a text. Giving this subject some thought I would like to tentatively propose that this type of inauthenticity is demonstrated through the excessive invocation of pseudo-existential-like statements, e.g., the reporting of pseudo-facts, excessively promoted beliefs, unsubstantiated and unsubstantiatable opinions, etc., uttered in a climate coloured by folk-wisdom, Eastern thought, local religious traditions, forms of cultic-inspired revelations, etc. (either 'vehement' or 'stoned' in emotional flavour). So, collectively, evidence for one or more of these types of pronouncements could be perceived as evidence for an inauthenticity of textual production that would lead us to ask then just why that particular text is signed or stamped with these indicators of inauthenticity assuming that these co-authored texts were being manufactured in an intrinsically non-authentic atmosphere, despite the presence or absence of an official authenticity, where there is some form of a disconformity with 'reality' in being simulated through that mis-re-presentation of reality? No doubt the hermeneut finding other hermeneutical strategies for 'demonstrating' this non-conformity with reality.7 (13)
By the presence of an official(ly sanctioned) authenticity I am not suggesting that the author or authors of a text or set of texts is/are setting out deliberately to be inauthentic, indeed, they may feel that are being very authentic, even 'spiritual', rather, that through a loss of transcendental perspective (regardless of whether being induced hypnotically, in a pseudo-psychotic fashion, or, realized non-psychotically or psychotically) the end result of that loss of transcendental distance is a relative loss of authenticity which finds itself mirrored in the relative susceptibility of its textual emissions to deconstruct/self-deconstruct being neither in conformity with their meta-textual intent nor a subjective-intersubjective appreciation of reality. In this type of climate we might also like to note then the following possibilities, namely, non-conformity with reality and inadequate interpretative rewriting. (14)
It would appear that texts uttered in a hypnotic, i.e., a pseudo-psychotic8 manner and/or a psychotic climate in general conform less with the subjectively-intersubjectively perceived nature of reality. So, e.g., the 'martian' says he is a martian, a 'fact' which the audience knows is just not the case, etc. As a rule of thumb one might say that through a loss of transcendental distance and gestalt integrity that the textual content of co-author phenomena in general conform less with our overall, socially conceived understanding of reality. In other words the textual content of co-authored phenomena are less likely to coincide with the content of our overall textual understanding of reality. On the other hand, this does not mean that texts will be completely at variance with 'perceived reality' as there can be no pure possible world given that all textual formation occurs in this one world-of-life and to some extent must re-present it! The degree of variance, non-conformity, indicating the degree that text was intentionally manufactured in that type of climate given it was not conceived in the first place to deceive (as in an act of exaggeration or the telling of a lie - which through double re-writing also open themselves up to a deconstructive susceptibility) (hence this inadequacy in interpretive re-writing of that text on account of the inauthenticity of that re-writing project despite what opinions might be extra-textually deduced for this exercise in effective censorship of the ‘text’ in its original state or their original states whether formed, malformed or pre-formed, i.e., embryonic9). Being formed in an atmosphere subjected to competing versions of reality (through acts of double re-writing10)or the relative suppression of certain considerations (such as those arrived at through a greater degree of transcendental perspective) the net result are acts of re-writing that can never absolutely hide their pre-re-written origins. Metaphorically leaning on the text helps us to determine to some extent which of those strands were relatively originally written, re-written, should have been re-written, shouldn't have been re-written, or need to be re-rewritten, etc., etc. How do we determine this? Through some form of a semantico-geological-like theoretical apparatus that helps us to determine, where possible, the nature of the relationships various strands and strata appear to possess with respect to each other in the ‘evident’ (read resultant) formation of that text? The results of our hermeneutic industry in this regard invoking statistical methods, overall considerations, apparent intentions (as meta-textually indicated), meta-textual indicators, etc., in determining this possible variety of these elements of textual process-content, tropes, etc. The hermeneut then showing their incongruity and the relative degree this textual non-conformity can be made apparent.11 All texts, regardless of the climate of their formation, also often 'telling us', directly or indirectly, of their own doubts, inconsistencies, ambivalencies, etc., when closely examined/re-examined. Our intuition often being a good guide in this type of examination… as discernment of the overall integrity, or lack of it, is a matter of taste that should be perfected through hermeneutic practice and reflection. Not that textual formation is a process that is ‘perfect’, meaning, ‘absolutely integrated through a perfect resolution of textual dissonance in the absolute realization of intent, etc.’ All texts will deconstruct given an adequate degree of deconstructive pressure. That, in essence, the author is never in absolute control of their textual production (although their degree of control can be accounted for in terms of the adequacy or inadequacy of the realization of that intent (especially since even that intent is never perfectly formulated)). This evaluation can also be engaged inter-textually in the evaluation of instances of a genre, or, through sheer praxis where the pre-informed agent re-views that production in the light of a transcendental performance of the said text. That in truth, all processes of insightful determination are performed in the light of the latter wherein the agent in the transcendental depths of their being re-simulates that text to the best of their ability with or without the aid of an interpreter. (15)
Although we may find no 'killer application' that unmistakably can sort the sheep from the goats, so to speak, our intuition is often a good guide - our retrospective examination then attempting to find evidence that can demonstrate the tenor of that intuition. Just as statistical analysis is best used to support the tenability or non-tenability of a thesis or counter-thesis rather than our attempting to do statistics the other way round, i.e. doing our stats. first in order to find materially relevant items of research. So, only with a hypothesis to hand, determined through intuition or the rhetorical asking of presuppositional questions, etc., should we then, and only then, adopt an appropriate statistical method to assist the relative verification of that approach or perspective. (16)
Let me now add two more possibilities to assist us in discerning the authorial/co-authorial construction of textual content, namely, reiterative embroidery and contemporaneous re-constitution. (17)
Jim Schnabel is the author of the book Dark White: Aliens, Abductions and the UFO Obsession12. On page 119 the author describes a situation where an 'abductee' after a certain number of hypnotic sessions was asked the question "why she thought the Aliens might be there. What were they up to?" She responded that she has asked the aliens that particular question and the aliens had responded that they were from a particular part of the galaxy, and we humans were their children, part of a genetic experiment they had carried outand were concerned that we not make a mess of the planet as they had done with theirstaking individual abductees up into their ships and checking out their genotypes and phenotypes and driving home the necessity of world peace and a clean environment. It was though to be pretty standard visionary stuff, but what really caught Randle's (the hypnotist) attention was that the woman had said that she had asked the aliens the very same question that Randles had wanted her to askit became clear that the woman (the hypnotised subject/'abductee') had not asked this question unprompted. She was passing the questions to the aliens then and there, while under hypnosis. Randles would ask the question, and Mrs Day (the hypnotised subject/'abductee') would be silent for a while as she mentally relayed the question to the aliens. And then she would speak up and relay the aliens' answer back to Randles. The question and answer relays were the ongoing, dynamic product of Mrs Day's fecund brain and Jenny Randles's prompting questions. (18)
This observations seems to suggest that there might be a difference in the way time is experience and/or reported when experiencing and reporting a co-authored phenomenon (induced by the "prompting" of a hypnotist, e.g.). Namely, the report is apparently being constituted in a contemporaneous sense of time, i.e., the reported situation is actually experienced in a current sense of the present (even if reported by the reportee as having occurred, in a past tense, to that being currently lived by the reportee both actually and virtually). In other words a situation is not being reported it is being manufactured and then reported, essentially being 'prompted' by co-authorial pressure. (19)
The same author makes a number of other observations, using the reported research of a number of researchers, along the same lines to the above. On page 64 he notes that one abductee stated she remembered going down a hallway and meeting a group of small grey aliens, one of whom she was directed to touch on the head, making her feel a sudden emotional flood of love and warmth. After that she went into a room, and there was a meeting of some other aliens, and they turned to her and explained that she would grow up to be a good and strong and intelligent woman. And then she was floated back down to the field again. In a number of hypnotic sessions after this first one, part of which is recounted above, he put this woman back into a trance and led her back to the day in question… The Hypnotist gently asked her what happened to the part about walking down the hall and touching the alien's head and feeling the warmth and love and then walking into the flying saucer conference room and being assured that she… would grow up to be a lovely and good and strong woman. What about all of that? The hypnotist was horrified to be told… Oh, that, said this woman. Well … I guess I just sort of imagined that. I don't think it really happened… But it had only been imagined! Confabulated! (20)
On page 104 he notes the research of a professor Martin Orne at the University of Pennsylvania, and a recognized expert on hypnosis, who had come to the conclusion that regression hypnosis was just not very reliable in recovering factual information. He also notes in one study that subjects under apparently deep hypnosis were able to wilfully to lie. In another study, subjects were regressed back to elementary school days, and vividly recalled the classmates who were sitting next to them - many of whom, according to a subsequent check of school records, should not have been there.13 According to Orne, information obtained from hypnotized subjects engaging in 'free narrative recall' (i.e. without prompting from the hypnotist) was generally more factual, but there was also a lot less of it. In general, only questions from the hypnotist could elicit a complete narrative recollection; the problem was that such questions - even if they were not leading questions - encouraged extensive confabulation. Sometimes even free narrative recall produced what appeared to be pure confabulation, as would happen, for example, when a subject was regressed back into his crib, into the maternal ward, back into the warm bath of his mother's womb, an out the other side of the space-time continuum to … a past life …where he would turnout to have been Galileo, or a knight of the Round Table, or a famous Lemurian artist … There was such a thing as hypnotic progression, too, under which the subject would go forward in time, to become the President, or a star-hopping astronaut… This same academic also warned that 'if the hypnotist has beliefs about what actually occurred, it is exceedingly difficult for him to prevent himself from inadvertently guiding the subject's recall, so that [the subject] will eventually "remember" what he, the hypnotist, believes actually happened.' The same academic believing that most research in this field was not being carried out properly, moreover being of the opinion, that questions should be written down by someone else other than the hypnotist themselves, that the hypnotist minimise their contact with the subject, etc. (21)
The author of this book on page 106 also reports the findings made by a Elizabeth Slater who was of the opinion that (abducted) subjects were somewhat distinctive, tending to exhibit higher intelligence, high creativity, lowered self-esteem, emotional immaturity, egocentricity, sexual identity confusion, mild paranoia, and a tendency, under stress, to slip into 'more or less transient psychotic experiences involving a loss of reality testing along with confused and disordered thinking that can be 'bizarre'. In short, they were the kind of people Slater often treated in her practice as a psychotherapist. (22)
Whether these observations are valid or invalid is not important in the context of this paper. What we need to note is that much that goes under the rubric of alien abductions, as interviewed under hypnosis, e.g., is patently a co-authored affair with elements of confabulation, etc. In this we can note that confabulation is conducted in a contemporaneous fashion, i.e., in the here and now in response to prompting, etc. Furthermore it might well be the case that confabulated detail becomes both enriched in the imagination and entrenched in memory on subsequent co-authorially pressured sessions through the re-iteration of the same. On the other hand, in contrast perhaps to co-authorial confabulation, etc., processes of memory, not complicated by co-authorially pressured construction and/or reconstruction, in time naturally manifest defects, gaps, a lack of vividness in common with all normal processes of memory decay and are not, as a rule, generally filled in, re-constructed or embroidered as in the re-iteration of co-authored phenomena. In this light one must suspect co-authored phenomena on re-iteration to be more embroidered and/or entrenched, and vice versa, in contrast to the recall of memories which can become more problematic in detail and less entrenched under repeated examination and critical re-examination.14 (23)
If this phenomenon of co-authorial pressure is akin to dreaming (and psychotic states?) what else can we add to a possible differentiation between the co-authored content and non-co-authored content, authored content? (24)
Let me make a few more comments on this tendency to embroider the 'truth'. One could almost predict detail to be supplied under the pressure of prompting. As a rule of thumb one might say 'that more imaginative people were more inclined to be more imaginative in their reporting', and, that one might be able to take this propensity into account in the evaluation of the creativity of detail in a report - such individuals being better at embroidering both the non-truth and/or truth of their accounts than a less imaginative person. So the reception of an imaginative report by a more imaginative person could be discounted to this extent in so far as an imaginative report should be expected; the imaginative excess after this subtraction, if its should appear to exist, then needing to be explained with respect to an authored pressure (as in the writing of an imaginative novel, e.g.) and/or a co-authored pressure (as in e.g., the enrichment of a sitcom's episode through the input of a team of script-writers). Moreover, such addition of detail is usually inconformity with certain genre or genres dealing with the same in so far as meta-textual expectations indicated through the asking of certain questions (by either authors and/or audiences) will prompt the adoption and adaptation of the same. Witness our 'abductee', in paragraph 18, who reported that she was 'being investigated', that aliens were 'gardeners of this planet' and that they were there 'to ensure that humans don't wreck the environment of Earth' and 'to act as mid-wives for the project of cosmic peace', etc., etc. Additional features one might like to note is often a sense of 'lost time', scars and other unexplained injuries, etc., that are interpreted as having been obtained from aliens conducting probes, etc. It is interesting to note that the feature of 'lost time', is also a features that often accompanies the phenomenon of multiple-personalities. Moreover, I suspect that bruises, other unexplained wounds, whether accidental of contrived, could also be a feature of the latter in so far as how these signs manifested themselves is not immediately apparent but interpreted, or mis-interpreted, in the light of current (non-virtual and/or virtual) co-authored preoccupations. I know myself that often after working in the garden I may notice at some time interval later, usually the next day, that I have sustained various wounds and injuries which I believe would have been obtained during the course of that labour without being exactly aware as to when and how they were incurred being so preoccupied in the course of my labours in the garden. This type of interpretative occurrence could been seen as a clue that alerts us to the possibility that similar psychological mechanisms are in play between actual, or non-virtual, co-authorial pressure (between two or more agents) and virtual co-authorial pressure when, e.g., a person claims to be dominated by a sequence of personalities, or, have been an 'abductee' by aliens without first arriving at this 'conclusion' under hypnosis, etc. The latter type of occurrence, in my opinion, suggesting that various interpersonal senses of agency are able to operate relatively autonomously (from a superficial point of view) that in a pseudo-psychotic or psychotic-like atmosphere through a literalization of the metaphor transform possible interpretative states of affairs into vividly entertained states of 'apparent reality' (even though via various hermeneutic stratagems the hermeneut should be able to show their essential self-fabrication, mis-identification as factual and, possibly, their non-conformity with reality15). All this identification with imagination, dream-like states, creative acts of visualization suggesting a further test that could be performed by the investigator of such reports who is actually present when this type of report is being elicited, namely, the microscope test, i.e., subjecting those images to a closer scrutiny to see if the level of observed/reported detail remains the same at each level of detailizational inspection. In dreams and dream-like states detail fails this close up inspection routine - so 'faces' looked at more closely seem to have eyes and noses and mouths but not sustained in detail to the same extent as that face first 'appeared', so, e.g., in a dream a street scene looks vivid but the details on the shop fronts disappears when looked at more closely, etc. Moreover, as a rule of thumb, the greater the vividness, integrity and non-surrealness of imagery the more the re-viewer is aware as to what extent that imagery is actually put together by the imaginative powers of their own agency in non-conformity with their remembered vision of reality, or, then again, imagery that lacks sufficiency gestalt integrity reflects that loss of intentional integration and is experienced through that loss of detail and/or surreality as taking on an unreal-like quality alerting the re-viewer to its actual status as an intentional construct imaginatively created with minimal conformity with the remembered nature of the world.16 (25)
Along the same lines as this microscopic test it has been noted by those studying abduction phenomena that there often seem to be selective forms of amnesia. E.g., a person may recount meeting with aliens but not be able to account, initially, as to how they got into the spacecraft, left, etc. Then again, scenes of greater imaginative attraction seem to be immediately 'approached' and 'entered into' as if willed by the focalising power of consciousness itself (as would be the case if it were merely imaginatively visualised and not seen perceptually). Even if our attention is focused by detail of a more interesting nature we should still be able to account for how the various scenes upon which our interest was focused are connected to each other. Failing that we should suspect a more imaginative route has been taken rather than 'our' retrospectively filling in the details and/or proposing various 'mechanisms' to explain those apparent lapses; especially if those mechanisms involve suppositional and presuppositional material not apparently supplied by the apparent context and/or forced by interpretative and/or pre-interpretative meta-textual expectations. So if you yourself or someone else think you might have been abducted then there would be a natural tendency to retrospectively interpret and/or confabulate additional detail through this same type of lens? (26)
I am aware that a large number of people in America have had so called 'abduction experiences'. E.g., on the back-cover of the book The Abduction Enigma we are told that six million Americans believe they have been abducted!17 Now, to my mind aliens would have had to have been very busy to have chalked up such a large tally and to have been very skilful to have not been spotted on a grand scale in having done so. Then, I am of the opinion that this large number of 'abductions' is not purely the result of co-authorial hypnotically derived suggestions to this effect. In the light of these reasonable hypotheses one is forced to adopt a position that some, if not most, reports about space ships and their abducting citizens of this planet are fabricated and/or realized in an authorially oriented climate, i.e., non-virtually. This leaves open the possibility that a much smaller number of reportings might actually have been witnessed but that is neither here nor there as far as the majority of reports would appear to be fabricated in some form or other, i.e., most from an authored perspective and/or some from a co-authored perspective. To qualify such distinction I would like to add to each the following possibilities of 'virtual' and 'non-virtual' (read a qualified sense of 'actual'). This concept of virtuality qualifying the nature of that authoring process. So non-virtual co-authoring means the active involvement of a number of real agents, say the hypnotist and their hypnotised subject, e.g. On the other hand a virtual process of co-authoring implies a sense of agency that is 'split' between a number of personalities in a virtual sense, i.e., e.g., as in a person suffering from a multi-personality disorder as a polycentered dissociative disorder. Then to each of these four possibilities I would also like to append the following three possibilities of non-psychotic, pseudo-psychotic and psychotic giving us twelve categories to explore in total. (27)
In our determination to understand the phenomenology of co-authored phenomena we need to determine both what is co-authored and what is not co-authored, and, with respect to co-authorship we need to discriminate between non-virtual and virtual forms of authorship and co-authorship. Moreover, these twelve categories are non-exclusive and in this light their definition should help us to disentangle different strands of phenomena in our search for authorial origination. E.g., a schizophrenic person who thinks he is Louis the XIVth (virtual-authored-psychotic) could be hypnotized to think he is a chicken (non-virtual-co-authored-pseudo-psychotic). In an evaluation of his ‘current condition’ it would be necessary to differentiate these two strands. Before I offer tentative provisional definitions of these category-distinctions, and ascertain whether they are actually obtainable in psychological reality, let me add the following comments on the presentational nature of a person ‘suffering’ from a multi-personality disorder as a first step to a closer phenomenological examination of virutal authorship and virtual co-authorship which I hope to conduct in a subsequent essay, Part III. (28)
In the above example I noted that a schizophrenic person who thinks he is Louis the XIVth as virtual-authored-psychotic in this classificational scheme. As far as he thinks he is not a (mad) person ‘thinking’ he is Louis the XIVth but a person who ‘is’ Louis the XIVth hence his overt intentionality is authored and not co-authored in a virtual sense. If he thought he was also Jesus Christ at the same time then that virtual authorship is now co-authored, albeit in a virtual sense. I adopted this classification of ‘virtual’ to differentiate it from ‘non-virtual’ or ‘actual’ authorship. As a good transcendental phenomenologist I don’t want to prejudicially and pre-judgmentally adopt this distinction of ‘non-virtual’ as ‘actual’ as in ‘psychological reality’ states that are virtual or non-virtual, authored or co-authored are equally ‘real’, feel real, etc. (and should be treated ‘as if real’ in order to phenomenologically determine their essential form, etc.). Moreover, I want to explore this sense of ‘virtuallity’ wherein the subject in their sense of agency finds, or is inferred to have found from an intentional perspective, both ‘virtual authorship’ and virtual co-authorship, i.e., a sense of identity that is apparently internal to their overall sense of identity as an agent if, for some reason or other, as one must presume, their overall sense of identity is overlooked, absented, discounted, ignored, eclipsed, distracted, etc., by this more immediate overt virtual sense of authorship or these virtual senses of co-authorship. In the light of this distinction I must classificationally treat a subject with an overt multi-personality disorder as virtually co-authored over a period of time wherein these multiples find themselves revealed to them or others, and, as virtually authored when only one multiple presents itself in that period of time. If in the virtual adoption of a certain ‘personality’ they are aware of other personalities that have or could adopt/re-adopt then we might make the further distinction of ‘overt’ and ‘covert’, e.g., as in this instance, as ‘overtly-virtually-authored’ and ‘covertly-virtually-co-authored’ respectively at the same time. In this light we need to tread lightly as the differentiation of this field in a critical hermeneutical manner is not an easy one for us to discern initially!18 Hopefully this classification will help us in this endeavour to differentiate these strands of authorship and what type of evidence is being presented through these textual presentations of authorship. (29)
Let me now supply some tentative definitional components that make up these twelve hypothetical categories. Then let me explore the distinctive type of psychological space these twelve categories would inhabit. (30)
First, authorship is determined through a hermeneutical inspection of textual production from a textual perspective. An ‘author’ utters a text, be that in the form of words, footprints, a photo, making music, blowing one’s nose, a memory, etc. Hence there is a pre-conditional necessity here for the presupposition of intentionality (and even if we were to mistake the ‘texts’ of a robot or computer as ‘intentioned’ we would not be completely wrong from an indirect point of view in so far as those text-producing mechanisms were programmed by the intentionality of humans to emit texts as such on their behalf by proxy). Now, an author is to be treated as ‘an intentional agent’ and co-authorship as ‘the cooperative enterprise of more than one intentional agent’. Virtual is to be treated as ‘a sense of agency disconnected to some extent from an overall non-psychotic sense of self as an agent’. Non-virtual is to be treated as ‘a sense of agency non-disconnected to some extent from an overall non-psychotic sense of self as an agent on the part of one or more agents as long as those agents are involved in a process of individual authorship or collective co-authorship’. In this light ‘virtual’ can only be applied to the psychic domain of one agent, whereas, ‘non-virtual’ can apply to an (actual) individual author or a set of (actual) co-authors. Let me now define non-psychotic as ‘neither psychotic nor pseudo-psychotic’ and note that this psychological state of affairs must be present in all psychological states to some extent (and hence its definition as that based in all psychological states). On the other hand let me define pseudo-psychotic as ‘a partial loss of transcendental distance and perspective in some psychological aspects of the overall psyche generally not effecting the overall functioning of that psyche’ whereas psychotic is ‘a relatively profound loss of transcendental distance and perspective in some psychological aspects of the overall psyche generally effecting the overall functioning of that psyche’. Let me also add that in the presence of the latter there is also a marked ‘suspension of disbelief’ whereas in the transcendental functioning of judgmental discrimination there should be a properly prepared ‘transcendental suspension of belief’. With this loss of transcendental distance and perspective there is a loss of discrimination between self-generative imaginative states and environmentally ‘dictated’ perceptual states in general manifesting in a literalization of the metaphor.19 (31)
Let me now list these twelve categories in the following order and exemplify each one with a characteristic example…

  1. Non-virtual-authored-non-psychotic… writing a letter.

  2. Non-virtual-authored-pseudo-psychotic… self-hypnotizing oneself.

  3. Non-virtual-authored-psychotic… having insight that one is psychotic.

  1. Non-virtual-co-authored-non-psychotic… committee meeting/co-authors.

  2. Non-virtual-co-authored-pseudo-psychotic… a hypnotist and their subject.

  3. Non-virtual-co-authored-psychotic… active-passive psychopathology/

folis à deux.

  1. Virtual-authored-non-psychotic… acting a ‘character’ in a play/lying.

  2. Virtual-authored-pseudo-psychotic… self-deception.

  3. Virtual-authored-psychotic… adopting a delusion-based identity.

  1. Virtual-co-authored-non-psychotic… believing self has been ‘abducted’.

  2. Virtual-co-authored-pseudo-psychotic… self-cultural brain washing…

  3. Virtual-co-authored-psychotic… ‘hearing voices’. (32)

Let me now briefly discuss each one of these twelve categories individually, then, let me in general apply these categories as a method for determination of the presence or absence of co-authorship, etc.20 (33)

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