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Monday, July 30, 2012

How we see is as important as what we see

I'm interrupting the series on the will because this is a fascinating story I ran across a few days ago and I wanted to write something before it gets buried.

A recent study shows how both men and women look at male and female bodies differently: men as seen as a whole, whereas females are seen as a collection of  'parts.'

Since we have already dealt with the topic of sexual addictions and even deviance, I think it is important to examine how we perceive our world effects the nature of addictions.  You see, addiction does effect our perceptions, but we ought to know something about what normal perception looks like before we start to think too hard about dysfunctional perception.

What do I mean by that?  Well, for example, someone who notices that he looks at women differently than men may think that he is a 'pervert.'  This guilt can not only effect normal relationships, but can lead to a whole series of other conclusions that can negatively effect his overall health.  By assuming he is a pervert, he may very well become more predisposed to experimenting in perversion.  All just because he felt uncomfortable in how he sees the world.  If you think I am exaggerating, stick around.  There are a lot of people who fall into the trap of feeling guilty about what is 'normal.'

This study reveals that we look at people differently depending upon our perception of their gender, which means that vision itself is a highly complicated process.  If you want to understand more about some of the discoveries regarding vision and how scientists are finding it works, I recommend this excellent book, Phantoms in the Brain:

Defects in the brain can lead to stilted vision.  But, vision itself is not entirely without distortion even when it is working properly.  Dr. Ramachandran's experiments at the University of San Diego are fascinating in this regard.

So, let's look at the previous study, and assume that someone is struggling with an addiction to sexual activity of some kind.  This study reveals a great deal about what he should expect as far as his perceptions are concerned: to some degree, him mind will objectify women even though he knows better.  He should be less worried about how he looks at women in this sense, because he cannot fight a 'hard-wiring issue,' but rather he should be concerned about his intentions and what he does with his images.  Doe he continue to objectify women, or does he work to convert those object images into a human person?  The latter should be the intended goal.

Something else that came to me is how this underlines the typical problems we have when encountering transvestites or those who have sex-change operations.  Since the human mind sees males and females in a very different way, the blurring of those distinctions creates discord.  After all, how do you look at someone that is either both or neither?

I think it would be worth studying how much of what is often passed off as 'homophobia' is really a biological reaction to this conflict within the human brain.  If people expect to successfully over come a natural reaction, I'd say they have a tall order.  Hard wiring issues can over be overridden by a great deal of unnatural thinking, and the outcome can often lead to far worse results, such as insecurity and overall distrust of one's perceptions.

Returning to the original matter, temptation often comes to us through vision, and so understanding vision is key to comprehending the real problem of temptation.  Some things are temptations because our minds see these things as highly desirable.  That will likely never change, and so we should not kick ourselves for perceiving things the way we do.  It is what we do with those perceptions that is most important.

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