Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Internal Escalation

It would seem that a small but significant number of my friends have been engaged in something I have come to call internal escalation. For anyone familiar with customer service, I am not referring to the flowchartable concept of the same name that is used to bump complaining customers up the chain of command. No, I am referring to a tendency of some individuals to engage in an often self-defeating mode of overthinking. Personally I have been jousting with just such a concept in my writing the last week or so, prompted by a fictional Tibetan monk suggesting:

"An excess of reason is itself a form of madness."

Internal escalation is a process wherein a single individual, on their own, without consultation nor confirmation takes a piece of information, an impression, a snippet of reality or not and mentates on that singular iota of interiority and expands it to the brink of implosion, explosion or madness. More than simply overthinking, internal escalation adds facts, scenes, dialog and potentially wild outcomes to what to others might have been a mere tangent or passing phrase.

The problem with simply stamping out such behavior is that internal escalation lies very close to magical thinking. Again, let me make a distinction. I am not talking here about the definition of magical thinking which says that it involves the belief that thought is the same as action; that can be the stuff of madness and Prozac. I refer rather to the realm of magical thinking where it is believed the sentient thinking does have an effect on the natural world. Interesting how many scientific people "know" that the natural world affects our rational processes but they cannot conceive that it works in the other direction.

So to my many internally escalating friends. Go forth and ponder the world, all these worlds. However, show caution. Stay moderately in touch both with ordinary reality and with other adventurers in the realms of magic. Beyond here there be dragons, so proceed with the Audubon guide to basilisks, hydras and wyverns. And call if you get lost.

[It seems every time I attempted to type escalation, I thumbed out excalation. So I thought I had better look it up. Excalation: The absence, suppression, or failure to develop one member of a series, such as a finger or vertebra. Who knew?]
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photo credit: archives

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

is "notjustagirlbutaninternalescalator" too long of an online name?

Anonymous said...

Hmm... I'm thinking that I was one of the referenced over-thinkers... but maybe I'm just over thinking that.

matt

Susan said...

Ahh...from "Forty Days of Rain" by Stanley-Robinson?

Escalation of thinking to my eye is all about being a worry-wart.

PokerShrink said...

Yes to Kim Stanley Robinson.

Worry-Wart may not be pathological enough for some diagnosis'