Imagine your birth as a big bang giving rise to your universe. Imagine that all events subsequent to the big bang of your birth are in play, as we speak, giving rise to your experience of the moment. This is true. The planets are where they are as a result of past events. The light from stars is where it is as a result of past events (even if those stars no longer exist!).
You see what you see (in part) as a result of past experience. You feel what you feel (in part) as a result of past experience. Why ‘in part’? Because there really is an objective world ‘out there’; it’s just that your own idiosyncratic filter system doesn’t pay much attention to a good part of it. Call it, subjectivity; it amounts to what you consciously experience, what you think, what you feel and what you ‘sense’. Your marvelous brain filters what you see as a result of past experience. Your marvelous brain ‘colors’ your experience of what you see as a result of past experience.
Past experience (all of it) drives personality formation. Past experience ‘predisposes’ us to think what we think, feel what we feel and sense what we sense. Think ‘experiential data base’. Think google. You are presented with a keyword (a familiar face, a newspaper, a clock) and your brain performs operations beyond our ability to imagine; it ‘kicks up’ information and adaptive styles that allow you to negotiate the moment.
The legacy of past experience is information. All past experience is at hand as your marvelous brain does its job. Did you or did you not dance at the first dancing party you attended? Did you or did you not learn to ride your bike at 6 or 7? All information (records of past experience imbedded within the structure of our brain system) must be handled. As we now know (with the benefit of modern information management theory) information, to be rendered useful, must be bundled. Bits and bundles of information must be linked. Ahh, our marvelous brains do all of the above!
Our personal experiential data base is rendered useful by means of its working architecture. We want to be able to respond to ‘keywords’ intelligently. If asked about high school, we don’t want to respond, “Mother Mary washed my car”. Typically, our marvelous brains construct a useful architecture and lo and behold we respond, “I went to Truckee High”.
Psychotherapies work with the evolving architecture of the experiential data base. We can and do ‘code’ experience in real time and how we code can change; generalizations about men (or women) born of experience of our father (or mother) can be coded ‘less relevant’ as future events present them selves.
A psychotherapy in-formed by this perspective can bear rich fruit. Personality itself may undergo transformation. Hitherto ‘knee jerk’ reactions need no longer occur. The starting point for such a psychotherapy must be an understanding of personality as patterns.