The Imax Approach 4

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imax approach examines home social biology perceptions

Last week we explored the first two domains, the home and social environments that influence the Imax.  These two domains are external, and represent the attachments we have in our lives.  But those attachments influence the next two domains, the internal domains of the Ic (to be explained below), and the biological domain of our brain and body.  Continuing my introduction of the Imax Approach, this week I will explore with you the next domain,  the Ic.

The Ic Domain: How I see myself, how I see others, and how I think other people see me

Mirror On Wall image

Both the Home and Social Environments are external domains: the domains of attachments. It is these two domains that influence the first internal domain called the Ic. The Ic domain is how you see yourself and how you think others see you.  This Domain is your current individual concept, your psychology, character, and personality. Our self-image is very much influenced by how we think other people see us.  The home and social Domains reflect external Domains outside ourselves.  This third Domain is an internal Domain about our ability to appreciate what someone else is thinking and feeling, (empathy) and perhaps more importantly, what are they thinking or feeling about us!

The Ic domain is where the power of respect has its entry point.  As we perceive how others view us, it influences our own self-concept.  How I see the world now is critical to how I interact with the world.  And how I think the world sees me, is equally influential.  In this third Domain live our thoughts and feelings.  Perhaps more than any other Domain, this one helps define who you are and why you do what you do.

Embedded in the third Domain is the human tendency to wonder what other people think or feel about me.  This is not the same thing as empathy, our ability to infer what someone else is thinking or feeling.  This is a distinct experience in that individuals are particularly interested in how they are perceived.  We wonder and worry about it a lot. For example, if you go to a job interview you don’t go in your pajamas!  You want to be seen a certain way and influence that perception by how you dress.

You also probably won’t reveal secrets that may jeopardize you getting the job.  This third Domain is the Domain of Secrets.  A secret is not a secret because of what you have done.  A secret is a secret because we worry, “How will someone else view me if they know my secret?”   We are very interested in what someone else is thinking or feeling about us.

This is the Domain of self-esteem, self-doubt, self-loathing, and self-importance.  In a later chapter I will argue that this interest in what other people are thinking and feeling about us is the core of human interaction, at the root of the stigma of mental illness.  Adopting the Imax approach can have a profound influence on how we see people in general, unleashing the power of respect.

I show two cartoons to help illustrate the power of the Imax.

Rose is Rose comic climb tree

In this cartoon a little boy is playing baseball with his dad.  He can’t hit it, throw it, catch it. He’s terrible.  But his dad says to him “You were amazing out there!” and the little boy walks away smiling.  Through the eyes of his father he sees himself as valuable.

Let me draw your attention to the two squirrels.  The one squirrel does not believe in an Imax.  “That kid needs a lot of work” implying “what’s wrong with him?  He should be doing better.”  But the other squirrel does believe in an Imax.  “I remember when you couldn’t climb a tree.”  The squirrel is commenting that at that moment n time, at that Imax, the best you could do was not be able to climb a tree.  But now you can.  You’re Imax has changed.  Both as valid, both as valuable, both deserving of equal respect.  How we see ourselves is highly influenced by how we think other people see us. This is the power if the Ic domain.  We are interested in what other people think or feel about us.  But there is a dark side.  And here it is.

Charlie Brown Believe In Me

Charlie Brown.  Your prototypical depressed kid.  Why is he depressed?  In this cartoon, what does he say:  “Believe in me.  Believe in me.  Believe in me.  I just can’t get people to believe in me.”  This is why Charlie Brown is depressed.  Through the eyes of others he sees himself as a loser.

Human beings are interested in what other people think or feel.  And if it is always malevolent, a very dark and dangerous things happens: we shut down our interest in what other people think or feel about us.  Why would we want to know?

But the real danger is this:  when we shut down an interested in what other people think and feel about us we shut down an interest in what they are thinking and feeling: we shut down empathy.  We stop caring about other people.  Unlike the Rose is Rose cartoon which is a world of vibrancy and color, of nuance and connectedness, the Charlie Brown world is black and white.   There is no nuance when we shut down empathy.  Things are good or bad, and nothing in between.  But even this is an Imax.