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The National Council of Psychotherapists

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Building a picture of the mind


David Sloan                       05July2002          :


The following model was inspired by the ideas put forward by Georges Philips in his Gold Counsellingâ course and the book Gold Counsellingâ 2nd Edition. I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable course and a very effective technique. The model of how the mind works, as presented in the course, I felt required further development. I set out to resolve the inconsistencies I found in the model and answer the questions that the original seemed not to ask. I determined to apply a rigorous logic to the problem, and only allow structures that followed consistent and simple rules.


The structure required to form a mind must conform to certain rules:


1.      Large storage capacity. Imagine all the sensory experiences of a lifetime, in detail. No computer yet built even approaches the capacity required.

2.      Simultaneous input of many bits of information. The mind can input an entire experience at one time. An experience will be termed a pattern.

3.      Simultaneous processing of many bits of information.  The mind can instantly compare a new experience with a previously stored experience.

4.      Totality of information. The same structure must be capable of storing input from any of the senses e.g. vision, sound, touch etc. and also emotion and abstract thought.

5.      No data is moved around. Only the reference pointing to a pattern changes. This negates the requirement to move vast amounts of data from one location to another. This reference will be termed a name.

6.      Links. There must be a way to connect one experience to another. A link is formed when one pattern overlaps another. The actual placement of the links would determine how stored experiences were connected.

7.      A pattern is formed from a group of other patterns linked together. This implies that all patterns are equal and all patterns contain links inside the pattern

8.      Input control. There must be a mechanism to control the intensity of information input.


Research into the processes of the brain has indicated that the brain works on a holographic basis. A hologram would fill all of the above requirements. Each experience would be stored as a holographic pattern in the mind.


Information transfer is accomplished by impressing a pattern on top of a previous pattern. This is learning. The network of links provides a comparatively slow method of data input/output. Moving from one pattern to the next in series allows the process of thinking. Language is one result of this slow serial process. Music is another.


Building the structure.


The simplest way of portraying the structure of the mind would be to draw it as a pattern of an individual’s total experience. Within the total pattern would be sub-patterns of separate experiences. The total pattern has been given the name “SELF”. All the sub-patterns have been given names.





The above picture is, of course, much simplified compared to a human mind. The sub-patterns are shown connected by a network of links. The greater the overlap, the stronger the link. Frequency of usage enlarges the overlap. A well used link, like a well-worn path is easier to use. Conversely, enlarging the overlap increases the possibility of taking a different route through the link. Please note that all the sub-patterns are directly connected to the name “SELF.


Although the above picture is the more accurate description of patterns and links, it is probably easier to follow the sense of the structure if it is portrayed in a slightly different way.




This picture shows the links as lines, rather than overlaps. This makes it easier to follow the network of links. Strength of link could be represented by thickness of line. Placement of the sub-patterns is purely for clarity and convenience. The actual location of the sub-patterns is immaterial. As they are holograms, they are actually all located in the same place – just as a series of photographic holograms can co-exist on the same piece of film.


Any of the sub-patterns can be treated a pattern in its own right, with its own sub-patterns. Like Russian dolls, each pattern has other patterns within it, on and on until the smallest sub-pattern is a single impulse




I can find no evidence to indicate that the patterns branch only downwards. It seems reasonable to envisage a sub-sub-sub-etc-pattern branching out to a pattern elsewhere. It may even branch to one of its parent patterns.


As each pattern can be treated exactly the same as any other pattern, it becomes absurd to refer to patterns, sub-patterns etc. Subsequently, I will only refer to patterns by a name in order to distinguish one from another. This is similar – but not identical – to the term “Topic” used in Gold Counsellingâ. An important difference being that it is possible to have a pattern within a pattern that is not connected to other patterns at the same level. It is connected to the parent pattern. It is impossible, in a fully functioning mind, to have a pattern that has no connection with any other pattern. It would be impossible to access, and therefore irrelevant.


The Learning Process


As mentioned previously, information transfer is accomplished by impressing a pattern on top of a previous pattern. This is learning.


Simply impressing a new pattern on the existing structure without reference to the existing patterns would be a chaotic and destructive process. Existing patterns would be corrupted, and the result would be extremely difficult to predict. The mind resists non-matching pattern input, although if you use enough force, you could probably accomplish this. A traumatic experience. Hence the requirement for input control.


A much better and simpler process would be to match an existing pattern with a similar pattern with a few differences. The new additions would link to the existing pattern with much less resistance. If you had an existing pattern for “MOTHER”, it would be very easy to accept a new pattern of “MOTHER+FATHER”. The closer the match, the easier it is to adopt it.





A process so simple that even a child can do it. Unfortunately, a child will learn anything. Good, bad or indifferent. The mind does not discriminate between patterns. The only way to decide good or bad would be to link a new pattern to one named “GOOD” or one named “BAD”. If the pattern named “GOOD” is deficient in some aspect, we may have a problem, but the pattern is still a valid one as far as the mind is concerned.


How does the mind know when one pattern matches another? If you make a photographic hologram of the word “PATTERN” and view a page of text through this hologram, any occurrence of the word “PATTERN” in the text will stand out clearly as a bright spot. The size of the text is immaterial. Only the matching shape is important. In the pattern matches of the mind, the closer the match – the more intense the indication.


The resistance to the impression of a new pattern is directly proportional to the degree of mismatch. The force available to accomplish the impression of a new pattern is directly proportional to emotional content of the new pattern. Familiarity truly does breed contempt, and if you are used to it, you do not develop the emotional pressure, and it does not impress as much.


Pattern Input.


How do we get a pattern from the world outside of “SELF” into our mind? One method is vision. Our eyes directly form a pattern of light and colours on the back of our eyeball. The brain, and thus the mind, can utilise this pattern directly. With hearing, the ear can register a pattern of loudness and tones. With touch, we can register a pattern of warm, hard and pain. Similarly with all the senses. The patterns that we input can encompass all the senses simultaneously.


Unfortunately, the ability to directly output patterns is not nearly as comprehensive. We can express posture, voice tone, and appearance directly. More complex patterns have to be created relatively slowly, and presented in an indirect manner e.g. painting the Mona Lisa or writing a symphony. Indirectly transmitted patterns are prone to error and the original idea may not get across accurately. No matter what concepts I may try express in some composition, the recipient may not be able to match them to his/her own experiences. There are no bad students, only bad teachers.





How is it possible for this structure of the mind to produce original thought? We can use the imagination, which is really a pattern display facility within the mind. All you have to do is display a pattern from the mind and compare it with another pattern. This will produce a new pattern with features of both the previous patterns. For example, imagine a small bridge across a narrow stream. Imagine a wide river. You now have the pattern of a large bridge across a wide river (or a small bridge across a narrow river – equally valid). All you have to do now is apply the same basic pattern to a larger scale. Repeat the process whenever you encounter a difficulty, and you can build the Golden Gate Bridge.


Thinking, Language and Music


Thinking is the process of moving from one pattern name to another. This is a relatively slow process, as thoughts only move one step at a time. If someone states that you are a slow thinker, they are correct. We are all slow thinkers. We can input a complete pattern, full of light, sound, smell, feeling and emotion before we can think about it. Fall in love instantly then spend years thinking about whether it’s a good idea or not.


Language is the process of thinking, and outputting the names of patterns one step at a time. This can be in spoken form or written form. The listener or reader will match up the names with their own stored pattern names. The results are rarely identical.


The above illustrates the conversation as one girl describes her boyfriend to another girl.


A musical note is a pattern. A tune is a sequence of patterns. This fits the thinking process very well. The mind can easily move from one pattern to the next, like hitting the keys on a piano. Often the next part of a tune is close enough to the beginning of the first part for the patterns to match. So you may find yourself repeating the same catchy tune, time after time, in a seemingly endless loop. “Just can’t get that tune out of my mind.” So if you want to write a hit tune, make it simple, add excitement to get it in, but most of all make the end blend into the beginning. They may not like it, but everybody will be humming it. They will probably end up hating you.

Extending the pattern


The network of linked patterns does not stop outside “SELF”. The network extends outside to all other thinking beings, simple or complex, and even to inanimate objects.


The external links are formed by the senses. In many respects, the terms mind and brain are similar. They are not the same. The brain is the physical mechanism that supports the mind. The mind consists of itself and anything to which it is connected. There is only one mind, and it is universal.


Even an amoeba thinks (it might only think EAT-DIGEST-EXCRETE-DIVIDE, but it’s the same process). It is so easy to adopt the patterns of others (“You’re just like your mother/father/whatever”). No wonder therapists are told to get in rapport with their clients. It makes for a pattern with a closer match. And if you have been close to another for a long period, you will have acquired so many of their patterns that you can think just like them. The Greeks believed that as long as somebody remembered you, you were immortal. I believe they were right. We do live on in others.


I titled this exploration of the mind “Less than a Thought”. That is what a pattern is. But when you link two thoughts together, then you start thinking.


This article comes with its own proof. If what you read in it makes sense then the pattern of the article matches the pattern in your mind. In order to increase the emotional pressure to impress the pattern, perhaps I may add a little humour. An alternative title would be “Don’t disturb the amoeba – they’re thinking!”


This is my personal idea of how the mind works. It is a simplified model, and within this limitation, it does appear to work.


 It also raises more questions, such as “What happens when one of the rules goes faulty?” For example, if the mechanism in the mind that forms new patterns becomes defective, we would have great difficulty recalling recent events yet still  be able to clearly remember our childhood. Very much like becoming senile.


It would be worthwhile to experiment with the model and the rules in order to see what the outcome would be. You can experiment with a model, where it would be ethically impossible to do this with the real mind.


It occurs to me that the model lacks intelligence. All is instinct. The process of thinking would follow the path of least resistance. Action - reaction. To form an intelligent mind, we need one more rule.


9.      Choice. An intelligent mind requires a choice mechanism. The ability to choose to follow a less likely link in order to select a more favourable pattern in any situation. The ability to adapt to a new situation. The conscious mind, as compared to the unconscious mind. A conscious thought requires more effort than an unconscious thought.




I would greatly appreciate any comments on this article. Additional ideas on the subject are welcome. And if you can find any inconsistencies that require adjustment of the model, this will help to build a more accurate model for the future.



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