Mental health can often feel like the inability to get clarity around if it’s, “just me” or if it’s “the world” that’s crazy. There’s an open question in any interpersonal problem “is it me or is it them”. Basic game theory might have you look at the general strategies and take a precommitment, like Tit for tat, with forgiveness. Something like, “It’s always me” or “it’s always them” - as the opinion that is formed in response to the stimuli being presented. These strategies tend to look like mental health problems when applied far too liberally. Some examples of these are in the List of Maladaptive Schemas.
If you play fixed mindset belief games, you will be bested by people who can see your fixed mindset and predict it. And beat it.
Unfortunately for basic game theory, advanced game theory comes along and sees all the other people playing with Tit-for-tat, with forgiveness strategies and generates a one-up strategy whereby advanced game theoretic players can beat basic game theoretic players, Just by playing one move ahead of the basic players.
(movie: The Princess Bride)
Unfortunately for advanced game theory, there exists expert game theory players who have seen that strategy and devised advanced strategies for solving the “how do I beat basic, and advanced game players”.
And unfortunately for expert game theory players there exists the halting problem. Where there will always be another level of play strategy. And there will always be another strategy taking into account all previous strategies. And this is an infinite loop.
how do I get feedback on an infinitely recursive system with the halting problem?
This question strikes at the core of the interface between self and the external world. We are each a chinese room brain. This is the problem of other minds. When we design an experimental apparatus and attempt to glean feedback information from reality as if we are not in it, we don’t really answer the question here.
I only have one answer. And it’s an unfortunately frustrating one. I hint at the answer in the emotional training model but that’s not ultimately obvious enough.
Feedback has to come from within.
How do I know what to do? How do I gauge what is right and wrong where all I have to go on is the intention to gage right and wrong, and a collection of informational experiences that form my sensate reality including knowledge I have gathered by reading books, talking to people and experiencing life myself?
There is no “truth grain” external to the self; where, having found the truth grain, there is no need to be wrong ever again. There is no fundamental reason why we can believe and trust external information more than internal information. (external information is only internally represented after all - with an assumption that we can comparably across brains; form equivalent internal representations of external information.)
I am ae enclosed brain. Feedback has to come from within the system. When I look in a mirror, I see a reflection of myself, but the reflection registers in the system. The results of the reflection “wow I like the way I look” is a judgement call that happens from within the system. When I ask my friend how I look and I receive the information that “I look as ugly as a bat out of hell”, that information registers inside the system. Inside the brain. External validation is an illusion.
In that sense, if I didn’t already, now would be a good time to start liking myself.
Next: The third system