To ease communication between us, I will continue to use terms belonging to other paradigms such as ‘conscious’ and ‘unconscious’ (depth psychology), ‘sickness’ and ‘health’ (medicine), ‘sanity’ and ‘insanity’ (legal terms), ‘mental disorder,’ ‘schizophrenia,’ ‘sociopathy’ (psychiatry), etc. I attempt to define these words in terms of process concepts and show how they may be limiting cases of the more neutral paradigm. The reader interested in a brief explanation of the interrelationship between psychiatric and process terms may turn to the Glossary at the end of this book for reference.
The terminology I develop is based upon my interest in dealing with strongly altered and unusual states of consciousness and upon my phenomenological approach to these states. Older terms such as ‘withdrawn’ and ‘related’ are not useful in actually understanding the structure of processes, especially when these are very foreign to everyday life. Hence, psychiatry needs a new language, one which deals with events as they occur, in contrast to a language which is strongly biased to consensus reality thinking. Thus, I will have to speak of ‘primary and secondary processes,’ ‘channels,’ ‘double signals’ and other terms which are not common in psychology today. I hope the reader will understand and bear with me.
Let us call primary processes those expressions with which the individual identifies himself either explicitly or implicitly. Someone who implies or says, ‘I am the Virgin Mary,’ or ‘I am a rock star or a business woman,’ indicates that her primary process is an identity experience of the Virgin, a rock star or business person. Primary processes can be identified even in strongly altered states of consciousness.