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Hey guys, I’ve been struggling recently with my thoughts. Sometimes I feel like every single thing I think, or everything I do is being controlled by God or someone else that’s not me. As if I have no say in anything and I’m just being taken along for the ride. Anyone else deal with this thought?
 

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Depends on how you define "you". If "you" is only the conscious part of your cognition, then your thoughts are certainly not authored by you in almost any sense-though at the end of my post I will show why I maintain that they're not ultimately authored by you in any sense even if you include unconscious (aka subconscious) cognition. If you introspect a little, you can easily notice that you're not actually deciding your next thought; it just appears.

Think of three different car brands. Done? Did you decide which brands to think about, or did they just pop into your mind? It was the result of unconscious processes retrieving them. These were probably the three brands you're the most familiar with due to past exposure.

What you have conscious access to is only a tiny part of what's going on in the brain.

And finally: yes, your thoughts are determined, probably by the deterministic laws of (macroscopic) physics. At the very least they're determined by your personality, i.e life experience (environment) and genetics. That's inescapable unless you posit magic, a soul. Even then you still have to contend with the fact that you're not able to explain why your soul is the way it is. Did you create your soul? No? Then you're not the ultimate author.
 

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Depends on how you define "you". If "you" is only the conscious part of your cognition, then your thoughts are certainly not authored by you in almost any sense-though at the end of my post I will show why I maintain that they're not ultimately authored by you in any sense even if you include unconscious (aka subconscious) cognition. If you introspect a little, you can easily notice that you're not actually deciding your next thought; it just appears.

Think of three different car brands. Done? Did you decide which brands to think about, or did they just pop into your mind? It was the result of unconscious processes retrieving them. These were probably the three brands you're the most familiar with due to past exposure.

What you have conscious access to is only a tiny part of what's going on in the brain.

And finally: yes, your thoughts are determined, probably by the deterministic laws of (macroscopic) physics. At the very least they're determined by your personality, i.e life experience (environment) and genetics. That's inescapable unless you posit magic, a soul. Even then you still have to contend with the fact that you're not able to explain why your soul is the way it is. Did you create your soul? No? Then you're not the ultimate author.
So in this case you're saying I kind of have to be lucky right? I have to hope that whatever power there is, or that my brain, decides for me whether I'll live a full life or go down into more suffering?
 

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So in this case you're saying I kind of have to be lucky right? I have to hope that whatever power there is, or that my brain, decides for me whether I'll live a full life or go down into more suffering?
No, you decide. You are your brain, or what "you" is is part of the electro-chemical activity of the brain. It's just that what you decide you are not the ultimate author of.

There is not you AND the brain. You and the brain are one and the same. Hence, "your brain" doesn't decide anything for you. You aren't some ghost that is steering the brain and body with a remote control.

You decide, but what you decide is rooted in things that don't ultimately depend on you, history and genes. These are the "ingredients" that make up your thoughts and decisions. That was my point. That's what you asked after all, if your thoughts are determined by something that's not you. I hope I was clear enough.
 

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Hey guys, I've been struggling recently with my thoughts. Sometimes I feel like every single thing I think, or everything I do is being controlled by God or someone else that's not me. As if I have no say in anything and I'm just being taken along for the ride. Anyone else deal with this thought?
Hey Andrxs,
I thought I'll post a reply because I suffer from your basic problem as well.
My tormentor is a little different. I think that everyone knows I'm crazy or mentally ill and I'm the only one that's unaware of it.

The reason I'm posting is I sincerely wanted to give you some advice.
I can't stop these tormenting thoughts from coming to my head, sometimes I can't easily release myself from them to do something else.
So my problem is an ongoing one and I have to deal with it often.

However I advice you to never try to use reason or logic with these kinds of thoughts.
If I keep thinking about these thoughts it would be like scratching a wound or struggling in quicksand.
So I try my best to "stop thiinking". I try to find something else to do other than thinking about this shit.
This condition I'm suffering from is also called "overthinking". I'm literally suffering from it because I can't completely stop it from happening.

Anyways I hope this helps.
Thanks for posting your problem. I don't wish for you to suffer, but it's good to know I'm not alone in this.
 

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Hey Andrxs,
I thought I'll post a reply because I suffer from your basic problem as well.
My tormentor is a little different. I think that everyone knows I'm crazy or mentally ill and I'm the only one that's unaware of it.

The reason I'm posting is I sincerely wanted to give you some advice.
I can't stop these tormenting thoughts from coming to my head, sometimes I can't easily release myself from them to do something else.
So my problem is an ongoing one and I have to deal with it often.

However I advice you to never try to use reason or logic with these kinds of thoughts.
If I keep thinking about these thoughts it would be like scratching a wound or struggling in quicksand.
So I try my best to "stop thiinking". I try to find something else to do other than thinking about this shit.
This condition I'm suffering from is also called "overthinking". I'm literally suffering from it because I can't completely stop it from happening.

Anyways I hope this helps.
Thanks for posting your problem. I don't wish for you to suffer, but it's good to know I'm not alone in this.
Well, I have a similar kind of thing sometimes. I get these kind of aggressive, nasty thoughts. For example, when I do in fact like something, I get thoughts like "that's complete trash" or if it's a person, I may get very harsh thoughts about them that are complete contrary to what my opinion of them actually is. It's weird, but I just shrug it off.

But to OP, about thoughts being determined by external factors, imagine if they weren't. How could you function at all? The reason we can be so efficient is because we don't have to engage with every little detail and step in our functioning. Our (unconscious) intuition and its heuristics take care of most of the work. It's not that often that we have to exert conscious effort. If our thoughts weren't determined, it would mean that we would have to consciously think every single thought from nothing. We'd be sluggish and useless. You would even have to decide what you like and what you don't because otherwise it would be determined by things outside of your influence.

The whole thing seems absurd, in fact. We, as conscious agents, simply don't have the capacity to summon up a thought from nothing in the first place. I can't even imagine how that would work.

I recommend this book, as it illuminates the divide between unconscious, "system 1" operations and conscious, "system 2", operations. It's a real eye-opener: https://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp/0374533555. It showed me, or rather expanded my knowledge, that the "you" that you experience to be is really not running the show like it thinks it is.
 

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The whole thing seems absurd, in fact. We simply don't have the capacity to summon up a thought from nothing in the first place. I can't even imagine how that would work.

I recommend this book, as it illuminates the divide between unconscious, "system 1" operations and conscious, "system 2", operations. It's a real eye-opener: https://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp/0374533555. It showed me, or rather expanded my knowledge, that the "you" that you experience to be is really not running the show like it thinks it is.
Hi PerfectFilth,

I know what you mean. If OP is interested in philosophy then your answer is the right one for him/her.
I just pointed out the danger or the unhealthy side of overthinking things.

To be honest I suffer from depression and in the past years I probably spent a lot of time thinking than the average person.
Recently it was clear to me that in order to live as a healthy person, I must find a way to stop overthinking.
That's what I'm trying to do now.
 

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I think everyone's thought generator works similarly. Great minds think in parallel, and all that. I think it is important to recognize that the thought generating process is temperamental, and can be disturbed

by "mental" illness, Mentally ill minds also think in parallel, which is why the DSM-V categorizes the parallel universe of the mentally ill into specific diagnosis. I've been there. My mind was like an upset stomach,

burping and farting inappropriate thoughts and suggestions for the intellectual chairman's review.
 

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Btw, below is a philosophical theory about consciousness I've found really interesting.

Yeah, that was interesting. I was already familiar with it, and I believe I've read a paper written by the same person (?) about the same topic before, but it was still an interesting watch. The first time you realize this, it's quite the revelation. Our unexamined intuition is that we see reality exactly as it is, as an accurate, objective 1:1 representation. That's completely false.
 

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I think everyone's thought generator works similarly. Great minds think in parallel, and all that. I think it is important to recognize that the thought generating process is temperamental, and can be disturbed

by "mental" illness, Mentally ill minds also think in parallel, which is why the DSM-V categorizes the parallel universe of the mentally ill into specific diagnosis. I've been there. My mind was like an upset stomach,

burping and farting inappropriate thoughts and suggestions for the intellectual chairman's review.
I think we have to be careful about drawing direct analogies to "physical illnesses" (quotes because even mental illnesses are ultimately physical!) because the causation mechanism is often not analogous.

This is my view of the matter: most (probably not all) mental illness is not caused by anything abnormal occurring in the body. They're simply normal responses to an adverse environment. To say, then, that "mental illness" is like the flu would be incorrect as in the case of the flu, there's an external viral agent; there's a clear abnormality that isn't part of the body's normal functioning. I suppose mental illness would arguably be more analogous to something like diabetes as that is more like a response to an unhealthy environment. You stuff the body with too much of a negative external factor, and its systems break down due to excessive stress. You could argue that mental illness works the same way: you expose the brain to too many external stressors, and its function and therefore the psyche of the person suffers for it.

Nothing abnormal, no endogenous pathology, is actually occurring; it's just that the natural, normal threshold for a certain external factor has been crossed.

So, in a nutshell, my point is that the machine is working as intended, exactly as designed. The machine, even though it seems that way on the surface, is not malfunctioning. It's just reacting normally to the inputs given by the environment. The machine's design could be said to be incompatible with the inputs it's receiving from its surroundings, and that's how its "illness" results in.

But you could object that "So what, coronary artery disease is caused by atherosclerosis, which is primarily caused by poor diet. That doesn't make it any less of a disease. It's normal and expected of the body to react this way". And yeah, that is correct. I guess drawing analogies to non-mental illnesses can be perfectly valid, at least it seems that way to me. But "depression is like the flu" seems incorrect as it's due to a virus, a clear external agent, not due to a slow build up of adverse external factors.

I think in mental illness, the biggest problem is where to draw the line between illness and normality as there is no clear empirical biomarker. Filling questionnaires and rating your mood on a scale from 1 to 5 only goes so far. It's pretty arbitrary. How do you distinguish between ordinary bouts of mental difficulty and "mental illness"?

Well, from this ramble, one thing is clear: I haven't thought this through properly.
 
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