People with narcissistic tendencies often have what’s called a poor ‘reality test’. A reality test is the ability to accurately assess actual entities and events outside one’s private inner world. In well-adjusted individuals, this testing is done continuously as a way to ensure that our inner world of experience and outer environment are calibrated and synchronized. This is obviously a basic need for physical and social survival. For we need to know what is really going on around us in order to avoid dangers and exploit opportunities.
When the real world proves too painful and too scary, however, a young child may learn to defend against threats by retreating from the real world into a private, confabulated world. Depending on the constitution of the child and on how unpleasant the real world is to them, the degree to which they dissociate from reality varies. If the dissociation is severe, then the child may grow to prefer their inner world over the outer world, and furthermore, may even come to consider their inner world as real or more real than the outer world altogether. As a result, their ability to ‘reality-test’ becomes compromised. What is real? What is reality? When the outer world and inner world are in conflict, and when the outer world feels dangerous and the inner world safe, which one is the child likely to prefer as his ‘real’ world anyway, regardless of any results gained from an outer-world reality test?
To some degree, this probably happens to most if not all children. However, an interesting situation arises when a child never grows out of this condition, i.e. that their inner self-created world remains as real to them as the outer world. It can be quite confusing: what works in the inner reality doesn’t work in the outer and vice versa! Such an individual suffers profoundly from failures of his magical thinking to play out in the real world as he imagined it would. Much to his dismay, his periodic reality tests routinely prove grossly inaccurate.
I am/was such a child.
To a mind like mine, the relationship between the outer ‘real’ world and my inner ‘make-believe’ world is not fixed and rigid. It is fluid and dynamic. I do allow the facts and rules of the real world to regulate my fantasies, but only to a certain extent. I borrow the fixed facts and rigid rules of the outer world as the raw material of my fantasies but then modify them accordingly. Conversely, I deploy the ‘facts’ and ‘rules’ of my make-believe world against the facts and rules of the outer world. I marshal my inner world to put pressure on the outer world in order for it to change. It turns out this outer world is stubbornly resistant to change, and not only that, will punish and even kill the one who tries to change it! But my inner world is just as stubborn as that, if not more so – stubborn enough to change the World.
In the journal entry below, from January 29, 2016, I briefly describe a vision I had for the future of the Ik language. The vision is fairly unrealistic and rather unlikely to happen. But it could happen, and that’s enough for me. My confidence springs from the undying belief that hopeful possibility is one of the threads with which our universe is being woven.
The quandary people like me find ourselves in is that we are in the minority. The vast majority of people more or less conform to the facts of the outer real world, and their sheer power in numbers prevents change-makers from easily making a change. Perhaps one day in the future, a critical mass of humanity will wake up to the fact that we are co-creators with the Universe/God and can create the futures we envision. Once this threshold is crossed, the so-called ‘real world’ will no longer be so fixed and rigid because it will no longer be legitimized and protected – consciously or unconsciously – by a conforming majority. Instead, reality will become an entrepreneurial one: individuals and smallish clusters of individuals freely and joyfully creating myriad mini-realities across the globe.
Yesterday morning I had a vision, as Amber called it, ‘wishful thinking’. The day before, I gave J.M. my map of East African languages. The way Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, and Ethiopia were split up had the Ik language area right smack-dab at the center, like a heart. I told J.M., “Look, Ik is the heart, the /gúrêd/, of East Africa!” “Gúréda nébed,” he replied – ‘its heart indeed’.
By virtue of its location, not only at a geometric center but near the geographic nexus of four nations, Ik is set up to be a ‘heart’. Moreover, by its linguistic composition, the language carries within it the history of these same nations. Of course all languages do that, but judging by the scholarly ambivalence over its classification, Ik does so uniquely….
In light of this, I want to re-devote myself…to developing the Ik language into a vehicle suitable for the full range of human life in the 21st century. As I continue to work on its linguistics, I will pray for the practical applications to take place: teaching in school, radio, art, music, poetry, etc., etc.
The crazy dream part of this is that I imagine Ik becoming a prestigious language in the region, possibly even a language of wider communication for this area and maybe even East Africa. It is, after all, eminently suitable for the task, as not only does it contain traces of the great Afroasiatic and Nilo-Saharan stocks but it also borrows readily from English, Swahili, and the Teso-Turkana languages.
There is at least a fantastically small chance that the love, devotion, and labor I have put into the language could have the far-reaching effects of preserving (at least), promoting, growing, establishing, and conferring great dignity upon the language….
True, this [vision] is wishful thinking, but I have no problem with that. We need to dream BIG for a BIG god. I may not live to see Icetod become a powerful regional language – and it indeed it may never – but now that I have dreamt this dream, I have created a world in the psychic realm that cannot be erased and has inherent possibility for realization.
Thinking → enacting into a better, brighter future for all of us.