Schrödinger’s Book

neil gaiman maybe


I think this might be from a Neil Gaiman book.  In any case, it’s funny.  To me.

On the other hand, it would send my character Laurel (from Truest) into a manic spiral.  The many-worlds interpretation does not sit so well with her.

Semi-related posts:
Solipsism Syndrome, Anyone?
More Thoughts on Solipsism Syndrome

An Uncertain Framework

I used to get thrown by anything I couldn’t know FOR SURE.

Is real life real life, or am I just dreaming?

Am I going to heaven?

Are my friends really my friends?

What do people really think of me?

Are people even really people?

I mean, completely thrown.  I had no framework for dealing with uncertainty.  And the truth is that a person just cannot live that way.  It’s not how life works.

Now that ERP has re-wired my mind, I am finally able to say, “I’m just going to have to accept that I can’t know” and carry on with life.  I never thought I’d be able to approach such huge things with that kind of statement.  Never. If you’re reading this and think that that is an impossibility for you, please know that I once thought the same.


Related posts:
Narnia and Uncertainty
Uncertainty is the Key
Interview with a Former HOCD Sufferer
No Antidote
Life is Risky Business

dream argument

I could have guessed the tiny Green Lake Library in City Hall wouldn’t have any Billy Collins books.  I asked Janice Boggs, the librarian, to request a few from another branch, then headed out to Legacy House, since Gordon Leimbach had a book collection to rival the library.

“Billy Collins, you say?” he asked.  “I know I have a few of his collections, over there on the middle shelf of the barrister—just go ahead and lift the knob.  The whole glass front panel swings out and tucks right back into the shelf.  See anything there?”

Through the glass fronts of the antique bookcase, I could see the whole thing was dedicated to poetry. Langston Hughes and John Keats.  Calvin Miller.  Robert Frost.  Dickinson and Whitman and Donne.  I saw a few books by Collins, took one off the shelf, then closed the barrister behind me and sat down on Gordon’s couch.  He sat in his rocker and started to pack his pipe.

“Gordon, why do you keep so many books around if you can’t see the pages anymore?”

“They’re just good company,” he said simply.  “Read something aloud, would you?”

I chose a poem called “The First Dream,” which ended with a woman puzzling over her original experience of the phenomenon.  I could hear my voice listing with her as I read:

except that the curve of her young shoulders
and the tilt of her downcast head
would make her appear to be terribly alone,
and if you were there to notice this,

you might have gone down as the first person
to ever fall in love with the sadness of another.

“Brilliant,” said Gordon, pipe now between his teeth, dark glasses on, looking for all the world like some jazz hepcat.  “Mmm.  Brilliant.  Yes?”

“Yes,” I agreed.

“Makes me think of the week on August Arms all about dreams.  Back in, oh, maybe January or February, remember?”

“I do.”  It had been a fascinating week in which I had learned that the faces we see in dreams are all ones we have seen in real life and that those who have gone blind after birth can still dream in images.  Gordon had told me then that his late wife Mavis was the one face that had never faded from his memory after he’d lost his sight.

But Gordon was thinking of a different episode.  “René Descartes’s dream argument,” he said.  “I can’t remember if we discussed it.”

“Briefly,” I said.  “I’m not much of a philosopher.”

Gordon smiled.  “I just find think it’s fascinating, the way people can sort these massive existential topics into numbered statements.  One, if I have experiences in waking life similar to the ones I have in dream life, and two, there is nothing to help me distinguish between the two, then three, it is possible I am dreaming now.”

“Oh, that,” I said, his words prompting a distant recollection.  “I sort of remember that episode.  I guess I never understood why he thought it was so important to go there—you know, to take it that far.”

“Well,” said Gordon, now in his professorial element, “he was trying to establish doubt.  Universal doubt.  You know his famous statement, ‘I think; therefore, I am’?”


“It was all en route to arriving at that point, which we call the Cogito.  If you strip things down and start with the Cogito, then your philosophy—however you re-build it—is not connected to tradition.”

“But is that a good thing?” I asked, doubtfully.  “I’m not so sure.”

Gordon grinned with pride.  “And you say you’re not a philosopher.”

more thoughts on solipsism syndrome

Solipsism syndrome is a psychological state wherein a person feels that the world is not “real.”  It is only marginally related to the philosophical idea of solipsism (only knowing that you yourself exist and having no way to know with certainty that anyone else does).

All of this intrigues me because I myself went through a period of time where I was very detached from real life.  In fact, for a time, I honestly wondered if people were really demons who wanted to somehow trick me into hell.  There was a part of me that knew it was completely ludicrous.  But I couldn’t let go of the idea that I was somehow stuck in my own personal Truman Show hell.  I was withdrawn from everyone, living in fear and distrust, sadness and loneliness.

In my completely unprofessional and completely personal opinion, solipsism syndrome has a large connection to Pure O OCD.  I am writing a story about a young lady with solipsism syndrome, and to me, it just SCREAMS, “Pure O!” over and over.

To me, the key to putting both OCD and solipsism syndrome under one’s foot is learning to embrace uncertainty. 

It sounds so simple, but it’s incredibly hard to do.  Cognitive-behavioral therapy was the tool in my life that helped me to do this.

solipsism syndrome, anyone?

Solipsism syndrome is a condition where a person believes that everything she is experiencing is a dream, is inside her head.  She believes that reality is not real.  She believes that others either don’t exist or that their existence can never be proven.

I have been doing a lot of research on SS lately (for a story I am writing, not because I have been feeling this way), and it is fascinating.

In my wildest OCD days, this idea would sometimes come to me in one variation or another.  Some days I would wonder if everything I had “experienced” up until that point was actually a very intricate dream– and when I finally woke up, I would only be a toddler.

I would imagine that everyone who truly entertains ideas like these must either be Pure O or an astronaut.  But what do I know?

Solipsism syndrome is hard to argue with– the solipsist will always win any debate, because in the end, she can simply dismiss you– since, of course, you don’t really exist.  People affected by this obviously become very withdrawn and experience incredible loneliness.  Some people probably think of this idea and can easily dismiss it (it doesn’t feel like I’m living a dream, so I’m just not going to worry about it), but obsessive-compulsives don’t work like that.  We hold on.  We strangle thoughts.  Or let them strangle us.

So, blogging community, here are my questions for you:
* Have you ever experienced anything like this?  What was it like for you?
* What helped you to feel less alone?
* Care to share some experiences?

Because SS is not recognized as a psychiatric disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, I am relying on human experiences for much of my research!