Please first read the summary in
The Habitual Ruts of Security and Pleasure

Animal Identity

Animal identity is based on inner-body feeling. Their relationship with the world is experienced and understood by a wide variety of physical sensory abilities.

In addition, most animals have an unquestionable sense of belonging in their territory, with their partners and in their social groups.

The Human Animal

Modern day humans sense themselves and the world around them, quite differently to other animals. We secured our survival, by learning to focus with our eyes and ears, and by being clever and creative with our minds.

This was a new level of being in, and understanding the world. A level of making connections between abstract ideas.

Abstract Security

Over time, we encountered a new form of insecurity in our new abstract world. Was the moon chasing the sun and why? What was the meaning of thunder and lightning? What happened to people when they die?

And as we developed Gods to believe in, the relationship between individuals, their groups, and the whole universe, became secure or at least negotiable.

Ancient cultures were bound together by their creation stories and after death beliefs. Beliefs gave our lives meaning, they became the priority for our sense of reality, purpose, and even hope. In short, our beliefs became our central focus points.

And it felt so good to know who and why we were, that generations of children were reassured as we retold our culture's stories.

Cultures passed ideas and customs down through thousands of generations. And up to a few hundred years ago, even though humans were often hungry and cold, we lived with a social consensus of ideas, beliefs and opinions. We were psychologically secure and safe.

Each individual culture was secure in its unique habitual ruts. And any comparison with neighbouring cultures and their stories, merely reconfirmed each cultures' individual identity.

And it really didn't matter much if we all believed we were living on the back of the Great Turtle, or, that the stars were the children of the sun and the moon – because for our sense of reality, the confirmation of the tribe was more important than the truth.

We didn't need to prove that honey tastes good, and we didn't need anyone else's opinion about if fire is hot. But, in our abstract world, the only way to confirm thoughts is with another being who understands such abstract thoughts.

It's worth stopping there to digest that for a moment. The confirmation of the tribe was always far more important than the truth. And the untruth has often produced an emotionally gratifying experience – usually in terms of a sense of social belonging.

Though not perfect, the traditional belief systems worked well enough for the survival of the species, until, notably around the 1,600s, when groups of individuals started asking rebellious political and religious questions.

The story is well documented in history books, and too long for me to tell here. The Anthropological Timeline - Globalisation touches on the subject.

Abstract Insecurity Again

Since the 1,600s with the questioning of traditional beliefs, came the development of freedom of thought and a multiplicity of modern beliefs.

Until these days, in the "Western" world, any animal sense of belonging is long gone, and now we have even lost the unquestioned beliefs of our tribe: a group of at least 30 people who all believe, unquestioningly, in the same things – with no-one around who disagrees.

Beliefs, ideas, and opinions, used to unite local cultures; now, in our global community they divide us.

Our modern liberal thinking to socially integrate and contain the diversity of beliefs – rather than infallible rulers forcing a consensus of ideas – is a great step for civilisation.

But, respect for someone else's beliefs, even rejoicing in the variety of modern beliefs, is only a shadow of the mutual, united, unquestioned confirmation of all the members of an entire local social group.

Belief in Ourselves

In this modern world, each individual must find psychological security in their own abstract truths.

And there are so many choices in the modern world, how can we decide what to believe?

Some follow old traditions, others politics, spirituality, or the local football club. Many have a common belief in work, play and family. Many follow others who do seem to believe in themselves.

The Lack of Confirmation

But these days there simply isn't enough mutual confirmation to go around, and there never can be.

The lack of confirmation, on an individual and cultural level, is a constant background insecurity – it's causing worry and suffering in a way that no animal or early human could ever imagine.

We are now facing a form of collective psychological insecurity, which no species or any previous culture has ever experienced.

We are often in denial about our psychological insecurity, but remember the self questioning which most modern children experience around puberty. In previous times we were materially insecure, but we knew who we were.

This is an enormous social change and it has taken place within 2 or 3 generations. It is a recent, common, extremely uncomfortable, cultural habitual rut. And it's become its own cause, always generating more of itself. It's exponential.

Regardless our modern material security, we feel mentally insecure – and even if a few successful "winners" living in ivory towers and cloud cuckoo land don't notice it – this general feeling in society is a realistic feeling... it exists... it is nothing which can be psychoanalysed away.


After an astounding million-year-long history of focusing with our thoughts and senses for our survival, our human survival strategy has reached a point of critical overload.

Focusing requires focal points. This is nothing philosophical, it's just so automatic that we don't recognise it. Consequently we also don't recognise that now we are overfocusing.

We are collectively suffering the effects of displacement behaviour. This is an illness all animals suffer when they feel insecure. The illness is typified by over-compensation with habitual but inappropriate, sometimes self-destructive activities.

Please continue with Displacement Activity

Back to Chapter Three : Civilisation's Habitual Ruts
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