4 thoughts on “Suppose You Could Know Exactly What Other People Were Thinking and Feeling: Would You Want to?

  • October 30, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    I strongly agree with all of what you had to write in today’s blog entry, Dr. DePaulo. Living in a world in where my thoughts would be knowable to anyone is something that I think would be an absolute nightmare, one that I think would in some ways be similar to having to contend with some types of symptoms that are on the psychosis spectrum (as I have). Most of those who’ve had the impression (albeit false) that others can read their thoughts seem to describe the experiences that they’ve had with thinking that they communicate with others telepathically as disturbing and unhelpful. I’ll admit that the (false) idea that others could communicate with me telepathically seemed to be rather enticing at first. However, I later came to conclude that even if we could figure out a way to allow ourselves to know exactly what others are thinking and perhaps feeling and do it accurately (and it usually wasn’t accurate for me when I had the impression that I could know others’ thoughts as part of a psychotic experience), it wouldn’t ever be my business to know exactly what anybody else is thinking or feeling, and having an ability to access the thoughts and feelings of others beyond being able to guess at these things from reading body language would be far more harmful than helpful to us as a species. It’s my opinion that we were created to be the way that we are (which would include not being able to know the thoughts and feelings of others beyond what we might be able to guess at by reading body language) for good reasons, and I think that you did a good job of explaining many of the reasons why trying to use technology to change ourselves in ways that a few might think would be better for us would be an awful idea.

  • October 31, 2017 at 11:00 am

    Add literal computer-assisted mind reading to the current culture of social media abuse and near constant use of smart phones and the whole idea of a personal self is pretty much dead.

    All the Star Trek series are currently free on Amazon Prime, so I’ve been watching a lot more Star Trek than I normally would and can’t help thinking of the Borg (a totalitarian culture trapped in a technologically generated collective mind).

  • November 1, 2017 at 11:07 am

    And then, maybe if something of this sort happened (and as you say, it would be far from perfect, and people would soon become aware of how imperfect it was), all that would happen is that people would adapt to it, the same we have adapted to all sorts of innovations. I mean, would you have wanted to be reachable for a talk anywhere, from anyone that knows you? Maybe not, but that’s where mobile phones took us.

  • November 1, 2017 at 11:32 am

    A very provocative topic and as a clinician of 40+ years, I rely a great deal on transference and countertransference to provide meaningful information about clients. Long ago, I learned how to turn this off in social situations as it would become data overload. Except in psychotherapy, I don’t want to know. I don’t use any social platforms only professional ones. Its my impression that on SP’s persons feel freer to express their ID!

    And I’m a big fan of Goffman. I’ve incorporated particularly his concept of “mortification” into my formulation of the deconstruction of a self and collection of selves into my model. In this model, I refer to mortification as psychosocial death, and I have two published articles in this regard on Brain Blogger.

    Thanks a lot for your article,
    Rich, MSW


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