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ARMs revisited

Upon analyzing the spiritwiki page on ARMs, I thought about the categorization made there between external and internal ARMs.

I think there are some issues with that categorization, so if you think my arguments are fine, think it over.

The last paragraph states:

For LP purposes, we break ARMs down into two general categories, External ARMs and Internal ARMs. External ARMs are defense mechanisms aimed at reducing awareness of things external to the individual, like the behaviour of others, conditions at work, bullying by students/teachers, etc. Internal ARMs are defense mechanisms aimed at reducing awareness of things internal to the individual, like disjunctive shame and guilt, or awareness of complicity, etc.


In my opinion, all ARMs are both, internal and external. It is not possible to categorize them as external or internal - in the way suggested - for they are purpose-specific, and always usable in both "realms" of concern. I was able to think of at least one example for each ARM in both categories, where the ARM could have been categorized in the other category as well.

I'll make some examples to show this. Also, I will suggest a different approach that attempts to simplify (and perhaps also recategorize) ARMs.

So, let's take Compartmentalization first.

Compartmentalization attempts to reduce awareness by placing experiences in certain "boxes" that are tagged in a certain way. The home-experience is tagged "home", the work-experience is tagged "work" etc. Then, each of these tags attach to certain cognitive and emotional values. We could assume that the "home-experience" is full of abuse and neglect, so the box tagged "home" starts to run programs that cope best with the specific situation. Thus, we compartmentalize our lives into a life at home, a life at work, a life at sports, etc. Each of these spaces prompt different programs, attempting to minimize pain. So far so good. I understand why compartmentalization has been placed in the "external" category.

However, consider this. Compartmentalization is a method used by the PU to minimize pain. It is easy to turn the reason for usage of compartmentalization around so that it lies in the "internal" categorization. Compartmentalization attempts to redirect awareness into boxes that are tagged in a certain way. For instance: "While it is probably not good to brainwash the masses, it is for their own good!" This is what a high level Agent of Consciousness would think to himself. By doing this, the personal opinion of himself is being raised. The reason to do this lies solely on the internal part. It is an attempt to pretty one's deeds up, thereby put the own picture in a more favorable light. You might say that this is not compartmentalization, but rather rationalization, but then again, rationalization is on the "external" part. Of course, this behavior is probably prompted due to disjunctive feelings, which would hint towards internal ARMs, but as stated, this example is clearly showing that rationalization/compartmentalization is not necessarily a purely external affair.

Here's another example that focuses more on the exact way how compartmentalization works. Say I'm a father of a child. The child goes to school and comes back with a bad grade. Understanding how important grades are in our society, I beat my child due to its bad grades.  My rationale is this: I know the beatings don't have a good effect on the child, but they are still necessary to ensure a "bright" future for my child. Thus, I beat my child out of concern for its future. The psychological compartmentalization occurs as follows: The fact "Beating my child" is perhaps tagged as bad. That fact is put into Box I. My reason to do so is concern for the child; concern for my child is tagged as good. Thus, my reason for beating my child is put into Box II. Now, Box I is weighed low, while Box II is weighed high. Thus, it is perfectly acceptable for this individual, with the given boxes with given weights to beat its child.

In my opinion, compartmentalization is a very general technique, that develops into several other ARMs. It might be stated that other ARMs are specialized types of compartmentalization. The general purpose of compartmentalization seems to be the minimizing of pain. Since pain is something that requires awareness, there are only two strategies that the PU can follow.

a) redirect awareness. The PU is able to focus attention. By selectively focusing attention to certain things, this automatically means that the limited awareness does not "shine" on the "negatively tagged" things. Compartmentalization is the main method used by the PU to accomplish this. It does this by creating COEXes. COEXes are sets of information tagged in a specific way, that also have boundaries. COEXes are usually created by strong experiences, or a large sum of "weaker" experiences. I will comment on what "strength" of experiences mean shortly. Boundaries are extremely important here. Without boundaries, redirection of awareness would be fruitless.

b) sheer reduction of awareness. To accomplish this, the PU pushes consciousness out of it. Essentially, the RMC is being pushed out of the vehicle. Another way to put this is by visualizing holes in the glass containing consciousness. Consciousness pours out automatically.

The choice of method for compartmentalization is a) redirection of awareness. The PU does this by a) creating a nexus (a COEX) of information tagged in a certain way, b) creating a boundary around it and c) appending any information/experience that comes up to an existent COEX. Next, the COEX receives a weight. Weighing determines how "important"/"sacred" a certain COEX is. COEXes with low weight are considered less important that COEXes with high weight. (Consider Archetypes here. Archetypes are essentially the roots of COEXes. Archetypes are information that are weighed highly. There is a method for weighing. I'll comment shortly on how weighing occurs.)


Tagging is the process of determining the quality of a COEX. The quality of a COEX determines what "flavor" the COEX has. It also determines the types of values that may be attached to the COEX.

Types of Values

Before turning to what weighing is, a short theoretical model is due. I think that the psychological program has different types of values. Let's keep it simple and only assume three types. Cognitive/mental values. Emotional Values. Moral Values. Let's only focus on the first two cognitive and emotional values.

I think that the PU is capable of associating or combining the two types of values. For instance, every memory is made up of a cognitive value, and an attached emotional value. When we remember something, the entire package is called, and we re-experience both, the pure "factual" information (cognitive) and how we felt about it. (obviously, the PU is also able to store purely cognitive information and to recall it, but for the purpose of my argumentation, let's focus on the pairing.)

The basic idea is that weighing occurs based on the emotional value of a given set of information. With respect to weighing, the PU doesn't care one bit about the cognitive information, but cares very much on the attached emotional value. When we experience trauma, a strong emotional value is attached to the cognitive information. When we go to a psychologist, what the psychologist does is to bring us to reevaluate the cognitive information, by changing the attached emotional value. The cognitive information cannot change, for facts remain facts. But the emotional value attached to those facts may very well change. Thus, a change in the emotional value of the information can change how we perceive that information. This is how reconsolidation works in my opinion. Reconsolidation is the re-evaluation/restamping of the emotional value, from a negative one to a neutral or positive one. This also outlines how "triggering" works. Triggers are always such pairs of cognitive and emotional information. I'd categorize memories as having the type "dictionary" - where a key is given a certain value. Dictionaries always have a key (the cognitive information) attached a certain value (the emotional imprint of the experience)


Weighing occurs via the emotional component of a given set of information of the type dictionary. Weighing can be either cognitive-emotional(empiric situations) or cognitive-moral(archetypes, or moral values). Let's focus only on the cognitive-emotional type. Weighing is done by appending the emotional value of a given experience to a certain COEX. This way, COEXes are weighed. The exact cognitive information of the COEX is totally irrelevant here. What counts is only the emotional value of the key-value pair. (Btw. This gives a bit of insight into why our economy turned into an "emotional economy" in the last decades. Psychologists, hired by the marketing corporations figured this out, and implemented it into ads. With great success. Nowadays, you sell emotions, not products. When a product elicits the right emotions, it is more prone to be bought, for the COEXes that they appeal to concern themselves only with the emotional value, and not the key.)

Here's a small suggestion on my part concerning the categorization of ARMs. I'll think about this some more. Right now, it is rather a small reordering than a recategorization. In my eyes, the process of compartmentalization enables many other more specialized ARMs.


  • Perfectionism - when COEX boundaries are extremely strong and compartmentalization prolific. Also, the COEXes are strongly infused with information of the type "moral". (The quality of COEXes may vary, as depicted above under the heading "Tagging".
  • Rationalization - when weighing of functions are made in a way that selectively do the weighing. This way, certain COEXes are weighed highly, others lowly, and thus, just as in the example with the father and child, "justifications" achieved. In fact, all "justifications" are based on the idea of differing weighing on the parts of COEXes. Justifications are by design the act of putting some parts of an information/experience into a lowly weighed COEX, and putting others in a highly weighed COEX. This way, the PU focuses attention/relevance/importance/sacredness on the highly weighed COEX, and thus the information/experience appears to be ok. In essence, rationalization tweaks the interpretation of the experience/information in a way that emphasizes the parts that are tagged "good", and diverts attention from the parts that are tagged "bad". (Notice that here the key-value pair is cognitive-moral.)
  • Distortion - when experiences/information are segmented and put into different COEXes that have different weights. This way, the perception of a given set of information can be modified strongly. This definition shows how distortion and rationalization are related. Rationalization is a type of distortion, that is somewhat weaker. More precisely, rationalization puts part of the information into a weak COEX and part of it into a strong COEX, while distortion can put information into several COEXes of variable weights, in a way that fits the interpretation of the PU best.
  • Dissociation - when the PU decides to minimize all weights of all functions. This way, pain is heavily minimized, for the memories and actions of the PU have no more, or little emotional impact.

Inability to compartmentalize leads to:

  • repression - where experiences are accepted as "they are" and internalized - note that they are not accepted as they truthfully are, but rather how the "interpreter" of the psychological program interprets them.
  • denial - where experiences are negated and externalized
  • projection - where experiences are deflected, thus externalized.


At the moment, many information are constantly flowing in. The idea of associating psychology and programing created a veritable gush of ideas in my head. I'll try to assemble it all and present it as clearly as I can.

This looks good so far. I wonder if we can talk about "externally directed" ARMS to indicate when the organism is trying to compartmentalize external realities (other people's opinions, the realities of our actions) and "internally directed" ARMS to indicate when the organism is trying to compartmentalize internal realites (thoughts, emotions).

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I wonder if we can talk about "externally directed" ARMS to indicate when the organism is trying to compartmentalize external realities (other people's opinions, the realities of our actions) and "internally directed" ARMS to indicate when the organism is trying to compartmentalize internal realites (thoughts, emotions).

I think the categorization external and internal is super useful. ARMs do have a specific purpose. And that purpose is prompted either by external factors (what on the spiritwiki is termed external ARMs), internal factors (what on the spiritwiki is termed internal ARMs), or both at the same time. My phrasing here attempts to show that only the reasons that prompt the ARMs can be internal or external, not the ARMs themselves. ARMs, as I perceive them, don't care whether the input (in their program) comes from inside or from the outside.

Moreover, categorizing ARMs into the two categories internal and external provides the feeling that external ARMs are not used internally, and vice versa. As I tried to show, I think all ARMs work on both parts.

If we wanted categories, I would suggest to categorize the ARMs via their (functional) workings. We ask ourselves: what do these ARMs do? (I know this external and internal has the same purpose 🙂 )

For instance:

compartmentalization ramifies into

  • perfectionism (probably not an ARM, but frankly, I already experienced ppl using it as an ARM)
  • rationalization
  • distortion
  • for sure some more

The common basis is that in all of these ARMs the same technique is being used. Segmentation of information, putting them in different COEXes that have different weights attached to them.


I wrongly put it into the group of compartmentalization. Here, it seems to me, all weights of all COEXes is being reduced drastically, leading to the typically aloof and disconnected behavior. Low weights on all COEXes means that the individual is not "triggered" by absolutely anything in any way.

Thus, the way this particular function works seems to be simply lowering all weights. (or reducing the ability of the PU to experience emotional information in general)


I need to think about this one more.




Do you mind editing the SpiritWiki entry on arms to reflet the idea that ARMs are all internal, but they can be externally focussed or internally focussed.

As for categorization, we need to scan a complete list of "Defense mechanisms" and use that as a jumping off point for categorization We may be able to use such a list verbatim, or we (and by we I mean you) recategorize or rethink.I would think this categorization would be the first step towards developing a conceptualization around weighting and coexes.

Functionally, an ARM is always about reducing psychological, emotional, and physical pain (basic Freud) caused directly by assault (other people's actions on you),  or indirectly by disjuncture. Strategically, how do they do that. That would be categorization you are looking at.

Check out this

As a basic framework. in this schema, ARMs would be a subclass of defense mechanisms. which would also include survival responses, or programs. ARM would be "strategies" the organism uses to reduce pain.

So, in addition to editing the SP wntry on ARMs slighly, maybe you could write up a 1200 word statement of this basic schema. This schema would

DM definition and purpose (to reduce pain, survive)

ARMS Definition (subclass of defense mechanisms involving information of truth/understanding, or whatever).

ARMS Classification, according to strategy the organism uses.

Are you game for this. Make it very terse and to the fact, like something you'd find in the DSMV. We can port it to the SpiriWiki and maybe figure out where to put something like that on this site.



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I encountered several problems with the task, which is why I decided to create a framework that I understand. (I had trouble associating DMs with ARMs frankly. There was also the problem that ARMs are not necessarily reducing awareness as I've found.)

Here is a basic framework for Defense Mechanisms.

Defense Mechanisms

Frankly, it is very difficult for me to draw a line between DMs and any program that is not a DM. Even a program that prompts for curiosity can be framed as a DM, for curiosity may contribute to the survival of a species.

How about the following categorization that makes use of an environment-dependent scale. The two poles shall be defined as HARSH environment to BENEVOLENT environment. The psychological system keeps track of the type of environment the PU finds itself in and goes into specific modes, depending on what it finds. When the environment is harsh, then Survival Mode is activated. When the environment is benevolent, Growth Mode is activated. There is no clear-cut line between the several modes the PU can enter in, meaning the modes are flowing into each other.

Survival Mode - Deprivation Mode - Sustainability Mode - Growth Mode.

Harsh Environment ------ Everything in between ------ Benevolent Environment

Depending on what mode the PU is in, different types of programs run. I put - more or less randomly - four types of programs that DMs can employ, depending on the modes they operate upon. I put the programs in descending level of rigidity. The lower the program, the more adaptable it is to its environment. The harsher the environment, the more rigid the programs employed become.

- hard coded programs
- soft coded programs
- adaptability programs
- excelling programs


Mode:                 Survival Mode - Deprivation Mode - Sustainability Mode   -   Growth Mode

Program Type:    Hard Coded     -  Soft Coded       - Adaptability Programs  -  Excelling Programs

Environment:   Harsh Environment    -    Everything in between    -  Benevolent Environment

Relative Priority:         High                 -                 Middle                  -              Low


Hard Coded Programs are programs that respond to life-threatening situations. (Survival Responses on the spiritwiki)
Soft Coded Programs are programs that respond to deprivation and work on long-term solutions to problems. (ARMs on the spiritwiki)
Adaptability Programs are programs that enable the PU to fit into its environment well. As such, they attempt to eradicate the need for defense in general. (ARMs)
Excelling Programs are programs that enable the PU to grow. (Programs enabling Peak Experiences, rapid rate of learning, excelling at any given occupation)

Notice that the more "flexible" a program is, the less it functions as a response to its direct environment. (Despite its clear dependency on a good environment). With other words, excelling programs can only run when the PU assesses its surroundings as benevolent, so that it doesn't need to care one yota about diverting resources towards defense of any sort.
Also note that Defense Mechanisms described this way at least, eventually flow into programs that have nothing to do with "defense" of any sort, which is why it is difficult/ not feasable to single DMs out without putting them into the bigger picture.

This framework works well with the entirety of the LP corpus I think. Also, it captures the relation of DMs and ARMs well. There is a dire need to extend and refine the terms, giving them proper definitions etc. but I think that this framework will do well. What do you think?


The second problem I encountered was the following.

After copious thinking, I'm fairly certain that ARMs do NOT reduce awareness. Most mechanisms on the SW page on ARMs control/direct awareness. We could term these mechanisms ADMs (Awareness Directing Mechanisms),or ACMs (Awareness Controling Mechanisms).

Here are the reasons for my conclusion.

The general purpose of ARMs is to enhance survivability by reducing pain. With respect to ARMs, there are two solutions how the psychological system could possibly achieve this.

a) Reduction of Awareness
b) Controling of Awareness.

When Awareness is reduced, then obviously, the pain subsides, because the PU is not aware of it after the reduction. Reducing the awareness of pain is important, for it reduces stress levels of the organism.

However, there is a more sophisticated and elegant way to achieve the same outcome. Instead of reducing awareness, the psychological system can also control/direct it selectively. It directs awareness selectively onto pleasant things and directs it away from unpleasant things. Thus, instead of lowering the CQ of the PU, this technique retains the CQ, while simultaneously reducing pain greatly, because the awareness of the PU is being channeled onto the pleasant stuff. The end result is the same with respect to the reduction of pain, with the difference that a higher CQ is retained. I assume here that retaining a higher CQ is beneficial for the organism, and I feel this assumption is valid - from a biological perspective, as well as a spiritual perspective. When compared, it seems to me that ACMs/ADMs are by far the more favorable approach in comparison to ARMs for the psychological system, if it has the option to chose. Why reduce awareness when it can also retain it and achieve the same outcome? i.e. lower psychological pain. Additionally, it is possibly reducing pain more greatly than with brute reduction of awareness.

Techniques employed by ACM/ADM

After thinking it through, I found exactly two strategies that ACMs/ADMs employ.

  • Canalization of Awareness
    • Canalization of Awareness employs parsing the information into different COEXes and employs differentiated weighing.
  • Information Positioning
    • Information Positioning makes use of the limited awareness a PU has, and manipulates the placement of information in order to minimize awareness of painful realities.

That is it. All mechanisms described in the SW page on ARMs can be described as employing one of these two mechanisms, or both. It is also not necessary to make any other assumptions for any of the mechanisms, for they don't seem to employ any other technique except the two mentioned above. It is also possible to relate to any possible psychopathology using the above framework. As far as I analyzed, psychopathologies were describable/explainable with this approach.

I think it is best to put down how these two techniques are being employed in all of the ARMs. I will do this in my next post. I already described both techniques in my other post in "Psyche as a Program".

Tell me what you think.

I didn't want to make any changes, because as you can see, the changes could become bigger than anticipated.

Some thoughts.

DM - ARMS are a defense mechanism. Just a subclass seperated out to focus on.

I think we should theorize the modes around the Seven Basic Needs, for theoretical consitency.  When needs are met, one is in Growth Mode. When needs are not met, one is in Deficiency Mode. When one is under immediate threat, one enters Survival Mode. Does Sustainability Mode occur once growth, alignment, and connection occur? That would imply all essential needs are met.

I think the environmental scale moves from

Toxic Evironment----Everything in between -- Healthy Environment

Simply for terminological consistency

The key being the extent to which the organisms essential needs can be met. Toxic environments involve scarcity or, as in the case of toxic human society, the deliberate thwarting of essential needs in order to handicap the individual and make them into a suitable peon in The System

I'm not sure about the typology of programs, the distinction between hard and soft coding. I think what happens is that under threat or neglect (of needs), survival programs which reside in lower centers of the brain are invoked. I think when needs are met, the neocortext takes over and develops. A healthy neocortex leads to the ability to think and process, which is what you are referring to in the soft coded programs. Not everything about the PU is a "program." There's nothing programatic about this interaction, is there? Programs are most salient at lower levels of function where they "take over" function from the cortex. I think I once used the example of seeing a lion on the serengetti. A connected neocortex might want to pause and admire the beauty of the beast. But the amygdalla and lower centers sense threat and "take over," invoking survival algorythyms (fear/run). Maslow spoke about D-mode and B-mode. Deficiency mode and Being Mode. Being mode strikes me as not involving PU programming at all, being aligned and connected to the RMC, and circumventing all but the most basic autonomic programming of the PU.

As for reduction of awareness. I don't think high CQ is always beneficial, and let's remember, the brain can be damaged. Low CQ may contribute to survival when the organism experiences chronic exploitation and oppression (sweatshop). I've worked with some pretty damaged people and they seem to work overtime to avoid being aware of things. You an see their attempts to reduce awareness in real time.

I'm not sure there is a difference between awareness "direction" and "control". Both are aimed at reducing awareness, no?

so what we have

Toxic Evironment----Everything in between -- Healthy Environment

Programatic Function----------------------------Non Programatic Function



Maybe we have ARMs, but

1) arms that reduce awareness

2) arms that canalize awareness

3) arms that position awareness.



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Guys - hope you don't mind me interjecting here!

Can either of you say anything about what what "growth mode" or "sustainability mode" means?

thanks May the people of this world be free.

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