Mental Imagery

May 6, 2015

Mental imagery is a process of directing one's sense organs commonly used for the exploration of outer (objective) reality, toward one's inner life. It is "..a flow of thoughts we can see, hear, feel, smell, or taste." (Rossman, 1987)

While spoken words are a product of the intellect and can be used to edit, rationalize, fragment, deny, or misrepresent the reality, spontaneously appearing mental images always display a complete and unbroken reflection of one's inner experience. "Images may have a greater capacity than the linguistic mode for the attraction and focusing of emotionally loaded association in concentrated forms: Verbal logic is linear; whereas the image is a simultaneous representation. The quality of simultaneity gives imagery greater isomorphism with the qualities of perception, and therefore greater capacity for descriptive accuracy." (Sheikh, Panagiotou, 1975) In the imaginal reality a person "loses perception of creating the experience" (Brown, 1982), detaches from the outside objective reality, and silences his/her critical judgment. Therefore he/she is free to fully see, feel, and experience the inner reality.

 

"Imagination is the enzyme of the mind, analogous to a physical enzyme that catalyzes a physiological process. The inner mental enzyme speeds up inner transformation by showing us the way and giving us direction." (Epstein, 1994)

 

By discovering images appearing in response to a particular "journey themes" a patient can see his/her belief systems embodied in images. Once the belief system is discovered one can choose to "re-member the adverse images in a new way" (Epstein, 1994) and by doing so alter the emotional memory of particular experiences.

 

For instance, a woman who experienced childhood abuse can use the imagination to "stand up" to her perpetrator. Although her factual memory of the event does not change, her emotional memory of helplessness is transformed into a new emotional memory of self-reliance, courage, and confidence. After the imaginal correction, the woman is less likely to shape her current reality based upon the influences of the past. She has changed her past. With a different past she has a different now.