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Mental Relativity Basics

by Melanie Anne Phillips

Excerpted from the
Mental Relativity Book

In 1980, Chris Huntley and I had just finished making a low budget movie based on our original screenplay. Quite frankly, it was awful! Much of the blame for this lay with our dysfunctional story. We both had a strong desire to write another, better script, yet had no idea what was actually wrong with the first one, nor how we could learn from it.

Early one morning, perhaps two a.m., the two of us were working late in a small office I had behind my house. One of us (we don't remember who) suggested that we compare our story to other well-written stories of a similar genre in the hope of uncovering some truisms we might apply to our next project. This began an investigation into the meaning and mechanism of story that lasted fifteen years.

The results of our work became a book, Dramatica: A New Theory Of Story, and the dramatic algorithms we discovered were implemented into a revolutionary piece of software, also called Dramatica. Although Dramatica deals solely with understanding and creating stories, one aspect of the theory suggested the possibility of psychological implications as well.

According to Dramatica, every complete story represents a model of a single human mind dealing with an inequity. In other words, each story is not just about the characters in it, but in fact, characters, theme, plot, and genre, represent different families of thought and collectively form a model of the human mind itself. We called this model the Story Mind.

Historically, many theorists had sought to establish a link between story and psychology. This resulted in a number of philosophies built around archetypes and myths. What made our concept unique was the view that archetypes and myths were only aspects of the mind, and the entire story must be taken into account if one was to construct a complete cognitive and affective model.

That alone would have been a fine contribution to the field, yet Chris and I were not content. We felt that as long as this new model of psychology remained mired in its story origins, it would never be accepted as a scientifically based theory. So, while continuing to develop Dramatica, both Chris and I gave considerable attention to the problem of presenting what we had learned as a theory in its own right.

Eventually, we succeeded in developing a complete theory of mind that stretches from lower-level neurology to higher level psychology, and more important, answers the questions, "What is mind?" and "How does self-awareness work?"

Once we had filled in the last details, Chris was personally satisfied that we had found the answers we had sought. I, on the other hand, became increasingly discontent in that we had not made these insights publicly available. Hence, the creation of this book.

Mental Relativity: A New Theory Of Mind presents the most powerful of our original discoveries and also offers a number of my personal areas of interest which I have gone on to develop on my own. It is not my purpose, in this book, to argue for Mental Relativity or its concepts. I simply offer these pages as a document of what has been discovered in the hope that others more qualified than ourselves might be inspired by these thoughts to new insights in their own fields of expertise.

In conclusion, it is with great pleasure, and an even greater sense of relief, that I present a view of the human mind as seen through theory of Mental Relativity.

Melanie Anne Phillips
Burbank, California
March, 1996

Chapter One:

Mental Relativity Basics

The theory of Mental Relativity touches on four broad areas:

  • Brain
  • Mind
  • Society
  • Environment
  • Each of these areas serves as a major section in this book. This chapter provides a brief description of the essential concepts covered in each. Armed with this overview, you need not read this book in order, but can easily jump to any chapter in any section with all the preliminary information required.

The Brain

What follows is not meant to necessarily represent the actual physiology of the brain, but should be used as a model of the dynamic functions present in the brain.

Mental Relativity is concerned with two principal aspects of the brain: neurology and biochemistry. It is the contention of the theory that self-awareness in not found in either aspect, but in the relationship between the two. Further, each of these two aspects consists of two distinct systems.

Neurology can be divided into the neural networks of the ganglia and the overall network of neurons that connect the ganglia and respond to sensory stimulation. In other words, in the brain are little neural networks called ganglia that contain several thousand tightly interconnected neurons. In addition, there is a network of neurons that carry signals between ganglia and also carry sensory information.

Biochemistry can be divided into the localized mix of neurotransmitters in each individual ganglion and the general mix of neurotransmitters in the brain as a whole. In other words, each ganglion has its own micro-climate zone of neurotransmitters that most strongly influences (and is influenced by) the activity of that particular neural network. In addition, the biochemistry of the brain as a whole reflects the collective influence of the larger network of neurons that connects the ganglia and handles sensory information.

If this was the extent of it, the whole system would be binary, and insufficient to describe the actual functioning of the mind. In fact, the local biochemistry of each ganglion slowly assimilates into the larger biochemistry of the brain as a whole. Simultaneously, the biochemistry of the whole brain infiltrates each ganglion, providing a stabilizing and averaging effect.

In a like manner, the processing of the neural network in each ganglion will have an influence on the information sent between ganglia by the larger network. Simultaneously, the data flow of the larger network and influence, trigger, and inhibit the operations of an specific ganglion.

As a result of these four kinds of interactions, each of the four aspects of the brain's physiology has a different kind of influence on each of the other three. The whole brain neurology directly influences the whole brain biochemistry and the triggering of the neural networks in the ganglia. It indirectly influences the micro-climate zone in each ganglia through its effect on the neural network and its effect on the whole brain biochemistry.

The whole brain biochemistry directly influences the whole brain neural network and the micro-climate zone of each ganglion. It indirectly influences the processing of each ganglion's neural network.

The neural network of each ganglion directly influences the micro-climate zone of biochemistry in that ganglion and the signals sent from that ganglion across the larger whole brain network. It indirectly influences the biochemistry of the brain as a whole.

The micro-climate zone of each ganglion directly influences the processing of that ganglion's neural network and the biochemistry of the brain as a whole. It indirectly influences the firing of the whole brain neural network.

It is a contention of Mental Relativity that the four aspects of the brain account for our perceiving the four external dimensions of Mass, Energy, Space, and Time, and that the four interactions account for our perceiving four internal dimensions of Knowledge, Thought, Ability, and Desire (explored in the major section on the brain).

Because each of these areas is influenced by each of the others, neither linear nor non-linear models can fully describe the mechanism. In fact, a complete model of the mind requires, linear, hierarchical, non-linear, and ultimately relativistic equations. It is for this reason this theory of mind has been named Mental Relativity.

The Mind

The Mind is a machine made of time. It must be in motion to exist. The mind does not exist in the physical world, but as a result of the physical world. Taking this all together, think back to a time when you drifted away on some mental tangent until suddenly you were jolted back to "reality", and you realized that several minutes had passed unnoticed. During that lost period, your mind simply did not exist for it had ceased to be in motion. The moment some external stimulus triggered a response, however, the physical nature of the four aspects of your brain re-created your mind more or less as it was when it ceased.

More precisely, it was not your whole mind that ceased to exist in the example above. Rather, it was only that quality of the mind called self-awareness. In fact, there are four areas of the mind that are related much as the four aspects of the brain are related. They are: Conscious, Memory, Subconscious, and Pre-conscious. Self-awareness is the synthesis of these four areas of the mind.

The four areas of the mind are not as simple as the four aspects of the brain. Each aspect of the brain has its own unique kind of process, and is also influenced in unique ways by the processes of the other three. In a sense, each aspect of the brain has it's own Memory, which consists of the state of it's process at any given moment, for that is indicative of all that has happened to it up to the moment. Also, each aspect of the brain has its own Subconscious for that indicates the direction or iteration of the process. Each has a pre-conscious that indicates the momentum or inertia of the process. And each has a consciousness, which is its response to the collective influence of the other three.

Self-awareness, then, is a complex synthesis of the four areas of the mind, each of which is itself a synthesis of one portion of each of the four aspects of the brain. This model is explained in much greater detail in the essays appearing in the major section on the mind.

Even with all this complexity, for a machine made of time, the above description sounds rather static. This is because we have described the processes of the mind as objects - standing waves that represent an interference pattern caused by dissimilar systems, each interacting in a larger system.

There is also a progressive nature to the mind as it evolves, changes, learns, and adapts. Understanding this requires a different side of the Mental Relativity model. Let us think of a single neuron as an empty pipe that could hold 10 billiard balls from one end of the pipe to the other. Every time this neuron were stimulated it would receive one more billiard ball. Eventually, the pipe would become filled to its capacity of 10. If one more stimulation occurred, the new billiard ball would enter the pipe and the one at the other end would pop out. This is a model of a binary aspect of the mind.

Now, add to this model that the pipe is made of rubber, and is coated on the inside with oil. If this pipe had only one billiard ball in it, it might take a whole day, but eventually the billiard ball would slide out the bottom, even without any additional stimulation from above. If two billiard balls were present, the combined weight might make the first ball drop out in only half a day. With the maximum capacity of ten billiard balls, it might take only a few minutes. In other words, even without additional stimulation, this model of a neuron would spontaneous fire on its own, shedding itself of its built up potential. How quickly it would fire would depend upon the degree of previous stimulation. The information contained in the neuron would have a half-life.

Next, let us add a temperature control to the room in which the pipe hangs. When the room is hotter, the oil in the pipe is thinner and the billiard balls drop out more quickly. When the room is colder, the oil is thicker and the billiard balls take longer to fall through. What if the temperature in the room was controlled by the frequency in which new balls were added to the pipe: more balls = a hotter temperature, fewer balls = a lower temperature. In this case, the greater the stimulation, the greater the speed of the balls through the pipe. But even if the stimulation stops for a while, it takes time for the room to cool down. So, even if the pipe is currently empty, but the room is still hot, a single ball of stimulation will slide right through. The intensity of the previous stimulation is "remembered" by the temperature of the room and creates a learned pathway through the pipe that favors experience at the expense of observation. This is, in truth, more than a model of a neuron - it is a simple model of the basic relationship between neurology and biochemistry.

Now, imagine that there are many pipes in the room. The output from the first pipe falls into a second pipe. The second pipe's output falls into a third, and so on. Imagine that each pipe has a funnel at the top and a sprayer at the bottom so that a single pipe's input might come from several other pipes and its output might go to several. Add to this a second kind of billiard ball that lowers the room temperature, instead of raising it (like neurotransmitters that are exciters or inhibitors).

Put this whole model together and you get a very complex synthesis, indeed - one in which recursive, self-sustaining patterns are possible, and one in which ripples of force might occur. In such a system, standing wave patterns might occur and be relatively stable in the short run, yet change over time. In addition, a single pattern might hold its integrity, yet not be anchored in one place. Such a pattern of standing waves might flow through the system, reflect off the sides, invert, or collide with another pattern. When standing waves remain anchored in one place, consideration is not occurring and self-awareness ceases to exist. When the standing wave patterns are in motion, consideration (of one of the forms mentioned) is occurring, and self-awareness exists.

Clearly, from this simply analogy, a very complex model can be derived that, on the surface, reflects the observable dynamics of the human mind. This model is developed in much greater detail in the complete section on Psychology.


Imagine that to begin with, there was only one sex. This was because there was only one kind of mind. This mind had no space nor time sense, and was only aware of mass and energy. A brain that would develop such a mind would have no ganglia, but only a single whole brain neural network and its attendant biochemistry.

As creatures with brains of this limited nature evolved, those with greater processing capacity survived to pass on that quality down the evolutionary line. It may be that this would occur with organisms that had but a handful of brain cells. As long as the cells constituted a single neural network in a single biochemistry, a minimal system of response would exist. There would be memory, for this kind of brain could learn (based on the billiard ball example in the section above). There would also be pre-conscious, for this kind of brain would allow the organism to habituate or sensitize to various stimuli over time. There would not be, however, a subconscious or conscious, as there was no spatial or temporal capacity to anticipate or put things in context.

When it came to survival situations where context or anticipation would increase the odds, this simple organism could not take advantage of them. But, through random variation, it is not unlikely that some mutated variety of brain might develop more than one neural network, and in so doing, enjoy two new dimensions of awareness: space sense and time sense.

At this stage, the creature's mind would be perfectly balanced between the two appreciations. Through natural variation, a creature might develop lobes of the brain that favored space and time appreciations respectively. So, although it could now employ experience and apply it to the future, when situations arose where the context was at odds with anticipation, the creature's mind would go into brain-lock. This poor organism could not longer respond to immediate stimuli, and was trapped between what the bigger picture of surroundings indicated versus what the progressive direction indicated. Like a deer, frozen in the headlights of a car, this early thinking machine would stand in the road until it was run over, or more likely, eaten.

Through random mutation, some creatures might have more or simply more efficient neurons when it came to producing excitatory neurotransmitters or inhibitionary neurotransmitters. (Both are natural requirements for the model explained in the section above.) Those that had more exciters favored the neurology. Those that had more inhibitors favored the biochemistry. As a result, these minds were no longer balanced, but could actually pay more attention, with more accuracy to one appreciation or the other.

The downside of this kind of split, is that while more attention is being placed in one direction, it is being deprived from another direction. So, each kind of mind could be "blind-sided" in the area it saw less clearly that its adversary. Those creatures that tended to group together in binary pairs, would have a greater chance of survival than an unbalanced individual alone. Each could see clearly into the other's blind side, and together they could peer more deeply into space and time, context and anticipation, than any single organism could by itself.

The more specialized the minds of the bonded pair became, the more successful the survival value. But, of course, this required the organisms to be attracted to one another, for if they were not, their line died out in favor of those that were. Spatial and temporal creatures became attracted and bonded together for survival.

The mechanism for attraction was sensory stimulation that indicated an opposing bias in neurotransmitter production. The sex hormones Testosterone and Estrogen each have an impact on the production of neurotransmitter. Testosterone triggers the creation of more exciter neurotransmitters (such as Seratonin). Estrogen triggers the creation of more inhibitor neurotransmitters (such as Dopamine). In addition, each ganglion of the brain has "L" cells and "R" cells, which are suspected of producing exciters and inhibitors.

Let's jump ahead to the human species and see where things ended up. At the twelfth to fourteenth week of pregnancy, a flush of Testosterone either floods the brain of the developing fetus or it doesn't. If it does, for a two week period the brain is bathed in exciters. If it doesn't, the brain is bathed in a greater ratio of inhibitors. This hormone wash affects the production efficiency of the L and R cells. During this time, the lifetime efficiency of these two kinds of cells is established by the wash and set into the cells. From this time forward, the biochemistry in the ganglia will favor Seratonin or dopamine - space or time.

The hormone wash recedes at the fourteenth week. The newborn human, therefore, is almost nearly balanced in appreciation of space and time, with only a slight bias toward one or the other. This helps the youngster who is below reproductive age to function as efficiently as possible as a balanced individual in behalf of its own survival.

Once the infant reaches the age of puberty, hormones in the body simultaneously do several things. Secondary sexual characteristics show up that make the spatial and temporal minds more physically attractive to each other so that they will bond. Reproduction is enabled. And, a second flood of hormones enters the blood stream and the brain to tip the nearly balanced mind heavily in favor of space or time appropriately.

All of these well-timed functions serve to ensure the greatest chance for survival of the young, and the greatest chance for survival of the species as a whole.

Before society, men were men and women were women, for any other arrangement, deviation, or lack of bias led to a lessened chance for survival. When society grew naturally as a fractal reflection of an organisms natural organization, it was based primarily on a structure, as opposed to a flexible, dynamic system. This is in line with the immediate survival needs of the society.

Such a structure would best survive if spatial thinkers were motivated to employ spatial skills and temporal thinkers to employ temporal skills. And, since the functions of child-bearing and territory-taming had fallen into line with the mental bias of the two species of organism, it was quite natural that those would be the jobs incorporated into the society's structure.

To motivate each species to function according to its capabilities at the greatest efficiency, rewards and punishments evolved that were appropriate to each kind of mind. The rewards functioned as exciters and the punishments as inhibitors.

This worked fine for several thousands of years. The initial heavy bias created an inverse bell-curve that was so spread to the two sides (space and time) that it was almost truly binary. The world was inhabited by spatial thinkers who were more or less alike, except for experience, and temporal thinkers, who were equally cut from a single cloth. But, as society became so successful at its task that it moved farther and farther away from immediate survival needs, those natural variations in the bias toward space or time had a better chance for survival. The trough in the bell-curve began to fill in. Same sex partnerships began to find ecological niches in society where they could prosper. Some women were born with a bias still temporal, but more toward the spatial, and some men born vice versa.

In the present day and age, there are more individuals in the trough than ever before. Some are even born to the bias opposite to what their physical sex would indicate. Many of these are unhappy when puberty hits because the meatball is stewing in the wrong juice, so to speak. Even those that are born to the bias consistent with their physical sex may be so close to the center that the rewards and punishments offered by society are no longer appropriate and fail to function as intended. Spatial women tend to become feminists, because as spatial thinkers, they are more interested in territory. Temporal men tend to become cross-dressers, for as temporal thinkers, they are more interested in environment.

But, this is all part of the natural evolution of a society. The rigid nature of the roles provided is essential during survival times, but hard to change as the society moves more toward information and relationship than physical organization. Structures cannot really be changed, but must be dismantled and reassembled in a new form. An information society requires a more flexible form, more like a Rubik's cube, where it always maintains its integrity as a cube and corners always remain corners, but the arrangements in which it might be manipulated can bring an astronomical number of variations to bear.

And this is supported by our bodies as women are growing in height as much as an inch per generation, puberty ages are dropping consistently, and the average testosterone level in men is dropping as much as twenty-five percent per generation. All of these things lead us through an evolutionary period in our society in which the spatially/temporally balanced individual is more suited to the new tasks of our times than the highly biased men and women of old.

So, men and women: they aren't what they used to be. But that is as right for our time as being almost binary was for theirs.


Several essays later in this book explore very specific applications of Mental Relativity to the physical sciences. In fact, it is a tenet of the theory that since we organize data according to the operating system of our minds, there is no real meaning in the external world, only information. And, the patterns we perceive when we see a spiral in a tea cup, a sea shell, a head of hair, or a galaxy, do not occur because there are really spirals there, but because of all the patterns we are capable of understanding, a spiral comes most close to the data.

Look at the half-lives of the potential created in neurons, as in the billiard ball model above. They seem a lot like the electron shells in quantum theory. And this is not accidental. Although the billiard ball model of the mind was developed before we realized an connection to quantum theory, it was the same kind of mental operating system that created both.

The math that describes a black hole is uncannily similar to the math that describes a prejudice. Fractals and magnetic forces have their parallel in the Mental Relativity model of the mind. And, there is even a hint that the mental element is the missing link in pulling together a unified field theory. Not being a physicist, I don't pretend to be anything near an expert in this field, nor even to fully understand the scope of considerations involved. But being a human being and therefore a pattern-maker, I am convinced that new perspectives created which enhance our understanding in one area are might also be advantageously applied to other areas as well.


What follows is a collection of essays written over a great number of years. Some may be incomplete, different in tone, and even contradictory to others. My purpose is not to purport with absolute conviction an inflexible model of human, God, mind, and the universe, but simply to offer some new perspectives on several of the crucial issues that have perplexed us through the ages, and will no doubt continue to do so for ages to come.

Copyright Melanie Anne Phillips

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