04 Need easement
Your psychosocial functioning
Nature-based anankelogy recognizes your functionality, or your ability to function, depends on a balance between your internal resources and available external resources.
anankelogy [n.] (ä'-nä-kĕ'-lŏ-jē): the study of need, specifically here the human experience of need.
anankelogical [adj.] (ä'-nä-kĕ-lŏ'-jĭ'-kâl): of, relating to, or characteristic of anankelogy; referring to the role of need in another subject.
anankelogist [n.] (ä'-nä-kĕ'-lŏ-jĭst): one who studies the role of need in observable phenomenon.
anankelogically [adv.] (ä'-nä-kĕ-lŏ'-jĭ-kâ-lē'): referring to the role of need on some action. E.g., Political views tend to be less rationally deduced and more anankelogically produced.
anakelogic [adj.] (ä'-nä-kĕ-lŏ'-jĭk): same as anankelogical.
When good external resources (like drinkable water) remain available to you on par with your available internal resources (like your ability to get some water for yourself), your needs can quickly resolve. You enjoy psychosocial equilibrium.
When good external resources remain elusive, even if you could get it yourself, or when internal resources remain diminished because of internal damage, your needs cannot promptly resolve. You suffer psychosocial imbalance.
Your self-needs watch over your internal resources.
Your social-needs watch over your external resources.
Instead of recognizing the vital importance of both the group and individual, Western mainstream thinking emphasized the corrective role of the neglected individual.
Predisposed to painful imbalance
In our highly individualized culture, we normalize psychosocial imbalance. You are dissuaded from maintaining any extended kinship ties—as our ancestors did. You are incentivized to prioritize your nuclear family. Then to break out on your own.
Western individualistic culture is a global anomaly. Unlike Arab, Asian, or other world cultures, you are expected in the West to function adequately on your own. If you lack individual resources to provide for all your needs—and everyone does—you are expected to rely on government.
In other words, you are socially pulled to swing to psychosocial extremes. You are to trust yourself to go it alone. Then trust distant government to cover what you cannot do alone for yourself. Back and forth, fueling the engine of Western politics.
You can trace this individualistic culture back to ancient Greek and Roman times. The medieval Catholic Church inherited this trend. To assert its authority over secular affairs, it reinforced these early norms of psychosocial vacillation.
The medieval Catholic Church imposed its collective religious will against European individuals. The Protestant Reformation and other movements pushed back by asserting a greater role for the individual.
Instead of recognizing the vital importance of both the group and individual, Western mainstream thinking emphasized the corrective role of the neglected individual. Instead of cultivating the nature-led pull toward psychosocial balance, Western culture easily perpetuates the immaturity of vacillating between rugged individuality and imposing collectivism.
Indigenous cultures traditionally upheld a high standard for resolving all needs. Survival depended on removing all distractions from unresolved needs. Their continuance expected every to function closer to their peak potential.
Not that this standard was always met. But it contrasts heavily with modern society. Modern conveniences shield you from natural discomforts. Instead of expecting everyone to function at peak performance, you function at a pragmatic level practical for all. Psychosocial imbalance solidified as the tolerated norm.
Sure, you constantly feel a dull pain of unmet needs. Is that a fair trade-off for all the tech tools you enjoy? At least you are not slipping down into debilitating pain. Or are you?
Your functionality levels
Emotions convey need. The more your needs resolve, the more you can function. The less your needs resolve, the less you can function.
Your emotions let you know, along the four focal ranges. Anankelogy identifies four functionality levels, corresponding to each of these focal ranges.
Peakfunctionality: You function at your peak potential, as your fully resolved needs sit at-rest. You prioritize resolving needs.
Symfunctionality: You function suitably with others, as your less resolved needs sit aware. You prioritize easing needs.
Dysfunctionality: You function painfully, as your chronically unresolved needs sit alert. You prioritize relieving pain.
Misfunctionality: You barely function, as your persistently unmet needs sit continually at alarm. You prioritize survival.
You prioritize resolving needs.
Your life maintains sustainable equilibrium. Any causes of pain or desire get promptly answered. Any threats are promptly removed. Depletions get promptly replenished.
You can freely focus. All your present needs fully resolve. No pain or desire persists to distract you. Your mind sits at-rest.
You react where appropriate, to promptly resolve needs in routine incidents. You respond properly in novel situations, to reflect and learn how best to respect all needs.
You quickly recognize what you need to resolve each need. You do not get stuck on oversimplified options. You intuitively resolve needs with the right resources and move on.
You function at your peak capacity.
You prioritize easing needs.
Your life manages close to equilibrium. Your causes of pain or desire are eventually answered. Any threats get slowly removed. Depletions are gradually replenished.
You can adequately focus. Some or all your needs do not completely resolve. A minimal level of pain or desire may distract you, but not much. Your mind sits aware.
You react to situations as you learned from others. You respond as others model a response. You usually take your cues from what is socially acceptable.
You rely on others to help ease your needs. You risk getting stuck on oversimplified options. At times, you settle for less than ideal resources to address your needs. You make it work.
You function at a practical level in accord with others.
You prioritize relieving pain.
Your life falls into a rut of constant disequilibrium. Threats overwhelm you. Cravings consume you. Pain builds up into intolerable levels.
You cannot freely focus. Too many of your needs remain unresolved. Mounting pain distracts you. You obsess how to escape all this pain. Your mind remains vigilantly alert.
You tend to overreact. You find it practically impossible to reflectively respond where appropriate. Not while you remain buried in so much pain.
You constantly seek what can relieve your pain. Concrete black-and-white thinking becomes your norm. You easily get stuck on oversimplified options. You likely accept any alternative resource, to ease your pain.
You function at a significantly diminished level.
You prioritize survival.
Your life falls out of balance, where you risk being stuck imbalanced. You may even grow numb to much of your pain. Short of resolving some needs, you cannot escape the pain.
You can barely focus. You obsess in survival mode. You feel at risk of permanent damage, even death. Your mind goes into high alarm.
You react instantly when triggered. You must. Survival leaves you little if any room for any reflective responses. You must wait for others to respond to your intense needs before you can give any sustainable thought to theirs.
You feel helpless, and you likely are. Urgency overwhelms you. Any saving option will do. Anything to get you out of this hellhole. If you haven’t already given up hope.
You barely can function at all.
Some functionality terms
Anankelogy introduces a new vocabulary of terms to understand your needs. Here a few related specifically to this anankelogical construct of function.
Function (functioning): The capacity to do anything—primarily the ability to serve needs—based on how well prior needs resolve in order to sustain one’s capacity to do things. Function includes two directions: toward full functioning and away from full functioning.
Refunction (refunctioning): Resolving needs enough to restore functioning, resulting in improving capacity to do things, primarily more responsiveness to needs.
Defunction (defunctioning): Not resolving needs enough to restore functioning, resulting in limited and eventually no capacity to do things, and ultimately death.
Dynamism: a cognitive lens for prioritizing the resolution of needs for optimal functioning.
Utilizes testable hypotheses of relational knowing; embraces ambiguity, juxtapositions welcome, see paradoxes in life, suspicious of certainty, seeks better questions to test, keeps open a path to fully resolve needs.
Drift: cognitive bias of prioritizing the easing of unresolved needs.
The more you compromise for the group, moving toward symfunctional cooperation, the more your unresolved needs compel you to see primarily or only what your unmet needs require you to see.
Deviation: cognitive distortion for prioritizing relief of grinding pain.
The longer your unresolved needs keep you locked in pain, the more you must see what can promise you relief from your mounting pain—even if not quite accurate.
Departure: cognitive delusion for prioritizing survival amidst severe damage.
The further you sink into survival mode, the more your mind invents possibilities for you to escape painful damage, and the likelihood of your imminent demise.
Full functionality array
apex peakfunctionality: promptly resolving needs to optimize own life in ways optimizing the resolving of other’s needs for them to live optimally; love.
mid peakfunctionality: promptly resolving needs to optimize own life in ways potentially positively impactful upon the needs of others.
least peakfunctionality: promptly resolving needs to optimize own life in ways not negatively impactful upon the needs of others.
high dynamism: shift from easing needs to resolving needs.
drift: slide from resolving need to easing need to pragmatically function with others.
threshold symfunctionality: arbitrary actions done humanly together that contribute to easing human needs without hindering other human needs; e.g., driving on the right side of the road in the U.S.
mid symfunctionality: arbitrary actions done humanly together that contribute to easing human needs with some hindrance to other human needs; e.g., ordering a subordinate to serve a customer.
worst symfunctionality: arbitrary actions done humanly together that contribute to easing human needs mostly by stalling resolution of such needs; e.g., systemic exaction. Gateway to dysfunctionality.
mid dynamism: shift from pain-relief to easing needs.
deviate: shift from easing need to only relieving its pain.
threshold dysfunctionality: unresolved needs start prioritizing relief that risks impeding resolution of such needs, or limiting resolution of other needs.
mid dysfunctionality: unresolved needs prioritizes pain relief indefinitely over resolving one’s own needs, while maintaining no significant negative impact on the needs of others.
worst dysfunctionality: unresolved needs prioritizes pain relief over resolving anyone’s needs, resulting in significant negative impacts on the needs of others.
low dynamism: shift from harm to pain-relief.
depart: sink into survival mode with debilitating pain of unmet need.
threshold misfunctionality: unresolved needs results in temporary damage of oneself, with likely negative impacts on others.
mid misfunctionality: unresolved needs results in long-term or permanent damage, lowering ability to function.
worst misfunctionality: unresolved needs results in imminent or immediate death, termination of all functioning.
Refunction: resolve needs to restore full function capacity.
Defunction: diminished resolution of needs, less function capacity.
We depend on others to depend on us.
Your psychosocial resources
You depend on others to depend on you. Your functionality level depends a lot on how well you meet your needs. And that depends primarily on who in your life helps you meet your needs—and who you help to meet theirs.
Starting at the base, you plunge into a sea of strangers. They know little to nothing about you, as you are equally alien to them. The cashier at the grocery store. The gas station attendant. The person sitting next to you on your bus ride home.
You reveal yourself no deeper than your body language. A polite acknowledging nod. A cliché. A smile, or perhaps a fleeting scowl of disapproval. “Hi,” may be all we say to each other, or perhaps a passing comment about the weather. Little if any vulnerabilities get exposed. Safe.
Moving up the pyramid you find a large number of acquaintances. You know each other's name, and little more. Think of your coworkers on a different shift. Or classmates you never spoke with before.
You keep any communication to objective facts. Safely on a rational basis. No exposed vulnerabilities. Who can argue with facts? Your risk of rejection remains minimal.
Next up the ladder, you encounter your colleagues. You could think of these as your casual "Facebook" friends. You know a little more about them. Those coworkers you see every day. Classmates who give you notes for the days you missed.
You share your opinions with them, and they listen. You listen to their opinions. You feel safe enough to expose your beliefs to their possible critique. You test the waters of mutual trustworthiness.
Near the top you find a cluster of trusted, and hopefully trustworthy, friends. We know a lot about each other. You spend quality time together. You know things about each other few if anyone knows. You hold each other up during rough times.
You share your vulnerable feelings with each other. You know each other's experiences of love, hurt, enthusiasm, disappointment, and excitement. They let you be more of your authentic self.
5. Significant Other
At the top of the pyramid is your significant other. They know more about you than anyone, including stuff you don’t quite know about yourself, and still love you. Your marriage partner for life. Your best friend. Perhaps a counselor with whom you find magic chemistry. Or even an all-loving God.
You expose all to them. You commune your full being. You expose your deepest vulnerabilities. You can cry with them. Share your deepest fears. Be angry with them and still be loved for who you wholly are.
Your psychosocial growth
You are more than what you see in yourself. You have blind spots. We all do.
Your body or clothes gives off an odor that others smell more than you. Your gestures suggest a defensiveness keeping others out. You cling to assumptions never tested by the reality others know.
The more you face your full honest self—imperfections and all—the more can face your vulnerable needs. Your most vulnerable needs are those dependent on what others do.
The more you face these vulnerable needs with supportive others, the more likely you can mount the support to get them resolved. The less resolved, the less you are able to function. The more resolved, the better you can function.
The fewer your needs resolve, the more you slide toward misfunctionality. The more your needs resolve, the more you rise to peakfunctionality. You either cycle downward into debilitating defunction, or upward into liberating refunction.
Cycling downward in debilitating defunction
The less of yourself you expose to anyone, the less you know of your full being. The less you know of your full being, the more likely you act on blind spots.
The more you act on your blind spots and faulty assumptions, the fewer of your needs can fully resolve. The fewer of your needs fully resolving, the more you sit in pain.
The more you sit in pain of unresolved needs, the more guarded you tend to become—to protect yourself from more pain. The more guarded you remain, the less of yourself you expose to trustworthy others.
Cycling upward in liberating refunction
The more of yourself you vulnerably expose to trustworthy others, the more you can know of your full being. The more you know of your full being, the less likely you get tripped up by your blind spots.
The less hidden from your view when addressing your needs, the more of your needs can fully resolve. The more your needs fully resolve, the less you sit in pain.
The less you sit in pain, the less you feel you must stay guarded. The less you are guarded, the more you can courageously expose of your supported self to others.
You’re only as well as your self-revelation
If you only reveal your body language to others all the time,
you remain largely estranged from your authentic self. You likely stumble into many errors. Few of your needs resolve. You likely suffer a mounting load of emotional pain.
If you only report facts and figures to others,
you likely rationalize why you do things. If others attempt to correct your errors, you typically get defensive. You tell yourself they are being judgmental. In that climate, your needs cannot fully resolve. You stay stuck in pain.
If you only share your retractable opinions to others around you,
you typically guard all the irrational parts about you. You may even trust rationality to be enough. Your needs cannot resolve when ignoring that less rational stuff. You sink into a funk of steadily growing pain.
If you only reveal your feelings to a handful of others,
you at least can get down to what really matters. You can see then overcome errors in thinking. You can then spot needs you must address. You can process the pain, and suffer less of it.
If you can expose your full being to at least one trustworthy person,
you can completely drop your guard. You can face all your imperfections and know you are still loved. You can freely resolve more needs. You can feel liberated from suffering too many painful needs. Indeed, you can then thrive.
The further up the pyramid, the more you can personally know each other’s needs. You know each other’s needs as you know each other’s emotions conveying these needs. But the further down this pyramid, the more you recognize other’s needs primarily through impersonal laws.
"While no one sits above the law, no law sits above the needs it exists to serve."
There is no such thing as a rule without a functional need to serve.
Imagine a couple leaving a village. They journey together to some far-off land, to start anew.
They know each other deeply. They are not constrained by written rules. Their behavior is best guided by instantly knowing what each other personally needs.
They carry within themselves an intimate connection with nature. They recognize the needs of animals and plants around them. They instinctively respect such needs.
When they have children, they pass along this intimate connection with the land, with nature. They encourage their children to know each other’s personal needs, to promptly respond to them—as they would have others respond promptly to their needs.
They spend much of their time together, but the need for some solitude grows strong among them. As they spend more and more time apart, each develops their own idiosyncratic quirk.
The eldest adult child prefers to eat while regaling stories of the hunt. The others listen politely, but some prefer to eat in silence. The youngest interrupts with an untimely joke. An unwritten rule has just been broken.
“When someone is speaking,” mother pronounces, “no one is to interrupt. Listen, and then earn the right to be heard when it is your turn to speak.” Father nods in agreement.
But then does something he has never done before. Father jots down the rule. Then he suggests how it will be enforced.
After a few generations, no one can remember everyone’s name. Everyone has their preferences. The younger ones lack maturity to respect needs as they are expressed. The role of rules emerges more centrally.
A few more generations pass by. The purpose of some of the rules have long been forgotten. But they bind the people together, in shared meaning.
Well, not everyone. Some now grow discontent. And complain of intrusive rules that don’t seem to serve any real good. They want to change such rules. But the majority, especially the elders of the city-state, vehemently resist.
Dissent grows strongest in a couple who complains they have put up with enough. Imagine that couple leaving this city-state, to start anew.
Right rules, or right relating
That thought experiment characterizes the transition from indigenous life to ever larger societies. We now exist in a global society. Rules now rule supreme.
Rules exist to serve needs. There is no such thing as a rule without a functional need to serve. Each enforced rule begs the question: Whose needs are best served by this rule? And whose needs are threatened by such rules, or by how they are enforced?
Moreover, how does its enforcement affect personal functionality? Does it improve functionality for which needs exist, or detract from functionality? Or both? And how does its enforcement impact overall functioning of the group?
Rules easily fail us
To apply to as many people as possible, rules tend to be kept vague. More detailed rules require constant updating. Constant updating tends to disrupt those most dependent upon them.
Written rules eventually substitute for personally knowing each other’s needs. To avoid rejection, you avoid wandering too far from social expectations.
Social pressure sets in to rely on rules. Symfunctionality becomes the established standard. Partially resolved needs become the pervasive norm. Mounting pain sinks in as the new—but now old—normal.
Emotions continue to personally convey needs. But your more personal needs you keep to yourself. Nature—or reality—does not care about our rules. Despite the best efforts of written or unwritten rules, natural functioning pulls you into need-conveying guilt, fear, depression, and anger.
Your four psychosocial guardians
Laws impersonally convey needs. Emotions personally convey needs. If laws fail to serve needs, emotions take over. Your functioning is at stake.
Four key emotions watch vigilantly over your psychosocial wellbeing.
Guilt: Your body warns you must shift from serving your own needs to serve neglected needs of others.
Fear: Your body reports you are facing something you cannot fully handle.
Depression: Your body warns you must shift from serving others to serve your own neglected needs.
Anger: Your body reports you are facing something you cannot fully accept.
Each entry below first links the emotion to the need it conveys. Then links it to the focal cycle of your psychosocial needs. The third paragraph covers its range of intensity. The last two contrast your impacted level of functionality.
You feel guilt when your body compels you to shift from indulging your self-needs to serving your neglected social-needs. Your body yanks you away from indulging yourself at someone’s expense. Guilt impedes your behavior away from damaging your vital social connections.
In anankelogical terms of need focus, your self-needs defocal. Your social-needs prefocal. When doing something that wronged another, you rapidly shift from doing what you want to minding what the offended other needs of you.
If your social-needs are only mildly threatened, then you feel only a little embarrassed. If egregious enough to cost you social standing, you feel ashamed, maybe even mortified—a social death. In collectivist cultures, like in Asia, you may even turn suicidal.
The less resolved your affected social-needs, the less you can function. You will not be able to rely on others who now distrust you. You realize you could be totally vulnerable at the moment you are completely dependent on others. You slip toward misfunctionality.
The more you resolve your affected social-needs with apologies, and received forgiveness, the more you can function. You then can step back into the good graces of others. You will not be defined by that moment of exploitation. You can then move toward peakfunctionality.
You feel fear when your body perceives you are faced with something you cannot handle. It starts with the presumption that this is your responsibility.
Your self-needs go nonfocal. Your social-needs go focal. When confronted by an apparent threat from your own apparent doing, you immediately feel a vulnerable need for the rescuing help of others. While afraid, you feel little if any regard for solitude or autonomy.
If not much of a threat, you feel mildly anxious. If overwhelming, you feel terrified. Even traumatized, that such a threat could overwhelm you again. Fear occurs along a range of intensity, all painful.
The less you build the courage to face and handle the threat, the less you can function. The more traumatized, left unprocessed, the more guarded you will be. Hypervigilance imprisons you in constant fear. You slide toward misfunctionality.
The more encouraged to face threats, to experience yourself handling what you did not know you could handle, the more you can freely function. The more trauma you process, and sort out real threats from emotionally exaggerated ones, the further you move toward peakfunctionality.
You feel depressed when your body compels you to shift from indulging your social-needs to serving your neglected self-needs. Your body denies you energy to keep serving others. Depression redirects you to attend to your neglected self.
Your social-needs defocal. Your self-needs prefocal. When overextending your vulnerable self to serve others, you rapidly shift from doing what others expect of you to giving yourself a rest.
If your self-needs are only mildly threatened, then you feel only a mild bout of depression. If more seriously threatened, then your life energy seems to drain from beneath you. You could find yourself slipping into major depression, and chronic depression.
The less resolved your affected self-needs, the less you can function. You will not be able to do much for yourself if stuck appeasing others. You will not be able to do much for others as energy drains from your body. You slip toward misfunctionality.
The more you resolve your affected self-needs with redirection away from people-pleasing, and toward recouping what you personally need, the more you can function. You then can do more for others after you get re-energized. You can then move toward peakfunctionality.
You feel fear when your body perceives you are faced with something you cannot accept. It starts from the presumption that it is someone else’s responsibility.
Your self-needs go focal. Your social-needs go nonfocal. When confronted by an apparent threat from someone else’s apparent doing, you immediately feel a vulnerable need to guard yourself. While angered, you feel little if any regard for others.
If not much of a threat, you feel mildly irritated. If overwhelming, you feel enraged. Even hatred, provoking you to remove the threat from ever occurring again. Anger occurs along a range of intensity, all painful.
The more you get stuck with what is unacceptable, the less you can function. The more irritated by unacceptable barriers to what you need, the more upset you will be. You will not be able to focus clearly. You slide toward misfunctionality.
The more can either find acceptable what seems unacceptable, or remove what is truly unacceptable, the more you can freely function. The more annoyance you process, and sort out real threats from emotionally exaggerated ones, the further you move toward peakfunctionality.
Next, you will see how this cycle plays out along the functionality array.
Along the way, some popular beliefs will be sacrificed on the altar of anankelogical reason.
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