PRECA Holistic Therapy (14) – Association System and Shape Sensation


This is like a web search engine bringing up associated search terms. For example, if I throw a term:
– pathetic failure
and you try to list as many similar terms, you can come up with a whole range of words.

After listing one or two, you will find that a whole array of terms just appear in your mind. If you think about it: how else would we talk fluently with others and operate normal cognition without such an automatic association?

It is a fundamental cognitive function, a function of <association>. Not only does association system bring up similar words, it also connects all concepts that are related or frequently used together with what you’re given.


Another thing you will realise is that these ideas that come up automatically from the association system tend to be negative. This has been reproduced countless times in modern psychological experiments.

When you jumble a collection of positive and negative phrases, show it for a split second to people and tell them to write what they can remember, they will list the negative phrases more.

Why? Some falsely attribute this phenomenon to the negative phrases being more ‘sensational’ or more ‘stimulating’, but that’s not really it. There’s a word for this mechanism in SanMyu; I wonder if anyone can remember it?

It’s called < Shape Sensation>.


If there is one picture frame out of line on a wall with twenty frames arranged symmetrically, even someone with a dull eye will notice it. That is <Shape Sensation>. It is hard-wired into our brains to capture the feeling of something being different or out of place. It is a fundamental risk-detection ability.

Imagine you’re a deer, and you head to your usual pond for water. In that case, the most important ability is shape sensation. If you feel something different from what’s you’ve always used to in the past? Then that ought to be a danger signal.

If the chiming of the birds is a familiar pattern and suddenly they don’t? If there used to be many other animals drinking from the pond but today you’re all alone? All these are feelings of something being different and unfamiliar.

Fundamentally, we recognise a positive, healthy and good everyday life to be a pattern of familiarity. Therefore any negative or unusual words that give us a feeling of ‘difference’ are captured by the Shape Sensation, and remain in our memory better. In addition, it is most advantageous to our survival to swiftly connect those to pre-existing experiences,
i.e. to search the memory for any similar experiences of danger signal, and to built a causality.


That is why if we see somebody move their mouth slightly and for a second you thought you heard something like a swear, we
– detect the deviation from familiarity
– activate Shape Sensation
– search similar past experiences
– ransack all kinds of similar words and associated feelings
– then connect all of that and play them automatically.

That is the normal cognitive process.

That is also the mechanism behind what people call Approach Anxiety. When you’re in a cafe and you’re looking to get a phone number from someone, it is a deviation from the pattern of familiarity. Hence your cognition will automatically search associated examples that you know of.
– I’m busy
– I have a boyfriend
– No, what a weirdo
– You’re embarassing me


In that short instance, all of these associations play one after another in a full-auto mode. At each and every one of those instances, we get a small scratch in our emotion. We mistake them for being our own thoughts, or actual looks of reproach from the person we’re about to talk to. All of those are delusions, however. It is just a play by the association system.

These are the reasons why in pedagogy (study of education/teaching), it has become a common sense that you never teach wrong examples, even for comparisons. In an outdated method, especially in learning new languages, a teacher would teach grammar by comparing correct sentence and wrong sentence. However, that led to the problem of only the wrong example being learnt. If you go “It’s not A, it’s B”, then many times A is remembered better than B.

That is also why the most feared psychological technique of 21st century is <curse>. It’s too easy to break someone. Couple of texts messages and a few phone calls are more than enough, because even after the one who’ve cursed forgets it, the one who’ve been cursed will continue to run it in their mind, even recruiting other similar ideas and associated imagery.

It’s like someone’s just hit someone once and forgotten about it, but the one who’s been hit keeps hitting himself over and over again, starts throwing himself onto brick walls and goes onto the path of self-destruction.


It’s like that story of white belt.  Let’s say a girl goes on a date with a guy, and tells him “you know what, there are many style faux pas a guy can make, but I think the belt can be the biggest one. Some guys wear those funny huge buckles thinking they can rock it. Lol. What’s even worse, is when the belt is white. Hahaha! Isn’t that ridiculous?”

You can bet that he will never wear a white belt. Even that one single remark from a girl he’s just met is enough to embed itself deep into the memory and pop up whenever the man sees a white belt. That’s how simple it can be to deprive someone of their liberty.

We are unable to differentiate between our own thoughts and what’s automatically produced by the association system.

Many of the ‘hurts’ you have received are self-inflicted in that regard. When we experience a hurt, we also experience everything that can be associate with it: past experiences, imaginary presumptions and learned examples.


Now, as for how we’re going to solve it, let’s delve in deeper than we’ve done during the offline session.

I’ll list the four again.
– Failure
– Pitiful
– Filthy
– Crooked

These four are forms of <hurt>. What kind of hurt? SanMyu describe it to be <Hurt from guilt>, meaning that we’ve done something guilty and the hurt is originating from that guilt.

I have deliberately transcribed the teachings of my teacher.

Editor’s Note:
The word ‘hurt’ in noun form will appear multiple times in the series. Think of it as an emotional wound; a combination of the pain inflicted AND the source that causes such distress.


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