Russian Doll Syndrome


“Was there ever anyone as lost as me?” I think and immediately feel myself being swept away on a tide of despair and self-pity. “Was there ever anyone as screwed-up as me?” I think, possibly for the ten thousandth time, and then struggle to stop this thought. Self-pity isn’t going to help me here, I realize – again, for something like the ten-thousandth time. I’m caught in a my own despair; I’m trapped in a universe that is made up on the one hand of my own despair and self-pity, and on the other hand of my own periodic ineffectual attempts to stem this despair and self-pity, along with my own futile recriminations against myself for having allowed myself to have been taken over by it in the way that I have. This is a very small and repetitive universe.


“Was there ever anyone as screwed-up as me?” I begin to think, for the ten-thousand and oneth time, and then stop myself. I bite my tongue, metaphorically speaking. It has to be metaphorical because I don’t have a tongue – not a real one, anyway. I haven’t got a real tongue because I’m not in reality anymore; I’m trapped in a simulation of reality that my own mind has created for me in order to facilitate me not facing up to some aspect of reality that I just can’t handle, some aspect of a ‘previous reality’ that I just haven’t got the courage to face up to.


It’s redundant to say “a simulation of reality” you might object. What else would your mind be simulating if not reality? But that’s just the thing, you see. You’ve put your finger on the problem – that’s what I was just about to come to. You see, the aspect of reality that I just can’t handle isn’t actually reality at all but simply another simulation. Something went wrong in that simulation and I’m running away from it because I don’t have the courage to look at it. Something went very wrong in that simulation and so I had to run away from it by creating another simulation, one that represents another degree of abstraction, another degree of removal from whatever it is that I was originally afraid of (which I don’t have any insight to). So what this means is that my mind isn’t simulating reality at all but only another simulation. My mind is creating a second order simulation in order to help me escape from the original banjaxed simulation! If ‘original simulation’ isn’t a complete contradiction in terms, that is. Which of course it is.


My mind is very good at helping me to escape from the fear. It is superlatively good – it operates in a fashion that is entirely autonomous in this respect. I don’t have to tell it what to do, it just does it! It keeps creating new simulations. It can create a simulation instantly, out of nothing at all. Out of another simulation! I don’t know how long this process has been going on for; I neither know how far removed I am, nor from what.


My thinking, the process that I’m caught up in, only works in one direction and that direction has to do with not knowing what it is that I am running away from! What I have run away from (what my mind has just facilitated me in running away from) is a closed door to me. It’s a locked and bolted door, not just a closed one. It’s not a door at all; it’s a one-way valve. You can never go back on yourself.


And yet at the same time that this is true I am nevertheless unaccountably aware that this has happened. I am aware that this is happening. I’m aware of being locked out of reality, lost within an endless series of nested simulations, a runaway regression of fake realities that – as far as I know – has no beginning and no end. It goes on forever as far as I know and I have no way of fighting against the process. I can’t put the brakes on. And it is when I have this awareness that I think to myself that there can be no one as hopelessly lost as me. And when I think this, as soon as I have this thought – I am instantly flooded by despair. I am instantly swept away on a roaring rip-tide of self-pity…








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