500 VII. THE MECHANISM OF TIME-BINDING
the difficulties of the patient were precisely in intensified mis-evaluation - the confusion of the symbol on the infantile semantic level with m.o reality - and this persisted, in spite of later serious inconvenience and difficulties when the symbol did not any longer produce the desired submission of others and became in itself a nuisance.
We could analyse from this semantic point of view all psychiatry, and we would find that the intensified mis-evaluation or confusion of orders of abstractions is always very prominent in 'mental' illnesses. This characteristic is very general, and the suffering these confusions produce is very acute. The general protective psychophysiological measure, however, is very simple; namely, 'consciousness of abstracting'.
A fundamental difference between 'man' and 'animal' is found in the fact that a man can be conscious of abstracting, and an animal cannot. This last statement could be reformulated: that animals are 'unconscious of abstracting'. Now consciousness of abstracting is not inborn as a rule, but becomes a s.r acquired only by education or through very long, and usually painful, experience in evaluation. If we are unconscious of abstracting, we obviously copy animals in our 'mental' processes and attitudes and cannot completely adapt: ourselves to the structurally more complex human world (with higher order abstractions), so that some arrested or regressive processes are bound to result. In such a more complex world we need protection against semantic overstimulations, which the animals in their simpler world do not need. If, therefore, we copy animals in our 'mental' processes, we could, perhaps, live in their simpler world, but cannot adapt ourselves easily to a structurally more complex human world.
We see here the general semantic mechanism of human adaptation. Our human world is more complex; the number of stimuli is enormously increased. Against this excessive stimulation we need protection, which is found in the consciousness of abstracting. One adjusts oneself by increasing the field of 'consciousness', and by giving it properly evaluated content as against the vast 'unconscious' which covers the animal's life and our own past. In 'mental' ills we find the arrested or regressive stages, with a vast and harmful unconscious. 'Mental' therapy always has the semantic aim and method; namely, to discover the unconscious material and make it conscious, and so make proper evaluation possible.
It is quite remarkable that 'mental' therapy, which actually is a form of semantic, non-el re-education, is only successful when it succeeds in making the patient not only 'rationalize' his difficulties but also makes him 'emotionally' revive - live through again, so to say, and evaluate anew - his past experiences. This process can be compared with a glass of water