Flux - A Strategy Guide for OCD


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We'll publish them on our site once we've reviewed them. Item s unavailable for purchase. Please review your cart. You can remove the unavailable item s now or we'll automatically remove it at Checkout. Continue shopping Checkout Continue shopping. Free eBook Add to My Books. Ratings and Reviews 0 0 star ratings 0 reviews. Ruminations are not such well-defined events; the theme or topic of a rumination is specific, but what goes into the thinking about the topics are openended and variable. Example 1 Steve the mechanic Let's say that your friend Steve the mechanic down at the gas station is anxious about breaking up with his girlfriend.

He says he doesn't regret the decision, but confesses that he has been replaying the scene of him angrily leaving her house over and over again in his mind. One day he casually asks you, "I don't know. The truth is, only Steve knows if he is being obsessive or not. Let's say, he considers himself to be a reasonable person who doesn't wallow about breakups with his ex-girlfriends, and it would severely stultify his self-image to find out that he is the type of guy that does.

At what point, is he in danger of obsessing about it? Sooner or later that first intrusive thought presents itself stage 1. But maybe, that first time doesn't even seem intrusive. Rather, one evening while driving home from work, he suddenly remembers how she would wait outside his house to greet him with dinner and a movie. Furthermore, let us say that he misses the anticipation of wondering if she is going to be there when he gets home, especially after a bad day. This makes him feel uncomfortable because he never thought he would actually care either way.

As a result, the scene of him leaving his girlfriend's house to stroll through his mind. And perhaps, he just shakes off the resulting feeling of anticipation and the accompanying regret that he feels and, decides put it to rest. However, the next day on his way home from work he finds himself entertaining this feeling again stage 2.

As a result, he squirms in his seat and begins to feel uncomfortable as it replays in his mind, and he even begins to sweat. So what about now, in stage 2 - has the thought become intrusive yet? This is an easy one, the answer is yes. The feeling and the thoughts associated with them have definitely become intrusive; even though it has only happened twice. What could be the first indication that there is an intrapsychic conflict? Let's look at a brief list of possible concerns you could come up with many of these if you wanted to.

Obsessions - Recurrent, intrusive, and anxiety-provoking thoughts, impulses, or images. According to the DSM, Steve's concern has now become an obsession. But perhaps, he has no intentions whatsoever of resolving these intrusive feelings and thoughts during stage 2. He really wants to just shrug it off; he doesn't want to resolve anything. What has happened then as a result of this passive response? It has become a rumination; no decision has been made on how to deal with it. Hence, it now marks the end of stage 2. If he never decides to resolve this conflict, it will never reach stage 3.

He may continue to ruminate until he either decides to apologize to his ex-girlfriend or just forgive himself. Moreover, he may decide to re-structure his reality with a compulsive ritual in order to avoid dealing with it at all. As RoUo May pointed out, freedom carries with it responsibility. And it inevitably leads not only to a feeling of uncertainty but to a generalized state of anxiety. This anxiety only becomes neurotic when we deny ourselves the struggle involved in the growing-out-of-it process. For the most part, I like the definition of rumination that is provided by De Silva and Rachman.

However, obsessions come from somewhere. They don't just appear out of thin air. Otherwise everyone could be defined as obsessing. And so I think the definition is lacking in specificity. Moreover, it is only good in hindsight and does not help me to discern where the starting point of an obsession is. If I want to prevent obsessions from ever starting in the first place, I need to have a clear picture of the thought sequence leading up to them.

In other words, if ruminations sometimes originate from obsessions, and obsessions originate from intrusive, unwanted thoughts - then where do intrusive, unwanted thoughts originate? I want to know this. After all, this is where it all begins. At some point, as a sufferer of OCD, I want to be able to tell myself with at least some degree of clarity: What is merely a passing concern, that can be simply shrugged off, and what is a legitimate speculation?

Furthermore, what is an invalid concern, that we cannot shake but need to? The answer lies in the question itself. Obsessions originate from a concern, whether real or imagined. Like De Silva and Rachman say, they may or may not originate from an obsession. In the example of 'Steve the mechanic' I discussed an instance in which an obsession did precede a rumination. Example 2 The hand-washing dilemma Let's look at a situation in which a concern is resolved with a mental compulsion.

Back when I attended Universal Technical Institute, it was imperative that I arrive to class on time. If I missed a part of the lecture I could fail the written test or not be able to perform the hands-on task in the shop. My grade as a whole could suffer and I could cause the grades of others to suffer as well. Let's say that one morning, before my 'street legal' class is about to begin, I use the bathroom.

Afterwards, I wash and dry my hands, hold the door open for the students walking in, and take my seat for the lecture on superchargers that is about to begin. To my dismay, I realize that as I had held the door open with my left hand it had come into contact with a yucky kind of wet substance. What was it that I had touched?

What if someone had went to the bathroom and not washed their hands afterwards. What if that was urine on the door. What if it was someone's nasty sweat. Ugh, I can 't go back and wash my hands right now, class is starting. I guess I will just have to wait until the first fifteen-minute break. Interestingly enough, these open-ended, self-directed type of questions do not in-themselves constitute an obsession yet, as I remarked earlier in the example of 'Steve the mechanic' After all, is it wrong to feel a little grossed out if you touch a wet bathroom door?

And this kind of situation could happen to anyone. It doesn't mean we are obsessing. Clearly, it has only just now strolled through my mind for the first time. Therefore, here in stage 1 it is merely a concern. So, I turn my attention to the instructor who is now beginning the first slide of his power point presentation. Only, the concern once again reappears. But as I begin to wonder once again what that wet, yucky substance might have been, I feel uneasy, and start to shift around in my seat stage 2.

It is intrusive because I do not want to explore this concern any further. There is nothing I can do about it right now. I want to pay attention to the lecture. This concern has become an anxiety-provoking thought. And to make matters worse, it is now recurrent. This is not a passing concern, and so here in stage 2 this has now become an obsession. However, we still do not know if it will result in a rumination or a compulsion.

It is still open-ended, at the moment anyway. Obsessions - Recurrent, intrusive, and anxiety- provoking thoughts, impulses, or images. Yes, it is definitely an obsession. But I have not decided how I want to respond to it yet. It may be seen as an interruption to 'Mr. Jones' if I get up in the beginning of his lecture. I know from various remarks that he has made in the past to others that he feels it is inappropriate for students to leave within in the first fifteen minutes. As a result, I fear that I might anger Mr.

Jones and maybe even my peers as well. Therefore, I decide to stay seated and just pay attention to the lecture until it is appropriate to use the restroom. Dirty hands are no big deal, time to move on with life. The lecture is more important! Stage 2 has now ended since no steps were taken toward a resolution. Until I decide on a resolution, every repetition of this is a rumination. I once again turn my attention to the instructor and begin to focus in on what he is saying.

But the obsession is waiting there for me, like a forgotten Aunt that I am supposed to pick up at the airport. Yea, there is nothing I can do about it, so I must ignore it. And so once again, I press on as if I am behind the wheel of a car and have to manually shift my transmission brain out of first gear and press on down the road. So, back to what the instructor is saying A few minutes later, I feel the hand-washing issue tugging at my attention again!

Once again my heart rate increases. Only now, I am overtaken with a feeling of dread. This hand-washing issue is really bothering me. I can 't seem to put it out of my mind Why am I reacting to it like this?

I can 't do anything about it right now. It is as if my obsession is a car crash - that I notice in my rear-view mirror as I pass it - and there is a person standing in the middle of the road waving his hands shouting, "Come back, help! Meanwhile, in class, the instructor has just flipped to the third page of the power point presentation.

Ugh, I am missing this! To make matters worse, there is a discussion taking place between the students on the material that was just presented, on the previous slide. In fact, the person next to me asks a question on what engine component it is that increases intake air flow? Oops, I missed that slide also. What did he say? I was thinking about the stupid hand-washing.

I better keep up with this discussion. But even now, it's too late, I have missed the answer he gave to the student next to me - that could have helped me to catch up to the current slide - because of this internal dialogue. If only I wouldn 't have touched the door. I would be able to pay attention. What if I hadn 't of touched the door? I would be taking in all of this information now.

Did it feel like water? Or was it a more gooey kind of substance? Stage 3 has now begun, and it signifies the beginning of a covert compulsion. This is because I have chosen a course of action. Essentially, I have chosen to re-visualize the event in hopes of convincing myself that I hadn't touched anything disgusting. Because I feel that if I can do this, the impulse to wash my hands will go away, and the problem will be solved.

Therefore, I have chosen a mental-compulsion to resolve it. Of course, there is no way that I am going to be able to produce this kind of clarity from re-visualizing it. Does this happen in cases of OCD?

Full text of "Flux, A Strategy Guide for OCD"

You bet it does! What a mess we have on our hands. So where do we even begin? Welcome to the study of psychology. Because as a sufferer of OCD you have now become your own part-time -psychologist, whether you like it or not. If you don't take personal responsibility for your anxiety yet learn to not inflate this responsibility , there is not a thing anyone can do to help you.

Even though there is still a general consensus among clinicians that compulsions are physical acts, we know that they are not necessarily as overt as some may think. Often, we are driven to perform compulsions, covertly.

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Covert compulsions mental compulsions are repetitive thoughts designed to organize events through visualizing images or rehearsing silent strings of words. In a sense, it is a mental replacement for the physical act, or the condensing of many mental interpretations within a small time-frame. The 'bathroom door dilemma' provides an example of a covert compulsion. In the movie, 'Two for the Money,' there is a scene where Al Pacino begins to verbalize the suspicious feelings he has about his wife and new employee played by Matthew McConaughey.

As he thinks out loud this introspection takes a turn for the worse, and before long his words sound increasingly jealous and paranoid. Finally, his wife played by Rene Russo interjects, "You are in your own head again. What'd I tell you about that? Stay out of there, its a bad neighborhood! Namely, that a mental compulsion is a bad neighborhood. Yet we go there, again and again, like gluttons for punishment. We are like junkies driving downtown to cop a fix, without any regard for our safety, or whether we will get caught and arrested.

What could we possibly need so bad? What is it that takes hold of our brains and forces us to navigate through endless cycles of disturbing obsessive-compulsive behavior? What are we really after? The answer, of course, is: What makes the green grass, green? What makes a light switch, switched off? What makes a locked door, locked?


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Guilt So far, I have distinguished the difference between a concern, a rumination, and an obsession. But what triggers a concern? We all like to believe that we are consistent, and not irrational. So if things happen which could make us appear irrational, we change our beliefs to make them seem consistent again. Leon Festinger believed that cognitive dissonance is one of the main reasons why people change their beliefs: Earlier I told the story of 'Steve the mechanic,' and the cognitive dissonance he experienced when he began to realize that he missed the way his girlfriend would sometimes wait for him at his house to get home from work.

On the one hand, he believed he was the kind of guy who did not sweat women.

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On the other hand, the very fact that he was concerned about the break up caused him to realize that maybe he was being a bit narrow-minded. Maybe this happened on an unconscious level. At any rate, he was not equipped to deal with the issue effectively enough to resolve the apparent guilt that he had about it. Sigmund Freud believed that guilt results when our id it wishes and ego me wishes come into conflict with our superego over-me wishes.

In other words, I want a piece of cake so I take it out of the refrigerator and eat a slice. But when my mother sees me doing this, she scolds me and takes the cake away, because it's not yet time to have it. Consequently, I feel guilty for wishing to eat the cake. Orval Hobart Mowrer, the American behaviorist and the founder of Integrity groups, had a view of his own. Mowrer saw things somewhat differently. First of all, the crucial source of anxiety for Mowrer was moral anxiety guilt. Second, rather than guilt resulting from a conflict between superego wishes and other wishes, guilt for Mowrer was a result of actual misdeeds, or sins.

People misbehave and as a result feel guilt. Psychopathology is a result of the person trying to repress this guilt. Clearly, Steve was experiencing cognitive dissonance, but dissonant-thoughts-in-themselves rarely carry enough weight to make a real impact. It is only the emotions and the unresolved tension associated with them that give these cognitions their directional power. Mowrer's concept of guilt represents the 'tough love' we sometimes all need to attribute to our lives if we are to grow and mature. In the case of Steve, he may have left his girlfriend's house in a rage.

Perhaps he became irrationally angry at her and yelled as he left the house, and this conflicts with his view of himself that he is a cool character that is always smooth with women. According to Mowrer, it would do Steve some good to experience this feeling of guilt and the resulting struggle, in order to become more flexible in how he handles relationships. When we are caught-in-the-act of doing something inconsistent with our views of ourselves, dissonance can quickly turn into shame. It is precisely this caught-red-handed kind of phenomenon that prompted Jean-Paul Sartre to famously declare "L'enfer,c'est les autres," which is translated as "Hell is other people.

No transcending view comes to confer upon my acts the character of a given on which a judgment can be brought to bear. Sartre asks us to imagine that we are caught looking through a keyhole. At that very moment, we may be defined as a voyeur. On the contrary, we define ourselves as a whole, that is greater than the sum of this one part.

Furthermore, to ourselves, we are a series of these transcending, self-conscious impressions, that cannot be pinned down solely by this narrow definition. However, to experience the critique of the other is to realize that from now on this is how we may be summed-up by this person. The other steals our world for a brief moment and we are forced to see ourselves as being devoid of moral character. Shame is the fear of what others will think when they find out what has happened to us. Guilt is how we feel about ourselves when we realize that we have violated our own standards of right and wrong.

When we forgive, sometimes we have acted as an offender as we lash out at the other person. Sometimes we act so insensitively toward the other that we are left with feelings of guilt because we behaved wrongly Enright. So here, we have several different viewpoints of 'internal conflict' to entertain.

When we take all of these ideas into account what we have is a slight differentiation between cognitive dissonance, guilt, and shame. For the most part, we can say that inconsistent cognitions stir up inconsistent feelings guilt , which lead to a feeling of shame fear of the consequences. In his book, "Forgiveness is a choice" Robert D. Enright PhD distinguishes between false guilt and real guilt.

How to treat OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) ? - Best treatment of OCD

He says that "most people can endure only a few seconds of real guilt. False guilt is often a reaction to anger toward someone we need or love. We are hurt and angry when a person we love hurts us, but we are also afraid that our anger will provoke additional injury. We are afraid of our anger, so we turn our anger on ourselves and feel guilty. This false guilt may seem easier to deal with at the time than real guilt. Anyone with OCD can tell you that experiencing false guilt may at times seem like the ideal solution to avoiding pain, but the distorted and compulsive features that grow from it are anything but painless.

Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering - Carl Jung I believe there are two reasons why we retreat inward to avoid feeling real guilt. The first stems from the belief that 'we are to blame' for the random tragedies and quirks of nature. Often, we err and make many mistakes due to our inherent nervousness, and as a result, we attribute our faUures and the failures of those we care about to this perceived defect.

We often take on more responsibility than is needed, to right these wrongs. Frequently, we are overburdened and self-deprecating. Also, because of the amount of anxiety - those of us with OCD have - we are more prone to act on our beliefs than most people. We want to make our lives and the lives of others a better place. Hence, we produce more constructive, and destructive solutions to problems, than the average person.

But even though we may have thirty to forty percent more energy than the average person, we use more of that available energy. We become trapped within a distorted sense of inflated responsibility and become puppets of our micro-managed agenda. Many patients experience an inflated sense of responsibility - even for events over which they have no control. Most examples of compulsive checking are attempts to prevent a misfortune, however obscure. The person strives for certainty that no harm will occur to others because of his negligence or supposedly poor memory. Even though the guilt and inflated responsibilities are irrational, they give us a feeling of power, or omnipotence.

We like this, because just as we like the power that we feel when we are able to condense, organize, and rationalize ourselves tightly and neatly - we sometimes enjoy exercising this kind of power over others. Others may become an extension of ourselves narcissism. The truth is we cannot own up to problems that are not ours and that we have no control over.

Furthermore, we cannot organize the world and the people in it - contain it in a box - and put it neatly on a shelf every evening before we go to sleep. This is because we are not supermen and women; we cannot save the world. It is important to know where we end and other people begin. Obviously, this is a moral balance that takes a lot of trial and error. Chapter 3 - Cognitive Strategies Cognitive strategies vs. Defense mechanisms Bettelheim pointed out that the English translators of Freud had distorted his theory in their translations, and later writers have perpetuated these errors.

For example, Freud did not talk of the mind or psyche, but rather of the soul. He did not discuss instincts, but rather drives. He did not define the three parts of the mind-ego, id, superego-but rather the "me," the "it," and the "over-me. Despite these criticisms, most modem presentations of Freud continue to use the terms first chosen by the translators, which perpetuates the false implications of these words Lester, 1 decided to open up this section with this reference because as 1 had stated before, my goal is to have the most accurate map 1 can.

When 1 first heard him present this information about Freud in his personality class 1 literally, was stunned. Because anybody who studies psychology knows that class after class, and lecture after lecture, Freud is going to be discussed Freud, Freud, Freud. To make matters worse, it is an inaccurate translation of Freud that we are stuck with over and over again. Lester's insight, confirmed my suspicion that the word "id" made no sense at all. And indeed, it is inaccurate - so why continue to use it?

However, the term ego and superego do have a certain appeal and unfortunately, they are the terms that everyone understands - so 1 will use these terms as 1 am summarizing and quoting references , but 1 absolutely refuse to use the word id! Newborns are governed by the id, which seeks immediate satisfaction under the pleasure principle. When gratification is delayed, as it is when infants have to wait to be fed, they begin to see themselves as separate from the outside world.

The ego, which represents reason, develops gradually during the first year or so of life and operates under the reality principle.

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The ego's aim is to find realistic ways to gratify the id that are acceptable to the superego, which develops at about age 5 or 6. The superego includes the conscience and incorporates socially approved "shoulds" and "should nots" into the child's own value system. The superego is highly demanding; if its standards are not met, a child may feel guilty and anxious. The ego mediates between the id and superego Papalia,. So there it is, in black and white - straight from a college text book. From these references we can begin to paint an accurate picture of the underlying structure behind psychoanalysis.

This is necessary in order to distinguish between what a defense mechanism is and what a cognitive strategy is. A cognitive strategy is an attempt at balancing or suspending a concern until a more appropriate time, when we will be able to probe deeper into what the underlying cause may be. At no time, will 1 ever suggest that ignoring real issues will make them go away, it will not.

Generally, the shorter the time frame you have to analyze, the greater your anxiety is going to be. In order to understand what a cognitive strategy is, we must first explore the meaning and use of defense mechanisms. Because of the demands of the superego and those of society, along with the possible inaccessibility of an instinctual object, the energy of a particular instinct might have to be directed in an alternative direction when it could not be directly satisfied.

Consequently, a process called displacement resulted.. When a displacement took the form of a higher cultural activity, the displacement was called a sublimation Artistic, musical, or literary expressions might actually be displaced expressions of more basic desires. Freud considered displacement to be a product of what he called,"the death drive. Indeed, displacement can have an ugly face. For example, say I am at work and my boss yells at me.

It angers me but I have to continue on. I cannot wear an angry face all day long everywhere I go throughout the office. Eventually, I have to just get past it and continue on with my responsibilities. Freud talked about how we sometimes repress feelings of anger. In this case, even though I decide to 'ignore it' and continue on with my day, this subverted anger may become transformed into another state temporarily but it' s true form may re-surface in another situation later. Hence, it may still be there lingering in my unconscious, because it is only temporarily forgotten or repressed.

Perhaps I come home to find that my dog has pooped all over the floor. Although, usually I am a pretty understanding person about this sort of thing, on this particular occasion, I give him a swift kick in the ass. This is arguably, the rage that I had earlier repressed, ignored, and forgot manifesting itself in the present. Unfortunately, the dog becomes the unwitting recipient of this displacement. In this respect, displacement is similar to the defense mechanism of repression. In fact, at times, they go hand- in-hand.

As insightful and truth-provoking as defense mechanisms are, they are only good when we have time to reflect on them; when we can sit down and plug them into our outmoded maps. Although they provide a fascinating depiction of how we have mistakenly diverted our energy, in the past, it is only after we have reflected on things we have done and the outcome of using such defense mechanisms then, and only then, can we be more conscious of them in the future.

In the end, we must develop our own system of morals and test them accordingly. We can form a strategy, test it, and later take out our defense mechanism screwdrivers and screw the loose screws back in. Whenever we displace or sublimate anything, an unconscious diversion of anger or other strong emotion is always possible. However, we can become just as inadvertently destructive by not choosing to divert certain energies elsewhere, during certain situations like in the work example.

By not replacing unsatisfied desires and moving on to other tasks, we can stultify our growth and development. Walter Toman introduced this concept as the rate of cathexis the rate of psychological functioning. We all form certain desires throughout our lives and when these desires are deprived, we discern ways of substituting them with other desires. Moreover, as Toman explains each person varies in the rate that he can do this.

The faster we replace ungratified desires, the more efficient our rate of functioning will be. Lets say that I am at the soda machine and want a coca-cola, but it is sold out. However, I want a sprite almost as much. The sprite becomes my derivative desire. The point is I was thirsty, and now I have a drink, so all is well.

Conversely, if I become stubborn and disgruntled and refuse to make a second choice, I will walk away thirsty and much more disappointed than if I would have chosen something else. This is why indecisiveness is considered to be a symptom of depression. So what is cathexis?

Cathexis is defined as the investment of mental or emotional energy in a person, object, or idea. Specifically, it is the process of investment in which we learn to appreciate, and incorporate new desires. Look at this idea of forming derivative desires as a strategy for coping with anxiety. On the contrary, we must use defense mechanisms as the powerful tools of reflection that they are. They can help us to discern how we have reacted to anxiety in the past.

The more we reflect on them and understand them, the more conscious we will become of them in the future.

Flux, A Strategy Guide for OCD

This is the whole point of psychoanalysis. Through digging up these unconscious tendencies we hope to be more conscious about our choices in the future. Psychoanalysis is nothing but a series of deep reflections that involve re-living past events so as to determine their meaning for us in the present. Once we begin to understand these concepts we are going to have an increased insight as to how to react to anxiety in the future.

As the Rolling Stones so adequately put it, "You can't always get what you want. Let's say you have tripped on yourself while walking into class on the first day of school and almost fell on someone's desk. No doubt, you look stupid. Maybe your desire to make a friend to have lunch with just went out the window for you. Maybe you feel you ruined your chance to make a good first impression. Don't let it get you down and don't obsess. Instead just become engaged in the lecture and class discussions.

After all, you desire to do well in your class. Let this important desire take precedence, it will carry it's own momentum. In the process you may inadvertently make a friend by attentiveness to the subject matter. Perhaps somebody will agree with a comment you make in class, and wants to tell you at lunch. Now two desires have been gratified! Don't waste your time in obsessive thought convincing yourself you are ok. Suspend your disbelief, remind yourself that even though you will sometimes mess up in life, whenever you miss gratifying one desire there is always something else that you can shoot for.

It does indeed, suck - to give up an ideal you are emotionally invested in - but as I had mentioned earlier in this book when I alluded to Scott Peck, depression sucks also. Depression is a natural reaction to change; it is only unhealthy when we prolong the 'giving-up process. For us to develop a new and better idea, concept, theory or understanding means that an old idea, concept, theory or understanding must die. It is also clear that the farther one travels on the journey of life, the more births one will experience, and therefore the more deaths - the more joy and the more pain.

Sublimation displacement serving a higher useful purpose is, at its base, a healthy way of coping. I have always known this, but for a long time, I had only used it as a method of reflection. After looking back at a situation or a chain of events in my life - 1 would see how I had sublimated certain desires along the way - and how that has worked well for me, or not worked well for me.

Eventually, I began to deliberately replace my desires as a tactic to not only get me out of sticky compulsive situations, but to continue to grow as an individual. Suspension of disbelief Stop trying to ignore your obsessions and mental compulsions! What happens whenever you try to ignore anything? You force yourself to notice it more! Rather, suspend these concerns, put them off until a more appropriate time like you would put a virus in quarantine until you have a cure.

This way you are not trying to convince yourself that you are being irrational by rearranging words in your head while on the freeway in heavy traffic or during grenade training. Maybe you are being irrational, and maybe realizing this works for you. Hence, you have ignored it already. But if something is nagging at you, and eating at your attention - and your ability to concentrate on your task, ignoring it has obviously become difficult. Do not invest any more energy in trying to prevent it.

If it is an irrational concern, it will go away on its own accord if you continue to pay attention and focus in on what you are doing. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required. To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number. Would you like to tell us about a lower price? Flux is a fusion of personality psychology, moral philosophy, and the study of consciousness.

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