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The phenomenon of mentality is a central paradigm that critically changes human life.

The phenomenon of mentality is a central paradigm that critically changes human life.

Dr. Oleg Maltsev
Author, founder and head of the “Memory Institute,” named after G. Popov. Presidium member and academician of the European Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (EUASU).

Knowing how things are supposed to be characterizes an intelligent person;
knowing how things factually are characterizes an experienced person;
knowing how to change things for the better characterizes a genius.
Denis Diderot (French writer, philosopher)

A good book starts with an epigraph that runs a thread through the whole story like a guiding star guiding a reader by the hand to a logical conclusion. The epigraph to my future book “Mentality Component” and the given paper is the formula with which our research began in the third field study, in Croatia:

The geometric formula of failure = environment × willingness to die/level of professionalism of the parties.

(The geometric formula of failure is equal to the environment multiplied by the desire to die and divided by the level of professionalism of the parties)

The key to comprehending the given formula is a very complex phenomenon.

MENTALITY. Mentality as a phenomenon was the subject of the 2021 expedition. The question invites itself: what is the relation between mentality and the “formula of failure”? Answering this question is the central scientific task, the logic of which is outlined below.

First of all, it is necessary to have a common understanding of what “mentality” is. A mentality is one of those “terms familiar to science” but unknown and unexplored in detail. There are dozens of definitions and descriptions of this notion, among many of them standing “mindset,” “worldview,” “quality of consciousness that characterizes a specific individual,” “mental activity,” “peculiarities of worldview,” “worldview of an individual, social group or entire nation.” And these are merely first glance tries to define the category “mentality” as exhibited in the dictionaries.

What precisely can be said about “mentality”? It is a certain imperceptible component of the human being, undoubtedly demanding fundamental interdisciplinary examination. Therefore, from the beginning of scientific reasoning, we will consider “mentality” a particular phenomenon “X.” In terms of its manifestation, i.e. “versions of perception” of mentality’s consequences, we observe the phenomenon of an individual’s way of life, a pattern of thinking, a way of perceiving other people living in a particular territorial system.

Any scholarly study should be based on a model, a system that allows conducting research and ” unveiling the mystery” of the unknown through the methodology. In the course of the expedition to Croatia, the heuristic model of mentality study was deduced – the primary scheme of research that ricocheted a specific logical sequence of stage-by-stage development of the person throughout his life and activities.

Fig.1 Heuristic research model

The mentality is somehow related to each of the phenomena in the given scheme. In what ways? Let’s consider analytically and look into each block of the scheme to find that out.

1) Perception. When we “look” at the subject of mentality, we naturally perceive it as a particular phenomenon (moreover, immaterial, non-physical). But what is the reason for the existence of mentality, what does its structure looks like, and the logic of its formation? There are simply no answers to questions like these in the academic scholarship of the modern era.

2) Sleep. During sleep, data are stored into memory blocks, i.e., things that an individual did not have time to understand, to comprehend during the day, s/he comprehends while sleeping (one of the principles of Popov’s theory of memory). Accordingly, data is stored in a certain way, which directly affects mentality formation. We cannot say what exactly we pack and what data blocks are stored, so they will be designated as “X” blocks.

According to Popov’s research, all people from birth are nearly the same (similar structure), except for some parameters, which are not vital and have no fatal influence on life (biological, physical differences).

One category that explains “why we are so different” is how we train in life and activity (what and how we learn). For more than 30 years, I have been observing how people train (habituate) and how people approach the matter of self-education and skill acquisition. Thus, in the initial stage of choosing an approach to skill acquisition, most often than not, it is possible to conclude that with a linear system such as repetition, an individual will eventually get nowhere. The main reason for the aforementioned is that while training, people do exactly what they know how to do, but not what is required.

I was taught that training is designed to teach skills we don’t have. Developing a new skill takes doing completely different assignments; it could even be something that you never experienced or tried before.

Cornerstone Problem: Most often, training is done for the sake of the process but not for the change and the end result. Unless there is a specific goal for the workout, it’s just a pastime, entertainment.

“Training” and “mentality” are directly related to each other. The manner of self-education, the mental comprehension of the path to be taken to learn something or achieve a goal, stems, among other things, from the mentality component. Such a statement can be made based on the study of “program destiny” (2016-2019). Needless to say, the conditions of the environment where a person lives play a vital role. For this reason, if one does not consciously change the approaches to the acquisition of skills, respectively, no development of necessary skills will take place, leading to no change.

Only continuous training in the process of life and activity, with the obligatory condition of making adjustments and changes in the way of life of “I,” can free an individual from the mentality formed unconsciously and automatically.

Training = conscious, daily “making changes in oneself”. Training must be done in conditions as close as possible to those of life. In other words, “just training,” even if you are aware of the task at hand, in conditions in which you are used to already, won’t bring substantial changes.

Training belongs to the domain of psychology (not physiology, neurophysiology, or other disciplines). Elements of training need to be known in advance, before the training itself starts (otherwise the outcome can be unpredictable).

Psychology is the key science that answers the question “how to train”.

It is important to note the peculiarity of perception: everyone understands words differently. People quickly react to actions, phenomena, circumstances. That is, a human being is used to change under the influence of the external environment. And he is not accustomed to making adjustments and changes on his own. And this is one of the reasons for the existence of such a phenomenon as mentality.

3) Memory. From the point of view of understanding memory as a system, a mentality presupposes a certain unconscious configuration. In other words, it would be impossible for a mentality to exist if the memory was not formed unconsciously (that is, without any conscious effort on the part of the individual).

4) Consciousness. Consciousness is the “mirror” (reflection) of our memory. Everything that one “has” in consciousness is a reflection of the content of information blocks in the memory. Based on the heuristic model of consciousness structure, we could briefly say that human consciousness is divided into two blocks, each of which consists of four levels. For illustration purposes, let’s apply an analogy. Imagine that consciousness is a TV and memory is a remote control for the TV. Psyche is stationed in between the remote control and the TV. When one of the buttons on the remote control is pressed, a certain picture/image “fires off ” from memory, through the mechanism of the psyche, into the consciousness, and as a result, it is displayed on the TV screen. This is what the analogy looks like.

5) View of the world is the totality of the previous four parameters. Most importantly, the view of the world generates a model of human behavior (there are four types of behavior: ineffective; profitable; effective; fair), which we call in the aggregate a territorial mentality.

6) History. Perhaps it is one of the most extensive categories. History and mentality are directly related. History is often described as a temporal sequence of world events recreating a particular reality. In turn, people try to search in history for confirmation of their personal, automatic “impression of an encounter with reality”.

Based on the initial analysis of the six blocks of the heuristic model for understanding “what is mentality”, we could state as follows.

The mentality is the central paradigm that critically changes human life. In fact, mentality is often the stumbling block, an obstacle for a person, that plays a bad joke. History clearly demonstrates that sometimes it is enough just to say one “wrong” phrase and have severe consequences because of that. Also, without knowing the mentality of the other person, we can easily offend a person simply with a “wrong” act.

Mentality shapes unconscious attitudes toward people in society.

From the very beginning of the study on mentality, I kept in mind the heuristic model describing the formula for the study of the mentality component. This formula also represents a certain sequence of stages of human life. The analysis of the formula allows us to conclude the existence of two types of persons passing the formula step by step: A) an urban resident and B) a village resident. Below, we will consider the steps (stages) of human life:

Step #1. Birth of a person. Most often a person is born into a classic family with two parents, mother and father.

Step #2. A person is born on a specific territory on Earth. The choice of that place does not depend on us, nor does the choice of family.

Step #3. A person is born in a certain historical period. We do not choose it either. (Some people were born in the 17th century, others in the 19th century, 21st century.)

Step #4. Place and time are also related to the mythological component of human consciousness. All mythologemes have a historical character. For example, there are mythologems peculiar to the prehistoric period and there are no documented, written sources for that era. Other mythologems pertain to the modern era.

The mythologemic level is shaped by three vectors: historicism, time and place. A person is not only born on a certain territory, but also in a certain time. These factors influence the mythologeme he inclines to; particular mythologeme that is an integral part of an individual’s consciousness and worldview.

(A mythologem does not have a constant value. Its content is not static, but subject to change).

The mythologemic component of human consciousness is the fundamental level on which other blocks of consciousness are built. If the mythologemic block is removed, the construction of consciousness collapses. Inclination to this or that religion stems from this level. Religion is an artificially created system that is designed to fill the mythologemic level of human consciousness.

The first four levels of consciousness are bottom-up. The next four levels are top-down. This logic of building levels reveals the essence of the conflict of the levels of consciousness. Since the upper level subordinates the lower level, a person who has gone “up” no longer depends on the lower levels. Thus, the first four levels of consciousness are responsible for the mental component. The next 4 levels of consciousness are the higher levels of consciousness, the so-called superconsciousness or “supra-consciousness”, as was said by S. Freud in his early works.

Step 5: The historical aspect. Thus, the main parameter is the level of development of the civilization in which a person was born. For example, if we take a look at two hypothetical individuals, one of which was born in the primitive communal system, and the other in the Middle Ages. Logically, they would be completely different individuals, most importantly because they live in different periods of civilization and have different levels of intellectual development.

Intelligence is a key module of the first four levels of consciousness. It takes intelligence to “build” consciousness. The critical lock function of intelligence in consciousness occurs when a person cannot form his consciousness due to the lack of an appropriate intellectual level. The first four levels of consciousness depend on intelligence, i.e. how well the first four levels of consciousness are shaped, to what extent you can adjust and change the blocks on your own. The higher levels of consciousness depend on the power of the spirit. That is, there are two locks of consciousness: the power of the spirit (higher levels of consciousness) and the intellect (lower levels of consciousness).

Mentality is related to the lower levels of consciousness, where the key factor is the “lock function” of the intellect.

If the individual is unable to comprehend and pass the intellectual obstacle of building the first four levels of consciousness, the levels of consciousness are going to be organized by the territorial society where a person lives.

Step #6. The current situation, i.e. how things are at the moment.

Now we know why children are read fairy tales from infancy. This is how the vector model of upbringing is formed. And the mythologem is an integral part of human consciousness and worldview.

A human being in the process of life and activity relies on a mythologem one way or another, it is one of the first constructions or elements of his consciousness that are formed since his early age. Fairy tales read to us in childhood form the mythologemic component. That is, a received mythologem from fairy tales, like a snapshot, gets into human memory blocks, making corresponding changes in the information blocks. Memory as a system, which works according to the principle of a mirror, is reflected back in the consciousness. As a result, it shaped a worldview that we perceive. In other words, a mythologem “grinds” representations.  Moreover, the mythologeme induces us to look for confirmation in the events of the past and to form models of behavior on this basis, which we perceive as a phenomenon of the mental component in a certain territory.

Why do most people read historical novels or watch historical films? This is how people look for and find confirmation of the present in events of the past.

Step #7. Two categories of people. As noted at the international conference “The City as a Classroom,” every citizen strives to become a symbol of his or her city. For example, most residents of Odessa strive to become respectable people, the prototype of which is Mishka-Yaponchik. Misha-Yaponchik is a kind of symbol of the city, a standard, to which “one strives” (a manifestation of mentality).

A resident of the village strives to become a symbol of his family and goes to the city with that goal, but the city “welcomes” exclusively the inclination to become a symbol of the city.

Summing up the intermediate result, we could conclude that people strive to develop in two directions: to become a symbol of the city or to become a symbol of their own family.

What is the difference between these two types of people? These are two different ways of forming a mentality. A person who strives to become a symbol of the city is not interested in anything, including other people’s opinions. For him, other people are rivals, who also want to become a symbol of the city. Recall the phrase of Cardinal Richelieu from Dumas’ novel D’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers: “There are no people whom I cannot put in the Bastille.” For this type of person, the family is an antagonist. Thus, to become a symbol of the city one must be independent of one’s family (parents, relatives) as much as possible. That is, “the family watches your successes and is proud of you.” People who aspire to become a symbol of the city are high performers.

The second category unites people striving to become a symbol of their family; accordingly, for this type of person, the opinion of the family is critical. The opinion of the family determines whether he or she is a symbol of the family or not. To be a symbol of family, it is necessary to be constantly in this environment, to be inseparable from it. In business and professional practice, this type of people do not achieve outstanding results, which also significantly affects the mental component.

A person always has a choice of lifestyle. How to live is everyone’s own business. However, over and above that: from the position of the mental component, the way of life is also influenced by such a category as “I would like to believe that… I hope”. The belief is always directed into the future and determines the direction of aspirations. That is, it is a choice based on preferences.

In addition to the two types of people, there is a third type, as the rarest, they are very few – people who want to become a symbol of their land. For example, let us remember the outstanding A.I. Marinesko – the commander of the submarine “S-13” of the Red Banner Submarine Brigade of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet of the USSR Navy, captain of the 3rd rank. Hero of USSR. This is a world-class man, one of the symbols of Ukraine.

Step #8. The city itself “strives” to become a symbol in the world. There are cities with a very high concentration of symbolic people through which the city acquires symbolic status. Among different examples, cities such as Paris, Naples, Florence, Venice, Munich, Palermo. The aspiration of a city to become a symbol extends to the mentality of people living in that city. When the city became a world symbol, society demanded appropriate behavior from an individual, so that nobody disgraces the city.

Based on the preceding analysis, we formulate the following set of conclusions regarding the subject of the study.

Mentality is a consequence of one’s relationship and struggle with life. Mentality is an unconscious phenomenon, that is, people are not aware of it. One considers himself to be normal and ordinary, while people around perceive him as a peculiar individual.

Thus, one’s worldview is the cause of the nature of his relationship with life. A worldview becomes an automatic unconscious phenomenon, but it is not like that by its nature. It is variable and changeable. For example, the worldview of a teenager at the age of 16 is very different from that of a person in their 30s. But over time, variable turns into constant (automatic), which creates different obstacles.

Faith and mentality. Mentality has such a peculiarity as the construct “I would like to believe”. Faith always looks to the future and determines the direction of aspirations. That is, faith is a choice based on preference, on the basis of an already formed function (as if on the menu in a restaurant). As a result, the well-known question arises: “What can you offer me?”

Every person inclines towards a certain mythologem; it is formed from childhood, which later influences the worldview of the individual. Philosophy “grows” from the mythologeme just like a tree from seed. Let us continue the analogy: philosophy acts as a worldview, which generates mentality, and the worldview is formed under the influence of human aspirations – faith, which moves a person in several directions – in the direction of the symbolic component of the family and in the direction of the symbolic component of the city or land.

In the foundation, it is about the kind of mythologeme given to a person in his early childhood – effective or ineffective. Accordingly, this data will determine the subsequent course of the development of one’s philosophy, stemming from the core – the mythologeme.

Thus, we have comprehended the heuristic model, which allowed us to conclude a number of conclusions. Having analyzed the stages of human life 1) from the viewpoint of the motor-dynamic scheme and the system of consciousness, 2) from the viewpoint of the psychology of inferiority, there is an idea of the structure and the logic of mentality formation on the basis of three heuristic models: the model of consciousness, the model of element’s interaction and the model of personality development presented at the conference “City as a Classroom.”

This paper shortly presented the primary conclusions concerning such a global and complex phenomenon as mentality. As a result, I’d like to present one of the definitions of “mentality”, which will be covered in detail in my book.

The mentality is a safe aspiration for power, happiness, and well-being defined by a certain structure of consciousness.