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Braking Contact

An earlier version used an interchangeable indicator of “revolutionary” for Merton’s (1938) “rebellion”. For purposes of clarity, it has been edited for “rebellion”; and references have been updated.

Maybe Gordon Allport’s (1954) contact hypothesis (pp. 261-282) can help demonstrate that there may be tremendous benefit in mixing creative Merton (1938) strain adaptations of innovation/rebellion in conformist/ritual communities of practice (borrowed from linguistics [Lave & Wenger, 1991]) in order to reduce inequalities as a result of upwardly defined deviancies (Moynihan, 1993) stratifying adaptations themselves as moderated/mediated by basic social processes (BSPs) of positivist and constructionist theories of deviancy (e.g., strain, labeling theory etc.) and mental health stigmatization (including courtesy stigma [Goffman, 1963]). But then again, maybe conformist/ritual communities of practice is where an innovative/rebellion creativity sharpens and hones skills of pro-sociated (inclusive of individuated) behavior beyond status quo systemic inequality. Basically what these cognitions are capturing is this: the reason [insert art here] fails is because of stigma against the very demographic that created it in the first place. 

This can be understood and exemplified in applying Sykes & Matza’s (1957) techniques of neutralization under Scott & Lyman’s (1968) accounts as a typology of justifications. These justifications are rolled out saying “nobody is like X”, which essentially is a denial of the victim of the stigmatized (inclusive of courtesy stigma), a denial of injury of stigmatization, and is often coupled with an appeal to loyalties to in-group stereotypes/prototypes/exemplars. Yet these neutralizations working in advance of expectancies of difficulties (Sykes & Matza, 1957, pp. 666-667) is understandable as stigmatized innovative/rebellious strain adaptive out-group identities/behaviors may be perceived to threaten/eliminate a continuity of perceived freedom1 of ritual/conformist in-group behaviors/individuals resulting in reactance in an effort to recover freedom (see psychological reactance theory [PRT; Brehm, 1966]). This then would result in attitudes (i.e., prejudices concomitant with arousal) and behaviors (i.e., discriminations concomitant with efforts to maintain/restore freedom) acting on stereotypes (e.g., strain adaptive labels, mental health labels etc.) against out-group innovators/revolutionaries that receive formless transmission in creative lineages.

The only guard against these behaviors is a functional equivalent of a public-private key exchange in select relations, or an obfuscated key sharing in a select temporal-spatial nexus which can be updated on subsequent obfuscated nexuses. Within the context of [redacted], the obfuscated key sharing is exchanged in scenarios of rapid/narrow temporal/spatial reconfigurations of “rebirth” (know the art’s community of practice etymologies of its argot terms and know it physically!).

Why rapid? B.F. Skinner’s (1937) operant conditioning comes into play… because differentiations of narrower slices of dx (calculus) are under a near-instantaneous high frequency of stimulus control (SD) operantly conditioning near-instantaneous applications of torque through progressive approximation (i.e., shaping). This shall be known as immediation (a play on mediation/mediating variables). This can be seen/felt as a virtual weak force (i.e., gravimetric effect) capable of changing differential geometries differentially affecting interference patterns of behaviors (holographic affect) well in advance of gross (i.e., mass) effects. The stimulus control width of dx (i.e., granularity) is inversely proportional to the depth of fractal recursivity (Irvine & Gall, 2000) in various modes of linguistic interferential effects. That means that rapid rebirth (i.e., [redacted]) (cough) is directly proportional to narrower dx stimulus control transmission.

Like firing a weapon, the marksbeing (inclusivity is part of the key, and yes it has re-reading harmonics) better at hitting the mark will be somewhat surprised at the squeeze (another argot term!) rather than expecting it and overcompensating (even in minute amounts) only to result in missing the mark via perceptual (i.e., cognitive) expectancies tied arousal of motor-activity reflectivity (e.g., threats to freedom [that had to be seen coming [or [this [I[m{a[<止|]r[=[redacted]>]k}]s] the] not! ]]). The brake of wisdom.

Now it goes without saying that further refinement of skill in [redacted] is then in precise stimulus control of individuation-deindividuation beyond localities toward de-localized and de-coherized nexuses. This is where coordinate systems entirely encompassing of forms, are broken leaving that which is coordinate system-less. Emptiness, the bearer exact of samsara, where “-ness” affixation is merely indexical to an absence of coordinate permutation (i.e., equations [there’s more in here])—an illocutionary way to say this is that emptiness is beyond permutation.


1 See gestalt theories of good-continuity (Wertheimer, 1923/1938), herein as applied to expectancies of the execution of cognitive event scripts, further summarized by good continuity expectancies of event scripts.


Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Addison Wesley.

Brehm, J. W. (1966). A theory of psychological reactance. Academic Press.

Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. Simon & Schuster.

Irvine, J., & Gal, S. (2000). Language ideology and linguistic differentiation. In P. V. Kroskrity (Ed.), Regimes of Language: Ideologies, Polities, and Identities (pp. 35-84). School of American Research Press.

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge University Press.

Merton, R. K. (1938). Social structure and anomie. American Sociological Review, 3(5), 672-682.

Moynihan, D. P. (1993). Defining Deviancy Down. The American Scholar62(1), 17–30.

Scott, M. B., & Lyman, S. M. (1968). Accounts. American Sociological Review33(1), 46–62.

Skinner, B. F. (1937). Two types of conditioned reflex: A reply to Konorski and Miller. The Journal of General Psychology16(1), 272-279.

Sykes, G. M., & Matza, D. (1957). Techniques of Neutralization: A Theory of Delinquency. American Sociological Review22(6), 664–670.

Wertheimer, M. (1923/1938). Untersuchungen zur Lehre von der Gestalt II. Psychologische Forschung, 4, 301-350.


[[[[[The talk of vehicles is not suitable for discussion.]]]]]
[[[Did you really think the ox was going to give it away?]]]
[[Knowing this, how can yin be stolen?]]
[Turning the symbol ninety degrees reveals that the “complete disc” was only half covered, for what was perceived as component as yin is merely the background lacking, space itself, void, where yang is the figure fore.]
Limitless equational transforms yield limitless geometric spatial configurations, but Gödel’s incompleteness theorem implies nature’s and nurture’s [redacted] are obfuscated not by secrecy, but informational inaccessibility—YIN is the nearest index approximator. Do not be mistaken, yin as a primordial womb is beyond opposite to yang, for opposition measured is yang. Sorry yang, yang cannot “know” yin, because yin is beyond rather than “outside”.

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The Self-Enjoyment Paradox: 
In Search of Csikszentmihalyi’s Radical Remedy

This was originally written for Washington State University’s PSYCH-384 Course under Alexandra Stubblefield.


A poison dart frog ascends a tree, carrying a young tadpole on its back. A young artist rushes, nearly late for class, navigates dingy and squealing subways, seas of yellow cabs flowing through streets, and rivers of humanity hyper focused on reaching their destinations across sidewalks through Manhattan. A carpenter places stock between a spindle and tailstock quill on a lathe, turning to activate the machine, and readies a tool to realize a perceived design. When thinking back to the phenomenological experiences of daily activities, for example, when putting one’s shoes on, where is the sense of “self”? Does one think, “now I will move the left finger to the right to touch and sense the texture, to grab the thread?” Most likely not. What is revealed in such a hypothetical situation is that while “I will” was momentarily communicated, sensory-motor activity is oft in flight, sans notions of self. This reality is highly experienced in sports, art, analysis, and many activities where increasing skill meets up with increasing challenge—the foundation of what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, had called “flow”.

Csikszentmihalyi’s main research area of forty years explored “cultural evolution, play, and adolescent development” (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014a, p. ix). His early life, he had been driven through experience of World War II, to find a “radical” remedy for the “systemic fault in the human condition” (p. xiii). The main body of Csikszentmihalyi’s work focused on “psychic energy, or attention” (p. xv). This work explored enjoyment and creativity beyond the work of prior psychological theorists, and it was this work that resulted in two days of conversation with Martin Seligman after a chance encounter in Kona Village, Hawaii in the 1990s (Claremont Graduate University, 2021). The results of this meeting are sensed Seligman’s 1998 APA Presidential address, that positive psychology is “a reoriented science that emphasizes the understanding and building of the most positive qualities of an individual: optimism, courage, work ethic, future-mindedness, interpersonal skill, the capacity for pleasure and insight, and social responsibility” (APA, 2008). Today, Csikszentmihalyi’s findings on human capacity for flow have been called “the secret to happiness” and it is backed by both qualitative and quantitative analysis. Yet, while qualitative and quantitative self-reports are one thing, neuroscience is another—what is flow within perception, and more so, what is operating at a neurophysiological level that “creates” it?

What is Flow?

To be blunt, flow is defined as optimal experience (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014c, p. 212), which is associated with optimizing experiences of goal directed behavior that produces positive affect (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014d, p. 206). Yet Csikszentmihalyi’s studies examined not generalized goals like completing a college degree, but examined right down into the weeds of experience, in flight, solving challenges, even right down to making coffee, or washing a spoon. In terms of positive psychology, ordered information flow (i.e., sensory perceptions) leads an ordered consciousness, where ordered consciousness is associated with optimal experience—the “‘bottom line’ of existence” (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014c, p. 209-211). Csikszentmihalyi’s research defines flow as the optimal experience of opportunity and ability from the perspective of a researcher, and anxiety and boredom from an experience perspective (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014c, p. 212). Flow is correlated to a dimension of comfortable pleasure to strenuous enjoyment (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014c, p. 230). Yet, while clearly relatable, a paradoxical finding had found that those “in flow” lack perception of self (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014b, p. 141; Csikszentmihalyi & Nakamura, 2014, pp. 221-223). Flow was discovered to nourish self, but self “destroys enjoyment” (p. 223). Csikszentmihalyi offers an Occam’s explanation:

Only when actions depart from expectations, when unlikely intentions are fulfilled, does an “I” become justified as an explanatory construct. In subjective experience at least, the free self becomes a reality when action bears witness to its existence… After successfully coping with unlikely challenges, the “I” might reappear in consciousness as the “me.” But it is a different “me” from what it had been before; it is now stronger and more competent (Smith, 1968, 1978; White 1959). (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014b, p. 223; citations preserved)

Paradox oft is a result of unexamined assumptions (a play on Goldratt’s theory of constraints), and it is these that concealing additional relationships. As to examination, Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi (2000) challenged the field to explore the “neurochemistry and anatomy of flow” (p. 12). Positive psychology research is awash in numerous studies, and many more continue to date, yet it may be worth taking up the challenge to execute a literature review of the neurophysiology of the paradox of flow and self-concept (herein the self-enjoyment paradox [SEP]) and offer an assessment of future applications.

Literature Review

It is worth reviewing neurophysiological aspects of the components of the SEP of self-nourishment (identity nourishment [i.e., nutriment]) and self-induced-enjoyment-destruction (i.e., suffering). There is ongoing extensive research in self-concept perception as it relates to psychology and neurology. Yet, as flow is a relatively new concept, there is less neurophysiological research into perceptive “ordered information flow”. That said, within the constraints of SEP, the evidence that flow is absent self-concept, whereas the recollection of self-concept destroys flow, leads a researcher to investigate neuro-intercorrelates of self-concept and flow. It is difficult to execute a literature review on SEP itself, due to a lack of research in this area, however one may investigate how and where self-concept and flow interact, or rather, how self-concept and flow moderate each other, if there is moderation at all, or if there are iterations of moderation occurring where select permutations demonstrate selectivity? In the pursuit of “ordered information flow” (it’s happening in the construction of this literature review), four categories around the topic of main concern will be sampled from literature, 1) neurophysiology of self-reference (i.e., self-concept), 2) neurophysiology of flow, 3) flow associated neurophysiology, and 4) an analysis of SEP and neurophysiology. In final discussion, some observations, research questions, and implications will be considered.

Neurophysiology of Self-Reference


First, as it is evidenced that self-concept is paradoxically absent in flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014b, pp. 141-142), it is valuable to review existing literature regarding neurocorrelates of self-concept as an activity of self-referencing. The depths to which one processes information yields stronger recall (i.e., memory), this is known as the­ depth of processing (DOP; Craik & Lockhart, 1972). Self-reference yields strong DOP, demonstrating enhanced recall, otherwise known as the self-reference effect (SRE; Higgins & Bargh, 1987; Symons & Johnson, 1997). SRE has roots in research on “self-reference as an encoding device” (Rogers et al., 1977, p. 679). SRE had been studied with clever experiments using response-time tests to adjectives etc., to explore research questions.


Numerous researchers have demonstrated that the cortical midline structures (CMSs) of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and posteromedial cortices (PMCs) are central to self-reference (Christoff et al., 2009; Kelley et al., 2002, Moran et al., 2006; Northoff et al., 2006; Schmitz et al., 2004). Compelling research from Philippi et al. (2012) had discovered that those with lesions in the mPFC had destroyed SRE. A later study by Dégeilh et al. (2015) found that the rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) plays central role to adolescent self-reference.

There is research that attempts to resolve some doubt as to the function of the mPFC, ACC, and PMCs. Araujo et al. (2013) attempted to differentiate self-referencing by employing meta-analysis of self-traits and other-traits using response-time tests across 28 publications and 31 studies with different participants (pp. 1-2). Araujo et al.’s findings found that while self-traits activated the mPFC, other-traits activated the mPFC as well, though to a lesser degree (p. 7). In Amodio & Frith’s (2006) review of literature, it is proposed that ventral mPFC is activated in self-referencing, and dorsal mPFC is activated for other[-referencing]. That said, considering the extensive results and meta-analysis, including Araujo’s findings, the mPFC, ACC, and PMCs are evidenced neurocorrelates of self-referencing, and this is sufficient for the purpose of investigating SEP. In this regard, mPFC, ACC, and PMCs activation is expected to be attenuated during flow.

Neurophysiology of Flow


Early flow research relied on self-reports, namely the experience sampling method (ESM) (Larson & Csikszentmihalyi, 2014; Csikszentmihalyi, 2014c). These self-reports are valuable in providing both qualitative and quantitative data (Csikszentmihalyi & Larson, 2014), where its ESM was/is used for heuristic use in describing patterns of individual daily experiences, evaluating common experiences of situations, and studying emotional dynamics and “other subjective states” (p. 49). ESM reports allowed the discovery of nine dimensions that moderates flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990), these nine dimensions had been categorized as antecedent, experience character, and consequence (Csikszentmihalyi & Csikszentmihalyi, 1992). Antecedents of flow are 1) equalized challenge and skill, 2) clarified goals, and 3) feedback[ed] was given immediately (Hancock et al., 2019, p. 102836). Experiences of flow are 4) focusing concentration, 5) merging activity and awareness, and 6) controlling of outcome (p. 102836). Consequences of flow are 7) time distortion, 8) self-awareness loss, and 9) intrinsic reward (i.e., autotelicism; p. 102836). Self-awareness loss concomitant with flow is assumed in SEP, it is reasonable to assume that of the nine dimensions, that the self-awareness loss is required. In this regard, where quantitative neurophysiological is expected to attenuate mPFC activity, and possibly additionally moderate ACC, and/or PMCs activity.


It is worth considering physiology with respect to flow, before entering neurological studies. Early psychophysiological studies of flow from de Manzano et al. (2010) used non-invasive measures of muscle tone, head movements, thoracic respiration, and heart period and blood pressure (p. 304); results found decreased heart period, increased smile (i.e., zygomaticus major/the smile muscle [p. 303]), increased respiration depth, decreased respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), decreased cardiac output (increased heart period [HP], and decreased systolic blood pressure [BP]), decreased full-width-at-half-maximum (FWHM), decreased maximum blood pressure (MaxP), and decreased MaxP-minimum blood pressure (MaxP-MinP; p. 306; [p. 306]). Keller et al. (2011) measured heart rate variability and salivary cortisol; results found decreased heart rate and variability and mental workload (p. 852; [p. 850]). While useful to infer some aspects of flow from a physiological measures, this leaves weaker inferences as to neurology, which later studies address.


Ulrich et al. (2013) used arithmetic tasks to induce flow (p. 195) while under magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with arterial spin labeling (ASL; p. 195). This research found increased blood flows in the left putamin, increased flow in the left inferior frontal gyrus (lIFG), increased blood flow in the posterior cortical regions (PCR), significantly decreased blood flow in the mPFC, and significantly decreased blood flow in the left amygdala (p. 199). These findings of significant decrease in mPFC neural activity corresponds with expected attenuation of self-concept/self-referencing.

Flow Associated Neurophysiology

Self-Reference and Sensorimotor Processing

Regarding SEP of self-referencing absent flow, there are additional studies that are related. Early studies have found that self-referential activity is stimulus independent (Teasdale et al., 1995, Antrobus et al., 1970). This has been confirmed by Goldberg et al. (2006), through research on self-introspection and sensorimotor categorization tasks, having found evidence of segregation between cortical regions responsible for each task (p. 330). As with other studies, during introspection Goldberg et al. found activation in the mPFC and lateral aspects of the PFC, with activation favoring the left hemisphere (p. 332). This activation was markedly diminished during sensorimotor processing (p. 337), in agreement with Kelley et al. (2002) and an additional study from Gusnard et al. (2001). Considering evidence of the absence of self during flow, and that sensorimotor activation also demonstrates an absence of self-related cortical regions, it may be helpful to explore some additional tangential areas associated with flow.

Tangential Areas of Flow

Enjoyment. One of the fundamental benefits of flow is its proportionality to enjoyment (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975; Jackson et al. 2008). Jo et al. (2019) had used a series of Google images associated with intrapersonal happiness, interpersonal happiness, and 200 neutral events, requesting participants to evaluate induced happiness and happiness of those in the images (p. 3). Jo et al. found wellbeing-related regions of the CMS’s mPFC, pregenual ACC (pACC), and PCC/Precuneus (p. 7). It is notable that the dopamine reward system (DRS) had not showed activation, namely the ventral tegmental area (vTA), nucleaus accumbens (NAcc), and putament, etc., however additional modeling did reveal nAcc activation and its association with reward seed systems (p. 7).

Depth of Processing (DOP). As SRE demonstrates increased recall, it is worth exploring the DOP model from a neurophysiological perspective. Otten et al. (2001) studied DOP through a recognition memory test of 280 words shown after either a prestimulus cue of “O” or “X” indicating semantic (animacy; deep encoding) or non-semantic (alphabetic; shallow encoding) properties, followed by a test for recall (p. 401). Semantic word recall was associated with the left inferior frontal gyrus, and the anterior and posterior left hippocampus, where non-semantic word recall was the left anterior hippocampus (p. 405). Notably, after investigating subsequent memory effects, the ventral left front cortex demonstrates increased activation (p. 405). 


Ulrich et al.’s (2013) finding of decreased blood flow (i.e., less mPFC effort) in the mPFC during flow is congruous to mPFC’s established central role in SRE. This is additionally congruous with Gusnard et al. (2001), Kelley et al. (2002), and Goldberg et al. (2006) demonstrated segregation between self-reference and sensorimotor processing. Effecively the physiology of SEP is established physiologically. Additionally, when considering studies of enjoyment with respect to neurophysiology, well-being is associated with the CMS activity and the DRS (Jo et al., 2019). As flow is associated with decreased activation in CMS (namely mPFC), the knowledge that mPFC is activated in wellbeing demonstrates additional paradoxical effects in flow, which may lead to some questions as to how and when wellbeing is assessed. Considering research starting initially with ESM relied on interruption, it is possible that the interruption to complete an ESM self-report cued physiological response that changed states from sensorimotor processing to self-reference.


There is a great deal to comment on here beyond the scope of this literature review. Thera are many research questions relating to potential “selfing” bias in ESM and Flow State Scale (FSS; Jackson & Eklund, 2004) measures. Is it possible that enjoyment occurs through oscillations between flow and self-referencing (i.e., possibly emotion [e.g., joy]), is this oscillation parallel or serial? Additional literature review recommended to examine self-reference and enjoyment. Considering Dégeilh et al.’s (2015) revelation that SRE “seems to be a consequence of better encoding of the information than processes taking place during recogntion” (p. 1975; emphasis added), this adds weight the concept of self-nourishment. Given the role of the CMS and mPFC in self-reference, is it possible that the “self” is a misnomer? It seems the CMS may be responsible for a sensorimotor-reference effect rather than self-reference effect. This seems to better align behaviorist and humanist perspectives.

To continue, a kind of meta-top to bottom processing is at play, perhaps recollection of self, destructive of enjoyment, is due to flow-interruptive speech related areas (i.e., traditionally seen as Broca’s and Wernick’s areas) which produce neurosynaptic impulses as a result of sensorimotor phoneme formations of “I” and “self”. As tightly bound to language, self-recollection is socially conditioned, and reinforced through childhood development. Earlier self-recollections used in language used in socially dependent situations (i.e., when developing skills), are no longer needed when skills are sufficient. Does an adult need to tell their mother “I’m doing my homework?” No. An adult just does it (or not, depending on development). As an adult navigating the world, or a member navigating a skilled community, no-longer useful schemas and their associated events scripts can be detrimental to tasks at hand. 

This does not just apply to the fields of psychology, because if this is that case, then what if descriptive sciences themselves are obfuscating higher realizations (it’s happened before) by holding back an as yet developed community of practice, of language (i.e., practice domain) that directly modulates local distributions of distal to proximal (i.e., world) senses sans self? These questions also bring to light additional physiological aspects of the working memory model (Baddeley & Hitch, 1974), and quite possibly physiological aspects of Freud’s original ideation of the pleasure principal and reality principal (here uncompressed for purposes of what’s about to be mentioned).

Maslow’s (1943) self-actualization is better titled flow-actualization; “self” is but a mere artifact not of neurology, but language. Pre-conceived language in literature primes for self-reference. Evidence of the SRE seems to have inspired tremendous efforts to empower memory through persistent social selfing in pursuit of personal gains—self destroys flow. It appears that overcompensation to improve memory through SRE manipulation is all over business, academia, media, and politic; overextending self/I/me through questionnaires, self-reports, diagnostics, case studies, analysis, interpretation, peer-review, practice, leadership, politics, mental health, and education. A core variable of experience is that which leads to the destruction of enjoyment is the very thing increasingly dominating social discourse—self, and its sibling, other, and its in-group, us, implying them. Another way to say this, is to enjoin another field in entirety, that of linguistic anthropology: the sign of self is linguistically relative to a destruction of cultural, linguistic, and cognitive enjoyment (i.e., optimal experience). Unfortunately, the profit of destruction is in re-construction. More research is suggested to understanding SEP through uncovering neurocorrelates of self and self-associated perceptions. It would be nice to look back having born witness to a “radical remedy before the Four Horseman saddled up again” (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014a, p. xiii)—the remedy, or weapon, is the language science leads society with, or against, itself.


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Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50, 370-396.

Merton, R. K. (1938). Social structure and anomie. American Sociological Review 3(5), 672-682.

Moran, J. M., Macrae, C. N., Heatherton, T. F., Wyland, C. L., & Kelley, W. M. (2006). Neuroanatomical evidence for distinct cognitive and affective components of self. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 18, 1586–1594.

Northoff, G., Heinzel, A., de Greck, M., Bermpohl, F., Dobrowolny, H., & Panksepp, J. (2006). Self-referential processing in our brain—A meta-analysis of imaging studies on the self. NeuroImage (Orlando, Fla.), 31(1), 440–457.

Otten, L. J., Henson, R. N. A., & Rugg, M. D. (2001). Depth of processing effects on neural correlates of memory encoding: Relationship between findings from across- and within-task comparisons. Brain (2001), 124, 399-412. 

Philippi, C. L., Duff, M. C., Denburg, N. L., Tranel, D., & Rudrauf, D. (2012). Medial PFC damage abolishes the self-reference effect. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 24(2), 475–481.

Rogers, T. B., Kuiper, N. A., & Kirker, W. S. (1977). Self-reference and the encoding of personal information. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35(9), 677–688.

Schmitz, T. W., Kawahara-Baccus, T. N., & Johnson, S. C. (2004). Metacognitive evaluation, self-relevance, and the right prefrontal cortex. NeuroImage (Orlando, Fla.), 22(2), 941–947.

Seligman, M. E., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist 55(1), 5-14.

Symons, C. S., & Johnson, B. T. (1997). The self-reference effect in memory: A meta-analysis. Psychological bulletin121(3), 371.

Tang, W., Jbabdi, S., Zhu, Z., Cottaar, M., Grisot, G., Lehman, J. F., Yendiki, A., & Haber, S. N. (2019). A connectional hub in the rostral anterior cingulate cortex links areas of emotion and cognitive control. eLife, 8

Teasdale, Dritschel, B. H., Taylor, M. J., Proctor, L., Lloyd, C. A., Nimmo-Smith, I., & Baddeley, A. D. (1995). Stimulus-independent thought depends on central executive resources. Memory & Cognition, 23(5), 551–559.

Ulrich, M, Keller, J., Hoenig, K., Waller, C., & Grön, G. (2014). Neural correlates of experimentally induced flow experiences. NeuroImage (Orlando, Fla.), 86, 194–202.

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Linguistic Anthropology: On Bodine’s (1975) Prescient “They”


Having born witness to a rapid adoption of “they” in preferred gender pronouns in the past decade through prior management in a digital marketing agency, currently operating as a General Manager/Chief Executive Officer in a LGBTQ+ supporting organization, and in friendships spanning the same, if not years prior for some outliers, the use of “they/them” as singular pronouns has been an interesting progression. That said, the question as to the use of the pronouns is nuanced, where linguistic anthropology has already “tapped the egg”, revealing something akin to a bursting of a bubble of male dominant ethnocentrist grip on social mores in conditioning language competencies and performances. From the field of linguistic anthropology, Ann Bodine’s (1975) study on “prescriptive grammar movements” concomitant with the diminishment of “they” due to “social motivations” is quite revealing of the context within which language will/is/had shift|ing>|ed>1. This shift may be akin to both the artificial and natural selectivity in biological sciences. Herein, it is proposed that a “grip” on cultural performances is backpropagated2 to operant conditioning of competencies and performances simply as a result of institutionally systematized excuses3 for cultural preferences in these. 

An Occam’s Razor to “They”

To summarize, it is entirely possible, in the Occam’s approach, that the use of “they” in LGBTQ+ communities of practice sharing in a practice of identity exploration, is most likely a “return to the middle” from a period of at attempt to constrain language use in culturally emergent democracies. Early efforts as revealed by Bodine, may reveal through subsequent study, combined with psychological and sociological theory, that constraints on linguistic freedom in speaker pronouns simply lead to reactance and a behavior attempting to recover freedom in sexual behaviors (see psychological reactance theory [PRT; Brehm, 1966]) resulting in a sudden burst through glass ceilings of attempted simplifications of social structures via institutional influence in moving toward rigid dichotomous world views through its associated rigid dichotomous language, due to a simple psychological reality of a fundamental attribution error (Jones & Harris, 1967; Ross, 1977) attributing male dominant ethnocentric successes to dispositions of dichotomous affects, thoughts, and behaviors (i.e., attitudes) rather than the fact that they (ha!) had been situationally privileged by mere starting conditions of planetary human profligation anchoring4 these attitudes, and adjusting them toward greater and greater dichotomies as pressured by democratic processes unleashing an intermixing of cultures, languages, and thoughts (i.e., linguistic relativity).

Bodine’s Prescience

Bodine (1975) uncovers evidence that, prior to the 19th century, “they” had wide use in English written (E-language variety), that it was alive and well in singular indexation, and that an “authority of grammarians” and a staunch effort to assert “androcentric social order” had occurred (Bodine, 1975, pp. 130-134). Even effort to align5 the “sex-indefinite ‘he’” became polarized, “he must represent a male; she a female; and it, an object of no sex… But the plural they equally represents objects of all the three genders” (p. 135; Ward, 1755, pp. 459-460; emphasis retained). Bodine even uncovers arguments that “the proscription against singular ‘they’ constitutes a social injustice” (p. 138). Bodine uncovers near damning evidence of an effort to enforce gender bi-modality, revealing what today can be seen as behavioral modification (i.e., punishments and reinforcers via authority) used to enforce a bi-modal view of gender, where Bodine ends with a prescient conclusion:

Personal reference, including personal pronouns, is one of the most socially significant aspects language. As such, it is particularly likely to become the target of deliberate efforts to bring symbolic representation of interpersonal relations into line with the way those relationships are structured in either the ideal or behavioral patterning of the members of a speech community. With the increase of opposition to sex-based hierarchy, the structure of English third person pronouns may be expected to change to reflect the new ideology and social practices, as second person pronouns did before them. (Bodine, 1975, p. 144; emphasis added)


With respect to Bodine’s statement, pending consideration of communities of practice, it is apparent that different communities of practice may lead, lag, join, oppose, tolerate, or accept personal pronouns reinforcing sexual-relations propagating topologies of not only E-language, but I-language (Chomsky, 1986). I-language is rather fitting for the colorful spectrum of those exploring the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Now, that said, it may be worth noting a further Occam’s razor approach, it seems possible that language pronouns might also be moderated and mediated by what Lee et al. (2004) found while studying on emotion and phoneme relations, along with Hung et al.’s [2017] study on the bouba-kiki effect—it may simply be a case of motor/emotion moderation of language use preferences. Further support for the field of linguistic anthropology is suggested, however, the author pauses, because if this knowledge is used for stronger manipulations of antecedents and consequences to continually reinforce sexual bi-modality, a larger PRT may be a result, as seen in the 1960s and 1970s, though it stands without reason, that this might just be a desired outcome for chaos (see Lawson & Kakkar’s [2021]).


1 See Multi-Valent Linguistics markup (Hodges, 2021).

2 Backpropagation is a well-known concept attributed with the learning functionality in neural networks both biological and artificial (Lillicrap et al., 2020).

3 See Sykes & Matza’s (1957) article on techniques of neutralization (i.e., “excuses” [Scott & Lyman, 1968], where herein it is proposed that attempts to systematize grammar (i.e., competency), and distributions of morpheme propagation (i.e., performance) is a matter of techniques of neutralization working in advance (Sykes & Matza, pp. 666-667) of preferred (cultural) outcomes as a result of cultural kurtosis via in-group selectivity as framed by more powerful “shares of voice” across a plurality of language communities and communities of practice continually reinforcing what Inoue (2006) seems to point out in a “linguistic topography of affect and… hierarchy”.

4 See Tversky & Kahneman’s (1974) article on anchoring and adjustment heuristic, which describes the process within which individuals estimate based on initial conditions, and subsequently adjust estimates biased by initial conditions (pp. 1128-1130).

5 See Stokes and Hewitt’s (1976) article on aligning actions, operationally defined by two criteria: (1) activities “… crucial to the process in which people create and sustain joint action by aligning individual lines of conduct when obstacles arise in its path” (p. 838; abbreviated for readability), and activities “… sustaining a relationship between culture and conduct… in the face of actions that depart from cultural expectations or definitions of what is situationally appropriate” (p. 838). 


Bodine, A. (1975). Androcentrism in prescriptive grammar: singular ‘they’, sex-indefinite ‘he’, and ‘he or she’1Language in Society, 4(2), 129-146.

Brehm J. W. (1966). A theory of psychological reactance. Academic Press.

Chomsky, N. (1986). Knowledge of language: Its nature, origin, and use. Greenwood Publishing Group.

Hodges, R. A. E. (2021, October 21). Multi-Valent Linguistics. 修行会.Retrieved from業-business/analytical-engineering/multi-valent-linguistics/.

Hung, Styles, S. J., & Hsieh, P.-J. (2017). Can a Word Sound Like a Shape Before You Have Seen It? Sound-Shape Mapping Prior to Conscious Awareness. Psychological Science, 28(3), 263–275.

Jones, E. E., & Harris, V. A. (1967). The attribution of attitudes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 3(1), 1-24.

Lawson, M. A., & Kakkar, H. (2021). Of pandemics, politics, and personality: The role of conscientiousness and political ideology in the sharing of fake news. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Advance online publication.

Lee, C., Yildirim, S., Bulut, M., Kazemzadeh, A., Busso, C., Lee, S., & Narayanan, S. (2004). Emotion Recognition based on Phoneme Classes. In Proc. ICSLP

Lillicrap, Santoro, A., Marris, L., Akerman, C. J., & Hinton, G. (2020). Backpropagation and the brain. Nature Reviews. Neuroscience, 21(6), 335–346.

Inoue, M. (2006). Vicarious language: Gender and linguistic modernity in Japan. University of California Press.

Ross, L. (1977). The intuitive psychologist and his shortcomings: Distortions in the attribution process. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, Vol. 10. (pp. 173-220). Academic Press.

Scott, M. B., & Lyman, S. M. (1968). Accounts. American Sociological Review, 33(1), 46-62.

Stokes, R., & Hewitt, J. P., (1976). Aligning actions. American Sociological Review, 41(5).

Sykes, G. M., & Matza, D. (1957). Techniques of neutralization: A theory of delinquency. American Sociological Review, 22(6), 664-670.

Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Science185(4157), 1124-1131.  

Ward, W. (1865). An essay on grammar. Scolar Press Fascimile.

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Sociology: On Prostitution & Moralogical Drives

First, I’d like to open with Thio et al.’s rather poignant and diminished case at the end of covering prostitution, “both oppression and empowerment theories are one-dimensional in focusing on one aspect of prostitution…” (as cited in Thio et al., 2019, p. 236; Weitzer, 2009, p. 215). It is clear, when taking a page from various fields, that there are varying ways to express polarization, where fields altogether are embracing greater technical capabilities is assessing it, along with assessing proposals for minimizing it. That said, something of interest occurred when watching Neumann’s (2019) Sex Trafficking in America—realizing that Phoenix Arizona’s own law enforcers are also, in a way, are demonstrating phenomena underlying theories of deviancy with respect to other cities, states, nations, and global regions. Compared to Phoenix Arizona, other places on the planet have legalized prostitution, some have not, and some have limited it (Thio et al., 2019, p. 233). Phoenix’s officers are in fact, demonstrating aspects of positivist and constructionist theory when enforcing a change in how it handles prostitution, namely in the change in approach to labeling “women and girls” as victims rather than criminals, and labeling pimps as sex traffickers (Neumann, 2019, 00:05:07). To some people in “other places”, Phoenix’s own police may be deemed deviant with respect to their own norms, so here is an opportunity to apply theories of deviancy at an arm’s length perspective.

Weitzer’s Paradigms As Base

Weitzer (2009) considers two paradigms in opposition, namely an oppression paradigm, where “sex work is a quintessential expression of patriarchal gender relations” and the empowerment paradigm, which “focuses on the ways in which sexual commerce qualifies as work, involves human agency, and may be potentially empowering for workers” (p. 214). Later, Weitzer proposes a polymorphous paradigm integrating various aspects to divest from this polarized view (p. 214). Generalizations and dramatic language in the oppression paradigm and the qualification of sex commerce as work in the empowerment paradigm are seen across Bradley-Engen and Ulmer’s (2009) own article on exotic dancing. Exotic dancing is seen by some as a “relatively coercive experience, in which women have little control… a dancer is compelled to modify her physical appearance to adhere to a male ideal…” (p. 30) and when objectively considering normative behavior uses further drama, “hostile, competitive, and isolating… women is expendable…” (p. 43). To others, exotic dancing has a “… more favorable image… there is a high degree of agency… others are less vulnerable, have more control over their work, and derive some degree of psychological and/or physical pleasure…” (p. 30). Breadley-Engen and Ulmer even mention a “more dynamic approach” of both perspectives (pp. 30-31).

In Forrester’s (2016) article on pornography, the oppression paradigm is covered by journalism reporting feminist campaigns targeting the harm of pornography—“it wasn’t a private matter but a political expression of male power”. Catherine MacKinnon is quoted using more dramatic language, as porn is “the graphic sexually explicit subordination of women” (Forrester, 2016). Forrester continues bouncing back and for the between paradigms, only to close with the effects of consolidation as moderated by the internet, and lower pay for pornography stars, closing with “some will find that cause for horror, others for celebration”.

With respect to the polymorphous paradigm of a “constellation of occupational arrangements, power relations, and worker experiences”, it would seem that this is at play in Bradley-Engen and Ulmer, and Forrester, where raw sociological enquiry seems less inclined to polarization in Heyl’s (1977) interactionist study of house prostitute training, though one may imply a certain level of “high class” professionalism within which it studied. That said, Heyl’s own mention of women learning more aggression in employing “the hustle” is noteworthy as a potential aspect of the empowerment paradigm (pp. 549-550), where Heyl mentions that call girl “difficulty in learning to hustle stems more from the fact that it involved inappropriate sex-role behavior” (p. 550). This is interesting and may demonstrate in a grater context evidence of oppression paradigm in the author’s own employment of “appropriate” sex-role behavior. Heyl’s article clearly differentiates streetwalkers to call girls and escorts (p. 549)—important for approaching this very discussion.

Oppression Paradigm in Theoretical Evidence

Considering the change in Phoenix’s policing strategy, one can easily consider this as a defining deviancy up(Moynihan, 1993), as the laws were revised to place prostitution in the realm of sex trafficking (00:04:00). Constructionist relativism is seen in labeling theory at play with stronger labels for pimps receiving permanent consequences as “lifetime sex offender” (00:48:50). “I know it seems like a big to do here, but we have to kind of make it that way, we know that, for you guys…” (00:06:24) strikes a chord of appeals to a higher authority in techniques of neutralization justifying not what they had done historically, but what they are doing and going to do in the future (Sykes & Matza, 1957, Scott & Lyman, 1968). While this may be difficult to see within the frame of Phoenix, from an visitor’s perspective or from a foreign perspective, it is a justification. 

Something further to consider is the police officer’s own contribution to differential association (Sutherland & Cressey, 1977) in reinforcement of the very deviant behavior they are fighting against (00:08:47). While difficult to consider, from one perspective of normalization of prostitution across cultures, a use of Kat exclusively seems deployed as a justification of the enforcement through sad stories (Scott & Lyman, 1968, p. 52). While Kat’s case is specific, sociological theory is useful in considering the behaviors of social movements, including police officers in enforcement. 


Considering Weitzer’s polymorphous paradigm, it seems in hindsight that studies such as Heyl (1977) and Griffith et al. (2013), along with popular articles of press represent a more balanced approach of paradigms, but… what utility is balance if there is a normal distribution assumed between the left of one paradigm vs. the right of another is not the case? What if the distribution of phenomenological evidence “on the ground” difficult to reveal as evidenced in some articles and journalists’ own accounts relay is skewed or bi-modal? It is clearly a different experience across the typology of sex workers (Thio et al., 2019, pp. 222-227). Even then, it is also possible that Merton’s strain theory is at work more so in some areas than others? Do strain adaptations favor certain types of sex workers over others, and are there mediating factors? 

Would Phoenix’s police officers and the state be as aggressive in defining deviancy up if strain was not leading to adaptations in more strictly justifying what some parts of the globe would consider puritan authoritarian conformance upon its people in matters of “basic biological drive”? It’s as if strain theory has a base and a ceiling, where strain is not only a promise of success with little support (i.e., ceiling), but also a mandate of joy consumption rather than satisfaction (i.e., base). Would the question of “biological drives” simply be written off by such individuals as one of Scott & Lyman’s accounts? What a quagmire—is humanity’s appeal to higher authorities in justifying attitudes that may be overly aggressive in administering a decentralized religious preference for ubiquitous human behaviors further accounted for as justified by moralogical drives conveniently obfuscated by bureaucratic “affairs of state”. Affairs shaming, labeling, controlling, conditioning, and paving the way to a future idealized world through accounts and its component of techniques of neutralization… all at arm’s length without breaking the coveted constraint against recognizing a state sanctioned religion. Anomie and strain seem very much at play, squeezing the population simply… to work, a work celebrated as “blood, sweat, and tears”.


Bradley-Engen, M. S., & Ulmer, J. T. (2009). Social worlds of stripping: The processual orders of exotic dance. The Sociological Quarterly, 50(1), 29-60.

Forrester, K. (2016, September 19). Making sense of modern pornography. The New Yorker. Retrieved from

Griffith, J. D., Mitchell, S., Hart, C. L., Adams, L. T., & Gu, L. L. (2013). Pornography actresses: An assessment of the damaged goods hypothesis. Journal of Sex Research, 50(7), 621-632.

Heyl, B. S. (1977). The madam as teacher: The training of house prostitutes. Social Problems, 24(5), 545-555.

Moynihan, D. P. (1993). Defining deviancy down. The American Scholar, 62(1), 17-30.

Neumann, J. [Director] (2019). Frontline: Sex trafficking in America [Documentary]. US Public Broadcasting System.

Sutherland, E. H., & Cressey, D. R. (1977). Criminology, 9th edition. Lippincott.

Thio, A., Taylor, J., Schwartz, M. D. (2019). Deviant behavior, 12th edition. Pearson.

Weitzer, R. (2009). Sociology of sex work. Annual Review of Sociology, 35, 213-234. 

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Linguistic Anthropology: On Locutionary & Illocutionary Acts, A Clarification

First off, this took quite a bit of study of Austin’s (1962) How to Do Things With Words, and in particular Lecture VIII and VIX (pp. 94-119). This took some time unpacking only to be stunned by a revelation that inflection and in reading allowed Austin’s words to readily be understood. Austin’s outlines of valences in examples helped tremendously (pp. 101-102).


On the question of what illocutionary acts are, before operationalizing illocutionary, it is important to understand that Austin’s illocutionary act is parallel to locution. Further helpful is locution’s etymology in the 15thcentury is cited as a “style of speech”, from the Proto-Indo European root *tolkw- which means “to speak” (Harper, 2022). This is illuminating in that when experimenting with applying styles of speaking to Austin’s own writing, it becomes apparent that a simple definition of illocutionary act is insufficient, for it truly is the concept that is more valuable to communicate rather than mere description, though an effort to communicate conceptually seems greater. To go straight at it, the locutionary act of stating “it truly is the concept that is more valuable to communicate than mere description”, is inclusive of an illocutionary act which would state “trust me, concepts are more valuable than description”. To take this further, a perlocutionary act1 of the same would be “the reader was stopped and reminded to read conceptually rather than descriptively” (i.e., “by writing that it is the concept that is more valuable to communicate… the writer was… reminding the reader to reciprocate by reading conceptually…”). 

Austin mentions, “to perform a locutionary act is in general, we may say, also and eo ipso to perform an illocutionary act…,” (Austin, 1962, p. 98; italics preserved2) which conveys an inseparability of locutionary act with illocutionary act—these are not separate acts but act simultaneously [in the same play of an “utterance’s” doing]. This is further evidenced in, of locutionary, illocutionary, and perlocutionary, “three, if not more, different senses or dimensions of the ‘use of a sentence’ or of ‘the use of language’, (and of course there are others also)” (pp. 108-109; parenthesis preserved); senses and dimensions of the use of a sentence implies a that perhaps the locutionary, illocutionary, and perlocutionary are as implicit frames. While there are possibly more accessible ways to communicate this in post-modernity, an argument as to the interchangeability of “act” as grounded by “a fixed physical thing that we do, as distinguished from conventions and as distinguished from consequences…” as constrained by acceptance rather than compliance (p. 106) is best left in a memo library, yet it is entirely expedient in unpacking Austin. That said, with this information now covered, it is possible to move to an operational definition of illocutionary act within which a not-illocutionary filter may expediently collapse neurological wave states to arrive at a pragmatic example.

An Operational Definition of Illocutionary Act

To increase accessibility, it is now possible, after literature review, to operationalize illocutionary in standalone from Austin’s theory. Austin’s illocutionary acts are a dimension of language use (pp. 108-109) as measured by conformances to a local distribution of conventions (p. 105) mediating (e.g., inflection, force, etc.) language production in the conveyance of force (e.g., informing, ordering, warning, undertaking etc. [p. 108]).

Examples of Illocutionary Acts

A troublesome issue growing up was the difference in language use between the mother (R.H.) I had been born of, and the father (R.M.H.). R.H.’s convention of force in conveying a command (i.e., force) was to say something to the effect of “clean your room”, where R.M.H.’s version would be, “please, clean you room”. The difference in ethnographies of both parents played into this variation, however the illocutionary acts of both parents had meant “clean your room, now” in the language use of the community. This was a very confusing and ambiguous situation, yet it became apparent in the facial expressions of both parents if movement was not engaged in attending to cleaning at that very moment. “Please” was enjoined in R.M.H.’s familial frame with a conventional force of an order (i.e., exercitive)—cleared up after departing the household to the enlist in the U.S. Army).

Another example is a very common use of “make sure” which peppers business and common language, at least in the community of practice of tech and digital marketing. An example would be, “we need to make sure we make that meeting on time”. There’s an implied locution of a warning simultaneous with an order here through “making surety”. The illocutionary act could be “you are being ordered to be on time”. For completeness a perlocution could be “you are being persuaded to want to make it a surety to others that you will be on time”.

A final example would be in the locutionary act of uttering, “due to the weather class is cancelled”, which is essentially framing up an intention so summarizing judged as a matter of convention. This convention can be seen in a great variety of expressions prefixed with “due to… A [it has been determined to] B”, yet offers uncertainty as to those responsible for determining B. The illocutionary act of this same expression would be “class is cancelled because of the weather” even possibly suffixing “, it wasn’t our/my fault”. For completeness, as above, so below, the perlocutionary act would be the consequence of “abort the routine of preparing or expecting to come to class, it is cancelled”.


While the readings on locutionary, illocutionary, and perlocutionary acts had been deeply satisfying, I wonder at a continual theme playing out in some linguistic anthropological writing. Is it possible that “running with examples” out of convenience in demonstrating a conventional force of “knowing the matter” perhaps obfuscates the principle of that which the examples model? In other words, in this literature review, is it possible that there is much more to these acts that Austin had seen? It seems now as if there are multiple valences to any singular speech act, as acts in a play running simultaneous, where matters of convention are employed in moderating and modulating utterances. This is altogether fascinating and warrants deeper investigation, because if this is the case that these acts are simultaneous, then it makes a matter of speech, far more worthy of investigating at a linguistic anthropological perspective along with neurological, psychological, and sociological perspectives. If this is the case, then it may be said that utterances concomitant with an ability to work simultaneously in different frames, which seems congruous to Jakobson’s (1960) model of the multifunctionality of language. Of course, these interpretations could be invalid, but the principle of Austin seems efficaciously communicated in three acts simultaneous in… How to Do Things with Words rather than of… How to Do Things with Words


1 Auston (1962) considers perlocution as a planned, intended, and purposed use of language having come about under an awareness language’s “effects” on attitudes, where the reference to this plan, intention, or purpose is “obliquely” or devoid of reference (p. 101). A locutionary act might be “that’s how you’re going to put the bowl in the dishwasher…”, which when read with a particular inflection reveals the perlocutionary act of “shame, stop, [remember the agreement on loading the bowls in the dishwasher]” (demonstrating the consequence [p. 102]).

2 Austin (1962) literally plays with the reader in using “eo ispo” (p. 98; italics preserved), having a page prior foreshadowed “warning” about repeating “someone else’s remark or mumbl[ing] over some sentence, or we may read a Latin sentence without knowing the meaning of the words” (p. 97; MDL employed for readability)—Austin is an exemplar of parapraxical writing (i.e., writing demonstrating statistically significant density of parapraxis per unit of [to be defined] as compared toward population[s]).


Austin, J. L. (1962). How to do things with words. Oxford University Press.

Harper, D. (2022). Locution. Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved from

Jakobson, R. (1960). Linguistics and poetics. In T. A. Sebeok (Ed.), Style in language (pp. 350-377). MIT Press.