realities we live In


Definition of the main reality

Child psychiatrist REINHARD LEMPP defines main reality as follows:
The reality shared with adults, the common reality in contrast to the purely personal side-reality (Nebenrealität) of the early childhood phase that cannot be shared by anyone.”

In my view the main reality corresponds to the optimal functioning reality for a given culture in a given geographic-climatic environment and at a given time.

In all strictly organized advanced civilizations an obvious advantage results from the programmed safeguarding of regularly recurring processes. Maximizing those outcomes / can achieve gains in time and communication, comparable to the automated use of a vehicle.

The big disadvantage of this routine will only gradually become aparent: It lies in the lack of adaptability of these stiffened systems to the needs of individuals and to new external circumstances. 

The consensus on what is ‘normal’

Although the so-called main reality is the valid reality in a specific cultural sphere, it corresponds only to a partial reality (and even a quite limited one compared to other possibilities). Within a civilization, the consensus trance (CHARLES TART) ensures that, despite these divergent ways of experiencing “reality”, the vast majority abides by “the official one”.

The need for outsiders

The outsiders – in relation to the main reality of a society which include the most diverse groups of people – embody an important function in any given society.

SUDHIR KAKAR specifies:
There is thus in every society a variable percentage of individuals who ‘stand outside the system’, of chosen ones on whom the group imposes to form certain forms of compromise unrealizable on the collective level, to fabricate imaginary transitions and to embody syntheses incompatible with each other.

Without these individuals the group does not exist, has no norms and above all does not experience development. For these personalities standing outside of society are holders of complete symbolic potentialities. They are poets, magicians, fortune tellers and prophets or painters, actors, visionaries, mystics, criminals and insane people.” 

Side Realities (Nebenrealitäten)

The extra reality of the child

According to LEMPP children live in a sidereality, imitating the main reality of adults in their games. However, we must clearly distinguish these secondary games (socialization, imitation, copying) from primary games (desire, curiosity, creativity). The former cover a need for security that is subtly fostered by parental behavior, whereas primary games correspond to a curiosity and an urge for variety that is already evident at birth.

Various siderealities 

For REINHARD LEMPP on the one hand, there is the sidereality of early childhood. On the other hand there is the world which is expeirienced by adults in dreams and play. Furthermore, he counts certain states arising under stress situations in neurotic people as well as the altered realities of so-called mentally disturbed people like schizophrenics and autists to the so-called sidereality.

THOMAS METZINGER would probably speak of different mental models instead of different realities

Personally, I think it would be beneficial to distinguish these possibly different worlds linguistically as well. This seems especially important when – coming from a developmental psychology perspective – we try to shed more light on these new terms.

So the so-called main reality according to LEMPP can only correspond to a partial reality. As I try to show, paradoxically within the siderealities not only partial realities but even a “universal reality” can be found, which I call by the more descriptive term of Zen reality.

Dr. Kurt Eugen Schneider
Dr. Kurt Eugen Schneider