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"The Mental Mechanic"

Douglas McKee

Hello, my name is Doug McKee. I am a Nurse Anesthetist. I have been practicing anesthesia for 35 years and the one thing all my patients have in common is they are really afraid of anesthesia, and so are their families. Trying different approaches to help calm my patients pre-op quickly taught me that fear and reasoning are two very different thought processes. I started studying fear so I could help them be calmer.

This is what I learned. Fear is a reactionary process that takes place in a part of our brain that has no ability to reason at all. Learning this was all the evidence needed to conclude that any fear we feel not associated with actual danger comes from faulty thinking, and it isn't real. What that means to us is that 99.9% of our fears can be eliminated from our lives.

Danger is real and we feel fear when confronted with the threat of actual harm. For example, stepping out in front of a car puts us in danger and we take action to get out of the way. On the other hand, if we are feeling stressed or worried and we look around, we will see there isn’t any real danger. The fear we feel at that time is simply the product of what I call "soap opera" thinking going on in our head. Worry and stress are examples of this kind of thinking. Worry and stress are actually the results of faulty thinking habits and we can learn to control and eliminate them.

I also discovered our thinking is very mechanical in nature and quite easy to understand.. My book, Mental Mechanics: A Repair Manual, is the first book that really explains HOW HUMANS THINK in terms we can easily understand. How we process the information that our brain has stored from our experiences is actually more important than the information that’s in there.

Freud almost got it right, but his conclusions pointed the mental health profession in the wrong direction. It currently focuses on what doesn’t work, on what is wrong with us. He didn't go far enough. He studied and worked with unsuccessful people. By that I mean people who simply couldn’t get through a day. They could not function like the rest of us. In doing this he discovered we “normal” folks had the same stuff and processes going on, just not as pronounced. His biggest mistake was to assume, just because it was true in his patients, that everyone’s thought processes are automatic and uncontrollable.

How can you fix something if you have only studied things that are broken and don’t work? His mistake was simply one of focus. To be sure, we all have crazy stuff in our memories and our experiences, but the most important thing is HOW we use it, not just that it's there.

When we are stuck in a difficult situation, we almost always know how we got there. We do not need to focus on the drama of how we got there; we just need to know how to solve the problem so we can move forward.

What Freud should have done, and what I have done for the last thirty years, is focus on studying and identifying the successful thought process we all use. Mentally and emotionally healthy people use specific thought processes that increase the probability of success and decrease the emotional distress. They aren’t rocket science and we each already have most of them.

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