mmmm… That’s what I usually think when I read psychological articles and blogs.

To be more precise, I think of the ‘moving moment of meaning making’ (mmmm). This is a key concept for me and I try to hold this in mind, in each duration of my meaning making. The following thought exercise might help you to get hold of this concept:

“Imagine that you carefully set fire to the corner of a sheet of paper. You observe the moving line of ignition as the flame travels up the page. The words on that page are lost as the white paper is transformed into black ashes, which fall away. The moving moment of meaning making travels in the same manner, as synapses fire between your nerve cells. The current moment is the only point at which anything becomes “real” and it is changing, constantly. The world is brought about when your neurons are firing; these words you read cease to exist when you close the page or turn off your computer. In one sense, we can be sure of all those established facts listed in rows of books in libraries and in the huge servers which support the Internet. They will still be there if you go back and check. However, in another sense, all those truths can only be present in the now while you or I, or someone else, brings them to mind.”

Wharne, S. (2018). ‘On being an auditory hallucination’: A reflection on theory, practice, existential philosophy and hearing voices. The Humanistic Psychologist, forthcoming.


The point is that mmmm awareness can help us to step out of the reifying tendencies of academic psychological literature. When you read about a psychological model, a research finding, or recommendation, just remember that these things have no existence other than when someone holds them in mind, when someone acts in response to these ideas. Words cannot be separate from the context and human practices in which they are embedded. Academic theory, and the words I write here, exist in the possibilities they create for you as the reader, when they influence the choices you make. We cannot take up a view from nowhere, from which we can see the truth of the human condition. We can only know that condition by living it.

In my struggle to  be with the ‘mmmm,’ I turned to drawing graphic poems. I noticed that in this creative act, I must contemplate the flow of meaning from one frame to another. Each frame captures a duration, which I expand to enable a transition, from the possible to the actual, as I construct it. The discipline of starting a sequence of frames, without knowing how I will conclude that sequence, places me in the creative moment of each frame, seeking a resolution to the durations in which my moment of being is expanded. We are always in life, just trying to get from one moment to the next.

I made the following notes when working on my latest research project, trying to hold this awareness in mind:

In an empirical science research approach:

  1. Reality is taken to be a series of facts recorded in text books
  2. Facts just happens to be true, often in a counter-intuitive manner
  3. Researchers are unconcerned and impartial in the way that the come across these facts
  4. Facts exist and are true quite independently of the existence of humans
  5. Facts are stated and dealt with as if humans did not exist
  6. Ethical concerns are not relevant as facts are neutral and inert
  7. We speak about facts in the third person voice as if we did not exist
  8. Facts can be stated about people as objects, subject to the causal laws of the universe

In an existentially informed hermeneutic phenomenological research approach:

  1. Reality is experienced in the present moment, in a duration of time
  2. We cannot step out of the present moment, in which we are always in one location
  3. All our understanding of the world is filtered through the present moment
  4. Aspects of the past which we selectively bring into awareness shape the reality of our world, opening potential futures
  5. Our understanding is driven by emotion, by that with which we are concerned
  6. Anything which appears to be true for us is related to our purpose and our meaning-making
  7. Truth is partial and partisan in competing ideological interpretations
  8. Facts are constructed purposefully with some intended social change or outcome
  9. Facts are never neutral, people are not independent observable objects
  10. People can take up available subjectivities or find them imposed upon them
  11. Facts are promoted or repressed in competing systems of knowledge, imposing realities
  12. People have freewill and their behaviour is not caused by external processes


Metaphors for Madness and the evolution of my thought on this page.

Revision notes on specific philosophers and other stuff via the menu button: top left.