Applying Procedural Analysis Theory

Two Paradoxes in Psychology

Neurosis, Transduction and their Paradoxes

Simon Sheppard

Procedural analysis is a novel approach which examines human behaviour using a male-female dichotomy. Its origins are in evolutionary psychology, sex differences and game theory. Here paradoxes in two elementary human mechanisms, neurosis and transduction, are explored.

A new-old definition of neurosis

In this system neurosis is the stress which arises when one stimulus evokes two or more responses. This definition follows directly from Pavlov. Hence, a stimulus which evokes both pleasurable anticipation and fear is a neurotic response. A conflict of some kind is induced: in modern American parlance a person might say they are “conflicted.”

Many irrational behaviours, actions which we now ascribe to obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD), were previously called neuroses. A “hysterical neurosis” took place at Charcot’s famous clinic in Paris. A patient’s fist was permanently clenched, the disorder having no apparent physical cause. His growing fingernails entered his palm, eventually emerging from the other side of his hand. Charcot’s solution, the best that could be achieved at the time, was to sever the nerve to relieve the man’s agony. There were many other cases of paralysis, where the disorder appeared psychosomatic in origin.

A large-scale survey was undertaken in 1974 of patients attending British general practice. The survey was quoted by Eysenck. Of the sample of 300,000 patients, doctors diagnosed 11.9% as having a neurotic disorder. That comprised 3.8% males and 8.1% females, so according to that contemporaneous definition we can conclude that women are more neurotic than men.

Formerly an individual who washed his hands so fiercely and frequently that he bled, or a man unable to tolerate a single hair on his body, spending hours shaving, would have been described as having a neurotic condition.

It seems that subsequently the term “neurosis” became almost meaningless by overuse. Nowadays compulsive hand-washing or obsessively checking that the fridge light is off is described as OCD. Nevertheless, neurosis is a fundamental mechanism, and important.

The neurotic paradox

The so-called paradox is that the sufferer knows that his is detrimental behaviour, and of no benefit to him, costing him time and energy, yet even in this knowledge he cannot desist from doing it.

Neurotic behaviour is maladaptive behaviour: a disadvantageous adaptation. Such behaviour has been experimentally induced in animals, and can be extraordinarly persisent. Sometimes it is observed throughout the remaining life of the animal.

The neurotic paradox is not so much a paradox as a demonstration of the ultimate primacy of instinct over reason.


Valid emotions are induced, invalid ones are transduced. For example, it is possible to make someone feel shame and guilt for perfectly natural and normal behaviour.

The pressing issue is, is the evoked feeling valid or false? Facts and logic are used to determine the matter. The emotional realm is female while the male employs reason to determine whether an emotion is valid or not. That is the male strategy.

On discovery of this mechanism the word transduction was invented, though it was found later to be an old word meaning ‘the act of carrying over.’ The word has also been re-employed to describe genetic signalling between cells.

Transduction is a common component of human interaction. A simple description is that it is part of “emotional manipulation.” Looking objectively, we see that it is manifest throughout our daily lives. Transduction takes place frequently in our interactions with other individuals, and in society at large. Our speech and actions are governed in large part by others’ reactions to them.

In male-female (i.e. sexual) interaction, transduction is often most apparent in leaving behaviour. A sense of being rejected can be instilled even when no proposal has been made. Females can even give the appearance of having a duty to transduce, for example leaving a place with a show of reluctance because a certain person has arrived.

Another candidate as an example of transduction is affectionate farewells, when a female signals most strongly at the very moment when physical sex can no longer take place. The female strongly signals when an appropriate response to the signal can no longer be made.

Testing the concept against evolutionary precepts, it is clear that transduction is a female procedure. It evolved to compensate for the male’s superior physical strength. In any conflict involving aggression or force the female is at a disadvantage, and will surely lose. We imagine a brutal caveman, muscular, aggressive and short-tempered over some irritation, and a woman cowering in fear in their primitive dwelling. The man is close to striking out at her. Her injuries would be painful, debilitating and perhaps even fatal. If she were to make the man feel guilty, question his own motives or the validity of his anger, or otherwise confuse him, she may escape the beating. Her physical handicap is the evolutionary basis for many of the procedures females employ.

Transduction can be positive or negative. Positive transduction takes place notably at casinos and in restaurants. People are falsely enhanced, for various reasons. At a casino, the doorman greets visitors by name, treating them as regular, esteemed customers even if it is only their second visit. This inspires a change in the customer’s behaviour. Being treated as a “big shot” his ego is boosted, he falls into this role and is then less likely to gamble with paltry sums. The income of the casino is increased.

Similarly, the mannerisms of waiting staff inspire “airs and graces” in a restaurant’s clientelle, again enhancing them, increasing their enjoyment and encouraging a return visit.

Most transduction is undoubtedly negative however: people, especially males, are falsely diminished. Examples are legion. Shaming someone for uttering a politically incorrect word, or expressing an uncomfortable truth; inspiring guilt for an imagined crime, or a real one that is so ancient it would ordinarily be forgotten.

Sometimes unsuccessful attempts at transduction are made, and then the transducer is likely to backtrack carefully as if nothing had happened. More significant to our routine, everyday lives is the backlog, the persistent effects of former successes. Attitudes have been modified, having established conditioned, invalid responses formerly. Automatic, knee-jerk cries of “Racist!” and “Sexist!” are obvious examples.

The paradox of transduction

The paradox inherent in transduction is that populations that employ transduction are themselves susceptible to it. On its surface, this seems counter-intuitive. One would think that individuals who employed transduction would be aware of it themselves, and hence would recognise attempts to manipulate them using induced emotion (whether the emotion has a valid basis or not).

In seeking to resolve this paradox, there are at least two factors to consider. Firstly, employing transduction could be more instinctive than conscious; it is the proverbial “female defence mechanism” and certainly preferable to that beating. (However, it may be noted, the second-stage response to transduction is anger.) To the female, reality is fluid: all that matters is that it works, and how or why it works is relegated to a very incidental position, if it is understood at all.

Second, projection plays a part. Henrik Palmgren interviewed Jim Goad in May 2017 and the conversation turned to ‘public shaming.’ Goad said “People try to hurt you with what’s going to hurt them.” Persons with an insecure self-image project their nature onto others, believing that others’ self-image is equally vulnerable. Transduction is a means of imposing diminishment on the opponent.

This is far from the last word that can be said about transduction however.

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