back to article What are zombie behaviours?

Also in this week's column: Is it possible to swallow while standing on your head? Why do women have smaller feet? What is the use of the hymen? What are zombie behaviours? Asked by Arthur Wasnegel of New York City Zombie behaviours? Sounds like the action from B-grade horror movie. Or perhaps what The Stepford Wives get …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An Analogy

    It strikes me that there is a obvious similarity to microprocessors and computers here.

    The unconscious zombie behaviour is an individual chip or even a logic gate, designed to do one thing and one thing only when given the correct data, whereas the conscious is more like an full computer in that it can do many things based on a variety of data, even selecting the correct process or behaviour depending on the data provided.

    A device designed to do one thing and one thing only is always going to be faster than the device that has to decipher then decide what has to be done with the same data.

    What would be interesting is knowing if the conscious 'knows' about the unconscious behaviours and uses them by passing the correct data through.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    another point of view

    all creativeness comes from the undivided. we come from the undivided, we return to the undivided. When we are JUST BEING (Deep sleep) , out physical bodies are restored, our problems solved. we are undivided. Most people run around with their little fearful EGO's telling them they are separate and if they can just get enough of whatever (money, drugs, sex, power, prestige) they will BE happy, successful, free. What I am seeking is within. what i do to you, i do to myself. You call it Zombie, i call it undivided. The destruction (of Ego) is toward the light, Divided is the Darkness. Go towards the light, Luke.

  3. Brennan Young

    We should be surprised that anyone is surprised

    A great many spiritual leaders and consciousness researchers have pointed this out for millennia: Most people sleepwalk through life, to the delight of advertisers, cultists and spin doctors everywhere, but hold on a minute: The term 'zombie' has negative connotations which does a discredit to the automatic behaviors which keep us safe from (e.g.) traffic accidents on a more than daily basis. Your unconscious mind makes sure you don't eat bad food, leave parties when the atmosphere isn't right, and all kinds of other useful things.

    The 'true' Haitian zombie phenomenon relies on a particular drug program. Drug A (which has been identified as the puffer fish toxin) causes death-like symptoms leading to burial and so on. Drug B (a cocktail of nightshade alkaloids, usually based on datura) brings the subject 'back to life', only with the conscious mind 'removed', so that he can be sold into slavery or whatever, but still be 'useful' - all the neural responses which might make someone an industrious sugar plantation worker, for example, can still be in place. (Just think how stupid bees are, next time you munch a honey sandwich).

    I think it's a little sensationalist to use the term 'zombie' to mean simply 'unconscious', as the writer of this article has done. The unconscious mind is a fine and respectable thing, and deserves to be retrieved from the dark cobwebbed closet where Freud placed it a century or so ago. (Of course, without Freud, we might still have even uglier models of the mind).

    Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Charles Tart's book 'Waking Up' is largely about how to escape your sleepwalker self. If you want the 'airy fairy' version, read some Gurdjieff or even Nietzsche. (The Übermensch is arguably one who overcomes zombie-like behavior).

    Cybernetics pioneer Gregory Bateson once said that he was not at all surprised that we had an unconscious mind (the zombie part), but that he was very surprised that we had a conscious mind. It's clear that the conscious mind represents a tiny fraction of what who we are, but ironically it is the largest part of who we think we are.

  4. bitswapper

    Divided and Undivided

    The divided and the undivided give rise to one another, just as the living and the undead give rise to one another.

  5. Marta

    Less then conscious behaviour

    at the risk of sounding new age... i have noticed that i am most intuitive when my conscious mind is "shut down". most obvious example: if someone asks me the time when im not thinking, the numbers i blurt out are dead on a third of the time, and within five minutes another third of the time. some people i've spoken to confirm this happens to them too... same goes for questions like "guess what", my chances of answering correctly are higher when my conscious is off... so what? are we more intune with the world when we aren't overthinking it?

    and the idea that the conscious mind is anti-survival has been bothering me for quite a while... touchy subject, im sorry, but it seems that overthinking the world can lead to depression and even suicide. how can this be pro-survival?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Art work

    All top level athletes and musicians do lots of unconcious thing in their profession.

    The piano player doesn't think about where his fingers hit the notes while performing a concert. That was while he/she practiced the piece, but when time comes to play the piece before the audience the artists mind is on translating feelings and emotions.

    In that way the concious and the unconcious parts play together.

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