Masculinity – Vertical vs. Horizontal Thinking

There are 2 ways of how the human mind usually works – in a vertical or in a horizontal way. I regard this concept as crucial to understand the male psyche insofar, that men mostly tend to the vertical approach whereas at the same time it is responsible for a lot of psychic pathologies.

Let me quickly explain the specifics of each mental model.


Vertical Thinking

In vertical thinking, everything – I repeat: everything – gets splitted into a binary model with 2 poles. It’s like the world gets seen through lenses that let you interpret everything in a black-and-white way. This is good. This is bad. This girl is hot, the others let me cold. You friend, the other one foe.

People also get split up and evaluated according to hierarchical parameters. There must always be a boss, someone in charge and responsible for everything. This means, there is always someone to be glorificated as winner, hero and demi-god where at the same time someone always must be found to be blamed, regarded as scapegoat or devil.

Capitalism is based on the concept of having more or having less, of possessing and controlling something or not. Egocentric male sexuality is based upon the distinction between fuckable people (valuable) and unfuckable people (worthless). This creates worldviews that consists of top-dogs and loosers, of rich elites and poor masses to be sacrificed. Basically, vertical thinking has created the world as we know it since some thousands of years. Read –> Spiral Dynamics and Masculinity

Vertical thinking puts the personal ego before anything else. It is to assume, that it originated about 10’000 years ago, when men got aware about the reproductive power of their own sperm and began to control their properties and descendant line to gain personal advantages.

The crucial point is, that someone vertically thinking never feels like he has enough, may it be of wealth, fame or women. His mind is occupied with the evaluation of the past and concerns about the future. The trenches in global societies are nothing but a reflection of the trenches inside vertically functioning psyches.


Horizontal Thinking

Horizontal thinking is based upon the consciousness of the inherent value of everything existing. It strives for granting every entity, may it be human, animal, plant or deity, its appropriate space.

A special difference to vertical thinking is the absence of the time concept and the full awareness of the actual present reality. Strategic plans aren’t something that get consciously made, but instead, every nuance of the present moment gets detected and appreciated. Horizontal thinking is what we can call free of boundaries and is potentially limitless. This is what buddhist monks for example practice during meditation.

A lot of religious traditions proclamate the dissolving of the personal ego. Actually, in horizontal thinking, an ego still exists, but contrary to the vertical worldview, it is a reactive force to the requirements of the surroundings. Eastern martial arts for example make use of the personal body power (ego) to react to destructive forces from outside to kind of re-establish a power equilibrium.

In ancient spirituality, where horizontal thinking was predominant, the collective of the masculine ego was regarded as servant of the feminine-spirited nature. Equality was valued above else and this was also true for the realm of sex. The individual male sexuality (ego) was seen as reactive force to women’s fertility needs and desires. There was no „this is my wife“ or „this man belongs to me“, which inevitably creates social hierarchies and trenches. Read –> Polyfocal Sexuality

Emotionally, horizontally oriented people adjust themselves automatically to the requirements of surrounding creatures. This is one reason, why highly empathetic people often feel drained out after spending time in a crowd. Horizontal thinking doesn’t try to maintain a specific self-image like most people do nowadays, but rather tries to contribute to a social equilibrium.


Now What?

There would be much more to tell about and I only gave you a few examples about it. Fact is, that we all were raised to interpret the world in a vertical way, although this approach is destroying humans, societies and the whole globe in the long-term.

Unfortunately, vertical thinking is very hard for men to let go in favor for a horizontal approach, since it requires the individual to completely let go of a fix self-image and specific desires. In an earlier post, we identified the sexual procreation drive as the true origin of masculinity, concretely thoughts like „I am sexually valuable“ and „I must have orgasms“. Monks and spiritual seekers can tell, how hard it is to abandon completely the aspiration for carnal desires without actually cutting them balls off.

A profound horizontal worldview may emerge in an individual, if he feels himself living in absolute abundance of everything he may need. As this includes sexual satisfaction for men, I created the model of Neotribal Sex Dynamics to give an example of a social structure where sex and intimacy isn’t a scarcity for anyone involved.


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