The disease of the century, Negativity, explained through Chinese medicine




“The human mind have many secrets. Let us unclose one of the truths that color our life without us knowing it. Enjoy.”

Nils Volden





负面 Fu mian – the Negativity concept  

Fu mian is a defense technique that focuses on making everything sounds negative. Really it does not matter what the person is confronting there are nothing else than a negative reflection coming as a response. Fu mian is pure negativity. Negativity projected on anything and everything, and if something is reflected that is decoded as negative also. Perhaps we might ask our self: “What is wrong with this person?”  Well, this is a person that live in a defense mechanism that have just one channel, then negative one; positivity simply do not exist as a frequently used option. This Fu mian defense mechanism is a way of pressing everything down and lifting nothing up. Disqualifying the positive is a way of managing life through avoiding disappointment. In Chinese psychology we find Fu mian often connected to the Po mental activity and to the Pro personality. People that exhibit negativity in a grand scale often also have disturbances in the zang organ lung.

 The reasons why the person uses Fu mian (negativity) as a defense are really interesting and comprehensive. Actually it is so interesting that we simply need to dive deep into it. Firstly we know that negativity and unpleasant memories are Yin in nature, but regarded as Yang since it is easily to recall than the opposite aspect – positivity. Something that is negatively charged makes us stay on alert and is thereby a better way to protect our self. Something positive create “a fog of everything is perfect”, an illusion and makes us wander into the wastelands without observing the dangers. Just pure luck makes us not fall. This is why positivity is Yin; positivity put us in danger.  In short, negativity make us stay away from harm, and thereby we will survive potential dangers; a survival technique. That is why Fu mian (negativity) is a preferred technique when we select Fang wei (defense mechanism).


Different persons have different degrees of Fu mian. It is normal to constitute this difference to where a person actually is focusing. Does the person focus on a distinct moment in time, beyond the moment or perhaps he simply does not focus at all. We are pre-programmed to focus at prospect and not momentary dangers. In western psychology we find this named as the Prospect theory. The prospect focus is the main reason to variation in the use of Fu mian. In Chinese psychology we find the Pro personality both more negativity angled and prospect oriented than the other personalities.  To understand this important aspect we need to go deeper into negativity.


Just as Yin in the end will overcome Yang through its patience, we also find that humans tend to avoid negative experiences stronger than they search positive desires; Negativity is stronger than Positivity! In a way perhaps the hassle with being unfaithful makes couples stay faithful to each other year after year. Remember: Yin is negativity compared to yang that will be positivity. Yin is also the stable, the sameness and Yang the ever changing and what is different.


It exist four aspects of negativity within Chinese psychology, 四方 Sìfāng Fu mian that we need to remember. 1. Negative issues will afflict stronger than positive. Yin overcomes Yang. Through focusing on the negative you indirectly protect yourself against the bad. 2. Quick growth indicates that negativity escalates quicker than positive aspects. Remember that negativity in Yin in nature, but Yang in function; Yang in Yin. Meaning Yang got speed, but not substance like Yin. We might say that the growth of Yang is stable, but accumulative for Yin. 3. Negative dominance; meaning negative weighs heavier than positive. Yin is heavier than Yang. Yin is substance in comparison to Yang that is not substance. Our Shen acknowledges that Yin goes before Yang. 4. Negative is differentiated more frequent than positive aspects. Remember that Yin factors might include more important information relevant for survival than Yang. Since we want to survive we need to focus on Yin and partly ignore Yang. We naturally look deeper into Yin than Yang factors. If a person is under pressure he will automatically start to become more sensitive. All sensitive persons will automatically use more energy on monitoring their life under these periods. Thereby, their Fang wei become more sensitive. The first choice of Fang wei is Fu mian (negativity). This is why it is natural to become increasingly negative under pressure. If a person start to become more positive as the pressure increases, we might suspect that something is wrong with the person. Sifang Fu mian are the basic concepts that create the fundament of selecting negativity as an area for focusing.

Nei Ching

Shen responds stronger to Fu mian or negative charged impulses. Fu mian moves the psychic qi stronger than a positive charged impulse. It is easier to activate a person through punishment than through gifts. Making our selection of behavior colored stronger by negative than positive events; failure guides us stronger than successes. It exist a rule called the 4:1 event rule. The rule says that we notice 4 negative events for every positive. The more sensitive a person are the more negative events will be noticed, but 4:1 are the average in the population. A minor problem might color the complete day; just as a major success might just qualify as a minor positive event for some. If a person have perceived something as positive it becomes gradually more difficult to classify other events as positive; first relatively easy, then relatively more difficult. Negativity are the opposite; first normal, then relatively more easy. It is like we wake up in the morning and become more skilled to be negative through the day. To paint this even darker, we have the 1:2 absorption rule. The rule says that one bad equal two good; meaning that if you have done one bad thing, you need two good to make up for it. If you see this in the light of the 4:1 event rule you are 4 times less likely to notice the positive action; giving us the need to do eight positive for every negative. Shen will absorb more information from negative than positive and the positive information values less than the negative; the classical Yin will win over Yang. The amount of negative information absorbed is not directly connected to the sensitivity in Yi, but rather the sensitivity in Po. In the negative/ positive accounting we find a type of counting items and not content. This means that a good action like saving the world is equal to give breakfast to the children in the morning regarding importance regarding Fu mian. If you forgot the birthday of your wife you theoretically need two good items to neutralize the negative effect, but in the light of the 4:1 event rule you need eight positive items. If this happened in a stressed moment, late in the evening or in a period where your wife had a weak psychic qi of some reason then you should consider sleeping in another bedroom until you can make up the negative score.


负压 Fùyā or negative pressure are more likely to be observed by a person than other types of pressure.  For example 正负Zhèngfù or proper pressure is more likely to be overseen. An upset boss will be seen as pressure factor, but the pile of documents waiting to be processed by the worker tends to be ignored as pressure. Shen will absorb Fuya (negative pressure) and easily ignore Zhengfu (proper pressure), because Zhengfu is considered to be normal by most of us. It is possible to name Fuya for Yin in opposition to Zhengfu that will be Yang. Since Shen absorbs Fuya faster we might conclude that we will learn faster from a negative reinforcement than a positive reinforcement; something modern research agrees in. You work better with an evil boss than with a friendly boss; of course, without considering other factors of importance.


When discussing Fu mian we also need to mention language, or even more correct the emotional words. If we have 10 emotional words, then we would expect to find 6 negative, 3 positive and 1 neutral. ¾ of all English words related to personalities have a negative tone. When perceiving facial expressions we tend to categorize neutral expressions as negative. Perhaps nature thinks that it better to take it as something negative; just in case it is something dangerous. All this negativity is related to Fang wei (defense); not to an wish to not be happy. Happy couples tend to become jealous and search for negative aspects to assure fidelity in their partner; thereby creating less happy couples. In short, whatever negative aspect we can come up with, no matter how it came to our attention has a mental priority in Shen before positive aspects. At the same time, we scan the world with negative eyes to find possible threats. The reason for this obsessive negative mindset is multiple. First, since we only can focus on one topic at a time it is better to use this limited focus on something that is potentially harmful for you; the negatively charged elements. This is often called 节选 Jiéxuǎn, selection or selective attention. Second, retrieval and accessibility of negative information tells us that negative biases grow over time; making negativity being connected to Zhi and our long term memory. We retrieve our negative information from information stores in Zhi; the mental aspect of the kidney zang, and uses it in our negatively angled analysis of the world we live in.


We have to understand that a Fu mian (negativity) that is stored in Zhi will behave a little different than many other information packages. You will retain a mental impression of the negative information, but not directly any actual information. Meaning that the person will feel something negative in association with certain topics, but he will not remember exactly why.   Making us understand that we are speaking about Yang Zhi and not Yin Zhi when handling negative impressions as a Fang wei. Yang Zhi are more connected to the impressions or the superficial aspects of the information (this does not mean less important), but the Yin Zhi are more connected to the real factual information; the sky is blue. Yang is faster to find in comparison to Yin aspects in Zhi. Since we know that relative impressions are retrieved faster than factual information, we know that first impressions are basically impressions or gut feelings more than factual. Making your gut feeling connected to previous experiences with similar or comparative aspects. At the same time we understand that a negative impression is retrieved faster than a positive due to the focus on the impression; remember Fang wei. When a person think about another person we find him to retrieve what stands out as the main perception of that distinct person, and as we know, they focus are often negative. A tip, when speaking about others or thinking about others you might consider dividing the process in two. First, the initial gut feeling and second a deeper analysis of the person. Then you compare the two, and see if you can find any interesting information; for sure you will.


An interesting aspect are that people tend to have positive aspects, but we focuses on negative appearances as big ears and – nose, to fat or to thin, but also negative happenings in the person’s life to negativize a person. This way of using negativity is often called 断然 Duànrán or definitiveness. Negative issues are regarded as more important than positive; no matter content. Positive aspects are easily overseen for an unimportant negative; we do not see the Good Samaritan for his big nose. The weight of negative in the judgment process is heavier than for the positive. Do not forget that this is a part of the defense technique that protects us and that keeps us alive.


Something strange happens when we evaluate our personal happiness; we over do our positivity. Meaning we tend to say that we and others are happier than what is the real experienced happiness. This is just another defense mechanism in us: First it paints a nicer image of us than normal. Second it makes the negativity in others become more visible. The tricks are that trough inflating the positivity in another person we find the negative aspects shine through stronger; the fourth Yin-Yang law, inter-transformation. When positivity is pulled to its extreme it transform into negativity. Pulling up to see the down side is in western literature called the figure-ground hypothesis. Negative information is regarded by Shen to be of a more importance than positive information; making it easier both to remember and to recall; meaning that it is easier for Shen to take out negative information from Zhi. This due to the special way Shen stored the information. At the same time negative information is also more distinctive, and is therefore easier to see or pay attention to. According to Chinese psychology it is Po that is responsible for sensing negative information, and to make Shen aware of this distinct information. It is little or no conscious activity involved in the initiation of this analysis. As the psychic qi weakens in the body we find the sensitivity in Po increase. A psychic qi Yin state creates a Po Yang state. This gives us three basic main variables: Po that senses the negative information, Zhi that store and recollect negative information, and Shen that decides over the information. The two extra variables are Yi that absorbing the information and feed the system with it. Note that Yi do not see the difference between positive and negative; Po does! Hun process the negative information ad if it complicates it will fill the mind, and if the activity in Hun passes the limit (Duliang) it will start to mirror (Fanying) itself in Po.


It exist an interesting technique that might be used to manipulate negative information and thereby to take away some of the edge of this information. The core idea to this technique is simple; by taking away information resting inside the negative information you start to destroy the fundament to the negative information. You make Yin become more Yang. If you manage to take away the negative edge inside the negativity we find the importance of this very special negative information fade away; meaning that it goes away. The mind will not conserve unnecessary negative information in Zhi. We are all obligated by our society to transmit positive aspects (to coexist), but when a person transmit something negative, he become more likely to be listened to and believed by others. Interestingly we find credibility largely connected to negativity and not positivity. We strangely believe in Yin and not Yang, or in other words we only believe in negativity and not INFORMATION. If something negative is associated with an aspect, we find it difficult to enjoy the positive aspects that might exist within as a strange taste has been added. Negative details will reduce the enjoyment. Yin will throw shadow on Yang.


Of out the five main personalities it is the Pro personality that is most intimately connected to negativity. The stronger Pro personality is the bigger chances for a negative angle. The chance for a stronger prospect orientation and prospect focus increases in this personality. Here we have to separate negativity and prospect. Negativity are intimately related to an impression of something and prospect are directly related to a cognitive process. Impression is Yang seen in relation to cognition that would become Yin. Making a Yang charged Pro personality tend to be more negative than a Yin charged Pro personality that tend to be more prospect oriented. The more activity in Hun in a Pro personality, the more chances for a Yang activity and thereby negativity. A Pro personality need to have control over the activities in Hun; this creates fewer chances for negativity and more chances for prospect thinking; making the use of this aspect interestingly correspond to the Hun activity and not directly the quality in Pro. Perhaps we might say that this potential activity in Hun is created by Pro.


A person that have a lot of mental activity will automatically start to become more Fu mian (negative) through pushing positivity to the side and focus on elements that might create a danger for him. In quiet times when the mind is more relaxed we find the person lifting the head and looking ahead in life, but with the radar sweeping the terrain for negativity.








The writer of this article gives seminars in Chinese medicine and Chinese psychology all over the world! Go to this page to find out how.

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