“Mr. Jones, at night, was fishing for something down a sewer drain under a street light. A passerby asked him, ‘Did you drop your keys down this storm drain?’
‘No, I didn’t drop them here. I dropped them down the street, but this is where the light is.’”
When we consider the evolution of the human species, what makes us human is not defined by our unique human functions, such as opposable thumbs, abstract thinking, reasoning, or computational abilities. Those are good, but the defining feature of our species is the ‘play of consciousness’. Consciousness is organized as a play, a living drama, in the theater of the brain. This is not a metaphor, it is literal. The brain creates a representational world that consists of a cast of characters who relate together by feeling, scenarios, plots, set designs, and landscapes. Once formed, we perceive the world as filtered through an already existent prism of its narrative, and inner movie super-imposed onto reality.
The billions of dollars of research into fictitious brain diseases, which traces apparently faulty genes or neurotransmitters, is a fruitless enterprise looking in all the wrong places. A lot of brain research at best hits on a fad and metastasizes. At its worst it follows the big money from the pharmaceutical companies or tries to suit the self-serving political agenda of the APA in its current agenda: the search for biological markers. Most brain researchers study ‘parts’ of the brain, but they miss the ‘whole.’ Scientists leap to speculative conclusions from the parts, much like the blind men and the elephant in the old story. These false promises never amount to anything. The brain operates globally as a ‘whole,’ and is greater than the sum of the ‘parts.’
As a psychiatrist I have had the unusual situation to see so many different people, who over the years have had the full range of human suffering. I am so indebted to my patients to be entrusted with their deepest vulnerabilities in the special intimacy of therapy. It was throughout the many therapies, that I learned about the play of consciousness itself. I don’t feel entirely worthy to have found this understanding. It is reassuring to show some research that addresses the brain as a whole, and supports this understanding of consciousness.
The brain distills our experience through the top-down cortical processing of the play, to create the meaning and coherence of our moment-to-moment living. It determines our images of our individual selves and our emotional relationship life. Top-down processing is the cortical brain function that simplifies and makes possible our ability to perform the complexities of living. It would be too unwieldy for the brain to analyze the whole host of information from the senses and body nerves anew and connect it with our motor abilities, along with our intention, every moment. You wouldn’t be able to lift a spoon to your mouth, never mind balance a strawberry on it, or encompass your intention, or have a cohered sense of “you.” The cortex establishes a way to do all of this, with as little expenditure of time, effort, and attention as possible. Top-down processing creates symbolic form out of huge amounts of information, and imposes its images on reality. (See Part II)
The creation of images of personas, their emotional relatedness, and life plots—the full range of tragedy and comedy—is the drama. It describes the highest level of order in the organization of the brain. We walk around all day long, each of us, in this brain-body synthetic bubble of consciousness, our genetic endowment.
The specific and unique aspect of the human genome that generates the play is our finely developed amygdala, limbic system and hippocampus. It is through their functions that our consciousness is created. I will emphasize here the implications for psychiatry, although the vast richness of the play encompasses dreams, myths, religion, and art. For an understanding of consciousness to be valid, it has to conform to the actual brain-body in its development and organization. It cannot be a pastiche of ideas that fits somebody’s theory but does not correspond to the actualities of the human genome, as it orchestrates morphogenesis into the brain-body. Likewise, in order for an understanding of the operations of consciousness to be meaningful, it has to be consonant with the actualities of human life.
The play of consciousness crystallizes when a baby is about six weeks old. The function of the early fetal amygdala and limbic system was to map our survival interactions with our maternal environment in the womb. This brain circuitry links the body, hormones, subcortical brain, and the cortex—the amygdala for impulses of fear and pleasure; the hippocampus for gluing memories; the cingulate gyrus for attention and autonomic functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure; the hypothalamus for regulating the autonomic nervous system; and the thalamus, the relay station from the subcortex.
The development of our limbic system is progressive and ongoing throughout our fetal/newborn life. By the time we are born, these limbic circuits have sufficiently developed to be organized for our foundational appetites and rudimentary emotions of fear, anger, alarm, sadness, satisfaction, pleasure, hunger, and thirst. We map our maternal attachment, responsiveness, and provision experience through our limbic system. This is all through feeling.
By six weeks old, these mappings create high enough symbolic form to generate two personas, the ‘Authentic Being’ and the ‘Responsive Other’ in the brain theater. They relate together through the feeling of maternal love. This is the beginning of the play. These personas are as yet formless. The brain is still too immature to create representational form. The Authentic Being is a ‘feeling’ of a being without form. In fact, the litmus test as to when consciousness begins, is when the mother feels a stirring in her chest resonating with her baby. And her baby responds to her feeling. Prior to this, the mother is predisposed to love her baby. At six weeks, she feels and falls in love with him. Prior to that time, the baby mapped physical reality, motions and physical holding. But now he maps emotions. These personas will not mature into fully three-dimensional representational form until approximately age three. Nonetheless, these rudimentary personas are the beginning of the play. From now on we process our experience, no longer directly, but filtered through the ongoing play. When the brain creates representational form, we put together images of people and things. From then on we live in a three dimensional world, and we identify with those representational images.
The earlier brain mappings however remain in place and activated. Consequently there is a built in discrepancy in each of us. There is a disjunction between the role of the adult self, the mask figure played upon the stage, and the person behind the mask, the Authentic-Being. (‘Per sona’ in Latin refers to Greek theater where the actors wore masks. Persona means the sound coming though the mouth hole, the person behind the mask). We all have a resonance that our deepest self is not encompassed by our ordinary sense of self. Every person feels the presence of his hidden Authentic-Being, one way or another. It is generated by established circuits of cortical limbic mappings, an artifact of the morphogenesis of consciousness. These circuits remain throughout life as the agency that generates the feeling of our being. It is the anchor of our loving. It is the quiet voice inside of us. It is our innocence. It is the source of our creativity. It is the source of our conscience. It is the fountain of our aliveness. None of this is magical. It is just the way consciousness is organized in the brain.
This is so significant for psychiatry because when we are subject to trauma, we write traumatic plays. Such plays become our referenced framework. We filter ongoing experience through our traumatic plays. I would add here that our deeply held plays are enmeshed with our temperaments. (See – “The Nature-Nurture Question – Nature”).
When the Authentic Being is subject to deprivation and abuse, we are damaged to the core. This may predispose us to the possibility of a future psychosis. Deprivation and abuse in the early years writes sadomasochistic plays of violation and darkness. This powerfully affects our personalities. As the twig is bent so grows the tree. As we get older deprivation and abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, war, loss, death, divorce, poverty, sickness, etc.) in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, have the power to rewrite our plays and generate newly minted traumatic plays.
In the theater of consciousness, “all the world’s a stage,” where we enact our invisible plays . Our plays determine our mask figures and influence our destiny. We live out and enact our invisible internal play—all of us. Now, here’s the important question: is the destiny of the internal play and the “adult self” mask immutable? Are we destined to play out its fate? Or can we intervene and thwart the gods?
This brings us to the living theater of psychotherapy. Psychotherapy operates through emotional holding with the therapist within the boundaries of the psychotherapy. This allows the patient to mourn and recover from the pain and trauma that shaped his character, as the result of our traumatic plays. The patient then deactivates his old problematic play and writes a new one in the brain in the same way the character story was written in the first place. Psychotherapy is the specific process that deals with the play of consciousness, the pains and struggles of our personalities and our lives. Ultimately psychotherapy is about the recovery of our Authentic Being. Oddly, this seems just psychological, but it is actually biological. Actually everything is biological. Most importantly, it works with, and doesn’t violate our brains like psychoactive drugs or ECT. (See “Smashing the Neurotransmitter Myth“).
There are two unusual and beautiful studies from the Gallant lab at UC Berkeley. Both of these studies reveal how memory operates at the very high level of symbolic order regarding language, and the visualization of movies in the brain. In fact, each paper actually reflects how the play of consciousness is manifest in the brain.
In “Scientists use brain imaging to reveal the movies in our mind” by Yasmin Anwar, Media Relations, Sept 22, 2011, “As yet the technology can only reconstruct movie clips people have already viewed. However, the breakthrough paves the way for reproducing the movies inside our heads that no one else sees, such as dreams, and memories, according to researchers.”
The second is “Natural speech revels the semantic maps that tile human cerebral cortex” by Alexander G. Huth et.al. As volunteers listened to hours of narrative stories in the lab their brain activity was monitored using fMRI. These scans recorded increased blood flow to different regions of the brain, broken down into tiny cubes called voxels. ‘These semantic maps give us, for the first time, a detailed map of how meaning is represented across the human cortex. Rather than being limited to a few brain areas, we find that language engages very broad regions of the brain.’ They then were able to locate how words were distributed meaningfully all across the cortex. Meaningful associations adjacent to one area of the brain for wife/mother was found to be activated by related words, including those relating to location, such as ‘household’ and ‘apartment’. The following video demonstrates the findings. The locations of the mappings for different areas of brain show that visual words are located in the visual areas, emotional words in the limbic areas. etc. The brain is mapped in such a way that the narratives and movies are the highest order of meaning.
If we then recognize that consciousness itself is a brain illusion, generated by the hippocampus. It is a simulation of reality. Our moment to moment consciousness in this on-going simulation, through time, is experienced as real. This is true in our waking life and it explains why dreams and hallucinogenic experience all seem totally real. See Matt Faw’s “Consciousness is Memory” video. We live in movies of reality which are synthetic creations by our brains, specifically from the hippocampus.
Our internal narrative is processed always through the feelings from our amygdala and limbic system. They are distributed in memory all throughout the brain as is shown by the Gallant lab. The morphology, organized structures, and pathways of complex neuronal webs throughout the architecture of the brain create the patterns of patterns of patterns that enable the characterological drama. The hippocampus takes our internal play narrative and generates the internal movie of our consciousness.
I will address here how the brain incorporates information and builds toward the creation of the play. The cortex gives order and coherence to information by unifying huge quantities of bits of information into more encompassing form. This follows from the ordered way its neuron channels electrochemically link up, one to another. Two neurons get permanently linked by chemical processes that get established in the synapses (spaces) between them. This allows an activated electrochemical current to travel along an established pathway of connected neurons like an electric wire. These permanent, intact electrochemical circuits create neuronal memory. Single units of information get linked into patterns. A web of neuron (memory-glued) circuits constitutes a pattern of information. These webs link up with other webs to create larger webs. These webs of webs of webs create larger webs that map all throughout the architecture of the cortex.
The multiplication of these circuits creates a pyramid of order. Sensory information from the five senses and their neuronal impulses are at the bottom of the pyramid. Those are simple units of information. These patterns get linked to other patterns and become higher level units of information. As these patterns get connected into larger and more elaborate patterns, they create even higher-level units of information. The top layers of the pyramid, arising from the high-end cortical maps, create the symbolic forms that are used in top-down processing.
The brain has additional ways of linking maps of information to much higher levels of order, over and above the straightforward pyramids of order. Since many neurons can connect into one synapse, multiple neuronal circuits hook into one another, not just two. So multiple circuits of neurons get linked. This multiplies the patterns of circuits connecting to circuits even more. And finally, there are ganglions of neurons called brain nuclei, which operate as hubs to massively increase the connectivity of neuronal circuits, creating additional webs of connections, radiating outwards. This creates a higher level of order and unifies additional patterns into constellations of patterns, creating larger patterns. These huge networks of neuronal circuits link together to create the architecture of mappings that establishes high-end cortical maps. To make it even more complicated, the various neurotransmitters of connection qualitatively color the resultant symbolic forms.
When higher levels of order take form, they are increasingly abstracted from the original information and take symbolic form. Let’s take language as an example. Language is a high level of order that a child develops at anywhere from one to three years old. Consider the word “swim.” It represents and stands for the complex activity and experience of swimming. However, from the word “swim,” I don’t get wet, I don’t kick my feet, I can’t get splashed, and I don’t need a towel. It reduces the whole thing to a four-letter word. The circuit of circuits that map “swim” are the operational unit that creates the word. “Swim” is an abstraction for a huge complex of information that allows me to communicate, in shorthand, to you.
The word “swim” is an abstracted symbol, not the thing. Once a symbolic representation is established, it becomes the prism through which we see. It is at a considerable remove from the actual experience of swimming. Once the cortical mapping for “swim” is established, the lower levels of order that comprise the host of things that swimming is, are then automatically bypassed. Language operates similarly to visual images. If I look underwater at the lake shore, I see rocks underwater. This top-down projected image of “rocks underwater,” by-passes the lower levels of order which sees literally wavy broken lines, glimmering lights and shifting colors. Instead, I see rocks.
This pyramid of order allows the cortex to organize and assimilate incredibly large amounts of information very quickly and efficiently. Language allows us to talk. However, keep in mind that language can be quite misleading. There is a price to be paid for this cortically representational shorthand. Symbolic forms, taken as reality, are at variance with the actuality they represent.
The cortical process of creating form and functional order out of an incredible mass of information is extraordinarily efficient. The pyramid of order, created by reducing information into patterns, operates exponentially. Here’s a simple example of exponential expansion. Let’s say you ripped a page out of a book. If you were to fold it in half fifty-nine times, its thickness would reach the sun. Don’t worry; you can’t physically do it—but you can do the math. Start with the thickness of one page—1/300 of an inch—and double it fifty-nine times. This results in 1,767,744,000,000,000 thicknesses of paper in a stack that will extend for ninety-three million miles.
The brain works exponentially in reverse. It gives form and order to large quantities of pieces of information by reducing them exponentially. Let’s say the brain is inundated with 1,767,744,000,000,000 pieces of information of which to make sense. It operates by linking bits together. Units of two bits linked together create 883,872,000,000,000 patterns of two units. By repeating this process and linking together two-bit patterns with other two-bit patterns, we now have 441,936,000,000,000 patterns of four bits. If this process was repeated just fifty-nine times, it would create one coherent symbolic form out of all those units of information.
The brain creates order by encompassing, associating, and reducing incredible amounts of complex and diverse information into bite-sized pieces. It does so by integrating associated maps of lower levels of symbolic form, which in turn were created by integrating associated maps of lower levels of symbolic form. These webs of connected neurons create brain maps of associations of constellations that create the shorthand of functional, coherent, symbolic form. The information at the top of the pyramid takes form as the images and emotional states that are used for its top-down processing. At the top of the pyramid is the invisible play of consciousness.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.
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It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working…
I would not presume to tell someone who is convinced they are making a meaningful contribution to the world that, really, they are not…
What would happen were this entire class of people to simply disappear? Say what you like about nurses, garbage collectors, or mechanics, it’s obvious that were they to vanish in a puff of smoke, the results would be immediate and catastrophic…
Now, I realise any such argument is going to run into immediate objections: “who are you to say what jobs are really ‘necessary’? What’s necessary anyway? You’re an anthropology professor, what’s the ‘need’ for that?”
It was very difficult to pick out what to quote before linking but that is a really cool article and of course I think that the billions of dollars of research into fictitious brain diseases fits into the category of bull crap jobs.
I am still thinking about this and how my hospitalization and cost of prescriptions I didn’t want added up to the cost of a modest home.
$18,000 hospital bill and $1,400 a month in drugs. Alot of people in that place were basically there because of homelessness. Tens of thousands of dollars they still are.
I don’t know where to go with this but what would really happen if psychiatry shut its doors and closed down besides millions of people showing up in the ER due to drug withdrawals ?
This brain science stuff is kind of cool in a way but I think we would adapt very quickly to any repercussions from the disappearance of the psychiatric industry really quickly.
Most people aren’t going to click the link anyway but those that do will get it.
The billions of dollars of research into fictitious brain diseases… Unbelievable.
It’s a money laundering scheme paid for by the public. If psychiatry folded we’d all be a lot better off.
I think overall society would notice a big improvement in mental wellbeing – and the people predicted not to survive would be surviving.
Interesting blog, thanks Robert. During my drug withdrawal induced super sensitivity mania I was introduced to my “hidden Authentic-Being.” In essence, who I am within the collective unconscious.
“Every person feels the presence of his hidden Authentic-Being, one way or another. It is generated by established circuits of cortical limbic mappings, an artifact of the morphogenesis of consciousness. These circuits remain throughout life as the agency that generates the feeling of our being. It is the anchor of our loving. It is the quiet voice inside of us. It is our innocence. It is the source of our creativity. It is the source of our conscience. It is the fountain of our aliveness.”
And it seems this is who my psychiatrists were really trying to murder, according to their medical records. I did later have a pastor say to me, “some people can’t pray in private.” And perfect strangers actually came up to me and talked to me about my manic awakening / personal thoughts, as if they could hear my thoughts. I know psychiatrists believe thought projection is a type of delusion, and I was manic at the time, but a delusion by definition is a strong belief, and I’m still not sure what to make of it. What do you think, Robert?
I do agree, billions of dollars of research into fictitious DSM disorders is an incredible waste of money. We should feed the world instead. And profiteering off of defaming people with made up and scientifically invalid “mental illnesses” and torturing innocent people is a crime. It’s a shame so many did not learn this after WWII.
Well, this is certainly a brain full to process in and of itself. I will have to ponder this paragraph by paragraph over a period of time to make much sense out of it. It’s obviously something you’ve thought a lot about. 🙂
While I’m pondering though, I think I can safely say that this discussion necessarily takes us beyond anatomy into philosophy and metaphysics. For the sake of argument, let me suggest that the brain does not create or contain consciousness, and that many of the biological details you provide are not necessarily causes but correlates. What I’m challenging is the materialist idea that consciousness is necessarily “contained” or generated by the brain, rather than being channeled by the brain as a condition of the 3D/time-space bound focus in which we are seemingly interacting “right now.” It seems like a chicken-or-egg conundrum to me.
Anyway, back to the article. I think I’m good for about a paragraph or two a day, unless I suddenly “get it.”
I agree with ‘oldhead.’ As I see it, when talking about brain/mind issues, we need to separate two levels of analyses. Aristotle referred to these two levels using the philosophical terms: ‘phronesis’ and ‘sophia.’ The mind constitutes sense impressions and mental phenomena that are constantly changing. The brain is merely another organ in the body (like any other organ) that the mind knows about and analyses. In other words, it is the constantly changing mind-stream of an individual that analyses the brain.
You can understand these two levels of analyses, if you read the following article:
Karunamuni, N.D. (2015). The Five-Aggregate Model of the Mind. SAGE Open, 5 (2).
(article link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2158244015583860 )
Thanks for the essay Robert. Enjoyed reading it. Human consciousness is indeed incredible. The brain is so complex in the way it shapes and is shaped by the environment that it’s difficult to imagine how it works. This complexity lays bare the hubris of psychiatrists who think they can effectively “treat” life problems arising from the billions of individualized interactions between a mind-brain and the world over a lifetime… with a mass-produced pill. How stupid of them!
Thanks, BPDTransformation, B.A., that means a lot to me.
“Every person feels the presence of his hidden Authentic-Being, one way or another. It is generated by established circuits of cortical limbic mappings, an artifact of the morphogenesis of consciousness. These circuits remain throughout life as the agency that generates the feeling of our being. It is the anchor of our loving. It is the quiet voice inside of us. It is our innocence. It is the source of our creativity. It is the source of our conscience. It is the fountain of our aliveness. None of this is magical. It is just the way consciousness is organized in the brain.”
This is poetic, Dr. B. As connect-the-dots matter-of-fact academically logical as this sounds, I will admit that it pinged my heart and brought tears to my eyes. Perhaps as the result of limbic activity? To my mind, it is because I felt the truth of the matter, and it is a gorgeous and valuable truth. That is how I’m interpreting my feeling response to reading this.
My particular interest is the role of heart consciousness in all of this. To my way of thinking, when we forgive the past, we take back our power to shift our play of consciousness, which to me, translates into changing our role in the community/society. Whereas when we hold resentment, we are denying ourselves the power to make those shifts. I’m wondering if that overlaps with the role of mourning that you describe. The impact of our feeling and emotional nature on how our brain interprets our experience and creates our personal reality is fascinating to me.
Thanks always for your very thought-provoking words.
Thank you Alex.
I expect its just a matter of terminology. I think mourning is what is involved in coming to terms with the past. In my mind resentments are a major part of what needs to be mourned, which is how they lose their power to allow for the necessary shifts. Yes, and we then write a new play that doesn’t exactly change who we are, but allows us to be our best selves. I appreciate your sensibility and we share a common interest in “The impact of our feeling and emotional nature on how our brain interprets our experience and creates our personal reality …”
Yes, I like that phrase “coming to terms with.” I believe it is all meaningful and guiding once we release what I’d call “the ego attachment” to whatever our experience has been, which is when we become fluid for change. To me, that is spiritual consciousness, in that we trust our inner guidance, which I’d also call our ‘spirits,’ and what you are calling our “the feeling of our being…anchor of our loving…quiet voice…innocence…source of our creativity [and] fountain of our aliveness…” All of these beautiful phrases add to up to inner spirit guidance to me. When we feel this in our bodies, then we are on the path of our hearts desires, and indeed, we can shine because we feel good in our bodies. In turn, I have found this to be key in manifesting with relative ease what we need and want, rather than to go through life feeling powerless because that has been our assigned role in the eyes of a dualistic society.
If I may, I’d like to share with you my example of all that you write about, since you have seen my first film, which was filmed in 2011. Just this past weekend, we premiered locally our new film, The Dreamcatchers Follies: Music for the Ages. I play in a band with staff members of an assisted living facility, and we filmed our second show and added interviews with staff and residents. It’s 28 minutes, should you have time and feel inclined to check it out.
Between the time of my last film and this one, I’ve relocated from San Francisco to a rural area where I live among the Redwoods, and my only contact with the mental health world–aside from clients with whom I’ve been working–has been through MIA, where I’ve been processing the entirety of my experience of being rendered “permanently disabled” and second-class (and therefore, powerless) by the mental health system, thanks to these unique and enlightening discussions.
By the time I got around to making this film last year, I had changed quite a bit in terms of how I was responding to things, and how I was interpreting my past experiences in the system. As a result, my role changed, the theater changed, and my consciousness expanded wildly.
The residents came so alive on Saturday night, when they watched this, and from what I have heard today, their cheery disposition continues, they not only remember the movie, which is unusual, but they continue to be enthralled from the experience. All because I did, indeed, mourn the resentments, which lightened me up considerably.
Still, why I can forgive and release resentment, it continues to be obvious that great changes are needed for the good of society. I try to bring light best way I can, but it is not always welcome. So I look for where truth and light are embraced, and this changes my entire focus, and therefore, my self-identity.
Correction–I mean to say “…WHILE I can forgive…” (not “why”)
I hope your move to the redwoods has brought you some peace. Thank you for the movie. I enjoyed it. I’m glad you decided to perform. Being a musician myself, I am familiar with the issues. I have to say it helped having some voices of angels on board. And the Band was a great choice for the finale.
I always appreciate your clarity. And I wish you well as always.
Thank you so much, Dr. B! Indeed, every time on stage is a healing, I just make myself go through it, certainly pays off in many ways. Trust, trust, trust…
Oh yes, the urban to rural and nature has been transformative. I think I can safely call myself a ‘transcendentalist’ at this point. I am deeply in love with the nature that surrounds me, that is the source of my newfound clarity.
You know how I appreciate your work and spirit very much. I wish there were a way clients/survivors and psychiatrists could work together in a way that would truly bring unifying clarity to these issues. I do feel strongly that it is close at hand.
Thanks always for your kind words of support and encouragement 🙂
I hope my comments do not sound critical to you Robert. When I discuss these types of issues, my intention is to get at the truth rather than saying things merely to flatter the other person, so please forgive me if I sound rude.
I agree that thoughts happen through biological processes and I agree with all what you say regarding how the brain links information, how different regions of the brain such as the amygdala and limbic system have their roles, etc. But these are all analyses done at a conventional level and as oldhead stated, what we are talking about here are correlations and not causations.
An issue we tend to forget when we do all these analyses is that each and every one of us experience only one thought moment at a time (this is supported by research and I can give references if needed). For example, as I write this, thoughts are coming and going in a fast-flowing stream, changing moment to moment. As you read this too, thoughts are happening and changing from moment to moment. Anyone analyzing/being involved/engaged in anything (including analyzing the brain), or even if someone is not doing anything, they are experiencing thoughts changing from moment to moment. Attending to this thought stream, calming it and understanding it is what is known as sophia (the term used by Aristotle). This is a very different level of analyses (different from the conventional level of analyses) – this is explained in the article link I gave earlier.
I should make clear that my comments were made as challenges, not criticisms in the sense of my saying “it’s not like that, it’s like this.”
If we see ourselves as units or centers of consciousness who all interact and share information with a collective consciousness, even merging with it or allowing it to pass through us, it is not too hard to understand consciousness as energy which is channeled by, but not limited to, the physical body. Anyone who has had the experience of a song, poem or painting “writing itself” as they move the pen or brush, feeling like they’re transcribing information being received from “out there,” has had a taste of this.
I think I too was challenging what you wrote, rather than criticizing. I would specifically challenge the part where you say “Oddly, this seems just psychological, but it is actually biological. Actually everything is biological.”
This would mean that you wrote this article because your limbic system got active, and I am responding and commenting because my amygdala happened to respond?! As I mentioned earlier, although biological investigations can be carried out to find out which parts of the brain are associated with various mental phenomena, these are only associations. If a human mind were not there to interpret and hypothesize, we would not be talking about biological systems. In other words, biological understandings happen within individuals’ mind-stream that manifest from moment to moment (as I explained in my earlier post).
It also gets into questions of will and motivation. Is this thread destined to be written as the result of detached biochemical processes or are those processes being summoned to effect the result of these thoughts being organized, transcribed and communicated?
Oldhead: in terms of ‘will and motivation,’ this can be understood by reading the article link I posted earlier (here’s the pdf link to it: http://sgo.sagepub.com/content/spsgo/5/2/2158244015583860.full.pdf ). It talks about the importance of separating the ‘conventional level of analyses’ from the ‘ultimate level of analyses’ (by the way, the separation of these two levels of analyses is described in all religious traditions).
Most neuroscientists do not believe in ‘will and motivation’ – they simply say that everything happens via the brain. They say this because mental activity is associated with neural activity and it can also be observed that intentions originate as neural activity – however, there is a huge philosophical/ontological issue being ignored when analyzing this way.
I have heard of several neuroscientists who use the terms ‘brain’ and ‘mind’ to refer to the same thing – they simply say: “the brain is the mind.” To me, brain is just another organ in the body that the mind knows about. Our minds experience/analyze the outside world (i.e., all external phenomena), and also experience/analyze the inside world (our body anatomy, physiology, including circulatory system, the nervous system and the brain). The “mind” constitutes sense impressions and mental phenomena that are constantly changing, as described in the article link I posted above.
It is often considered more “scientific” to be a materialist and discount the belief in higher order events or spiritual existence. But I’ve pointed out many times that materialism is a philosophy, and as such is no more “scientific” than spiritualism or the belief in life after death. There is absolutely zero evidence to support that the mind and brain are the same thing, but it is stated as if this is so obvious that anyone who doesn’t automatically agree is a superstitious fool. At a minimum, I do think there’s plenty of evidence that the mind operates at a “software” level, being more akin to programming than wiring, even assuming a materialist jumping off point. To reduce the mind to chemical interactions in the brain is at best similar to saying a computer is just a bunch of on-off switches. It is composed of those switches, but a computer without a program is useless, and the same is true of a brain without a mind, whatever this mysterious “mind” phenomenon might be.
I would call the brain/body one manifestation or focus of mind/soul/consciousness. There could be infinite others.
A former MIA poster calling himself “Cannotsay” had a brilliant extended analogy about the mind being software, the brain hardware. The mind intangible, the brain material.
The hardware/software analogy is a good one. The ancient model of the mind (the article link I posted) however, goes beyond that in understanding the “mind” itself.
Interesting article, haven’t finished it yet. Wish i could add PDF’s to “favorites.”
Thanks for an interesting blog and discussion .
What comes to mind to me upon reading most all of the above is , what if the blind men around the elephant rotated their positions till they all could experience the elephant from each others positions , and soon after in addition all regained their eyesight. It would seem at least that they would be much better able to understand each other concerning the elephant .
If the brain is like living hardware and the mind the software that can shift to different programs in various ways and for various reasons . Are mind and brain capable of turning into each other somehow like energy and matter ? Furthermore do not the areas spiritual, emotional, physical, psychic, mental, psychological all effect each other uniquely within each individual according to what that individual believes at a subconscious level ?
Is Psychiatry Inc. some kind of coldblooded self- appointed and self- defining witch hunting virus authority program soaked in the steroid of pseudo science , that seeks to limit our choice about what , for how long , and how we think about something , as well as how we act over a lifetime shortened , during which we’re made sick by psychiatry itself, for profit and the brown nosing opportunities afforded to psychiatrists , and doctors ?
Are mind and brain capable of turning into each other somehow like energy and matter ?
My thought would be that they already are manifestations of the same energy or consciousness — mind being energy, brain being matter. I’m reminded of the “Seth” entity once channeled by Jane Roberts who said matter=energy=consciousness. I’m sure others have said essentially the same.