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posted on Jan, 1 2014 @ 03:15 AM

I love logic. Logic is a wonderful human capacity. This ability of ours to break things down, or build things up based on some theorized understanding, enables us to do many incredible things.

There is no greater thing in my eye than being able to repair a broken mind. The ability of human consciousness to find - when the determination and logic is there -a way to regulate it's affect state, essentially gives us the key to the garden of eden.

The nervous systems processes are parasympathetic - low energy; sympathetic - high energy; and social engagement - optimal energy. These neurobiological dynamics correspond to mental dynamics. For example, laughter and play would fall into social engagement - an optimal state. A defensive response would be a sympathetic state; anxiety would be a sympathetic state. Relaxation is a parasympathetic state. Dissociation is a parasympathetic state. Depression is a parasympathetic state.

Plasticity within the human brain occurs through processes like neurogenesis (the creation of neurones), synaptogenesis (the creation of synapses) and myelinogenesis (the creation of myelin along axon channels), these are ways the brain accommodates greater activity in regions that correspond to cognitive, limbic and autonomic activity. For example, my ability to shift my awareness from tension to open communication involves connection between dorsolateral, orbitofrontal, cingulate, thalamus, hypothalamus, amygdala, hippocampus, and ventral vagus, among other brain areas. In this example, roughly speaking, prefrontal areas (predominantly orbitofrontal cortex) is able to lessen activity in the amygdala, as well as the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal axis. In doing so, the dorsal vagal nerve "lets up". Attention has been focused on "positive" states, such as communication. Now, I am feeling good. endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin proliferate in my brain areas which process emotions, and the ventral vagus nerve which mediates cortical control of autonomic brain functions becomes activated: more metabolic energy is generated to support social engagement. "Flow" experiences follow.

This is an amazing thing. The biggest and most restrictive problem, however, no doubt comes from the autonomic nervous system. This is the oldest part of the human nervous system - both evolutionarily and developmentally speaking. At birth, the autonomic nervous system has already been somewhat regulated by the mothers own body. If the mother is relaxed most of the time, the shaping brain stem in the child is being programmed in sync with the mothers biological rhythms. High levels of HPA axis activity (cortisol, adrenaline) in the mothers nervous system will penetrate the placenta and become a factor in the fetus' brain development. This is why it's so important to be gentle with a pregnant woman. Lots of stress will program the infants brain stem to be sensitive to arousal.

The autonomic nervous system becomes "the thing" that someone who struggles with negative affect has to work with. It is extremely apt that the Bible describes the primordial situation as a battle between humankind and a snake. The snake would be the autonomic brain stem - the reptilian aspect of our nervous system. This part becomes conditioned by dysregulated pregnancies and dysregulated infant-mother early life relationships when the mother is experiencing high levels of stress. After birth, the chronically stressed, anxious, or depressed mother begins to influence, or "program" the nervous system of her own newborn child.

A child requires a particular amount of stimulation in order to develop healthy social skills. It is an absolutely essential part of growth and healthy brain development. If a mother is depressed, she is no longer available to her infants need for attachment. Every expressionless face, depressed or anxious look, will induce a corresponding response in the developing nervous system of the child. This is basically the basis for Bowlbys 3 attachment styles: secure, insecure-avoidant, and insecure-ambivalent reflect 3 different dynamics in mother-infant inter-communication. The secure dynamic is accomplished by a mother with positive affect with a keen sense of he baby's wants and needs. She showers her baby in positive emotion, which in fact helps the baby to connect and develop basic awareness of the pleasure of play, attachment, and connection with another. At the same time, she doesn't overwhelm her baby or confuse him with inconsistent behavior patterns. The baby develops a "secure" connection because of this.

The baby deprived of this experience in his first few years describes the insecure-avoidant attachment. In this relationship, the mother may be depressed or dissociated herself. She is not emotionally available to her child. The child thus learns to find stimulation in non social ways, such as paying attention to patterns on the wall. Over time, these behavioral tendencies incline the developing personality towards abstract subjects, and away from interpersonal relationships where expansive emotions occur.

Its important to remind ourselves why this is: the autonomic brainstem is being programmed by these early life experiences. A lack of stimulation will program the bodies metabolism to low-energy emotional experiences. Play, laughter, joy, will come less easily to kids like this.

The 3rd attachment type is insecure-ambivalent. Insecure-ambivalent would describe the nervous system of someone like myself. In people like this (like me) they have a mother who provides inconsistent signals to her baby. At one second, she is doting, loving, and gentle. Playing with the baby, regulating him fine. The next second, she is expressing anger, anxiety, frustration, worry - all in front or in relation to the child. The child begins to develop a feeling of "ambivalence" as to what behavior to expect from the mother. Kids like this develop in a unique way: confusion about what to expect from their mother causes them to develop a hyper-vigilance to social signals. But since the relationship is also good - the mother is capable of providing healthy and normal stimulation at times - the child begins to "yearn for it" - to look for it, and at the same time, be wary of a negative signal.

Children like this grow up wanting to make friends, but also become very sensitive to social rejection. This is what happened to me. Of course, I had the added bonus of having a mom who went through a major depression at a major turning point in my life (age 12-15); her constant neglect, her continuous anxiety, her endless yelling, and her morbid fits of crying, threw my already sensitive nervous system into major dysregulation. It was a slight trauma. Combine a trauma like this with social rejection, and you create the conditions for a major trauma.


edit on 1-1-2014 by Astrocyte because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 1 2014 @ 03:18 AM

A fourth attachment style was added in the 1990s, called disorganized-dissoriented attachment. This is the king of all evils. An innocent new-born baby, probably already slightly traumatized by growing in the womb of a mentally ill mother, begins to experience intense neglect and intense abuse. Kids like this experience severe developmental trauma. They learn to dissociate as a way to lessen the traumatic emotions the mother induces in the baby. The brain stem is conditioned for extreme hyper-vigilance states in hyperarousal, as well as intense dissociation in hypoarousal. The adults these children become experience intense feelings of shame, isolation, and dissociation from self.

So where am I going with all this? As mentioned, the brain can be directed by the mind. What we experience as "attention" is localized in the orbitofrontal area of the prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain can become "aware" of whats happening in other parts. What's happening in my body, for example, is a "piece of knowledge" that the orbitofrontal cortex can integrate and pay attention to (while working with other areas in the prefrontal cortex).

Mindfulness basically promotes synaptogenesis and myelinogenesis in the prefrontal cortex. By exercising awareness of what you're aware of, you fortify this way of thinking within your brain. Now, in applying knowledge learned of basic brain processes, you can use this fortified awareness in stimulating neuronal growth and activation in areas that correspond to the experiences being cultivated. Over time, these areas become more deeply integrated with the fortified prefrontal cortical areas.

This is a process of harmonizing the emotional memories within the right brain, with the linguistic and logical areas in the left brain. When a "representation" of body and self state very closely approximates emotionally expansive states within the body, the left brain is literally harmonizing with the right brain. The individual experiences himself in tune with his body, and within his self.

This is the neurobiology of peace within the self, and so, harmony within the world.

posted on Jan, 1 2014 @ 03:36 AM
Wow, I'm going to go smoke some green, then come back and read this serenity.

posted on Jan, 1 2014 @ 05:02 AM
There are innumerable conditionings and influences including the unknown-unknown that contribute to the human condition both psychologically and physiologically prior to conception, during gestation and throughout the critical formative years.

A calm, engaging, supportive, unambiguous and nurturing environment is most useful for a child's psychological development and you've captured some key areas in your OP... yet its not always as simple as causality.

This is a process of harmonizing the emotional memories within the right brain, with the linguistic and logical areas in the left brain.

The left brain/right brain model has outlived its' conceptual purpose... its old school.

posted on Jan, 1 2014 @ 12:12 PM
reply to post by Perhaps

The left brain/right brain model has outlived its' conceptual purpose... its old school.

No it hasn't. The right brain is DOMINANT in emotional, non-verbal, processing. fMRI's, PET scans etc, continuously show this. Similarly, the left brain is DOMINANT in linguistic and logical processing.

Additionally, even during brain development, the non-verbal, right hemisphere is significantly larger in the first few years before a child develops linguistic capabilities, wherein the left frontal lobe begins to grow in size.

This is simple hemispheral lateralization. Of course, the whole brain is active in damn near every cognitive process, but specific types of processing become dominant in one side of the brain.

This is what is meant by "left brain" and "right brain". It is an absolutely legitimate concept because it describes how the brain processes different types of information.

A calm, engaging, supportive, unambiguous and nurturing environment is most useful for a child's psychological development and you've captured some key areas in your OP... yet its not always as simple as causality.

I would have included the hard science which justifies this direction of thinking i.e. correlating a mothers cortisol levels during pregnancy with a new born infants cortisol level. Studies like this show beyond statistical chance that a mothers cortisol level "informs" HPA axis development in the developing childs brain.

Why wouldn't this be the case? We know from simple psychopharmacology that increasing the presence of one chemical or blunting the presence of another chemical will bias brain processes to compensate for the absence or surprlus of that chemical. So, people who take antipsychotics which block dopamine reception have 30% more dopamine receptors along neurons; the brain increases the capacity of dopamine reception in response to it's absence. Similarly with many other drugs that affect brain chemistry.

So, I don't know how relevant your "unknown-unknown" is. There are two basic ways in which people develop: genetics and environment. There is nothing more beyond this. Environment includes the prenatal uteran environment of the mother i.e. nutrition and stress level, as well as the back and forth exchange between the primary caregiver (generally the mother) and infant during the first few years of life. An additional factor, to a lesser extent, include socioeconomic status, which in turn often determines the environment you group in.
edit on 1-1-2014 by Astrocyte because: (no reason given)

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