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
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)