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How Environment Determines Us

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posted on Dec, 15 2014 @ 10:43 PM
There is a basic inevitability to things when we do not pay attention to the consequences of our actions. All things are embedded within relationships. All things, everything, factually, are determined by things outside itself.

In the first trimester, the nervous system is established in some basic genetic ways. For example, differences between genes in determining variants of a certain neurochemical are influenced, as just one example, by the amount of cortisol in the mothers placenta during fetal development. Drd4 has a 7 allele variant that basically makes more dopamine in the brain than the common type. As the article says:

Mutations in this gene have been associated with various behavioral phenotypes, including autonomic nervous system dysfunction, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder,[4] schizophrenia,[5] and the personality trait of novelty seeking.[6]

All of these conditions are conditions of hyper reactivity. Whereas in one brain, this sort of action would produce this level of stimulation, in a brain that produces a DRD4 mutation (determined by excess cortisol) will create the conscious experience of overwhelming emotional arousal. Hence, for a kid in school, an endless stream of distractions, as every thought that comes into his head is packed with emotional meaning, oftentimes bad meaning (although, this gene variant may be very beneficial in promoting a subtler sense of awareness) that causes him to reel with anxieties and worries: this is ADHD, social anxiety, shyness; and even works in the minds of schizophrenics.

All of this amounts to an essentially deeper and more consciousness understanding of our collective influence on one another. If I have a wife, or a girlfriend, who's pregnant, everything I say and do can be CAUSALLY related to the developing being within her. It may be the mothers moods, but I may be doing something unjustified and inconsiderate, not realizing her emotional sensitivity during a time of such critical importance: the future health of your baby! Her diet and, even more globally, her own ability to regulate her own affect (which sets us back to the last cycle of the process I'm currently delineating) will make some other basic determinations in her child's neurobiology relating to metabolism, immune function, and other functions that have an indirect impact on the life of the mind.

Within the second trimester to the last trimester, the mothers actual moods begin to affect the child's emotional and psychological well being. Sounds will mean something just as it means something to all mammals: a loud and aggressive voice and body will produce a feeling of fear and anxiety in the baby. Evolution has designed us properly: we flee from threat when its present; if not, we fight. But if fight and fleeing aren't possible, there's the so-called "freeze" response, which nowadays is called dissociation: a biologically engrained response mediated by the vagal-nerve complex, a bundle of nerves that go from the brainstem to the stomach, which prevents communication i.e. the felt meaning of overwhelming fear and anxiety, between the emotion producing areas (subcortical and brainstem) with conscious awareness (the cortical frontal lobes). The body therefore does us a 'solid', it assumes, by sensitizing our biology to the "meanings" coming in from the environment. In the face of a chemical that means "arousal; fear; anxiety", the body selects the appropriate chemicals. It does this because the environment is the realm of meaning: survival means responding appropriately in the face of threat. Thus, our body's 'conform' themselves to the "information" coming from what surrounds it. As can be seen, this is truly a situation of 'oneness'.

Still, we are not even at birth, and so much has already been determined by external factors. The real kicker, though, isn't merely the causal reality of external events, but the fact that the external events: other people - have themselves GONE THROUGH THE SAME EXACT PROCESS! Loopy loop. This is basically what we call culture. Seems like we might as well include biology within its tentacles.

At birth, the baby's nervous system is primed to be responsive to the presumed context established by environment dependent factors. Since the mothers moods and behavior are oftentimes consistent features of her normal personality, the baby will be forced to experience the mind of the person it has thus far been experiencing "in oneness". Now, on the outside, he is dialectically related with her, and with everyday, becomes more and more involved with the complexities of social life. In this process we can make out a fractal matter primarily set by the mother, as its the mother and her regulation which has the most direct effect on the developing fetus - child - and future adult. The mothers 'personality' mixed with the presence of other influential people, together imprint a 'variant' of the mother. To give an example of this. Say the mother is 'borderline' - struggles to regulate her affect/emotion, and is vulnerable to explosive episodes of rage, periods of anxiety and depression, and other times is playful and loving. How can we expect the child's development to go? The episodes of rage predict a tendency towards dissociation in the baby; a softening of internal arousal, as the external 'negative feedback' creates mini intrapsychic traumas, preventing the expression of certain emotions. Of course, though, in real life, the mother exists with others, and the others in their relationship to the mother offer their own dialectical meaning for the child's mind. Say the husband and secondary other in the child's life is a pushover; the mother regularly berates him in front of the child. And furthermore, the father seems awkward to the child, so that the child begins to identify weakness and vulnerability with his masculinity, and correspondingly, an overriding power in the reality of the mother.

Influences as the mind becomes more complex move from the strictly biological, to the interpersonal and symbolic sphere of socializing. Since human emotions organizes human thinking, human thinking becomes stereotyped. Shame is bad, so humans innately ignore and transform the feeling of shame into something else: a regular act of magic, we turn shame into anger, towards others - what we call projection. This dynamic exists because fear, shame and anger are dialectically related to one another. We loathe the feeling of shame, though we don't name it as such. Implied in the loathing is a fear of it. It is humiliating, painful: you don't want to feel it, thus, you're afraid of it. But what comes next is whats called by psychologists "enactment". We enact by what we do what it is that is motivating our behavior. If I turn my head away from someone who I felt spurned me, I do it because I felt the shame of not being given positive feedback. Thus, regardless of whatever I tell myself, I act for a simple reason: shame, and anger directed towards the other for causing us to feel that way.

Biology, Mind, Society, Economics. These things are caught in a tight web which move back and forth between one another. At all times, even now, it sustains and maintains the dynamics of flow.

posted on Dec, 15 2014 @ 11:03 PM
Nature Vs. Nurture has always been a topic for debate. I would venture that it is about 50-50 in contributing to the outcome of our lives, however, ultimately WE have the power to make the choices that secure our destiny.

posted on Dec, 15 2014 @ 11:33 PM
a reply to: Metallicus

See, this is part of the problem. People still think in terms of 'nature vs. nurture'. There are books being written addressing this subject itself: the book "beyond versus", for instance, tries to probe the cultural reason for this now outmoded way of thinking (most scientists do not describe the problem as a binary anymore, but as a dialectical process with environment having a larger role than then inflated "nature" of the body; that is, the body is in continuously in change in unison with it's environment; although certain basic things are "firmly set', taking millions of years to become as they are, things like emotion and mind are under the rule of environmental impact; in fact, attachment studies have shown that at least 75% of human development can be predicted by environmental conditions i.e the mothers personality) His conclusion is that popular and cliched ideas take time to die. But rest assured, there is no 'versus' - hence the name of the book. There is only the dialectic of two poles in a non-linear process.

posted on Dec, 16 2014 @ 02:43 AM
a reply to: Astrocyte
Where, if at all, do you think morphic ressonance fits into this ecological web?

edit on 16-12-2014 by satsanga because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 16 2014 @ 04:53 PM
a reply to: Astrocyte

environment is wilderness how you allow strangers to affect your childs development is more like it for a retitle

posted on Dec, 16 2014 @ 07:19 PM
a reply to: satsanga

I have no idea but I think the question is interesting. In mainstream science, the focus seems to be less theoretical. What does one make with Rupert Sheldrake and his ambitious attempt to explain how things are set-up as they are. What is the force that contains reality in these forms? I really think this may be a legitimate question to ask, though I noticed many others treat the question as nonsensical.

The very existence of fractals and their represent by geometry forces us to wonder, why these forms? Its a weird and abstract question, but then again, the idea that matter impinges on gravity is also weird and highly abstract. What is gravity? Is there a relationship between forms and gravity? We know gravity forces matter when it reaches a certain mass to become 'condensed' into a sphere. At a certain point, it passes from the misshapen asteroid state into the spherical shape. In chaos theory, this would be is 'bifurcation' point, where a stable pattern - the asteroid shape - enters into attraction with a spherical shape. The transition point is the shapes of chaos theory; after that, the domain of complexity theory.

To my mind, I think this issue will be addressed one day more openly, and with the benefit of more minds working together, a more accurate picture might emerge which explains why human beings take on 2 hands, 2 legs, a head, a penis. Of course, evolutionary biology explains WHY these things happen; but I think implied in that question is the question: why should matter assume this form, to begin with? A "parsimonious" ignores the question and dubs it "nonsensical". A more quantum oriented perspective forces us to consider dynamics which might force matter into particular dimensions. The question is so abstract though!

Really, if you follow the history of science, we have consistently passed through stages of "arrogant certainty" to "oh, this situation is far more complex than I initially understood". As science progresses, human minds become every more subtle, ever more fractally "folded in", in our understanding of the subtle forces which rule the universe.

But the funny thing is, we, at this moment, are, I think, too dissociated from the fact that emotions organize cognitions - rendering all certain assertions as arrogant: fundamentally ego focused, serving the basic and primitive and more primary proclivities of the "id", the "reptilian brain", or the part of our neurobiology/psychology which automatically orients towards self interest. Embedded in this conundrum is the fact of mindfulness. Only by cultivating mindfulness, a relaxed and detached perspective towards your self experience, can you understand yourself and thus direct your life and your behaviors in a constructive way. Since human beings are structurally tied "into" each other, like pieces in a puzzle, one intrapsychic effect projected outward will educe an 'introjected' effect, assorting the consciousness of the other to respond in terms of the same intrapsychic dynamics (the element of shame; the egoic want for positive feedback, and its unconscious vulnerability to act overtly or passively aggressive towards others; undoubtedly, its the 'passive' aggressive, the unconscious enactments of denied emotions, which makes this situation so subtle)

Paradoxically, its by being paying attention to evolutionary ideas that we are able to see more compassionately how inevitable it is that human beings act as they do. There was a time before the present, hundreds of thousands of years back, and even further, when "we" were other creatures, a part of our neurobiology carried by them and passed down through the aeons as organisms evolved in their own ways, in concordance with the movements of their environments. What we humans are 'built with' today is a consequence of those millions of years of biological evolution. Nobody is beyond it. Were all programmed in precisely fixed ways.

Nevertheless, we have this amazing neocortex that is able to abstract away from the world and self-referentially look at it, in a "meta" way, a way that is fundamentally duel and dialectical, which neuroscientists like to call "emergent", popping out of the 'core self' of embodied emotion and unconscious cognition, where there really isn't any strong "I" emerging from the mass of feelings and proclivities. Just a total union with the world around it.

The paradoxical part is that we have to 'leave' the world in order to mindfully live in union with it. The human minds capacity for morality and empathy allows it to even see moral fault in its relations with non-human others. How we treat animals - our farms, our trashing of nature - look at the difference mindfulness makes when it exorcises itself from the unconscious sway of emotions in a calculating and self-absorbed mind. Clearly, it is necessary. Clearly, it indicates the next stage of our evolution - that is, if we care to survive. (I care!)

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