Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Affective Psychosis - Mania, Myth & Meaning

Does Bipolar Psychosis have Affective Purpose?

Can we Define What Causes Organic Psychosis?

Is Psychosis a Lucid Dream in Manic Depressive Disorder?

Does the Icarus Myth have Meaning in Mania & Psychosis?

The Practicing Phase of Self Mastery in Self Realization?

How Chaos Seeks Order in Highly Complex Systems?

I started part one of this article with a question about meaning and mania, stating that in the civilized world, our common understanding of meaning and mania is overwhelming associated with mental illness and the use of psychotropic drugs to manage such altered states of conscious experience. I then pondered the common perception of the "chemical imbalance" notion and the exposure in Robert Whitaker's book about the lies behind this mis-perception and what on earth could be responsible for our delusion.

I went on from there to point out that Stephen Porges has come up with the most inclusive theory since Darwin set sail for the Galapagos Islands and lifted the veil on evolution. Not only has he explained the mechanism's of our common humanity, by exposing the reality of Freud's unconscious "id." His Polyvagal theory of a triune nervous system can explain the nature of the spiritual experience and the meaning of mania, once a few other actors join him on the stage.

In a section titled "Altered states of Consciousness and the Autonomic Nervous System?" I questioned the cause of powerful affects like placebo and self hypnosis and how they are products of the auto nervous system and there why isn't mania? The medical profession sees mania as illness while humanists see it as a spiritual awakening to how embedded we are in the very fabric of the cosmos. Some see the brains complex electrochemical activity as a miniature reflection of a wider cosmic reality. "Just like the heavenly nebula, ideas form amongst storms of neural activity and burgeoning synaptic connections - occasionally a new conception is born in a moment some call, an epiphany" I embedded a video depicting the brains electrochemical activity.

Three Neural Circuits That Regulate Reactivity.
The Polyvagal Theory links the evolution of the neural regulation of the heart to affective experience, emotional expression, facial gestures, vocal communication, and social behavior that is responsive to the behavior of others. The theory points out that the neural control of the heart is neuroanatomically linked to the neural control of the muscles of the face and head.
Has science discovered the hidden biology beneath Buddha's serene facial expression and was this man such a gifted teacher he left his timeless wisdom, not only in words but in the secrets of our muscular postures?

In part one of this lengthy article I promised that other actors would join the stage to explain the rising awareness of feedback in organizing complex systems like our body/brain, enter Silvan Tomkins and Allan N Schore. Tomkins got the ball rolling on the mystery of innate affects and their crucial role in affective states, leading on to Schore's classic work on human development in
"Affect Regulation & the Origin of the Self"

"The essential role of feedback from bodily systems, especially facial and postural, 
underlies the generation of emotion." (P,49) Affect Regulation & the Origin of the Self .

Why does the Buddha relax his facial muscles, even closing his eyes to cause some kind of affect? The two hundred muscles of the human face evolved over many thousands of years as an increasingly complex mammalian signaling system for group survival. What is not so obvious from external observation is the two way reality of internal feedback, as muscle actions in our head and face send feedback to our brain. Is Buddha telling us not to strain the muscles of the face too much, because it causes mental anguish?

In "The Polyvagal Theory" Stephen Porges confirms this ageless spiritual wisdom by uncovering the neural control feedback from the human head has over the human heart. Porges shows us just how a myelinated vagus fosters calm behavioral states by inhibiting the influence of the sympathetic nervous system on the heart. He proves just much we are dependent on each other for feedback in the sense of our humanity. Both Porges and Shcore are in agreement about the essential role of feedback in our affective experience, with Schore pointing out the relationship between the right and left hemisphere's of our frontal lobe in managing our affective experience of life.

Breathe In-Spiration Fire
neurons & synaptic gaps? 
Is Buddha letting us known that he understands the right/left relationship to body and soul? Does he know that the left hemisphere controls the right side of the body, while the right hemisphere controls the left? Schore points out that, “the right hemisphere operates in a more free-associative, primary process manner, typically observed in states such as dreaming or reverie, simply stated, the left hemisphere specializes in analyzing sequences, while the right hemisphere gives evidence of superiority in processing patterns.” Neuroscience is now reporting, “the left hemisphere is known to dominate in intra-conceptual analysis of verbal stimuli, while the right hemisphere is involved in the processes underlying more complex symbolic and metaphorical associations between stimuli.”. Indeed, it is thought that right brain thinking “is the highest human mental function, responsible for creativity and integration of past, present, and future experience.”

In my own experience of psychosis I have only experienced one auditory and one visual hallucination, both while on high dose psychotropic medication. My euphoric states leading to psychosis have all been filled with inspiration from previous experience in all that I've sensed, seen and heard. My experience is a metabolic process of turning body energy into symbolized thoughts, with the positive affect of this lucid thinking dissolving the frozen fear at the core of my earlier affective experience.

Lucid thinking in a euphoric state allows me to feel safe enough to approach my fellow creatures who previously held a hidden sense of threat for me. As Porges points out in his concept of neuroception " by processing information from the environment through the senses, the nervous system continually evaluates risk" (unconsciously.) This is the hidden factor in all forms of dissociative experience, as an unseen auto pilot takes charge of our reactions to others despite our conscious intent.

The great schizoid split & the road to Self Mastery?

The mind is dissociation, without dissociation there would be no special self awareness for the human animal. Yet our objective awareness deceives us because we are lost to the reality of our millisecond judgments, our instinct for survival. In glance we see the word "dissociation" and as "The Polyvagal Theory" shows, neuroception goes to work in our unconscious scan, "what is it," "is it threat or resource," "should I approach or avoid it." These millisecond unconscious judgments are driven by mirror neurons and their pretensioning of muscular actions, then dissociated mind follows with a object-ive self awareness.

"The motor act is the cradle of the mind - The capacity to anticipate and predict movement,
is the basis of what consciousness is all about" __Charles Sherington

The Brains Motor Cortex & Unconscious Premovement: The brains activity began about 500 milliseconds
before the person was aware of deciding to act. The conscious decision came far too late to be the cause
of the action. It was as though consciousness was a mere afterthought - a way of 'explaining to ourselves'
an action not evoked by consciousness. _Peter Levine "In an Unspoken Voice"

Affective Disorders like Bipolar & the Father of Affect Theory?

Silvan Tomkins is the father of affect theory and gave birth to our notion of affective states as a more complex and nuanced awareness rises. In objective terms systemic awareness is seen in the millisecond transactions of the world wide web, and the unseen interconnectedness of a global banking crises. Tomkins conceived his awareness of innate affects while observing his first born child through infancy. He noted just how much the cry of distress is a whole body reaction that seemed to be an innate response, a hard wired unconscious reaction. Then through the period of infancy he noted how his child struggled with what seemed to him like a simulation of natures innate response and a light went on! Just as it did in my head when I saw that word "simulation" and its relationship to my lifelong issue of dissociation and my bipolar affective disorder.

"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; 
and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages." _William Shakespeare

The mind is dissociation born through millions of years of mammalian evolution as the power of focus in the freeze response sparked the neural growth within the brain, the limbic region. The intense focus required in life eats life survival gave rise to some unusual abilities in mammalian species, like the capacity to feign death as a last ditch response for survival. In its milder form humans feel it in our shame - humiliation reactions, explaining the trauma effect of sustained emotional abuse. The freeze response is seen in startle affect, like when a sudden and unexpected loud noise disturbs our resting state comfort-zone. The sudden tension of skeletal muscles and the intense focus on finding the source of possible threat, is a universal response for every human being, its an innate affect, a hard wired instinct for survival.

Through the growth of our mammalian brain and our frontal lobe, the human mammal has learned to practice simulating our innate nature in order to master it, and perhaps in this modern age we are coming to the end of a long practicing period, like the three year practicing phase of every human infant.

Allan Schore's call for an interdisiplenry approach to understanding being human?

Schore has convincingly portrayed the brain as a self-organizing
system and the primacy of the mother’s role as the initial regulator and co-creator
of her infant’s emergent ability to self-organize. Schore describes the
developmental sequence of the infant’s maturing socio-affective systems – over
the stages of infancy “the self-organization of the developing brain occurs in the
context of a relationship with another self, another brain” (2003, p. 5).

Inspiration: Tearing Apart and Joining Together Paula Thomson, Psy.D.

Creativity - A Bi-Phasic Process
According to Bachelard “The poetic image places us at the origin of the speaking being. … it is at once a becoming of expression and becoming of our being” (1964, p. xix). This becoming of both expression and being is an emergent function of the creative process. Although described and labeled somewhat differently by various theorists, the creative process can be distilled
into bi-phasic stages that do not necessarily function in a specific sequence or in a particular time period. One phase, inspiration, is marked by a reduction in cortical arousal, loose associations, divergent thinking, greater physiological variability and primary process systems such as condensation, displacement and disorientations in time and space.

Believe it or not, chaos seeks balance in complex systems within the very fabric of the universe, just as chaos, chance and circumstance play their essential role in the emotional development of becoming fully human, and perhaps we need to ask ourselves, are we there yet? Moses promised a land of milk and honey and I respectfully suggest that the story is a metaphor of the neural growth within our frontal lode, on our journey to becoming fully human. Is that cleft between the right and left hemisphere a metaphorical "River Jordan?" Is the speed of modern life demanding an increase in the integration of right/left neural networks to control our unconscious impulses and become fully aware? To become Buddha (awake) like the metaphorical last scene in the movie Avatar? And has the rise in mass education since the end of the second world war increased those neural connections, making a well educated younger generation less Reactive? Watching any vision of leaders like President Obahma and Prime Minister Cameron together, we see less guarded, less defensive approach postures, perhaps in increasing gift of our further education and increasing connectedness.

From wild nature we come, creativity wild in our imagination as we grow towards the completion of our Self Mastery?

Affective psychosis is a spontaneous attempt by the human organism to reach balance and harmony within its complex body/brain/mind systems, just like the early chaos of creation within the greater universe, a universe in which we are most firmly embedded. Once we come together in cooperation and share our individual knowledge instead of childishly competing we may see that something deeper seeks expression through our eyes? Chaos theory grapples with the complex underpinning of a deeper systemic reality in which we are all entangled, the thermodynamics of hidden reactivity.

Go to any conference with members of psychiatry or any other profession and you will see a collection of individuals as childishly competitive as the rest of us. You will see a group of people who have sighted some words, remembered them in order to pass some exams and find their social rank and status, in this reality of life eats life survival. Psychiatry's reaction to mental illness is driven by the first impulse for survival, "fear" and the care and concern for the wretched individual who shows signs of weakness in their behavior, does as much to feed the profession's need to feel superior as it does the pretense of intelligence. Sighting words and phrases does not mean we feel the reality of their meaning, and impetuous youth cannot hope to understand the process of life until its lived it.

Civilization has always been built on the misery of others no matter how much we avoid thinking about that reality, yet the wildly creative process of our imagination carry's on generation after generation as something chases us up Jacob's ladder towards our full realization. We are the hero the the belly of the whale, we are Noah's ark, its a metaphor for evolution. In this time and space its simply destiny falling, and only your mad monkey mirror neurons and need to keep your head down and survive the daily stress-ors will prevent you from seeing this dawning reality or a conservative fear of your imagination, the innate fear of LOSS.

The Infinity of Her Eternal Flame. YOU!
Raised in the Christian faith, I try to follow my hero's prime example about insights gained from studying well. Tomkins warns not to dilute his core insights of nine innate affects and I respectfully suggest that these innate animal instincts are the very flints that fire the higher regions of the human brain. The brain needs metabolic energy to fire the amazing synaptic connection power of our 100 million neuron brain, where new ideas are born like stars in those gorgeous cosmic nebula.

Emotionality is the very fuel used to feed the metabolic needs of our brain, just like the nebula dust fuels the birth of new stars. In the ongoing practicing phase of self mastery towards our full realization, we continue to cope with our dissociation from nature, and the awful feeling of separation, isolation and loss. We grew thus far by banding together in groups sharing facial gestures, muscular postures, touch and vocal noises to create a special animal, a socially affective animal. Being human is an ongoing process of what neuroscience describes as affective states, a euphemism for instinct driven, emotion fueled metabolic transitions in thermodynamic systems of body/brain/mind. The process is overwhelmingly about chemical reactivity in a mirror reflection of the cosmos, opening the heart to the mind in full throttle emotionality allows a connection to the deeper chemical processes of our creator. As any artist will tell us when asked where the In-Spiration comes from the answer is often, "shit man I don't know, it comes out of the ether I guess." I suspect that once we drop the practicing phase pre-tense we will see that it comes via a thermodynamic process of conversion from below, not above as we convert matter into meta and grant her wish. You see Me, I am!

I See You - You See Me?
An Mother teaches her baby about being through the thermodynamic process inherent in this mutual loving gaze. Elation is very important here in providing the metabolic energy states for cell growth in the maturing brain/nervous system.

In those early human groups we clung to each other for support and protection, reacting to each other via the motor cortex and mirror neurons, slowly shedding our protective fur and becoming more and more sensitive to the affects of nature and its dreaming creator.
As we entering a quickening phase of increasing pace in our lives, there is real need to control our unconscious stress reactivity more than ever before. Is it time to be Buddha? (awake)

The autonomic nervous system is natures auto pilot, evolved to keep us alive in times of threat, when we really should not stop to think about. As Jake says when he is just about to fall back into nature, "You have to trust your body to know what to do?" Perhaps we have to trust her love and feel what that stuff really is, as it bubbles up through us, while we're dreaming our creator awake. Ask yourself? Is it all the projection contained within a vast thermodynamic process, we are still waking up to. Is the Avatar movie about some other place, some other time in space, or is it an unconscious projection about us, the human race? Ask yourself what that final scene in the movie is really about, and will those Gods & Goddesses over at the The Large Hadron Collider discover that we cant find the Higgs Boson as long as we continue to search out there with a sense of separation, and not in here where we can feel the ONENESS

Those arrows of shame & outrageous
miss fortune, waiting to see beyond
the blind  instinct of objective chains?
As climate change tickles our instinctual ivories as she continues to call our name, will we wake in time, and finally be able to see beyond our Mad Monkey Mirror Neurons and our unconscious reactivity. Can you feel the impulse to your thoughts down amongst your muscular tensions? Can you feel the reality of life eats life projection in our emotional shame and pride game? Those emotional abuse games as we traumatize a sensitive human being with sustained animal insensitivity? Self actualization is not an intellectual concept to play with in the rehearsal room of a dissociated mind, sooner or later you have to let the process unfold and feel it? Having finally stepped through those mirror neuron reactions of my motor cortex, I see the reality of Narnia beyond the wardrobe and I give thanks to my lion heart for setting me free.

Losing the need for a sense of power sets you free to feel the love she has always had for us, no longer fearful of her blind instinct for creation, no longer fearful about our destiny falling. Seeing them in me is very liberating, no longer reactive to this blind shame and pride game, of Up-Spiral - Down-Spiral emotionality contained within our unconscious autonomic nervous system sensitivity. Once you feel what drives the auto pilot, the shaming game of social rank and status becomes like water of a ducks back. You just smile when you feel the rules of the game. "Still asleep I see."


Reprogram your organic computer of body/brain/mind with accurate information and let time and space allow the natural process of order to unfold,

It's a bit like the opening of a Rose or a perfect Buddha white Lily.

Not some thing like a this or that?

Neuroception?-An Unconscious Perception?