Sunday, December 30, 2012

Madness & The Effects, of its Fear Affect?

"Nothing is terrible except fear itself"
"There is nothing to fear but fear itself" _Franklin Roosevelt.

A paraphrase of the line "Nothing is terrible except fear itself" by Sir Francis Bacon

Is fear an Affect! With a contagious Effect?

Is there an "unconscious," fear of mad people?
As if, Madness is Contagious?

Two simple words, Affect & Effect? What exactly do they mean, and why do they cause so much confusion about the true nature of our mental health?

Do we now understand the unconscious mechanisms of both fear, as an innate affect and our social need to deny the very existance of innate affects and the primary processes of the body. The body's evolved nature and the foundational aspects of our self-preservation and therefore our instinctual-intelligence? Consider;

"The body initiates and the mind follows. Hence “talking cures”  that engage the intellect
or even the emotions, do not reach deep enough." _Peter Levine, Ph,D.

It takes a momentary suspension of our normal reasoning, to imagine an unconscious nervous system, mediating much of our everyday social behaviors, as the evolved nervous system we share with all other mammals. As an evolved aid and defense of survival, mammals have an innate ability to feign death as a last ditch, instinct for survival. When there is no possibility of fight or flight, no possible means of escape from immediate and overwhelming threat, mammals escape into a simulated death state. (see: Madness & the Chaotic Energies of The Trauma Trap?)

Humans share an evolved autonomic nervous system with other mammals, although evolutionarily adapted to our unique needs. If we imagine such human reactions as shock, fainting, freezing in fright or even in the sensations of acute embarrassment, when we feel that desire for the ground to open beneath us. It becomes possible to see a "continuum" of instinctual motivation, in our shared mammalian ability to feign death and the instinctual roots of mental illness, caused by "intellectually" denied, innate affects?

Innate Affects & how they Effect, Madness & Mental Illness?
Please consider;

The Mental Illness Debate & The Nature of Madness?

Transcript:"This week, public television stations will rebroadcast "Minds on the Edge," a Fred Friendly seminar featuring a panel of distinguished jurists, doctors and mental health experts. Together, they address a hypothetical dilemma, in this case, the fictitious case of James, a 32-year-old schizophrenic whose mother has recently died. Frank Sesno of George Washington University is your guide.

FRANK SESNO, Elyn Saks, James, can you give us a sense of what he's experiencing?

ELYN SAKS, author, "The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness": Sure.

I think I actually have special insight, because I have experienced those things myself. I'm a person with chronic schizophrenia.

The best way to describe having a psychotic episode is like a waking nightmare, where things are crazy, bizarre, frightening, confusing. With schizophrenia, you have delusions and hallucinations and disordered thinking. Like, I was on the roof of the Yale Law School, and I was saying, "Someone's infiltrated our copies of the legal cases. We've got to case the joint. I don't believe in joints, but they do hold your body together" -- so, loosely associated words and phrases.

But, experientially, the -- the feeling is utter terror.

FRANK SESNO: And James is feeling very alone.

ELYN SAKS: He needs support. Everybody needs support. And there are resources available, community mental health centers. So, it might be useful for him to contact a social worker at a community mental health center and get some kind of support in his life.

FRANK SESNO: James is feeling very alone, as you said. And he's scared. And he's staying in his apartment. He now can't go to work. He's paralyzed.

"But, experientially, the -- the feeling is utter terror."
From this description of a person with chronic schizophrenia, consider Silvan Tomkins notions of "innate affect" from that decade of reaction to two world wars, the 1950's? A decade which produced much fearless thinking about the human condition, with the fervent hope that our mindless addiction to the senseless loss of territorial wars, would not be repeated? Freud would perhaps nominate this decade of fearless exploration, as an unconscious reaction-formation to so much death?

Is Madness an Existential Crisis? Stimulated by Innate Affect?
"The nine affects:
These are the nine affects, listed with a low/high intensity label for each affect and accompanied by its biological expression:
Enjoyment/Joy - smiling, lips wide and out
Interest/Excitement - eyebrows down, eyes tracking, eyes looking, closer listening
Surprise/Startle - eyebrows up, eyes blinking
Anger/Rage - frowning, a clenched jaw, a red face
Disgust - the lower lip raised and protruded, head forward and down
Dissmell (reaction to bad smell) - upper lip raised, head pulled back
Distress/Anguish - crying, rhythmic sobbing, arched eyebrows, mouth lowered
Fear/Terror - a frozen stare, a pale face, coldness, sweat, erect hair
Shame/Humiliation - eyes lowered, the head down and averted, blushing

Are such innate affects at the root of human emotions, which we are taught to suppress early on in life, as we begin to create our socialized and consensual sense-of-self? Our nuclear family and our extended group's - Consensus Reality?
"Consensus reality is an approach to answering the philosophical question "What is real?" It gives a practical answer: reality is either what exists, or what we can agree seems to exist."

Does our instinctual-intelligence rationalize the hidden nature of madness, in a cause and effect logic, which is based on a social need to deny the raw power of instinct over intelligence? When we assume that the “mind” is a product of the brain and its electro-chemical activity, is that because we need to deny the body’s evolved sensory nature and the transmission of innate affects? Please consider;

The Transmission of Affect:

“In a time when the popularity of genetic explanations for social behavior is increasing, the transmission of affect is a conceptual oddity. If transmission takes place and has effects on behavior, it is not genes that determine social life; it is the socially induced affect that changes our biology. The transmission of affect is not understood or studied because of the distance between the concept of transmission and the reigning modes of biological explanation. No one really knows how it happens, which may explain the reluctance to acknowledge its existence. But this reluctance, historically is only recent. The transmission of affect was once common knowledge; the concept faded from the history of scientific explanation as the individual, especially the biologically determined individual, came to the fore.

We think that the ideas or thoughts of a given subject has, are socially constructed, dependant on cultures, times, and social groups within them. Indeed, after Karl Marx, Karl Mannheim, Michel Foucault, and any social thinker worthy of the epithet “social,” it is difficult to think anything else. But if we accept that our thoughts are not entirely independent, we are peculiarly resistant to the idea that our emotions are not altogether our own. The taken-for-grantedness of the emotionally self-contained subject is a bastion of Eurocentrism in critical thinking, the belief in the superiority of one’s own worldview over that of other cultures. The idea that progress is a modernist and Western myth are nonetheless blind to the way that non-Western as well as premodern, preindustrial cultures assume that the person is not “affectively” contained. Notions of the transmission of affect are suspect as non-white and colonial cultures are suspect.

But the denial is not reasonable. The denial of transmission leads to inconsistencies in theories and therapies of the subjective state. All reputable schools of psychological theory assume that the subject is energetically and affectively self-contained. At the same time, psychologists working in clinics experience affective transmission. There are many psychological clinicians ( especially the followers of Melanie Klein) who believe they experience the affects of their clients directly.

Present definitions of the affects or emotions stem mainly from Darwin’s physiological account of the emotions. Descartes, inclines us towards the isolating motions that can be verified by another observer, and this is reinforced by modern psychology. Knowledge of bodily motion, even internal bodily motion, is no longer gleaned by the path of bodily sensation, but by visual and auditory observation. Taxonomies of the emotions and affects have descended from three branches. One is ancient; another is identified with Darwin; and a third stems from James and Lange.

Because of their observational bias, the lists descended from Darwin do not reckon with more complex affective states, such as envy, guilt, jealousy and love. Such cognitive affects are termed desires by some. In the 20th century’s cognitive psychology, a distinction between affect as a present thing--and desire--as an imagined affect, holds significance to deal with the cognitive component in desires, which involve goals and thinking. Critical to the transmission of affect though, is the moment of “judgment,” when the “projection” or “introjection” of affect/emotion takes place. By “affect,” I mean the physiological shift accompanying a judgment. By judgment I mean “any evaluative (positive or negative) orientation towards an object.” The evaluative or judgmental aspects of affects, is critical in distinguishing between these physiological phenomena we call affects, and the phenomena we call feeling or discernment. In other words feelings are not the same thing as affects. At present, feelings are a subset of affects, along with moods, sentiments and emotions. This distinction between affects and feelings comes into its own once the focus is on “the transmission of affect.”

There is no need to challenge an existing view that emotions are synonymous with affect, yet what needs to be borne in mind is that affects are material, physiological things. Affects have an “energetic” dimension, which is why they can enhance or deplete. They enhance when they are projected outward, when we are relieved of them; in popular parlance this is called “dumping.” Frequently, affects deplete when they are “introjected,” when we carry the “affective” burden of another, either by a straightforward transfer, or because the other’s anger becomes your depression. But other’s feeling can also enhance as affect, as when you become energized just being with loved ones or friends. Yet with some other’s you are bored or drained, tired or even depressed. All this means that we are not completely self-contained in terms of our affective energies. There is no secure distinction between the “individual” and the “environment.”

The transmission of affect questions the individuality of persons, and how our individuality is achieved and maintained. We cannot grasp what is truly distinctive about individuality, without first coming to appreciate, that it is not to be taken for granted. What is not to be taken for granted, is the distinction between the individual and the environment at the level of physical and biological exchange. At this level, the “energetic” affects of others enter the individual, as are the individuals energetic affects transmitted into the environment. Here lies the key to why people in groups, crowds and gatherings can often be “of one mind.”

Selected excerpts from “The Transmission of Affect” by Teresa Brennan, PhD.

Consensus Reality as a Group Mind - Effect?

The Transmission of Affect in Groups:

The most striking peculiarity of a psychological crowd (group mind), is the following: Whoever be the individuals that compose it, however like or unlike be their mode of life, their occupations, their character, or their intelligence, the fact that they have been transformed into a crowd puts them in possession of a sort of collective mind which makes them feel, think, and act in a manner quite different from that in which each individual of them would feel, think, and act were he in a state of isolation. There are certain ideas and feelings which do not come into being, or do not transform themselves into acts except in the case of individuals forming a crowd. (group)

The power of words is bound up with the images they evoke, and is quite independent of their real significance. Words whose sense is the most ill defined are sometimes those that possess the most influence. Such, for example, are the terms democracy, socialism, equality, liberty, etc., whose meaning is so vague that bulky volumes do not suffice to precisely fix it. Yet it is certain that a truly magical power is attached to those short syllables. They synthesize the most diverse unconscious aspirations and the hope of their realization.

Bion on Groups:

Bion’s major work, “Experiences in Groups,” was published in 1961. His starting point in groups, was the work of Melanie Klein and the mechanisms she ascribed to the earliest phases of mental life, mechanisms that involve psychotic defenses. These psychotic defenses persist in the life of all normal individuals to a greater or lesser extent, but they are especially characteristic of groups, and revealed in the “basic assumption” that binds the group together.

Generally, “basic assumptions” are about the affect/emotions of “anxiety, fear, hate and love.” Specifically, by a “basic assumption,” Bion means an assumption such as “the group exists for fight or flight,” or the group depends on a leader, or the group has hope based on a belief that through it a new messiah or solution will emerge. How thoroughly such an assumption holds varies, but a basic-assumption always exists.

The fight/flight assumption is fueled by hate and its close relative envy. The affect/emotions of envy, hate and aggression are directed towards the breast/mother (society), who’s creativity is envied in earliest psychical life. To deal with aggressive hatred and envy toward something which is also loved and “essential” for survival, one split’s the good and bad. One then fears, or has anxiety about retaliation, and is overwhelmed by hate and envy at the sight of, or fantasy of others merging without one, which leads to anxiety about being left out. Anxiety, exacerbates the paranoid-schizoid defense of splitting. (us vs. them)

The results of splitting range from the psychical disavowal or denial of reality to the inability to make links between ideas. The split is healed by through the realization that there never was a bad breast/mother (them in society), there was only the aggression within oneself, and it is this, that made the breast/mother (them in society) bad.

As in psychosis, and for that matter the unconscious, time plays no part in basic-assumption activity. “The basic-assumption group does not disperse or meet.” If the awareness of time is forced on a group in basic-assumption mode (as with the unconscious), it tends to arouse feelings of persecution. At some level the group (unconscious) is always in its basic-assumption, which means no member of the group can cease to be in it, even when the group is not gathered. The group remains a group through its basic-assumptions, by the resonances they trigger, and the positions (us & them) they assign.

Bion did not believe that basic-assumptions are all there is to group behavior though. He believed that there is a work aspect to groups, which does the job for which the group is formed, and the basic-assumption aspect, which acts on the basis of unconscious affect/emotion. The same group is simultaneously a work group and a basic-assumption group; and one or other of these aspects will dominate from time to time. This dual definition allows us to recognize that the group can be quite mad and yet apparently stable, organized and purposeful, as in the case of a cult.

The group can be apparently sane: a university department for instance and yet occasionally irrational or persecutory in its dynamics. For the group can and usually is, organized around its work function. But, as it is also bound together by its basic-assumption, it is stressed that organization and basic-assumption bondage are radically different. As Bion articulates;

“In contrast with work-group function basic-assumption activity makes no demands on the individual for a capacity to cooperate but depends on the individuals possession of “valence,” a term borrowed from physicists for “instantaneous” involuntary combination of one individual with another, for sharing and acting on a basic-assumption.” This idea of valence should take us into exploring the transmission of affect/emotion, yet Bion avoids the issue of a mechanism, suggesting only the existence of a “proto-mental system” which is both physical and mental. The problem with “valence” as a term, is that it captures a truth, yet does not differentiate between what one is valent toward or what one is valent with, although it does connote the activity of the senses.

Also consider; Peter Levine gives us an affect/emotion interpretation of Bion’s notion of “valence,” in his book “In an Unspoken Voice.”
“Bodily feelings embody a relationship between an object or situation and our welfare. They are, in that sense, an elaboration of the basic “affective valances” of approach and avoidance. Feelings are the basic path by which we make our way in the world.”

Bion’s idea of a “duality” of motivation within a group (work and a basic-assumption) allows us to recognize that a group can be “cognitively” responsive in relation to “symbols,” and see something else is going on “affectively,” (unconscious affect/emotion?). “

Selected excerpts from “The Transmission of Affect” by Teresa Brennan, PhD. In brackets mine.

The unconscious nature of our "affective” motivation?

"Nervous Entrainment, as a Mechanism for the Transmission of Affect:

If “contagion” of affect/emotion exists (and the study of crowd/group behavior, says it does), how is it “effected?” If one walks into a room where one “could cut the atmosphere with knife,” and that “affect” contained within the room is a profoundly social thing, how does it get there? There are indications of social science interest in research on “electrical” or nervous entrainment, “the driving effect one nervous system has on another,” affected by touch, sight, smell and sound.

Nervous entrainment my also depend on bodily movements and gestures, particularly through the unconscious imitation of rhythms. In understanding the aural rhythmic component of the vocal interactions of a parent and child, Richard Restak suggests we attend to “prosody” the melody, pitch, and stress of speech, where auditory cues have priority over visual ones. Rhythm is a tool in the expression of “agency,” just as words are. Rhythm, literally conveys the “tone” of communication, and in this sense it unites both word/symbol and affect/emotion. Rhythm also has a unifying or dys-unifying regulation role, in affective exchanges between two or more people.

The rhythmic aspects of behavior are critical in establishing a collective sense of purpose and common understanding. In addition, there is a sense of well-being which comes with a rhythmic entrainment with one’s fellows (in dancing for instance) . By contrast, non-rhythmic or dissonant sound also separates. It leads people to stand apart from one another and generates unease. We can hypothesize that the effects of nervous entrainment are furthered by chemical means as well (like pheromones for instance).

While the auditory has priority over the visual, the visual has a place in this process of nervous entrainment. Firstly, registering an image is rooted firmly in brain physiology. The registration of an image in the minds eye is part of such nervous entrainment, yet the image has been transmitted as sound waves or valence register physical effects on the ear drum. Words and images are matters of vibration, vibrations at different electrical frequencies, but still vibration. In addition, the social, physical vibrations of images are critical in the process of nervous “electrical” entrainment, even though they lack the rhythm of auditory entrainment."

Selected excerpts from “The Transmission of Affect” by Teresa Brennan, PhD. In brackets mine.

The Appearence of Sanity?

"The group can be apparently sane: a university department for instance, and yet occasionally irrational or persecutory in its dynamics. For the group can and usually is, organized around its work function." What was Bion alluding to in this notion of percecutory dynamics? Please consider;

Our Consensus Reality & Cognitive Dissonance?

Cognitive Dissonance:

This is the uncomfortable feeling that develops when people are confronted by “things that shouldn’t ought to be, but are.” If the dissonance is sufficiently strong, and is not reduced in some way, the uncomfortable feeling will grow, and that feeling can develop into anger, fear and even hostility. To avoid cognitive dissonance people will often react to any evidence which disconfirms their beliefs by actually strengthening their original beliefs and create rationalizations for the disconfirming evidence. The drive to avoid cognitive dissonance is especially strong when the belief has led to public commitment.

There are three common strategies for reducing cognitive dissonance. One way is to adopt what others believe. Parents often see this change when their children begin school. Children rapidly conform to “group-think,” and after a few years, they need this particular pair of shoes, and that particular haircut or they will simply die. The need to conform to social pressure can be as psychically painful as physical pain.

A second way of dealing with cognitive dissonance is to “apply pressure” to people who hold different ideas. This explains why mavericks are so routinely shunned by conventional wisdom. To function without the annoying psychic pain of cognitive dissonance, groups will use almost any means to achieve a consensus reality.

A third way of reducing cognitive dissonance is to make the person who holds a different opinion significantly different from oneself. This is normally done by applying disparaging labels. The heretic is disavowed as stupid, malicious, foolish, sloppy, insane, or evil and their opinion simply does not matter.

When we are publicly committed to a belief, it is disturbing even to consider that any evidence contradicting our position may be true, because a fear of public ridicule adds to the psychic pain of cognitive dissonance. Commitment stirs the fires of cognitive dissonance and makes it progressively more difficult to even casually entertain alternative views.

“Without deep and active involvement in controversy, and/or a degree of philosophical self-consciousness about the social process of science, people may not notice how far scientific practice can stray from the text book model of science.” _Harry Collins.

* * *

Beneath the appearance of madness and our reactions to it, including our medical ways of treating it, are there instinctual roots of human emotions, Silvan Tomkins observed and described as Innate Affects?

Is there a huge "elephant in room" of human mental health? One which can be summed up in five simple words?

The aim of this post was the presentation of the late Teresa Brennan's thoughts on the transmission of affect. A good Catholic girl, she managed to write a brilliant book on "affect" without once mentioning the father of affect theory, Silvan Tomkins, or any of his former pupils, like Donald Nathanson, Carol Izard or Paul Ekman. All of whom went on to contribute much to our knowledge of human affect-emotion and its effects? Please watch a trailer for a popular TV show;

"Lie to Me," Based on the work of Paul Ekman, a disiple of Silvan Tomkins

"Ekman's work on facial expressions had its starting point in the work of psychologist Silvan Tomkins. Ekman's projects included developing techniques for measuring facial muscular movement while also developing theories about emotion and deception through empirical research. Ekman showed that contrary to the belief of some anthropologists including Margaret Mead, facial expressions of emotion are not culturally determined, but universal across human cultures and thus biological in origin.

Expressions he found to be universal included those indicating anger, disgust, fear, shame, joy, sadness, and surprise. Findings on contempt are less clear, though there is at least some preliminary evidence that this emotion and its expression are universally recognized. Ekman's first publication in 1957 discussed all of his findings on developing methods for measuring nonverbal behavior. He also wrote a famous book called "Telling Lies" in the year 1985. He was encouraged to write this book by his college friend and teacher Silvan S. Tomkins."

Consider Sylvan Tomkins ideas about affect/emotion and our sensitive skin; “The face appears to me to be the central site of affect/emotion responses and their feedback., but I have come to regard the skin, in general, and the skin of the face in particular, as of the greatest importance in producing the feel of affect/emotion. Three of the most compelling states to which the human being is vulnerable arise on the surface of the skin. Torture via skin stimulation has been used for centuries to shape and compel human beings to act against their own deepest wishes and values. Sexual seduction via skin stimulation has also prompted human beings to violate their own wishes and values. Fatigue to the point of extreme sleepiness appears to be localized in the skin surrounding the eyes.” _Sylvan Tomkins.

* * *

For those interested in Teresa Brennan's view of affect, more selected excerpts from her briliant book;

"Hormonal Entrainment of Affect/Emotion:

Psychoneuroendocrinology arose through the study of hormones and their effects on emotions as well as the nervous system, and conversely the effects of affect/emotion on hormones and neurotransmitters. Hormone production and secretion in various stressful situations seems to bear no necessary relation to wellbeing or the survival of the organism. Recent discoveries in the field concerning glucocorticoids, the adrenal steroids secreted in stress responses, hormones which are involved in the regulation (or lack thereof) in stress and depression. Can help in survival during brief, intense periods of physical stress, but having too many of them leads to suppression of the immune system and to negative effects on the nervous system.

Half the autonomic nervous system (ANS) is activated and half is suppressed. The activated half of the ANS is called the sympathetic nervous system. It connects with almost every organ, blood vessel and sweet gland. It is the system which is connected with vigilance, arousal, activation, and mobilization, and releases adrenalin. It shuts off functions like digestion in order to divert energy to immediate needs. The parasympathetic nervous system, diverts energy to such restorative needs, as digestion. Activation of the ANS is involuntary, that is to say, unconscious. (p, 80.)

To complicate matters, nervous system communication works by means of neurotransmitters--chemical molecules--and follows synaptic pathways that active the ANS. Hormones do not work the same way as neurotransmitters Neurotransmitters are connected directly to the brain or spinal cord and ganglion organs by specific pathways and responses, but hormones percolate throughout the blood stream. In some cases hormones appear to cooperate with responses of the ANS, while in other cases they seem to act against it.

Glucocorticoids work in ways similar to adrenalin, yet where adrenalin works in seconds, glucocorticoids “back this activity up over the coarse of minutes or hours.” But it seems that in backing up adrenalin activity, high levels of glucocoticoids and depression coexist. Example: A social subordinate who is vigilant to coping challenges, activates the sympathetic (adrenal) nervous system. Yet, glucocorticoids in the same system are even more activated in a social subordinate who has given up trying to cope. (p, 81.)

The Subjective State:

Our subjective state, tends to take the definition of itself as the center of all definition and defines all “activity” as having its own character. It labels “passive” everything that is not active in its own way, and which it is able to bend to its will, passive if it does not assert itself against the subject. The active/passive dichotomy, as consciousness understands it, is a product of a sense of self which divides itself of from the rest of the world, on the grounds of its difference. So the distinction between subjectivity and objectivity cannot rest on a distinction  between psyche and soma, meaning that it cannot rest on a distinction between  ideas and matter. What prohibits the assimilation of the psyche/soma, ideas/matter distinctions to the subject/object distinction is, the fact of feelings and the existence of energetic affects.  (p, 93.)

Both feeling, as a process of sensing energetic affects and the transmission of affects, are physiologically, material processes. We cannot distinguish between them, anymore than we can distinguish between subject and object, by any criteria to do with materiality as opposed to ideality. A distinction can only be drawn on the basis of the nature of the feelings and affects involved. Feelings connect consistently with information provided by the flesh. Yet negative affects divide one person from another, remaking connections inaccurately (dependant on individual history) within the subjective state.

Discernment by feelings, begins with considered sensing, a process of feeling that seems to operate as the gateway to emotional response. Uneducated, unconscious senses are not aware of any psychical, intelligent connection with the internal and invisible body, and this unconscious extends to the rest of the environment. Senses are structured in such a way as to deny or foreclose on sensing information as a conscious process. But the foreclosure is not absolute; it does not govern perception permanently or fully. It is interspersed with feelings that can lead to different conclusions and other directions.  (p, 94-95.)

The foreclosure of senses and repression seem to coincide with the projection outwards of the negative affects. This projection results from a sense of peril and pain in which the nascent subject is attempting to defend itself, by expelling bad feelings outside itself. In this “projective defense” lies the basis of all errors of judgment. When my eye sees what it expects to see, even though it is not there, I have made the image real, given it a tangible and physical existence by the force of my subjective imagination. This imaginative force is not a metaphor, it helps construct apparent chains of reason from the subjects historical standpoint.

Understanding the influences to which we are subject in terms of passions and emotions, as well as living attention, means lifting off the burden of the ego’s belief that it is self-contained, in terms of the affect/emotions it experiences. Lifting off this burden liberates the ego scientifically, allowing it to explore interpersonal communication in ways that can heal it. Helping us to understand those moments when we are callous or blinded to facts, when tempers are lost and feelings trampled, when spite dictates the words and envy the vision--all these moments can be revisited in the light of understanding the transmission of affect/emotion.

These moments are not only self-caused, there are also times when waves of negative affect posses us as surely as anxiety is communicated or love truncated. In understanding the transmission of affect, both anxiety and living attention can be seen in there effects and understood in terms that are the very opposite of the superstition that habitually distorts the interpretation of the invisible. (p, 95.)

The Sealing of the Heart:

The notion that free-flowing guilt or free-flowing anxiety are in the air, and more prone to descend on the anxious, has been expressed in the vocabulary of demons of doubt and guilt and despair. The earliest Western records of the transmission of affect (excluding the Homeric record, which makes them monitions or energies from the Gods) make affects demons or deadly sins.

These days such demons and sins of affective states, are less onerous on the psyche, yet cannot be perceived for what they are when the world is viewed in terms of subjects and objects. Yet, prior to the eighteenth century, affects generally were not perceived this way, When they were not styled as demons they were regarded as passing passions that gripped the soul but were not equivalent to the soul. Demons, passions and affects were entities which visited the psyche, rather than entities which originated within it.

Affects as Deadly Sins:

There are ancient concepts of seven deadly sins--pride, sloth, envy, lust, anger, gluttony, and avarice, with each sin an affect rather than an act. There is a fair approximation between such lists and the psychoanalytic sins of narcissism, inertia, envy, objectification, aggression, greed and obsessionality. In the psychoanalytic case, these passifying affects are produced by the ego’s confrontation with the other, and the realization of its dependence on the other.

The most ancient list of sins to avoid, affectively speaking, may lie with the Egyptians, and there demons inhabited the Egyptian world, as they did the Jewish, Greek, and Christian worlds to come. For the Egyptian desert monks, sloth, in particular, was an evil spirit, known as the noonday demon. A metaphor which may be a way of thinking about good and evil, that was more physical than the thought of our time.

These ancient sins and demons, now understood as affects, were deadly because of the affective constellations they embody, the objectifying and “abject-ifying” images they impose on others, as well as oneself. They are the means by which egoic repression is actualized along certain channels, through diversion of life energy or life drive in the service of repression.  They are symbolized now by a century that began with hysterical paralysis as a most popular disorder, and ended with the syndrome of chronic fatigue.

Affects as Passions and Actions:

The notion that affects are invaders that work against our true nature is expressed in the early modern understanding of “passion” as a pacifying force opposed to action, meaning the activity of the soul. (true-self) Up to and including the seventeenth century, to be the “object” of affects is to be passive in relation to them. Such passive states are contrasted with those in which one is active. Thus, when Spinoza talks of an adequate cause, he means a cause that accounts for actions that take place within us or that follows from our nature. On the other hand, “we are passive when something takes place within us or follows from our nature, of which we are only the partial cause.” Passions may work against actions and actualization.

Passions and passionate judgments are passive as a result of being “affected by the world around us.” We are not acting to actualize our distinctness, but reacting, and in this sense losing the initiative relative to the things that affect us. Yet it is the peculiar nature of such pacifying affects, that they also “affirm” the ego and individual judgments. The distinctness of our individual judgments depends then on the extent to which we are pacified by various affects, and how far this passification or resistance to it, marks one person as different from another. It also depends on the soul or anima that resists those passions.

Aquinas tells us, “evil cannot be known simply as evil, for its core is hollow, and can neither be recognized nor defined, save by the surrounding good,” which fits in with Lacan’s psychoanalytic definition of the ego as nothing but “lack.” The notion that pacifying passions work against the soul or form they affect, is also a statement that the essence of the self is something other, something distinct from the affecting passions. “It is this distinctness which comes to be lost.” While passion as passivity and action are retained as key categories, they are recast in a mechanistic worldview which “explains nothing,” Descartes action, rather, is the transfer of motion from oneself to another, and passion is being acted upon.

With this mechanistic turn, it seems that bodies have a “power to resist change,” as well as the power to impart motion. For Descartes, the soul is not the form that is the body’s affective power, it is the capacity to think. While the soul exists, “it is always thinking,” yet as it thinks it loses more of the physicality it once had. The eighteenth century marks a shift, instead of being reactions to invasions from something external to the self, passions become the very activities of the mind, its own motions.

The term “feeling” which used to be allied with sensation, has become a victim of our lack of precision in “affective” language. No distinction parallels Aristotle’s between our emotions and sensations. Passions or “affects” now claim to be a class of feeling, rather than something discerned by feeling. They seem to be part of one’s self-contained energetic motivation, and the original understanding of passions or affects as pacifying is lost. (thinking has lost touch with being affected, from both within and without)

Affect and Ego:

Lacan dates the era of the ego from the late seventeenth century, while Foucault assigns an intensification of knowledge as the will to power, to the same period. Both are aware how the passion to control the other, causes a person to seek knowledge as a means to control, and that the exercise of such knowledge is aligned with discipline from without, or “objectification.” Taken to its objectifying extreme, this process leads to our present madness, which is the destruction of future life, even our own, for the sake of immediate gratification.

Yet, to understand this, we need to see how the “negative affects,” cohere as an egoistic constellation, and why judging (diagnosing)  or “projecting” affects onto others and the self is fundamental to why that egoistic constellation solidifies in the Western centuries progress. Unconscious affects bear on the ego by repressions and fixations as forms of judgment. Judgments based on images, memories, and fantasies about avoiding pain and increasing pleasure.  (p, 106.)

For Lacan, the interlocking of self and other, is an imaginary space, which is imaginary in that fantasies (assumptions) interlock within it. Yet by the power bodily affects, these interlocking fantasies are also physical, just as the force of the imagination is physical. In this respect, they can be something the self does to the self, energetically speaking, or something directed towards the self by another’s goal-seeking aggressive projections. (p, 109.)

For the ego, comparison is effected by and mediated through images of others and fantasies concerning them. The history of an imaginary slight--in envy or wounded narcissism--can be built into a fantasy or psychical memory, and that history can be conjured in an instant together with its affective associations. This is why we can speak of these “affective” states as passionate judgments. The passionate judgment is what gives the other or the self a negative image, embodying the objectification of narcissism or the contempt of envy. These judgments are at odds with the soul, or actualization drive.  (p, 110.)

The Sealing of the “affective” Heart:

Negative or pacifying affects as affective judgments were once known as demons and sins. Such affective judgments increasingly dominate life in the West, where the assumed self-contained subject maintains itself by projecting out the affects that interfere with its agency (anxiety and any sense of inferiority) in a series of affective judgments that find a carrier, in the other. We carry these affective judgments in the earliest recesses of memory, but we also encounter them in the street. These pacifying  affective judgments  threaten the directness of people and divert their soul from its distinctive path, by the ego‘s repressions

Passifying constellations of affects persist in their internal effects regardless of present realities or relations. One does not free one‘s soul simply by severing draining relations. One frees it by unlocking the affective constellations of repressed images in which it is enmeshed in fantasy and memory, as well as projective judgments. The task is formidable when one considers how the affects are likely to be split-off from conscious thought by the myth of the self-contained individual. They are likely to be split-off, as this mechanistic notion of self-containment assumes that thinking can be clear of emotion and that affects can be studied as purely “objective” physiological states. (p, 113.)

In mechanistic observations of objective thought, the heart has become sealed off, as a sense organ. The heart as an affective receptor-organ is impaired by our lost ability to understand ourselves organically, at the level of both internal and external sensory awareness, and the heart has become weakened as a transmitter-organ  of affective power for the true intentions of the soul. (p, 114.)"

Selected excerpts from “The Transmission of Affect” by Teresa Brennan, PhD.

A complimentry view of our evolutionary nature?

* * *

“All over the world in “small-band gatherer-hunters” communities, anthropologists have noted “rough good humour,” also known as leveling or humility-enforcing after success (Lee, 1988, p. 264). For example, among the Ju/’hoansi or Kung, when a hunter is successful, ritual insulting of the game takes place. The larger the animal, the greater the teasing. Here is sample dialogue after a successful hunt provided by frequent onlooker Richard Lee (1988, pp. 265-266):

Hunting group member: “It’s so small, it’s hardly worth our while; why don’t we just leave it? It’s still early; we could actually go and hunt something good.”

To which the hunter replies: “You know, you’re right. It’s nothing. Why don’t we just leave it, and go off and hunt something else. Even a porcupine, a rabbit—anything would be better than this.”

After a good laugh, they prepare the meat to take home. When asked why they talk like this, one man said: “If somebody gets a big head and thinks a lot of himself, he’ll get arrogant; and an arrogant person might hurt someone, he might even kill someone. So we belittle his meat to “cool his heart” and make him gentle” (Lee, 1988, p. 266). In fact, when someone tries to hoard something for himself, the Ju/’hoansi call that person “far-hearted” (stingy or mean; Lee, 1988). Such social egalitarian practices prevent the individual ego from becoming too large and self-focused.

The USA presents a stark contrast. The individualism of the USA today is a strange and aberrant form of social relations that is a recent historical phenomenon (Sahlins, 2008). Big, selfish egos are assumed to be normal, especially among males and the powerful. Inequality is condoned, with the wealthiest and most powerful controlling the vast majority of resources with its harmful effects on individual mental and physical health as well as social wellbeing “ _Darcia Narvaez, “Development and Socialization within an Evolutionary Context”

* * *
More from Teresa Brennan, PhD:

"Education of The Senses:

By examining the “affects” experienced in judging another, one learns a great deal about how the illusion of self-containment is purchased at the price of dumping negative affects on that other. The level of “affective transmission” is marked in terms of how one party carries the others negative affects; his aggression is experienced as her anxiety and so forth. By means of this projection, one believes oneself to be detached from him or her, when one is, in fact, propelling forward an affect the other will experience as rejection or hurt, unless the other shield’s themselves by a similar negative propulsion, in a passionate judgment of their own. (p, 119.)

Discernment, in the affective world, functions best when one is able to be alert to the moment of sensation, which allows the negative affect to gain a hold within. Any faculty of discernment must involve a process whereby affects pass from a state of sensory registration to a state of cognitive awareness, this does not mean that the process of cognitive reflection is without an affect itself, just that this affect is other than the affect which being reflected upon.

In our illusion of self-containment, reason and passion or affect-emotion and cognition keep appearing in binaries, despite arguments for their separation. Such binaries attempt a distinction between the ego and a faculty of discernment, between the affect-passion and the “other I” which reflects on them, as in the palpable experience of being pulled in two directions. One direction feels more passionate, the other, more reasonable.

The point of affective discernment though is in the work of the senses, (touching, hearing, smelling, listening, seeing) and the expression of the senses, affectively, accurately, in words, often defined and limited by traditional vocabulary. The naming of feelings is one thing, but the ability to discern the affective world within and without, requires more. Such an investigation requires a conceptual vocabulary and some means of circumventing the “affects” combined distractions.  (p, 120.)

The Comparison of  Sensations:

When a man realizes that there is grief behind his anger, and that what he felt when he heard this or that, is not the passionate affect that possessed him at the time, but something finer, how does he do so? By comparing the “state” in which he was possessed, with the state in which he discerned and felt. He follows an essentially historical procedure in order to recover a truth. He does so with loving attention, rather than by wallowing in passionate judgments of himself (guilt and shame) or other such passions (fear and paranoia).

The limits of this discernment process are not only set by the capacity for insight (the process whereby sensations and feelings connect), but by language and concept (the means whereby sensations and feelings connect). The process consists of a redirection of internal energy; the means lie in the comparative sensations and the vocabulary of words we are born into. Language, is always cultural and traditional and in naming a sensation of which he may be aware (energy departing and returning) he may be limited by his current vocabulary, yet feel pushed to expand it, in accounting for a sequence of sensation awareness.  (p, 121.)

 True friends feel each other’s feelings, they feel their joy or their sorry. This taking in of the other’s feeling, as a conscious act, presupposes a different sense of self or boundary, than the ego manufactures by projecting out --or being swamped by negative affects. One is not “open” to the other by the ego’s routes of negative projection, but through sensation awareness, meaning and feeling. This is discernment or perception, as opposed to defensive projection. Ancient civil and spiritual codes could have been written with this difference between discernment and projection, in mind, with their advise to seek “finer feelings.” (p, 123.)

There are ancient codes which read like remnants of a knowledge of how to restrain the seven pacifying affects, and which uphold or are based on virtues which do the same. There are seven classical virtues, just as there seven classical sins. Codes which encourage practitioners to not give in to the transmission of common negative affects , Buddha says to return a flower for the stone flung at you; Christ, like Isaiah before him, says to turn the other cheek. Both injunctions are advise, not to continue in the transmission of negative affect; stop it before it can be passed on or back. They are injunctions to absorb and transmute affect, although without insight, they can give rise to a conflict between mental health (don’t allow yourself to be dumped on) and spiritual health (don’t dump back). (p, 124-5.)

The habit of affective discernment is a matter of personal practice, if we perceive a moment of affective judgment as the moment in which we forcefully embrace or reject an affect, we may accept that such judgment is a deployment of energy directed toward an object, and feel its affective force. Yet in daily life we are subject to a constant stream of such judgments, in the context of affective transmission by self and others.

The process of sensation discernment can be constantly interrupted by waves of affect, not only the enhancing affects of life loving attention, but draining affects also. One can experience directly the affect of loving attention and the experience of being bored or drained. Boredom is not explicable only on the basis of the bores utterances. Another can say the same words and leave one feeling vitalized and fascinated. Yet can we say exactly what the difference in such affect transmission is? (p, 126.)

The more one lives in the emotional world of judging or being judged, the more the affects disrupt our process of sustaining attention. One can discern states of sensation and feeling, as long as one remembers to note their passing, yet one cannot attend to an inner progression when one is possessed; we forget, we lose the thread. Focusing attention requires an energetic ability to sustain it; yet less energy is available when the affective passions of judgment are monopolizing it. (p, 129)

Freedom from Negative Affects:

If one is to be free of negative affects, one has to let go an identity based on projected judgments. An identity based on affective discernment, is not the same as an identity based on the ego’s normally, status-bound boundaries. Proceeding through life through affective discernment and proceeding by judgmental projections are different, and we can only see this in a contextual frame, of affects and their transmission.

If one maintains the sense of a distinct identity by affect discernment  (by sensation awareness), one does so best by meditative practices and an openness to the distinct being (soul) who is sheltering behind the common ego, in oneself and others. Yet with our modern mechanistic notion of the self-contained individual, where the body is seen simply as a vehicle of physical motion, negative affect judgments of the common ego have become so thickened within, that one is no longer aware there is any hidden affective transmission to be discerned. In such an “objective” environment the sense of self does depend on boundaries formed by projecting and introjecting affects, which remain overwhelmingly unconscious.

The Body’s Fast Senses:

Our difficulties in understanding that the senses and the flesh embody a logic which moves far faster than thought are tied to Western schemas that degrade the body and bodily intelligence. This because such schemas invariably rank the soul in terms of intellect first, followed by the capacity to sense, followed by the fleshy passions and/or vegetative soul. Yet it is through the blood that hormones dance their dance of communication, while the senses try to make sense of them in a vocabulary which does not provide them with an appropriate nomenclature. More to the point, all the senses, as vehicles of attention, connect the supposedly higher cognitive faculty of linguistic thought with the fleshy knowledge or codes of the body. (p, 136.)

Consider our sense of smell which may appear more primitive than our “higher” linguistic abilities, yet it works with great rapidity, processing much in a millisecond, while language takes its time. The senses are not the emotions, they are the vehicles for their discernment, just as they are for alerting us to other aspects (the weather, the traffic) of the environment and circumstances in which we exist. Their matter is their form. Yet what they communicate changes in the transliteration to language and concept at the same time as the impulse to communicate persists. Persists, in that the impulse seeks to circumvent the censorship of the ego.

Conscious ego forecloses knowledge that challenge its sense of intellectual superiority in its body, the unconscious ego censors similar knowledge by repression. By this censorship and foreclosure, the ego creates gaps in conscious understanding. These gaps mean that ego-consciousness knows less than the senses and their informational channels of the flesh, which struggle to get through to a slower, thicker person who calls itself I, or worse, me.

The difference between the slow “I” and the faster “I” of the senses, is the difference between the self who knew but did not know it knew, and the I who presents itself as the “knowing” subject. As people attend actively to what they are sensing and feeling, they can identify sensations, sounds, and images they can name or, after struggle, can find words for. People’s affective vocabularies can expand when new words release sensations that had previously strained for conscious expression.

The subjective standpoint is at the bottom of prejudice against the intelligence of the flesh and its sensory awareness. Subjective self-interest fabricates links between mind, activity, and agency, and “objectifies” the means for connecting and communicating affects and feelings. The self-contained subjective standpoint assumes that sensory communication is less intelligent or knowledgeable than conscious linguistic thought, and involves a foundational fantasy.

The foundational fantasy of the conscious linguistic “I” removes us from the sphere of the more rapid understanding of the senses; it slows us down in relation to the freely mobile energy into which we are born. Humans learn to slow down natural, energetic time by constructing inertia--an artificial time of fantasies and fixed commodities (objects).  This objectification of sensory energy severs our connection with others, including the other that is one’s own flesh, connection which can only be reestablished by the kind of self reflection, which identifies sensation, and recognizes sensory energies.

Vertical and Horizontal Chains of Meaning:

The linguistic chain is split from other chains of life meaning and logic--hormones, genetic codes, solar systems--by the insertion of the subjective “I” where it does not belong. It does not belong in an order whose logic is at right angles to that of the human perspective, as if the codes of living logic, together with the chemical senses, communicate on a horizontal axis, while the human historical viewpoint functions on a vertical one. Without the insertion of  the subjective “I” position into the original codes of the flesh, the structure of the linguistic chain is homologous with that of other living chains within. With this insertion, the structures of living meaning are more or less at right angles.

Life meaning is the result of interweaving--yet diverse--chains, capable of transformation from one order of symbolization to another. Symbolization dependent on understanding the proportionate and rhythmic intersection of numbers of vast and small internally consistent chains that are all communicative and in this respect like languages. If sensory energy is composed of fleshy codes that parallel those of language, this explains why the body seems to do its own thinking, so to speak. (p, 145.)

It behooves us, as a species, to reconnect conscious language and understanding with the fleshy and environmental codes, from which our consciousness has been split by subjective fantasy and illusion. Those natural codes do their best work in the dark, although bodily physiological and chemical processes do push for admission to consciousness, past the blocks of a self-obsessed linguistic gateway.  For us speaking beings, consciousness has been  changed into parallel systems of signification; the linguistic, the sensitive, and the affective.

They belong in a certain natural configuration, and a correct alignment appears necessary for an unimpeded or less impeded flow of nature’s energy. Correct alignment might be described as a symbolic transformation, meaning that the different alphabets of the flesh could be aligned in such a way that life is released  from one order into another, yielding more freedom, intelligence, and energy. Symbolization is the means for transformation as the process whereby energy locked up in an alphabet in which it cannot speak (such as traumatic grief) is released back into the flow of life by words, or by the strange chemistry of tears. (p, 149.)

The notion of aligned codes, like that of the transmission of affect, is at odds with subject/object thought and the “visualization” basic to “objectification.” The gateway between linguistic consciousness and codes of bodily sensation is manned by visual images. Which is to say, to make itself conscious, a bodily process has to be imagined--given an image. Our unconscious ego acts as a visual censor blocking bodily information surfacing to conscious awareness. It is a visual censor because it identifies objects from the standpoint of the subjective “I.” Images are stored from the three dimensional standpoint of a subject arrayed against an object. It is only when we depend on visual perception that we are led astray, into the subjective thought that takes the human standpoint as central. Such thought requires that one stand apart to observe the other and reduce it to predictable motion, the better to study it as an object. It also requires the intention of  the body’s life energies, be prevented from fully connecting, in an embodied process. (p, 150.)

“Hallucinations tend to make the abstract concrete and visa versa. This reflects the ambiguous position of image in Western epistemology, generally. Image has been assigned an inferior function, somewhere between sensation and thinking. On one hand, images are the “dregs of sensation,” carriers of information about sensations, on the way to the summation of sensations into concepts. If, on the other hand, it is realized that sensations cannot account for the formation of concepts, imagery may be granted the function of illustrating autonomous and immaterial concepts in sensuous terms. In ancient times, images were gods or messengers of gods versus sensuous misrepresentations of the unrepresentable.

The status of image was much higher before we discovered the intellect. The idea of man as slave to his senses was a later transformation of the subjective enslavement to the power of the image. Perhaps this was necessary as a long transitional defense against the image. Distance was gained from the image by seeing it as immediate and concrete. Indeed, it is likely that the very birth of intellect was associated with the cognition of image as image (rather than, say, an idol). (Mosses)” Michael E      “The Psychotic Core.”

The Limits of Language:

At present we only have  a rudimentary language for connecting sensations, affects, and words, for connecting bodily processes and a conceptual understanding of them. The further development of such language requires an attention to the pathways of sensation in the body. We need to formulate bodily knowledge more accurately and increase the rapidity of human understanding. Extending knowledge in this way is the reverse of gathering it by “objectification,” or studying bodily processes disconnected from living sensory attention.  (p, 153.)

Extending knowledge of sensation, following it further along its pathways, means extending consciousness into the body, infusing it with the conscious understanding from which it has been split, by a subject/object orientation. That split has hardened with the sealing of the heart as an organ of sensory reception and transmission, yet it has also come under examination in all the practices and knowledge’s that, taken together, presage the resurrection of the body.

Some of these systems of knowledge already nestle in the arms of objective science, especially those focused on the complex systems of both body and brain, while others are found in more ancient, holistic health systems. What these systems of healing have in common with the study of the body and its complexity, is the notion of systems--of language and communication, insofar as a biochemical chain or a DNA sequence can be structured like a language in another medium. (p, 154.)

The more conscious we become of what we repress in our subject/object orientation (remembering that primary repression is the repression of unprocessed sensory information) or ignore, the less we think in projected and judgmental terms. But such conscious consciousness is only possible when we invent or reinvent the words to say it with. The transliteration into language from the minutia of sensory knowledge and its sifting, may be processes entirely unknown to present day consciousness.

Extending consciousness sensation, finding the words or images, means grasping the nuances of fleshy grammar and alphabets. It means describing and accounting for sensations, which entails translating them into the everyday currencies of speech and so extending the range of their visualization. What our subject/object ego orientation represses is not available to consciousness. This ego and its repressions, present themselves as disordered flesh, when in fact the ego and its repressions are the cause of such disorder. Disorder is not inherent in the body or the flesh, which loves natural regulation. The body thrives in health when its real needs are respected, as distinct from the ego’s imaginary anxieties. (p, 155.)

The Regulation of Nature’s Love:

When the mystic St. Bernard of Clairvaux talks of love, he talks of it as a regulating force for the body’s relation with the soul and the mind. Regulating by love means working with the interweaving logical, living chains of association, which, taken together, ensure continuity of life. Regulation by love, is the negotiation within and between the individual organisms that thrive in those living chains of association, yet this negotiation is disrupted when one organism takes more than its due.

Ultimately, only human beings have the free will to negotiate in a way which seriously disrupts the force of living logic. That is what free will is; the ability not to go with the flow of nature’s living logic. Yet free will is the means of conscious awareness of the divine will, that living logic which interweaves. How does one align oneself with a divine will that interweaves? By studying it, by extending environmental knowledge of the chains of living logic supporting the human body. By extending awareness of and the capacity to transliterate information of the body’s codes and its chains of living logic.

The psyche is, of coarse, also a physical or embodied phenomena. This has to be so if one accepts the premise that the psychical actually gets into the flesh, whether it is manifest as the inertia of depression, or as an actual psychosomatic illness, or in other ways such as anger. It is these embodied psychical urges, these constellations of affect/emotion, that lead us to eat the wrong way, do the wrong things, push ourselves for the wrong reason, and so forth. The body or the flesh as such is not the uniform opponent of divine spirit. The body has divided interests, its “subject-centered” psychical urges take it away from its own natural order of good health.  (p, 156.)

On the face of it, the psychical urges conflicting with the environmental body’s interests can be traced to the unconscious transmission of negative affect/emotions. Chief among these affects, perhaps, is anxiety, a key stressor and prompter of the desire for that which is bad for our natural health. Such wholesale denigration of the flesh (seen in the over consumption of processed foods, for instance)  becomes an obstacle in uniting mind and physical well being. Such denigration only makes sense by way of cultural ignorance of the body’s--that is, the “embodied mind’s’ natural needs.

Our cultural, conceptual subject/object orientation of egoic “I“, distorts our place in the natural schemes of nature. It does this through the affective judgment comparisons of objects, which in turn encourages being judged as an object. Such affective judgments stem from the subjective “I’s” fantasy of fixation. Which arranges energy from one’s one standpoint, interrupting, severing and diverting the natural laws of nature’s life energies. Arranging nature’s energies in this way, split’s the experience of cognition from its physical correlates of sensory information. Extending living attention into the body reverses the split and unlocks energy fixed in diverting images into object relations.

Here the subject as “object,” now becomes actively involved in the sensing process of pursuing alignments between living codes of logic. The subjective seeks to link thinking to sensation, to have thoughts vibrate with nature’s energy, and to pursue nature’s living logic to wherever it leads, undiverted by  a misplaced fantasy and  its associated anxieties of object oriented judgments. If this means that the body, its reflexive actions, its sensory perceptions, have always been ahead of this slow reflective consciousness, may we concede to nature, with dignity and grace.  (p, 157.)

Forms of God:

What has occluded the recognition of the body’s primary intelligence (the logics embedded in systems such as the DNA code, as distinct from the embedded affects that intensify disorder) are the affects. They do this through the stumbling blocks they place in the way of reasoning and through a foundational fantasy understanding of form as something distinct and imposed from above, which has its effects on intellectual work. When the idea of a supersensible God was deconstructed for the fiction that it is, the deconstruction accepted terms which resulted from the splitting of mind and body, individual and environment, and codes of living logic.

Deconstruction’s poststructuralist position accepts these terms, and denies the embodied logic of the flesh.  Deny it, whenever it is claimed--however tacitly--that humans are nonetheless more intelligent than that which interweaves nature’s living logic. Here, intellect is bowed down by the affects, which cut’s intellect off from the feeling, discerning mechanisms which otherwise would link language with sensations. Here, is a trend to objectification in Western psychology, which has proceeded on the basis that it is best to make people as much like objects as possible, in order to be able to study them in controlled and replicable ways.
We know more about human capacities at their most mechanistic, than we do at their most subtle and refined. (p, 158.)

The fact that we ingest so much of what is not good for us as bodies, suggests that the body has been mistakenly cast as the enemy in the received understanding of Christian ascetic thought, even though mystics of Christian and other faiths discern that the opposite is true. Through sustaining living attention by concentration, the mystic enters into a timeless state which eventually yields an experience which is evidently sensual and spiritual. It seems in this experience that the soul attains its desire of union with the body, and does so through the regulation of its passions, thoughts and feelings. Yet the descriptions of such union can be read as forms of hysteria.

Descriptions of the souls union are attempts at putting such extraordinary experience--capturing some part of the union of spirit and sensuality which was lost to us with the fall into a divided mind and body--into our feeble form of inadequate words. If we have not experienced such a union of sense and soul, we will tend to read the descriptions of it as somewhat hysterical, when in fact the descriptions are of a state yet to come to us, or be found by us. Mistaken interpretation is made easily in a worldview where psyches (or souls) are seen as self-contained entities, rather than known as expressions of life’s intentions, which struggle within them. (p, 159.)

Extending attention into the flesh is simultaneously an exploration of the affects which have captured individual souls as well as crowds of souls. In such an exploration we begin to come to terms with what our age of reason and individualism has excluded from consciousness. The few deep breaths taken by Kant’s angry man represent the beginning of a vastly more extensive and conscious knowledge of bodily processes.

It is known that interference with parasympathetic regulation by anxiety or other negative affects (anger, or the inverted anger and anxiety of depression) can be lessened by attempting the conscious regulation involved in attentive breathing. The most advanced practitioners of some forms of yoga are capable of regulating areas under the control of the autonomic nervous system, such as heart rate. As these practices of pathways into bodily awareness are brought into alignment with their simultaneous intellectual exploration, we may yet come to understand what Spinoza meant by knowledge as the pathway to becoming one again with God.  (p, 161.)

The Resurrection of the Body:

With the resurrection of the body and its projected and introjected energetic affects, we also resurrect the specter of ancient demons as the negative affects to be struggled against within and without. But once it is recognized that these affect demons are families of affective energy patterns that can be undone, they can be converted back into living energy as they are released from distorting blocks of inertia and repression. Then these families of negative affect have no power to whip up the superstition, anger and anxiety that prevail when their unconscious capabilities become so ego inflated through judgment and projection. (p, 164.)"

Selected excerpts from “The Transmission of Affect” by Teresa Brennan, PhD.

The "paradox" of human experience seems to be the double edged sword of our instinctual-intelligence? We want the easy, fast and instantly digestable answers, to complex questions, too quickly assuming that our reactions to life, are a reasoned response? Like Peter Levine, there are other contributors to a rising new awareness of the human condition, people like Stephen Porges, Allan N Shcore and Jaak Panksepp, to mention a few. People driven by a thirst for empirical evidence, true insights and a deeper understanding, yet sadly we hardly ever hear of them, in our mainstream media?

Why is that?

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