Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The AFFECT of Neuroception, in Mental Illness?

Neuroception? An "subconscious" Perception?
Our vital need to feel SAFE, & its neural perception?
A Subconscious System for Detecting Threats and Safety.

Ideally, a baby’s neuroception of her environment shows her a safe place to explore. 

But even if her perception warns her accurately of danger from a “frightened or frightening” caregiver, the baby can take some defensive measures, even though they are likely to be ineffective and are almost certain to be psychologically costly.

What happens when neuroception itself is impaired? From a theoretical perspective, faulty neuroception—that is, an inability to detect accurately whether the environment is safe or another person is trustworthy—might lie at the root of several psychiatric disorders: (see: NEUROCEPTION: A Subconscious System for Detecting Threats and Safety)

So what exactly is, SUBCONSCIOUS perception?
• Areas in the temporal cortex that are assumed to inhibit fight, flight, or freeze reactions are not activated in people with autism or schizophrenia, who have difficulty with social engagement.

• Individuals with anxiety disorders and depression have compromised social behavior; difficulties in regulating the heart rate, as reflected in measures of vagal control of the heart; and reduced facial expressiveness.

• Maltreated and institutionalized children with Reactive Attachment Disorder tend to be either inhibited (emotionally withdrawn and unresponsive) or uninhibited (indiscriminate in their attachment behavior; Zeanah, 2000). Both types of behavior suggest faulty neuroception of the risk in the environment. _Stephen Porges, Ph,D.

How does SUBCONSCIOUS perception, result in Mental Illness?

At a glance:
• Neuroception describes how neural circuits distinguish whether situations or people are safe, dangerous, or life threatening.

• Neuroception explains why a baby coos at a caregiver but cries at a stranger, or why a toddler enjoys a parent’s embrace but views a hug from a stranger as an assault.

• The Polyvagal Theory describes three developmental stages of a mammal’s autonomic nervous system: Immobilization, mobilization, and social communication or social engagement.

• Faulty neuroception might lie at the root of several psychiatric disorders, including autism, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, depression, and Reactive Attachment Disorder.

Could most catergories of what we normally see as expressions of a mental illness, be classified under this "umbrella" term, Reactive Attachment Disorder? Is "attachment" a fundamental requirment, in human physiological and psychological health? For example: "Individuals with anxiety disorders and depression have compromised social behavior; difficulties in regulating the heart rate, as reflected in measures of vagal control of the heart; and reduced facial expressiveness." Certainly, my own, bipolar disorder type 1, has its roots in a "neuroception" of danger and subsequently compromised social behaviors, of which "mania" was at times, a spontaneous attempt to rectify? IMO. "Nothing overrides a sense of fearful aviodance and withrawal from other people and life, quite like an episode of mania," I said to a psychiatrist recently.

Has professor Stephen Porges uncovered the hidden biology of Sigmond Freud's unconscious "Id?" And does "The Polyvagal Theory," give us a view of the hidden roots of Affective Disorders like Bipolar? Does The Polyvagal Theory & the concept of a "neural," subconscious perception, professor Porges has called "neuroception," provide a casual link between mental disorders, many consider the truncated response of a natural, mammalian reaction to a sense of threat? Both external & internal? Is a misunderstood and "intellectually" denied, capacity of the autonomic nervous system, at the core of human disorders from Autism to Schizophrenia, including the many symptoms of PTSD & BPD?

Remember the Iceberg Metaphor?

Sensing an "uncoscious" motivation?
The iceberg metaphor: Definitions of individual psyche structures: Freud proposed three structures of the psyche or personality.
Id: The id is the unconscious reservoir of the libido, the psychic energy that fuels instincts and psychic processes. It is a selfish, childish, pleasure-oriented part of the personality with no ability to delay gratification.
Superego: It is making decision regarding the pleasure perceived by the id and the morals of superego. Internalized societal and parental standards of "good" and "bad", "right" and "wrong" behaviour.

Ego: Individual's morals divided into the conscious - security rules and regulations. the moderator between the id and superego which seeks compromises to pacify both. It can be viewed as our "sense of time and place",

Primary and secondary processes: In the ego, there are two ongoing processes. First there is the unconscious primary process, where the thoughts are not organized in a coherent way, the feelings can shift, contradictions are not in conflict or are just not perceived that way, and condensations arise. There is no logic and no time line. Lust is important for this process. By contrast, there is the conscious secondary process, where strong boundaries are set and thoughts must be organized in a coherent way. Most conscious thoughts originate here.

The reality principle: Id impulses are not appropriate in civilized society, so society presses us to modify the pleasure principle in favour of the reality principle; that is, the requirements of the External World.

Yet all our perceptions are actually created within our "unconscious," Internal World?
Please consider more of proferssor Porges articulation of his discovery;
"By processing information from the environment through the senses, the nervous system continually evaluates risk. I have coined the term neuroception to describe how neural circits distinguish whether situations or people are safe, dangerous, or life threatening. Because of our heritage as a species, neuroception takes place in primitive parts of the brain, "without our conscious awareness".

The detection of a person as safe or dangerous triggers neurobiologically determined prosocial or defensive behaviors. Even though we may not be aware of danger on a cognitive level, on a neurophysiological level, our body has already started a sequence of neural processes that would facilitate adaptive defense behaviors such as fight, flight, or freeze.

Our Conscious Perceptions & Consensus Reality?
Consensus reality: is that which is generally agreed to be reality, based on a consensus view. The difficulty with the question stems from the concern that human beings do not in fact fully understand or agree upon the nature of knowledge or knowing, and therefore (it is often argued) it is not possible to be certain beyond doubt what is real.

Accordingly, this line of logic concludes, we cannot in fact be sure beyond doubt about the nature of reality. We can, however, seek to obtain some form of consensus, with others, of what is real. We can use this consensus as a pragmatic guide, either on the assumption that it seems to approximate some kind of valid reality, or simply because it is more "practical" than perceived alternatives.

Consensus reality therefore refers to the agreed-upon concepts of reality which people in the world, or a culture or group, believe are real (or treat as real), usually based upon their common experiences as they believe them to be; anyone who does not agree with these is sometimes stated to be "in effect... living in a different world."

Throughout history this has also raised a social question: "What shall we make of those who do not agree with consensus realities of others, or of the society they live in?"

Children have sometimes been described or viewed as "inexperienced with consensus reality," although with the expectation that they will come into line with it as they mature. However, the answer is more diverse as regards such people as have been characterised as eccentrics, mentally ill, enlightened or divinely inspired, or evil or demonic in nature. Alternatively, differing viewpoints may simply be put to some kind of "objective" (though the nature of "objectivity" goes to the heart of the relevant questions) test.

Cognitive liberty is the freedom to be the individual's own director of the individual's own consciousness and is fundamentally opposed to enforcement of the culturally accepted reality upon non-conforming individuals. Effects of low cognitive liberty vary from indifference to forced-medication and from social alienation to incarceration to death" From: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

So is our "objective," consensus understanding of Mental Illness, as a Brain Disease, a definate reality? "Or simply because it is more "practical" than perceived alternatives?"
Are body psychotherapy techniques of "sensation awareness," like those described in Peter Levine's SomaticExperiencing, applicable therapies for affective disorders like bipolar, in combination with pharmacology as a means of managing symptoms and reducing medication between crisis periods. Perhaps leading to living medication free, as I now do? I now use Levine's "sensate awareness" methods to manage my affective experience, allowing me to discharge the heightened nervous system energies of mania, & avoid the temptation of a depressive conservation/withdrawal, now that I can identify the three active areas of my triune brain and nervous system, thanks to my reading of professor Porges, "Polyvagal Theory."

In the medical model, of a brain disease (a chemical imbalance), do we in fact, manage an "existential crisis" rather than an illness, in the traditional sense of illness as a biological disease process? Is our consensus reality, simplistically defined by an abscence of the kind of emotional crisis, we see in those us defined as mentally ill? And beneath our agreed upon sense of an objective (consensus reality), is there a deeper reality, which can only be explored, using a "felt" rather than "thought" sense of knowing? Please read an adaptation, from an online memoir of my own experience;

"Body Sensation's & our Objectified, Consensual, Sense of Self?
"I am positing the DU model as a tentative model of human experience at the most fundamental existential level. _Paris Williams."

Is our evolved nature, the human body a container of all reality? How can we become aware of such a reality within? Is a mystical sense of oneness, so many people experience during a euphoric psychosis, now beginning to be understood through the science of objective observation? Consider a recently published writer espousing a new approach to the mystical tradition and the mental illness experience;

"I am positing the DU model as a tentative model of human experience at the most fundamental existential level. The DU model essentially integrates three preexisting models of human experience at the root experiential level—(a) a dialectic model that has been formulated by various existentially-oriented thinkers over the past 80 years; (b) the model of cognitive constructs that has been formulated by numerous cognitively-oriented thinkers over the past 40 years; and (c) a model of duality and unity formulated as a result of deep phenomenological inquiry within the Buddhist tradition. The integration of these three models provides us with a useful framework for describing the experience of duality and the experience of the interplay between duality and unity, experiences that are important in capturing the full range of experiences of the participants of this study. I will now discuss each of these categories of experience in turn.

Our Experience of Duality The research suggests that there are two important components of our experience of duality—one can be described as a dialectic that I will refer to as the self/other dialectic, and the other can be described using the concept of cognitive constructs. I will describe each of these in turn here.

The self/other dialectic.
The DU model posits that the existential root of our experience is comprised of a dynamic interplay between our experience of duality and our experience of unity. I refer to that component of our experience most directly related to our experience of duality as the self/other dialectic, which consists essentially of two poles set apart from each other in dialectical tension (see Figure 2). To the best of my knowledge, Rank (1936) was the first to posit this idea in his life-fear/death-fear dialectic. He defined life fear as “the fear of having to live as an isolated individual” (p. 124) and death fear as “the fear of the loss of individuality” (p. 124). In 1977, May posited a similar model, suggesting that the root of all intrapsychic conflict is “the dialectical relation of the individual and his community” (p. 228). In 1980, Yalom posited another variation of this theme, suggesting that human suffering arises from the dialectical tension between “‘Life anxiety’ [which]…is the price one pays for standing out, unshielded, from nature” and “‘Death anxiety’ [which] is the toll of fusion” (p. 142).
In 1999, Schneider presented still another variation on this theme, defining the two poles as constriction and expansion and the fears associated with these as the dread of ultimate constriction (or obliteration) and the dread of ultimate expansion (or chaos). The self/other dialectic draws extensively from the concept of the dialectic explored by these authors; however, I have found it helpful to use different terminology and expand upon it in different ways in order to best represent the data generated by this research.

From a phenomenological perspective, one way that our experience can be divided is between our experience of self and our experience of other, with other referring simply to everything that we experience apart from ourselves (i.e., other people, other beings, the world in general). We can also see this as the classic dualistic subject/object split. It is likely that most of us find that we generally have the experience of a distinct division between self and other, although it is likely that many of us have subjective experiences in which this division feels somewhat blurred—in which the distinction between self and other is not so distinct. The self/other dialectic represents our subjective experience of these two divisions with the two poles of self and other connected by the axis of rapprochement, which represents our experiential location with regard to the perpetual dynamic tension between the two poles. This dialectical tension results from the opposite forces of the two anxieties associated with the two poles. The anxiety we experience in relation to self is referred to as abandonment anxiety, and the anxiety we experience in relation to other is referred to as engulfment anxiety.

Abandonment anxiety corresponds closely to what Rank (1936) referred to as life fear— the fear of isolation and of being cut off from connection, and the corresponding desire for connection. Engulfment anxiety corresponds closely to what Rank referred to as death fear—the fear of losing our sense of self, of being engulfed by too much merger and connection, along with the corresponding desire for autonomy. The overall strength of the dialectical tension within the system is directly related to the strengths of these two opposing anxieties.

Raw unconditioned experience—the three marks of existence.
The Buddhist tradition, with its development and cultivation of mindfulness meditation, provides a particularly robust method of phenomenological inquiry into the fundamental layers of our experience. By referring to the findings of a practice contained within the Buddhist tradition, however, there is the risk that some readers may immediately discount these findings as being dogmatic or religious. If we do this, however, we make the serious mistake of discounting one of the most robust forms of phenomenological inquiry into human nature that has ever been established—mindfulness meditation. It is difficult to find an appropriate category in which to place Buddhism. On one hand, it clearly functions as a religion for many people, especially in the sense that it offers a powerful immortality project with which to fend off death anxiety, to use Becker’s (1973, 1975) language. It contains many different lineages, many of which seem to be filled with dogmatic beliefs and rituals, as we can say about any of the other major religions.

The Prince of Sense-Ability?
On the other hand, Buddhism had a very different beginning from that of most other religions in that its founder was a man (Siddhattha Gotama) who acted very much like a scientist. He spent many years in the earnest pursuit of a deeper understanding of the nature of our suffering in the hopes of finding a way out of it.

According to the Buddhist literature, he did finally succeed in coming out of his suffering and in teaching others how to do the same (after which time his name was changed to the Buddha, meaning the awakened one).

Whether or not one believes that Gotama actually managed to succeed in this regard, he clearly succeeded in developing a very powerful method of deep and penetrating inquiry into present phenomenological experience, a method he referred to as Vipassana meditation (Hart, 1987), what is often referred to in contemporary Western society as mindfulness meditation." _Paris Williams, Doctoral Dissertation:

* * *

In my own experience of bipolar type 1's mania, it feels like a waking dream of elation fueled euphoric ecstasy. There is a strange place beneath my usual subjective and consensus, sense of myself from my learned social dialogue. Here a sharper waking sense of separation, glimmers, shimmers and threatens to completely dissolve? At its deepest level it feels like I’ve fallen within, perhaps subtle trace memories of a “state,” of awareness pre-birth?

On a functional level there is a new appreciation for the field of “out there” objective reality, with a re-born desire for approach and engagement, where previously wary avoidance had been my behavioral routine. Avoidance on a purely physiological level, rationalized in self-dialogue as fierce independence, although counter-dependence is a more accurate interpretation, beyond my need to soften a harsh existential reality? Being honest with myself, about myself can sometimes feel a bit brutal, and I appreciate with renewed compassion, ancient rights of passage, we modern educated beings, consensually consider, savage?

I guess my point here, is the subtle trap contained in our cognitive capacity and taken for granted social dialogues, as an escape from the primary process reality of the body, and the harsher realities of being alive? I think its a most pertinent question in any exploration of “psychosis,” which I suspect can only be further elaborated by those of us who know its actual experience, on a felt level?

Yet when it comes to translation into a communicative dialogue, to both myself and others, I'm very much suck in our zeitgeist (spirit of this age) of a rather clockwork, mechanical logic, particularly in this black & white, written format? How do I go beyond cause and effect thinking to embrace a paradigm shift into systemic awareness? That all at once fluid reality, in our actual experience of NOW? Furthermore when trying to interpret my own experiences of psychosis, how do I sense with real certainty, my need of maintaining a sense of internal security and ease, as I "rationalize" my experience? Subjectively, I'm prone to fill a physiological sense of the void, which the psychosis process seems to allow a sensate awareness of, with the subjective history of my past? Consider Paris Williams interpretation of his own experience of an existential crisis;

"Glimpsing Through the Veil of Delusion — A Buddhist Perspective.
As I alluded to earlier, this (existential) crisis was precipitated by the direct experience of my “veil” of cognitive constructs. Such a veil is something that numerous spiritual teachers, philosophers, and psychologists have suggested we all create in a perfectly natural attempt to make sense of the world and to interact within it. As I became aware of this veil, what I glimpsed beneath it was both awesome and terrifying, an experience that directly led to the crisis.

When attempting to describe what I experienced beneath this veil (something I do not believe I could ever adequately put into words), I find it helpful to use the metaphor of a dynamic swirling sea of energy—a sea of constantly changing sensory experience (including light, sound, tactile sensations, even thought) in which there is no solidity anywhere. I felt out of control, at risk of being flung about by the chaotic currents, and I found myself both awestruck and terrified. I desperately wanted to grasp hold of something tangible, to find some sense of ground, but each time I allowed my intention to move towards making an attempt to grasp, I was quickly overwhelmed by intense terror." _Paris Williams. PhD.

* * *

Does an Instinct for Approach or Avoidance, Block Exploration of a World Within, 
Were All our Perceptions of Reality are Created?

Our Approach-avoidance conflict?
"Approach-avoidance conflicts can occur when one goal contains both positive and negative characteristics. For example, an individual may be nervous to fly in an airplane, but if that is the only means of transportation to visit family, the individual experiences an approach-avoidance conflict. The more motivated the individual is to achieve a goal, the greater the likelihood to approach the goal. If there are competing feelings to a goal, the stronger of the two will triumph. Individuals may experience greater motivation to achieve a positive goal as the individual gets closer to the goal (e.g., excitement in packing a suitcase for the trip). In contrast, individuals may also experience decreased motivation to reach a negative goal as the individual gets closer to that goal (e.g., anxiety at the airport terminal). As the negative goal becomes nearer, the desire to avoid a negative goal is theorized to be much stronger than the desire to achieve a positive goal." From: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

How do we approach the unconscious reality of our evolved nature?
Recall my statement at the start of this essay: (The Door & Key to Self-Revelation: My Existential Journey?) "Our social consensus reality, based on a denial of our true nature takes two major forms, either objectification or mystification of the human condition?" Is this how the subjective state of awareness, we call the mind copes with the existential nature of being? In this strange space we call the mind, we posit an "as if," version of our existential reality? A version of our sense of "I- Self" which exists in a constant potential of known & unknown awareness, which seems to be quickening towards a paradigm shift? Quickening as the underlying reality of chaos undergoes a transition phase, to a new order of stability? Are all the current manifestations of chaos in our world demanding a new sense of "I - Self," a new consensus reality? Do we need to stop assuming we need to organize the world "out there," in better way, hoping it will change our motivation? Or do we need to shift our awareness to the world within and re-organize our Self-Definition? A shift in perception defined by the sight of image and objects "out there," to a felt awareness of reflex reactions within our overwhelmingly chemical, internal world? Please consider;

A Chemical Metaphor?
"Nothing in our everyday experience gives us any reason for supposing that water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen; and yet when we subject water to certain rather drastic treatments, the nature of its constituent elements becomes manifest. Similarly, nothing in our everyday experience gives us much reason for supposing that the mind of the average sensual man has, as one of its constituents, something resembling, or identical with, the Reality substantial to the manifold world; and yet, when that mind is subjected to drastic treatments, the divine element, of which it is in part at least composed, becomes manifest.” _Aldous Huxley."

Adapted from: Born to Psychosis, Chapter 15
Also see The Door & Key to Self-Revelation: My Existential Journey? for a more complete explantation of my shift in Self-Awareness, and therefore Self-Interpretation, beneath the common ground of our Consensus Reality.

* * *

So why did I write AFFECT & not EFFECT in my title?
Because I used to use a simple cause and effect logic of how things work, when trying to understanding myself, and my bipolar disorder constitution, while now-a-days I sense a subconscious affect within my brain-nervous system motivation? Better understood as motor-vation, when it comes to understanding the subconscious stimulation of muscular tensions, beneath our intelligent rationalizations? Hence my question about Reactive Attachment Disoder, as an umbrella term to encompass a continuum of symptom expressions, for much of what we consensually assume, are separatly definable illnesses? After years of reading people like Stephen Porges, Allan N Schore, Jaak Panksepp and then Peter Levine's book in 2011, I had a personal epiphany, while remembering a quote I'd read and wrote on this blog dozens of times. (see: bipolar anger) Sensing muscular tensions and nervous sensations within my body, allows an understanding of overlapping symptom expressions in the various mental illnesses, once knowledge of the autonomic nervous system, is taken into account. Strangely, the nervous sytems are rarely mentioned within mainstream reporting on mental health? Please consider a quote from the father of modern neurobiology;

"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" _Sir Charles Sherington.

Gee, Mom! "The motor act is the cradle of the mind?" Does this mean that much of our thoughts, words and elabaroate language, are really rationalizations of our unconscious physiological motivation? Our unconscious "id," just as Freud said, once you get past the jokes about your mother and sex, of coarse? A Freudian slip, is when you say one thing, but really mean your mother. A little light relief, in my propensity to be serious, I hope your thinking? My Capricorn thing, perhaps?

Affect/Effect - A "rational" explanation, of two confusing words?

Yet if affect is a "subconscious" activity of our brain and nervous systems, how can we explain it consciously? Are there really thoughts-words to describe activity, we CANNOT be conscious of?

Yet what is consciousness?
Sensations - feelings - emotions - thoughts?

"My belief is in the blood and flesh as being wiser than the intellect. The body-unconscious is
where life bubbles up in us. It is how we know that we are alive, alive to the depths of our
souls and in touch somewhere with the vivid reaches of the cosmos" _D. H. Lawrence.

"The body-unconscious is where life bubbles up in us." 
I have read famous quotes like this, dozens of times in the past, and had an habitual, mind based awareness-response, of "yeah that’s nice." Never pausing long enough to take in the real meaning? Never having been taught how too? Never being shown by example, how to "embody" my own presence, beneath my minds constant "rationalizations," as a flight from the body sensations of real presence? Hmm! "flight?"

Please consider: "Even though we may not be aware of danger on a cognitive level, on a neurophysiological level, our body has already started a sequence of neural processes that would facilitate adaptive defense behaviors such as fight, flight, or freeze." _Stephen Porges.

Until I began to practice "real presence" by using Peter Levine's sensate awareness techniques to sense my body's unconscious nervous activity, I'd been "in flight mode" away from sensation and embodied presence, for the vast majority of my life. I just did not know this on a cognitive level. At a cognitive level, my previous awareness of myself and others, involved the cognitive concept of "cause and effect," yet at an unconscious level of feedback stimulated, brain-nervous system activity, no such distinction exists? Our brain-nervous system motivation, is a constant, with the three levels of our brain-nervous systems, in constant interaction? Making the conscious awareness of "affect" and its role in mental illness, impossible, by thinking alone. Consider;

“Deepening awareness is a challenge. It isn’t a challenge because my parents didn’t love me enough. It’s a challenge because it’s a challenge. I don’t need to take it personally. I’ve spent years excavating my past, sorting and cataloguing the wreckage. But who I really am, the essential truth of my being, can’t be grasped by the mind, no matter how acute my insights. I’ve confused introspection with awareness, but they’re not the same. Becoming the worlds leading expert on myself has nothing to do with being fully present.”
Excerpt from: “In an Unspoken Voice.” by Peter Levine, PhD.

* * *

Our Consensus Denial, of innate AFFECT?
Are there innate affects? Are they instinct-emotion & e-motively contagious?

Shout fire! In a dark, crowded cinema, were there is a smell of smoke in the air, and fear fueled panic can spread like a reactive, contagious, wildfire, as if there is more than just smoke in air, emotionaly speaking? In such a scenerio, would we be witnessing the raw power of "innate affect," as the instinctual root of human emotion? Would we be watching the "unconscious" reactivity of the autonomic nervous system, in particular, stimulating instinctual muscular actions? According to Silvan Tomkins the father of "Affect Theory," there are nine innate affects, which are: interest - excitement, enjoyment - joy, anger - rage, fear - terror, disgust, dissmell, distress - anguish, surprise - startle and shame - humiliation. This form of description shows their range of intensity, except for disgust and dissmell which are a different kinds of innate affect. Innate affects evolved through millions of years of reptilian and mammalian evolution, all the way up to higher primates like us humans. Please consider an everday explanation of innate affect;

An Affect Response?
Sitting at her workstation typing a response to her lover’s sexually suggestive email, Sally was unaware of her supervisor lurking over her shoulder, until:

Robson!’ He suddenly shouted, making sure everyone in the office heard.
Can you imagine her reaction? What is your immediate picture of her response? Perhaps a shocked intake of breath, the jerk of suddenly contracted muscles, and a flood of humiliation sensation, within her body? Yet if asked to describe this situation in everyday language, does our normal cause and effect logic, result in a: "She was typing and her boss came up behind her and shouted her name, and she went like this," verbal description, which does not really acknowledge the internal sensations of either Sally or her boss? Have you heard a conversation where in describing a verbal interaction with someone else, a person says, "so she goes, and I go," in a taken for granted, cause and effect reasoning? Does this kind of commonsense thought deny the internal nature of our "millisecond" nervous-system reactivity though? Is our linear cause & effect, logical thinking and its spoken language, rather mechanical and based on a limited awareness of how our own brain/body, actually works? Do we habitually resist an awareness of internal sensations, in our objective "I think therefore I am," culture? Our cultural zeitgeist? (spirit of the age).

At this stage of our evolutionary experience, do we take for granted the current descriptive language of our subjective awareness, which is overwhelmingly based on an awareness of "external objects?" Yet as we see more of our own "internal" world, with the enhanced vision of high technology, is our "objective" perception beginning to change, just like a "flat earth" perception changed once Galileo had pointed out what had been there for us to see all along? The new field of ‘affective neuroscience’ is changing our current view of a separate objective reality, as we see deeper into the interconnected systems of the human brain/body and the systemic interaction of the human organism. Systems theory is the key to understanding this new wave of hard won insights, which declares "affect regulation, as the motivator of all human actions." Hence Allan N Schore's book title "Affect Regulation & the Origin of The Self."

In terms of Miss Robson and her reaction, the whole environment of the office and the email from outside the office are determinants of her "affective response." How well liked she is, where she stands in the pecking order of rank and social status, and how much her reaction can be observed by others will affect the intensity of her response. Equally her past experiences of shame - humiliation, will affect her current response. The sensation training of her early life, has set the reactive boundaries of her nervous system to determine how well she will cope with this kind of affective shock, to the organic systems of her body/brain. And that early life, sensation training was affected by others as an affective response to them. Such an "interconnected, systemic reality" in our experience of being, cannot be grasped by our rather "old-world," cause and effect thinking? This shift in the perception of ‘affective energy states’ gained by our advancing scientific knowledge, is as yet so new, that our current everyday languages, are inadequate to easily grasp the organic nature of our internal reality. Our cause and effect logic works well when we are diagnosing problems within a machine, with its distinctly separate parts. Unfortunately, we tend to percieve ourselves, with this same "parts like, logical thinking?" Yet when dealing with organic life forms, this linear, cause and effect logic begins to breakdown, as we take a closer look? Perceptively, moving from a "solid objects" oriented, surface impression, to an overwhelmingly chemical environment, within? We are far more liquid, than solid objects?

* * *

I'm sorry its another long, lengthy post, in my ongoing effort to articulate my own experience and my changing understanding of what it means to be human? There are few other experiences which so challenge our very definition of being human, like an experience of mental illness can do? Certainly, many people have such a bad experience, the consensus asumption of illness-sickness, is perfectly understandable. Probably many more people experience the waking nightmare of psychosis, than do the waking dream state of a euphoric mania, with its often powerful sense of an eternal oneness? Please consider an excerpt from my writing last June/July, in the immediate aftermath of my last full blown psychosis, as further knowledge and experience continued my shifting self-definition, in process of deepening self-awareness;

An excerpt from: The Mental Illness Debate & The Nature of Madness?

"During the past several years, I conducted a series of research studies that inquired deeply into the experiences of people who had made full and lasting recoveries from schizophrenia and other long term psychotic disorders.
As the participants revealed their stories one by one, I became increasingly astonished by what I was learning. The deep meaning within these participants’ experiences and the profound positive transformation that each of them had gone through flew completely in the face of virtually everything I had ever learned in the mainstream texts about psychosis. I dove deeper and deeper into the existing research on schizophrenia, psychosis, and recovery, trying to make sense of what I was learning. The common beliefs about psychosis and schizophrenia that are held so strongly in the West quickly began to slip away like so much sand through my fingers. I realized that what I was learning from these participants was taking me so much further than I had ever imagined possible, sending me on a journey not unlike Alice’s descent into the rabbit hole.

As I attempted to disentangle the complex and vast web of research, I found myself descending ever further into a world where the truth appeared to be much stranger than fiction, a world riddled with contradictions, paradox and hair-pulling conundrums. The journey began with the complete dismemberment of the brain disease theory of psychosis, and continued beyond the point where even the construct of “schizophrenia” itself blew away like mere dust in the wind. Ever deeper this journey took me until eventually I had no other choice but to arrive at the conclusion that the condition we generally think of as psychosis is not the result of a diseased brain after all. Rather, it is probably much more accurate to see psychosis as a desperate survival strategy brought on intentionally by one’s very own being.

It seems that all of us, and indeed all living organisms, are imbued with an unfathomable intelligence and force that strives constantly for our survival and our growth; and it appears that it is this very same organismic intelligence that intentionally initiates psychosis in a desperate attempt to survive what would otherwise be intolerable conditions. The evidence in this regard is surprisingly robust. Every participant in all three of my studies (and within many accounts of others who have gone through similar journeys) experienced the onset of psychosis after finding themselves overwhelmed by such intolerable conditions; and every participant also underwent a profoundly healing and positive transformations a result of the full resolution of their psychotic process.

An important aspect of the renewal process is that in order for such a profound reorganization of the Self to take place, a profound disintegration must first take place, followed by a thorough reintegration (Perry, 1999). During this process of disintegration and reintegration, one’s self-image and one’s world-image tend to go through a parallel process of dying to old ways of being and being reborn into new ways of being, a process that is rarely linear, often involving a variety of disintegration and reintegration experiences in a more or less unpredictable manner. During experiences of disintegration, one may literally believe that they have physically died or are on the verge of death. They may also have the sense that their very being is on the verge of succumbing to a total annihilation that is even more profound than physical death. This is often a very terrifying stage.

During experiences of reintegration, one often has profound experiences of “rebirth and of world regeneration.” Often included within this stage are experiences of messianic affect-images, recognition of the unity of all things, and visions of a new world guided by compassion and love for all beings. Perry discovered that most of those individuals he worked with who were suffering acute psychotic episodes and who were allowed to move through them in a supportive way worked through the process to resolution in about forty days. He found that this varied somewhat (with the length of time often being indirectly proportional to the intensity of the episode), but the variance was much less than he would have expected. This time period (forty days) has fascinating implications when one considers the frequency with which this same number is used to describe the transformative periods of historical prophets (of Esdras and Jesus in the Bible, and of the world-destruction of the deluge, for example)." _Paris Williams, PhD.
Rethinking Madness: Towards a Paradigm Shift in Our Understanding and Treatment of Psychosis

Can the concept of "neuroception" and professor Stephen Porges discovery of a third branch to our autonomic nervous system, and its regulation of the human heart, explain our fearful reaction to madness, and our "unconsious need" to percieve, a mental illness? A question I will address in my next post.

Are we more "neuroceptive" than perceptive?
Is Freud's iceberg metaphor of the unconscious, still valid?

What do YOU think? Or feel?

My Bipolar Recovery Method?
Mental Illness - Its Metabolic Energy Shifts?
Madness & the Chaotic Energies of The Trauma Trap?
Mental Illness & The Face - - Heart Connection?
Mental Illness - Psychological & Physiological?
Discovering a Paradigm Shift in Mental Health?
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