Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Respect Your Monkey! Honor Your Reptile!

As we've been saying, one of the principles of Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) is that mind, brain, and relationships represent an irreducible trinity, in that you can't have one without the others.

However, it occurs to me that each of these components may be further divided (but not separated) into three. For example, vis-a-vis the brain, we have the hindbrain, the midbrain, and the neocortex -- or the reptilian, the mammalian, and the human. Thus, when we talk about integration, it is not just between mind, brain, and relationships, but within the brain itself.

For which reason the Raccoon says: Integrate your monkey! And don't forget your lizard!

Likewise the mind, which I visualize as spanning a vertical hierarchy from the divine to the human to the infrahuman. Importantly, the infrahuman is not analogous to the mammalian or reptilian, but is something far worse than mere animals -- like Nazis, or ISIS, or Al Sharpton. Matter can only go so low.

With regard to relationships, there is always self, other, and the link between them. Here I follow Bion, who mainly posited links of (L), (H), and (K), or love, hate, and knowledge. Others might include empathy, passion, and curiosity, but in each case the link is from interior to interior, or soul to soul. And to meet souls where they actually are, we have to possess the "mindsight" to see them, more on which later.

With this in mind, I think we are in a better position to understand what Siegel means when he says that the triangle of mind-brain-relationships is a "process by which energy and information flow." This is obvious, say, in education, where information passes from one mind to another via our relationship to the teacher (and the relationship turns out to be critically important). But such links also occur in far more subtle ways.

For example, in a paper I published back in 1994 -- before the internet permitted me to bypass the middleman -- I talked about "the back-and-forth interplay between mother and infant" through which we come to know ourselves (and without which we could never know ourselves).

Therefore, certain obstructions, blind spots, and inflexible repetitions in the mother will be internalized by the baby. Although the self cannot develop without a brain, it obviously cannot be reduced to mere brain activity. An isolated brain is just a disorganized blob of cells, while an isolated self isn't really a self at all.

However, there are such things as a healthy brain, a healthy mind, and healthy relationships. Things can go south in each realm, which will in turn affect the others.

For example, a brain tumor will probably not be good for your mind. Likewise, a painful relationship, or a death or loss, will cause real structural and chemical changes in the brain. And we all know how the internalization of a dysfunctional ideology causes both soul and brain damage.

The keynote is integration: "From an IPNB perspective, integration is the definition of good health," and "integration is the linkage of differentiated elements." Failure to integrate always results in one of two outcomes (or else an alternation between the two): either chaos or excessive rigidity.

Here we can see how rigidity may become a habitual defense mechanism against chaos, but how excessive rigidity inevitably results in more chaos. (Of note, this applies to any system, which is why the rigid, top-down economics of the left doesn't work.) Obama, for example, is an unusually rigid ideologue. The result? Global disorder. Economic disorder. Medical system disorder. Racial disorder. Immigration disorder.

As Siegel describes it, "Brains or relationships that are not integrated move outside this river of integration." That is, the integrated flow of an open system can be analogized to a river. On one bank is rigidity, the other chaos. Siegel is absolutely correct that every single diagnostic category of the DSM is characterized by either rigidity or chaos.

To cite some obvious examples, a compulsive personality is too rigid, while a borderline personality always generates chaos. Narcissists are generally too rigid, while a person with bipolar disorder goes from extreme to extreme -- from a static depression to wild mania, the former functioning like a fixed point attractor, the latter a strange attractor in subjective phase space.

As it so happens, I'm reading a rather comprehensive biography of Beethoven in the hope that it might contribute to our Glass Bead Game of integrating music and the structure of reality. Interestingly, Beethoven was deeply unintegrated in certain areas (e.g., emotions, relationships), even while creating perhaps the most vertically and horizontally (and intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually) integrated music that had yet appeared (from what I am told; I don't pretend to be a classical music maven).

Being that he was one of the first representatives of the then new cult of genius, we have ever since had the romantic image of the "crazy genius," but it is not necessarily so. One doesn't have to be crazy to be a genius, but one can see how, in an excessively rigid cultural or academic environment, it may require someone who has no ability to stay within the lines -- the river banks -- to discover new territory. Thus, there are times that chaos can be in the service of development, but it is not the ideal.

On the one hand, Beethoven strived "for unity within diversity," and "struggled for greater unity and at the same time for greater diversity than any composer had aspired to before." And yet, outside the context of composing, he "had little grasp of the world at all. In childhood he did not truly comprehend the independent existence of other people. He never really did. He reached maturity knowing all about music... but otherwise he did not know how to live in the world."

To be continued....


Gagdad Bob said...

"People ‘Come to Government To Feed Their Souls.’"

Exactly. So stop it already!

mushroom said...

the back-and-forth interplay between mother and infant

The mother of the child is not the same as the girl you knew before. Certainly she has already learned to see herself differently through her husband's eyes, but the baby is whole other thing.

Rick said...

"I talked about "the back-and-forth interplay between mother and infant" through which we come to know ourselves (and without which we could never know ourselves)."

Yesterday, and even more so today, I'm reminded of "Rosebud..."

Does the Beethoven book discus the youngin's relationship with his mother?

Gagdad Bob said...

Rick -- yes. His idealized but depressed mother died when he was about 16, which traumatized him, while his father was an abusive alcoholic tyrant. Which also traumatized him. And trauma interferes with integration.

julie said...

Yes, that it does.

This post is close to home. I have a family member who finds herself in tough circumstances, but it's hard for others to be sympathetic because she is always in tough circumstances. She's been given an assortment of diagnoses over the years, but I'm starting to wonder if she isn't just borderline. We always hope that this time, she'll figure things out and make better choices for herself... and then a couple of weeks later she's bailed out of the latest folly for something that's probably worse. In some ways, I think she is getting "better," but the pull of chaos always threatens.

mushroom said...

Drama majors.

How many times do you look at them and think, this would have been a lot less trouble to fix a couple of months ago or last year.

Rick said...

Bob, awhile back you mentioned this book "Philosophy Between the Lines: The Lost History of Esoteric Writing". I don't think I missed your review...is it in the stack...?

Anonymous said...

Some kids are not very good at being human. That used to be OK, until moderns weaponized self selection.
That is one hell of an original gap.
Now that the prophets and misfits and mutants are few, nobody wins.
It does not take very long for certain species to rationalize most everything.
Except for where the bodies do not stay buried.
Gods and monsters trade places, and physical constants remember. Just a piano, and mostly off script.
Bagpipes and accordions jump in where and when reaquired.

Gagdad Bob said...

Rick -- that book started off in a promising direction but suddenly veered into a hopelessly tenured direction before completely crashing & burning about halfway through.

Rick said...

Rats -- impulse buy.

julie said...

Off topic, all that science you thought was settled? Maybe not so much.

Just don't try to tell them God had anything to do with it.

Van Harvey said...

bbbbBBBUT! The Consensus! How can this BE!

Rick said...

Haahaa, I was going to link to that article too :-)

There were some thought provoking nuggets in there.

For one, the point about energy being created supports Meister Eckhart's claim that God is perpetually giving birth to the cosmos.

And two, the crack from Einstein, "that if you look at the universe on a large enough scale, it must be the same in all directions."

I don't know precisely what he means by "same" but, yes, why does the cosmos "look" disordered? In other words, why isn't the matter "all the same" and distributed evenly? There's a galaxy that looks like this over here and a different looking one over there. I think it should look the same at all scales, no? In still other words, what caused the disruption of order at the beginning?

Gagdad Bob said...

A long time ago the thought occurred to me that God's "formula" for the cosmos might be analogous to pi, in that it goes on forever, but also in the sense that the world can't be reduced to some nice symmetrical number. If it could, then it would look much more ordered and symmetrical than it does. So maybe God isn't 3, but 3.1...

Rick said...

"That's my formula and I AM sticking to it."

Van Harvey said...

Rick said "In still other words, what caused the disruption of order at the beginning?" and Gagdad said "the cosmos might be analogous to pi, in that it goes on forever"

My suspicion is that they go together. That disorder, something which BTW we cannot create (if you manage to write a program that can output truly Random numbers, you'd quickly become a very rich raccoon), that disorder, chaos, is itself a very impressive starting point, a high grade canvas, which is then used to create and display Order, Harmony, Beauty upon - just as the unending stream of random numbers following Pi, are transformed into the most impressive order of a Circle.

That's some Awesome programming right there.