"Empathy, Resilience and Consciousness"
THE TAO OF RESILIENCE
by Peggie C. Southwick, M.A.
Asklepia Foundation, ©1998
[Edited and Updated by Iona Miller, 2002]
Editorial Note: On 9-11-01 our whole world changed; chaos prevails.
Even though it was a vital survival quality before, 'resilience,' both
personal and collective, has become even more important as we make our
emotional and pragmatic adjustments to this new era. Issues of emotional
support, empathy, compassion, and spirituality have become highlighted
in a new, more immediate way. Survival skills of adaptation, creativity,
optimism, self-talk, life-strategy, trust, risk-reward assessment, humor,
recovery and problem-solving or coping are more important than ever.
This is equally true for both adults and children.
Therefore, we offer this deep background on its nature and how to tap
into its healing or renewing power through the mentoring and Dream Journey
process of Consciousness Restructuring. This paper, in different
form, was originally presented at Pacifica Graduate Institute for Ms. Southwick's
Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology. Iona Miller has updated
it to highlight its relevance to the Consciousness Restructuring Process,
Piaget & Vygotsky
Wolin & Wolin
John Curtis Gowan
Developmental Self Psychology
Left Brain, Right Brain
The Three Faces of Mind
Cognitive Neuroscience: Mirror Neurons
THE TAO OF RESILIENCE, Part I
Let go and fall into the river.
Let the river of life sweep you beyond all aid
from old and worn concepts.
I will support you.
As you swim from an old consciousness,
blind to higher realities beyond your physical world,
trust that I will guide you
with care and love
into a new stream of consciousness.
I will open a new world before you.
Can you trust me enough to
let go of the known
and swim in an unknown current?
Redefining Resilience in the Consciousness Restructuring
Resilience helps us bounce back or recover our spirit, energy, and harmonious
way of being. Psychological resilience is that factor which heals
us from the traumatic stress of modern life that we are all subjected to
in a variety of forms. Resilience has many facets.
In honor of the resilience process at work in all of us, the overall format
of this paper represents a harmonious shuttling back and forth between
the vertical logic of Logos and the more horizontally integrative experience
of Eros as it weaves the fabric of its new resilience metaphor upon the
loom of these pages. Resilience is an implied state of being rather
than any concretely definable "thing."
Yet, this resilient "state" also seems to represent the cohesive and stabilizing
elemental matrix through which a unifying life force is resonantly evolving
within us. It is made up of many underlying processes, as well as
a quality or state of being. In those for whom this quality is in
short supply, therapy can foster first its emergence, and then its stabilization
as an intrinsic quality of being, by connecting us with the source of resilience.
What reduces or facilitates the resilient nature of consciousness?
Each field of inquiry has its own theories and models of psychophysical
resilience. Humanistic and Transpersonal psychologies offer "missing,
invisible" factors that contribute to resilience and are described with
The Consciousness Restructuring Process goes a step further than Humanistic
and Transpersonal psychologies by offering more than a metaphor.
It provides a means of direct participation in the emergent process of
creating ever-newing resilience through psychophysical healing by facilitating
REM and neural restructuring.
CRP is an interdisciplinary artform. Aspects of this living process
can be described, modelled or experienced through such scientific concepts
as Relativity Theory, Quantum Theory, Chaos Theory, the Holographic Model,
Systems Theory, Synergetics, REM Dynamics, Personal Mythology, Genetics,
Neurotheology and Physiology. The practice of CRP therapy is essentially
Humanistic; it is rooted in Transactional Analysis and Gestalt Dreamwork,
but takes these disciplines into the Transpersonal Realms where we connect
with Source, with Creativity, with Healing, with Spirituality.
CRP draws inspiration from the mythical roots of the Asklepian tradition.
The ancient Asklepian dream priests never interpreted dreams, but fostered
a direct epiphany of the seeker with the archetypal shamanic healer, Asklepios.
CRP connects with this ancient current through the dreamhealing process
and the shaman/therapist model or co-conscious mentoring proceedure.
By directly entering into and engaging our dream imagery, symptoms, and
emotions we can tap that healing energy by plumbing our depths and soaring
to our own heights of potential. This immersive experience produces
direct conscious participation in the stream of consciousness which brings
psychophysical change, feelings of renewal or rebirth, and connection with
Spirit; all of which help us bounce back from the chaos and tragedies life
brings our way.
For example, dreams of the 911 destruction, or nightmares of other disasters
provide immediate opportunities to enter directly into the source of those
fears and insecurities, into the depth of the problem or symptom.
Rather than contemplating what you believe, or what you know, the process
allows you to travel into the very jaws of death in the journey, to make
a pilgrimage into the "underworld" to retrieve our lost and suffering souls.
What we find there we know to be True...to reflect our essence.
Many people avoid thinking about death, much less volutarily undergoing
a symbolic ego-death experience. But we are supposed to think
about it, to contemplate our personal dissolution, for that is what highlights
what is important in life. Many people near death report that the
most important issues for them are, "Am I loved; and have I loved well?"
We might ask ourselves, "What is it that death doesn't take?"
We don't need to wait for terminal illness to ask. And one answer
to that is the capacity to love.
Instead of actively trying to avoid Chaos, we embrace it and dive into
its very depths for the renewal it promises. We must look at the face of
insecurity; it is always there but sometimes it just explodes, personally
and/or collectively. Resilience is a function or quality of our consciousness
and conscious participation in the universal flow state, whose essence
is pure undifferentiated chaos, (also known scientifically as vacuum potential,
zero-point energy, in CRP as consciousness field or chaotic consciousness).
It is more fundamental than either energy or matter, psyche or soma.
It is the groundstate from which all forms, order, and self-organization
In CRP, the ego and personality structure, and with it any dis-ease structure,
undergoes a process of dissolution back to our most primal state, and the
resurrected personality emerges holistically re-organized with a generally
healtier disposition and outlook which is the optimistic hallmark of resilience.
Trying times, both personal and collective, challenge our faith and existential
resolve. The world can come to us in devastating and frightful ways.
That is when we are especially called upon to work at faith, to
find value and meaning. We need to reach deep within ourselves, listen
to what emerges from inside, and find our resilience -- the ability to
bounce back and press on.
One way we find this resilience is through service, the active expression
of compassion. In difficult times, when troubles persist, we may
come to suffer from compassion burn-out -- eventually shutting out the
world with defense mechanisms. Yet, compassion is the absolute
test of any spirituality.
Only our own suffering, our own journey, our own quest for healing, gives
us insight into the suffering of others; empathy for the suffering of others.
But suffering for its own sake, without pro-actively seeking transformation
is essentially not having compassion for ourselves. Unremitting suffering
leads to depression and hopelessness. However, through suffering
consciously, we learn to go with the catastrophe and find the natural
healing on the other side.
In "Empathy and Consciousness," (JSC, 2001), Evan Thompson
makes five main points:
(1) Individual human consciousness is formed in the dynamic interrelation
of self and other, and therefore is inherently intersubjective. (2)
The concrete encounter of self and other fundamentally involves empathy,
understood as a unique and irreducible kind of intentionality. (3)
Empathy is the precondition (the condition of possibility) of the science
of consciousness. (4) Human empathy is inherently developmental:
open to it are pathways to non-egocentric or self-transcendent modes of
intersubjectivity. (5) Real progress in the understanding of intersubjectivity
requires integrating the methods and findings of cognitive science, phenomenology,
and contemplative and meditative psychologies of human transformation.
We can experientially come to realize that our consciousness of ourselves
as embodied individuals in the world is founded upon empathy -- on our
empathic cognition of others, and others' empathic cognition or grasp of
oneself. This is the antidote for the poison of mutual projection
of negative traits onto others, which happens both personally and culturally.
This projection of animosity lies at the root of war, which can only be
weeded out individual by individual through experiential confrontation
with Shadow elements.
Empathy is a basic emotional faculty. Empathy is an evolved psychobiological
capacity. Empathic grasping of another, especially by sensing them
as animated by their own fields of sensation, means sharing the same field
of experience -- essentially a shared virtuality. According to Depraz
(JSC, 2001), there are at least four possible kinds of empathy:
1) The passive association of my lived body with the lived body of the
2) The imaginative transposal of myself to the place of the Other;
3) The interpretation or understanding of myself as an Other for you;
4) Ethical responsiblity in the face of the Other.
In empathy and compassion the values in question transcend personal concerns,
sometimes transcending even the concern for our own continued existence
and nonexistence. Compassion is not merely an expression of nonegocentric
value-feeling, one that can emerge only as a result of inward meditative
disembedding. It plays a guiding role in moving from one mode to
another, in the expansion of the value-sensing repertoire. This is
the reason that practices of compassion, benevolence, or love are emphasized
so strongly right from the start in the practices of many wisdom traditions.
Empathy is not limited. The extension of empathy and compassion to
the nonhuman world seems rather foreign to the Judaeo-Christian tradition
(at least until recently), but is central to the Buddhist ideal of compassion
for all sentient beings, and to the Neo-Confucian ideal of "forming one
body with the Universe."
This understanding is the root of philosophical choices which are fundamental
to continued quality of life on our planet. With empathy for the
Earth we respond positively to such issues as vegetarianism, recycling,
"living small" or "lightly on the land," humane treatment of animals, human
rights, population control, conservation, environmental protection, deep
ecology, right livlihood, health care and spiritual practice, among others.
CRP helps us identify with a myriad of forms from the inside out to experience
first-hand what that is like. Compassion is the heart of interbeing,
and is the superlative expression of the human capacity for empathy.
The feeling of commiseration is the beginning of humanity.
We've seen this commiseration in the U.S. since '911' in a myriad of ways,
sharing fears and small triumphs. Somehow this disaster has brought
us closer, and it is more than a trauma bond. People seem more open
and inclined to speak with strangers on the street, to help one another.
The question is, "What was preventing this easier flow prior to that
time?" But it is rhetorical. Suffering is universal --
resilience is not. Sharing the burdens of our suffering and finding
a way through fosters resilience.
Neuroscientist Arnold Mandell (Omni, 81) reports results from his own research
that suggest agreement with the foundations of CRP. He cites the
Hindu sacred poem, Bhagavad Gita as saying that transcendent action
is possible through detachment with empathy. He goes
on to assert that,
"Maybe dragging around yesterday's messages, maintaining old order in
thought forms, is a lot sicker than reality that's an existential randomness.
The whole idea underlying, say Buddha's enlightenment, transcendence, "no
mind," may be a return to randomness, to a lack of order. Maybe letting
go, religious surrender is the feeling equivalent of a loss of order --
the order Eastern philosophers say is, was, artificial in the first place.
Is this the unconscious, the disordered part of oneself? Before
Homer, it was thought to be the voice of God. It's William James's
mystical experience, the Quakers' inner light, Jung's universal unconscious,
Hinduism's "that," St. Theresa's ecstasy, Roger Sperry's right hemisphere.
There is order in randomness.
The brain is unstable and we all live on the edge of disorganization,
whether we allow ourselves to be conscious of it or not. Knowing
the limits is wisdom."
So, whether we like it or not, we all live an atmosphere, both inside and
out, that can be characterized as the edge of chaos. William James's
preconscious stream is back in full force. It's tumbling through
our minds like the weather, and we're left in a position to observe, to
explore, negotiate maybe, but not control.
We are complex organisms and chaos theory best describes this. In
the new paradigm, our structure of self emerges from chaos in an environment
of complex interacting systems, responsive to and shaped by that environment.
What else is the moment of our conception? Eventually, the structure
grows brittle, doesn't respond to the ever-evolving and changing environment
and disintegrates back into chaos from which emerges new structure.
At the personal level we experienece this process as a life crisis or a
disease, particularly if we fight the change, when the framework of our
reality changes. It is this dance of evolution that is reality and
healthy, not the temporary forms and structures that we fix on, nor the
chaos that we avoid. They exist only in passing as our existential
perceptions. Our true health is in being, becoming, and accepting
this ever-evolving self -- in a word resilience.
Fundamental to CRP is that it works in REM with sensory elements of our
dreams. Healing, as are dreams, is a sensory not an intellectual
process. Senses inform us when we are sick or well. Our dreams
also reveal disease, often before symptoms appear. Mind and intellect
only deal with symbols of reality. Dreams alone are healing, as the
havoc wrought from dream deprivation shows.
The deep illness image, when experienced, spontaneously self-destructs
into chaotic and unbound consciousness. The new emergent sensory
self image that is found in chaotic consciousness is a new easeful structure
that has replaced the disease, for example, a deep-felt sense of warmth,
flow, and boundarylessness.
The CRP teaches a new way of flowing through life, philosophically and
experientially. It provides the experience of doing so in a virtual
reality experience of wakeful REM, and directly alters self-image and reality
perception that empowers us by making us more resilient.
PSYCHOLOGICAL THEORIES OF RESILIENCE
Developmental Theories of Resilience
According to most child-development experts, we are all born with no concept
of "self." We construct a self-image, and our Primal Existential
Self Image (PESI) is based in our earliest psychosensory experience, according
to the Consciousness Restrucutring Process (CRP), (Swinney, 2001).
We construct a self-image first of our bodies and their capacities and
limitations through experimentation, and then of our essential nature as
we gaze into the "mirrors" of our caregivers. A child who generally
receives positively reinforcing images of himself as they are reflected
in the tender, loving gestures of his primary caregivers soon begins to
associate these reflected subliminal messages with his own state of being
in the world.
In other words, he correlates being loved with being lovable; having his
needs met as being worthy of having his needs met. In troubled families,
however, the mirroring process goes awry, and children are at risk of forming
an inner self-representation that feels defective and unwanted. When
they are psychologically "twisted" and "bent out of shape" themselves,
dysfunctional caregivers can be like distorting mirrors that reflect grotesquely
distorted images of reality onto their children, (Wolin & Wolin, 1993).
CRP, which incorporates the traditional re-parenting and mirroring processes
of Transactional Analysis, Jacqui Schiff and Virginia Satir, helps remedy
any distortions from childhood through the mentoring process. However,
the spontaneous, self-organizing healing process facilitated by CRP can
completely restructure the PESI at the most fundamental level, rather than
simply "filling in the blanks" a child failed to receive.
The PESI is the primal experience of beingness; the primal self-image (hologram)
that holds the primal dis-ease structure. It is existential in that it
defines, at a very fundamental level, the nature of the self, the world
and the relationship between them. Our beliefs conform to this dynamic
image, and these dynamics of the PESI also limit or filter our sensosry
input. It is the deepest level of consciousness dynamics in which there
is still a defined self and not-self. It shapes our perceptions
based on the input of our senses and nervous system.
Our earliest sense-images were experienced on the edges, or periphery of
sensation and seem to go far beyond ordinary sensation. Our earliest
awareness consists of these sensations, including those of conception and
gestation. Dis-easful dynamic consciousness patterns can shape the
more superficial levels of somatic and psychic structures. They lead
to deeper state of self/not self, into which a dis-eased self disappears
or dissolves, and arises transformed out of the underlying chaos.
This type of renewal, restructuring, or rebirth of the deepest sense of
self is precisely a demonstration of resilience.
Developmental theory maintains that occasionally a child will manage to
distract himself from distorted images and will be drawn instead to more
positively reinforcing image of herself in relation to her environment.
For example, she might look to others outside her immediate family for
emotional support (despite negative parental legacies), or might develop
interests in activities which help develop a sense of personal efficacy
and competence. When this happens the child transcends effects of
the poor parenting skills of her caregivers by essentially learning to
parent herself in order to get many of her emotional needs met, (Wilson
& Gottman, 1995).
This resilient child and others like her teach us that psychopathology
and neurosis are not the inevitable result of growing up in a troubled
family. Children can also grow to be increasingly resilient as they
encounter adversity, as the following developmental theorists will attest
and attempt to further explain.
Piaget and Vygotsky
These classic developmental theorists laid the foundation upon which most
subsequent psychology is based. Piaget, in particular, introduced
several useful information processing concepts, and the three that this
paper will look at are stimulus assimilation, accomodation,
Assimilation refers to the ways in which people transform incoming information
so that it fits within their existing frames of reference. Accomodation,
the reciprocal of assimilation, refers to the way in which people adapt
their frames of reference in order to process and store new information.
Equilibration encompasses both of the above terms. It refers to the
overall balancing-act that occurs between existing frames of reference
and novel experiences, ideally leading to a sense of coherent equilibrium
between the child's subjective inner and objective outer world. This
developmental concept, key to Piaget's "stages"-theory of child development,
would predict resilient life coping skills from a child possessing an innately
adaptive, harmoniously balanced internal frame of reference, (Siegler,
Wolin and Wolin
From THE RESILIENT SELF (1993) came "the seven resiliencies" that
the authors claim are often developed by the more adaptive survivors of
troubled families: insight, independence, relationship skills, initiative,
creativity, humor, and morality. One can imagine Piaget explaining
these traits as by-products of the children's "equilibration" processes.
Others describe these kinds of traits as evidence of an "internal locus
of control", also known as "learned optimism," (Seligman, 1968, 1995);
the result of innate, "positive personality characteristics," (Garmezey,
1983); or evidence of evolved "ego strength," as referenced by the following
John Curtis Gowan
Based on his work in creativity and with gifted children, John Curtis Gowan
developed a model of development which bootstrapped off Piaget and Erikson,
but included adult development beyond the ordinary or "normal" adult successes
of career and family building, extending into the emergence and stabilization
of extraordinary development and mystical states of consciousness.
He described the entire spectrum of available states in his classic Trance,
Art, & Creativity (1975), with its different modalities of spiritual
and aesthetic expression. He devised a test for Self-Actualization,
called the Northridge Developmental Scale.
Gowan outlines a developmental theory whereby we may tap our latent creative
potential and self-actualization, organically growing toward the psychedelic
or soul-revealing and illuminative states. He describes these states most
fully in Development of the Psychedelic Individual (1974) and in
of Increasing Order. His use of the term 'psychedelic' does not
connote drug use; quite the contrary he is strongly opposed to the developmental
forcing and disintegration drug-use brings.
He describes how dyplasias between cognitive and affective growth can bleed
off developmental energies, resulting in dysphoria and displacements, leaving
us feeling unintegrated, blocked or stuck. He carries developmental
theory past the concept of a strong coping ego. Fearing the loss-of-control
by our egos, we may be reluctant to enter the soul-revealing stage of psychedelia
and remain content to re-experience successes at our familiar or comfortable
level of experience--usually expressed by the metaphor of "the American
Dream,"--a cultural myth.
Gowan considers plateauing out before these upper stages to be akin to
lack of sexual maturation in an adolescent. Clearly, resilience as
the ability to continually redefine oneself and experience are fundamental
to this life-long process of connecting with Source and Spirit.
Developmental Self Psychology
Although it was Kohut (Rowe & MacIsaac, 1995) who authored the self-mirroring
theory discussed above by Wolins, it was Wilson & Gottman (1995), among
others, who investigated the concept of self-distraction, or attention
shuttling as a positive coping mechanism in resilient children.
Their work focuses around the idea that
"attentional processes play executive roles in organizing both cognition
and emotion...provide a "shuttle" between the cognitive and the emotional
realms, and that the abilities involved in being able to attend and to
shift attentional focus are fundamental to emotion regulatory processes.
Furthermore, we suggest that attentional processes not only organize both
cognitive and emotional processes, but that there is a dual physiological
basis for this organization, parasympathetic tone and the ability to self-soothe
from sympathetic activation." (p.1)
The coalesced line of reasoning might go something like this: Since
the parents did not fit the child's grandiose-mirroring-needs frame of
reference, she did not identify with them as appropriate, dependable self-objects
and their skewed reflections of her were not assimilated and accommodated
into her psyche. Instead, she equilibrated, or "self-soothed" her
imbalanced (possibly anxious) cognitive-emotional internal state by examining
other available options for ones that might better meet her needs.
The related concept of objective-subjective self-reference as an adaptive
"shuttle" mechanism was originally expounded upon by Vygotsky (1962) as
he disagreed with Piaget's theory that children's self-talk was just so
much egocentric babble whose usefulness dissipated with maturity.
Vygotsky spoke of this "inner speech" as an important tool for children's
and adults' problem-solving as it provides them with their own objective
frame of reference from which to evaluate their subjective states.
Mary Watkins (1986) says that, "Far from revealing themselves as a primitive
form of thought, these dialogues reveal the complexity of thought as it
struggles between different perspectives, refusing to be simplified to
a single standpoint," (p. 174). Blachowicz (1997) calls this healthy
form of talking to oneself "The Dialogue of the Soul with Itself"
(pp. 485-508). And Jung (Campbell, 1971) says that "The capacity
for inner dialogue is a touchstone for outer objectivity" because, to the
extent that one acknowledges the "other" within himself, he will be able
to acknowledge it in the outer world (p. 297).
It would seem that although many children enter the world without adequate
self-objects through which their emotional needs can be met, some of them
somehow fail to internalize or identify with the neglect and/or abuse to
which they are subjected. Instead, through adaptive attention-shuttling
mechanisms such as self-dialogue, then later, self-reflection, they resourcefully
learn to somewhat objectively parent and thus subjectively soothe themselves,
and grow up to be emotionally strong and healthy adults. What is
it that gives these children their resiliently resourceful, attention-shuttling
Cognitive Theories of Resilience
Cognitive science has revealed many means by which individuals can develop
more resilient ways of processing information. Emotional and Spiritual
Intelligence are gaining equal respect as essential for our individuation.
They are fundamental to our relationships to self, others and universe.
Daniel Goleman's (1996) best-seller, Emotional Intelligence broke
ground for Zohar & Marshall's (2000) Connecting with our Spiritual
Intelligence. Goleman tagged emotional intelligence as
an "invisible third" phenomenon at work in our psyches.
He explained how some of the brain's parts combine their energies in order
to synergistically give rise to this new facet of resilience, which can
be briefly summarized.
When incoming stimuli are of sufficient salience and/or novelty to alter
the body's arousal mechanism, the brain signals the adrenal glands to secrete
hormones which then prepare the body for "fight or flight" via the vagus
nerve, which in turn increases the heart rate and triggers a cascade of
other physiological events.
Feedback from all of these events, comprising information about the current
state of the body at any moment in time, is sent to the amygdal
portion of the brain's limbic system. There, it is
associately connected with similar kinds of information already stored
there as "emotional memories" in order to assess the intensity of emotional
valence. Meanwhile the factual content of this incoming information
from the amygdala is associately sorted, evaluated and stored within
the nearby hippocampus.
Since the September attacks, many of our systems are signaling us that
we are in a perpetual state of emergency, and the body is kept in a continual
state to respond to this perception. Thus, we suffer the legitimate
and self-inflicted results of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
We may become subject to the symptoms of that disorder, including a sense
of loss of control, unresolved fears, nervousness, anxiety, sleeplessness
Much of the basis of how we are reacting to this change in world order
and disorder comes from our childhoods and those traumas we sustained then
and afterwards, as well as how we learned to grow beyond them. Our
experiential associations condition our present and future responses.
They condition the rationality with which we assess the amount of fear
we feel and its relative proportion regarding the risks we are exposed
to in our lifestyle choices. It conditions how we respond to chaos.
Based on feedback received from the body, these two aspects of associative
memory work in tandem to provide both the emotional tone and the perceptual
distinctions which define and categorize human experiences.
If incoming information is interpreted as an emergency by these two limbic
partners, an "automatic" stress response is triggered which causes the
body to respond in preset patterns of behavior before the rational functions
of the neocortex have been allowed input into the situation.
Emotional intelligence is demonstrated by the individual who is able to
interrupt the emotional feedback loop as needed in order to allow the brain's
logical functions to assess the situation. The techniques by which
this is adaptively and intelligently accomplished are what psychology calls
"positive coping mechanisms." Maladaptive coping mechanisms include
those which succeed in circumventing emotional over-reactions at a cost
of psychophysiological health to the individual, (Goleman, 1995).
Goleman's expanded model of intelligence thus presents a compelling argument
that it is actually intelligent emotions rather than intelligence alone
which forms the core of human coping skills and thus makes it a "master
aptitude," (p. 80). One reason some humans seem to possess more of
this aptitude from birth, he explained, is because of genetic variance
within the neural circuitry which controls arousal thresholds. These
thresholds in turn determine limbic-cortical and left-right-hemispheric
attention-shuttling capacities which regulate emotions.
However, these variances play only a part in the overall development of
dispositional traits which, like the coping mechanisms to which they give
rise, can be either adaptively or maladaptively shaped. So, what
is it that controls the neurophysiology of emotional resilience and how
can we make it work for us rather than against us?
We have two distinct hemispheres of our brains, termed Left and Right
Brain, connected by a dense network called the corpus callosum.
Springer & Deutsch (1993) have devoted themselves to studying the physiological
mechanisms which underlie psychological processes by researching the specific
effects that brain injuries have on mental processes.
Data is gathered through the use of split-brain experiments which test
the cognitive skills of those who have had a part of one of their hemispheres
removed or damaged or the tissue connecting them severed. Their extensive
research dealing with left or right cerbral dominance effects has led to
some fascinating findings about the hemispheric lateralization functions
of the brain. For example,
Left hemisphere-injured patients have been reported to display feelings
of despair, hopelessness, or anger (often referred to as a catastrophic-dysphoric
reaction), whereas right-hemisphere damage produces what is known as an
indifference-euphoric reaction, in which minimization of symptoms, emotional
placidity, and elation are common...ordinarily the two halves of the brain
exert inhibitory effects on each other in the area of emotional expression,
thereby resulting in a normal balance that is free of uncontrollable outbursts
of any kind. In the event of damage to one side, however, this mutual
inhibition is disrupted and the damaged side no longer exerts the same
degree of inhibition on its partner; hence, the other hemisphere is disinhibited,
A summary of some of these relevant findings shows that individuals with
right-hemispheric dominance (in the past, usually females) are more skilled
at perceiving and conceptualizing spatial relationships, and are more attuned
to their subcortical systems which are involved in arousal and attention,
thus are more receptive to emotionally-charged stimuli. On the other
hand, those with left-hemispheric dominance (previously, usually males)
have deficits in these areas, but seem superior in perceiving and categorizing
sequential, emotionally neutral stimuli.
Further research showed "an association between right hemisphere pathology
(thus, left-hemispheric dominance) and abnormal heart rate response and
skin conductance changes, both autonomic nervous system components," (p.
Later in their book, Springer & Deutsch (1993) discussed recent data
gathered demonstrating left and right directional biases ("spin") predominant
in the life-generating activities of molecules and atoms. They quote
French biologist Louis Pasteur as speculating that "Life is dominated
by asymmetrical actions. I can even imagine that all living species
are primordially, in their, structure, in their external forms, functions
of cosmic asymmetry," (p. 320).
They cite evidence that DNA's asymmetrical qualities might be a significant
factor in genetically influencing other asymmetrical aspects of the human
body, such as hemispheric differentiations, organ placement, and so on.
Their rationale is as follows:
"The double strands of each DNA molecule encode genetic information
in terms of the sequencing of component amino acids. The two long
strands are wound around each other in a clockwise spiral; thus, the DNA
molecule cannot be superimposed upon its mirror reflection," (p. 321).
In other words, its mirrored reflection represents a reversed image of
the original DNA molecule rather than an image that could be placed identically
onto its original; its right helix would be on the left, and its left helix
would be on the right and its genetic codes would be read backwards.
The laws of physics claim to work the same for any phenomenon's identically
mirrored image as they do for the original phenomenon. Only sequencing
information, such as written information--like the DNA codes--do not reflect
symmetrically, and thus introduce asymmetry into the application of natural
The authors cite evidence of other research that there is an "underlying
cytoplasmic gradient operating during embryonic development that favors
the left side of the body." They conclude that systematic asymmetries
of morphology, molecular biology, and sub-atomic interactions are ultimately
linked, and that there is, after all, an absolute, universal distinction
between left and right, (p. 323). So, our question becomes, "can
we use this information about our brains' asymmetrically functioning "parts"
to become more resilient?"
The "triune brain" concept posits that we have three functional
brains, not just--or two halves of one. The most primitive reptile-brain
appeared in birds and retiles a hunred million years ago. It is the
vicious, repetetive, instinctive territorial brain, that Pavlov and Skinner
learned to condition. The mammalian brain, or limbic system was deposited
over it, and originally tied in with olfaction. The neocortex is
the third brain of higher primates and has produced human culture.
De Beauport (1996) divides "behavioral intelligences" into three categories:
intelligence, pattern intelligence, and parameter intelligence.
Later on in evolution, as creatures evolved from reptiles into mammals,
the limbic brain as center of emotional intelligences came into being:
mood and motivational intelligences. With development
of the neocortex came a consciousness-generating partnership from which
our rational, associative, spatial-visual and intuitiveintelligences
She speaks of the cerebral cortex as "having a split personality"--her
way of pointing to the hemispheric asymmetries through which the functions
of the other two parts of the brain usually filter their incoming sensory
stimuli. Throughout her book, she describes a highly
variable path of "learned" life experiences, from basic brain to limbic
brain, to left and/or right cerebral hemispheres and then back out into
the body, all of which, she implies, is designed to guarantee that information
processing would be a highly variable and personalized phenomenon, not
necessarily one that fits within the norms of someone's arbitrary IQ bell
curve. The point is that engaging the emotions facilitates the learning
process as alternative areas of intelligence come online.
Cogitive neuroscience speaks of Mirror Neurons asthe
driving force behind "the great leap forward" in human evolution. V.S.
Ramachandran claims that the discovery of mirror neurons in the frontal
lobes of monkeys, and their potential relevance to human brain evolution
is the single most important "unreported" (or at least, unpublicized) story
of the decade. He predicts that mirror neurons will do for psychology what
DNA did for biology: they will provide a unifying framework and help explain
a host of mental abilities that have hitherto remained mysterious and inaccessible
According to Ramachandran, there
are many puzzling questions about the evolution of the human mind and brain:
1) The hominid brain reached
almost its present size — and perhaps even its present intellectual capacity
about 250,000 years ago . Yet many of the attributes we regard as uniquely
human appeared only much later. Why? What was the brain doing during the
long "incubation "period? Why did it have all this latent potential for
tool use, fire, art music and perhaps even language- that blossomed only
considerably later? How did these latent abilities emerge, given that natural
selection can only select expressed abilities, not latent ones?
2) Crude "Oldawan" tools
— made by just a few blows to a core stone to create an irregular edge
— emerged 2.4 million ago and were probably made by Homo Habilis whose
brain size was half way (700cc) between modern humans (1300) and chimps
(400). After another million years of evolutionary stasis aesthetically
pleasing "symmetrical" tools began to appear associated with a standardization
of production technique and artifact form; a smooth rather than jagged,
irregular edge. And lastly, the invention of stereotyped "assembly line"
tools (sophisticated symmetrical bifacial tools) that were hafted to a
handle, took place only 200,000 years ago. Why was the evolution of the
human mind "punctuated" by these relatively sudden upheavals of technological
3) Why the sudden explosionin
technological sophistication, widespread cave art, clothes, stereotyped
dwellings, etc. around 40 thousand years ago, even though the brain had
achieved its present "modern" size almost a million years earlier?
4) Did language appear completely
out of the blue as suggested by Chomsky? Or did it evolve from a more primitive
gestural language that was already in place?
5) Humans are often called
the "Machiavellian Primate" referring to our ability to "read minds" in
order to predict other peoples' behavior and outsmart them. Why are apes
and humans so good at reading other individuals' intentions? Do higher
primates have a specialized brain center or module for generating a "theory
of other minds" as proposed by Nick Humphrey and Simon Baron-Cohen? If
so, where is this circuit and how and when did it evolve?
The solution to many of these
riddles comes from an unlikely source... the study of single neurons in
the brains of monkeys. Rama suggests that the questions become less puzzling
when you consider Giaccamo Rizzollati's recent discovery of "mirror neurons'
in the ventral premotor area of monkeys. This cluster of neurons, holds
the key to understanding many enigmatic aspects of human evolution. Rizzollati
and Arbib have already pointed out the relevance of their discovery to
evolution . But the significance of their findings for understanding other
equally important aspects of human evolution has been largely overlooked.
Commenting on the emergence
of language, Ramachandran says:
Unlike many other human traits
such as humor, art, dancing or music the survival value of language is
obvious — it helps us communicate our thoughts and intentions. But the
question of how such an extraordinary ability might have actually evolved
has puzzled biologists, psychologists and philosophers at least since the
time of Charles Darwin. The problem is that the human vocal apparatus is
vastly more sophisticated than that of any ape but without the correspondingly
sophisticated language areas in the brain the vocal equipment alone would
be useless. So how did these two mechanisms with so many sophisticated
interlocking parts evolve in tandem? Following Darwin's lead I suggest
that our vocal equipment and our remarkable ability to modulate voice evolved
mainly for producing emotional calls and musical sounds during courtship
("croonin a toon."). Once that evolved then the brain — especially the
left hemisphere — could evolve language.
But a bigger puzzle remains.
Is language mediated by a sophisticated and highly specialized "language
organ" that is unique to humans and emerged completely out of the blue
as suggested by Chomsky? Or was there a more primitive gestural communication
system already in place that provided a scaffolding for the emergence of
Rizzolatti recorded from
the ventral premotor area of the frontal lobes of monkeys and found that
certain cells will fire when a monkey performs a single, highly specific
action with its hand: pulling, pushing, tugging, grasping, picking up and
putting a peanut in the mouth etc. different neurons fire in response to
different actions. One might be tempted to think that these are motor "command"
neurons, making muscles do certain things; however, the astonishing truth
is that any given mirror neuron will also fire when the monkey in question
observes another monkey (or even the experimenter) performing the same
action, e.g. tasting a peanut!
With knowledge of these
neurons, you have the basis for understanding a host of very enigmatic
aspects of the human mind: "mind reading" empathy, imitation learning,
and even the evolution of language. Anytime you watch someone else
doing something (or even starting to do something), the corresponding mirror
neuron might fire in your brain, thereby
allowing you to "read" and
understand another's intentions, and thus to develop a sophisticated
"theory of other minds."
Mirror neurons can also enable
you to imitate the movements of others thereby setting the stage for the
complex Lamarckian or cultural inheritance that characterizes our species
and liberates us from the constraints of a purely gene based evolution.
Moreover, as Rizzolati has noted, these neurons may also enable you to
mime — and possibly understand — the lip and tongue movements of others
which, in turn, could provide the opportunity for language to evolve. (This
is why, when you stick your tongue out at a new born baby it will reciprocate!
How ironic and poignant that this little gesture encapsulates a half a
million years of primate brain evolution.) Once you have these two abilities
in place the ability to read someone's intentions and the ability to mime
their vocalizations then you have set in motion the evolution of language.
You need no longer speak of a unique language organ and the problem doesn't
seem quite so mysterious any more.
Mirror neurons were discovered
in monkeys but how do we know they exist in the human brain? To find out
we studied patients with a strange disorder called anosognosia. Most patients
with a right hemisphere stroke have complete paralysis of the left side
of their body and will complain about it, as expected. But about 5% of
them will vehemently deny their paralysis even though they are mentally
otherwise lucid and intelligent. This is the so called "denial" syndrome
or anosognosia. To our amazement, we found that some of these patients
not only denied their own paralysis, but also denied the paralysis of another
patient whose inability to move his arm was clearly visible to them and
to others. We suggest that this bizarre observation is best understood
in terms of damage to Rizzolatti's mirror neurons. It's as if anytime
you want to make a judgement about someone else's movements you have to
run a VR (virtual reality) simulation of the corresponding movements in
your own brain and without mirror neurons you cannot do this
The second piece of evidence
comes from studying brain waves (EEG) in humans. When people move their
hands a brain wave called the MU wave gets blocked and disappears completely.
Eric Altschuller, Jamie Pineda, and I suggested at the Society for Neurosciences
in 1998 that this suppression was caused by Rizzolati's mirror neuron system.
Consistent with this theory we found that such a suppression also occurs
when a person watches someone else moving his hand but not if he watches
a similar movement by an inanimate object.
Ramachandran points out two major bifurcations in our evolutionary history:
The hominid brain grew at
an accelerating pace until it reached its present size of 1500cc about
200,000 years ago. Yet uniquely human abilities such the invention of highly
sophisticated "standardized" multi- part tools, tailored clothes, art,
religious belief and perhaps even language are thought to have emerged
quite rapidly around 40,000 years ago — a sudden explosion of human mental
abilities and culture that is sometimes called the "big bang."
If the brain reached its
full human potential — or at least size — 200,000 years ago why did it
remain idle for 150,000 years? I suggest that the so-called big bang occurred
because certain critical environmental triggers acted on a brain that had
already become big for some other reason and was therefore "pre-adapted"
for those cultural innovations that make us uniquely human. (One of the
key pre-adaptations being mirror neurons.)
Inventions like tool use,
art, math and even aspects of language may have been invented "accidentally"
in one place and then spread very quickly given the human brain's amazing
capacity for imitation learning and mind reading using mirror neurons.
Perhaps ANY major "innovation" happens because of a fortuitous coincidence
of environmental circumstances — usually at a single place and time. But
given our species' remarkable propensity for miming, such an invention
would tend to spread very quickly through the population — once it emerged.
Once you have a certain minimum
amount of "imitation learning" and "culture" in place, this culture can,
in turn, exert the selection pressure for developing those additional mental
traits that make us human. And once this starts happening you have set
in motion the auto-catalytic process that culminated in modern human consciousness.
If its simply a matter of
chance discoveries spreading rapidly, why would all of them have occurred
at the same time? There are three answers to this objection. First,the
evidence that it all took place at the same time is tenuous. The invention
of music, shelters, hafted tools, tailored clothing, writing, speech, etc.
may have been spread out between 100K and 5k and the so-called great leap
may be a sampling artifact of archeological excavation. Second, any given
innovation (e.g. speech or writing or tools) may have served as a catalyst
for the others and may have therefore accelerated the pace of culture as
a whole. And third, there may indeed have been a genetic change, but it
may not have been an increase in the ability to innovate but an increase
in the sophistication of the mirror neuron system and therefore in "learnability."
The resulting increase in
ability to imitate and learn (and teach) would then explain the explosion
of cultural change that we call the "great leap forward" or the "big bang"
in human evolution. This argument implies that the whole "nature-nurture
debate" is largely meaningless as far as human are concerned. Withthe genetically
specified learnability that characterizes the human brain and culture that
can take advantage of this learnability, human culture and human
brain have co-evolved into obligatory mutual parasites — without either
the result would not be a human being. (No more than you can have a cell
without its parasitic mitochondria).
THE SECOND BIG BANG
My suggestion that these
neurons provided the initial impetus for "runaway" brain/ culture co-evolution
in humans, isn't quite as bizarre as it sounds. Imagine a martian anthropologist
was studying human evolution a million years from now. He would be puzzled
by the relatively sudden emergence of certain mental traits like sophisticated
tool use, use of fire, art and "culture" and would try to correlate them
(as many anthropologists now do) with purported changes in brain size and
anatomy caused by mutations. But unlike them he would also be puzzled by
the enormous upheavals and changes that occurred after (say) 19th century
— what we call the scientific/industrial revolution. This revolution is,
in many ways, much more dramatic (e.g. the sudden emergence of nuclear
power, automobiles, air travel, and space travel) than the "great leap
forward" that happened 40,000 years ago!!
He might be tempted to argue
that there must have been a genetic change and corresponding change in
brain anatomy and behavior to account for this second leap forward. (Just
as many anthropologists today seek a genetic explanation for the first
one.) Yet we know that present one occurred exclusively because of fortuitous
environmental circumstances, because Galileo invented the "experimental
method," that, together with royal patronage and the invention of the printing
press, kicked off the scientific revolution. His experiments and the earlier
invention of a sophisticated new language called mathematics in India in
the first millennium AD (based on place value notation, zero and the decimal
system), set the stage for Newtonian mechanics and the calculus and "the
rest is history" as we say.
It certainly did not happen
because of a genetic change in the human brains during the renaissance.
It happened at least partly because of imitation learning and rapid "cultural"
transmission of knowledge. (Indeed one could almost argue that there was
a greater behavioral/cognitive difference between pre-18th century and
post 20th century humans than between Homo Erectus and archaic Homo Sapiens.
Unless he knew better our Martian ethologist may conclude that there was
a bigger genetic difference between the first two groups than the latter
Based on this analogy I suggest,
further, that even the first great leap forward was made possible largely
by imitation and emulation. This system of cells, once it became
sophisticated enough to be harnessed for "training" in tool use and for
reading other hominids minds, may have played the same pivotal role in
the emergence of human consciousness (and replacement of Neandertals by
Homo Sapiens) as the asteroid impact did in the triumph of mammals over
Thus Ramachandran regards Rizzolati's
discovery — and his own speculative conjectures on their key role in our
evolution — as the most important unreported story of the last decade.
Mirror neurons certainly bear on our discussion of the critical importance
of mirroring in infancy, empathy, "mindsharing," and our innate ability
to adapt and change: resilience. Further, we see that technologies
can facilitate resilience. And, not all technologies, such as language
or consciousness engineering, are in themselves hardware or require hardware.
The Consciousness Restructuring Process is one such "soft" technology.
We can fulfill the developmental process and develop our emotional intelligence
to help us become more resilient. This facilitates information-shuttling
between left and right hemispheres which intuitively facilitates the intelligent
sequencing of information so that we more resiliently make use of our human
emotions. From this enhanced state, intuitive information-sequencing
facilitates evolution of resilient personality traits and adaptive coping
styles. We become increasingly conscious of our own ability to effect
positive outcomes within our worlds.
We can mirror the optimistic positive attitudes and aptitudes of our mentors.
The process of co-consciousness or mindsharing involves a shared reality
in which the integrity of the mentor stabilizes the journeyer even though
they may be moving through the fear and pain in a highly emotional state.
The empathic sensing, "mind reading," and compassionate reassurance of
the mentor sustains the dynamic momentum of the process as it moves spontaneously
toward natural healing.
Mindsharing comes down to us from the ancient shamanic tradition of spiritual
healing.. "A shaman is someone whose specialty is induction of
a well state, someone who may help either through research or treatment
to induce a state in someone else's brain that will produce health,"
according to psychiatrist Arnold Mandell. "But the brain is an
open, instrinsically unstable system, and its higher level order may be
not just the wires and connection of a switchboard but all the turbulence
and eddies of streams and waterfalls. And yet it has a statistical
stability, an inertia. If it's perturbed enough, it gets more and
more turbulent. It fractures, then organizes into a new regime.
The brain is my cosmology. I sometimes think the rest of science
is the brain's picture of itself."
CRP's dream journeys facilitate this restructuring through experiential
process work. Inner journeys, using our dreams, symptoms, feelings,
fears and pain as doorways to deeper levels of ourselves, allow us to exercise
our right-brain functions much as intellectual pursuits exercise the rational
mind. They also help us find and share our joy. We connect
directly with our emotions, our non-linear irrational elements and the
sensations that arise in our psychophysical being.
By directing our attention toward our inner process we connect with the
eternal source of wisdom and our intuition comes to the fore. An
inherent part of the process of changing from the inside out is that as
the deepest self transforms, downline faculties such as beliefs, thoughts,
feelings, and behavior, as well as psychosomatic condition, automatically
change as well. Thus, resilience can be seen as the ability to dynamically
change at the most fundamental level toward a more adaptive way of being
in the world.
Psychodynamic Theories of Resilience
This conscious resilience initiates change at the most fundamental
levels of our psychophysical being, including the genetic, morphological,
and quantum field levels of observation. This is the realm where
psyche and matter meet, where physics and psychology merge. A variety
of depth psychologies and sacred psychologies address the meaning
of these microscopic, even subatomic processes for our very souls as well
as for the personality. Notable among them are Psychodynamics, Jungian
and Transpersonal psychologies and Consciousness Studies. They provide
useful models for illuminating the nature of resilience.
Psychoanalytic theory was the first modern view of the psyche to bring
order to the chaotic world of the psychiatric patient. It provided
a means of plumbing the depths of normal and atypical behavior by cataloguing
symptoms and using diagnostic labels for mental disorders. Pyschodynamics
includes three inter-related theoretical parts: 1). the classical ego psychology
of Freud, 2). the objects relations theory of Klein and others, and 3).
the self psychology of Sullivan and Kohut.
Ego psychology conceptualizes the intrapsychic world as one of tension
between the energy dynamics of the unconscious demands of the "superego,"
the conscious volition of the "ego," and the instinctual drives of the
"id." This conflict produces anxiety, which brings forth a compromise
between the needs of the id and the ego in the form of a defense mechanism
such as a repression, suppression, denial or projection of the true facts
of the situation to a place in the psyche where they no longer have to
be consciously dealt with.
Object relations theory differs in that it views the conflicts as being
generated more within the context of relationships with others rather than
strictly within oneself. In the sense of this external agency of
conflictual tension, it uses the term "object" to mean "person."
According to Gabbard (1994), "object relations theory encompasses the
transformation of interpersonal relationships into internalized representations
of relationships." It is theorized that the individualized
perceptions of these relational representations are psychically internalized,
or "introjected." Thus, "at any one time different constellations
of self-representations, object representations, and affects vie with one
another for center stage in the intrapsychic theater of internal object
Self psychology, on the other hand, focuses more on how the external relationships
in one's life help develop and maintain a sense of self-esteem and self-cohesion
through interaction with one's inner relationship with oneself. It
is more of a "two person," self-object" psychology.
In Jungian psychology, science meets mysticism. The "missing,
invisible third" seems to begin to reveal itself. The universe merges
with the individual in notions such as the collective unconscious transcendent
function, synchronicity and cosmic consciousness. Psyche and substance
are seen as two aspects of more fundamental energy, which forms a universal
substrate. The delineation between mind and body blurs.
Jung superceded traditional psychodynamic theories by pursuing five assumptions:
1). the autonomy of unconscious psychic contents; 2). the teleological
significance of the dynamics involving those contents.; 3). our memories,
personal and transpersonal, are contained in our unconscious; 4). the unconscious
is a highly receptive intuiting agent for the conscious self, and 5). there
is a "patterning force" inherent in the human unconscious psyche, (Campbell,
Jung's work provided a whole new frame of reference through which human
behaviors can be explained. This more mystical branch of psychology
made friends with other sciences and developed interdisciplinary field
theories which bridged the gap of the Cartesian mind/body split.
It focused its understanding on the apparently acausal, non-linear connecting
principle which unites mind and body into one seamlessly coherent wholeness.
Perhaps this more holistic paradigm can help explain how the dynamics of
various resilience phenomena all fit together.
Transpersonal psychology went a step further, incorporating participation
in spiritual practices as part of a healthy, holistic lifestyle.
They drew from the currents of humanistic theory (Maslow), existential
philosophy (Gestalt, Transactional Analysis), and the pernnial philosophy
of the wisdom traditions. They emphasize being over becoming.
Jungian psychology they are process-oriented, largely experiential practices
which reflect the complex interaction of aspects of the dynamic whole.
Creativity, growth, and emergence of potential are valued highly.
This more holistic spiritually-oriented theory represents a somewhat "neo-Jungian"
way of experientially reframing the energy dynamics of life as "a healing
endeavor that aims at the integration of physical, emotional, mental, and
spiritual aspects of well-being," (Vaughan, 1993).
Thus, individuals can develop a sense of wholeness on all three levels
of their identity: 1). the egoic, which requires a more adaptively
cohesive sense of self identity with and yet separate from the world;
2). the existential, which while encompassing the egoic state, also requires
a more coherent sense of one's individuated state within the human conditions;
and 3). the transpersonal, which requires that one transcend the egoic,
existential identities and enter into a heightened awareness of essential
unity with all human beings, living things, and perhaps the cosmos.
Thus the healing dynamic in transpersonal psychotherapy switches from one
based on the beliefs and values of the therapist into a reciprocally interactive
healing dynamic where the content of therapy is the client's experience.
In the interaction both therapist and client participate in a healing process.
This orientation is very close to that embraced in the Consciousness
Restructuring Process. Both mentor and journeyer share a co-consciousness
during which both enter the mindscape and sojourn deeper into primal recesses
of the psyche. On the journey each is subjected to both the chaos
and emergent creativity and deep healing inherent in the process.
Healing does not come through the therapist, but through contact with the
deep well-springs of life which brings rejuvination.
The resilience-enhancing function of transpersonal healing lends greater
meaning to the contents of one's life experiences. It provides a
greater context for one's life and its meaning and honors the values of
the soul. Life experiences are transpersonally assimilated as its
dynamics are therapeutically processed and equilibrated. In CRP,
the old, outworn existential self-image is dissolved and a new healthier
self-image emerges from the deepest unstructured part of us, repatterned
by primal creative forces.
Psychodynamics helps us understand where we are wasting our limited energies
in life--in neuroses, in useless worry, in self-defeating patterns, in
pathologies, in obsessions, in projections, anger, greed, vanities, denial
and other negativedefences and habit patterns. Our psychic energies
are distributed among many demands being placed upon them, from both without
and within the body. Equilibration coping skills, such as defense
mechanisms, help us budget our energy reserves so we can resiliently adapt
to stressors as they arise. But when they outlive their usefulness,
when they encroached when they are inappropriate, we feel stuck in developmental
plateaus, depressions, or even may develop physical illnesses designed
to disrupt or reinforce the status quo.
Running concurrent with the thread of psychodynamic therapies is the current
of Consciousness Studies which lately has taken the bedfellow of Complexity
and Chaos Theory. Consciousness Studies are multidisciplinary inquires
into the physical, psychological and social nature of consciousness, spirituality
and the cosmos.
The realm of consciousness studies has shed light on the seamlessly welded
relationship of mindbody, therefore many physicists, psychiatrists, and
medical doctors have a strong presence in the field. The most avante-garde
in this arena postulate, with the ancient Vedas, that it is ALL consciousness--that
all we perceived and experience is a form of maya, the construct
of our filtering senses and mind. The latest finding in Quantum Cosmology,
for example, tell us counter-intuitively that at the cosmic scale nothing
moves--rather, space is expanding rapidly from every so-called 'point.'
Physics ran into the same conundrum regarding subjectivity decades ago
in the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics, which required the
observing presence of the experimenter to collapse the wave-function.
This led to the development of the Uncertainty Principle, and the relationship
has not yet been satisfactorily resolved. Now we find that chaotic
systems do not respond statistically to probability, but with unpredictable
yet deterministic turbulence.
Among the chief players are David Chalmers, Henry Stapp, Daniel C. Dennett,
Karl Pribrahm, David Bohm, Charles Tart, Jean Houston, Stuart Hammeroff,
Stanley Krippner, Alan Combs, Ben Goertzel, Ervin Lazslo, F. David Peat,
Sally Goerner, Ruth Inge-Heinz, Jack Sarfatti, Timothy Leary, Jeffrey Mishlove,
Rick Strassman, Michael Persinger, C.M. Anderson, Antonio Damasio, David
Deutsch, Arnold Mandell, Arnold Mindell, Charles Laughlin, Eugene d'Aquili,
Fred Alan Wolf, Roger Penrose, Ken Wilber and a host of others. Perennial
favorite journals include Journal of Consciousness Studies and PSYCHE,
an online journal, as well as Proceedings of the Society for Chaos Theory
in Life Sciences. Another notable conclave is the Tucson Conferences.
For links go to Iona Miller Homepage at www.geocities.com/iona_m/consciousness.html
Psychologists working in this field are bringing older concepts into the
consciousness dialogue by updating their descriptions with new metaphors.
For example, Jung's concept of archetypes (as primal foci for certain kinds
of energies in ourselves, society, the world and universe) are now spoken
of as "Strange Attractors," the cores of cohesion around which non-linear
processes orbit in unpredictable yet deterministic fashion. Perhaps
the most progressive group is Dyna-Psych, hosted by Ben Goertzel,
a founding member, like Graywolf Swinney of the Society for Chaos Theory
in Psychology and Life Sciences.
Complexity and Chaos Theory describes the behavior of non-linear dynamic
systems, fractal geometry, and the systematic behavior of nature as well
as our nature, consciousness and health. It describes in eloquent
equations deterministic inherently unpredictable yet ordered randomness,
dimensionality, reflexive feedback loops, boundary conditions, and integration.
It is the realm of the irrational, of rich values and structure, of self-organizing
emergent creativity, stretched time and folded space, global behavior,
open systems, criticality, sensitive dependence, strange attractors, fluctuation,
turbulence, perturbation, thresholds, trajectories, bifurcations, phase
transitions, temporal density, reiteration, synchronicity, resilience,
the "butterfly effect," subquantal chaos (ZPE), dynamic geometrization,
probability, relativity, disruption, coherence and stochastic resonances,
synergetics and tensegrity, self-reflection, nested cycles, the breakdown
of order with sudden transitions, the creative and evolutionary "edge."
The new self-organizing order always emerges from chaos.
The relationship of Consciousness and Chaos is being explored by psychonauts
such as mathematician Ralph Abraham, biologist and morphogenetic
fields proponent, Rupert Sheldrake, and psychedelic guru, Terence McKenna.
They have spoken on the relationship of chaos and creativity and the resacralization
of the world in Trialogues at the Edge of the West (1992) and the
David Chalmers has pointed out, quite rightly since it has been a sticking
point for decades, that the so-called 'Hard Problem" in consciousness studies
lies in the realm of human subjective experience. This non-linear,
non-quantifiable, yet tangible phenomenology has perplexed science, since
science likes to deal with measurement and repeatability.
To compound the subjectivity problem is that researchers are split in their
commitment over whether to participate in experimental projects
or not, just as during the 60s psychedelic revolution. Experiments
can become hopelessly influenced by experimentor-bias, which must always
be guarded against. Added to this mix comes a host of new brain/mind
material from the emergent specialty of Neurotheology, where new technologies
which allow us to "tweak" the brain are beginning to show how our spirituality
may be hardwired. Scientists now know what types of mystical experiences
are associated with which parts of the brain and neural pathways, or circuitry.
See Iona Miller's paper, "Neurotheology 101," for a summary and
The relationship between brain physiology and human behavior is notoriously
difficult to understand and easy to misapply. Obviously, consciousness,
subjectivity and human religious experience isn't reducible merely to an
explanation of neural pathways. It is a mystery whether our hard-wiring
creates the God-Experience, or whether God creates our psychophysical wiring.
Today many researchers pursue both science and spirituality ignoring dictates
that they are mutually exclusive. A false-dichotomy undergirds the
dualistic perception of Dionysian vs. Apollonian, holistic vs. cognitive.
It is the same dichotomy which falsely separates art and science, intuition
and logic, spirituality and science. Neurotheology and Consciousness
Studies, in general, respect both science and spirit. It is a move
toward holism, not a reductionistic analysis.
Only when we embrace the functionally interconnected whole brain (dubbed
Odyssean by physicist Murray Gell-Mann), not one artificially split in
its functions into right and left can we move beyond mere conceptualization
of a seamlessly welded quantum mindbody wedded or embedded in Cosmos.
This, of course is the ineffable realm of mysticism and Mystery, reachable
experientially only through the suspension of reason and intellect, by
God's mercy and Grace.
The psychodynamics being developed in this complex field may eventually
reveal even more deeply hidden aspects of resilience of the human body,
mind, and spirit. Here, we tread on sacred ground, which has traditionally
remained immune from the proddings of science. Chaos Theory shows
us that forms, including our forms, emerge, dissolve and reform through
the creative process known as autopoietic self-organization. This
is the new direction in evolutionary forces. New mind/brain technologies
such as electromagnetic manipulation show once again that technological
interventions can facilitate resilience. In this pursuit of the deepest
secrets of Nature and our nature, we may in fact find the way to our own
soul, facilitating our own resilience.
Experiential therapy sessions have shown that as consciousness journeys
deeper and deeper into the psyche, it eventually encounters a state characterized
either as "chaotic" or void of images. Those emerging from this non-ordinary
state of consciousness report an increased sense of well-being ranging
from mood alteration to profound physiological changes. We know that
research has shown that imagery can affect the immune system. Imaginal
journeys in the autonomous stream of consciousness may activate, through
REM dynamics, psychosomatic healing forces, such as the placebo effect
and the resilience response.
Summary of Psychological Resilience and CRP
Cause effect relationships about mental illness would seem to be the province
of psychology, but how can that be when a plethora of theories prevail,
and all these seemingly disparate models "work" to a greater or lesser
degree. In psychology it is even difficult to define the terms sufficiently
to even begin a reduction of mind to the underlying substrate of brain.
However a deductive cause and effect explanation for how higher cortical
processes translate in "thoughts" is not the limit of the purview of the
psychologist. Nor are inductive correlationist explanations the mainstays
of psychology either. The successes of psychology are the many and
myriad practical ones, some of which we are aware of from our daily lives.
Yet, to be sure, like psychiatry, psychology holds a very powerful position
in modern society.
One practical model from the repertoire of psychology is the concept or
phenomenon of learned helplessness. Animals, can be experimentally
discouraged from leaving their cages even with open doors after certain
negative treatments and instilling fears. They narrow their sphere
of response and freedom options creating an emotional response pattern.
Learned helplessness is the opposite of resilience.
More resilient cognitions are translated into their functional, neurophysical
equivalents in the body when we relearn or cognitively reframe our emotional
response patterns. Somehow this functions to rearrange corresponding
neurological structures in order to better compensate for their innate
and learned asymmetrical imbalances. This equilibrative act of emotional
intelligence allows the energy tensions within the body to become more
resiliently balanced and the emotions to be more intelligently managed.
In this therapeutic model, the transpersonal process is facilitated by
the balanced energies of the therapist providing an equilibratively therapeutic,
empathic "container" within which the contents of the patient's experiential
history can be placed, and from which newly assimilated, healing, transformative
energies can emerge.
While this outside/in method is useful for healing at superficial levels,
CRP operates in an inside/out process. The move inward comes when
an emotionally intelligent choice is made to seek healing through the journey
process, often beginning with a dream. The positive results, emotionally
and cognitively, as well as behaviorally are the result of a fundamental
shift in self-image which automatically gives rise to different thoughts,
feelings, and behavior. The therapist assumes the role of co-adventurer
or mentor at best to facilitate and deepen the process, to lead the client
passed their fear and pain, so natural spontaneous healing can take place.
CRP bootstraps off the "alchemy" of Jung's transference and transcendent
functions. Jung noticed that certain images and stories kept reoccuring
in human experience and the myths of all cultures. Jung also discovered
the healing power of the shamanic or "mana personality" or healer archetype
and its potential to influence psychic change at a primordial level; he
practiced the mentoring process as well. He postulated the existence
of a "collective unconscious" from which archetypal or mythic patterns
emerge. He noticed the correlation between the medieval language
of alchemy, with its imagery of cooking and refining base metal into gold
and the process of psychological transformation.
Jung identified archetypal images that play an important role in our psychological
and cultural make up. These include such pervasive principles as
the Shadow, anima-animus (female-male principle), and the Self. When
these dynamics become unbalanced, Jung resorted to a variety of analytical
and dream techniques, intuitively balancing left and right hemispheres.
Comprehending the nature of archetypes as they play through our lives,
helps us look at our ups and downs with a certain degree of philosophical
detachment, such as that known in Buddhism as the Observer Self.
Jung pioneered exploring this level of consciousness dynamics; yet CRP
goes even deeper all the way into undifferentiated chaos, though often
imagery related to these powerful psychic forces. CRP allows these
emotional tensions a way to be heard, deeply felt, discharged and transformed
in experiential process work, in a safe healing atmosphere. CRP invites
Campbell (1988), Krippner & Feinstein (1997) have pointed out how personal
mythology can shape a life, at a level even deeper than that of the belief
system. Journeys often cross the realms of both personal and collective
mythology, and sometimes milestones of the higher levels of spiritual journeys
or mystical experience appear spontaneously, even when the person is unaware
of their archetypal meaning.
Journeys often reflect a spiritual essence, which transpersonal psychology
attempts to embody. Sojourners often report experiences corresponding
with descriptions of cosmic consciousness, of feeling at one with nature,
God, or the universe. CRP invites full participation, and may be
done on a regular basis to process issues as they arise...almost as a meditation.
As this deeply transformative process works, the client experiences healing
and becomes more highly conscious and individuated, more integrated, self-realized,
more harmoniously balanced and possibly spiritually-oriented, and resiliently
whole. It is more than an image or a metaphor; it is a new lived
reality, a new sense of being.
What began as an exploration into developmental, cognitive and psychodynamic
resilience frames of reference has now become an equilibrating act of conscious
accommodation of, participation in and assimilation of the rich contents
of a conceptual and experiential buffet.
PART II: THE TAO OF RESILIENCE
Ethnology and Mythology
Homeostasis an the Autonomic Nervous System
Stress Vulnerability of Infants
Stress Vulnerability in Children and Adults
State-Dependent Memory, Learning & Behavior
Ultradian Healing Response
Biochemistry of the Body-Mind
Bio-mechanics of the Body-Brain
Quantum Mechanics of the Body-Mind
Dynamics of Reciprocal Causality
Alchemical Therapies, Holistic Remedies
Summary of Psychophysical Resilience Findings
Functions of Distinctiveness
The Creative Evolution of Evolutionary Creation
Summary: Life is a Hologram of Holograms
Making the Indistinct Distinct
Summary: The Holographic "Enchanted Loom"
From Particles and Waves to Strings and Membranes
From Strings and Membranes to Struts and Cables
Summary: Energy Transducing Tensegrity Structures
Chaosophy 2002 Contents
File Created: 10/29/0 Last Updated: 12/31/01