Why Your Brain Hates Other People

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ILLUSTRATION BY IGNACIO SERRANO

 BY ROBERT SAPOLSKY

And how to make it think differently

 As a kid, I saw the 1968 version of Planet of the Apes. As a future primatologist, I was mesmerized. Years later I discovered an anecdote about its filming: At lunchtime, the people playing chimps and those playing gorillas ate in separate groups.

It’s been said, “There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide the world into two kinds of people and those who don’t.” In reality, there’s lots more of the former. And it can be vastly consequential when people are divided into Us and Them, ingroup and outgroup, “the people” (i.e., our kind) and the Others.

The core of Us/Them-ing is emotional and automatic.

Humans universally make Us/Them dichotomies along lines of race, ethnicity, gender, language group, religion, age, socioeconomic status, and so on. And it’s not a pretty picture. We do so with remarkable speed and neurobiological efficiency; have complex taxonomies and classifications of ways in which we denigrate Thems; do so with a versatility that ranges from the minutest of microaggression to bloodbaths of savagery; and regularly decide what is inferior about Them based on pure emotion, followed by primitive rationalizations that we mistake for rationality. Pretty depressing.

But crucially, there is room for optimism. Much of that is grounded in something definedly human, which is that we all carry multiple Us/Them divisions in our heads. A Them in one case can be an Us in another, and it can only take an instant for that identity to flip. Thus, there is hope that, with science’s help, clannishness and xenophobia can lessen, perhaps even so much so that Hollywood-extra chimps and gorillas can break bread together.

The Strength of Us Versus Them

Considerable evidence suggests that dividing the world into Us and Them is deeply hard-wired in our brains, with an ancient evolutionary legacy. For starters, we detect Us/Them differences with stunning speed. Stick someone in a “functional MRI”—a brain scanner that indicates activity in various brain regions under particular circumstances. Flash up pictures of faces for 50 milliseconds—a 20th of a second—barely at the level of detection. And remarkably, with even such minimal exposure, the brain processes faces of Thems differently than Us-es.

This has been studied extensively with the inflammatory Us/Them of race. Briefly flash up the face of someone of a different race (compared with a same-race face) and, on average, there is preferential activation of the amygdala, a brain region associated with fear, anxiety, and aggression. Moreover, other-race faces cause less activation than do same-race faces in the fusiform cortex, a region specializing in facial recognition; along with that comes less accuracy at remembering other-race faces. Watching a film of a hand being poked with a needle causes an “isomorphic reflex,” where the part of the motor cortex corresponding to your own hand activates, and your hand clenches—unless the hand is of another race, in which case less of this effect is produced.

The brain’s fault lines dividing Us from Them are also shown with the hormone oxytocin. It’s famed for its pro-social effects—oxytocin prompts people to be more trusting, cooperative, and generous. But, crucially, this is how oxytocin influences behavior toward members of your own group. When it comes to outgroup members, it does the opposite.

The automatic, unconscious nature of Us/Them-ing attests to its depth. This can be demonstrated with the fiendishly clever Implicit Association Test. Suppose you’re deeply prejudiced against trolls, consider them inferior to humans. To simplify, this can be revealed with the Implicit Association Test, where subjects look at pictures of humans or trolls, coupled with words with positive or negative connotations. The couplings can support the direction of your biases (e.g., a human face and the word “honest,” a troll face and the word “deceitful”), or can run counter to your biases. And people take slightly longer, a fraction of a second, to process discordant pairings. It’s automatic—you’re not fuming about clannish troll business practices or troll brutality in the Battle of Somewhere in 1523. You’re processing words and pictures, and your anti-troll bias makes you unconsciously pause, stopped by the dissonance linking troll with “lovely,” or human with “malodorous.”

We’re not alone in Us/Them-ing. It’s no news that other primates can make violent Us/Them distinctions; after all, chimps band together and systematically kill the males in a neighboring group. Recent work, adapting the Implicit Association Test to another species, suggests that even other primates have implicit negative associations with Others. Rhesus monkeys would look at pictures either of members of their own group or strangers, coupled with pictures of things with positive or negative connotations. And monkeys would look longer at pairings discordant with their biases (e.g., pictures of members of their own group with pictures of spiders). These monkeys don’t just fight neighbors over resources. They have negative associations about them—“Those guys are like yucky spiders, but us, us, we’re like luscious fruit.”

Thus, the strength of Us/Them-ing is shown by the: speed and minimal sensory stimuli required for the brain to process group differences; tendency to group according to arbitrary differences, and then imbue those differences with supposedly rational power; unconscious automaticity of such processes; and rudiments of it in other primates. As we’ll see now, we tend to think of Us, but not Thems, fairly straightforwardly.

The Nature of Us

Across cultures and throughout history, people who comprise Us are viewed in similarly self-congratulatory ways—We are more correct, wise, moral, and worthy. Us-ness also involves inflating the merits of our arbitrary markers, which can take some work—rationalizing why our food is tastier, our music more moving, our language more logical or poetic…

more…

http://nautil.us/issue/49/the-absurd/why-your-brain-hates-other-people

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SCIENCE AND THE PARANORMAL – THE QUESTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS

BY Brendan D. Murphy, Guest Waking Times 

With so many people (many indeed being iconic scientific and historical figures) experiencing what they are supposedly not meant to, according to materialistic thought, the reasonable individual might be forgiven for wondering if there is something more to consciousness than our present “scientific” paradigms would have us believe. Can we go further than questioning the assumed legitimacy of orthodox materialistic theories which reduce consciousness to a mere epiphenomenon (by-product) of physical matter (the brain) and even—heaven forbid—suggest that they are not merely incomplete, but actually types of superstitions in themselves?

Etymologically, the word consciousness derives from the words scire (to know) and cum or con (with). Consciousness is “to know with.” So if you, the persona, cognize (to know or be aware of), who are you cognizing with? Is there more to consciousness than the Freudian ego and unconscious?

Mathematical physicist Roger Penrose has written:

A scientific world-view which does not profoundly come to terms with the problem of conscious minds can have no serious pretensions of [sic] completeness…I would maintain that there is yet no physical, biological, or computational theory that comes very close to explaining our consciousness or intelligence.[i]

Indeed, in the past (and even today?) some scientists had taken the absurd position that consciousness is an illusion. This, while providing a nonsensical reason to ignore the problem of consciousness, obviously fails to sate the curious inquirer’s queries regarding how we got here and what we are doing here as conscious beings. Materialistic philosophy as we know it—derived from the mechanistic worldview—had, more or less since the dawning of the Age of Reason in the 1700s, steadfastly maintained that what we call experience arises solely as a by-product of the brain’s internal workings. No brain, no consciousness.

But is it really that simple? What about functions of consciousness that appear to transcend the cranial boundaries of our heads? The Age of Reason said that these forces had only ever existed in man’s imagination; only reason could show man the truth about the universe. “The trouble was,” according to Colin Wilson, “that man became a thinking pygmy, and the world of the rationalists was a daylight place in which boredom, triviality and ordinariness were ultimate truths.”[ii]

The Age of Reason glorified the rationalist, who, enamoured of his endless linear cogitations, was blinded to faculties of consciousness that actually transcended them: faculties that would have allowed him not to merely philosophize about deeper levels of reality, but actually access them. “This is the great tragedy of modern man,” wrote occultist, philosopher, and composer Dane Rudhyar. “His much acclaimed scientific spirit frees him of the compulsions of subrational and subconscious states of mind, only to bind him to an empty rationalism and a quantitative analytical intellect, both of which actually entomb him in a sarcophagus filled with only the mimicry of life. This sarcophagus is the ‘megalopolis’—the monstrous city.”[iii]

But something stirs in the bowels of the concrete jungle. An international online survey of paranormal experiences had met with an overwhelming response, according to Australian researchers in 2006. The survey, on phenomena that cannot be explained using the current “laws” of science, is by researchers at Monash University in Melbourne. A recent (for the time) Gallup poll revealed that 75% of Americans hold at least one paranormal belief, and a UK newspaper poll showed that 60% of Britons accept the existence of the paranormal, say the researchers. According to the researchers, the survey is not about beliefs or whether parapsychological phenomena exist, rather it is about what people have experienced and the impact it has had on their lives.Some 2,000 people had made contact via the internet within six weeks of the survey beginning. A whopping 96% of respondents claim to have had at least one brush with the paranormal. The exercise seeks to gauge the frequency, effect, and age of onset of unexplained phenomena such as premonitions, out-of-body and near-death episodes, telepathy, and apparitions. Results as of 2006 showed that 70% of respondents believe an unexplained event changed their lives, mostly in a positive way. Some 70% also claim to have seen, heard, or been touched by an animal or person that wasn’t there, 80% report having had a premonition, and almost 50% recalled a previous life.[iv] In May 2000, the New York Times Sunday Magazine published results of a poll conducted by Blum & Weprin Associates; a huge 81% said they believed in life after death.[v]

Virtually all of these beliefs hint at (and require in order to be true) the existence of other realms or dimensions in which consciousness can operate. A 2005 poll taken by the Scottish paranormal society showed that more people are likely to believe in ghosts and the paranormal than have faith in any organized religion. A Gallup survey taken in 2005 showed that about three in four Americans profess at least one paranormal belief.[vi] This is a massive amount of “paranormal” experience and belief—all of it depending on the existence of other levels of reality, without which such experience can only be labeled as delusion and fantasy.

Did you know that the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has now been amended so that genuinely psychic people are no longer considered “disordered”?[vii]

Intuition and Creativity

Srinivasa Ramanujan (below, left), born in India, 1887–1920, has been called the strangest man in all of mathematics, probably in the entire history of science. Working in isolation from his peers, this genius was single-handedly able to re-derive a hundred years’ worth of Western mathematics. As Michio Kaku reports in Hyperspace, the tragedy of his life is that much of his work was wasted rediscovering known mathematics.[viii] Most interesting to us, Ramanujan said that the goddess Namakkal inspired him in his dreams; in other words, the source of his creative genius was this other realm within his sleep, rather than ordinary waking consciousness…

more…

About the Author

Brendan D. Murphy – Co-founder of Global Freedom Movement and host of GFM RadioBrendan DMurphy is a leading Australian author, researcher, activist, and musician.

This article (Science and the Paranormal – The Question of Consciousness) was originally  published and is copyrighted by Global Freedom Movement and is published here with permission.

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/06/20/science-paranormal-question-consciousness/

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HUACHUMA – THE VISIONARY CACTUS FROM THE PERUVIAN ANDES

by Sergey Baranov, Contributor Waking Times

Huachuama is the original name given to the various mescaline-containing columnar cacti native to the Andes and used traditionally in Peru for millennia for healing and divination.

The cactus thrives at around 3000 meters ( 10,000 feet ) above the sea level and flowers between October and March with beautiful flowers gifting the lucky observer with a gentle scent. Its flower opens for just one day and closing over the next two days. After this the flower gradually dries out and forms a cocoon with new life-seeking seeds. Then it is the turn of the grown cocoon to dry out while releasing the seeds to the will of the wind. Thus the new life is begun.

The most commonly used botanical names are Echinopsis Pachanoi (spineless) and Echinopsis Peruviana (spine full) but these names, of course, are only a shadow of the real essence of the plant, which is spiritual, not verbal. To realize this, it takes more than knowing the plant’s name. An experience is like a cloud which floats beyond the horizon of botanical study.

My introduction to this ancient mystery which has begun in 2005, was nothing less than a life-changing event; a fact that has slowly revealed itself over time. Back then, I was a spiritual seeker, who intuitively knew that plant-medicine shamanism held the key to a kind of knowledge that could not be found in books. This type of knowledge was experiential, not intellectual. I was not satisfied with reading about the experience; I wanted the experience. Led by a burning desire and a spiritual thirst that up until then had resulted mainly in disappointment, I was fortunate to find people in Peru who had practiced shamanism for many decades, and were dedicated healers.

This new acquaintance and introduction to an ancient path became a new starting point in my life. My urge was calmed. My thirst was satisfied and spiritual hunger fed. A path of self-discovery ahead was now opened to me with a friendly and welcoming gesture. I kept coming back to work with the same people for three and a half years before I made the decision to move to Peru, which I did in April 2009, after feeling the call to serve the sacred medicine. This of course did not come without a price. I had to make a large payment for the pass. It wasn’t in term of the money but in terms of the fear of death which was my unwelcome friend from an early childhood. My near-death experience in Mexico while working with Huichol Indians and the sacred Peyote is described in detail in my book. Shortly after that, I moved to Peru. Landing in the Sacred Valley in the Andes, felt like coming home. I knew I wanted to build my new life here around this sacred medicine.

Shamanism was something I had been drawn to since my early childhood. But living under the Soviet regime, this prospect did not look hopeful. Already as a kid I felt sharply the pain of separation from the sense of life being a miracle. And ‘growing up’ seemed to threaten this further. I didn’t want to grow up believing that life is a process of collecting stuff and saving for retirement. This prospect seemed rather too bleak.

Fearing death as a child, and seeking self-fulfillment from an early age were significant factors in the formation of my spiritual quest. This quest led me eventually to shamanism in Peru, where sacred medicinal plants were not only legal, but embedded in the culture, reaching back as far as the dawn of history.

Aiming for Peace with the Bazooka of Love – Sergey Baranov

“San Pedro” is the post-colonial name given to the psychoactive Andean cactus known under different names. ‘Huachuma’ is the old Qechua name, which means: ‘vision’ or ’that which makes one drunk’. It is a visionary cactus with an amazing potential for healing. Seeing the world through its “eyes”, is like being born again, but this time consciously…

more…

About the Author

Sergey Baranov is the author of Path, a book that will be of interest to any spiritual seeker who seeks honesty above all else.

This article (Huachuma – The Visionary Cactus from the Peruvian Andes) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Sergey Baranov.

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/06/19/huachuma-visionary-cactus-peruvian-andes/

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When Neurology Becomes Theology

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A neurologist’s perspective on research into consciousness.

Early in my neurology residency, a 50-year-old woman insisted on being hospitalized for protection from the FBI spying on her via the TV set in her bedroom. The woman’s physical examination, lab tests, EEGs, scans, and formal neuropsychological testing revealed nothing unusual. Other than being visibly terrified of the TV monitor in the ward solarium, she had no other psychiatric symptoms or past psychiatric history. Neither did anyone else in her family, though she had no recollection of her mother, who had died when the patient was only 2.

The psychiatry consultant favored the early childhood loss of her mother as a potential cause of a mid-life major depressive reaction. The attending neurologist was suspicious of an as yet undetectable degenerative brain disease, though he couldn’t be more specific. We residents were equally divided between the two possibilities.

Fortunately an intern, a super-sleuth more interested in data than speculation, was able to locate her parents’ death certificates. The patient’s mother had died in a state hospital of Huntington’s disease—a genetic degenerative brain disease. (At that time such illnesses were often kept secret from the rest of the family.) Case solved. The patient was a textbook example of psychotic behavior preceding the cognitive decline and movement disorders characteristic of Huntington’s disease.

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WHERE’S THE MIND?: Wilder Penfield spent decades studying how brains produce the experience of consciousness, but concluded “There is no good evidence, in spite of new methods, that the brain alone can carry out the work that the mind does.”Montreal Neurological Institute

As a fledgling neurologist, I’d already seen a wide variety of strange mental states arising out of physical diseases. But on this particular day, I couldn’t wrap my mind around a gene mutation generating an isolated feeling of being spied on by the FBI. How could a localized excess of amino acids in a segment of DNA be transformed into paranoia?

Though I didn’t know it at the time, I had run headlong into the “hard problem of consciousness,” the enigma of how physical brain mechanisms create purely subjective mental states. In the subsequent 50 years, what was once fodder for neurologists’ late night speculations has mushroomed into the pre-eminent question in the philosophy of mind. As an intellectual challenge, there is no equal to wondering how subatomic particles, mindless cells, synapses, and neurotransmitters create the experience of red, the beauty of a sunset, the euphoria of lust, the transcendence of music, or in this case, intractable paranoia.

I couldn’t wrap my mind around a gene mutation generating an isolated feeling of being spied on by the FBI.

Neuroscientists have long known which general areas of the brain and their connections are necessary for the state of consciousness. By observing both the effects of localized and generalized brain insults such as anoxia and anesthesia, none of us seriously doubt that consciousness arises from discrete brain mechanisms. Because these mechanisms are consistent with general biological principles, it’s likely that, with further technical advances, we will uncover how the brain generates consciousness.

However, such knowledge doesn’t translate into an explanation for the what of consciousness—that state of awareness of one’s surroundings and self, the experience of one’s feelings and thoughts. Imagine a hypothetical where you could mix nine parts oxytocin, 17 parts serotonin, and 11 parts dopamine into a solution that would make 100 percent of people feel a sense of infatuation 100 percent of the time. Knowing the precise chemical trigger for the sensation of infatuation (the how) tells you little about the nature of the resulting feeling (the what).

Over my career, I’ve gathered a neurologist’s working knowledge of the physiology of sensations. I realize neuroscientists have identified neural correlates for emotional responses. Yet I remain ignorant of what sensations and responses are at the level of experience. I know the brain creates a sense of self, but that tells me little about the nature of the sensation of “I-ness.” If the self is a brain-generated construct, I’m still left wondering who or what is experiencing the illusion of being me. Similarly, if the feeling of agency is an illusion, as some philosophers of mind insist, that doesn’t help me understand the essence of my experience of willfully typing this sentence.

Slowly, and with much resistance, it’s dawned on me that the pursuit of the nature of consciousness, no matter how cleverly couched in scientific language, is more like metaphysics and theology. It is driven by the same urges that made us dream up gods and demons, souls and afterlife. The human urge to understand ourselves is eternal, and how we frame our musings always depends upon prevailing cultural mythology. In a scientific era, we should expect philosophical and theological ruminations to be couched in the language of physical processes. We argue by inference and analogy, dragging explanations from other areas of science such as quantum physics, complexity, information theory, and math into a subjective domain. Theories of consciousness are how we wish to see ourselves in the world, and how we wish the world might be…

more…

http://nautil.us/issue/49/the-absurd/when-neurology-becomes-theology

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AN ANTHROPOLOGIST’S THEORY ON SHAMANISM AND THE ORIGINS OF KNOWLEDGE COMPLETELY REWRITES OUR UNDERSTANDING OF DNA

by Dylan Charles, Editor, Waking Times

The shaman’s world is one of allegory, symbolism, metaphor and transcendence into the realms of energy and spirit. Their understanding of the universe and the abundant sentient beings which inhabit it is wildly foreign to the mind of the material scientist. Our best chance, therefore, at bridging the gap between science and spirit may lie in the anthropological study of those tribal cultures whose operating systems permit them to move freely in the metaphysical realms with the assistance of natural hallucinogenic substances.

The shamanic explanation of the origins of life and of the intelligent nature of the plants and animals which inhabit the rainforest are quite unbelievable to most, but a rational approach to understanding their perspective lends extraordinary insight into some of the greatest mysteries of human consciousness.

Author and anthropologist Jeremy Narby set out in the mid 1980’s to do just this, hoping to learn from medicine men of the Amazon jungle about how it is they claim to be able to communicate directly with plants and unseen spirit beings of the forest. In his remarkable must-read book, The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge, his journey of empirical study takes a remarkable twist when he agrees to ingest the potent shamanic plant medicine, Ayahuasca.

Briefly summing up his book in an interview with Deoxy’s Todd Stewart, Narby remarks:

“Research indicates that shamans access an intelligence, which they say is nature’s, and which gives them information that has stunning correspondences with molecular biology.”

Researching this hypothesis, Narby began by examining the very real paradox offered by plant masters of the Amazon, namely that their vast, extensive, and incredibly thorough understanding of the thousands of plants in their environment is the result, not of any kind of scientific study as we know in the West, but rather as the result of direct communication with plants themselves.

“So here are people without electron microscopes who choose, among some 80.000 Amazonian plant species, the leaves of a bush containing a hallucinogenic brain hormone, which they combine with a vine containing substances that inactivate an enzyme of the digestive tract, which would otherwise block the hallucinogenic effect. And they do this to modify their consciousness.

 

It is as if they knew about the molecular properties of plants and the art of combining them, and when one asks them how thev know these things, thev say their knowledge comes directly from hallucinogenic plants.” ~Jeremy Narby

At face value, the claim may seem ridiculous to the western mind, yet the fact remains that shamanic knowledge, especially regarding the medicinal properties of thousands of plants, is so thorough that it has provided the basis for the modern pharmacological model of medical science. Many of the top-selling and most effective medicines of our age were derived directly from the culturally appropriated knowledge of the people of the rainforest.

Intrigued by this perspective, Narby ultimately agreed to participate in Ayahuasca ceremonies to experience first-hand the connection spoken of by scores of indigenous cultures and medicine traditions. Doing so led him to the conclusion that not only were these people being truthful in their assertion of direct communication with plants is possible, but that their hallucinogenic journeys may provide a means of unlocking and accessing the origins of human knowledge which have been transmitted for eons in the codes within DNA.

“Intelligence comes from the Latin inter-legere, to choose between. There seems to be a capacity to make choices operating inside each cell in our body, down to the level of individual proteins and enzymes. DNA itself is a kind of “text” that functions through a coding system called “genetic code,” which is strikingly similar to codes used by human beings. ” ~Jeremy Narby…

more…

About the Author
Dylan Charles is a student and teacher of Shaolin Kung Fu, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, a practitioner of Yoga and Taoist arts, and an activist and idealist passionately engaged in the struggle for a more sustainable and just world for future generations. He is the editor of WakingTimes.com, the proprietor of OffgridOutpost.com, a grateful father and a man who seeks to enlighten others with the power of inspiring information and action. He may be contacted at wakingtimes@gmail.com.
This article (An Anthropologist’s Theory on Shamanism and the Origins of Knowledge Completely Rewrites Our Understanding of DNA) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Dylan Charles and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/06/16/anthropologists-theory-shamanism-origins-knowledge-completely-rewrites-understanding-dna/

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My Life With Multiple Personalities

Until she was 40 years old, Melanie Goodwin had no memory of her life before the age of 16. Then, a family tragedy triggered a cataclysmic psychological change. Suddenly she was aware of other identities inside her, and the barriers between them were crumbling. The different identities belonged to her, Melanie felt, but ‘her’ at different ages, from three years’ old to 16 and on into adulthood.

These ages were not random. Amid the confusing, terrifying mingling of different voices in one consciousness came memories of child abuse, the first episode occurring when she was three, the last when she was 16. “I have no proof,” she notes. “I have to go with what I believe happened, and my reality.”

Melanie has what used to be called multiple personality disorder, which is now more commonly referred to as dissociative identity disorder (DID). The change in name reflects an understanding that it’s more than just changes in personality that are involved. Memories, behaviours, attitudes, perceived age – all can switch together.

“We” – she generally refers to herself as ‘we’ – “had lots of adult parts. Development should be seamless… But because we didn’t grow up naturally, we would update ourselves… Finally, there were nine different adult parts, each managing a stage of our abuse-free adult life.”

Living with DID can be “hell”, she says. It is a breakdown of an aspect of everyday existence that the rest of us take for granted – our sense that we are one individual self. For Melanie, the abrupt awareness of her many different identities warring inside her was overwhelming. How could she possibly find a way to accommodate them all?

Split into parts

Melanie is talking from a sofa in a quiet consulting room at the Pottergate Centre for Dissociation and Trauma in Norwich, UK. The centre is run by Remy Aquarone, an analytical psychotherapist and a former director of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation.

Over a 30-year career, Aquarone has worked with hundreds of people with a dissociative disorder. In most cases, he says, they have a history of childhood abuse, generally starting before the age of five.

In an attempt to cope with the traumatic experiences, the theory goes, the child ‘dissociates’ – it splits itself into parts. One part endures the abuse and contains the horrific emotional and physical impacts; another part exists afterwards. Or, there might be one part that endures the abuse, another that gets the body back to its bedroom, and another that goes down to breakfast in the morning. If the abuse goes on over years, and also if different scenarios and perpetrators are involved, many different parts may splinter off.

It’s the dissociation that allows the child to keep going. In fact, “it’s the ultimate adaption system. It’s using your unconscious cognition to adapt your way of thinking and behaviour in order to be more safe,” Aquarone says.

Melanie describes it this way: “If you’re in a totally impossible situation, you dissociate to stay alive. Trauma can freeze you in time. And because the trauma is ongoing over years, there are lots of little freezings happening all over the place.”

Not everyone who endures childhood abuse – or any other form of ongoing major trauma – develops a dissociative disorder. Based on his work, Aquarone says there’s another critical factor involved: the absence of a normal, healthy attachment to an adult.

In the field of developmental psychology, ‘attachment’ has a specific meaning: it’s a bond that forms between an infant and a care-giver who supports and looks after that child, emotionally and practically, while also helping that child to learn about and manage his or her responses. Without that bond – prevented by bereavement, neglect or abuse – a child undergoing a trauma is left to fend for itself…

Read More

http://sorendreier.com/living-with-multiple-personalities/

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PSYCHEDELICS AND PLANT MEDICINES DISPEL THE CHEMICAL IMBALANCE THEORY OF DEPRESSION

by Dylan Charles, Editor Waking Times

Depression is now the number one worldwide cause of disease and disability, according to the World Health Organization. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the psychiatric industry’s bible, defines depression as the near daily existence of at least 5 of the following 9 conditions:

1. Depressed mood or irritable most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad or empty) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful).
2. Decreased interest or pleasure in most activities, most of each day
3. Significant weight change (5%) or change in appetite
4. Change in sleep: Insomnia or hypersomnia
5. Change in activity: Psychomotor agitation or retardation
6. Fatigue or loss of energy
7. Guilt/worthlessness: Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
8. Concentration: diminished ability to think or concentrate, or more indecisiveness
9. Suicidality: Thoughts of death or suicide, or has suicide plan

(Proposed (not yet adopted) anxiety symptoms that may indicate depression: irrational worry, preoccupation with unpleasant worries, trouble relaxing, feeling tense, fear that something awful might happen.) [Source]

Diagnosis using this array of possibilities is highly subjective and hardly scientific, and the DSM-5 recommends treatment with pharmaceutical antidepressants, supportive psychotherapy, best guesses, trial and error, observation, hope and luck.

Antidepressants aim to correct chemical imbalances in the brain by adding reactive chemicals to the body, an approach based on the theory that depression is the result of deficiencies in certain chemicals. This theory is tested by tinkering with brain chemistry while looking for signs of decrease in the aforementioned symptoms.

This model is not at all unanimously agreed upon, but it dominates our treatment of depression, although it is just a guess, as admitted in the DSM-5 itself:

The undoubtable success of various antidepressants has focused attention on the biogenic amines: given that all antidepressants have effects on either noradrenergic or serotoninergic functioning, it appears reasonable to assume that there is a complementary disturbance in these amines in patients with major depression. Despite enormous research effort, consistent findings implicating these amines have been difficult to obtain. One exception is the finding that, in patients with major depression currently in an SSRI-induced remission, a depletion of tryptophan, the dietary precursor of serotonin, is generally followed by a rapid relapse of depressive symptoms.  [Source]

The chemical imbalance theory is weak, but worse than that it’s one-dimensional, focusing on body chemistry alone without consideration of the emotional complexities of the human psyche and of life itself.

Research into the use of the psychedelic drugs ecstasy, ketamine, LSD, and psilocybin, and the use of shamanic plant medicines ayahuasca and iboga, takes us even further in dispelling the myth of the chemical imbalance theory. Patients, as well as many ordinary people who have experienced these substances, commonly report dramatic breakthroughs in their mental health, with even low doses.

The commonality in these substances is that they have a distinct psychoactive element, drastically altering ordinary consciousness. Ayahuasca, for example is gaining in renown for its ability to treat depression by inducing a deeply meaningful and personal spiritual experience that offers insight into one’s behavior and past experiences, helping them to develop a more healthy relationship with themselves.

“A 2016 review of observational studies of regular users found reductions in dependence and substance use; a preliminary 2015 study for depression treatment found 82 percent reductions in depression scores; and another 2016 review found that short-term use was associated with “improved planning and inhibitory control,” with potential antidepressive and anti-addiction applications.” [Source]

The African plant medicine iboga works in a very similar manner, and can reprogram self-defeating and self-destructive patterns of thought in a single shamanic ceremony by sending the patient on an intense personal journey of introspection and connection to the higher dimensions of themselves, even allowing them to communicate directly with their own soul.

These substances work by affecting other components of the multi-dimensional human being, and as these concepts fall far outside of the purview of the scientific method, they are easily dismissed by the type of empirically minded scientists involved in projects like creating the DSM-5. Never-the-less, the psychedelic experiences mentioned here can be highly effective, offering compelling evidence that depression is at least for some, a spiritual condition, and as such the chemical imbalance theory is incomplete.

The chemical imbalance theory is critical to the domination of depression treatment by the pharmaceutical industry, but as research proceeds, and as people continue to relay their personal experiences in healing themselves with the aid of these consciousness expanding substances, we have more and more evidence to suggest that the pharmaceutical treatments may not be the best or only option for treating depression.

 

About the Author
Dylan Charles is a student and teacher of Shaolin Kung Fu, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, a practitioner of Yoga and Taoist arts, and an activist and idealist passionately engaged in the struggle for a more sustainable and just world for future generations. He is the editor of WakingTimes.com, the proprietor of OffgridOutpost.com, a grateful father and a man who seeks to enlighten others with the power of inspiring information and action. He may be contacted at wakingtimes@gmail.com.
This article (Psychedelics and Plant Medicines Dispel the Chemical Imbalance Theory of Depression) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Dylan Charles and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/06/15/psychedelics-plant-medicines-dispel-chemical-imbalance-theory-depression/

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