Mental Health and the Adapting Brain
Mental Health and the Brain:
Our fourth session and resulting on-line forum discussion seemed to make it possible to locate "mind" in brain, and, in so doing, suggested that the brain could be usefully thought of as subdivided into two parts, a cognitive unconscious or tacit knower, and an I-function (consciousness or story teller), with the latter getting inputs from and acting through the forumer. This in turn raised a number of new issues relevant to thinking about mental health (to say nothing of human life in general). Among them is the degree of interplay between "unconscious" and "conscious" processes, the subject of our upcoming discussion.
Readings for this week
Relevant new things elsewhere ...
- at one point it says, "The field has resisted scientific scrutiny for years, arguing that the process of treatment is highly individualized and so does not easily lend itself to such study." Psychotherapy is highly individualized, but on the other hand that makes it seem like pharmacotherapy is/should be straightforward when it in fact seems to be just as highly individualized as well. ... LauraC
- But CBT and DBT, etc. programs are often less individualized, at least as treatment models. (Though often also more strictly time -limited, and easier to do in groups -- so cheaper, as well.) ... ysilverman
- "a milestone in the quest for civil rights, an effort to end insurance discrimination and to reduce the stigma of mental illness"
- I am glad it went through, but do people really see a need or are they just concerned about losing $$ ...merry2e
- how relates to course? can we all pack up and go home? See "gained widespread support for several reasons ..."
I am a big fan of this being the 'unconscious' we so often discuss. Lets take something like flirting for example. All of us know how to do it (to varying degrees of success) but certainly no one has taught us how ... akerle
I can relate to the basketball player example from class ... trying to get out of her awareness, and her consciousness, to a place where she can focus without being so overly stimulated and aware. I try to do this when I play tennis, except a lot of the time, I end up failing. ... It's when I become aware that I need to escape that I know I'm already in trouble, and maybe that's a general part of the awareness part of the conscious ...kgins
I think I have been trying to modify my unconscious understanding with respect to my sport, horseback riding, for some time. When I am approaching an obstacle or jump on my horse, I unconsciously ask her to move up, or increase her impulsion and lengthen her stride. This is entirely unnecessary ... Why do I do it then? Because my older horse, does require those signals in order to correctly clear a jump. Sending those specific signals to my horse has become a habit for me ... jrlewis
I was musing to Judie that her story of the tripartite brain might prove more "useful" than the account Paul had given of two severely separated sections of the nervous system-- more useful because it actually locates a third "place" where therapy and change can occur ... Anne Dalke
My unconscious feels very inaccessable so it makes sense to me that a preconscious is needed to facilitate communication between my conscious and unconscious ... Riki
In applying this question to mental health, the tripartite brain then says that at some (very real) point people’s attempts to control their actions are futile – the conscious mind simply cannot expand its power further. However the bipartite model doesn’t necessarily have such a problem. It allows us to say yes, the large part of our actions may be unconscious, but that does not mean we cannot learn to be conscious of them and thus consciously change the unconscious ... kmanning
Unconsciously, the body starts to slow down; but consciously, you can train the brain to keep the muscles working and the body moving quickly, despite the feelings of fatigue ... mstokes
when you are looking at the ballerina silhouette and she flips for the first time, you don't really have any control over when that first flip happens, but then you can start trying to flip her back and forth and you can get better at "seeing" her move in one way or another ... Ljones
I though the idea of “relationship schemas” in our unconscious really underscored how these two parts of the brain must be related. If our unconscious is facilitating our interactions with others, I feel that our conscious could be made aware of these schemas at some point through observation (and therapy?) ... Paige Safyer
What I think of as "me" when I say that word I mean all of me, not just my brain or a part of that brain ... Martin Bayer
Christopher Reeves might feel like the toe we pinched was "his" toe... but I'm not sure if it is a part of "him" so much as part of something he owns ... Ljones
This notion of “containing multitudes” is one, for me, that gives texture and meaning to experience, to life, to interactions. I think that multiple “realities” are necessary in order to truly conceptualize the breadth of human experience, both to reconcile conflict within oneself and to understand similarities and differences in perceptions amongst people ... Sophie F
I agree with Martin that claiming multiple realities can unnecessarily complicate things. However, I also agree with Sophie that multiple realities add texture to life and are necessary to fully conceptualize the breadth of human experience ... ryan g
- interactions of unconscious/conscious
Continuing the bipartite brain and "mind"
- the blind spot
- blind sight, spastic paralysis
- pain, phantom limbs, emotion and feeling
- eating behavior, moods, sleep and dreams
- implicit, explicit memory
- the "cognitive unconscious": characteristics/capabilities/limitations
- the story teller: characteristics/capabilities/limitations
- multiple realities within one brain - Capgras syndrome
- the bidirectional interaction between the cognitive unconscious and the story teller
"Mental health" is necessarily about BOTH the brain and the mind, about the unconscious and the self-aware, about the physical and stories, because each one gives rise to the other and is in turn affected by itAll human experience, including a sense of self, is a "story"
- originates in unconscious, in processes of which we are unaware
- could be otherwiseStories are brain states, and so affect behaviorFeelings, intuitions reflect inputs from the unconscious to the story teller, are used to try and create a coherent overall story of the self and one's relation to the worldSubjectitivity is the foundation of objectivity, rather than the opposite of itThe self indeed contains multitudes, is different from inside than from outside, and varies from time to time in its coherence. It is a work in progress.
Adding change/progress ...
The loopy brain (parallel to loopy science)
unconscious learning -> multiple continually updated tacit understandings (loop 1)
limitations of "getting it less wrong"
- no assurance of coherence
- no way to move beyond implications of local experience (the local maximum problem)
the story teller as synthesizer, amplifier of exploration, also "getting it less wrong" but with unconscious as input source and unconscious among testers, new possibilities
- limitations of the story teller
- too great a concern for simplicity, logical consistency, certainty
the bidirectional loop between the unconscious and the story teller (loop 2)
- conscious influence on behavior that in turn alters unconscious over time
- direct influence of story on unconscious
Problems of loops as problems of mental health?
Mental health as effectiveness at ongoing exploration/creation? freedom/wherewithal to create new meaning? being able to enjoy the certainty of the unknown?
The interpersonal as a third loop?
Your thoughts in forum below ....