We have seen the role of ‘nurture’ in “The Nature-Nurture Question – Nurture”. We will now turn to the other half of the dynamic – ‘nature’. It is a commonly believed fallacy that the role of ‘nature’ in human beings is defined by genetically determined physiological brain mechanisms. As a result, it is believed that certain genes or gene clusters determine behavior; or neurotransmitters like serotonin cause depression; or localized areas of cortex or parts of the amygdala and limbic system create behaviors and psychiatric symptoms. These prevalent ideas are faulty as they confuse the parts for the… Continue reading
The Nature-Nurture Question – Nurture – The function of the limbic system is to map our nurture experience into the cortex.
The Nature-Nurture question is the big question, It is central for psychiatry, neuroscience, and child development. And of course, the answer is… it is not either/or, but both. But this answer is insufficient on the face of it. We need to understand what nurture really means. And what are we talking about regarding nature? And how do they actually work together?
Unfortunately the exciting explosion of brain science has led to a confusion and faulty assumption about the what constitutes ‘nature’. The operating belief is that specific brain nuclei, neurotransmitters, cortical locations, and genes directly determine our behavior. And whatever… Continue reading
A study qualifies for my ‘Enough is Enough’ series when bad science crosses the line to total absurdity. Today’s entry is Identification and Replication of a Combined Epigenetic and Genetic Biomarker Predicting Suicide and Suicidal Behaviors, by Jerry Guintivano, Ph.D et all, in the American Journal of Psychiatry online July 30, 2014.which is accessible on “Blood Test for Suicide May Come From Stress Gene Defect”. This well regarded study proposes that 80% of suicide, suicidal behavior, and suicidal ideation comes from a variation in the region of the SKA2’s genetic and epigenetic expression. Suicidality can be predicted… Continue reading
‘Evidence-based’ Psychiatry is ‘Evidence’ in Name Only, A call for the science of psychotherapy has taken a wrong turn
Sadly, I have to disagree with Emily A. Holmes, Michelle G. Craske and Ann M. Graybiel, in their article in Nature, July 16, 2014, “Psychological treatments: A call for mental-health science, Clinicians and neuroscientists must work together to understand and improve psychological treatments.” As a psychiatrist who practices intensive psychotherapy and has written a book on the subject, “Psychotherapy of Character, the Play of Consciousness in the Theater of the Brain”, I was enthusiastic to read this article, but I was quickly disappointed in the direction it took.
I completely agree that we need good science for psychotherapy… Continue reading
Consciousness Encompasses and Reflects Chaos and Order. It protects us from the chaos of our random environment.
Kelly Clancy, in her brilliant article, “Your Brain Is On the Brink of Chaos, Neurological evidence for chaos in the nervous system is growing”, ”, in ‘Nautilus’, July 10, 2014, presents more compellingly than I can that the ‘Brain is not a Computer Stuck on Top of a Body’. She articulates in a very technical way that the brain utilizes a balance between chaos and order for its operations. It does not operate like a computer, feeding into established static bytes.
Chaos and order is the big subject of the universe – the creation of order… Continue reading
Psychotherapy is a rewarding and effective practice that encompasses the depth and reach of human nature. It effectively heals psychiatric symptoms, the struggles of human character, and allows for the recovery of authenticity and the capacity to love. As a psychiatrist for the last forty years I have treated patients in the psychotherapy of character. Each of us coalesces our character as our genetic temperament fields responsiveness, abuse and deprivation during our formative years. This is at one with the organization of consciousness in the brain as a play with a cast of characters, feeling relationships between them, scenarios and… Continue reading
I love this video – “Conscousness is Memory” by Matt Faw. He and I have been in a correspondance. He illuminates in film what I try to put in words.
A theory of consciousness has to correspond to the actualities of human nature. It has to be consonant with the living of a human life. Its design has to reflect the productions it creates. My view through the looking glass came from many years of psychiatric practice, the long term, intensive psychotherapy of character. This provided me an unusual circumstance where I had a considerable sampling of the vast array of human character. I saw the whole range of symptoms and human suffering. Since I was allowed into the inner sanctum of my patients’ stories, I was privy to… Continue reading
Ray Kurzweil’s presentation of hybrid thinking does not grasp the biological operations of the brain and consciousness. Sentience and the limbic-cortical play is what makes us human.
I love Ray Kurzweil and his brilliant and encompassing mind– his grasp of technology past, present, and future, and the singularity. However, in his ‘Ted Talk’ – “Get Ready for Hybrid Thinking” he does not fully grasp the biology of the brain and consciousness. Instead, like most Artificial Intelligence theorists, he mistakenly imposes a technological model.
When we consider the evolution of the human species, what makes us human is not defined by our unique human functions, such as opposable thumbs, abstract thinking, reasoning, or computational abilities—those are good. The defining feature of our species is the creation of… Continue reading
In order to comprehend the workings of human consciousness, we need to understand the function of consciousness itself, its Darwinian evolution, as well as its specific development in each of our brains.
Human consciousness is the vehicle of our evolutionary adaptation, for our thriving, surviving, and propagation. It has adapted to serve our actual lives. We are social beings and we live it out with family, friends and community. All people and tribes inhabit a culture with art, music, theater, morality, and language. We form intimate relationships, we propagate; raise our children; teach them the values and mores of our… Continue reading