Splitting as a Symptom of Internal Considering

Laura

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In another thread, I posted some quotes about splitting in the context of Borderline Personality Disorder. However, I've been having a discussion with a few other people lately about splitting as internal considering on steriods. Well, obviously, a person who can't get out of their own way and see when they are doing it may very well have a personality disorder, but what I want to emphasize here is that it can be the default mode of behavior. So, to get the ball rolling, here is what I posted in the other thread about BPD:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Splitting_%28psychology%29

Splitting (also called all-or-nothing thinking) is the failure in a person's thinking to bring together both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. It is a common mechanism used by large numbers of individuals.[1] The individual tends to think in extremes (that is, another's actions, motivations etc. are all good or all bad and there is no middle ground.)

{The fact that this is said to be very widespread is worrying in one way, and hopeful in another. Obviously, if a lot of people get this way, then it many of them may just simply be habituated to think this way because of programming and not due to any genetic factors. And if it is not genetic, that means that if they recognize it and that it causes problems in their life, they CAN work on it.}

Splitting was developed by Ronald Fairbairn in his formulation of object relations theory; it begins as the inability of the infant to combine the fulfilling aspects of the parents (the good object) and their unresponsive aspects (the unsatisfying object) into the same individuals, but sees the good and bad as separate. In psychoanalytic theory this functions as a defense mechanism. It is a central mechanism to the diagnosis of Borderline personality disorder in DSM-IV-TR.

{And we know from the book "Get Me Out of Here" that such an individual is as unhappy inside as they make others unhappy outside and can thus be motivated to work on themselves.}

Relationships

Splitting creates instability in relationships because one person can be viewed as either personified virtue or personified vice at different times, depending on whether he or she gratifies the subject's needs or frustrates them.

This along with similar oscillations in the experience and appraisal of the self lead to chaotic and unstable relationship patterns, identity diffusion, and mood swings. The therapeutic process can be greatly impeded by these oscillations, because the therapist too can become seen as all good or all bad. To attempt to overcome the negative effects on treatment outcome, constant interpretations by the therapist are needed.[2]

Splitting contributes to unstable relationships and intense emotional experiences, something that has been noted especially with persons diagnosed with Borderline personality disorder.[3][4] "Through this splitting mechanism, the narcissist can suddenly and radically shift his allegiance. A trusted friend can become an enemy; the partner may become an adversary."[5]

{Based on this, I guess we could suggest that about everybody who has been disaffected here because they had a sacred cow they could not give up, and who has then gone on the attack, is probably afflicted with BPD or paranoid characteropathy. I don't think narcissists would go on the attack because they likely don't feel like expending their energy that way; too interested in finding another "mirror of their perfection."}

Treatment strategies have been developed for individuals and groups based on dialectical behavior therapy, and for couples.[6] There are also self-help books on related topics such as mindfulness and emotional regulation that have been helpful for individuals who struggle with the consequences of splitting.[7]

{And again, it can be due simply to wounding and programming and NOT to a personality disorder. Lobaczewski does point out that it can be caused by being raised by crazy people.}

Borderline personality disorder


Splitting is a relatively common defense mechanism for people with borderline personality disorder.[4] One of the DSM IV-TR criteria for this disorder is a description of splitting:[8] "a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation."[9] The borderline personality is not able to integrate the good and bad images of both self and others, so that people who suffer from borderline personality disorder have a bad representation which dominates the good representation.[10] This makes them experience love and sexuality in perverse and violent qualities which they cannot integrate with the tender, intimate side of relationships.[11]

Narcissistic personality disorder

People matching the diagnostic criteria for narcissistic personality disorder also use splitting as a central defense mechanism. Most often the narcissist does this as an attempt to stabilize his/her sense of self positively in order to preserve his/her self-esteem, by perceiving himself/herself as purely upright or admirable and others who do not conform to his/her will or values as purely wicked or contemptible. Given "the narcissist's perverse sense of entitlement and splitting. . .{s}he can be equally geared, psychologically and practically, towards the promotion and towards the demise of a certain collectively beneficial project." (Abdennur, the Narcissistic Principle of Equivalence)[12]

The cognitive habit of splitting also implies the use of other related defense mechanisms, namely idealization and devaluation, which are preventative attitudes or reactions to narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury.[13] central mechanism to the diagnosis of Borderline personality disorder in DSM-IV-TR.

I wrote about this problem in The Wave, at least in terms of programming; how experiences can stay with us and control our thinking and choices for most of our lives if we do not know that this is happening. It's also a big part of Timothy Wilson's "Strangers to Ourselves" where he talks about System 1 and System 2 and how System 1 can control System 2 detrimentally.

Gurdjieff talks about "barriers".

"In properly organized groups no faith is required; what is required is simply a little trust and even that only for a little while, for the sooner a man begins to verify all he hears the better it is for him.

"The struggle against the 'false I,' against one's chief feature or chief fault, is the most important part of the work, and it must proceed in deeds, not in words. For this purpose the teacher gives each man definite tasks which require, in order to carry them out, the conquest of his chief feature. When a man carries out these tasks he struggles with himself, works on himself. If he avoids the tasks, tries not to carry them out, it means that either he does not want to or that he cannot work.

"As a rule only very easy tasks are given at the beginning which the teacher does not even call tasks, and he does not say much about them but gives them in the form of hints. If he sees that he is understood and that the tasks are carried out he passes on to more and more difficult ones.

"More difficult tasks, although they are only subjectively difficult, are called 'barriers.' The peculiarity of barriers consists in the fact that, having surmounted a serious barrier, a man can no longer return to ordinary sleep, to ordinary life. And if, having passed the first barrier, he feels afraid of those that follow and does not go on, he stops so to speak between two barriers and is unable to move either backwards or forwards. This is the worst thing that can happen to a man. Therefore the teacher is usually very careful in the choice of tasks and barriers, in other words, he takes the risk of giving definite tasks requiring the conquest of inner barriers only to those people who have already shown themselves sufficiently strong on small barriers.

"It often happens that, having stopped before some barrier, usually the smallest and the most simple, people turn against the work, against the teacher, and against other members of the group, and accuse them of the very thing that is becoming revealed to them in themselves.

"Sometimes they repent later and blame themselves, then they again blame others, then they repent once more, and so on. But there is nothing that shows up a man better than his attitude towards the work and the teacher after he has left it. Sometimes such tests are arranged intentionally. A man is placed in such a position that he is obliged to leave and he is fully justified in having a grievance either against the teacher or against some other person. And then he is watched to see how he will behave. A decent man will behave decently even if he thinks that he has been treated unjustly or wrongly. But many people in such circumstances show a side of their nature which otherwise they would never show. And at times it is a necessary means for exposing a man's nature. So long as you are good to a man he is good to you. But what will he be like if you scratch him a little?

"But this is not the chief thing; the chief thing is his own personal attitude, his own valuation of the ideas which he receives or has received, and his keeping or losing this valuation. A man may think for a long time and quite sincerely that he wants to work and even make great efforts, and then he may throw up everything and even definitely go against the work; justify himself, invent various fabrications, deliberately ascribe a wrong meaning to what he has heard, and so on."

"What happens to them for this?" asked one of the audience.

"Nothing—what could happen to them?" said G. "They are their own punishment. And what punishment could be worse?
In the above, we hear echoes of Don Juan and his petty tyrants.

Gurdjieff adds more crucial information that we have witnessed, tested, proved:

"Speaking in general the most difficult barrier is the conquest of lying. A man lies so much and so constantly both to himself and to others that he ceases to notice it. Nevertheless lying must be conquered. And the first effort required of a man is to conquer lying in relation to the teacher. A man must either decide at once to tell him nothing but the truth, or at once give up the whole thing.

"You must realize that the teacher takes a very difficult task upon himself, the cleaning and the repair of human machines. Of course he accepts only those machines that are within his power to mend. If something essential is broken or put out of order in the machine, then he refuses to take it. But even such machines, which by their nature could still be cleaned, become quite hopeless if they begin to tell lies. A lie to the teacher, even the most insignificant, concealment of any kind such as the concealment of something another has asked to be kept secret, or of something the man himself has said to another, at once puts an end to the work of that man, especially if he has previously made any efforts.

"Here is something you must bear in mind. Every effort a man makes increases the demands made upon him. So long as a man has not made any serious efforts the demands made upon him are very small, but his efforts immediately increase the demands made upon him. And the greater the efforts that are made, the greater the new demands.

"At this stage people very often make a mistake that is constantly made. They think that the efforts they have previously made, their former merits, so to speak, give them some kind of rights or advantages, diminish the demands to be made upon them, and constitute as it were an excuse should they not work or should they afterwards do something wrong. This, of course, is most profoundly false. Nothing that a man did yesterday excuses him today. Quite the reverse, if a man did nothing yesterday, no demands are made upon him today; if he did anything yesterday, it means that he must do more today. This certainly does not mean that it is better to do nothing. Whoever does nothing receives nothing.

"As I have said already, one of the first demands is sincerity. But there are different kinds of sincerity. There is clever sincerity and there is stupid sincerity, just as there is clever insincerity and stupid insincerity. Both stupid sincerity and stupid insincerity are equally mechanical. But if a man wishes to learn to be cleverly sincere, he must be sincere first of all with his teacher and with people who are senior to him in the work. This will be 'clever sincerity.' But here it is necessary to note that sincerity must not become 'lack of considering.' Lack of considering in relation to the teacher or in relation to those whom the teacher has appointed, as I have said already, destroys all possibility of any work. If he wishes to learn to be cleverly insincere he must be insincere about the work and he must learn to be silent when he ought to be silent with people outside it, who can neither understand nor appreciate it. But sincerity in the group is an absolute demand, because, if a man continues to lie in the group in the same way as he lies to himself and to others in life, he will never learn to distinguish the truth from a lie.

"The second barrier is very often the conquest of fear. A man usually has many unnecessary, imaginary fears. Lies and fears—this is the atmosphere in which an ordinary man lives. Just as the conquest of lying is individual, so also is the conquest of fear. Every man has fears of his own which are peculiar to him alone. These fears must first be found and then destroyed. The fears of which I speak are usually connected with the lies among which a man lives. You must realize that they have nothing in common with the fear of spiders or of mice or of a dark room, or with unaccountable nervous fears.

"The struggle against lying in oneself and the struggle against fears is the first positive work which a man begins to do.

"One must realize in general that positive efforts and even sacrifices in the work do not justify or excuse mistakes which may follow. On the contrary, things that could be forgiven in a man who has made no efforts and who has sacrificed nothing will not be forgiven in another who has already made great sacrifices.

"This seems to be unjust, but one must understand the law. There is, as it were, a separate account kept for every man. His efforts and sacrifices are written down on one side of the book and his mistakes and misdeeds on the other side. What is written down on the positive side can never atone for what is written down on the negative side. What is recorded on the negative side can only be wiped out by the truth, that is to say, by an instant and complete confession to himself and to others and above all to the teacher. If a man sees his fault but continues to justify himself, a small offense may destroy the result of whole years of work and effort. In the work, therefore, it is often better to admit one's guilt even when one is not guilty.
So we see that dealing with one's own tendency to split, see things as either black or white, is crucial to working on the self. You can never effectively practice External Considering if you can't master your own splitting as is clear from the following passage from ISOTM which deals first with identification and internal considering which seems to me to be just another way to describe splitting:

"Identifying is the chief obstacle to self-remembering. A man who identifies with anything is unable to remember himself. In order to remember oneself it is necessary first of all not to identify. But in order to learn not to identify man must first of all not be identified with himself, must not call himself 'I' always and on all occasions. He must remember that there are two in him, that there is himself that is 'I' in him, and there is another with whom he must struggle and whom he must conquer if he wishes at any time to attain anything. So long as a man identifies or can be identified, he is the slave of everything that can happen to him. Freedom is first of all freedom from identification.

"After general forms of identification attention must be given to a particular form of identifying, namely identifying with people, which takes the form of 'considering' them.

"There are several different kinds of 'considering.'

"On the most prevalent occasions a man is identified with what others think about him, how they treat him, what attitude they show towards him. He always thinks that people do not value him enough, are not sufficiently polite and courteous. All this torments him, makes him think and suspect and lose an immense amount of energy on guesswork, on suppositions, develops in him a distrustful and hostile attitude towards people. How somebody looked at him, what somebody thought of him, what somebody said of him—all this acquires for him an immense significance.

"And he 'considers' not only separate persons but society and historically constituted conditions. Everything that displeases such a man seems to him to be unjust, illegal, wrong, and illogical. And the point of departure for his judgment is always that these things can and should be changed. 'Injustice' is one of the words in which very often considering hides itself. When a man has convinced himself that he is indignant with some injustice, then for him to stop considering would mean 'reconciling himself to injustice.'

"There are people who are able to consider not only injustice or the failure of others to value them enough but who are able to consider for example the weather. This seems ridiculous but it is a fact. People are able to consider climate, heat, cold, snow, rain; they can be irritated by the weather, be indignant and angry with it. A man can take everything in such a personal way as though everything in the world had been specially arranged in order to give him pleasure or on the contrary to cause him inconvenience or unpleasantness.

"All this and much else besides is merely a form of identification. Such considering is wholly based upon 'requirements.' A man inwardly 'requires' that everyone should see what a remarkable man he is and that they should constantly give expression to their respect, esteem, and admiration for him, for his intellect, his beauty, his cleverness, his wit, his presence of mind, his originality, and all his other qualities. Requirements in their turn are based on a completely fantastic notion about themselves such as very often occurs with people of very modest appearance. Various writers, actors, musicians, artists, and politicians, for instance, are almost without exception sick people. And what are they suffering from? First of all from an extraordinary' opinion of themselves, then from requirements, and then from considering, that is, being ready and prepared beforehand to take offense at lack of understanding and lack of appreciation.

"There is still another form of considering which can take a great deal of energy from a man. This form starts with a man beginning to think that he is not considering another person enough, that this other person is offended with him for not considering him sufficiently. And he begins to think himself that perhaps he does not think enough about this other, does not pay him enough attention, does not give way to him enough. All this is simply weakness. People are afraid of one another. But this can lead very far. I have seen many such cases. In this way a man can finally lose his balance, if at any time he had any, and begin to perform entirely senseless actions. He gets angry with himself and feels that it is stupid, and he cannot stop, whereas in such cases the whole point is precisely 'not to consider.'

"It is the same case, only perhaps worse, when a man considers that in his opinion he 'ought' to do something when as a matter of fact he ought not to do so at all. 'Ought' and 'ought not' is also a difficult subject, that is, difficult to understand when a man really 'ought' and when he 'ought not.' This can be approached only from the point of view of 'aim.' When a man has an aim he 'ought' to do only what leads towards his aim and he 'ought not' to do anything that hinders him from going towards his aim.

{That is, there is good, there is evil, and there is the specific situation that determines which is which.}

"As I have already said, people very often think that if they begin to struggle with considering within themselves it will make them 'insincere' and they are afraid of this because they think that in this event they will be losing something, losing a part of themselves. In this case the same thing takes place as in attempts to struggle against the outward expression of unpleasant emotions. The sole difference is that in one case a man struggles with the outward expression of emotions and in the other case with an inner manifestation of perhaps the same emotions.

"This fear of losing sincerity is of course self-deception, one of those formulas of lying upon which human weaknesses are based. Man cannot help identifying and considering inwardly and he cannot help expressing his unpleasant emotions, simply because he is weak. Identifying, considering, the expressing of unpleasant emotions, are manifestations of his weakness, his impotence, his inability to control himself. But not wishing to acknowledge this weakness to himself, he calls it 'sincerity' or 'honesty' and he tells himself that he does not want to struggle against sincerity, whereas in fact he is unable to struggle against his weaknesses.

"Sincerity and honesty are in reality something quite different. What a man calls 'sincerity' in this case is in reality simply being unwilling to restrain himself. And deep down inside him a man is aware of this. But he lies to himself when he says that he does not want to lose sincerity.

"So far I have spoken of internal considering. It would be possible to bring forward many more examples. But you must do this yourselves, that is, you must seek these examples in your observations of yourselves and of others.

"The opposite of internal considering and what is in part a means of fighting against it is external considering. External considering is based upon an entirely different relationship towards people than internal considering. It is adaptation towards people, to their understanding, to their requirements. By considering externally a man does that which makes life easy for other people and for himself. External considering requires a knowledge of men, an understanding of their tastes, habits, and prejudices.

At the same time external considering requires a great power over oneself, a great control over oneself. Very often a man desires sincerely to express or somehow or other show to another man what he really thinks of him or feels about him. And if he is a weak man he will of course give way to this desire and afterwards justify himself and say that he did not want to lie, did not want to pretend, he wanted to be sincere. Then he convinces himself that it was the other man's fault. He really wanted to consider him, even to give way to him, not to quarrel, and so on. But the other man did not at all want to consider him so that nothing could be done with him. It very often happens that a man begins with a blessing and ends with a curse. He begins by deciding not to consider and afterwards blames other people for not considering him. This is an example of how external considering passes into internal considering.

But if a man really remembers himself he understands that another man is a machine just as he is himself. And then he will enter into his position, he will put himself in his place, and he will be really able to understand and feel what another man thinks and feels. If he can do this his work becomes easier for him. But if he approaches a man with his own requirements nothing except new internal considering can ever be obtained from it.

"Right external considering is very important in the work. It often happens that people who understand very well the necessity of external considering in life do not understand the necessity of external considering in the work; they decide that just because they are in the work they have the right not to consider. Whereas in reality, in the work, that is, for a man's own successful work, ten times more external considering is necessary than in life, because only external considering on his part shows his valuation of the work and his understanding of the work; and success in the work is always proportional to the valuation and understanding of it. Remember that work cannot begin and cannot proceed on a level lower than that of the obyvatel,1 that is, on a level lower than ordinary life. This is a very important principle which, for some reason or other, is very easily forgotten.
 

Laura

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To continue (I had to go out on an errand), this problem of splitting is based on the "high road and low road" of brain functioning. In The Wave, I wrote about it extensively because it is the single greatest barrier that people have to pass in order to "become free". The chapters covering this begin, more or less, here: http://cassiopaea.xmystic.com/en/cass/wave13f.htm As Above, So Below...

I'm going to include here selected excerpts.

Now, I hope that you noted all the references to "feeling" that were put in bold type. These are all clues that I am setting in the background for the reader to keep in mind as we move into the discussion that is going to be, for some (as it was for me), rather distressing. {skip brief history of humankind here}

Clearly, the issue of what kind of man was man before the Fall comes to mind. We already have an idea that he was not precisely fully physical in 3rd density terms, but was yet somewhat physical. Apparently, being a 3rd density STO being in alignment with 4th density STO is an altogether different experience than being a 3rd density STS being with the concomitant "compartmentalization" and contraction of being that results in separation and conflict.

{snip more stuff}

So, having gone through this "brief history of mankind," and why we are here in the first place, we come back again to that most interesting remark: Desire based imbalance led to material existence. It seems that it was an "okay" desire, because it was based on wanting to accelerate the process of reunion with the One. But we see that this "wanting to grow up" so fast was like the Prodigal Son who wanted to take his inheritance and "travel to a far country."

Things in the "far country" were not quite what the Son thought they were. Everything had a "price," and he soon spent all his inheritance - lost his original status - and found himself enslaved to live with and care for the pigs.

This reference to living and eating with pigs has a deep esoteric significance. The pig is the animal of Set. It is said to represent the darker side of mankind that does not strive toward the light. These are those "soul units" that choose to remain as matter and never seek to wake up. More than this, the pig represents what was desired in a very deep way, as we will soon discover. You see, the pig is one of the few animals that sweats. This characteristic of the pig - that it exudes water through its skin as humans do - represents an esoteric symbol that is an amazing "disjecta membra" of vanished scientific knowledge. And this knowledge relates to the very thing we are going to be discussing: FEELINGS.

Remember, it was the desire to FEEL, in a very specific sense, that led to the Fall. And it is this that we are going to examine in a very careful way to determine if this idea can possibly be true.

The following bears repeating:

Q: (L) Did, at any time, the human race live for a long time in an Edenic state, where they were able to use bodies and still have a spiritual connection?
A: Yes. But not long. No addiction takes long to close the circle.
Q: (L) So, mankind was addicted to pleasuring the self?
A: Became quickly.
In the previous section I made the remark that we are "made addicts inside our own skins." This may have seemed to be hyperbole to some readers or a mere analogy to others. I would like to make it clear here that it is neither. It is a cold, hard fact. We are addicts to the molecules of our emotions and, by extension, to those things and people who provide our "fix" by stimulating the chemicals to be released.

Terry Burnham and Jay Phelan write in Mean Genes:

Most of us would feel cheated if we bought a car or a microwave and it came without instructions. But our most important possessions - body and mind - come with no such guide, leaving us searching haphazardly for satisfaction: a dollop of exercise, thirteen minutes of sex, a "happy Meal," a cocktail, and a sport-utility vehicle.

...When we drive a car or operate a microwave, our orders are carried out exactly as we command. The machine doesn't talk back or have an agenda of its own - at least not yet. On the other hand, if we tell our brain, as part of a New Year's resolution, to cut down on fatty foods, it most likely will let out a hearty laugh and continue to set off bells and whistles of approval when the dessert cart rolls around. Our brain, for better or worse, is not an obedient servant. It has a mind of its own. Imagine that you are two things: a personality who has likes, dislikes, desires, and dreams. But inside your body there is also a "machine," your brain, that processes commands and acts on those likes, dislikes, desires, and dreams. It fights you all the time. And it usually wins.

...Why do we have battles over controlling our own behavior? And why are these battles so hard to win? Are cats and dogs obsessed with fighting addictions, controlling their weight, and remaining faithful to their mates? Do chimpanzees regularly resolve to be less selfish? In a creepy campfire legend, a baby-sitter alone in a house receives increasingly menacing phone calls. Terrified, she contacts the police, who put a tap on her phone. After the boogieman calls again, the cops frantically phone her, screaming, "We've traced the call. It's coming from inside the house! Get out!" Similarly, the source of our self-control problems lies within us... But we can't get out or leave them behind.

Manipulative media, greedy businesses, and even our friends and family play roles in nurturing our demons. Still, most of our self-control problems stem from our impulses to do things that are bad for us or for those whom we love. A visit to any bookstore reveals the nature of our struggles. Glancing at the bestsellers, we can see what's on people's minds. There are dozens of books on finding love, losing weight, and creating wealth. Conspicuously absent are a host of other topics. Where are the books entitled How to Build a Bigger Beer Gut, Ten Steps to Frivolous Spending, or Nurturing the Infidel Within? [Burnham & Phelan, 2000]
Even though they are writing in a lighthearted way, these guys aren't kidding. And it's even worse than they let on.

If the reader will recall the movie The Matrix, they will surely remember the scene of the vast warehouse of human beings suspended in pods filled with gelatinous fluid, connected to a vast energy storage system by many "feeder lines" embedded deeply in their flesh. These were the humans "in the Matrix." There reality was totally illusory, created and maintained by a giant computer that coordinated all the various individual realities so that their "dreams" were, in a sense, as One. And through the experiences that were being "fed" to them, they generated in their bodies various amounts of "power" that "fed the system" itself.

Though this was an allegory - and where the writers came up with the inspiration we don't know - it is very close to the truth based on what the Cassiopaeans have told us, and supported by corroboration from many sources.

Can we PROVE it? Nope. But the fact is, no other "view" of the reality of Cosmic connections can be proven either. And this one has one thing that the subjective views do not have: empirical evidence.

{snip}

...Hormones of the human ductless systems and various kinds of human and animal enzymes, neurotransmitters, lymphocytes and extract of digestive chyle furnishes variable measures of a radiant energy-value; especially the human reproductive system - the specific cells of reproduction are just saturated with subtle energy-charge...

There are in fact multiple uses to which these 'natural resources' of the human system may be put. As grim as it might seem, the 'aliens' perceived to indulge that hormonal baptism are generally biobot replicants, hybrid forms created from genetic tissue of humans, animals and even plants; They have vestigial digestive systems, virtually inoperative because these types of biobot-form follow the general template of the higher dimensional negative beings only in more grounded and stabilized, physical terms.

The higher-dimensional beings in their own context have subtle, vertical filamental axes attached to the subtle nerve-networks of [both the biobots and human beings]. [In humans], these filamental, ethereal "straws" are drawn into the body through the etheric chakras that connect the body to the higher-density systems. These chakra systems correspond to the clusters of neuropeptide receptors, and it is the objective of the STS forces to stimulate the production of vast amounts of high light energy values contained in these peptides so that they can feed on the energy rich extracts of the human reproductive and glandular structures...

Tremendous concentrations of desirable energy-values, laced with the emotional juices that generate them, are involved in neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, and in epinephrine/ norepinephrine, and other hormones of the sympathetic systems. Chemicals of psychic stress are very charged [whether they are of a "blissful" nature, or pure unmitigated terror.]

The 4th density consciousness, connected to [the physiology of numerous human beings] by these astro-etheric threads and plexiform webs of control, can send signals to its 3rd density "marionettes" generating emotions that force choices that result in any number of activities resulting in enriched feeding. [Extracted from: Précis on the Good, The Bad, and What Curls Up Under a Rock]
Now, this idea is most definitely "out there." Certainly none of us wishes to contemplate such a control system as is allegorized in The Matrix. It's goo Hollywood, but we can leave the theater and go home and be secure in the belief that it is ONLY movie magic. Or can we?

Well, it seems that this is not even a new idea. There are numerous sculptures in mediaeval churches that are said to represent sinners being punished in Hell or Purgatory. It is thought that they are "visual exhortations to renounce sin." However, we find that there is another explanation for these images, given by the teacher of Mark Hedsel in Zelator, which I shall include here with some following remarks.

The first thing we must realize is that the sculptors were not, as we might imagine, portraying a future state in Hell or Purgatory. The images are portrayals of ordinary human beings - of ordinary sinners in life. The woman attacked by reptiles, is a libertine. This is why her private parts and breasts are receiving such attention from the monster-toads, and why the demon who grasps her is being so sexually explicit with the snake.

The pair carrying demons piggyback are intended to reveal the sin of Avarice: the seated figure, clutching his moneybags, is a miser, refusing to give alms to the beggar.

However, these people are not in Hell: they are portrayals of Etheric and Astral forms. They reveal people as they would be seen by someone with developed clairvoyant vision, able to perceive on the Spiritual planes. They are symbolic forms of the Etheric and Astral bodies. A true clairvoyant would be able to see those hideous reptiles, and those possessing demons.

The naked woman is not in Hell. She is depicted as a living being - but it is not her physical body which is being portrayed. It is her Etheric body. The truth is that, as a consequence of her predisposition to sin in a particular way, the soul of the libertine woman is constantly being devoured by monstrous forms. No matter how beautiful or alluring her physical body may be, her Etheric body is - as an immediate consequence of sin - darkened by demonic forms which devour her. I repeat - this is not a picture of punishment in Hell, but of an unhealthy Etheric body, in life.

...The nakedness of her body is intended as in indication that it is her Etheric body only - what the Moissac artists would have described as the ens venenei, or the vegetabilis. This explains why she is lifting her arms, grasping at her hair. This is the gesture of the Etheric soul. The same gesture is found in the Christian images painted and scratched on the walls of the catacombs in Rome, and has been called the "orans," or praying gesture. In fact, such images are derived from the Egyptian hieroglyphic for the ka.

These hints leave us in no doubt that the woman is alive, and that we are being privileged to look into the state of her Etheric body. ...This is an example of the use of an occult blind.

Now, turn your attention to the second engraving... The person gifted with clairvoyant vision will see the beggar approaching the miser on the Astral plane. He will see the demons directing this transaction: the demons are, so to speak, bypassing the Ego of the men. This is no human transaction, but a demonic one. The demons sit above the heads of the men to show that they are gripping on to their Egos. Do not forget that our word possession is derived from a Latin word meaning literally "sitting on."

...Now, in contrast to the nakedness of the woman, the miser and the beggar are clothed. This may be explained in terms of the need to indicate their ranks - the beggar is in torn clothing with only one trouser leg. We may judge from the clothing of the seated man that he is a person of some substance. However, there is another reason why the pair are clothed: this covering indicates that they are being depicted on the next level up from the Etheric - that is, on the Astral plane - on what in the days when this sculpture was made would have been called the animalis, or the ens astrale.

We may have little doubt that the clothing is meant as a kind of Astral mask, for neither man wears shoes. This is an arcane technique for showing that neither is standing on the physical Earth. The most Earthy element in this portrayal is the heavy moneybag: this appears to be tied around his neck, as a punishment, weighing down his soul.

...The demons who possess the couple are Astral beings: the wings of the one on the left indicate that it can "fly" on the Astral planes. The horns of the other, crescent in form, remind us that the demons are linked with the Moon. However, just as the woman does not know that her Etheric body is being devoured by monstrous forms, so the miser does not know that his Astral body is being weighed down by his riches, and by the demon which grips its legs around his neck This is not so much symbolism as a direct portrayal of what can be perceived on the Spiritual plane, by those with eyes to see. [Hedsel, Zelator, pp 62,63]
We note right away that there is a sort of "righteous" flavor to this interpretation. It is given in archaic terms of Sin and demons and possession. We already have the idea that the ancient stories of demons and lesser gods were actual descriptions of encounters with 4th density denizens; beings we now refer to in the modern day as "aliens." Descriptions of these things were given in languages that are not "technical," as is modern English which "reinvents" itself constantly - creating and adding new terms as science progresses in its understanding.

Later, occultists, or those seeking for answers in these representations created by those who had received this information, passed down orally, for the most part, who were not privy to the "inside" information, did not understand the literal nature of these images, nor the true reality they portrayed. They began to interpret them in terms of "astral" and "etheric" entities, rather than what they really were: energy symbols of the interaction with 4th density STS beings.

Having the understanding of 4th density reality, we can see that the woman described as a "sinner" and a "libertine," may not be either of those at all - merely an ordinary human being who is asleep in the Matrix and whose sexual energies are providing nutriment to those levels. That the creatures are "attached" to her indicates the fibrous network of the energy conduits, and it is clear that the monster- man holding the snake as though it were a phallus, while at the same time gripping the arm of the woman is meant to show us that there is a being at another level who is behind this activity. And, in addition to the upraised arms being a symbol of the Ka, the hair is also a symbol of "virility" or "virtue" and the woman is hanging onto it for dear life, battling the loss of her life force.

In the second image, I don't think that we are being shown a beggar approaching a miser. I have a slightly different basic "take" on this for a couple of reasons. The rolled up pants leg is one of the "accoutrements" of the Masonic initiation, and other than that, I do not perceive that the man is dressed in "rags." The seated figure has crossed legs - a Rosicrucian symbol - and the bag of whatever it is is suspended around his neck by a cord, is still another occult symbol. The position of his hands as well as the hands of the demon on the left figure are also symbols.

My immediate reaction to these figures is that they represent a body of occultists in high positions. The man on the left may represent the social and educational aspects of control, as he is a "traveler" "seeking wisdom", hampered or directed by the being on his shoulder. The man on the right seems to be a "kingly" or ruling figure, representing governments controlled by the creature on his shoulders. That these two "creatures" are in cahoots is clear by their communication with each other, but it is also clear that they are of two different types, and that the men are not having any interaction between them of a human nature.

That they are barefoot has an even deeper significance: they have given away the Ruby Slippers. They are sold out; co-opted; part of the STS hierarchy.

So, in effect, we are seeing a graphic portrayal of ancient knowledge, clinched by the reference to the Moon - a base of 4th density activities.

And, in the present time, there are many individuals who are "seeing" the "shape-shifting" or "overshadowing" of humans by Reptoid creatures. The mind produces "symbols" for what the eyes, and even the clairvoyant eyes, see. These events of shape-shifting or overshadowing that many are taking to be an "astral demonic possession" in archaic terms, are more likely a development of trans-density awareness that is still being interpreted in the mind in a symbolic way. It is very likely not a "spirit" possession, but is a clairvoyant seeing of the Control System, imaged in ways the mind is set up to operate. But, more on that in the next section.

Returning now to Topper's suggestion that there is a substance produced by the human sensorium, that is an "addictive drug" for 4th density STS, this was a subject mentioned by the Cassiopaeans at one of the very earliest contacts. According to Topper, this substance can only be generated through the psychic pattern of terror, and can only be catalytically effective when obtained from a still-living though on-the-verge-of-death-from-terror subject. I will admit that I was so horrified by this information that the project very nearly ended right there and then.

Like everyone else, I had the idea that only the "good" things, (by human - or MY - definition, of course), could exist at higher levels. It was only later when I read the comment of Ra: "The All blinks neither at the darkness nor at the light," that I realized that there was a very DEEP truth being presented in such a comment. And to truly understand this remark in the most important way, is to understand that this "not blinking" at ANYTHING, is the true measure of the level of contact. Truth is the only value at the highest levels, and human judgments of what is "nice" or "not nice" don't even figure in to the equations. So, a communicating entity that makes a judgment as to whether this information or that information is "useful" or not, is "blinking" and gives away his level in that act. And, I suppose it could also be inferred from this that the individual who filters is also "blinking," and thereby judging.

It also seems to be very probable that much of the more horrific stuff that is being reported by various "escapees" from various mind-control programs, or from "underground bases" where they have witnessed unparalleled scenes of horror, may have been deliberately exposed to projected and controlled thought-forms. These individuals have been 'selected' to escape from their captors or programmers, to be returned to the regular world so as to begin circulating their fearful and depressing stories. This is calculated to induce an atmosphere of terror, the cumulative energies of which will, of course, serve admirably as "food" for the 4th density STS. Another aim, suggests Topper, is to instill an overall atmosphere of depression, despair and ultimate defeatism before 'they" even surface on any large scale to the daylight of general mass perception. In this way, they can devitalize any potential resistance or aggressive anger before the fact.

There is an observable tendency of the 4th density STS beings to continuously move in relentless stages of materialization that begin with the playful nightmare of the dream state, into waking reality.
 

Laura

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The Whirlpool of Charybdis, The Sirens, and The Navigator

I know that the very idea of being in an actual Matrix as depicted in the movie is a difficult pill to swallow. We have been taught so many things from so many sources throughout history that tend to blame humanity itself - in the human state exclusively - for all the ills of mankind. Now, yes, it may be so that this state was chosen by a "group mind," but the fact is, as the Prodigal Son who wanted to visit the Far Country, we now find ourselves, more or less, in the pigsty. In the Grand Cosmic Scheme of things, we probably did it just to enrich our soul with experience and knowledge, and that is all fine and good; but here at this level, where we are still experiencing the Far Country individually and collectively, we need to go about assessing our condition and coming to some understanding here.

The exact wording of the parable may give us some clues. We read in Luke, Chapter 15, (3 X5) Verse 11 (!):

There was a certain man who had two sons; And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the part of the property that falls to me. And he divided the livelihood between them. And not many days after that the younger son gathered up all that he had and journeyed into a distant country, and there he wasted his fortune in reckless and loosed-from-restraint living. And when he had spent all he had, a mighty famine came upon that country, and he began to fall behind and be in want.

So, he went and forced (glued) himself upon one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed hogs. And he would gladly have fed on the carob pods that the hogs were eating, but they could not satisfy his hunger and nobody gave him anything better.

Then,when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father have enough food and to spare, but I am perishing here of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired servants.

So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity and tenderness for him, and he ran and embraced him and kissed him fervently.

And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son - I no longer deserve to be recognized as a son of yours! But the father said to his bond servants, Bring quickly the best robe - the festive, honor robe - and put it on him, and give him a ring for his hand and sandals for his feet; And bring out that fattened calf and kill it, and let us revel and feast and be happy and merry; Because this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found!

...But his older son was in the field, and as he returned and came near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And having called one of the servant boys to him, he began to ask what this meant. And he said to him, Your bother has come, and your father has killed that fattened calf, because he has received him safe and well.

But the elder brother was angry - with deep-seated wrath - and resolved not to go in. Then his father came out and began to plead with him, But he answered his father, Lo, these many years I have served you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me so much as a little kid, that I might revel and feast and be happy and make merry with my friends; but when this son of yours arrived, who has devoured your living with immoral women, you have killed for him that fattened calf!

And the father said to him, Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But it was fitting to make merry, to revel and feast and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead, and is alive again! He was lost and is found!
There is marvelous and rich implication in this story, but we are not going to analyze it completely here. We want to look at that crucial part of the story where it says:

And when he had spent all he had, a mighty famine came upon that country, and he began to fall behind and be in want. So, he went and forced (glued) himself upon one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed hogs. And he would gladly have fed on the carob pods that the hogs were eating, but they could not satisfy his hunger and nobody gave him anything better.
This describes the conditions of the Matrix, and it is most curious to me that the word that is translated from the Greek as "forced," (or "joined" in the KJV), kollaw is derived from kolla which means, literally, "glued."

He "glued" himself to a "citizen" of that country. I can't help but think of all the many people who "glue" themselves to belief systems... Well, we aren't going to go in that direction. Suffice it to say that this "gluing" suggests a bond of some sort exactly as described by Topper in his "ethereal filaments." It is also very reminiscent of the medieval figures from the woodcuts in the last section.

But, the fact is, the story tells us that this solution - this gluing/faith - did not work. In fact, he ended up in the deplorable state of having to eat with the pigs. "And nobody gave him anything better."

So, in this condition, finally coming to the realization that he was not going to get anything better living with the pigs and eating with the pigs, he comes to some very hard realizations:

Then,when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father have enough food and to spare, but I am perishing here of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired servants.
Now, what we would like to know is this: what does it mean when he says "...when he came to himself... [he realized] I have sinned against heaven and in your [the Father's] sight?"

The clue is given to us in the figure of the pig. So, keep that in mind as we go along here. Remember that the condition of being with the pigs was a result of "gluing" himself to the citizen of that country.

{snip}

The human brain is probably the most complex structure in the universe; in a sense, it might be thought of as a universe in itself. At birth, the infant brain contains about 100 billion nerve cells, or neurons. This number is comparable to the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy, just to give you an idea of what we are dealing with here.

Now, just think about what a huge electrical potential such a number implies!

But it is not the number we want to think about just now, but what these neurons actually are doing in this microcosm of our head.

Unlike your average body cell, such as a cell in your stomach or pancreas or the fat in your "love handles," the neurons constantly carry on complex conversations with one another. Each neuron has, on the average, several thousand contacts with other cells. Some neurons can have as many as 200,000 connections. Can you imagine talking on a phone line that connects to that many other individuals and keeping track of all the conversations. (And yes, that is exactly the analogy that scientists use: a "phone company." And a "cell phone" company at that!)

Dr. Steven Hyman, director of the National Institute of Mental Health writes:

...Whether we are awake or asleep, our brain cells are doing the neuronal equivalent of a mass phonathon, sending and receiving chemical messages triggered by electrical impulses. They do this by means of specialized appendages. Each nerve cell has a single long fiber called an axon for transmitting information and a fine filigree of fibers called dendrites for receiving information. The length of a given neuron's axon varies. Some are quite short, but others may extend up to three feet, carrying an electrical impulse from, say the base of the spine to the tip of the big toe. Three feet may not sound like much until one imagines the nerve cell as a kite three feet across - with an axon tail that's forty miles long. [States of Mind, New Discoveries About How Our Brains Make Us Who We Are; Edited by Roberta Conlan, 1999]
<snip>

Now, it is at the terminal of the axon that the electrical impulse is converted into a chemical, the neurotransmitter, which sort of floods the area around the "receivers" or dendrites of the adjacent neuron. The thing that is important here is the fact that the receiver neuron has many little fibers for reception of neurotransmitter signals, BUT it can be in communication with literally thousands of other neurons. So, how does it decide which one to listen to? And why does it matter?

Well, here is where it gets interesting. Back in the early days of the 20th century, it was realized that a drug must work in the body because they could "attach" themselves to something in the body. They decided to call this place of attachment a "receptor." Nobody really knew how this "attaching" worked, or why it led to a whole cascade of changes in the body, but it there it was. You take a drug, and all kinds of things happened in the brain and/or other areas of the body.

It is now known, after long years of research, that the receptor is actually a single molecule! Not only that, but it is singularly complicated. Keep in mind that a molecule, by definition, is the smallest possible piece of something that can still be identified as that specific substance.

<snip>

Getting back to the single molecule receptors on cells, we can understand from the bonding principles we have discussed that these receptors have very particular shapes that define precisely what chemical will be attracted to them, or vice versa. We can understand that there are atomic forces which cause one molecule to be attracted to another. Receptor molecules on the cell respond to these energies by "wiggling, shimmying, vibrating and even humming as they shift back and forth from one favored shape to another." Receptors are attached to a cell, "floating" on its surface, like a lotus flower on the surface of a pond, with roots extending into the interior of the cell.

<snip>

Now, what do these receptors do? Well, we already know that they "attract" other molecules and respond to the atomic/chemical forces of various kinds of bonds. Dr. Pert writes:

Basically, receptors function as sensing molecules - scanners. Just as our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, fingers, and skin act as sense organs, so, too, do the receptors, only on a cellular level. They hover in the membranes of your cells, dancing and vibrating, waiting to pick up messages carried by other vibrating little creatures, also made out of amino acids, which come cruising along - diffusing is the technical word - through the fluids surrounding each cell. We like to describe these receptors as "keyholes," although that is not an altogether precise term for something that is constantly moving, dancing in a rhythmic, vibratory way.

All receptors are proteins... And they cluster in the cellular membrane waiting for the right chemical keys to swim up to them through the extra-cellular fluid and to mount them by fitting into their keyholes - a process known as binding.

Binding. It's sex on a molecular level!

And what is this chemical key that docks onto the receptor and causes it to dance and sway? The responsible element is called a ligand. This is the chemical key that binds to the receptor, entering it like a key in a keyhole, creating a disturbance to tickle the molecule into rearranging itself, changing its shape until - click! - information enters the cell. [Pert, 1997]
<snip>
Receptors are the first components of emotion.

A ligand is any natural or manmade substance that binds selectively to its own specific receptor on the surface of a cell. The ligand bumps onto the receptor and slips off, bumps back on, slips back off. When it is bumping on, it is binding, and each time it does it transfers a message by its molecular properties to the receptor.

Dr. Pert writes:

Though a key fitting a lock is the standard image, a more dynamic description of this process might be two voices - ligand and receptor - striking the same note and producing a vibration that rings a doorbell to open the doorway to the cell. What happens next is quite amazing. The receptor, having received a message, transmits it from the surface of the cell deep into the cell's interior, where the message can change the state of the cell dramatically. A chain reaction of biochemical events is initiated as tiny machines roar into action and, directed by the message of the ligand, begin any number of activities - manufacturing new proteins, making decisions about cell division, opening or closing ion channels, adding or subtracting energetic chemical groups like the phosphates - to name just a few. In short, the life of the cell, what it is up to at any moment, is determined by which receptors are on its surface, and whether those receptors are occupied by ligands or not. On a more global scale, these minute physiological phenomena at the cellular level can translate to large changes in behavior, physical activity, even mood.

...As the ligands drift by in the stream of fluid surrounding every cell, only those ligands that have molecules in exactly the right shape can bind to a particular kind of receptor. The process of binding is very selective, very specific! In fact, we can say that binding occurs as a result of receptor specificity, meaning the receptor ignores all but the particular ligand that's made to fit it. The opiate receptor, for instance, can "receive" only those ligands that are members of the opiate group, like endorphins, morphine, or heroin. The Valium receptor can attach only to Valium and Valium-like peptides.

...Ligands are generally much smaller molecules than the receptors they bind to, and they are divided into three chemical types. The first type of ligand comprises the classical neurotransmitters, which are small molecules with such unwieldy names as acetylcholine, norepinephrine, dopamine, histamine, glycine, GABA, and serotonin. These are the smallest, simplest of molecules, generally made in the brain to carry information across the gap, or synapse, between one neuron and the next.

...A second category of ligands is made up of steroids, which include the sex hormones testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen. All steroids start out as cholesterol, which gets transformed by a series of biochemical steps into a specific kind of hormone.

...My favorite category of ligands by far, and the largest, constituting perhaps 95 percent of them all, are the peptides. ...Like receptors, peptides are made up of strings of amino acids...

...Peptides are tiny pieces of protein and the word protein is derived from proteios, which means primary. Proteins are recognized as the fundamental materials for life. A peptide consists of a string of amino acids joined together like beads on a string. The bond that holds the amino acids together is made up of carbon and nitrogen. This bond is so strong that it takes hours, and in some cases, DAYS of boiling in strong acid to break it apart! When there are approximately 100 or more amino acids in such a protein, it is called a polypeptide. After it reaches 200 amino acids, it is then known as a protein.

...If the cell is the engine that drives all life, then the receptors are the buttons on the control panel of that engine, and a specific peptide (or other kind of ligand) is the finger that pushes that button and gets things started. [Pert, 1997, emphases, mine]
Now, remember what we started with here: chemists came up with the idea that drugs worked in the body by attaching themselves to something in the body. And now we know about receptors and that they are receptive to chemicals manufactured by the body itself. More than this, we find that, in addition to the electrical based transmission of nerve impulses, the "telephone system," the ligand-receptor system represents a second nervous system. And it seems that this chemical based system is "far more ancient and more basic to the organism."

Until this "new cell phone company" was brought into focus in the 1970s, most scientific attention had been given to the neurotransmitters and the little "jump" they facilitated across the synaptic cleft. The basic neurotransmitters seemed to carry a basic message of either "on" or "off."

The peptides ... can act like neurotransmitters, diffusing across the synaptic cleft, but their primary function seems to be to move through extra-cellular space, flowing with the blood and cerebrospinal fluid, traveling great distances in the body, and stimulating complex and fundamental changes in the cells when they lock onto the receptors.

In 1984, breakthroughs in biochemistry enabled science to understand the receptors as a bodywide network of information; the biochemical basis of emotions. More research has demonstrated that the receptors and ligands are the "information" molecules of a language used by cells throughout the organism. This communication connects areas of body function that include the endocrine systems, neurological, gastrointestinal, and most importantly the immune system.

...The musical hum of the receptors as they bind to their many ligands, often in the far-flung parts of the organism, creates an integration of structure and function that allows the organism to run smoothly, intelligently. [Pert, 1997]
I think that the reader may already be realizing that Unified States of Consciousness, or the Dwelling of the Mystics, has a great deal to do with which receptors and ligands are binding, and that frequency resonance has a lot to do with which "song" is being sung by the cells, and that this is clearly the understanding that the Cassiopaeans wished to convey in their mysterious remarks about "prime numbers" and "cell phones." But, of course, the question is: what are the precise "desirable" chemicals one might wish to produce, and exactly how might this be done?

It is in answering these questions that we find our way out of the trap of the Predator's Mind.

Remember that "no drug can act unless fixed." This means, that if a drug works, it is because there is a receptor for it in the body. This, then, suggests that the receptor is there because it binds to a ligand produced by the body itself, which suggests that the body CAN produce its own drugs, stimulating its own healing, under the proper circumstances.

Looking in another direction, when we consider drugs that change "behavior," such as heroin, marijuana, Librium, "angel dust," or PCP, and so on, which precipitate radical changes in emotional states, must also be able to bind because there are receptors for similar substances produced by the body. LSD and other hallucinogens, which produce changes in cognition must also do so because there are receptors specific to them; suggesting again, that such chemicals may, under proper circumstances, be produced by the body itself.

It is unfortunate that Dr. Pert has taken the position that a change in emotional state relates to a change in "consciousness," because it is clear that drugs produces many temporary emotional changes and result in a general decline of overall consciousness; whereas what we are looking for is the connection to produce lasting changes in consciousness - true consciousness - and not the imitation of the Predator's Mind - the addiction to emotion that keeps us asleep in the Matrix, the lunchbox of 4th density STS.

After an accident that put her in the hospital, Dr. Pert was given first hand experience with a drug that alters emotion:

There was no doubt that the drug's action in my body produced a distinctly euphoric effect, one that filled me with a bliss bordering on ecstasy, in addition to relieving all pain. The marvelous part was that the drug also seemed to completely obliterate any anxiety or emotional discomfort I had as a result of being confined to a hospital bed and separated from my husband and young child. Under its influence, I'd felt deeply nourished and satisfied, as if there weren't a thing in the world I wanted. In fact, I liked the drug so much that, as I was ending my stay at the hospital, I very briefly toyed with the idea of stealing some to take with me. I can see how people become addicts!

...I remember marveling at how there were tiny molecules on my cells that allowed for that wonderful feeling I'd experienced every time the nurse had injected me with an intramuscular dose of morphine... [Pert, 1997]
Dr. Pert supplies the example of "rats in bliss."
One of my favorite slides... three rats, rolled over on their backs, limbs floppy, eyes closed, obviously in a deep swoon. ...You can tell by their body language that they are totally satisfied and don't have a care in the world - the result of injecting our furry friends with a substance called endorphin, the body's own natural morphine...

...A shocking, but exciting fact revealed by the opiate receptor findings was that it didn't matter if you were a lab rat, a First Lady, or a dope addict - everyone had the exact same mechanism in the brain for creating bliss... [Pert, 1997]
Unfortunately, Dr. Pert again mistakes this "mindless bliss" as "expanded consciousness."

Back in the 1950's, behavioral psychologists had discovered that by electrically stimulating certain centers of the brains of rats, the creatures would behave in ways that indicated that they were in pain. They also found that other points in the brain processed pleasure, and if the rat was wired to be able to self stimulate this pleasure area, it would do so for hours until collapsing from exhaustion.

There is an area in the brain called the "periaqueductal gray," located at the juncture of the third and fourth ventricle in the midbrain. It is a nodal point where many nerves converge for information processing. Although it was not considered, in classical terms, a part of the limbic system, it has neuronal pathways that hook it into the limbic system. This is an area where opiate receptors are highly concentrated - it is also the area of the brain where pain thresholds are set.

[The next few paragraphs should be skipped by the squeamish.]

As the research progressed, it was realized that, for a drug addict, the first intravenous injection of heroin hits the brain like a sexual orgasm. From this observation, it was thought that the pleasure experienced during orgasm was accompanied by a surge of endorphins into the bloodstream. Experiments were undertaken to measure the levels of endorphins in the blood relating to different behaviors.

Hamsters were used for one study because they are very "predictable" in sexual terms. As Dr. Pert baldly phrases it:

...Two minutes of licking this or that, three minutes of humping, etc., and the act was complete. The males... ejaculate about twenty-three times per cycle. [Pert, 1997]
The animals were injected with a radioactive opiate before copulation, and then, at various points in the cycle, decapitated. The brains were removed and autoradiography was used to see where the endorphins were released during orgasm, and in what quantity. It was found that blood endorphin levels increased by about 200 percent from the beginning to the end of the sex act.

Well, I was pretty green to learn how science discovers things in this particular instance. So, let us hope that if any good comes from this horrible work, that it will, in some way, bless the sufferings of those poor hamsters. And, let us also keep in mind that similar experiments may be being done on human beings...

Dr. Pert continued her experiments with the chemistry of emotions for many years. She developed a conceptual understanding based on her assessment that "these biochemicals are the physiological substrates of emotion, the molecular underpinnings of what we experience as feelings, sensation, thoughts, drives, perhaps even spirit or soul."

In Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Charles Darwin wrote about the fact that people everywhere have common emotional facial expressions, some of which are also shared by animals. A wolf baring its fangs uses the same muscles of the face that a human does when angry or threatened. It seems that the same "physiology" of emotions has been preserved and used over and over again throughout eons of time and across species. On the basis of this observation, Darwin theorized that emotions must be a key to the "survival of the fittest."

There is clear scientific experimental evidence that the facial expressions for anger, fear, sadness, enjoyment, and disgust are identical whether an Eskimo or an Italian is being studied. Facial expressions that register other emotions such as surprise, contempt, shame/guilt are likely also pancultural. This suggests that emotions have inborn genetic mechanisms for their expression.

There are other distinctions made in these studies relating to distinguishing between emotion, mood, and temperament. Emotion is the most transient; moods can last for hours or days; and temperament is that which lasts for life. Temperament has been shown, experimentally, to be genetically based, and it is likely that the parameters for mood and emotion are similarly based in our genes.

When talking about emotions in this way, it has to be understood that it includes all the familiar human experiences of anger, fear, sadness, joy, contentment, courage; as well as the "sensations" of pleasure and pain, and the "drive states" such as hunger and thirst. All of these are measurable in chemical terms.

However, Dr. Pert, as I have already noted, goes even further and refers to more intangible states, or subjective experiences, such as "spiritual inspiration," awe, bliss and other "states of consciousness."

I think that she has failed to make the distinction between chemicals that produce states and states that produce chemicals. But, we will come to that.

Getting back to our opiate receptors and the limbic system: it has been shown that core limbic brain structures such as the amygdala, hippocampus, and limbic cortex, believed to be involved in emotional behavior, contain 85 to 95 percent of the various neuropeptide receptors. Wilder Penfield, working in the 1920s, experimented during open-brain surgeries undertaken to control severe epilepsy. He found that when he electrically stimulated the limbic cortex over the amygdala (the two almond-shaped structures on either side of the forebrain, about an inch or so into your brain from your earlobes), he could elicit a whole gamut of emotional displays. His patients gave powerful reactions of grief, anger, joy and more as they relived old memories! Their bodies would shake with rage or laughter, they would weep copious tears, and their blood pressure and temperature would fluctuate appropriately in accordance with whatever was being "experienced."

NIMH researcher Paul MacLean popularized the idea that the limbic system was the "seat of the emotions." His triune brain theory held that there are three layers to the human brain, as we have already discussed in psychological terms of imprinting. MacLean proposed that these three layers represent different stages of humanity's evolution. The brain-stem, or 1st circuit, is called the reptilian brain (isn't THAT interesting?) This is the seat of autonomic functions, including the "fight or flight" response. It is here that "safety" of the organism is monitored and, if certain threats are perceived, it will trigger an automatic cascade of responses designed to preserve life of the organism.

The limbic system, or 2nd circuit, encircles the top of the brainstem and is, as we have already discussed, the seat of the emotions. The cerebral cortex, or 3rd circuit, the forebrain, is the seat of reason. But it can also manifest emotions!

This leads us to the fact that opiate receptors are also very dense in the frontal lobes of the cerebral cortex of the human brain, and this part of the brain shares many connections with the amygdala, one of the limbic structures, or part of the seat of emotions.

The frontal cortex, theoretically the most newly evolved, the most HUMAN, of the brain structures must "forge" pathways" between itself and the rest of the brain to enable humans to learn to control their emotions and act unselfishly. Although the capacity to learn this is present to some extent in even the simplest of creatures, willpower is the uniquely human element. And, it is thought that it resides in the frontal cortex.

William James theorized that emotions originate in the body and are then perceived in the head, where we "invent" a story to explain them. Writing in 1884, he concluded that the source of emotions is purely visceral, originating in the body and is not cognitive, and that there is very likely no brain center for emotions. He thought that we perceive events and have bodily feelings, and after the perception, which joggles our memories and imagination, we label our physical sensations as one or the other emotion. He believed that there is simply perception and bodily response based on memory of other events that relate to the "present" experience. He thought that their immediate sensory and motor reactions that occur in response to the perception, such as a pounding heart, a tight stomach, tension and perspiration, ARE emotions.

Walter Cannon posited that they originate in the head and trickle down to the body. Writing in Wisdom of the Body, he explained the workings of the sympathetic autonomic nervous system. A single nerve called the vagus (wandering) nerve exits the back of the brain through a hole in the bottom of the skull called the foramen magnum. There, it splits to run down the bundles of nerve cells, or ganglia, along either side of the spinal cord to send branches to many organs, including the pupils of the eye, the salivary glands, the heart, the bronchi of the lungs, the stomach, the intestines, the bladder, the sex organs, and the adrenal glands.

When Cannon stimulated the vagus through electrodes implanted in the hypothalamus in the bottom of the brain just above the pituitary gland, he demonstrated physiological changes in all these organs consistent with what would be needed by the body in an emergency. Cannon was able to measure how much time it took from the moment the hypothalamus got the jolt to the moment the bodily changes in blood flow, digestion, and heartbeat began to occur as a result. The conclusion was that these changes were too slow to be the cause of emotions rather than the effect. Not only that, but animals whose vagal nerve had been cut, and presumable were incapable of sympathetic visceral bodily changes, still seemed to behave just as emotionally when placed in a threatening situation.

It took over a hundred years to realize that both James AND Cannon were correct.

Biofeedback is demonstrative of this fact because it is a technique that can enable a person to gain conscious control over physiological processes previously thought to be autonomic and not susceptible to volitional modification.

Elmer Green, a pioneer of biofeedback stated: "Every change in the physiological state is accompanied by an appropriate change in the mental emotional state, conscious or unconscious, and conversely, every change in the mental emotional state, conscious or unconscious, is accompanied by an appropriate change in the physiological state."

And it is in this idea that we find a key. If it is true that our physiological state can be manipulated causing a change in our mental/emotional state, then what we must do is learn to control the emotional and physiological state by conscious will.

There is a tiny cluster of cell bodies in the hindbrain called the locus coeruleus. It projects its norepinephrine-containing nerve endings into the forebrain, and it seems that all the norepinephrine in the forebrain comes from this one source. It was discovered that what is known as the pleasure center - the area that, when electrically stimulated, will cause rats and humans to ignore the need for food and sleep in a frenzy of pleasure - is contained within this locus coeruleus.

It seems that, unbeknownst to the earlier researchers, the electrical stimulus for pleasure had worked by causing the release of norepinephrine from the nerve endings along the pathway. Amphetamines and cocaine also work by amplifying this same "pleasure pathway" by blocking the re-uptake of the body's own norepinephrine, and thereby increasing the ligand binding to the norepinephrine receptors.

The problem with this idea was that, if peptides and their receptors were only communicating across synapses, the should be only very tiny distances apart. But, the evidence indicated that many of the receptors that were responding were located too far away to be part of specific synaptic gaps. The conclusion was that the greatest source of control of information in the brain - that which determines its "state" - is the specificity of the receptors and their ability to bind with only one kind of ligand.

In other words, it seems that less than 2 percent of neuronal communication actually occurs at the synapse. It was seen that the way in which peptides circulate through the body, finding their targets all over the place, makes the brain's communication system itself more like an endocrine system. As Dr. Pert baldly states it: "The brain is like a bag of hormones!"

Yeah. A lunch bag!

And what is being communicated by these peptides is crucial to everything in the body! For example, receptors for sex hormones were identified as the means by which, if testosterone or estrogen is released into the fetus during pregnancy, determines the neuronal connections in the brain and permanently affects the sexual identity of the child. Females fetuses exposed to testosterone like steroids aberrantly produced by their pregnant mothers adrenal gland are more likely to become tomboys. Conversely, excessive estrogen can orient a male fetus to more "feminine" pursuits in later life.

One very interesting discovery made by Rita Valentino of the University of Pennsylvania showed that the nucleus of Barrington in the hindbrain, formerly believed to control just the emptying of the bladder, has axons continuing the neuropeptide DRF that extend through the vagus nerve all the way to the most distant part of the large intestine, the anus. It has been proven that the sensation of colonic distention, or the feeling of needing to empty the bowels, as well as genital arousal is carried back to the nucleus of Barrington. From there, there is a short neuronal pathway that connects to the locus coeruleus, the norepinephrine source of the "pleasure pathway" which is also loaded with opiate receptors! Once again, Dr. Pert says it plainly:

The pleasure pathway hooks up to the control area of these bathroom functions, which is located in the front of the brain. Goodness, is it any wonder... that toilet training is loaded with emotional stuff! Or that people get into some unusual sexual practices involving bathroom behaviors!

...If we accept the idea that peptides and other informational substances are the biochemicals of emotions, their distribution in the body's nerves has all kinds of significance... The body is the unconscious mind! Repressed traumas caused by overwhelming emotion can be stored in a body part, thereafter affecting our ability to feel that part or even move it. The new work suggests there are almost infinite pathways for the conscious mind to access - and modify - the unconscious mind and the body...[Pert, 1997]
As I have already mentioned, it has also been discovered that other areas of the body have high concentrations of almost every neuropeptide receptor known to exist. These areas include the "dorsal horn," or back side of the spinal cord in a pattern analogous to the chakras. In fact, virtually every location where information from any of the five senses enters the nervous system, there are high concentrations of neuropeptide receptors. They are called "nodal points." The already mentioned nucleus of Barrington is a nodal point and, depending on what neuropeptide is occupying its receptors, feelings related to sexual arousal or bathroom functions can be switched or modified, made unconscious, or made a priority. Thus, emotions and bodily sensations are intricately intertwined in such a way that each can alter the other - usually at the level of unconsciousness. It can also emerge to consciousness spontaneously, or be deliberately brought to consciousness.

All sensory data coming into the body goes through a "filtering" process that may or may not reach the frontal lobes. It is in the frontal lobes that the sensory input enters our consciousness. The efficiency of the filtering process, which chooses what stimuli we pay attention to at any given moment, is determined by the quantity and quality of the receptors at these nodal points. The quantity and quality of these receptors is determined by many things, one of the most important being your experiences.

In other words, biochemical changes wrought at the receptor level is the molecular basis of memory. When a receptor is flooded with a ligand, it changes the cell membrane in such a way that the probability of an electrical impulse traveling across the membrane where the receptor resides is facilitated or inhibited, thereafter affecting the choice of neuronal circuitry that will be used. This principle is important not only for understanding how memories are stored in the brain, but that they are also stored in a psychosomatic network extending into the body itself! It is also the underlying principle of imprinting. Just like a printed circuit is embedded in a computer chip, so are our brains AND bodies programmed by chemistry and electricity. The decision about what becomes a thought, rising to consciousness, and what remains an "automatic circuit" pattern is buried in the body and mediated by the receptors. And memories are stored with their respective emotional content. The emotion can bring up the memory, and conversely, a single "cue" element of the memory can bring on the emotion - even if the memory itself never becomes conscious!

What this means, in the clearest of terms is this: many memory processes are emotion-driven and unconscious; but, they can sometimes be made conscious.

Donald Overton of Temple University documented a widespread phenomenon in animals which was later shown to be equally true in human beings: A rat that learns a maze or receives a shock while under the influence of a drug - which you now know is merely a synthetic ligand - will remember how to solve the maze or avoid the shock most efficiently if it is re-tested under the influence of the same drug. Dr. Pert elaborates:

When we consider emotions as chemical ligands - that is to say, peptides - we can better understand the phenomenon known as dissociated states of learning, or state-dependent recall. Just as a drug facilitates recall of an earlier learning experience under the influence of that same drug for the rat, so the emotion-carrying peptide ligand facilitates memory in human beings. The emotion is the equivalent of the drug, both being ligands that bind to receptors in the body. ...Just as drugs can affect what we remember, neuropeptides can act as internal ligands to shape our memories as we are forming them, and put us back in the same frame of mind when we need to retrieve them. This is learning.

...Emotional states or moods are produced by the various neuropeptide ligands, and what we experience as an emotion or a feeling is also a mechanism for activating a particular neuronal circuit - simultaneously throughout the brain and body - which generates a behavior involving the whole creature...[Pert, 1997]
What this translates into is that you will automatically "run the maze" when the "emotion-ligand" is present. Or, if you find yourself in the maze, and the "chemical" was one produced by your own body when you first learned the maze, you will produce the same chemicals again - repeatedly.

What this also means in the plainest of terms is that you can "feel love" when the right ligand bonds to the right receptor stimulated by whatever you are programmed to be stimulated by; you will feel it in all the areas where these receptors are clustered; and you will be certain that it IS a positive experience because it "feels so good." It doesn't matter if the ligand is being stimulated by a logically consistent experience or by an illogically inculcated program. And until the element of knowledge and logical analysis are brought into the picture, it's anybody's best guess where the feelings come from.

And, that is all fine and good IF it is a positive experience. But statistics of our world in practically every arena of life clearly demonstrate that it is very likely that most of humanity DON'T experience "real love" when their "love ligands" are binding. Just take a look at divorce and child abuse and neglect statistics to get an idea about how terribly wrong we human beings can be about our assessments. And, if we are really paying attention we will take a long hard look at our own lives and experiences and try to determine what our personal track records are. If they aren't good; if we spend more time being unhappy than happy; if we keep making the same "open hearted" mistakes over and over again, we need to take a good look at how our "programs" may be being activated and used to keep us in the lunchbox of the Matrix.

More frightening than that is the fact that higher level negative beings can most definitely control our emotions by controlling our chemistry as we have already described. This means that they can cause us to feel love or hate or aversion or attraction based on their agenda, not our own.

Going back to the "filtering" of reality," it seems that most of our bodymind attention shifts are directed subconsciously by our ligands and receptors. They direct our attention by their activities and we are not consciously involved in deciding what gets processed, remembered, or learned! But we DO have the possibility of bringing some of it to awareness with the help of various types of "intentional training." But, of course, no one undertakes intentional training until the system is so bogged down and there is so much suffering that a "cure" is sought, and, for the most part, the cures are sought in pharmacology which merely exacerbates the problems. As the prodigal son sought to "glue" himself to a citizen of the far country, we seek our cures in religions of all kinds, including the religion of the AMA. This amounts to being sent to feed and live and eat with the pigs. And only when we have suffered that condition a sufficient period of time will we "come to ourselves."

Clearly, based on research, we can see that repressed emotions are stored in the body via the circuit creation effected by the release of neuropeptide ligands. It is also proposed that when the soul finally "seats" in the body, it's "wounds" or "scars" will energetically affect the body, producing any number of neuropeptide stimulating frequencies that then "lay circuits" of their own that cannot be related to present life experiences. Hypnosis, yogic practices, deep tissue bodywork, can all be methods used to heal or change the circuits without the conscious mind ever figuring out what is going on. The drawback to this is that, not knowing what is going on prevents the conscious mind from avoiding recurrence.

Emotions constantly regulate what we experience as reality. The research suggests that the nervous system scans the outer world for material that it is prepared to find by virtue of is already laid circuits, its internal patterns of past experience including early imprinting in infancy. The superior colliculus in the midbrain, another nodal point, controls the muscles that direct the eyeball, and controls which images are permitted to fall on the retina! This means that an emotional center of the brain literally controls what we SEE!

For example, when the tall European ships first approached the early Native Americans, it was such an "impossible" vision in their reality that their highly filtered perceptions couldn't register what was happening, and they literally failed to "see" the ships. Similarly, the cuckolded husband may fail to see what everyone else sees because his emotional belief in his wife's faithfulness is so strong that his eyeballs are directed to look away from the incriminating behavior obvious to everyone else. [Pert, 1997]
...The fact is, we read and understand what we are programmed to BELIEVE, regardless of what we are actually reading. Until, like the alcoholic who finally admits he IS an alcoholic, we admit that we are an addict to our emotional beliefs.
<...>

Unfortunately, this happens to be the way it is for most human beings - they are computers running programs that are controlled by someone or something other than themselves. We can no longer think of emotions as necessarily "of the soul." While it is likely that the consciousness CAN enter into the emotional process, for most people this never happens. Their emotions are simply cellular signals that are involved in the process of translating information into physical reality - generally an unpleasant one which can include all kinds of illnesses, aches, pains and transpersonal suffering.

Neuropeptides and their receptors are in constant communication with the immune system and there are many studies that show a powerful link between emotions and illness, even to a specificity of emotion-disease link. Immune cells constantly squirt out peptides that either increase or decrease the buildup of plaque in coronary blood vessels. Viruses use the same receptors as neuropeptides to enter a cell. Depending on how much of the natural peptide for a particular receptor is available to bind, the virus that fits that receptor will have more or less difficulty getting into the cell. This clearly indicates that the state of our emotions even plays a part in whether or not we contract a viral infection!

I'm sure that most readers have heard of some of the amazing feats of yogis of the East who have achieved control over not only their conscious minds, but also over what are considered to be solely autonomic systems of the body. Various disciplines are used, and we have already talked about the Way of the Yogi, the Fakir and the Monk, so we know the basic principles involved. And, we are going to take this principle and apply it in a new way here.

Taking just one example of what yogis and fakirs can do, i.e. consciously control pain, let's look at what might be happening.

In the brain, there is an area called the periaqueductal gray, located around the aqueduct between the third and fourth ventricles of the midbrain. It is filled with opiate receptors, making it a control area for pain perception. It is also loaded with receptors for virtually all the neuropeptides that have been studied.

What seems to happen when yogis and fakirs learn to control their perception of pain is that they are able to gain access to this area of the brain with conscious intent and to RESET the pain threshold. That is to say: reframed by conscious expectations and subconscious beliefs, pain can be abolished by being interpreted as either a neutral experience or even pleasure.

And this is our Ace in the hole. We can make ourselves unavailable as food; we can change our systemic responses so that the Matrix "unplugs us" and dumps us out of the system just like Neo was unceremoniously plucked from his pod when he "woke up."

But, more importantly: we can train ourselves to NOT BLINK. With knowledge and awareness of what IS, and what might be, we can never be confronted with a situation, either in the body or out, that will cause us to fall into a negative state.

<...>

It seems, from all the studies that are done, that an elevated mood - one of happy expectation of the possibility of adventure - is the greatest protection against illness. Perhaps it is also the one that makes one "inedible" to the Matrix?

In 1990, Howard Hall demonstrated that the immune system could be controlled. He instructed his subjects in cyber-physiologic strategies. The word cyber comes from the Greek "kybernetes," (kubernetes) which means "to steer" or The Navigator. It is interesting that one of the names for the goddess Isis is "The Navigator." And the process of "unveiling Isis" is that of acquiring knowledge.

Wilhelm Reich, in the 1940s, proposed that cancer is a result of the failure to express emotions, especially sexual emotions. Reich was not only ridiculed by the scientific community, he was persecuted in the most reprehensible way. One of the most shameful acts of the government of the United States was when they called for all copies of Reich's life's work to be rounded up by the FDA and incinerated. An "official book burning" in the "land of the free!"

I rather suspect that Reich was onto something!

Another study showed that cancer patients who failed to release their anger had slower recovery rates. Another trait common to cancer victims was self-denial; this amounts to unawareness of their own, basic, emotional needs.

It seems that emotions that are generated and/or suppressed due to lack of knowledge can be deadly. Since emotional expression is always tied to a specific flow of peptides in the body, the constant generation and suppression of emotions results in massive disturbances of the psychosomatic network. Many psychologists have said that depression is really suppressed anger or even anger redirected against the self.

Identifying, releasing and expressing emotion that has been suppressed is a significant step in the direction of taking charge of your ship and learning to navigate it. But, at the same time, it is essential to learn to transform emotions. We can learn to only have positive emotions!

In the East, part of the training of many paths of yogic wisdom includes meditating in graveyards. Now, a graveyard in the East is quite different from a graveyard in the West. In the East, it is the custom to expose the bodies to the elements so that they will be devoured by birds and other predators. To meditate in such a place is to be confronted by physical horrors that Westerners may find difficult to contemplate. At the same time, there is the superstitious fear of specters and demons that the meditator must deal with.

In Tantra yoga, one practice is to make love in a graveyard.

In both cases, the object is to train the consciousness to achieve higher states of mind in the face of the cold, hard facts of life in the material world; to gain mastery over the physical, programmed emotions; to become The Navigator.

It is in this sense that the Cassiopaeans teach us that knowledge protects. To have a full field of awareness is to be in control of your ship no matter what may erupt into your life. Information is the bridge between consciousness and matter and without this bridge, matter and its programs - the Predator's Mind - will dominate. The "bodymind" of the Predator is like the whirlpool of Charybdis and the temptation of the Sirens of ancient myth put together. Liky Ulysses, we must lash ourselves to the mast of our ship, stuff the ears of our rowers with wax, and call upon knowledge/nymphs to help guide us through the dangers.

Information transcends time and space. It is, as Gregory Bateson has said, "the difference that makes a difference." Consciousness exists "prior" to the physical realm which is, literally, an out-picturing of consciousness. Denying the realities of the "real world" - denying the reality of the naturalness of the existence of "darkness," is the same as being manipulated to have negative emotions while, at the same time being taught to suppress them. It will still exist; and it will "back up" in your system and become the chief part of your reality because, like blocked emotions, it cannot be "released" so that positive emotions can take its place.

...we must find appropriate ways to divest ourselves of the manipulated negative emotions that are backed up in our systems and learn how to use our reason and will to make sure that we only have positive emotions!

With increase of information the Navigator steers the ship by constantly adjusting the tiller in response to the information. Constant feedback is required for the Navigator to do the job and that is why, along with knowledge in terms of facts and understanding must be combined with self-monitoring so as to have a more intelligent grasp of what is happening in the physical system and in its relation to the reality that the individual experiences. The faster and tighter the feedback loop, the more intelligence is available to the system. The body itself is a metaphor of our unconscious state. As more of it becomes conscious, there are fewer and fewer "unexpected" elements cropping up in our lives.

The body is a battlefield for the wargames of the mind. And these games are, very likely, planned and executed from higher densities.

As above, so below. To think otherwise is to suffer the stress of separation from our Source, to experience lack of Unity. And what is it that flows between us all, linking and communicating, coordinating and integrating all of the Cosmos?

Knowledge.

Just as neuropeptides flow among the cells of the body, causing all the receptors to vibrate in response to information, so does knowledge act on our consciousness the way the strings of a resting violin are set to vibrating when another violin is played. Knowledge produces resonance among different people who are Unique, but Unified in their diversity. With knowledge we can truly feel what others feel - not just assume that they feel what WE feel. The oneness of Life is based on the simple fact that with knowledge, we are all vibrating together.
 

Laura

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You take the high road and I'll take the low road

Addiction.

I have made the statement that we are made addicts inside our own skins.

And, I am fairly certain that most people reading that remark are quite certain that they are not! Especially if they are careful of their diet and habits of mental and physical hygiene.

But, I say again: we are made addicts inside our own skins.

And, what's more, we are addicted to our emotions.

Curiously, the ones who resist that idea most strenuously are very much like an alcoholic who vigorously and vehemently declares that he is NOT an alcoholic.

Alcohol.

Alcohol is everywhere. Tens of millions of human beings experience the consequences of alcohol addiction, from decreased job performance to liver damage to spouse and child abuse, to total breakdown of social concepts and constraints ending in the proverbial "skidrow bum" looking every day for his MD 20-20 - or even a can of Sterno.

And that is just alcohol. We aren't even going to list the statistics for other drugs as it would be tedious and pointless. You have the idea.

Alcohol and other drugs have the ability to do what they do in our systems because they act because they are "fixed;" they are synthetic ligands; they bind to our receptors and, in various ways, produce their effects. It is the nature of these specific effects that we now want to examine.

When an ovulating female boar is exposed to a pheromone from a male boar's saliva, the scent travels along the olfactory nerve directly into the amygdala, stimulating the release of neurotransmitters, the result of which is that she becomes immediately and completely paralyzed in a spread-legged mating posture! Naturally, this fact has led to the marketing of a number of pheromone based men's colognes designed to produce the same effect in the human female! (Nice try, guys!)

If you give rats in a cage access to both food and cocaine, the rats will consume the cocaine and ignore the food. And they will end up starving themselves to death with a limitless supply of food available. And, of course, that makes us think of the alcoholic who has gin for breakfast, bourbon for lunch, and brandy for dinner - ending up in the hospital with a severe case of malnutrition.

Caffeine is the most frequently used drug of all. In his Coffee Cantata of 1732, J.S. Bach wrote:

Ah! How sweet coffee tastes! Lovelier than a thousand kisses, sweeter far than muscatel wine!
A couple of centuries later, Isak Dinesen wrote:

Coffee... is to the body what the word of the Lord is to the soul.
Caffeine has a strong effect on nearly every animal species. Rats being taught to navigate through mazes learn their lessons faster after being given coffee. Not only that, but they remember better. Competitive cyclists have discovered that they can pedal 20% longer if they drink caffeine an hour before racing. Some of them even go to the extreme of using caffeine suppositories before racing - sort of a "time release" kick in the behind!

Following ingestion of caffeine, even sperm get a "kick." They swim faster and wiggle more vigorously increasing their ability to "hit the spot!"

And, for most people, caffeine is generally safe. After years of searching for negative side effects, there is no real evidence that moderate consumption of caffeine does us any harm. If it gives you the jitters, just cut back. It's one of the perks of 3d density experience, in my humble opinion!

What we want to know here is, how does caffeine work?

As our neurons process information, they produce cellular waste including a buildup of molecules of adenosine. Adenosine is a ligand that binds with the adenosine receptor sending a message deep into the cell that it is time to sleep. As the production of adenosine continues throughout the day, as a byproduct of cerebral activity, more and more adenosine is produced, binding with more and more receptors, sending more and more sleep messages into more cells. And little by little our brain cells become more and more sluggish until we just simply must go to sleep. We literally can't remain conscious. We yawn; our eyes water and try to close and we just want to curl up and let the lights go out.

So, we have a cup of espresso. The caffeine molecule just happens to be the right "shape" for the adenosine receptor. It hops on and binds, thereby blocking the real adenosine which sends the sleep message. Apparently, caffeine sends a different message, or at least prevents the sleep message from being sent. It interrupts the sleep signal.

This is just a small example of how dramatically chemicals can affect the brain.

We have already mentioned the rats who were implanted with electrodes for self-stimulation who would push the button until they were exhausted. Well, there were additional experiments done along this line. It seems that if the electric reward is doled out only when the rats learn a new trick - such as navigating a maze - the little critters will go to work like crazy to get the job done so that they can get their "buzz." As long as the rewards keep coming, the rats will keep working - even mastering incredibly complex and seemingly impossible mazes that humans would find nearly impossible!

But it's not the learning they love. We already know that, given the opportunity, they will forget everything - food, mates, friends, whatever - to push that damn button until they collapse in mindless ecstasy!

Now, in the human being, (as in other creatures), the sensation that is experienced as orgasm is the same release of chemicals that stimulate the same part of the brain that makes the rats so happy. Some scientists refer to this in technical jargon as the "do-it-again" center. [cf. Burnham and Phelan.] When this center is stimulated, whatever activity is associated with it will be sought again and again.

We have, it seems, a lot of "do-it-again" chemicals with a lot of "do-it-again" receptor sites all over our bodies. Certain foods in different people act in this way. Some people feel euphoria when they achieve victory over a rival in some sort of competition. Aside from the most obvious example of sex, these are examples of other things that can cause the secretion of these "do-it-again" chemicals.

By having such a "pleasure system" in our bodies, we have a built in reward system by which we can be manipulated to pursue any number of activities that may or may not be good for us; mostly based on - you guessed it - early imprinting. And, we are generally unaware of it; we simply engage in certain behaviors because it "feels good" and we want to do them "again." We were rewarded for them as infants and small children, and we constantly seek that "programmed behavior" in order to receive the reward. Never mind that our early programming may have been for behaviors that completely block the true expression of our "essence," or that they are based on "fairy tales" or unrealistic perceptions of life.

Now, drugs "short circuit" these centers. The ways that drugs work are interesting, but in our context here, we just want to look at them as a sort of path to understanding the body's own chemicals..

When we take certain drugs, our brain acts as if the "natural" neurotransmitter were flooding the system. The brain thinks we have done something really great such as finding food or warmth while, in reality, we may be hunkered down in a flophouse with a hypodermic of heroin in our arm. Our pleasure centers know only that they are bathed in chemical bliss. Never mind that the first time we tried it, we were disgusted and repelled by the setting, the process, all the external elements. Once we have received that reward, we are convinced that this nasty setting, this ignominious behavior that is clearly damaging to the self, is "okay" and "desirable" for the reward we are going to get.

Now, let's take a look at this in a practical way. Psychologist Barbara De Angelis writes:

Falling in love is a magical and powerful experience. Each kiss, each conversation, each moment in the beginning seems so right, so perfect. But soon attraction and infatuation become a "relationship," and we are brought down to earth with the challenging realities of sharing our life with another human being. And as those first enchanted weeks turn into months, one day we find ourselves asking: "Is this person right for me?" ...Since my first serious relationship at seventeen, and, until recently, I fell in love without giving serious consideration to whether the person was right for me, let alone whether they loved me enough. Someone showed up, and if he had something lovable about him, I would start a relationship. I'd convince myself he was "the one," only to find out that we were incompatible and watch the relationship fail. ...After too many heartbreaks, I was forced to face the sad truth: In spite of my experience, education, and my intense desire to be happy, I continually chose partners who were not right for me. I was falling in love with the wrong people for the wrong reasons.

Have you ever thought or said the following about one of your relationships?

  • How could I have been so blind? Why didn't I see what he/she was really like?
    I felt so sure that, this time, it would work. Where did I go wrong?
    He seemed so wonderful when we first met. I can't figure out why he changed into someone I can't stand.
    All the signs were there from the beginning that she didn't feel the way I did. I guess I just ignored them and convinced myself things would get better.
    We loved each other, but we couldn't agree on anything, and all we did was argue.
    I was so sure he was different from the other men I'd been with. It took me almost two years to find out that I'd picked the same type of guy all over again! How could I have wasted so much time?
    I remember feeling really in love with her at the time, but the truth is, I never told anyone we were together because I was embarrassed to admit I was even involved with a woman like that.
    Everything about him seemed so perfect; I kept telling myself that I should be happy with him, but there just wasn't any chemistry.
[De Angelis, Are You the One for Me?, 1992]
Such situations arise because of the "fairy tales" we are taught as children; the examples of "lying to ourselves" about our true feelings that are set because we are told and shown that rewards only come when we suppress our true feelings and follow the "rules." Dr. De Angelis continues:

Ask most people why they fell in love with their partners, past or present, and you'll probably hear answers like this:

I met Kathy at the gym where I work out. Something about the way she got so into that aerobics class and gave it so much energy really appealed to me.

[All Kathy's boyfriend knows about her is that she has a lot of physical energy and he is programmed by his particular socio-cultural system to believe that physical energy is very good and will be rewarded. Thus, somebody who has a lot of physical energy is "lovable." He may also have had very positive experiences with someone in his childhood who had a lot of physical energy, and who regularly made him feel loved.]

Donna was a bridesmaid at my cousin's wedding. She looked so beautiful in this pink strapless dress - I knew on the spot I was going to fall in love with her.

[All Donna's boyfriend knows about her is that she looked good in pink chiffon. We might think that the color pink has powerful associations in his amygdala.]

Jo Anne and I knew each other since we were kids. Everyone always said we'd probably get married when we grew up, and I guess I never even questioned it - it seemed like the right thing to do.

[Jo Anne's husband has been so influenced by what his friends and family think that he doesn't even know why he loves her. We might think that "obedience to the family" has received some very positive reinforcement in his life. Conversely, thinking for himself may have received a great deal of negative reinforcement.]

Alex and I were assigned to work together on a project in our office. I think it was watching him problem-solve - he is so creative - that attracted me to him.

[Alex's girlfriend is enthralled with his business skills but has no idea what his emotional skills are. Creativity in solving problems may have been well rewarded in her home environment as a child. She may also have been exposed to highly creative "problem solvers" as male role models, receiving regular rewards from them. Thus, she associates these skills with love.]

I've always been a sucker for music, so when I heard Frank play the guitar at a friend's house, I knew he was the one for me.

[Frank's partner has fallen under a musical spell - she knows nothing about him except for the romantic personality she assumes all guitar players have. And why does she assume this? Because it is programmed into her amygdala!]

This sounds terrible, but I always had this fantasy of a tall, dark-haired man with a mustache. Dennis looked exactly like that, and nothing else really mattered.

[Dennis's girlfriend likes the way he looks - she is attracted to a fantasy, but doesn't know anything about the person underneath. And where did she get the fantasy? A program.]

None of these people thought they were making the wrong decision. They all sincerely believed that they were making intelligent, sensible choices in their partners. But, the frightening truth is that many of them will discover in a month, or six months, or six years that they are in a relationship with the wrong person.

Most people put more time and effort into deciding what kind of car or video player to buy than they do into deciding whom to have a relationship with.
Love myths are beliefs many of us have about love and romance that actually prevent us from making intelligent love choices. ...Consciously and unconsciously, we base our decisions in relationships on these Love Myths. An example is: If I love my partner enough, it won't matter that:

  • he drinks
    our sex life isn't great
    she criticizes me all the time
    we fight constantly over how to raise the children
    he is a strict Catholic and I am Jewish
    I'm not really sexually attracted to her
    he doesn't have a job and hasn't worked in two years
    she has a terrible temper and blows up all the time
    he constantly flirts with other women
    I don't get along with her children
    he has a hard time telling me how he feels
    his family doesn't accept me
    I want children and he doesn't
    she still hasn't gotten over her ex-boyfriend

One way to tell if your relationships are simply "running the program" is to examine how you "prove" to yourself that you are really "in love." Do you dwell on the intense connection of chemistry of the beginning, trying always to recapture this, and fail to examine the rest of the relationship?

Have you ever convinced yourself that you love your partner to justify continuing to have sex with them, even though the fire has long ago gone out?

Conversely, have you ever been in a relationship where the only place you got along together was in bed?

When we believe the Love Myths, we inevitably become involved with people we are not really compatible with. We feel constantly empty, and none of our needs are fulfilled. And, at the same time, even if we are trying to fulfill their needs, they always seem to know that it is an effort to get them to fulfill our needs, and the relationship has nowhere to go but down.

And then we are faced with the next Love Myth problem: We stay in the relationship longer than we should and have trouble letting go of a partner who, in moments of cold clarity, we realize are NOT right for us. We do this because we are taught to do it. We see the examples set for us as children; we are rewarded for not being a "quitter," and are inculcated in the belief that "a promise is a promise," and keeping promises, at whatever cost to us, is rewarded, and breaking them will result in dire consequences. The family pressures of our social and cultural beliefs come into play strongly here, and we are convinced that we must always sacrifice our wants and needs for those of others. We must "suffer" to be "good," and to be "rewarded." We live our lives like Dicken's Oliver saying: "I want more." And we want more because we are starved and drained, and manipulated to suffer so as to be "food" for 4th density STS.
Here, I am skipping the example I gave of a woman who spends an awful lot of time and energy justifying her bad choices because she is addicted to her emotions. You can go to the link to read it, typical story.

So, we see an enormous number of rationalizations coming together here. Will any of them change the situation? Not likely. For the moment, the "control" is in the hands of my correspondent; and perhaps this is what she was really looking for: a way to manipulate the situation herself. Perhaps this was a repeating dynamic on a lesser scale throughout their lives; I don't know.

And, in the end, it reminds me of certain remarks from the movie The Matrix

The Matrix is everywhere, it is all around us; even now in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work; when you go to church; when you pay your taxes; it is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth: that your are a slave. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage; born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch; a prison for your mind.

...The Matrix is a system... That system is our enemy.

When you are inside [the Matrix] you look around; what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters; the very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy.

You have to understand: most of these people are not ready to be unplugged; and many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.

...We never free a mind once it's reached a certain age - it's dangerous - the mind has trouble letting go.
Now, even though the movie is an allegory that portrays the Matrix as a computer program, there are many things about this analogy that can be highly instructive. For example, when Neo is being introduced to the Matrix, he touches a chair and asks wonderingly, "This isn't real?" And Morpheus replies:

What is real? How do you define real? If you are talking about what you can feel, what you can smell and taste and see; real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain. ...[The Matrix Reality] is a neural interactive simulation ... a dreamworld created in order to change a human being into ...
And, I insert in place of the battery that Morpheus holds up: FOOD.

Let me quote it one more time: The Matrix is a neural interactive simulation...

And it is in this way that we are "programmed" to engage in damaging behavior via 4th density control systems. If our chemicals are stimulated while we are "being led down the primrose path" in any of a number of situations, the brain will "set a circuit" to repeat this behavior in order to feel the pleasure chemicals released at the end of the behavior, regardless of the painful process by which the chemicals are ultimately obtained.

Now, let's go back to synthetic ligands: drugs, to see if we can glean any more clues.

When cocaine is snorted up the nose, it heads straight for the dopamine re-uptake sites and blocks them. The "feel good sensation" is not, however, from the drug; but from the fact that dopamine is flooding your cells, binding with the dopamine receptors like crazy, unable to be reabsorbed. And the brain only knows one thing: this feels GREAT! Crack cocaine reportedly produces a more intense sensation of pleasure than any natural act, including orgasm! And, take note that it is from the body's OWN chemical that this pleasure is experienced!

Morphine and Heroin work in a slightly different way. They mimic endorphins which trigger the release of dopamine. So, instead of the sensation occurring because the natural flow of dopamine is not reabsorbed, it occurs because there is too much dopamine to be absorbed!

But, there is something very curious about this: it seems that with repeated use of cocaine, heroin or morphine, the "fake endorphin" that binds with the opiate receptor and sends a signal into the cell body to release more dopamine, the body reacts by reducing the number of receptors! With fewer receptors, the effects of the drug - as well as the body's normal ability to bind dopamine that is naturally present - plummets. And, without the normal flow of dopamine into a normal number of receptors, the brain experiences "withdrawal" which is interpreted quite literally as "pain." It is the agony of a mind that can feel no pleasure at all. Clinicians describe it as:

Abrupt discontinuation of cocaine, heroin or morphine leads to a state of dopamine depletion, which can cause the intense depression and agitation experienced during the crash phase as well as the subsequent anhedonia, dysphoria, lethargy, somnolence and apathy that can be present for six to 18 weeks after discontinuation of cocaine. [Daly and Salloway, Psychiatric Times, May 1994]
But, more serious than that is the fact that dopamine plays an important role in controlling movement, emotion and cognition. Dopamine dysfunction has been implicated in schizophrenia, mood disorders, attention-deficit disorder, Tourette's syndrome, substance dependency, tardive dyskinesia, Parkinson's disease and so on. Of course, the situation is a lot more complex because at least seven types of dopamine receptors have been identified.

The dopamine cells of the hypothalamus project to the anterior pituitary. In this area, dopamine acts directly to inhibit the release of prolactin. Prolactin possesses a myriad of effects with the most noticeable being lactation.

Now, going back to our "programs" and "body chemicals," we begin to see how it is possible that anything that causes more dopamine to be released into the system will very likely manifest the same result as cocaine, heroin and morphine: we will go back to the behavior over and over again because the imprint of the way that pleasure is to be achieved has been "set" in the mind of the child.

Now, I have not been able to find any studies that suggest that the more dopamine secretion a person experiences from the body's own chemicals in the "normal" way, that the number of receptors diminishes. However, the very fact that the "high" of cocaine is the body's own chemical might suggest that this is so. This means that each time a person succeeds in some way in attaining that "feel good" moment - no matter how it is achieved - the more will be required to experience that same level of feeling again. This may be why "love states" so rapidly diminish and turn into battles to produce threat of loss so that it can be averted and thereby produce the "rush of dopamine." That is to say: the more that is experienced, the less it CAN be experienced; so it becomes a physiological/psychological "carrot on a stick."

But, even in such situations, the point arrives when the body simply can no longer meet the demand and nothing works anymore. How soon this point is reached depends on many factors, and I am sure the reader can think of any number of situations of their acquaintance that will demonstrate the great variety of ways these scenarios can play out.

Another feel good body chemical is seretonin. The antidepressants, Prozac and Zoloft block seretonin re-uptake sites causing the brain and body to be flooded with seretonin. People are happy because seretonin is lighting up the "do-it-again" center like a Hollywood Marquee!

<skip discussion of seretonin and eating disorders>

Prozac is a seretonin reuptake inhibitor that produces many side effects which include: nausea, headache, nervousness, insomnia, drowsiness, diarrhea, weight loss, dizziness, and anxiety. It also causes a side effect that we need to think about for a moment after learning what we have about the reduction of dopamine receptors with repeated use of drugs. You see, one of the side effects of Prozac is an inability to have an orgasm.

The street drug "Ecstasy," is the common name for MethyleneDioxyMethAmphetamine, or MDMA. Ecstasy is a central nervous system stimulant and it is thought to work by boosting the levels of seretonin and dopamine.

Immediate effects of ecstasy can include increased feelings of self confidence, well-being, and feeling close to others; a rise in blood pressure, body temperature and pulse rate; jaw clenching; teeth grinding; sweating; dehydration; nausea and anxiety. Higher doses of ecstasy can produce hallucinations, irrational behavior, vomiting and convulsions.

Now, since we already know that using such drugs reduces our dopamine and possibly our seretonin receptors, it's not surprising that Ecstasy also produces "tolerance."

Ecstasy is known as 'the love drug' and commonly makes users feel warm and loving, even towards people they may not know well. Ecstasy can also heighten sexual desire and intensify the sexual experience, as well as decreasing inhibition. Lab results with animals have suggested possibilities of long-term brain damage arising from the reduction of seretonin and dopamine receptors and the ultimate failure of the brain to produce seretonin at all!

So, in a roundabout way, we have come around to the fact that it is very possible that our addictions to our own chemicals may, ultimately lead to permanent inability to feel any pleasure at all. And we all know that, as we age, our ability to be "amused" by simple things diminishes.

I am torn between being shocked and amused by the spate of recent commercials for "sexual stimulants" that promise to "revive the love nature." I think the funniest one is promoting a product called "Top Gun." But the problem it suggests is not very funny. It seems that in our sexually permissive society, where for the past 20 or 30 years everyone has been encouraged to "claim their natural right" in terms of more orgasms, better orgasms, extended, multiple and repeaters, and so on may be at the root of the present problem with achieving any orgasm at all for so many people.

The bottom line seems to be: if it feels good, you will want to do it again and again and more and better. And, if you do, you will be less and less able to do it at all; and in the end the imbalances will lead to more pain and suffering and feelings of inadequacy. And we know what all that is: Lunch!

<skip discussion of tobacco/nicotine and acetylcholine>

Keep acetylcholine in mind because we will be coming back to it!

Now, let's go back to alcohol. Alcohol is a great pretender and can fool at least four types of receptors. It blocks the acetylcholine receptors... However, unlike nicotine which also binds to the acetylcholine receptors, alcohol doesn't do anything useful while there. It simply sits there and blocks the ability to think. It also acts like cocaine in that it blocks the dopamine reuptake, flooding the brain with "feeling good." Alcohol stimulates the release of endorphins, thus resembling morphine and heroin to a greatly lessened extent, and it modifies and increases the efficiency of the seretonin receptors.

All that in one brew! Gee, it almost makes you want to go and have a few beers!

And, if you could just have a few once in awhile, or a glass of wine with dinner or a single cocktail in the evening, it would be fine. But for some people, it doesn't work that way with alcohol.

Generally mammals - from monkeys to dogs and cats - avoid alcohol. If you give them a choice, they will drink water instead. In some human beings, there is a genetic variation that results in decreased desire for alcohol. Scientists, however, have managed to breed rats with a taste for liquor. Rats that like to drink also, interestingly, produce abnormally low amounts of serotonin. And, recent research has indicated that human beings who are alcoholic have fewer dopamine receptors genetically. A large percentage of smokers also have an unusual copy of a gene called D2, which causes their bodies to make about a third fewer dopamine receptors. They get their buzz from acetylcholine. Keep that in mind, also.

Just saying "no" to drugs, clearly, is not going to work considering our understanding of how they operate in our bodies. And, more importantly, we have to think about the fact that these drugs only work because they imitate natural substances that produce the same states of mind. That emotions or "feelings" can be so easily imitated chemically should give us pause when we say "I FEEL..." anything. Do YOU really feel it? Or is the feeling being stimulated in you by some signal from your environment. And what kind of signal, how it was programmed, and where it might come from is open to any number of possibilities.

Our inability to control our emotions is as difficult as saying "no" to drugs. And it lies not in personality defects, but in the sheer strength of the physiology - the Predator's Mind. The golfer, John Daly, was willing to pay three million dollars for a drink. A crack addict who had been arrested 31 times, who had been subjected to repeated fines and imprisonment, said "once that compulsion is there, it doesn't matter what the penalty or threat is."

Subtle differences in the way our brain is wired make us more or less susceptible to chemical manipulation. Most of us don't go to the extremes of paying 3 million dollars for a drink, nor are we willing to risk prison, but our inner cravings for the "fix of emotions" leave us helplessly at their mercy.

Because our internal chemicals are used to stimulate the genetic "pleasure pathway," the battle we fight is with ourselves. When our neurons experience the euphoria of a dopamine bath, our brain is in heaven. Never mind that whatever it is we are doing will lead to disaster or, at the very least, another day of heartbreak and misery in a miserable relationship; or a faith that takes our money, gives us promises, and leaves us unable to cope with real life, we come back for more.

How can we stop the behaviors that provide our brain's highest reward?

Neuroscientist, Dr. Joseph LeDoux, professor of Science at New York University Center for Neuroscience has examined the way the brain shapes our experiences and our memories. His studies have unraveled the workings of emotions in general. He discovered that many neural pathways "bypass" the higher thinking parts of the brain.

The brain mechanisms that generate a given mental state, or what we choose, for the sake of convenience to call emotion, also give rise to certain measurable physiological states, such as pulse rates or brain waves, as well as observable behaviors such as running away or smiling. "Feelings," by contrast, are a conscious, subjective labeling of the individual's state. One person may say "I feel excited," and another may say "I feel afraid," and both will exhibit the same physiological symptoms and characteristic brain waves. So, trying to work backward is problematical. Dr. LeDoux writes:

...Fear is pervasive. ...Fear is a good emotion to study [because] it is at the root of many psychiatric problems. The so-called anxiety disorders - panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder - make up about half of all the psychiatric conditions that are treated every year, not including substance-abuse problems.

...The brain system that generates fear behavior evolved to help animals stay alive and has been preserved for millions of years, across a variety of species. The way that we act when we're afraid - the way the body responds - is very similar to the way that other animals act when they're afraid, even though we aren't reacting to the same things. A rat would never be sent into a panic attack by the news that the stock market had crashed, and a human is not,, ordinarily, afraid of a cat. But the way our body responds to the news of a stock market crash is very similar to the way the rat's body responds when it sees a cat. This is critically important, because it means that we can study the behavior of other animals, and the processes in their brains, to learn how the human fear system works.

...[We study fear with behavior tools] techniques and methods for studying such specific behavior... And we also need good neuroscience tools, method that allow us to study what is going on in the brain when the animal is behaving in a fearful way.

One important behavior tool is known as classical fear conditioning, which is a version of what Pavlov described as the conditioned reflex. The process of classical conditioning involves pairing, or associating, an innocuous stimulus - a sound or a flash of light, something that is essentially meaningless in itself - with something that is meaningful to the animal. In the case of Pavlov's dogs, the meaningful stimulus was food; the meaningless stimulus was the bell. Food is not a useful stimulus if we're interested in studying fear, however. So, using laboratory rats as subjects, we might pair a sound with, for instance, a mild foot shock. (We keep the shock as weak as possible to allow the experiments to be performed, and we administer it as infrequently as is feasible.)
I don't know about the reader, but I don't believe this last remark for one minute! Not after reading about Candace Pert decapitating orgasmic guinea pigs! But, even if we are repelled by what they are doing, we need to realize that this is the knowledge that the other side has and USES; and the only way we are going to deal with our situation on this planet is to learn what they know! Meanwhile, back to Dr. LeDoux:

On the basis of these kinds of pairings, the sound becomes something that the rat learns is associated with danger. Thus when the rat hears the sound, it reacts immediately: It freezes in anticipation of danger. This is a conditioned reflex, as is Pavlov's dogs' salivating at the sound of the bell, in anticipation of food.

An animal in the wild usually doesn't have the luxury of trial and error in learning what's dangerous; it doesn't get to practice until it gets things right. If it's lucky enough to escape once, it had better remember the sight of the predator, the smell of the predator, the sound of the predator, and so forth. In the laboratory, we need to apply the shock with the sound only once if it is sufficiently aversive.

When something like this occurs - the sound that's been paired with the shock - it activates a variety of responses that are identical to those that would occur in a real-life situation. Television tapes of the bombing during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, for example, reveal that when the bomb went off the first thing that happened was that everyone flinched; this was the startle reflex. But then the next thing they did was freeze: They just hunkered down and held still for about two seconds. That's evolution buying us a little time... Predators respond to movement... So we freeze when we're in a dangerous situation, because our old evolutionary fear system detects danger and responds to it in an automatic way.

...In a situation of danger, a variety of physiological responses occur. Blood is redistributed to the body parts that are most in need (the muscles). This results in changes in blood pressure and heart rate. In addition, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal, of HPA, axis is activated, releasing stress hormones. In addition, the brain activates the release of natural opiate peptides, morphine-like substances that block the sensation of pain. Called hypoalgesia, this reaction is an evolutionary carryover that allows a wounded animal to keep going. It's often seen in wartime, where wounded soldiers don't react to their injuries until they're off the battle field. All of these things happen in the rat when it perceives a natural threat such as cat, or when it hears the sound that's been paired with the shock. And all of these fear responses are easily measured.
In addition to behavioral tools, we also need the tools of neuro-science to understand how the brain's fear system works. ...One is called a brain lesion, a small hole made in brain tissue to interrupt the flow of information between neurons.
Well, we knew it was coming. He went from "mild shocks" to poking holes in rats' brains... Next he is going to be decapitating them...

By blocking the flow of information in a given pathway with a lesion, we can determine whether that pathway is involved in the behavior we're studying. That is, lesions in some areas will have no effect on the behavior, and lesions in other areas will interfere with the behavior, thus implicating that area. People with strokes or tumors have natural lesions, which typically are not very precisely localized.
And we are sure there are SOME folks who are certainly studying humans with "precisely localized" lesions - to use the jargon. Knowledge protects!

Considerable research has produced precise maps of the brain of the rat, and of many other animals as well.
No doubt. And I expect that some of those "animals" stand on two feet!

As a result, we can go into a specific region of the rat brain on the basis of three coordinates - left/right, up/down, and front/back - and make a lesion by releasing a small amount of current or injecting a chemical.

The brain maps are also useful when we want to measure the electrical activity of a particular region. Because communication between neurons is based on electrical activity, we can insert electrodes attached to amplifiers to record responses in a given area of the brain. ...If neuron A activates neuron B, neuron B will fire... which tells us that neuron B is part of the brain circuitry involved in the behavior we're studying.

Finally, we can trace actual connections in the brain - determining whether area X sends its axons to Area Y or to Area Z - by tracking chemical activity. ...We inject a tracer substance into Area X ...The tracer is taken up by the neurons in the area injected, then hitches a ride on molecules that are being shipped down the axon. We can then stain or dye the brain to see where the substance appears next; the region will stain brightly enough so that we can see it under the microscope. This tells us which areas AreaX talks to.

Once we have conditioned the animal to respond to a sound - or that the sound produces freezing behavior, changes in blood pressure, heart rate, and so forth - the next step is to trace how the sound, coming into the ear, reaches the parts of the brain that produce these responses in the body. The strategy is to make a lesion in a certain part of the brain to determine whether damage to that area interferes with the fear conditioning. If it does, we then inject the tracer substance there to see which areas that part of the brain communicates with. Then we systematically make lesions in each of those downstream areas to see which one interferes with the fear conditioning, inject tracer substance at that point, look to see where it goes, and so on. We can then record electrical activity to see how cells in the area respond. In this way, we can walk our way, point by point, through whatever pathway of the brain we want to study...

Years of research by many workers have given us extensive knowledge of the neural pathways involved in processing acoustic information, which is an excellent starting point for examining the neurological foundations of fear. The natural flow of auditory information - the way you hear music, speech, or anything else - is that the sound comes into the ear, enters the brain, goes up to a region called the auditory midbrain, then to the auditory thalamus, and ultimately to the auditory cortex. Thus, in the auditory pathway, as in other sensory systems, the cortex is the highest level of processing.

Does the sound have to go all the way to the auditory cortex in order for the rat to learn that the sound paired with the shock is dangerous?

When we made lesions in the auditory cortex, we found that the animal could still make the associations between the sound and the shock, and would still react with fear... Since information from all our senses is processed in the cortex ...the fact that the cortex didn't seem to be necessary was both intriguing and mystifying. WE wanted to understand how something as important as the emotion of fear could be mediated by the brain if it wasn't going into the cortex, where all the higher processes occur. So we next made lesions in the auditory thalamus, and then in the auditory midbrain.

...What we found was that lesions in either of these subcortical areas completely eliminated the rat's susceptibility to fear conditioning. If the lesions were made in an unconditioned rat, the animal could not learn to make the association between sound and shock, and if the lesions were made on a rat that had already been conditioned to fear the sound, it would no longer react to the sound.

But if the stimulus didn't have to reach the cortex, where was it going from the thalamus? Some other area or areas of the brain must receive information from the thalamus and establish memories about experiences that stimulate a fear response. To find out, we made a tracer injection in the auditory thalamus and found that some cells in this structure projected axons into the amygdala. This is key, because the amygdala has for many years been known to be important in emotional responses. So it appeared that information went to the amygdala from the thalamus without going to the neocortex.

We then did experiments with rats that had amygdala lesions... We found that the amygdala lesion prevented conditioning from taking place.

...So the amygdala is critical to this pathway. It receives information about the outside world directly from the thalamus, and immediately sets in motion a variety of bodily responses. We call this thalamo-amygdala pathway the low road because it's not taking advantage of all the higher-level information processing that occurs in the neocortex, which also communicates with the amygdala.

...Say that a hiker is walking through the woods and sees something on the ground. The image gets to the thalamus, which sends a very crude template to the amygdala; the amygdala, in turn, activates the heart rate, gets the muscles tense and ready to go. At the same time, the stimulus is making its way through the cortex, which is slowly building up a complete representation of - a snake. Now, the thalamus doesn't know if it's a snake or just a stick that looks like a snake, but as far as the amygdala is concerned in this situation you're better off treating the stick as a snake than your are treating a snake as a stick. The subcortical brain is over generalizing for the opportunity to stay alive in the presence of the snake. By getting the amygdala going instantly, it buys you time. If the object turns out to be a stick instead of a snake, nothing's lost; you can turn the fight-or-flight system off. But if it turns out to be a snake, you're ahead of the game: You've activated the amygdala, and your body is ready to respond effectively.

The low road, or the thalamo-amygdala pathway, is a quick and dirty system. Because it doesn't involve the cortex at all, it allows us to act first and think later. Or, rather, it lets evolution do the thinking for us, at least at the beginning, buying us time.

The cortex - the high road - also processes the stimulus, but it takes a little longer. You need the cortex for high-level perception in order to distinguish one kind of music from another... or to distinguish between two speech sounds But you don't need the cortex to carry out some of the emotional learning involved in the fear system. Thus we can have emotional reactions to something without knowing what we're responding to - even as we start responding to it. In other words, we're dealing with the unconscious processing of emotion. This is a neurological demonstration of at least part of what Freud was trying to get at when he talked about the unconscious.

...What we're saying is that unconscious emotions are probably the rule rather than the exception.

We all know that there are many times in normal, day-to-day experience when we don't understand where our emotions are coming from - why we feel happy, sad, afraid. For example, let's say you're in a restaurant having a meal with a friend and you have a terrible argument at the table, which happens to be covered with a red-and-white checkered tablecloth. The next day you're walking down the street and you have this gut feeling that the person walking toward you is someone you don't like. You've never seen the person before, but you know you don't like him. We often hear about "gut feelings" and people say "you have to trust your gut." But maybe in this case the reason you feel you don't like this person is simply that he's wearing a red-and-white checkered tie. This visual input is going in through your low road, activating your amygdala and causing you to have an unpleasant reaction to the person. You might attribute your reaction to the way this person looks or walks or acts, but in fact it's just the low road ...the unconscious activation of the amygdala.

Some of the time ...these low road reactions are useful. Certainly that was the evolutionary goal: to protect us from danger. But these can also be harmful, or at least counterproductive. As in the case of the red-and-white checkered tie/tablecloth, an unconscious response may not be revealing some sort of inner truth but may instead be doing nothing more than reviving past emotional learning. "Listening to your gut" ...might simply mean you are responding to past learning.

...Other areas of the brain provide input to the amygdala as well. Information about what we might call sensory objects - a visual object such as an apple, or complex sounds like music or speech - comes from the sensory cortex.

Other parts of the cortex are involved in higher cognition. For example, a cortical area called the hippocampus is involved in such higher-order aspects of cognition as long-term memory and the processing of the context of events, that kind of information that allows us to say where and when something happened, along with other elements of the scene, such as whether it was raining. If you damage or remove the hippocampus in rats, for instance, the animals are not longer able to recognize a familiar place; they are unable to distinguish whether the test chamber they're in is one where they've been conditioned to midl foot shocks. As a result, they express fear responses in all similar chambers.

Let's say, for example, that you regard all snakes as dangerous, but you know that you needn't fear a snake in the zoo as much as you might a snake that you happened upon in the woods. Ordinarily, your hippocampus and cortex would recognize the context (are you in the woods or at the zoo?), and you would react appropriately to the sight of a snake. But if you had a hippocampal lesion, you might have trouble suppressing a strong fear reaction even at the zoo.

Another important player in the fear response is the prefrontal cortex. In rat studies, as well as in human experiments, when you give the sound over and over again, without the unpleasant event occurring, it eventually loses its ability to elicit the emotional fear reactions. This process is called extinction. But if the medial part of the prefrontal cortex is damaged, emotional memory is difficult to extinguish. So, for example, a rat that has a lesion in the prefrontal cortex tends to continue to respond to the sound as if it were still associated with the unpleasant event' the learned response is resistant to extinction.

However, it's important to know that even without damage to the prefrontal cortex, fear memories are hard to extinguish completely. Many studies show, for example, that weeks after a rat has ceased to react to a sound that had been paired with a shock, it might suddenly react fearfully to the sound again. Of if the animal goes back into the chamber where it had the conditioning experience, the fear behavior can be reactivated. Stress can reactivate extinguished fears in humans as well. A patient with a phobia can be treated, apparently successfully; then something happens - say the patient's mother dies - and the phobia comes back.

What certain types of therapy can do - and what the extinction process does - is train the prefrontal cortex to inhibit the output of the amygdala. This training doesn't eliminate the unconscious fear; it simply holds it in check.

Therapists find this both depressing and informative; they now understand that fear memories can't be completely eliminated, but at least they know what battle they're up against. ...I don't know of any animal that can't be conditioned ...and in any animal that has an amygdala, that structure seems to be involved in fear conditioning. The fear system, therefore, is probably a very basic, fundamental learning mechanism that's built into the brain.

In this sense then, we're emotional lizards. We're running around with an amygdala that's designed to detect danger and respond to it. This system is very efficient, and it hasn't changed much in terms of how it works. What has changed, of course, are the kinds of things that will turn it on, the things that humans [are taught and conditioned] to respond to that have the same effect on us that seeing a cat has on a rat. [LeDoux, States of Mind, 1999]
The hippocampus in involved in the system whose job is to create the memories we mean when we say "I remember." You remember your first day at school, your vacation last year, Sunday dinner last week, and so on. These are your memories and they involve the hippocampus.

Now, suppose you are driving down the street and you are involved in an accident. The horn gets stuck and is blasting while you are suffering pain and thinking that you might die. Sometime later, a horn sounds and stimulates you to remember the accident. The whole scene of where you were and the series of events parade through your mind as a series of facts. It happened. But these facts are cold and hold no emotion. This is a memory about an emotional experience, but it is not the emotion.

However, it is very unlikely that this will happen in this way because the sound of the horn will also go through the amygdala which will, at the same time that you are remembering from the hippocampus, cause the autonomic system to crank into action; your muscles will tense up and you may re-experience the whole gamut of "fight or flight" right there and then.

The important thing to understand is that these two memory systems are separate, even if they generally operate in tandem.

People with damage in the hippocampus have poor "conscious" memory. There is a famous case of a woman who had severe amnesia. Every day when her doctor came to see her, he had to reintroduce himself because the woman couldn't remember having seen him the day before. If he left the room for even just a few minutes, she would forget having met him. One day, the doctor came in and held out his hand for the oft-repeated reintroduction. But, this time he had a pin in his hand which he used to prick her hand. She jerked her hand back immediately. The doctor left the room for a few minutes and then returned, offering his hand again. But the woman refused to take it. She had no conscious memory of the doctor, but her amygdala remembered, and she protected herself.

Conversely, people who have damaged amygdala's and intact hippocampuses, can't be "fear conditioned." They may know all the details: that the doctor was in the room, that they were stuck with the pin; but they won't hold back their hand when the doctor offers his.

The hippocampus and the amygdala mediate different kinds of memory. Normally, they work together so that emotional memories, and memories of emotion are fused in our conscious mind so tightly that we cannot dissect them by introspection.

In a traumatic or stressful situation has separate consequences for these two memory systems. When stress hormones are released into the body, such as cortisol, they tend to inhibit the hippocampus, but they excite the amygdala. In other words, under stress or during trauma, the amygdala will have no trouble forming an emotional, unconscious memory of the event - and will, in fact, form even stronger memories because of the presence of cortisol - but these same chemicals will interfere with and prevent formation of a conscious memory of the event.

This has a strong bearing on our early childhood programming. It is thought that the hippocampus is not fully formed and functional in early childhood, and, as a result, we are unable to develop long-term, conscious memories before that time.

Yet, the amygdala is fully formed and functioning. And it is for this reason that abused children form very strong emotional memories that cause them to react strongly to many things, while having no access at all to any conscious understanding of why they feel as they do. Unconscious emotional memories affect us all our lives, powerfully, and it is extremely difficult to work through them without conscious recall. The mere sight of anything that is associated with an early tramatic or stressful event can activate the emotional response, whether it is of a positive or negative nature.

More than this, these unconscious memories can generalize as we have already described in an earlier section.
 

Laura

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Now, all animals have the fear-learning mechanism which enables them to survive. They can detect danger and respond to it appropriately. But these animals don't have what we call fearful feelings the same way that human beings can "feel afraid." When the basic "fear program" system is activated in a brain that also has self-consciousness, a new phenomenon occurs: subjective feelings. Feelings of fear are what happen in consciousness when the activity generated in the subcortical neural system involved in detecting danger is perceived by certain systems in the cortex, especially the "working memory."

A conscious feeling of fearfulness is not necessary to trigger an emotional fear response. The low road can take care of this just fine. That is, we can produce responses to danger without being consciously afraid, as when we jump back up onto the curb to avoid being hit by a car. In a situation like that, as people so often say, we don't "have time to be afraid." ...At other times we will first have some kind of response in our body and only later be able to name what the feeling was: anxious, sad or angry. In many cases, though, even if we can say that we feel anxious, we don't know what generated those feelings. Indeed, we see this again and again in the various disorders of the fear system, such as panic attacks and phobias.

Why is it so difficult to eliminate such fears? Once the amygdala is turned on, it can influence information processing in the cortex from the earliest stages onward, but only the later stages of cortical processing affect the amygdala. In other words, even though communication goes two ways, it's not equally effective in both directions. In general, the projections from the amygdala to the cortex are much stronger than vice versa. If we think of the routes from the amygdala to the cortex as superhighways, then those from the cortex to the amygdala are narrow back roads. Once the emotions are activated, they can influence the entire working of the cortex, whereas the cortex is very inefficient at controlling the amygdala. So, using thinking to overcome emotion is like using a back road or side street from the cortex, while the amygdala is bombarding the cortex with input via the superhighways. [LeDoux, 1999]
But thinking with the cortex, it turns out, is basically a way to rewire your brain. It is like working on the back roads to develop them into the commanding interstate system of the brain they were meant to be. Research shows that changes in the brain are the result of learning experiences, and it seems that learning - acquiring knowledge - is the path of rewiring the synaptic connections in the brain.

It seems that the key to this is the fact that learning, hard thinking and pondering, requires that certain brain chemicals - usually acetylcholine - be squirted out at just the right place and in the right quantities. It is becoming clear that the molecules of memory are blind to the kind of memory - whether it is conscious or unconscious - that is occurring. What determines the quality of different kinds of memories is not the molecules that do the storing but the systems in which those molecules act. If they act in the hippocampus, the memories that get recorded are factual and accessible to our consciousness. If the chemicals are acting in the amygdala, they are emotional and mostly inaccessible to conscious awareness.

So, what happens is that even if we don't know what has triggered a given emotional response until after the fact, we do have an awareness that we are "feeling" a certain way. This awareness is called our "working memory."

Working memory, or awareness, involves the frontal lobes of the brain just above and behind the eyebrows. This is what we use when we want to remember a new phone number just long enough to dial it, or to remember what we went to the kitchen for long enough to get it! It is also the place where many different kinds of information is held simultaneously while we are comparing one thing to another. We can have all kinds of things going on there at once. We can look at something, hold this image in working memory along with the memory of something that we have pulled out of long term memory which we wish to compare it to; sounds, smells, and even the ongoing physiological input from our system as we are considering this: does it make us feel peaceful, happy, sad, afraid?

All of these elements come together simultaneously. However, this working memory can only do one thing at a time, even if that one task is multi-factored. A classic example is when you try to remember a new phone number and someone asks you a question before you get to dial it. The number flies out the window as you answer the question and you have to go back and look it up again.

It seems that this "working memory," or "awareness," is - if not consciousness itself - at least a window to it.

It is in working memory that "conscious feelings" occur. In working memory, three things come together to create conscious feeling: present stimuli, activation of the amygdala in some way and activation of conscious memory in the hippocampus.

Present stimuli might include standing inside a church. This would arouse the amygdala so that the unconscious memories of the many experienced in church - the flooding of the receptors with neurochemicals; and this would activate conscious memory of the last time you were in church, or several memorable times will pass through the mind. When all these things come together in working memory, with the body now activated with chemistry and past history, this is perceived as "feeling."

The same thing can occur in any kind of encounter as we have already described. Something that is present now will turn on the chemicals which will arouse conscious memories that are related to those chemicals, and then the present moment will be interpreted in those same terms.

Since what we are looking at here is the fact that unconscious, chemical imprints, have a much greater ability to influence thinking than vice versa, we realize that we are face to face with an age-old debate between reason and emotion, logic and passion, knowledge and faith.

When you are aroused emotionally whether by fear or pleasure or sexual attraction, it is a cold hard fact that emotion dominates thinking.

Philosophers going all the way back to Plato have endlessly analyzed this fundamental schism. The body fills us with passions and desires and fears and fancies and foolishness and fairy tales made up to justify these chemical reactions. Plato opined that the true philosopher was one who could master his emotions by the use of reason. Socrates said "Know thyself," by which he meant that we had to understand our emotions in order to be able to control them.

The vast majority of philosophers and philosophical writers throughout man's recorded history have believed that in order to be truly human - as opposed to just an animal - we must activate reason. Descartes didn't say "I FEEL, therefore I am." Thinking seems to be the distinctly human thing that humans do which separates them from animals. But, as Theodore Dreiser wrote:

Our civilization is still in the middle stage, scarcely beast in that it is no longer guided by instinct, scarcely human in that it is not yet wholly guided by reason.
The prime example of this is, of course, Star Trek's Dr. Spock. Captain Ahab, the hero of Melville's Moby Dick was just the opposite. Melville wrote: "Ahab never thinks, he just feels, feels, feels." Perhaps the mindless pursuit of a white whale is a good metaphor for the result of living by emotion.

However, I am not advocating domination of cognition; merely balance. There is, at present, such an imbalance between the amygdala's input to the cortex and the very sparse control of the cortex over the amygdala. Even though thoughts can readily trigger emotions by activating the amygdala, it is very difficult to willfully turn off emotions.

As it happens, the cortical connections to the amygdala are actually far greater in primates than in other animals. It seems that more balanced cortical pathways are the evolutionary trend. It is my opinion that we will develop them or perish. A more harmonious integration of emotion and thinking would allow us to both know our TRUE feelings, and why we have them, and to be able to use them more effectively.
 

Laura

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Above, I've given the background of my own process of coming to understand how our emotions control and mislead us. I think it can be seen that it describes the underlying mechanisms of what Wilson, Kahneman, and others, describe in "Strangers to Ourselves" and "Thinking: Fast and Slow." The former is from a neurochemical perspective and the latter two are from an experimental psychology perspective.

The problem seems to arise out of 1) repressed and/or suppressed emotions from infancy and 2) childhood, abuse, 3) being terrorized by pathological environment, 4) not having one's honest feelings (as a child) validated or understood, 5) not being taught to accept that negative feelings/reactions are normal and acceptable in some contexts, 6) feeling terror that if you express your anger at those you love, they will abandon you and you will die, and so on. The latter 3 situations are pretty common childhood experiences to one degree or another. What makes any of them have more or less control over the individual depends on their inborn temperament. Mild neglect can impact a very sensitive individual profoundly, while serious abuse might roll off the back of a child with a tougher disposition.

I think that, in general, splitting is more common among very sensitive individuals who have fragile psychological substratums. Splitting is the mechanism that the subconscious uses to avoid pain. And some individuals are just super pain sensitive (in the psychological sense). One psychiatrist said: splitting is 'a split of the ego into a superficial part that knows the truth and a deeper part that denies it may...be observed in every neurotic'. I think it is the other way around: splitting is a split of the ego into a superficial part that makes up a narrative that explains things logically and tidily, while the subconscious is busy raging like a child.

Kohut said there were two ways of splitting: 'horizontal splits' as those brought about on a deeper level by repression and on a higher level by negation," and "a 'vertical split in the psyche'...the side-by-side, conscious existence of otherwise incompatible psychological attitudes."

Then, there is "object relations" theory where everything is described in terms of how the ego relates to itself and everything outside, called "objects". Melanie Klein argues that "the earliest experiences of the infant are split between wholly good ones with 'good' objects and wholly bad experiences with 'bad' objects," as children struggle to integrate the two primary drives, love and hate, into constructive social interaction. An important step in childhood development is the gradual depolarization of these two drives.

I don't know if the two primary drives of the child are "love and hate" but rather think it is pain and pleasure at the basis.

Klein explains that there is a stark separation of the things the child loves (good, gratifying objects) and the things the child hates (bad, frustrating objects), and that, for a child, "everything is polarised into extremes of love and hate, just like what the baby seems to experience and young children are still very close to." Klein refers to the way "these primitive states tend to deconstruct objects into 'good' and 'bad' bits (called "part-objects")." Splitting is an 'active' defence mechanism." The child sees the breasts as opposite in nature at different times, although they actually are the same, belonging to the same mother. As the child learns that people and objects can be good and bad at the same time, he or she progresses to the next phase, the depressive position, which "entails a steady, though painful, approximation towards the reality of oneself and others": integrating the splits and "being able to balance [them] out...are tasks that continue into early childhood and indeed are never completely finished."

Thing is, a person can be quite well developed intellectually and still have emotional wounds/scars that induce "splitting," the "Black and White thinking" that we talk about frequently. The problem is, when a person can be noted to fall into "Black and White thinking", it can also be thought that this same split exists inside them: they are not only unable to see others as "good and bad at the same time" (i.e. normal) they are unable to see themselves that way either. They have to see themselves as perfect or they fear that they will perish. That is why such individuals react so negatively to any kind of criticism, even the mildest. When criticized or when situations develop that are not to the liking of such individuals, (maybe the only feature is that they are not getting the praise and attention they feel they deserve and are working hard to get because they need constant reassurance), narcissistic rage is the result. But this doesn't always mean that they blow their stacks. In fact, it would probably be healthy if they would just express their anger, get it out, and get over it. But often, they can't. Narcissistic rage occurs on a continuum from instances of aloofness, and expression of mild irritation or annoyance, to serious outbursts, including violent attacks.

Kohut proposed that, because the very structure of the self itself is enfeebled in the wounded/scarred individual, their rage cannot flower into real assertiveness and they are left instead prone to oversensitivity to perceived or imagined narcissistic injuries resulting in narcissistic rage. This takes us back, again, to the fragile substratum.

For Kohut, narcissistic rage is related to narcissists' need for total control of their environment, including "the need for revenge, for righting a wrong, for undoing a hurt by whatever means". Alternatively, according to Kohut, rages can be seen as a result of the shame at being faced with failure. Narcissistic rage is the uncontrollable and unexpected anger that results from a narcissistic injury - a threat to a narcissist's self-esteem or worth. Rage comes in many forms, but all pertain to the same important thing, revenge. Narcissistic rages are based on fear and will endure even after the threat is gone.

To the narcissist, the rage is directed towards the person that they feel has slighted them; to other people, the rage is incoherent and unjust. This rage impairs their cognition, therefore impairing their judgment. During the rage they are prone to shouting, fact distortion and making groundless accusations. In his book The Analysis of the Self, Kohut explains that expressions caused by a sense of things not going the expected way blossom into rages, and narcissists may even search for conflict to find a way to alleviate pain or suffering.

Narcissists are often pseudo-perfectionists and require being the center of attention. They create situations in which they will receive attention.[citation needed] His/her attempts at being perfect are cohesive with the narcissist's grandiose self-image. If a perceived state of perfection is not reached, it can lead to guilt, shame, anger or anxiety because he/she believes that he/she will lose the admiration and love from other people if he/she is not perfect.

So, we see that splitting serves as an attempt to stabilize the person's sense of self positively in order to preserve his/her self-esteem, by perceiving himself/herself as purely upright or admirable and others who do not conform to his/her will or values as purely wicked or contemptible.

What is important to realize is all of this takes place between Wilson and Kahneman's "System 1 and System 2" with the controlling knobs being in the substratum that either amplifies or damps down different tendencies in different people based on their temperament. And what this further means is that this internal dialogue or dynamic between the two systems is at the root of Internal Considering.

Internal Considering is basically splitting.

In the end, it seems that this splitting is part and parcel of being human unless and until one deals with it and becomes master of the machine. And becoming master of the machine has to be preceded by knowing the machine well both theoretically, and from practical observation.

You can observe yourself, notice that you feel/act this way. If you have the theoretical knowledge, you can consciously add to the observation things like: "well, that emotion is produced by such and such neurochemical and it feels pretty strong, stronger than the circumstances would normally cause, so I must be tapping into some subconscious memory program or even a preverbal memory."

Obviously, being able to make this observation is not necessarily going to help you at the moment, in the heat of the emotion, at least not at first, but it alerts you to the fact that you really need to engage with your network about the feelings and find out whether it is a normal reaction. Doing that requires total disclosure of the events and background or you won't get an accurate feedback. If you withhold data, you won't be serving your own best interests.

Eventually, you will get to the point where you can observe yourself, notice that you have a certain feeling, and know that this is tapping into some old stuff, and find a way to safely release it. Thing is, you aren't necessarily embracing negative emotions, you are releasing old negative emotions that are stuck in your subconscious because you never had a chance to express them when you were a child.

Of course, the above is assuming that the person has a basically healthy temperament/psychological substratum. As Gurdjieff said, you cannot begin the work at a level lower than the obyvatel.
 
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shijing

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Thanks for taking the time to post the above, Laura -- the tendency to split (see things in black and white) is something that I'd like to work on more, and this thread provides a fresh perspective to start from.
 

anart

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Shijing said:
Thanks for taking the time to post the above, Laura -- the tendency to split (see things in black and white) is something that I'd like to work on more, and this thread provides a fresh perspective to start from.
I also fall into black and white thinking and get very frustrated with it, and with the mechanical aspect of it. I know it's from childhood programming/trauma because of the immediacy and flavor of the thought processes/emotional processes. It's really clear, though only clear after it starts. I've learned to begin to recognize it when it happens, but I am still a very, very long way (I think) from being able to stop it before it happens. I've recently discussed this at length with my siblings since we all have this tendency and are working on it in our different ways. I think I'll likely be working on this one for the rest of my life.
 

dugdeep

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[quote author=Laura]
Internal Considering is basically splitting.
[/quote]

I'm having trouble seeing the connection between splitting and internal considering, so I took a look at the cassiopedia entry on Internal and External considering for clarification.

[quote author=cassiopedia]
Internal considering can be likened to man's inner predator. It feeds itself by engaging in subjective fantasies where it thinks it is other than it is. It will also seek to gain external confirmation for its distorted self-image by manipulating others to confirm it in its views. Man may go to much trouble to make an impression, simply in order to have his own illusory, internally considered self-image reflected back to himself from others. All success in such manipulation feeds the predator and confirms it in its internal considering and accordingly removes the center of gravity of man's inner life away from objectivity. Internal considering is in very concrete terms man's natural enemy who seeks to prevent man from being himself. The predator will at all times prefer an illusion of virtue to the naked truth about itself. Still, it is not useful to morally judge or condemn the predator, just like it is useless to condemn a cat for eating mice. Still, one must disengage from identifying with this predator. Claiming to Work while engaging in internal considering is a contradiction in terms. The forms of internal considering can however be extremely subtle and one cannot always detect them, thus constant vigilance is required. The predator of internal considering may well claim to engage in merciless self-observation, to aspire to consciousness and being and any other virtues and even trick itself to believe it is progressing towards these goals while all the while only feeding its vanity and desire for recognition.[/quote]

So is splitting a means of facilitating internal considering? Or are they literally the same thing? I'm not sure I'm really grokking the connection.
 

SMM

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Shijing said:
Thanks for taking the time to post the above, Laura -- the tendency to split (see things in black and white) is something that I'd like to work on more, and this thread provides a fresh perspective to start from.
This too is something I feel I'll be working on for life.
 

Approaching Infinity

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dugdeep said:
So is splitting a means of facilitating internal considering? Or are they literally the same thing? I'm not sure I'm really grokking the connection.
If I'm internally considering, then if a person strokes my ego and make me feel like the important being I truly am, all is gravy. They are an angel. But if they do something to upset my preconceived ideas about what should and shouldn't be, thus putting me into an emotional state, then that person must be an evil SOB. In both cases, I am considering only myself, my wants, my emotions, my internal state. External considering tries to see a person for who they are, not how they reflect what I want from them. So flattery might actually be a red flag. And putting me in a negative emotional state might be in my best interests.
 

kenlee

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dugdeep said:
So is splitting a means of facilitating internal considering? Or are they literally the same thing? I'm not sure I'm really grokking the connection.
I think that internal considering is what might begin the 'splitting' in our mind, splitting it into an imaginary 'I' vs the rest of the world because of an identification with inner narratives going on in our mind (via inner talking) regarding "requirements" that we may have of the world and how we should always be treated, how we should always be right, and so on. But if it's carried to the extreme degree then the consciousness loses an additional degree of freedom (to question itself) and then the false 'I' totally believes in its own inner world and it becomes centered there, totally subjective, and never questioning itself. In short it becomes a fixed attitude. I've seen it here where people just totally go against this work with an almost rabid vehemence. One moment they are fine, then something happens and they suddenly "turn," like a switch was turned on or something. So I think it begins with internal considering and if (the internal considering) is not fought against with external considering then that part of them that begins to split into a subjective world via internal considering can become TOTALLY subjective and then that part kind of localizes itself and then they fully believe in 'their own world' and take this subjective world as objective reality. It's like their attitude 'collapses' into only one brain or one center at the exclusion of everything else and gets locked in there.
 

Mal7

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Some of Atisha’s teachings on “mind training” seem to me to be similar to what I think of as internal vs external considering. Atisha was an Indian Buddhist, who lived about 982-1054 (AD/CE).

I have been hesitant to post this, as this is not a forum for discussing Buddhism. I think possibly some of the practices described in this book could help people practice external considering more, and internal considering less. One practice is called “giving and taking”, in which you are supposed to practice "on the breath". . . When you exhale, you imagine sending out compassionate thoughts to everyone else. When you inhale, you imagine you are taking on other people’s stresses and problems. This might seem like wishful thinking, but the key point seems to be not that sending our good thoughts to people actually does them any good at all, but that it reduces the grasping self-obsessed desires of our own undeveloped self/Ego/internally-considerate programming.

If there is ‘self,’ recognition of ‘others’ arises;
On this division of self and others, grasping and anger arise;
And in relation to these two [emotions],
All calamities come into being.

Recognizing myself as flawed
And others as an ocean of higher qualities,
I will thoroughly discard grasping at self
And practice embracing others.
- page 99
I harbor all my self-centred desires deep within;
For all my disputes I blame others for no reason-
Dance and trample on the head of this betrayer, false conception!
Mortally strike at the heart of this butcher and enemy, Ego!
- page 143
When others out of jealousy
Treat me wrongly with abuse and slander,
I shall train to take the defeat upon myself
And offer the victory to others.

Regardless of whether we are to blame, if others slander us or speak ill of us out of jealousy or other motives, instead of harboring resentment, we should refrain from claiming, for instance, ‘I am innocent. Others are to be blamed.’ Like Langri Thangpa, we should take the defeat upon ourselves. It is said that whenever misfortunes befell another, he would say, ‘I too am a part of him.’ When we engage in giving and ethical discipline at present, we do so to purify our negative karma and accumulate merit. If we recognize those who slander us as sources of kindness, although this is not a substitute for the two aforementioned activities, it nevertheless cleanses us of resentment and purifies our negative karma [. . .]
- page 284
Recognizing myself as flawed
And others as an ocean of virtues,
I will thoroughly discard self-grasping
And practice cherishing others.

He who wishes to quickly rescue
Both himself and others
Should practice the secret instruction:
The exchange of self and others.
- page 350
Having found the path equalizing self and others
And the beauty of cherishing others more than oneself
What, then, is one’s own interest? What is others’ interest?
- page 351
Forsake all forms of partiality.

Do not limit your training to specific places, times, and objects. Instead, extend it to all – to the entire universe of the external environment and its inhabitants, to the noble ones, and to all sentient beings both appealing and unappealing. Naturally equanimity toward all will arise once the training is effected.

Relinquishing expectations is presented in the following line:

Forsake all expectations of reward.

If, because of engaging in this practice, the following expectations arise in you – to not be harmed by humans and nonhumans, to be famous, to be respected by your teachers and students, to have abundant food, clothing, and so on, to receive rewards for helping others, to be known as a genuine spiritual practitioner, even to attain buddhahood – [contemplate what] the most holy Maitreya has stated: ‘Toward conquerors and so on one [still] has subtle attachments.’

If you fail to train unconditionally, free of expectations of rewards pertaining to this life and the hereafter, then one aspect of your spiritual practice becomes blind. It is critical, therefore, to train without any hope of reward. If you harbour expectations for this life, [your training] is not even a Dharma practice; harboring expectations for the future life precludes it becoming a practice of the bodhisattvas. Even if your aspiration for buddhahood is for your own benefit, [your training] becomes a cause for attaining [only] the state of a self-realized one.
- page 370

Destroy all rationalizations.
- page 390

Do not place the load of a dzo onto an ox.

Mind training is impossible for those who, fearing undesirable circumstances, cast the blame onto others. It’s not that [mind traning] is impossible for an ordinary being, however; it is that [this tendency to pass blame to others] must be rooted out by means of its antidote. For example, once when Chekawa was residing at a scholastic monastery, his friend Tonpa Dadrak, who was preparing his bed on the rooftop of his host’s house, accidentally dropped a rock through the window, and it fell on a porcelain jar, breaking it into pieces. Chekawa did not speak of it; this is because putting the blame on others is inappropriate. So when utensils break and things burn, do not transfer the blame onto others.
- pages406-407

This quote also seems to be a description of practicing Strategic Enclosure, OSIT:
Transform your attitudes but remain as you are.

While practicing the exchange of self and others and reflecting on this yoga – not divorced from it for even a single instant in your thought or in your physical and verbal conduct – you must nonetheless maintain your conduct the way it was before, with no [radical] shift. For instance, do not recite [the words of mind training] in others’ presence but strive to conform with others. Maintain the level of spiritual activity that you normally engage in, and leave your [external] behaviours unchanged from before. Some people, after listening to the teaching, become fickle, leaving behind their past manner and practices. This is tantamount of forsaking your past, which is extremely inappropriate. Since it is taught that your mind training should be discreet yet effective, you should ripen your mind without others noticing.
- page 119.

All quotes are from the book Mind Training: The Great Collection. Compiled by Shonu Gyalchok and Konchok Gyaltsen. Boston: Wisdom Publications in association with the Institute of Tibetan Classics, 2006. (NB: The square brackets were all in the publication itself, not added by me. A dzo is a cross between a yak and a cow, and is capable of carrying heavy loads.)

NB: The quotes are not directly from Atisha, but from recent English translations of commentaries made in the 11th-13th centuries AD by Tibetan buddhist scholars.
 

whitecoast

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
[quote author=dugdeep]So is splitting a means of facilitating internal considering? Or are they literally the same thing? I'm not sure I'm really grokking the connection.[/quote]

I think it's the former. I can easily see how all splitting (black-and-white thinking, dealing more in absolutes) is internal considering. But I'm less prepared to believe that all internal considering is splitting. I think it's one of the many ways it manifests. There are many personality disorders that are not associated specifically with splitting which could also be seen as pathological extremes of internal considering (failing to see reality and consider people's needs.)

Splitting emphasizes the thinking part in its definition, but I think the deal with black-and-white thinking is that it's a lightning fast reflexive thinking, whereas true thinking is slow but deep and sophisticated. You can definitely see the mechanisms for splitting lie under-the-hood in system 1. I particularly liked how neurotics were characterized as being unable to integrate the good and bad attributes of particular objects, and their responses to said object (be it a significant other or their favourite TV series) can be disorganized and entirely dependent on the specific stimulus for the arousal of thought.

It seems the best way to combat splitting is to increase one's ability to process contextual information, since splitting seems to be its antithesis by virtue of narrowing the field of thought to the point of "not being able to count past two," as Gurdjieff described formatory thinking.

One thing I have trouble wrapping my head around is Kohut's definitions of vertical versus horizontal splitting. It sounds like the only difference between the two is that vertical is utilized in interpretive denial, while horizontal splitting is used in implicatory denial? :huh:
 

H-KQGE

Dagobah Resident
Approaching Infinity said:
dugdeep said:
So is splitting a means of facilitating internal considering? Or are they literally the same thing? I'm not sure I'm really grokking the connection.
If I'm internally considering, then if a person strokes my ego and make me feel like the important being I truly am, all is gravy. They are an angel. But if they do something to upset my preconceived ideas about what should and shouldn't be, thus putting me into an emotional state, then that person must be an evil SOB. In both cases, I am considering only myself, my wants, my emotions, my internal state. External considering tries to see a person for who they are, not how they reflect what I want from them. So flattery might actually be a red flag. And putting me in a negative emotional state might be in my best interests.
kenlee said:
dugdeep said:
So is splitting a means of facilitating internal considering? Or are they literally the same thing? I'm not sure I'm really grokking the connection.
I think that internal considering is what might begin the 'splitting' in our mind, splitting it into an imaginary 'I' vs the rest of the world because of an identification with inner narratives going on in our mind (via inner talking) regarding "requirements" that we may have of the world and how we should always be treated, how we should always be right, and so on. But if it's carried to the extreme degree then the consciousness loses an additional degree of freedom (to question itself) and then the false 'I' totally believes in its own inner world and it becomes centered there, totally subjective, and never questioning itself. In short it becomes a fixed attitude. I've seen it here where people just totally go against this work with an almost rabid vehemence. One moment they are fine, then something happens and they suddenly "turn," like a switch was turned on or something. So I think it begins with internal considering and if (the internal considering) is not fought against with external considering then that part of them that begins to split into a subjective world via internal considering can become TOTALLY subjective and then that part kind of localizes itself and then they fully believe in 'their own world' and take this subjective world as objective reality. It's like their attitude 'collapses' into only one brain or one center at the exclusion of everything else and gets locked in there.
Thanks to Approaching Infinity & kenlee for the clarifications. It's always encouraging to see other people's understanding & where yours fits. And a big thank you to Laura for the post. I smiled a few times whilst reading it as i had been preparing a long post about my views on the role the ego plays in undermining the conscious/subconscious abilities in light of what Steven Porges had to say about the Polyvagal Theory & the nervous system. I had actually been trying to find the parts explaining the "instinctive substratum" (i got hold of P.T. last year & only now reading it) when i found the part about the nervous system evaluating environmental risk, it made the emphasis on diet & health (especially the neural connections of the gut, immune & nervous systems) even more important. The parts about childhood fear, abuse & trauma were really clear to me & a big piece of the puzzle came since I've insisted to people for a year now that not only are we just a bag of chemicals, we're addicts. Thankfully Laura layed this out in her usual hard hitting, clear (& as concise as can be) & well researched & thought-out style. Learning sure is fun! ;D
 
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