Julian Jaynes Society Discussion Forum: Exploring Consciousness and the Bicameral Mind Theory since 1997

The Neuropsychological Implications in the Brain Scan Era
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Author:  NotMoses [ Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:59 pm ]
Post subject:  The Neuropsychological Implications in the Brain Scan Era

Hopefully, I'm not the first to post on this topic. What really matters in the world of clinical pshrinquage is that Jaynes got people thinking about the connections -- and disconnections -- between the left and right brain hemispheres. Computer-aided brain mapping assures us that in most right-handed folks, the right hemisphere is the seat of most direct, sensory perception, while the left is the seat of most verbal-symbolic processing. In Freudian terms, "primary perception" tends to take place in the right; "secondary appraisal" (thinking about, interpreting, evaluating, assessing, judging, attributing meaning to, etc.) occurs in the left.

While it's a truly gross oversimplification to say so, it is in fact scientifically accurate that many (most? all?) in the new era of "neuropsychology" that psychiatric disorders are the results of disconnection between the two hemispheres with respect to accurate primary perception but =inaccurate= secondary appraisal that cannot be corrected immediately after the fact by interactive feedback looping with primary perception... because the connections are "knocked out."

The solidly grounded neurobiology underpinning Francine Shapiro's Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) was the door I walked through to grasp the implications of Jaynes's convictions relative to not only schizophrenia, but much else that troubles the mind. EMDR is widely used by the US Veterans' Health System to reconnect the processing between the two brain hemispheres in combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The method is simple and intriguing, and one can Google "EMDR for PTSD" to find a number of accurate descriptions. But the method is less significant here than its neurobiological implications.

Shapiro's therapy has spawned a bunch of others more or less like it, but more significantly, has raised awareness of the utility of strengthening the neural connections through the corpus callosum that connects the two brain hemispheres. We now have a growing list of new therapies designed to do the same thing, including Marsha Linehan's Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Steven Hayes's Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), Williams & Teasdale's Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Garrett's Self-talk Identification, Questioning & Revision with the Drop Drill (SIQR+DD).

It's clear from brain scans before and after patient participation in such therapies that getting the primary perception centers in the right brain to "converse more effectively" with the secondary appraisal centers in the left is strongly correlated to reduction of symptoms. And this is true with depression, anxiety, mania, addictions, obsessive-compulsive disorders, phobias and more.

It may be considered politically or sociologically radical to say so, but I will do it anyway:

Jaynes seems to have stumbled onto the core conditioning that "stole the voice of God" (or the voice of "what is," if one is a Brahman; or "just plain empirical reality," if one subscribes to Immanuel Kant) from the minds of the masses in early, organized cultures. And that conditioning was the use of language to promote specific beliefs, values, idea(l)s, assumptions, convictions, principles, codes and rules in the minds of the otherwise reality-connected to =override the connections= between the primary perceptual and secondary appraisal centers.

One might call it "socializing" (Google =that=) for the sake of cultural organization by means of common, cultural beliefs -- or common =consciousness= -- to promote material progress. Another might call it "brainwashing" for the sake of "normalizing" the mind to specific beliefs, values, idea(l)s, rules, etc. that didn't square with experiential reality. Might the "authorities" (as Theodore Adorno and Robert Altemeyer have used that term) do so to promote cult-ure-wide agreement on the following?

1) Production imperative: the high value of societal contribution via material productivity,
2) Consumerism: the motive to part with earnings to consume what is produced, and
3) Tribalism (which may now be called "patriotism"): to motivate the group to defend the wealth it had created for its authoritarian masters against attempts by other masters and =their= tribes to expropriate it?

I know the two graphs immediately above are the stuff of social theorists like Thomas Malthus, George Hegel, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Thorstein Veblen, Max Weber, Peter Berger, Thomas Luckman, Martin Buber, Charles Cooley, Aldous Huxley, Jules Henry, Franz Neuman, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and most recently, Kevin Phillips and Chris Hedges.

But what twists my pretzel (and that of a growing number of clinical psychologists) is that the deeper we dig into the neurotic, borderline or psychotic psyche, the more we see how Jaynes's notion of "lost bicamerality" and "found split-ness" combine with the views of those social theorists to wrap up psychopathology into a very neat and simple package.

Author:  ignosympathnoramus [ Thu Aug 16, 2012 1:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Neuropsychological Implications in the Brain Scan Er

I totally agree. I think you pretty much covered it all, and given that there wasn't much of a question in there, I'm not sure what to add. There is a good forum thread asking about Jaynes-based psychotherapies that you could check out, but it looks like you have the best synopsis of the state of the art, at least that I've run across. So, at the risk of appearing to self-promote, I will simply include a link to a blog post that I published a couple weeks ago and that I think is highly relevant to this discussion. It combines Jaynes, Jonathan Shay ("Achilles in Vietnam"), Schopenhauer, Erich Neumann, and Ernest Becker in an investigation of psychopathy and self-awareness in the transition from mono-cultural/tribal societies to a cosmopolitan society:
http://thinkonthesethingstoo.wordpress. ... akthrough/

I really don't want a readership at all on this blog, so this is not self-promotion (the threat of public exposure just scares my right hemisphere into taking its ideas and writing much more seriously). I have a Ba in philosophy from UCLA so I'm not totally incompetent here, but I'm no clinical psychologist (though I aspire to become one) and would simply love to hear some competent feedback...hopefully we can spark up a good conversation.

I must ask if you are aware of any programs that would at least not be hostile to the sort of interpretation that you so eloquently summarized? My investigations into clinical psych programs completely discouraged me from the idea of ever mentioning an interest in Jaynes. Any advice?

Thanks for the post!

Author:  NotMoses [ Thu Aug 16, 2012 11:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Neuropsychological Implications in the Brain Scan Er

Actually, the fact that you're at or near UCLA is terrific. The names I'm about to mention are not necessarily devotees of Julian Jaynes (though they probably all know who he was and why he was significant to the modern, "fourth wave" era of clinical psych). But they are all right there in Westwood digging into brain function as it effects cognition, affect (roughly "feelings" or "emotions"), and behavior.

1) Allan Schore, Daniel Stern and Daniel Siegel. Google them to see what they're doing, and you may see some doors to walk through educationally and career-wise.

2) Likewise, the clinical psych programs at UC San Diego and Stanford (which is where Francine Shapiro hangs out these days) are both grounded in modern brain mapping, but are also informed by speculations from the "ancients" like...

a) Jaynes, Frank Lake ("maternal fetal stress syndrome" in the '70s),
b) Gregory Bateson / Paul Watslawick / Jules Henry / Ronald Laing / Aaron Esterson / Theodore Lidz / Don D. Jackson on "crazy-making families" in the '50s and '60s (and how they "split" the mind which is now seen by many as what I described above),
c) Fritz and Laura Perls / Abe Maslow / Allan Watts / Richard Alpert / Jiddu Krishnamurti on "re-integrating the mind" in the '60s (which is now so clearly re-integrating the =brain= hemispheres), et al.

3) G. W. Domhoff up at UC Santa Cruz is also worth looking into.

Author:  ignosympathnoramus [ Thu Aug 16, 2012 2:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Neuropsychological Implications in the Brain Scan Er

Thank you so much for your response...it made my week and really boosted my spirits! I discovered Allan Schore about five days ago and have been in the process of incorporating his insights as they significantly bolster and deepen my own working models. Most of the other names you mentioned were foreign to me, but I'm sure they will be equally important. Again, I can't thank you enough sir.

Btw, you mentioned UCSD's program...I wonder if you would consider Ramachandran as an ally in this regard? His notion of the LH "apologist" and the RH "revolutionary" seem to work well with the Jaynesian paradigm and might be regarded as analogous to McGilchrist's "Emissary" and "Master."

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