In the next few weeks we are running the following events - (click on the green wording for more detailed information on related website pages.)
FREE Talk on Grief
Tuesday June 18, 7.15pm to 9pm
Body Mind Retreat
Sunday June 23
Canteen Charity Auction Event
Friday June 28
1 Day Body Mind Workshop in Albany 5 star venue
Saturday July 20
Please feel free to contact us if you require more details or book into any events.
Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire!! When Your Brain Distorts Your Reality
Every one of us at some stage has faced the situation where we swore to having experienced a past situation in a certain way. Yet in doing so we faced opposition and conflict by others who also swore to a different reality. In this scenario no one party was lying but what may have occurred was we may have found ourself recalling past events through a faulty brain process we can broadly term mis-attribution.
There are two broad areas of neuroscience which contribute to the understanding of this fascinating but confusing part of our own human condition. Firstly there is cognitive neuroscience which informs us about the cognitive processes of attention, language, memory, and thought, irrespective of their social context.
Secondly there is social neuroscience which attempts to provide meaning and purpose to these same aspects of brain and mind, and provide implications around many of our psychological processes. The two are best understood together.
Anyone who has faced this situation may well have been labelled a liar by others in arguing the correctness of the memory concerned. However lying is a conscious choice and a concealment of the truth whereas mis-attribution is a natural sub-conscious process that is part of our human condition.
Mis-attribution is not lying but an honest but distorted reporting of our truth when it occurs. In general mis-attribution can be categorised as falling into 8 broad types which reflect different neural correction and retrieval issues of memory. The 8 types are:
- Forgetting through transience – this is where memories become less accessible over time due to changing neural connections and associations linking to that memory over time.
- Absentmindedness – these are lapses of attention that result in forgetting to do things. This is often a short term memory phenomena where a current memory state gets interrupted by another thought and we forget to go back and attend to that original thought action. For instance we may remember to get our wallet when about to leave the house and then suddenly remember the back door needs locking, which we do, but then walk out and forget our wallet.
- Blocking – this refers to information that has not faded out of memory as such, but is temporarily inaccessible but known to exist in the mind of the person concerned. This frustrating event can be where the answer or word is on the tip of my tongue but try as I might I just cannot recall it for now.
- Mis-attribution - is not an omission of memory but a recall something out of context, or attribute the memory to an incorrect source. This is how some people for instance often dream and imagine great events they would like to have happened to them, and then go on to report to others how it actually did happen to them. It has several forms. For instance a recent client would have a drink of Hennessy brandy or Guinness stout and then dream and report to others that they were flying around the world working for them in senior roles! Another client was convinced that they had paid for an item when they received an invoice in the mail. After much debate the shop owner showed him video footage in-store proving he did buy the item but not pay for it but leave a Tab. The man then realised he had paid a different bill somewhere else and had mixed up whose bill he had paid.
- Suggestibility – Is the introduction and integration into reality of implanted memories that are produced by trance induction, hypnosis, leading questions or suggestions. The "false memory" controversy of sexual abuse memories in clients of therapists is one example of this category. Hypnotic auto-suggestion is another.
- Bias – is the way in which our current knowledge and beliefs can skew or distort our memories. This is the accepted process of how what we know, believe, and feel in the present can powerfully influence a reframing of the past and how we then report that past in a new way through a new perceptual filter.
- Persistence – is the unregulated and unwanted memories or fragments of experience, often traumatic, that people cannot forget. These typically powerfully charged emotional memories then flood and affect our current disposition and reality as well as the past and the future. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder victims often suffer from this issue.
- Trauma Amnesia – In intense experiences such as sexual abuse of children, violence that implies death, or other highly charged emotional events that take us out of our nervous system Window of Tolerance, in terms of our ability to cope with sensory stimulus, the whole mechanism of timeline recording of events by the brain may be impaired.
In dissociative or "leaving the body" events in trauma where the overwhelm is intense, the memory may either become amplified and distorted in those moments, or they may not be recorded for later recall at all. This later outcome is a form of amnesia not reflecting an ability to recall but reflecting the fact there may not be anything recorded to recall.
These 8 types of affect may occur in isolation or together as a group. As a general rule the more emotionally aroused we are and the closer we are to our nervous system limits of our ability to contain incoming sensory stimulus, we are liable to start to experience one or more of these 8 types of mis-attributed memory situations.
We all could probably scan this list and identify with situations where we feel this happened to us. In these situations we are not lying but actually reporting the truth as we know it. The problem is our faithfully recalled reality is faulty and not concealed as a conscious choice.
Trauma sufferers often face the unfortunate reality of trying to recall events of a short or long term nature and struggling to do so because of the presence of one or more of the 8 types of mis-attribution mentioned above. They often are then labelled liars, unreliable, crazy, mad, or become the subject of anger, punishment or bullying as a result of struggling to respond in a way that satisfies the other person.
This often re-traumatises that person in the process and stigmatises them in a way that is unfair and not their fault. Many sufferers of these issues are often sent to mental/cognitive based therapists for CBT type treatment but these issues lie below the realm of top-down pre-frontal cortex processing that CBT typically addresses.
When these treatments often fail then such a sufferer they often re-victimise themselves by feeling they are failures. They feel no one can help them.
The body-centric nature of body psychotherapy is able to work with the underlying nervous system Window of Tolerance capabilities of sufferers of memory issues. Sufferers are basically of two key types.
The first type is that person who in fact may be either primarily "ungrounded" and so more liable to be "off with the fairies" which is a form of dissociation. They struggle to be mindfully present to their own thoughts and memory processes in general. They are often then unable to recall their own memories or be present to and recall events with others some of the time.
This is a form of transcience (category 1 of the 8 types), and affects many people who primarily "live in their heads" but tend to go off on fantasy trains of thoughts and struggle to stay grounded and present in their bodies moment to moment. This type of personality may have some form of early life developmental trauma and/or being living in a hyper-vigilant way due to concentrating on technology or stimulus a lot of the time from mental sense faculties in their jobs. The dissociative effect can then lead to some of the 8 other mis-attributions.
The second type of sufferer will be typically suffering a form of episodic or chronic trauma in their past or present and have the more severe dissociative issues with their nervous system limits or Window Of Tolerance as a result. They will tend to be either hyper-aroused (very activated and alert), or hypo-aroused (still, sluggish, silent, collapsed).
Memory and cognition issues of the 8 types will tend to be more intrusive and often more amplified in their traumatised condition. Trauma resolution therapy like that practiced at IBMP has a good track record with clients having either of these 2 types of trauma.
Understanding how faulty neural connections are formed during brain development or affected by ongoing stress and anxiety is important for understanding the suffering of clients as well as for utilising new therapies and strategies that may possibly correct mental health disorders and defensive strategies like dissociation.
At the childhood developmental stages of our neurobiology we now know more about what happens in the developing brain of foetuses, babies, infants, children and teenagers. The childhood developmental process is one of constant neuroplasticity windows of opportunity for wiring up new skills and biases in the orientation of brain and consciousness attention.
Researchers such as Norman Doidge and others have reported on how neural wirings are formed during brain development which takes place in first years of life. Basically as the brain develops, neurons continuously connect with each other, extending their axons to touch one another.
The brain is a neural computer which is wired to form multiple links or associations from any one point or neuron. This allows neurons to form a circuit between different parts of the brain and relay information through electrical signals.
We also have neural networks along pathways through the spine and into the heart and other key sites of the body. The concept of a brain is now no longer just about the grey matter in our heads but is a complex set of interactions and networks of sharing between brain and nervous systems in the body.
According to researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College it is very important that the axons are properly positioned in the spinal cord in the developing child else there is a risk that they will form wrong or faulty connections.
This is like faulty wiring in a house or between components in an entertainment system in as much as it can produce "noise", distortions, overloads, absences and breakdowns. In the person this could bring negative effects on brain functions as the electrical signals being sent to the wrong areas in the brain and creating personality disorders like Autism, or mis-attribution effects in different ways.
We know the earlier the faulty wiring occurs then the risk of it becoming truly embodied and then acting as a faulty foundational state for later complex neural functions and adaptations relying on that underlying foundational set of neural connections.
Weill University researchers found that at the tip of the axons are the so-called growth cones that are responsible for guiding neuron connectivity to where they should attach themselves and connect to other neurons. These cones have the ability to sense the environment, determine the target locations, and navigate axons towards them.
The Epigenetic research has previously found that the self guiding cones have this ability from DNA inherent properties. The researchers found that the molecule RNA, which is embedded in the growth cone, is the one that instructs the axons to move right or left, up or down.
This self guiding process creates neural networks and so can create healthy and compromised functioning neural networks. Ongoing stress in infants has been shown to affect this process in their developing brains.
There is evidence from researchers from such institutes as NeuRA that cortisol which our Autonomic Nervous System produces when we are stressed or anxious, can affect these growth cones in children as well as the neuroplasticity in adults.
In healthy children and adults the RNAs in growth cones of neurons are then translated in to create antenna-like proteins that steer the axons to create connections with other axons and establish a neural network. In highly stressed and anxious children and adults the cortisol sheathes or "methylates" over growth cones and prevents steering and connecting functions from occurring.
The outcome is suppressed brain development in children and a drop in neuroplasticity in adults. Adults and children may report being less able to adapt and learn or concentrate which we believe are the consciousness factors that arise when the healthy neuroplasticity growth cone process is occurring in the brain.
Dr Dilek Colak from Weill University noted that RNA does not only need to be present in growth cones to give instructions and create new learning, but also needs to be removed from the cones to take away those instructions at the right time in order to change thinking, associations, and logic.
Psychiatry and neurobiology research has previously found that there are many different brain disorders associated with ineffective RNA regulation. The effects of stress and anxiety in its longer term setting may explain one of the causes as to why this link between RNA and brain disorders exists.
The conclusions highlight the importance of RNA in forming neural pathways that are critical for a healthy brain. The role of stress and anxiety in children and adults as being a trigger for potential RNA degradation in brain axion development and faulty neural wirings that trigger brain disorders may become better understood over time.
So be careful when you go saying "Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire!!" as you may just be wrong by labelling another person in this way.
Click the following link to view the full version of the article Liar Liar Pants On Fire!! When Your Brain Distorts Your Reality
The Shadow Walks With Us
We all notice our own shadow from time to time when we are out and about walking around. Our shadow that exists is in the nature of the light that exists around us and is the outline made by that light being blocked by our bodies in that moment in time and space.
Nature has a way of existing in patterns. Just as that physical manifestation of shadow exists as a physical reality, then so too a psychological shadow also exists in the same way internal to us. Our outer physical shadow is a mirror and a symbol of the same inner truth.
Just as our physical shadow exists in direct relation to light then so does our internal psychological shadow. Just as our physical shadow will be seen emanating from the way our body traps and blocks the light then so too does our psychological shadow then arise as part of our human condition as a principle in our human consciousness and how the "light" aspect of our consciousness plays out.
We have previously considered how our bodies are one dimension to our reality which is capable of reflecting and expressing the other dimensions of our reality. We considered some of the ordering principles of illness in the body that we know as Psychogenic medicine or how mental based issues manifest and express through the body as conditions or illness.
Likewise we considered the field of psychosomatic medicine and how it is the recognition of how our emotions, especially when repressed, can likewise trigger bodily illness and conditions. Our bodymind reality is a dynamic system which seeks to adapt and balance itself in the world in which it lives.
The key consideration was how the blocked and distorted thinking and emotions of us all can wreak havoc in the bodymind. Our bodies then give us vital clues as to the unresolved emotional and mental issues we carry. In this way we can say that our bodies hold the shadow nature of our reality.
Carl Jung wrote a lot about how humans exist in a duality of light and shadow. He considered that the body held much of our shadow as the disowned aspects of ourselves and often these may be masculine or feminine archetypes or parts of self that are not safe or not permissible to own as an integrated and contained whole part of self.
Jungian based therapy often involves shadow work or the working through of subconscious shadow material that needs to be made conscious and re-integrated into our self, or released and brought to completion.
Shadow work involves both the body and often disowned "negative" energies and emotions that often are held in the body. The body serves an overall purpose of creating the overall muscular armouring which holds feelings in check, and is a mechanism to keep suppressed and disowned material out of the conscious realm.
The reason that we suppress feelings and memories is that they are often painful. Shadow work brings up any pain that we have been avoiding or suppressing for most of our life. The release of armouring and the feelings and unresolved issues that hide behind the armouring then lead one towards growth through healing, growth through feeling and growth through realisation and completion of and from our past.
The work is experiential and embodied. It cannot be mentalised or conceptualised as the healing. It is true to the notion that healing is feeling. I encounter many people who have read books on the shadow or on issues in therapy and then so conclude because they know the concept they have somehow healed.
This is just another mental defence. Our shadow is that part of us that is what we have not faced or can't or won't face about ourselves. Our ego colludes with us to either minimise, deny or rationalise why the shadow issues are not real, not really significant or not really relevant any more to us anymore or at all.
Whatever we disown then will run us from our subconscious and the earlier the wounding then the more deeply buried is the issue and its compulsive nature to now act out through us adults. It is shadow as it is unseen, in the dark and unacknowledged.
The shadow acts out through us without us being consciously aware that it is doing so. In this way it acts often as a saboteur for if the consciousness state is that of a three year old which was the age when the trauma or adaptation to ourself created this piece of shadow then we are effectively emotionally a 3 year old in that moment.
I have conducted board room facilitation of senior executives and watched as experienced Directors regressed to a child state as the stress of board room politics and dynamics activated a piece of their shadow. This is not the time or place for that to show up and it normally leads to an outcome where that person's standing or reputation is compromised, and their chosen actions and words may be petulant, distorted, explosive and generally not that of a professional adult.
Projection is a common symptom that we are acting out of our shadow. If what is painful and disowned in us activates again as an adult then like a hot potato we may handball or project it onto someone around us as "their issue".
In this, we are projecting our own shortcoming onto another with such conviction that we block ourselves from really seeing that we do in fact have such a shortcoming. Then in these moments we often lose mindfulness of our own state in these moments and do not realise we are acting out the very same qualities that we accuse the other person of now having or being.
The Narcissistic and Borderline personalities often have this underlying problem from a place of developmental trauma and are unable to see objectively how they are being in these moments and how their reality is distorted through some form on mis-attribution or projection.
A holy person is actually a whole person and one who owns their shadow consciously and mindfully. They have acknowledged and embraced their shadow back into wholeness. They know their shadow and recognize its manifest qualities, its constituent parts, its modes of operation and causation from the past.
The New Age movement tries to collectively bypass our shadow and instead and transform ourselves into some "higher self" or "light" instead of dealing with the shadow. It is these people who are often destined to act as gurus and a mask of godliness and then act out their shadows on their followers in the ways I mentioned before.
The truth is the more we avoid our shadow the more be become fixated on it in terms of it wanting expression and the more amplified it can become over time, either destroying us through bodily or mental/emotional illness, or destroying others through abuse and corruption.
The spiritual and the psychological paths of wholeness and growth compel us to become more mindful and aware of our shadow so we can contain it, heal it, and transform it over time. There are some tell tale signs of when our shadow is manifest in our personality and behaviour.
The key ways of telling are:
- Which aspects of myself do I hate or reject the most?
- Which aspects of myself do I conceal the most?
- Which aspects of others trigger me the most?
- What behaviour of emotion do I hate the most or feel uncomfortable with?
- Which situations do I have a reaction to that is over the top?
- Which qualities or feelings in myself do I tend to judge or suppress?
- What qualities or dynamics have I been accused of projecting onto others?
- What aspects of myself do I know I project onto others?
- Which emotions and feelings do I believe to be bad or negative?
- What am I scared of in others and in myself?
Self awareness is built in part on our ability to know our own natures and to be aware when aspects of ourself are activated. This includes our shadow which our ego spends considerable effort in trying to hide from our conscious self.
Therapy is useful in this regard as when we are objectively witnessed by another we can be mirrored by that person and re-introduced to our disowned parts of self. We originally learnt as babies through the mirroring and attachment processes of infanthood and so these become powerful forces in self development as adults.
The great myths all contain the "hero" archetype who must slay the dragon or monster to get to the treasure or holy grail. This is just a metaphor or symbology for the process of facing and subduing our own shadow to find the richness of our creativity, aliveness, curiosity and health that often lies waiting to be reclaimed by our courage to face the shadow in ourself.
In dreams which bring us face to face with the imagery of subconscious life we may find ourself running away from monsters, shadows and persecutors who are again all symbols of parts of ourselves in shadow we have yet to face and deal with.
The "very righteous" in our society also project it and act it out through rules as well but often couched in the light of their values or often some religion. They will judge others, think themselves as saved, better, chosen, and special, but all the time disowning any negative qualities now that they have "found religion" or because they 'are good".
We can also over-identify and almost become our shadow. This aspect means we get negative pleasure from acting out shadow parts of ourselves and we have no intention of giving up those activities. Such people are addicted to their negative self and become their shadow as their conscious self.
In this event they are at risk of becoming merged with their shadow self and consciously taking on with their free will all sorts of negative qualities and actions. This is the embodiment of evil.
So either the avoid of our shadow or being consumed by our shadow leads to the same result. We are being run by our shadow. The only way out is to embrace it through integration and not by acting it out where it remains in focus through mindfulness.
In a sense we are in union or in intimacy with our shadow. We are united by it and not consumed, and integrated but not so lost in it that we lose the capacity to keep it in focus. This gives us a deep integrity of being where we are transparent and accountable to ourself and others.
Becoming intimate with our shadow allows us to open to and embrace all others around us in their light and shadow without judgement. Compassion is able to develop as we see ourselves in others instead of projecting ourself onto others.
We learn that we are dark and light, and our humanity is flawed but perfect in that flawed nature. Perfectionism cannot take root in such a realisation nor shame as we see what our embodied nature is.
Perfectionism is an outcome of both low self esteem and shame. Shame and guilt are toxic elements which bind a person into their shadow defences where a cover-up of a felt sense of failure and self loathing exist.
We learn to be with our internal shadow just as we cannot be anything other than with our external shadow. Life is much easier to navigate when you are at one and peace with yourself in this way.
The deep embodied and experiential work of IBMP that we do is one sure way to come face to face with your own shadow and from where you can commence or continue the process and path of self integration and healing.
Click the following link to view the full version of the article The Shadow Walks With Us
Upcoming Events in June 2013
- FREE Grief Talk - Tuesday June 18 - On Tuesday evening from 7.15pm to 9pm, Richard will assist the Widowers and Widows United support group with his key free talk, "The Neuroscience of Grief and Grieving" at Dome Leederville. The past reaction to this talk has been extremely positive as the talk uncovers the deeper roots and mechanisms that grieving triggers and how the grieving process is not only natural, but a highly linked process to our health and wellbeing. The common feedback to this event has been along the lines of "I got more from this one talk than from 1 year of counselling!!". The talk is being held at Dome Leederville where attendees can relax, get a coffee, have a meal or a snack while tuning into the presentation. This is an important service to the community that we are proud to be part of.
- 1 Day Body Mind Retreat - Sunday June 23 - Richard again runs one of his one day healing retreats. This group event is a focussed one day event where you can come and directly work and solidly focus on and heal specific issues which are causing difficulty in your life. The work is experiential and the group dynamic benefits are such that attendees get not only a personal outcome but also the exposure to the process of other attendees assists in your healing of similar issues in your own life.
- CanTeen Charity Auction Event - Friday June 28 Richard will be the auctioneer for an important charity fundraising event. This charity fundraiser is for CanTeen – Teenagers with Cancer. Richard now conducts regular charity and fundraising events in the community and auctioning is one string in that bow. Anyone can attend and book a ticket for the meal and fundraising night which will being held at Willow Ponds.
Albany 5 Star Venue - 1 Day Body Mind Workshop - Saturday July 20 The well known Perth identity, Dr Joe Kosterich and Richard will be in sunny Albany headlining a one day bodymind health event for those who want to know the best ways to understand the key facts of how to create and maintain bodymind health. Together we will be running this signature event at the 5 star resort retreat centre just outside of Albany. You should consider getting away from it all and treating yourself to some rest and relaxation whilst attending our event. The event costs just $150 per head to attend and accommodation can be booked separately. We aim to inform the public about the key ways you can support yourself in this way, especially with the effects of stress, anxiety and depression that now affects 1 in 3 people in our society. We want to cut though all the hype out there on the internet and give some clarity and key tips to take away from this collaborative event. Dr Joe is a well known health identity with regular segments in the television media, on PerthNow and other media websites, as well as having his own blogs and social media activities. Dr Joe's website www.drjoe.net.au is very informative as he keeps up to date with health matters.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any queries or wish to make a booking for private therapy or a group event.
Enjoy your month!
Director, Energetics Institute