Born Aliens - Part II

Written by Sam Vaknin


Expectedly, it is vague inrepparttar first four months of life. When presented with depth,repparttar 126342 baby realizes that something is different but not what. Babies are born with their eyes open as opposed to most other animal young ones. Moreover, their eyes are immediately fully functional. It isrepparttar 126343 interpretation mechanism that is lacking and this is whyrepparttar 126344 world looks fuzzy to them. They tend to concentrate on very distant or on very close objects (their own hand getting closer to their face). They see very clearly objects 20-25 cm away. But visual acuity and focusing improve in a matter of days. Byrepparttar 126345 timerepparttar 126346 baby is 6 to 8 months old, he sees as well as many adults do, thoughrepparttar 126347 visual system fromrepparttar 126348 neurological point of view is fully developed only atrepparttar 126349 age of 3 or 4 years. The neonate discerns some colours inrepparttar 126350 first few days of his life: yellow, red, green, orange, gray and all of them byrepparttar 126351 age of four months. He shows clear preferences regarding visual stimuli: he is bored by repeated stimuli and prefers sharp contours and contrasts, big objects to small ones, black and white to coloured (because ofrepparttar 126352 sharper contrast), curved lines to straight ones (this is why babies prefer human faces to abstract paintings). They prefer their mother to strangers. It is not clear how they come to recognizerepparttar 126353 mother so quickly. To say that they collect mental images which they then arrange into a prototypical scheme is to say nothing (the question is not "what" they do but "how" they do it). This ability is a clue torepparttar 126354 complexity ofrepparttar 126355 internal mental world ofrepparttar 126356 neonate, which far exceeds our learned assumptions and theories. It is inconceivable that a human is born with all this exquisite equipment while incapable of experiencingrepparttar 126357 birth trauma orrepparttar 126358 evenrepparttar 126359 bigger trauma of his own inflation, mental and physical.

As early asrepparttar 126360 end ofrepparttar 126361 third month of pregnancy,repparttar 126362 fetus moves, his heart beats, his head is enormous relative to his size. His size, though, is less than 3 cm. Ensconced inrepparttar 126363 placenta,repparttar 126364 fetus is fed by substances transmitted throughrepparttar 126365 mother's blood vessels (he has no contact with her blood, though). The waste that he produces is carried away inrepparttar 126366 same venue. The composition ofrepparttar 126367 mother's food and drink, what she inhales and injects all are communicated torepparttar 126368 embryo. There is no clear relationship between sensory inputs during pregnancy and later life development. The levels of maternal hormones do effectrepparttar 126369 baby's subsequent physical development but only to a negligible extent. Far more important isrepparttar 126370 general state of health ofrepparttar 126371 mother, a trauma, or a disease ofrepparttar 126372 fetus. It seems thatrepparttar 126373 mother is less important torepparttar 126374 baby thanrepparttar 126375 romantics would have it and cleverly so. A too strong attachment between mother and fetus would have adversely affectedrepparttar 126376 baby's chances of survival outsiderepparttar 126377 uterus. Thus, contrary to popular opinion, there is no evidence whatsoever thatrepparttar 126378 mother's emotional, cognitive, or attitudinal state effectsrepparttar 126379 fetus in any way. The baby is effected by viral infections, obstetric complications, by protein malnutrition and byrepparttar 126380 mother's alcoholism. But these at least inrepparttar 126381 West are rare conditions.

Inrepparttar 126382 first three months ofrepparttar 126383 pregnancy,repparttar 126384 central nervous system "explodes" both quantitatively and qualitatively. This process is called metaplasia. It is a delicate chain of events, greatly influenced by malnutrition and other kinds of abuse. But this vulnerability does not disappear untilrepparttar 126385 age of 6 years out ofrepparttar 126386 womb. There is a continuum between womb and world. The newborn is almost a very developed kernel of humanity. He is definitely capable of experiencing substantive dimensions of his own birth and subsequent metamorphoses. Neonates can immediately track colours therefore, they must be immediately able to tellrepparttar 126387 striking differences betweenrepparttar 126388 dark, liquid placenta andrepparttar 126389 colourful maternity ward. They go after certain light shapes and ignore others. Without accumulating any experience, these skills improve inrepparttar 126390 first few days of life, which proves that they are inherent and not contingent (learned). They seek patterns selectively because they remember which pattern wasrepparttar 126391 cause of satisfaction in their very brief past. Their reactions to visual, auditory and tactile patterns are very predictable. Therefore, they must possess a MEMORY, however primitive.

But even granted that babies can sense, remember and, perhaps emote what isrepparttar 126392 effect ofrepparttar 126393 multiple traumas they are exposed to inrepparttar 126394 first few months of their lives?

We mentionedrepparttar 126395 traumas of birth and of self-inflation (mental and physical). These arerepparttar 126396 first links in a chain of traumas, which continues throughoutrepparttar 126397 first two years ofrepparttar 126398 baby's life. Perhapsrepparttar 126399 most threatening and destabilizing isrepparttar 126400 trauma of separation and individuation.

The baby's mother (or caregiver rarelyrepparttar 126401 father, sometimes another woman) is his auxiliary ego. She is alsorepparttar 126402 world; a guarantor of livable (as opposed to unbearable) life, a (physiological or gestation) rhythm (=predictability), a physical presence and a social stimulus (an other).

To start with,repparttar 126403 delivery disrupts continuous physiological processes not only quantitatively but also qualitatively. The neonate has to breathe, to feed, to eliminate waste, to regulate his body temperature new functions, which were previously performed byrepparttar 126404 mother. This physiological catastrophe, this schism increasesrepparttar 126405 baby's dependence onrepparttar 126406 mother. It is through this bonding that he learns to interact socially and to trust others. The baby's lack of ability to tellrepparttar 126407 inside world fromrepparttar 126408 outside only makes matters worse. He "feels" thatrepparttar 126409 upheaval is contained in himself, thatrepparttar 126410 tumult is threatening to tear him apart, he experiences implosion rather than explosion. True, inrepparttar 126411 absence of evaluative processes,repparttar 126412 quality ofrepparttar 126413 baby's experience will be different to ours. But this does not disqualify it as a PSYCHOLOGICAL process and does not extinguishrepparttar 126414 subjective dimension ofrepparttar 126415 experience. If a psychological process lacksrepparttar 126416 evaluative or analytic elements, this lack does not question its existence or its nature. Birth andrepparttar 126417 subsequent few days must be a truly terrifying experience.

Another argument raised againstrepparttar 126418 trauma thesis is that there is no proof that cruelty, neglect, abuse, torture, or discomfort retard, in any way,repparttar 126419 development ofrepparttar 126420 child. A child it is claimed takes everything in stride and reacts "naturally" to his environment, however depraved and deprived.

This may be true but it is irrelevant. It is notrepparttar 126421 child's development that we are dealing with here. It is its reactions to a series of existential traumas. That a process or an event has no influence later does not mean that it has no effect atrepparttar 126422 moment of occurrence. That it has no influence atrepparttar 126423 moment of occurrence does not prove that it has not been fully and accurately registered. That it has not been interpreted at all or that it has been interpreted in a way different from ours does not imply that it had no effect. In short: there is no connection between experience, interpretation and effect. There can exist an interpreted experience that has no effect. An interpretation can result in an effect without any experience involved. And an experience can effectrepparttar 126424 subject without any (conscious) interpretation. This means thatrepparttar 126425 baby can experience traumas, cruelty, neglect, abuse and even interpret them as such (i.e., as bad things) and still not be effected by them. Otherwise, how can we explain that a baby cries when confronted by a sudden noise, a sudden light, wet diapers, or hunger? Isn't this proof that he reacts properly to "bad" things and that there is such a class of things ("bad things") in his mind?

Psychology as Storytelling - Part I

Written by Sam Vaknin


Storytelling has been with us sincerepparttar days of campfire and besieging wild animals. It served a number of important functions: amelioration of fears, communication of vital information (regarding survival tactics andrepparttar 126341 characteristics of animals, for instance),repparttar 126342 satisfaction of a sense of order (justice),repparttar 126343 development ofrepparttar 126344 ability to hypothesize, predict and introduce theories and so on.

We are all endowed with a sense of wonder. The world around us in inexplicable, baffling in its diversity and myriad forms. We experience an urge to organize it, to "explainrepparttar 126345 wonder away", to order it in order to know what to expect next (predict). These arerepparttar 126346 essentials of survival. But while we have been successful at imposing our mind's structures onrepparttar 126347 outside world we have been much less successful when we tried to cope with our internal universe.

The relationship betweenrepparttar 126348 structure and functioning of our (ephemeral) mind,repparttar 126349 structure and modes of operation of our (physical) brain andrepparttar 126350 structure and conduct ofrepparttar 126351 outside world have beenrepparttar 126352 matter of heated debate for millennia. Broadly speaking, there were (and still are) two ways of treating it:

There were those who, for all practical purposes, identifiedrepparttar 126353 origin (brain) with its product (mind). Some of them postulatedrepparttar 126354 existence of a lattice of preconceived, born categorical knowledge aboutrepparttar 126355 universe repparttar 126356 vessels into which we pour our experience and which mould it. Others have regardedrepparttar 126357 mind as a black box. While it was possible in principle to know its input and output, it was impossible, again in principle, to understand its internal functioning and management of information. Pavlov coinedrepparttar 126358 word "conditioning", Watson adopted it and invented "behaviourism", Skinner came up with "reinforcement". The school of epiphenomenologists (emergent phenomena) regardedrepparttar 126359 mind asrepparttar 126360 by product ofrepparttar 126361 brain's "hardware" and "wiring" complexity. But all ignoredrepparttar 126362 psychophysical question: what ISrepparttar 126363 mind and HOW is it linked torepparttar 126364 brain?

The other camp was more "scientific" and "positivist". It speculated thatrepparttar 126365 mind (whether a physical entity, an epiphenomenon, a non-physical principle of organization, orrepparttar 126366 result of introspection) had a structure and a limited set of functions. They argued that a "user's manual" could be composed, replete with engineering and maintenance instructions. The most prominent of these "psychodynamists" was, of course, Freud. Though his disciples (Adler, Horney,repparttar 126367 object-relations lot) diverged wildly from his initial theories they all shared his belief inrepparttar 126368 need to "scientify" and objectify psychology. Freud a medical doctor by profession (Neurologist) and Bleuler before him came with a theory regardingrepparttar 126369 structure ofrepparttar 126370 mind and its mechanics: (suppressed) energies and (reactive) forces. Flow charts were provided together with a method of analysis, a mathematical physics ofrepparttar 126371 mind.

But this was a mirage. An essential part was missing:repparttar 126372 ability to testrepparttar 126373 hypotheses, which derived from these "theories". They were all very convincing, though, and, surprisingly, had great explanatory power. But - non-verifiable and non-falsifiable as they were they could not be deemed to possessrepparttar 126374 redeeming features of a scientific theory.

Deciding betweenrepparttar 126375 two camps was and is a crucial matter. Considerrepparttar 126376 clash - however repressed - between psychiatry and psychology. The former regards "mental disorders" as euphemisms - it acknowledges onlyrepparttar 126377 reality of brain dysfunctions (such as biochemical or electric imbalances) and of hereditary factors. The latter (psychology) implicitly assumes that something exists (the "mind",repparttar 126378 "psyche") which cannot be reduced to hardware or to wiring diagrams. Talk therapy is aimed at that something and supposedly interacts with it.

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