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Psychiatric Confusion?

John H. johnhkm at netsprintXXXX.net.au
Wed Dec 22 22:28:39 EST 1999

Nick Medford <nick at hermit0.demon.co.uk> wrote in message
news:v+k0RAAOBRY4EwvC at hermit0.demon.co.uk...


> >
> >"Meditation Research: The Evolution and State of the Art. Roger N. Walsh
> >p. 157
> >
> >With most meditative practices, the EEG patterns have slowed and
> >greater synchronisation, with alpha waves (8-13 cycles per second)
> >predominating. With more advanced practitioners even greater slowing may
> >evidence adn theta (4-7 cycles) patterns may occur. These patterns appear
> >be different from those that occur with relaxation or biofeedback, but
> >significance is not yet clear."
> >
> >They are implying it is a good change
> Are they? Don't they just say its something unusual, of unclear

That conclusion more derived from the general nature of the text. Actually
it was interesting to pull it out and look at it again, to read it now
I(publ 1980, my  last good read 1985) it seems almost childishly
enthusiastic about its subject, but this was in the early days and its fun
to be that way anyway.

> >On the fringes I think, transpersonal
> >psychology, its soul and heart in California, flourished for a brief
> >but as far as I can tell it has long since faded away. I mean to say:
> >Ego, ... How could  people who think like that have any chance in the
> Maybe not in the 80s, but a comeback in the 90s might have been feasible.
> In fact the British Psychological Society recently created a special
> section for transpersonal psychology, the first time they have ever done
> However I confess my limited exposure to those who espouse such
> philosophies left me deeply underwhelmed. Those I met were complete New
> Age stereotypes peddling half-baked dogma. They can be phenomenally
> dangerous when let loose on patients. They can also be incredibly self-
> righteous (e.g. their "mystic knowledge" versus science's "rationalist
> ignorance") and stand out as some of the most narrow-minded people I have
> ever met... which is odd, since they tend to think of themselves as quite
> opposite.

This re-emergence is encouraging. I'm not sure how useful it can be across
the board but
I think there is a segment of the population that probably can benefit a
good deal from these approaches. I remember Jung once said that there is no
ideal psychotherapy for the whole population, that his was very well suited
to the European middle aged, Freud to ..., Adler to ... . I like the sense
of this approach, and one thing that did please me about transpersonal
psychology is that it also incorporates this "recognize the individual
differences" into its overall structure. Unfortunately it still remains very
difficult if not impossible to create the appropriate categories for all the
individual differences. I think we have become very good at
identifying specific things about human behaviour, I'm not so confident we
can, in principle, create fully comprehensive models to explain all human
behaviour; if only because human behaviour often contains irrational or
contradictory components that can easily change the whole applecart very
quickly. But there will remain much room for improvement in our models.

I was driven away from TP by the same sorts of people that you mention and
eventually became very angry with what I perceived to be a serious case of
definite rampant intellectual dishonesty for self-glorification. The
achilles heal of Transpersonal Psychology is that goddamn hierarchy idea by
Ken Wilber, it sets everyone off trying to get higher all the time. My
Satori is Better Than Yours Syndrome. The ideas are interesting, but the
people are sold this crap and I get really pissed off when I go to the
bookstore and see so many titles with pseudoscience littered across it. Why
are those claiming to be "spiritually inclined" so infuriatingly
condescending towards the likes of me! Now
that the childish enthusiasm has waned perhaps something more constructive
will arise. Personally I'll just go read D T Suzuki again.
> >
> >There is an excellent web page somewhere by a neuroscientist who has
spent a
> >good deal of time living in Zen and that makes sense. I like Zen, I
> >certainly would like to see a lot more of it in our culture. I hate
> >meditation.
> I wonder if the "Zen scientist" you mention could be James Austin? He
> wrote a superb book called "Zen and the Brain" which I'm sure would
> interest you.

Thanks for the reference.

> >
> >In many of the "autonomic tricks" the people spent many years learning
> >trick, which in their culture suggested some sort of heightened
> >spirituality. One striking example I remember was the Indian guru who
> >stop his heart for a few seconds. That we can't see the neural mechanisms
> >for this doesn't mean it has to be spooky.
> Actually I was using the terms "spooky" and "mind over matter" in a
> tongue-in-cheek way, although irony doesn't come over too clearly on
> Usenet. Like you I was referring to people's tendency to invoke "the
> paranormal" the moment something difficult to explain comes along.

Well there you go. Synchronicity right here right now. Prior to this I had
just finished addressing an email where the sender had confused my tongue in
cheek use in a similiar fashion to this!. Mr Jung Lives!

This thread started with a discussion about serotonin, a good example of how
one thing can have so many varying operations in the brain. A recent
experiment on crayfish showed that the activity of serotonin was altered by
the crayfish's pecking order level! How's that for top down. I cannot
reference this but it is recent (3 months).


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