At this point something else must be taken into consideration: did I ever say that I would mention the heart later on? We will make of it our fourth brain ... ! as "One can, it is true, understand many things with the heart …". 29
All of us are quite aware that the heart is a contractile muscle with cavities, ventricles and valves which if necessary can be substituted with other people’s hearts or similar structures made of synthetic materials ... and as such it is obviously very important to us but it is not the anatomical heart which we are concerned with here, but rather the one defined as "The whole personality including intellectual as well as emotional functions or traits" 1 or "... mind; soul ... /Seat of the emotions, esp. of love ... /Sensibility ...; courage ..." 2.
In the Analytical Concordance to the Holy Bible 3 there are thirteen different words for "mind", ten different ones for "heart" and not even one for "brain" from which we might even surmise that neuropsychology is a latecomer in the scientific world while the mind-heart relation is a very ancient one, were it not that by the time of Hippocrates and Galen a nosology of mental disorders was already in use and, concerning the brain, so far back in time as 500 BC Hippocrates, in a lecture on epilepsy delivered to an audience of medical men , said: "Some people say that the heart is an organ with which we think and that it feels pain and anxiety. But it is not so. Men ought to know that from the brain only arise our pleasures, joys, laughter and tears. Through it, in particular, we think, see, ear, and distinguish the ugly from the beautiful, the bad from the good, the pleasant from the unpleasant ... To consciousness the brain is messenger ... The brain is the interpreter of consciousness". 4
Apparently, these words were soon forgotten, however, as this deep insight did not have a technology for corroboration ... and here we find another example of lagging behind.
"I am the falcon within the shrine; I open to him who is upon my wall" 5. These words, from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, come from the "spell for going forth by day and repulsing the robber, not letting man’s Soul be seized in the God’s domain, keeping his soul in the Sacred land" 6 and perhaps they can, from this very remote stand in time and the circumstances where they belong to in the citation, be the best definition of the word heart, the one deprived of its contractile muscle characteristics and proper anatomical location.
This heart which is none other than a symbol to express something that defies description corresponds to the inner part, the core of the personality, in communion, as it were, with the unconscious - I would define it also, and more properly, as "the mind beyond the human-mind".
all was in a light
I do not know what the color of the heart of a diamond is; that must be the color of the light shining above the object that gave life to the shadow; when the shadow experienced it, it could not tell a tale as it was annihilated. But even if there is no way to describe that light, to see what the heart of a diamond looks like, we do know that a diamond can reflect all existing colors so much so as our personality symbolically can, 7 hence I shall identify this light with the domain, thus completing my three-ism insanity. This domain being the kingdom of emanation we can equate it with the human being as an entity endowed with the symbolic consistence and qualities of a diamond; the color of his inner being, "... the sacred shine of Tillai or Chitambaram ..." 8 cannot be described and his reflective quality is beyond compare.
Obviously we do not meet this kind of being in our everyday life, times are such that the reflections are dimmed not only beyond the mythical seven veils but also beyond nuclear war armaments, corporate societies, drug smugglers, ecological murderers, liberation fronts, terrorists and good souls caught in the mesh of our technocracy.
At this point we can draw the line and state the relations:
"The inner part of the personality, in communion, as it were, with the
unconscious"; it is time that we start to clearly define some all-important words, and they are: personality, unconscious, psyche, and awareness. Broadly speaking we all know the meanings of these words but, as meanings not always match properly insofar as users are concerned we will build a small dictionary around them for the purposes of this writing and we shall strictly conform to it - after adding a few words about the fourth brain.
The fourth brain crept into this writing as a logical sequential numbering right after the splitting of the triune brain which, viewed from our rather than the neuroanatomist’s side, is just a single brain as we always knew. The fourth brain therefore is the brain beyond the brain, hence it is no brain at all but the sum total of all our mind’s activities as co-ordinated by our brain in response to our psychophysical environment.
By psychophysical I mean the mental environment (psyche), our internal biophysical environment whether or not we are conscious of it (soma) and the external physical environment and the way we are affected - in toto and at any given moment - by the stimuli acting upon ourselves and coming from the mentioned environments - within and without - and inclusive of the memory - conscious and unconscious - of past experience and to some extent future aspirations, expectations, plans. Viewed in this way this fourth brain is what exactly we are, a domain unto ourselves, the image and the shadow being functions of this domain while personality, psyche, consciousness, unconscious and awareness are reflections thereof.
Having so defined the fourth brain we will now define the term personality and, alas! here we will have another brain splitting job as the physical counterpart of the mental state.
Janus, the god of the beginnings, was usually represented with two bearded heads placed back to back so that he might look in two directions at the same time and again this will reinforce my convictions that we are lagging behind our evolution, and in a way it also makes me believe that somehow we always knew all that we actually know, the difference being only in the degree of knowledge and awareness: primitive mind versus intuitive mind, intuitive mind versus rational mind, rational mind versus technologically aided mind ... I do not know what will come after the technologically aided mind (will the choice be between monstrosity or annihilation? I dare not think!) but the importance of our technologically aided position lies in that to a large extent we have the advantages of test, verification and proof - hard facts which the intuitive and the enlightened minds lack. The preceding words might have nothing to do with Janus, but Janus, the god of beginnings, for me is strictly related to our personality as it may well be the most ancient symbol of the split-brain, our schizophysiology 9 - that is, the two cerebral hemispheres which make up our brain and interpret the greatest part of the input sensory data to which we are subject, elaborate it, decode it and cause us to act in response to the aforementioned stimuli in a frame of reference normally confined within certain limits or accepted standards evolved from our environmental and sociological standpoints - day by day from pre-natal time, from the very beginning, Janus-style - up to the time of neuro-cortical maturity and to the present point and to the days left to us.
These limits, or accepted standards, are in a way quite well defined and at the same time pliable and elastic so that responses are not rigidly stereotyped but allow variations in the response toward an end and the way these variations are enforced will be an indication of that trait, "... that wavy succession of mental states ..." 10 that we call personality. While personality is an abstraction which cannot be measured with a common yardstick or weighed on a scale, although we measure it psychologically within an anthropological frame of reference or sometimes we weigh it in a sociological contest which we call justice, its substratum can be weighted, measured, stained and placed in a test tube. Most probably the two mirror-like hemispheres of the cerebral cortex, our Janus brain, are deeply involved in the exteriorization of this trait which in a way is not exclusively confined to humans - and to this bear witness my cats - even if "the division of brain functions appears only in human beings and is thought to be the result of the development of speech and other ‘higher’ human functions." 11
When consistent incongruities arise for whatever reason in the cortical hemisphere then we are subject to disorders or pathological states of mind, the most common of which is split personality, or more properly "a biochemical disease that causes changes in perception, thought and mood, although the form of the illness is shaped by personality, family, culture, and treatment", 12 a disorder characterized by dissociation particularly between the intellectual and the affective processes. There are six main symptoms in schizophrenia affecting thinking, the emotions, will, coordination of body movements and the presence of delusions or hallucinations, and not all of them need to be present, any one may be absent yet the diagnosis can still be schizophrenia; the main varieties of this disorder are: dementia praecox (hebephrenia) whereby the subject exhibits silly mannerisms and becomes untidy and careless of personal appearance due to the detachment with reality; catatonia (includes catalepsy), a state of mental automatism in which the voluntary muscle systems retain any position in which they are placed; paranoia, characterized by persistent mental delusions often accompanied by hallucinations and paraphrenia, that is psychoneurotic employment of wrong sounds in speaking - neurotic lisping.
This split brain, or bilateral symmetry with particular consideration of the cortical hemispheres, gives rise to the "bicameral mind", 13 something that I can visualize as two apparently identical soap bubbles which, however seemingly identical, will never have the same reflections - or reflective qualities - and in effect, the two apparently identical cerebral hemispheres do not share the same reflective properties, or, more correctly termed, specializations; their similarity is merely anatomical and neurosurgical mapping has indeed confirmed it beyond any doubt.
"The brain’s left hemisphere ... dictates behavior that is rational, rule following, verbal and aggressive ... The right hemisphere grooves on colors, music, and intuition, feels no particular loyalty to a ‘normal’ time-space frame, and has a that’s-cool-I-love you attitude toward the world" or "the flat, obsessional, analytic, verbal mode of the left hemisphere ... the labile, emotional, impulsive, visual, intuitive mode of the right hemisphere". 14
The specialization incongruity between the two seemingly identical hemispheres is still a mystery; each hemisphere controls the opposite half of the body and as such most of the functions can be traced for right handed people in the left hemisphere and for left handed people in the right hemisphere, although this is not the rule as these functions can also be widely distributed between the hemispheres. (It is also interesting to notice that "there is a correlation between skull position at birth and lateralization of EEG (electroencephalogram) focus in epileptic children. Where the occiput was to the maternal right side, the EEG focus was on the left in 85% of cases, whereas if the occiput was to the maternal left, the EEG was to the left in only 58% of cases.) 15
Still unanswered, however, is the question as to why about 95% of people is right-handed, since why right-handedness is prevalent is still unknown; why there is this prevalent instinctive choice of right-handedness, or left-hemisphere dominance as, given the rules of chance and excluding genetic influence there should be a fifty-fifty choice.
A small digression: the words ‘excluding genetic influence’ however sends me far away in my fantasy worlds and makes me think that the versus of coiling of the DNA chain might have some responsibility in this state of things - by the way, why do all of my coiled sea-shells have their spiraling turns growing in a clockwise motion? That however is not the rule although it appears to be so in the vast majority of cases both in the microcosm and in the macrocosm.
The galaxy in the picture above apparently is spinning in an anti-clockwise motion hence the spokes appear coiling in a clockwise direction.
The brain is however very plastic, that is to say that hemispheric dominance is not an immutable characteristic of the brain. Consider as an example the brain’s speech area (Broca’s area, or opercular language area, that is the motor-speech area that controls the movements of articulation, facial expression, and phonation) which is confined to the dominant hemisphere while the anatomically identical area in the opposite hemisphere is functionally silent: should this area become damaged causing loss of speech, the so far silent equivalent area in the opposite side will slowly take over so that speech will be regained.
While lateral dominance as such should not be influential inasmuch as personality is concerned, personality being the sum total of many abstract traits, a "wavy succession of mental states" 10 irrespective of whether we are right or left handed, the psychophysical relation with the environment will be all-important in lateralization dominance and neuronal specialization insofar as the engram - a hypothetical change in neural tissue postulated in order to account for persistence of memory - is concerned. Going back to the computer analogies we can say that the way data is stored in our brain’s magnetic or optoelectronic support (keeping to the computer analogies), the proper neurologically specialized cortical areas, is all important to the extent that retrieval and program execution, comparable to exteriorization of personality, are concerned.
Summing up we can say that processing centers in the brain are not equally localized in similar organisms (in this specific case human beings are meant) although as a rule variations are slight as pre-birth development appears to be genetically predetermined, while after-birth neuronal development as affected by psychophysical environmental experiences appears to be all important insofar as the response of these centers will be to the stimuli acting on them - hence these centers are dominant processing supports insofar as character and active exteriorization, the sum total of the abstract traits we call personality, are concerned.
These "abstract traits" can be defined as the integrated and dynamic organization of the physical, mental, moral and social qualities of the individual as they manifest themselves in their social milieu in everyday life. As such they include the natural and acquired impulses, habits, interests, complexes, sentiments, ideals, opinions and beliefs.
Insofar as the term unconscious is concerned and for the purpose of this writing, I would define it as: an endopsychic process not having the characteristics of awareness; with the definite article, the unconscious, we can understand it as that structural part of our personality the traits of which are not - or only partially - manifest to us as involving processes that are of a different order in respect to experiential awareness and as such mostly unknown to us and therefore unable or unlikely to become conscious processes although some of them might be revealed by introspection and at this point influenced bringing them on the threshold of awareness.
"... the personal unconscious is only a superficial layer, which rests on an entirely different foundation, which we call the collective unconscious". 16 According to Jung ",... the unconscious personifies and there issue from the collective unconscious, autonomous partial systems, fragmentary personalities, which threaten to disintegrate consciousness. We do not personify them, but they have a personal nature from the very beginning. But in our fear we may project them outside, externalize them." 17
By awareness, the rational, trace leaving, and as such causative - but not necessarily sensory - experience of an object, fact or idea is meant, an event affecting our engram which we can freely recall, discern and analyze.
The other term to define is psyche which, in Greek mythology was the personification of the human soul. On a dictionary I can find the following definition: "Originally the principle of life, but used generally as equivalent to mentality, or as a substitute for the mind or soul." 18 On other dictionaries it is alternatively described as soul, self, mind. This being an all-important word from which several different disciplines take they name (psychology, psychiatry, psychoanalysis etc.) it seems strange that it is so vaguely and ambiguously defined so that I will confine it within narrow limits by saying that the psyche is the link between the image (shadow) and the brain (object) (this link is as hard to visualize so much so as the space between the shadow and the object is for the shadow itself, recalling that a spatial dimension, namely height, is negated to the shadow); in other words the mediator of our mental life ("... the psyche comprises: 1 - symbolic activity, organized into psychodynamic mechanisms dependent upon the function of the cerebral cortex, and 2 - reactions determined by the physiologic activity of an ‘emotional circuit’"). 19
Personality, unconscious, awareness and psyche are words that we will meet again later on and that is the reason why, for the purpose of the present writing and indeed to my taste, they have been redefined here; we do not wish to fall in ambiguous word-traps.
At this point, as "living beings are chemical machines", 20 and as times are such that whether we shall go to the electric chair or be confined in a asylum for the mentally sick seems to be directly determined by our brain’s biochemical processes since "... the causes of mental illness may ultimately be traced to defects in the functioning of specific transmitter systems in the brain", 21 we are left with another important subject to examine, namely the brain’s biochemical processes and see how they are related to the mind, which in turn will call for an answer to a question which I previously left unanswered: are we using our mind or is MIND using us? In other words, are we puppets or masters insofar as our mental life is concerned?
We have seen that the brain tissues contain roughly 1011 neurons; just for comparison, it took my venerable personal computer several hours to generate a high-resolution screen with something resembling a neuron and that must not have been very fast if we think that neurons must be generated in the developing human brain at an average rate of more than 250.000 per minute, which means that every second in the fetal developing stage over 6,000 highly specialized cells, each one in its own right comparable to a microprocessor, are generated just to give shape to that which on the average, in the adult, will be only one fortieth - or 2% - of his total body weight, his (triune) brain.
A neuron is a highly specialized cell, roughly pyramidal or spherical in shape with a diameter ranging from about 5 to 100 micrometers, and with an average negative resting potential of about -70 millivolts caused by an uneven distribution of positively charged ions of sodiun (Na+) and potassium (Ka+) across the cell membrane. From it several tube-like extensions, the dendrites, branch off and they are the main physical support on which the neuron receives incoming signals. Another extension from the cell, structurally different from the dendrites is the axon; usually axons are thinner and longer that dendrites besides being covered by layers of an insulating sheet, interrupted every millimeter or so, of a fatty substance called myelin. The axons are the fibers through which the nerve impulses are transmitted and they can be several centimeters long; they can conduct in both directions and only in an on/off (or yes/no - excitatory or inhibitory) mode and the frequency of the signals passing through them is the basis of the axonal information transfer system. Notably the same binary system (on/off, yes/no, 0-1) in used in digital electronics - in other words data transfer seemingly works in the same way both in biological and technological systems. Exchange of information is relayed from one neuron to another at specialized points of contact in the dendrites called synapses by means of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters, chemical substances contained in high concentrations in the synapses and released by the synaptic vesicles in tiny packets - or quanta - containing prescribed amounts of neurotransmitters which act on specific receptor sites in the postsynaptic membrane thereby altering the electrical activity of the receiving neuron. Some synapses, of which a neuron may have from 1,000 to 10,000 - are excitatory, they tend to promote the firing of a neuron, while some others are inhibitory in that they have the property of canceling incoming signals that otherwise excite a neuron to fire. A single neuron may in such a wise receive information from several hundreds neurons. Unlike other cells in the body, the neuron in the human brain cannot regenerate or replace itself 30 and as such it must of necessity have the biochemical machinery essential for synthesizing enzymes - chemical catalyzers - and other molecules essential to the cell’s life and such synthesis can take place only in the region of the cell’s nucleus. The neurons are surrounded, nourished and supported by a great number of densely packed glial cells which also act as a selective filtration system, a barrier preventing undesired substances transported by the blood to penetrate into the brain; however, a class of glial cells, the astroglia, or astrocytes 22 - the name due to their peculiar starry shape - are not just supporting cells as they play key roles in normal physiology, in brain development and in the pathology of the nervous system. Astrocytes share with the neurons the capacity to capture and to bind several neuromediators and it now appears that they may have also an important function in autoimmune diseases.
The energy requirements of the brain, due to he high specialization of neurons and to the fact that they cannot regenerate themselves, 30 are very high in terms of oxygen and blood glucose consumption and, by virtue of the almost total dependence of the brain on adequate circulation and substance delivery, any condition altering or blocking the supply of oxygen or glucose for even short periods of time, that is even for a span of a few seconds - six seconds is about the time that it takes for neurons to be affected if blood supply and consequently oxygen supply is reduced - will disrupt the neurons’s metabolism or starve them thereby causing some functional failure and eventually permanent damage to selected areas of the brain so that bodily or mental functions depending on such areas will be impaired or lost - although some functions, notably speech and some forms of paralysis, can be slowly regained as sometimes other parts of the brain can take over and compensate functional losses due to these damages.
A sketchy discussion of the chemistry of the brain is herewith included because it appears evident that in some cases we can at will influence our brain’s chemistry and this brain of ours is too powerful a tool to be left without control (notwithstanding the fact that we can normally do very little to get it at our knees). For thousands of years man has tried to reach certain states of consciousness and self-control through hard self-imposed disciplines or religious, yogic or shamanic doctrines and practices which indeed are useful, but, but however useful these disciplines may be, even a very crude knowledge of how our brain works can increase the usefulness of efforts for self-control and self-knowledge a hundredfold besides placing them on a more rational and easy-to-follow path.
Visualizing our brain - or any other part of our organism - doing a certain work for us in indeed easier that visualizing a complex mandala. 23 Trying to reach a definite goal through a complex symbolic visualization, more often than not a part of a difficult or abstruse self-cultivation doctrine, is much more intricate that reaching it with the help of some kind of easily followed, individualized, exercise of autosuggestion which can put our brain, even if for a limited extent, to work for us in desired and controlled ways.
A new field of research, psycho-neuroimmunology, is actually being tested in several clinics coupled with specific therapies for given pathological conditions as "the immune system will respond to pictures in the mind" 24 and the vast band of doubters, even in scientific circles, are getting thinner and thinner as they realize that we do have much more power on ourselves than we ever imagined: "Your brain becomes what you do ... it transforms to fit life." 25
As a chemical factory the brain is very complex and specialized. Dozens of proteins, aminoacids and hormones which will act as chemical messengers released at synaptic terminals or circulated by the blood are produced in the brain and usually each single neuron possesses the biochemical machinery necessary to produce the one kind of neurotransmitter which will suit its specific biological purpose.
Neurons are organized into groups that use one neurotransmitter or another exclusively, and the type of neurotransmitter determines the specific capability of the group. To convey impulses to one another across synapses neurons employ over six dozens of these different chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters.
Some other substances active in the brain, mainly hormones, are produced in our body glands; the first hormone to be discovered, in 1894, was adrenalin (epinephrine) and it acts mainly on the sympathetic (one of the two divisions of the autonomic or vegetative nervous system) nerves by stimulating heart action and raising blood pressure, releasing and increasing glucose consumption, increasing blood circulation in the muscles, relaxing the air passages stimulating breathing and producing a sense of excitement; it is the hormone which mediates the "fight or flight" response.
Naming it first in our short chemical list is not casual since I said that we have much more power in ourselves than we ever imagined, and power means control. Let us suppose, a small journey in reverie, that we are facing a situation whereby we have to choose between a night-long cold-weather training or a quiet night-long sleep in our warm bed and we liberally choose the first option. We don our bathing suit, open the door and walk out, half naked, into the middle of a snow storm. While at the very moment we open the door so as to get out from our confortably heated home, due to the sudden contact with the hostile environment facing us a surge of adrenalin is produced by our adrenal glands which will prepare our physical frame to face a hard environmental situation, some of this important hormone was already circulated in our body and brain at the very moment that we decided for the cold weather training option, which means that we could liberally decide for ourselves to have this hormone produced in the body, hormone which in turn became active in the brain to produce a certain mood: it did put us in an adrenergic state, that is, a state where there is dominance of the sympathetic nervous system, a state of body and senses alert in view of what we were to face shortly.
"A mild state of cholinergia is usually associated with a sense of relaxation, well-being, and even pleasure" 26 and this is possibly the state we would have faced if we chose the other way around, a quiet night-long sleep in our warm bed. Acetylcholine, from which the word cholinergia is derived, is another chemical substance present in our organism - it has been isolated and identified in brain tissue - important because it acts as the chemical transmitter of nerve impulses in the autonomic nervous system. It acts by setting off electrical impulses in nerve and muscle cells thus making them permeable to electrically active atoms of sodium; the effect is very short lived and it is rapidly destroyed by an enzime, cholinesterase, which hydrolizes it into cholic and acetic acid thereby preventing poisoning (the poison which we know as strychnine given systematically increases the output of brain acetylcholine); acetylcholine is dominant in parasympathetic activation.
These two cases were two extremes whereby we could liberally choose between an adrenergic and a cholinergic state; obviously it would not be so easy (fortunately!) for us to tamper with the numerous and more subtle neurotransmitters active in our brain but with proper training and effort some of these substances could be put to work for us in useful ways, deliberately and consciously. Incidentally psychic conditioning, more often than not trough that all-powerful force which is fear, or through enhanced stress, is widely employed by shamans and yogis and in primitive initiation rites: our hormonal factory, through fear or stress becomes super-active and prepares us to face and overcome the majority of events.
Events consciously evoked by psychical exercises can be extremely disrupting (leading all the way to insanity or even death) and that is why they are willfully used in many exercises or self-cultivation practices to overcome negative tendencies and to attain higher states of consciousness: overcoming undesirable propensities - killing our fantasies – to be delivered from the figments of our imagination is the path to liberation. Actually the diverse physical states or the psychic states of mind consciously reached in yogic or shamanic exercises are reached through disciplines which alter the body metabolism as compared to normal living routine and deliberately changing the body metabolism means a redirection or variation of the biochemical processes. This means that we can modify at will some processes within our body and within our psyche, processes that as a norm are interdependent and this can have important implications insofar as our physical or mental health are concerned.
Receptors are concentrated in some regions of the mammalian brain and spinal cord that are involved in the perception and integration of pain and emotional experience and a class of neuropeptides, the enkephalins and the endorphins (isolated from the pituitary gland in the brain) are chemical substances occurring naturally in the brain and which have a remarkable similarity to morphine, an oppiate pain-killing drug. This may mean that when we make a successful effort to control pain without any exterior aid we direct a release of these substances at the proper receptors and this too is somehow achieved through a conscious effort, an act of will. Of course, aware and trained at it we could to a certain extent control pain by some sort of yogic or mental exercise but probably the same exercise influenced by the knowledge of why and how pain control works within the metabolic processes of our body would be much more effective.
It would be very easy to pick up a good reference source and blot down a long list of strange chemical names and abbreviations, such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA - the most ubiquitous inhibitory transmitter in the nervous system), glutamate (the most abundant excitatory transmitter), serotonin, dopamine, histamine, clicyne, taurine, adenosine monophosfate (cyclic AMP) and so forth, and the brain zones where they occur and the effects that they have when they occur in higher or lower concentrations than nature prescribes, that is to say the usually detrimental effects that the unbalance of their occurrence - over or under-production or unnatural displacement or concentration - may have on our well being, but besides risking to be boring that would not help us very much right now. It will suffice to say that the short discussion on neurochemistry was included with the aim to make it clear that, of necessity, we can put our brain to work for us by some sort of methodical mind-control exercise coupled with the knowledge of the how and why a certain substance will work to a definite end, namely health and mental improvement and that is exactly what the sciences of psycho-neuroimmunology or neuroimmunomodulation (modulate in Vivo immune reactions ) are trying to do.
"I am amazed at the results that I have obtained and continue to obtain daily by the use of the excellent method you have thought me of conscious autosuggestion. I was ill mentally and physically. Now I am well and also nearly always cheerful ... Mme. Friry". 27 Of course, there is really nothing new in autosuggestion or scientific self-hypnosis apart from the by the now usual discovery of the "lagging behind fact"; we now know through advanced experimentation what Emile Coue’ came to know and teach mostly through intuition. Neither Coue’ nor Mme. Friry knew the exact mechanisms behind the marvels of autosuggestion but now we can dare say that the culprit is neurochemistry. Incidentally, one word from the above quotation appears to be very important; the word is cheerful and besides knowing instinctively how a good mood - a cheerful attitude - is good to health we also know that in some kinds of physical or emotional disturbances startling results are obtained in "laughter clinics" where patients are cured by means of induced laughter and, indeed, the physiological response to laughter is a modification in the strain of chemicals in certain areas of the brain. In this context, laughter therapy, a recent discovery 28 that an area in the brain stimulated with an electrode causes laughter, might be very important.
Laughter is, of course, abreactive; through it we can release our tension resulting from conflict and from repressed emotions.
Here we may invoke once more the working of the brain’s all-important feedback processes by stating that, as statistically ascertained, naturally cheerful individuals are less ill-prone than odd dark-mooded souls. Laughter can very aptly illustrate the feedback process: the brain causes laughter due to some particular event, and laughter acts physiologically in such a way that certain substances are released within selected centers and as a result influence the whole organism.
Notes to chapter 3
- Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, Ma. G & C. Merriam
Chapter 1 The Mind
Chapter 2 The Image
Chapter 3 The Domain
Chapter 4 Rational and Irrational
Chapter 5 The Rational Being
Chapter 6 Symbols
Chapter 7 The Bi-dimensional Being
Chapter 8 Memories of the future
Who did it