A Momentary Flow

Updating Worldviews one World at a time

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188 posts tagged Mind

All human beings (and their brains) have to cope with the fact that their five senses gather more information than even the magnificent human brain is able to process. To put this another way: we need to be able to ignore a lot of what is happening around us — the smell of pizza baking, the sound of the cat meowing, or the sight of birds flying outside the window — if we are going to focus our attention and concentrate on what we are doing (in your case, for example, reading this book). Our ability to filter out unnecessary stimuli and focus our attention is mediated by brain mechanisms in regions known as the thalamus and the reticular activating system.

The Relationship Between Creativity and Mental Illness | Brain Pickings

Many personality characteristics of creative people … make them more vulnerable, including openness to new experiences, a tolerance for ambiguity, and an approach to life and the world that is relatively free of preconceptions. This flexibility permits them to perceive things in a fresh and novel way, which is an important basis for creativity. But it also means that their inner world is complex, ambiguous, and filled with shades of gray rather than black and white. It is a world filled with many questions and few easy answers. While less creative people can quickly respond to situations based on what they have been told by people in authority — parents, teachers, pastors, rabbis, or priests — the creative person lives in a more fluid and nebulous world. He or she may have to confront criticism or rejection for being too questioning, or too unconventional. Such traits can lead to feelings of depression or social alienation. A highly original person may seem odd or strange to others. Too much openness means living on the edge. Sometimes the person may drop over the edge… into depression, mania, or perhaps schizophrenia.

The Relationship Between Creativity and Mental Illness | Brain Pickings

What Happens to the Brain During Spiritual Experiences?
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The field of neurotheology uses science to try to understand religion, and vice versa.
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“Everyone philosophizes,” writes neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg in his latest book, The Metaphysical Mind: Probing the Biology of Philosophical Thought. We all speculate about the meaning of all kinds of things, from everyday concerns about dealing with a co-worker to our ultimate beliefs about the purpose of existence. Accompanying solutions we find to these problems, there’s a range of satisfied feelings, from “ah-ha” or light-bulb moments upon solving an everyday problem to ecstatic feelings during mystical experiences. Since everyday and spiritual concerns are variations of the same thinking processes, Newberg thinks it’s essential to examine how people experience spirituality in order to fully understand how their brains work. Looking at the bigger questions has already provided practical applications for improving mental and physical health. Newberg is a pioneer in the field of neurotheology, the neurological study of religious and spiritual experiences. In the 1990s, he began his work in the field by scanning what happens in people’s brains when they meditate, because it is a spiritual practice that is relatively easy to monitor. Since then, he’s looked at around 150 brain scans, including those of Buddhists, nuns, atheists, Pentecostals speaking in tongues, and Brazilian mediums practicing psychography—the channeling of messages from the dead through handwriting. As to what’s going on in their brains, Newberg says, “It depends to some degree on what the practice is.” Practices that involve concentrating on something over and over again, either through prayer or a mantra-based meditation, tend to activate the frontal lobes, the areas chiefly responsible for directing attention, modulating behavior, and expressing language. (via What Happens to the Brain During Spiritual Experiences? - Lynne Blumberg - The Atlantic)

Several points are important to bear in mind here. First, the studies showing effects of drugs on moral decision-making were carried out in healthy volunteers, whereas drugs are prescribed to people suffering from mental illness. The brains of people with mental illness may respond differently to drugs than do the brains of healthy volunteers. So it’s not at all straightforward to generalise from studies carried out with healthy volunteers to effects on people taking drugs for medical reasons. Furthermore, the drug effects in these studies are generally very subtle. Imagine you have to rate the acceptability of pushing the fat man on a scale from 1 (“completely unacceptable”) to 10 (“completely acceptable”). If you would normally give a score of 4, taking citalopram might push you towards a 3. So although studies have shown drugs can reliably shift people’s judgments, the effects are not large enough to induce dramatic changes in personality.

Morality pills: reality or science fiction? | Molly Crockett | Science | theguardian.com
How to Learn to Love Your DopplegangerHallucinating yourself can be both a symptom and a tool. - What are you doing running through the streets in your underpants?” asks Tyler Durden in the movie Fight Club. “We both use that body.” He is addressing his unnamed doppelganger (German for “double walker”), whose life he has gradually usurped. The movie, a smash hit grossing $100 million, is just one recent example of our long-standing fascination with the idea of double selves, which stretches from ancient Egyptian and Norse mythology, through German folklore (in which it was considered a harbinger of death), into the hands of Edgar Allan Poe, Groucho Marx, and Brad Pitt. Freud was one of the first to attempt to treat doppelgangers scientifically, calling them the “return of the repressed.” He argued that they are an aspect of the psyche that is out of control, and will persist until directly confronted and defeated. Modern science has taught us that, in one sense, he was right: Doppelgangers are the result of a fracture in the process by which we construct our identity.
a worthwhile read..
(via How to Learn to Love Your Doppleganger - Issue 13: Symmetry - Nautilus)

How to Learn to Love Your Doppleganger
Hallucinating yourself can be both a symptom and a tool.
-
What are you doing running through the streets in your underpants?” asks Tyler Durden in the movie Fight Club. “We both use that body.” He is addressing his unnamed doppelganger (German for “double walker”), whose life he has gradually usurped. The movie, a smash hit grossing $100 million, is just one recent example of our long-standing fascination with the idea of double selves, which stretches from ancient Egyptian and Norse mythology, through German folklore (in which it was considered a harbinger of death), into the hands of Edgar Allan Poe, Groucho Marx, and Brad Pitt. Freud was one of the first to attempt to treat doppelgangers scientifically, calling them the “return of the repressed.” He argued that they are an aspect of the psyche that is out of control, and will persist until directly confronted and defeated. Modern science has taught us that, in one sense, he was right: Doppelgangers are the result of a fracture in the process by which we construct our identity.

a worthwhile read..

(via How to Learn to Love Your Doppleganger - Issue 13: Symmetry - Nautilus)