A New Map of the Mind

It is now practically a cliche, and has been so ever since Howard Gardner published his work on the 7 different types of Intelligence, that we human beings possess multiple minds. Of which the ‘Rational Mind’ and ‘Emotional Mind’ are perhaps the most familiar.

I was thinking about this fact when one of my clients reminded me of the ‘Rational Mind – Emotional Mind – Wise Mind’ scheme which (I think) was first sketched by Marsha Linehan – the founder of Dialectical-Behaviour Therapy. DBT is the treatment of choice for Borderline Personality Disorder and in my view is a very powerful model indeed and I have great respect for Linehan’s work. The purpose of the model is to help people with Borderline Personality Disorder stay in ‘Wise Mind’, avoiding over-analytical thinking and ‘irrational’ emotions and retaining Mindfulness. This is a good strategy for people who are overwhelmed by anxiety, bad moods and tantrums but I think it is too negative about the Rational Mind and the Emotional Mind. It also leaves out ‘Bodymind’ – the real source of emotional intelligence.

So here is my own model:

multimind5

Explaining the Model:

Starting with the box on the bottom left we can see the negative side of the Thinking Mind, which for convenience I call ‘Junkmind’. This is the source of all our mental health disorders and the crazy thinking which creates havoc with our lives. Spending too much time there will lead to what I have called the ‘Distressed Body’ (fallaciously known as ‘Stress’) on the bottom right. And if we don’t do anything about this distress then we might develop illnesses such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Medically Unexplained Pain along with other mysterious conditions. When the Body is in distress for too long then anxiety, clinical depression, and the symptoms of chronic illness will smother the emotional messages it is also sending us. For a description of how emotions actually work see my earlier blog post here.

To be healthy we have to stay in Focused Mind (middle left) while paying attention to the intelligence of the Emotional Body (middle right).

Focused Mind isn’t just about being rational. It is also about having the right focus of attention. Attention to things we can influence, rather than those we can do nothing about. Attention to solutions rather than problems and to goals rather than wishes. Attention to the facts rather than a fantasy about how things ought to be. Focused Mind stays in Present Moment Awareness and is open to messages from the Body.

While Thoughts are the means through which we organise our efforts, Emotions are the driving force through which we are impelled to make any effort at all. It is from there that we source our passion as well as the emotions that push us towards self-expression, self-protection, solidarity with our partners, families, friends and communities and the excitement that comes with success.

When Focused Mind joins forces with the Emotional Body we come very close to the Deep Self which I associate with what Abraham Maslow used to call ‘Self Actualisation’ – the primary drive towards becoming the best we can be. Staying at this level of Mind is a veery rewarding place to be with frequent moments of flow, moments of joy and excitement, and what Maslow calls ‘peak experiences’ – on which you can read more here.

“All the evidence that we have indicates that it is reasonable to assume in practically every human being, and certainly in almost every newborn baby, that there is an active will toward health, an impulse towards growth, or towards self-actualization.”

                                                                                                     Abraham Maslow

 

 

The Truth about Anger Management

243Most approaches to anger management are fatally flawed through seeing anger as bad and something to be controlled and avoided. People with ‘anger management issues’ may be referred on to psychobabble specialists like Dr Buddy Rydell (played in the film by Jack Nicholson, right) who treat anger as a mental health disorder rather than as a potentially healthy response to poor behaviour on the part of others.

The study of emotional intelligence suggests a different view.

Anger is good:

  • It brings issues out into the open
  • It gets you taken seriously
  • It corrects poor behaviour
  • It initiates change in others
  • It fights injustice (think Martin Luther King)
  • It protects you from manipulators
  • It urges you to leave abusive relationships
  • It forces you to define yourself and what you want
  • It helps you towards self-respect
  • It maintains boundaries between you and others

Rage is bad….
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The 5 different types of mind

minds

On October 9th I am offering a Master Class on using Multiple Intelligences with The Beyond Partnership  in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. In this article I describe the material we will be covering.

Contrary to myth conscious reasoning, like free will, plays only a small part in human functioning.

Intelligence is distributed across the body in the neural networks of the brain, the nervous system, the glands, the heart and in the cell networks. These systems are continually in communication to and from the thinking centres located at the front of the brain. However most of the ‘decisions’ we take relating to life issues are taken outside consciousness mostly via the limbic system and the thoughts we have about those decisions are largely a matter of justification after the fact.

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Facts about Trauma and PTSD

brainatwarTrauma, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition in which a person goes through a terrible experience (as we see in war veterans) and is then plagued by memory ‘flashbacks’, anxiety, panic, depression, sleeplessness and hyper-vigilance.

Here are the most common myths about Trauma:

  • You never really get over it
  • The trauma is stored in the Unconscious mind
  • The problem needs long term therapy
  • Treatment involves working through so-called ‘irrational’ emotions
  • The cure arrives when the individual learns to control those ‘irrational’ emotions with the ‘rational mind’.

Some facts:

  • The majority of people exposed to awful events do not develop trauma and many people with PTSD do recover
  • There is no such thing as the ‘Unconscious Mind’
  • EMDR therapy is extremely quick
  • Successful treatment means getting rid of irrational ideas and reactions, not emotions

And here are some more facts:

  • It’s fairly uncommon – only about 20% of people who go through a traumatic event actually develop a Traumatic reaction.
  • Some types of therapy can make the problem worse rather than better if they focus on reliving the trauma
  • It is not caused by out of control emotions
  • It is caused by the over-attentive conscious mind
  • Tt is relatively straightforward to eliminate traumatic memories and the symptoms that come with them
  • Traumatic problems are best treated with EMDR.

7 Myths about Anxiety

 medium_4599849705Myth 1. Anxiety is natural

Anxiety might be common but it isn’t natural. The fact that anxiety rates in present-day Africa and Asia are far lower than in the West points to this as does the fact that it is almost non-existent in so-called ‘primitive’ cultures. It is arousal that is natural and anxiety is largely exaggerated (and malignant) arousal. Anxiety disorders are created when thinking centres in the brain are allowed too much time to dwell on worry, perfectionism, guilt and other wrong thinking habits.

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The truth about stress and resilience

medium_6072966411This post follows on from my earlier article Why Stress Does Not Exist.

It was Hans Selye who first coined the word ‘Stress’ in relation to non-specific illnesses. Contrary to popular myth, Selye did not say that ‘Stress’ caused illness. What he meant was that if the individual fails to adapt to adverse Life Events then a breakdown in body functions could occur. Examples of ‘bad’ life events include job loss, relationship breakdown, financial disaster, overwork and illness.

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