Archive for November, 2009

Nov 24 2009

The Role of Mirror Neurons in Empathy, Mind Reading, and Language Learning

Read an absolutely fascinating (if you’re interested in mirror neurons! 🙂 article about the importance of mirror neurons.

Read the article here.

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Nov 23 2009

The Neural Bases of Empathic Accuracy: An Article by Psychology Professors Kevin Oschner and Niall Bolger, graduate student Jamil Zaki, and Research Assistant Jochen Weber at Columbia University Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, June 2009

A Columbia University research project using functional MRI scanning has mapped the two brain systems responsible for empathic accuracy, the parietal and premotor cortex.

These two brain systems help humans understand the intentions of simple gestures, interpret the meaning of those gestures and place them into context.

The researchers used a group of volunteers (objects) to talk about emotional events in their lives while being videotaped. Later, these volunteers watched themselves on video and evaluated whether they felt positively or negatively while talking about these live events.

Then, a second group of volunteers (perceivers) watched the same videotapes and were asked to evaluate the positive or negative experience of the initial volunteers as they described their life events while also hooked up to functional MRI scanning devices to measure which brain systems were activated.
When the perceivers were accurate about the emotional experience, the same brain systems, the parietal and premotor cortex were activated.

Interestingly, when the perceivers were wrong, a third brain system was activated that involves the control and management of one’s own feelings.

This suggested to the researchers that a persons attention to their own feelings may cause them to miss the gestures and other behaviors linked to the feelings of others.

Read the summary of the study here.

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Nov 20 2009

Why You Become So Upset During Arguments: The Role of Adrenaline In The Survival Of The Species

Ok. I am suggesting your intense fighting is related to the evolutionary role of adrenaline or as it is also called, epinephrine, in helping our ancestors survive.

Whenever we feel threatened or excited, the complex workings of our brains trigger the production of adrenaline.

This sets of several reactions, including increased heart rate, dilation of pupils, and a rush of energy to respond to the perceived threat.

This adrenaline enhanced readiness to “fight or flight” was absolutely necessary for our ancestors to kill the saber tooth tiger and escape. However, so much adrenaline is really not necessary for two people living together and trying to settle some differences.
So, you or your partner aren’t crazy, although you may be a little dangerous. Too much adrenaline can lead to a “blind rage” or an “emotional hijacking” which results in more and more damage being done to your relationship.

The key learning goal here is that the intense physical reaction during arguments is caused by a complex neurological process involving the eventual production of adrenaline.

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Nov 17 2009

Empathy: Will a Monkey In A Research Project Pull A Chain To Get Food Or Starve Himself Because Pulling The Chain Also Causes Another Monkey To Experience Electric Shocks?

Monkeys like to eat and drink like the rest of us, but the research results about the power of empathy are fascinating.

The monkeys starve themselves rather than subject other monkeys to experience the pain of electric shock.

Pretty remarkable and says a lot about why children go to great lengths to “please” their parents and families so early in life, especially if the parent is in some type of pain.

In their article, pubished online here, “Empathy: Its ultimate and proximate bases,” Stephanie Preston and Frans De Wall describe the research detailing the biological basis for empathy.

Humans, like other mammals, are hardwired to respond to other conspecific’s (same species) pain.

The authors offer a biological explanation of empathy, called the Perception-Action Model (p4), which states that “the attended perception of the object’s (person/entity) being observed) state automatically primes or generates the autonomic or somatic responses, unless unhibited.”

So, the monkey or human infant (subject) after about one years of age, has a biologically driven response to viewing the pain or emotional experiences of others (object).

Think about what this means to children growing up in very vulnerable families with mentally ill,  substance abusing or just plain unhappy parents…

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Nov 09 2009

Limbic Resonance: Why Our Eyes Really Are the Windows to Our Souls

Just for a moment, remember the last time you gazed into your lovers eyes and felt the hot passion of love. Maybe your heart seemed to tingle, your face was flush, and you could tell that they really loved you and you loved them back.

This is called the physiology of love, or limbic resonance.  And yes, all mammals (humans are mammals:) experience this incredible process.

When we look into each other’s eyes, a complex neurological process begins which enables us to really experience the non-verbal, unconscious sensations and feelings within the other person and project our own feelings back to them.

Call it the love gaze. I hope you have it with more than your loving cat or dog who are thrilled to see you when you get home!
Read more about it here and here.

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Nov 05 2009

Comparing Victories of the Heart and Mankind Project’s New Warrior Training Adventure: A Summary

Posted Nov 05 2009 12:45pm

To the critical eye, there are many similarities between these two men’s programs in purpose, structure, and programs.

Both programs began in the same geographic area in the mid-1980’s and are examples of  large group awareness growth programs for men.

A significant difference is that MKP is an international program with Men’s Centers around the globe. The last data I read suggest tens of thousands of men have participated in MKP’s programs.

Also, MKP has a new policy of transparency which encourages participants and staff guys to speak openly about the processes, exercises, and experience of the weekend. This is a new development and one that distinguishes it above and beyond the other awareness programs in the Chicago area at least.

Victories of the Heart has not really resolved the dilemma of secrecy in its programs. The schedule and activities of the Breakthrough Weekend is posted on the website, but the Shadow Weekend  still adheres
to a “keep things secret” policy.

The website does not specify any detailed information about this program, while the Breakthrough Weekend has an accurate schedule of activities.

VOH  is mainly an Evanston/Chicago based program with a fledgling program in Boston for it’s Wisdom Years program. However, there is no scheduled Boston Wisdom Years weekend and no explanation. Their website suggests about 4,000 men have participated in VOH programs.

Unlike MKP, the future for VOH suggests remaining a local entity, rather than the international organization MKP is evolving. I’ve heard a major difference between the organizations is MKP’s development is a bottom- up, while VOH is a top-down process. MKP has a dynamic foundation, while VOH has founders in charge with a weaker Board system.

In my opinion, here are some other similarities I see in both organizations and programs:

1.    Visions of both organizations are similar… “men healing men, healing communities, healing the planet…”;

2.    Both programs advertise and promote men continue their personal growth work in ongoing groups;

3.    After the weekend, there is a “celebration” for all participants, their family, and their friends which also functions as a way to introduce the program to others and encourage participation;

4.   Men are encouraged to “suspend belief” in the routine world and enter into a slightly altered state of reality;

5.    Each program utilizes psychodrama. VOH calls it heartwork and MKP
calls it as carpet work or guts work;

6.   Both programs have policies about openness and transparency with
MKP having the most positive and enlightened policy of letting people
know exactly what will happen during the weekends. (More on this later.);

7.    Participants are encouraged to “step-up” and become volunteer
staff to help the program in various ways;

8. The cost of the weekend is about the same ($600-700);

9.  The leaders are very ambitious and want their programs to spread
around the globe. This has happened for MKP.  For VOHthe desire is
there to spread the program however they continue to have trouble filling all their weekends in the Chicago area;

10.   Leaders receive financial compensation for their work;

11. Both programs advertise being not-for-profit corporations and
operate with volunteer Boards of Directors;

Here are some differences between the programs:

Conflict Resolution:

MKP teaches clearingsaccountability and personal responsibilityincluding paying attention to what may be unconscious.

VOH fails at addressing conflict resolution as an organization policy, even after over 25 years of delivering programs. However, conflict within the leadership dyad is assumed to be robust.


MKP is a very diverse organization.

VOH remains a mostly, white, middle to upper-middle class organization.


MKP uses nudity in appropriate situations and it is not required;

VOH’s current website states there is no nudity at the Shadow weekend. (update Aug 2016)

Shadow Weekend has used nudity extensively in the past,yet its purpose during the weekend has not universally been understood among the Board of Directors,leaders,and participants. I will continue to request public disclosure about the use of nudity during this weekend, especially on their website where it may be readily available to anyone interested in participating. Update: 2015. The VOH website and Board states there is no nudity at the Shadow weekend.

Publishing more information on their website would answer many questions about this. In my opinion and experience, the extensive and confusing use of nudity during this weekend is an example of how VOH leaders and organization sabotage themselves.

Program Design:

MKP has chosen to develop and implement one program and all who participate and volunteer feel some piece of ownership.

VOH has chosen to develop several programs, but specific leader teams have been responsible for program development. Therefore, these leader teams feel tremendous ownership issues and competition with other leaders, ultimately damaging the quality of programming and personal relationships between leaders and volunteers.

Rather than look for a more collaborative development process the program over the last decade has experienced a pattern of unilateral decision making in which leaders may think their program ideas are
fantasticbut the market of men looking for a weekend experience are not that interested. This is especially true of men who actually participate in these weekends.

If they can not be relied upon to encourage their friendswellyou end up getting what you always gotnot what you hoped for or were led to expect.

One might be led to believe that the failure of the programs themselves to attract a wider audience of participants is an example of how the VOH organization and its programs have mainly served the leadersnot the community of men it claims to serve.

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Nov 05 2009

No, You Should Not Use Hypnosis, Guided Imagery or Other Trance Type Therapy to Recover Abuse Memories

I am writing to suggest a caution about “searching for abuse memories” generally and any “trance” based method, such as guided imagery, hypnosis, past-life regression, or age-regression therapy specifically.

It is widely held science now that any therapist led search for abuse memories is not recommended. Hypnosis, imagery, past-life or age regression type therapy has been the source of many lawsuits, ethical violations, and clinical problems. These methods are highly, highly discouraged.

Here is a link to research on 105 malpractice cases against therapists for using hypnosis

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Nov 05 2009

Colleen Conaway: Committed Suicide While Attending a James Ray Seminar in San Diego

Read about it here.

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Nov 05 2009

Mickey Reynolds: Caught Up in the James Ray “Movement” As a “Coach and Team Leader” and How Ray Betrayed His Trust

A video of Reynolds talking about his gullibility and feelings of betrayal by James Arthur Ray. Watch it here.

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Nov 05 2009

James Arthur Ray: Read His Smug, Hostile and Ignorant Views Toward Welfare and Health Care Reform and His Message of Extreme Personal Accountability for Everyone Else

Read his article here.

If you carefully evaluate the structure of his words and sentences, you will see that he is appealing to the ultra conservative, wealthy Americans who probably hate people on welfare.

Ray takes some very, very cheap shots at people on welfare, as well as people who are sick, need healthcare, or obese.

To him, these are all lazy people

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