Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Chapter 13 The Trends Spectrum Profile.

In the opening chapters of this theory, I have alluded to two concepts of great importance.

They are the almost absolute immutability of the innate tendencies that will characterize a person  during his life, once they have been established, and the other is the extreme variability in the intensity that each tendency can have when we compare one person to another.

We must specify what we understand by innate tendencies, differentiating them from the most basic survival instincts, which are the base of simpler primary responses, and are a lot more similar in everybody.

The tendencies to which we want to refer here are those inclinations (drives), or rejections that a person feels towards any idea or stimulus , which can have quite precise discriminatory features.

They are depicted in detail in chapter 4 of this work.

As characteristic examples, I can mention here: the tendency to exert violence and/or threat to obtain certain goals, the tendency to use deception and/or trickery, also to gain specific benefits. The tendency to obtain and maintain great power and dominance over others, the tendency to posses great wealth, be it in money, territories, goods, etc. The tendency to homosexuality, hypersexuality, bisexuality, among many other sexual drives. The tendency towards religiosity, etc. etc., to mention just a few examples of those many that have been  described previously.

What is remarkable  about these tendencies, (with the exception of very exceptional cases, after catastrophic  or very traumatic events) is how permanently they characterize people, as they maintain their "own nature", their way of being and feeling, throughout their lives.

We have also said that these trends are not matter of free choice for each person, since they are originated in our primary brain, and are simply "felt or experienced" as they come, in such an important degree that they play a very decisive role as they participate in  behavioral decisions.

Many people believe that they are "freely deciding" when they follow these tendencies, and feel totally subjugated when they are encouraged or forced to change their conduct.

From this point of view, it is a paradox that a person would act in a more free and rational way if he/she was able to decide against what he/she "really wants at that moment".

We have also said that the development and consolidation of these trends  in the primary brain follow a pattern that is more quantitative than qualitative. In other words, it is not that people can have some but not other, trends. Instead, they are all always present, but with bigger or lesser intensities, that can go from a maximum to a minimum, that in this last case can appear as absence of that tendency.

With all the previous elements characterized, we can say that each person has his/her own specific profile of tendencies, defined by the intensity of each of them. In other words, each person has his/her own  Trends  Spectrum Profile.

Thus, we can analyse and distribute people according to their profiles. Given that all combinations are possible, distributed statistically, we might find similar profiles, opposite profiles, or others in which comparisons or differentiations can not be easily made.

As we have said before, it is this profile, characteristic of each person, the real and fundamental origin of their preferences and  opinions (which are not necessarily confessed or publicly stated), and therefore, the origin of their vocations. This why this is the key for people to be more or less happy or fulfilled in their lives, as they confront their achievements against those innate goals that are most precious to them.

When and how are these trends established in each person?

In chapter 2, I wrote: "it is as if each one of us was born with a filter that makes us perceive and analyse reality in a particular way, different and impossible to compare with that of others".

This "filter" to which I allude is made up by the set of trends that characterize each person, and makes him/her appreciate in his/her own way each stimulus, each situation, each person with whom he/her makes contact, among many others instances that the "world" may present.

Of the currently available scientific evidence on the origin and determination of each trend, not much can be stated with complete certainty.

It is known that both the genetic information that each human being has, as well as the epigenetic mechanisms that regulate the expression of those genes, participate in embryogenesis and cell differentiation, in the conformation of organs and structures of the new being, and the neural circuits of the brain are also participants of this process.

However, stimuli from the external environment, through the senses, also may begin to intervene during the child´s first years of life.

There are probably, apart from the above, some limited genetic expressions that could be produced by more or less random combinations of the aforementioned factors, being this very useful from the point of view of the necessary variability of the genetic expression, indispensable for the concretion of mechanisms of natural selection that allow the evolution of species.

However, even without being able to specify up to now the exact participation of each factor in the generation of the trends that will characterize each person´s primary brain, we can argue that this occurs fundamentally from the fetal period to the fourth of fifth years of age, and that when established , they constitute strong behavioral constrains that have arrived to stay.

How much of the final result was genetically predetermined, and how much and how is it determined along the development course, is a question that will need more time to be answered with sufficient scientific base.

However, the advance of knowledge is unstoppable, so, sooner rather than later, we will have new lights to continue delving into these fascinating topics.

Jorge Lizama León

Originally published in june 2011.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Chapter 15. Some Appreciations on the Concept of Reality.

The most ambitious definition and description we can imagine about reality, "exact, perfect and absolute", that we can try to accomplish, will always be not more than a utopia, given that we are biological beings subject to a permanent process of adaptation to the world where we exist.

This world contains an enormous number of variables that can affect us, up to a point that they are a lot more than those that our adaptive evolutionary process has allowed us to perceive, understand, and manage.

This, despite that indirectly, using scientific knowledge and technological  tools, we have been able to discover, characterize, and partially handle and control material objects that are disproportionately bigger and smaller in relation to our body size.

We have also been able to understand, control and use forms of energy, that we did not know about until very recently, through the development of machines and instruments that have allowed us to manage variables that are beyond our direct grasp.

As an example of the above, we can cite the use of electricity, as a source of lighting, and even earlier, as the basis of the first telecommunication system, the telegraph. Later, with the use of the electromagnetic waves, came radio and television.

With the digital revolution,  computers and the internet, which at this point constitute a resemblance, for planet earth, although still a very primitive one, of what the mind is for brained beings, all the way up to what is its most developed expresion, the human mind.

Thus, with the internet, planet Earth today has something that it did not have before, which is an electronic (energetic) process all over its surface and beyond, that, as if it wanted to imitate a neural network, provides to its human inhabitants (that in this comparison would be the equivalent of neurons), the capacity to have permanent communication and interaction.

In other words, it is as if our planet was developing its own brain, and a certain "mental capacity".

The capacities of the human brain of our days, make possible all the human accomplishments of this 21st century, and are the highest expresion of the evolutive process of mankind, and they imply processes that go beyond what is concrete and material.

That classic disquisition, which often reaches very emotional and even revengeful limits, of opposing what is "humanist" to what is "scientific", will end up losing all relevance.

This is because  as human knowledge advances, it will show us the true value and relevance of the fact that what is mental is an energetic process, based on specialized organic matter, that has infinite potentialities in terms of generating a powerful conceptual interpretation of the world, which will continue to endow us with increasing capacities in our ambition to understand and manage "everything".

Included in this "everything" are not only the elements of the material world, but of the energetic, spiritual, social and cultural realms, in all their manifestations, present, and future.

Why is it that the idea of creating a human brain by means of a non biological machine produces such skepticism in many people, and in fact, is something that will most probably never be achieved?

This is because of the fact that in any machine there is a lack of the "will" that urgues and moves living beings, already present even in the most simple living individuals, and that in humans reaches a very powerful and complex spirituality.

As powerful and complex as the neural architecture, which we are at present days just beginning to be able to study in depth.

That motivation, that only exists in living beings, and is transmitted from antecesors to descendants, has never been able to be crated "de novo" by humans.

It is innate to the essence of life, emerging from the "divine breath of the creator", according to those who are religious, and inexplicable for agnostics and atheists.

It is in this spirituality, in this will, in the capacity to enjoy and suffer, to strive to get along "better than worse", that based in an ever growing consciousness , characteristic of humans (which imply self awareness and indirect awareness of the consciousness of others), that humans reach their highest expression.

Thus, this spirituality, unique to humans, is born from the essence of the biological being, constituting in its origin and potential scope a hitherto unfathomable mystery.

This spirituality, which contains all our self perception and emotionality, is finally, what gives true meaning to our existence, being the ability to "perceive reality" in permanent contrast to "the imaginary world  of ideas and concepts", (but by no means less "real"), the instrument that allows it to reach its full meaning, despite its historically limited and imperfect performance, both at collective and personal levels.

So, we must understand and assume, even if its difficult, that we must abandon the old quarrels that perpetuate the antagonism and rivalry between the scientific and the humanistic, the material and the mental, the technological and the spiritual.

Some might wonder, then, given all the progress of human knowledge, why we continue to interpret the world and its "reality", each one in such a diverse and often opposite ways, which provoke discussions, conflicts, violence and wars?

This is also part of the human essence, of the necessary diversity of appreciation of the world, that originates in our primary brain. So each of us "feel and appreciate everything" in a unique way, as we have insistently pointed out in our Theory of Human Behavior.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the general balance is always positive, culture and civility of humans are in continuous expansion and strengthening, no matter how slow and torturous our path might be.

All the components of our world and our existence are necessary and complementary, they reinforce mutually, and allow us to advance in our quest for knowledge and wisdom, the most important for human beings

All this without forgetting, at the same time, that this crusade reaches all its relevance and significance only because it is at the service of our spirit, which, being immaterial, is however, the most "real" and important thing that we have.

Jorge Lizama León.

Originally published in june, 2012.


Saturday, April 11, 2020

Chapter 14. The Ethereal Nature of the Mind.

It is not difficult or complicated to have a more or less clear idea of what we mean when we speak of the brain as a material organ of the human body, in a category similar to other viscera such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, etc.

Nor is it a difficult undertaking to have an approximate idea of what is meant when someone refers to the human mind.

Relating the mind with thoughts, the ability to handle and transmit ideas, understand them, feel and transmit emotions, and, in general, what has been called "cognitive abilities", is logical for the vast majority of people.

Considering the brain as the material origin of the mind, although for many is an obvious concept, is something that for others begins to pose some difficulties.

Not surprisingly, many people question, for example whether the brain itself, as an organ confined to the skull, is sufficient to fully explain the entire genesis, processing and regulation of mental activity.

(At this point we know that brain-body integration, in its entirety, is so rich and complex in nature that we can´t consider the brain as an isolated organ, but let´s not get ahead of ourselves).

Looking at this subject from the opposite perspective, we can ask ourselves the following: do thoughts have the capacity to exist by themselves, independently of an organic substrate?

Do spirits exist? What are souls? Are there souls in pain? Can we be visited by  the spirit of people who have already died? If they exist, do they have the ability to communicate with us?

About these questions many people will have the certainty (and/or the intimate desire), that the answer to all or some of them is affirmative. Others will show different degrees of skepticism, going through to the extreme position of those who will categorically deny any possibility of "witchcraft and other magical manifestations".

This diversity of opinions is fully consistent with our concept of  the "Spectral Trends Profile" (chapter 13).

In the cartesian philosophical tradition, which still has a lot of weight in our western world today, the mind-body separation is a fact not only unquestionable, but essential, so that there is no confusion or disturbance in the "scope of action" that corresponds to the humanistic world, (world of ideas) different and totally separate from the matter (scientific) world.

However, for some time now, different thinkers believe that based on the scientific and technological advancement of our present world, it is no longer possible to deny the fact that mental processes have an organic basis, and that we are now capable of studying and researching these matters with a depth that was unimaginable until recently.

Advances in neuroscience, supported among others by the vast field of studies of functional images of brain activity, have progressively provided more and more evidence that the way of reacting to specific stimuli in different people has different patterns, more or less specific to each of them.

In this chapter I want to refer to a topic of special interest, which is to consider, in the light of the current scientific knowledge, and based on a logical and coherent interpretation, what would be the reasons that historically it has been so evident and unquestionable that the nature of mental processes is unique in the sense of being unapproachable and unattainable with the tools used to study phenomena that affect the concrete matter.

The only method of concrete analysis of mental processes that we traditionally have  had at our disposal is that of introspection.

That "inward look" that we use when we question ourselves, for example, how and in what way we "process" and "control" our thoughts.

This introspection suffers from several imperfections, among which we can mention, for example, that we can only carry it out towards the interior of our own mind, and not the minds of others, which leaves us out of the possibility of making comparisons, and, on the other hand, the fact that we are trying to study something about which the only available study instrument is the object of the study itself.

We only have at our disposal the analysis of our own thoughts and the sensations produced by those thoughts, a circumstance that is very familliar to us, since our thoughts come to us always accompanied by value "tags" (emotions), that can be of greater or lesser intensity.

When these emotions are very powerful, an organic repercussion is added to that "pure thought", which can include intense heart beating, sweating, hair erection, chills, shortness of breath, in a way that these sensations "land" in an earthly, concrete, and organic (material) environment. So, something that otherwise would have remained in a pure spiritual world, now has acquired a material manifestation.

On the contrary, when a thought is directed to more abstract and impersonalized ideas, we get a more immaterial perception of it.

Why, then, do we perceive the curse of "pure thoughts" as immaterial?

We can imagine various reasons, of a philosophical and religious nature, which have historically weighed to limit the problems of the mind to an exclusively spiritual world, and that can only secondarily have repercussions in  the organic and material world.

To these cultural reasons we must add another element, which is the main objective of these reflections, and that explains why perceiving as immaterial our mental processes is naturally "evident" to us, if we carry out our analysis of this problem in an unrigurous way, that doesen´t consider the scientific knowledge acquired in recent times.

We must now refer to the anatomical-functional relationships of the brain with the rest of the body, and the varied implications that this has.

From the traditional scientific point of view, the brain is an organ that has an enormous number of functions and responsabilities. Among the most basic, controlling and maintaining the internal environment of the body, that is, of each and every one of the cells that compose it, in a state called homeostasis.

This means that a series of variables, such as temperature, acidity, oxygen and Co2 levels, among many others, must be kept within very precise levels. Any lack of control and departure from these margins puts the life of the organism at risk. This function is common, in very similar terms, to all warm-blooded animals, including humans.

We also know that in humans the brain also fulfills the higher functions of abstract thinking, which we have functionally located in what we have called the secondary brain, in this theory.

To carry out all its functions, the brain is endowed with a unique capacity, which is to "represent the world", in a language of maps and images of its own. (Do not confuse these concepts with visual images or with the communicational , oral and written language that we humans use, which are at an even higher level of elaboration and processing).

This world, "represented" by the brain is both the inner world, that is,  the individual´s own brain and material body, and the the outer world, or all which is outside the body.

The inner world is represented through information derived from specialized sensors, and the outer world from information that is provided by the sense organs.

The brain, to fulfill all of the above, is intimately connected with the whole body (including internal organs such as liver, lungs, heart, etc., and has also specialized sense organs such as eyes, ears, skin, etc., so it is able to receive input directly and from the peripheral nervous system. So, all these connections are made up with nerves that come out directly from the brain or that travel through the spinal cord.

This functional architecture allows us, for example, if we want to guide the process consciously, to "mentally travel and feel our body". Such actions are typical in relaxation exercises of eastern disciplines.

Thus we can "travel" our limbs, trunk, neck, and also our head. Our face, richly innervated by motor and sensory nerves, the scalp, and even the cranial bones, if we hit them with our hand, for example, can be "felt" as very concrete and present.

We can also know, even with our eyes closed, in what position we have our legs, arms, neck and head. However, no matter how much effort we make, we are unable to feel, as if occupied by a solid substance, the interior of our skull. (This despite the fact that we have learned since childhood that the skull is not empty, but occupied by the brain ... although even at this point there are iterative jokes about those who, by their behavior, appear as if their heads were empty).

The explanation of this "inability to feel our own brain", must be looked for in the fact that the primary function of the brain is "to feel the body, and through it, the world", and is so expressly dedicated to this function that it lacks a self-input destined to "feel itself". (Which is not equivalent to "representing itself", a function in which it is superlative).

So true is this fact that it is known that brain tissue is self-insensitive, since it can be operated upon, during brain surgery, while the patient is awake, and no pain is felt. There is another characteristic of brain function, that adds to this self insensitivity, characteristic that is determinant in "creating the impression" that nothing physical occurs to the brain itself while we are conscious, but that "things happen in places that are separate" from it.

Thus, the sensation of touch, pain, heat, or the visual or auditory inputs that we experience, never seem to happen in the brain, but at the "place of the stimulus".

That is, if we touch an object with a finger, the sensation of touch occurs "on the finger". If we see a person 10 meters away, we see that person "there". A distant noise is heard spatially located where it is coming from. If our intestine hurts, we feel it "in our abdomen".

All this is as clear to us as "reality itself", and yet it is nothing more than an illusion, the product of the mechanisms of representation with which our brain works.

We experience our sensory inputs where they are "really" happening because our brain, in its evolutionary and adaptive process regarding the environment, has developed a way to "show us the world", both internally and externally, in the most useful possible way for us to interact, and thus enhancing to the maximum our survival options.

The fact that we feel pain, for example, is a mechanism that ensures that we will avoid as much as possible being subject to a harmful stimulus. It forces us to avoid receiving strong impacts, or contact with objects at very high temperature. (Although there are circumstances when we don´t react in time).

All this has been evolutionarily successful, and the best proof of this is the progressive increase of human population, even before the development of modern technology and medicine.

And yet, if we finely delve, we can realize, for example, that an object that we see underwater (but looking from out of the water), is not exactly in the position that it appears, and a piece of metal that is very hot gives us no clue of its temperature to our sight.

There are cases in which we receive a hard hit in one of our feet. If by chance it happens that we were looking at our feet when this happened, we will know a few milliseconds before we actually feel the pain, that that pain will come to that feet. The explanation to this phenomenon is that we are capable of anticipating rationally the idea of the pain we will receive, in a shorter time than the one it will actually take for our pain nervous fibers to bring the signal from the feet to the brain.

All these examples illustrate the fact that our sensations are perceptions are really incomplete or imperfect representations of the stimulus that the world is capable of causing us. In other words, an imperfect representation of "that" that we call "reality".

Regarding this subject, I will elaborate, I expect shortly, a chapter focused on our "apparent and/or relatively false sense of reality", (which we need so much to rely on), in a more thorough analysis.

With all of the above, it is not so difficult that we can be able to understand that our brain is really a "machine" whose purpose is to show us the world in its own way.

It operates by locating the facts and sensations "at a distance", at their points of origin, and not where the integrated sensation, with all its components, is really being processed, since this way of operation is essential for us to have the "feeling" that "that" is happening "there", and not in the interior of our head.

For this "feeling of reality" to be fulfilled, it is essential that the process that creates this illusion is not evident to us, that we are not aware of any "brain work process" that is taking place inside our skull.

It is also for this reason that, in the world of thoughts and ideas, the "mechanics" of their processing, being carried out by the same functional neural structures (brain tissue) that process our perceptions and sensations (and with which they are richly and finely integrated), they accomplish their work, from the point of view of our perceptions "somewhere in the emptiness of our heads", without letting us have any "feeling" of that process being carried out.

Thus, our thoughts "live by themselves", whether we intentionally guide them with our will, or they "appear to us without being called".

They travel along  imperceptible paths, they do not need rails to guide or assert themselves, they simply "flow in the void".

This is my explanation to the surprising wonder that gives such and ethereal or immaterial character to our thoughts, that impress in such a profound way thinkers, artists, writers, etc.

Are we "the owners of our thoughts"? Can we always maintain full control over them? When we are "assaulted" by certain ideas, or when we suffer the insistence of concerns "that do not want to leave us alone", although that is our rational desire, it becomes evident that although we have a degree of control, it is not complete.

Who am I really? Am I my material self, body and brain? Am I also my "immaterial self", the one who "thinks and decides"? (See references to secondary brain, alluded in most previous chapters, and as a basis for self awareness in chapter 7)

As we can see, the implications of the concepts analysed up to here, and the questions that they naturally pose us are varied and numerous, to a point that it is not possible to study them without extending this chapter out of proportion.

This is why they should be included in future chapters, I hope not so long from now.

On all these topics, and for those of you who might want to delve more deeply in the fascinating subject of the organic bases of thoughts and consciousness, I reccomend reading the books of authors mentioned in the reference page available at www.conductahumana.cl  Especially the works of Edelman, Damasio and LLinás, of a quality and richness that never cease to amaze me.

Jorge Lizama León.

originally published in spanish, in february, 2012.

Note: The translation of this 14th chapter is included in this blog, in anticipation of several other chapters that are still awaiting translation. As this topic is of special interest for me, I will carry on this work without chronologic order. Next chapter to translate should be number 15.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

About the book "The Brain Defense" by Kevin Davis.

In this book journalist Kevin Davis makes a very detailed research that questions many of the traditional assumptions about free will and legal responsabilities that have traditionally ruled the criteria used in court rooms to determine the extent of guilt and especially the amount of punishment (and/or therapy, or rehabilitation) that defendants with "broken brains" really deserve.

All this in view of a new breaking factor in the interpretation of human behavior: the use of neuroscientific data in trials.

Human Behavior is the subject to which I have been devoting my interest and study during several years now, and thus I immediately sensed the importance of reading this book.

With the advance of the technology available to study the living brain, like fMRI and PET Scanning, among other tests, we are at the beginning of an era that will, some day, allow us to get a very detailed picture of what is going on in a brain and whether this is a healthy (or "normal") brain or a pathological one, and if this distinction is a valid excuse in legal terms.  We are still quite far from a thorough and detailed analysis capacity, and this has been made evident in court rooms, as Davis tells us in his book, in the words of several experts that are well aware of the limitations of the available info, that is still not enough to fully explain behavior in individual cases. On the contrary, it has led to some abuse in terms of trying to over apply neuroscientific data in as many cases as possible.

Notwithstanding these limitations, the importance of brain study can not be ignored, as it will be considered more each day in every aspect of human behavior analysis, surely not restricted to court room instances.

Up to now, to declare a defendant not guilty for a severe mental disorder has been restricted to the psychiatric realm, and only in the past few years has this new approach been used in court rooms, claiming that the organic study of a brain also has a place in the explanation of the criminal conduct. As I have stated before, despite its modest contribution to trial outcomes, this is just the beginning.

In his book, Kevin Davis makes a detailed analysis of  Herbert Weinstein´s case, a man that killed his wife in a sudden anger reaction. With no previous violent behavior whatsoever, Weinstein was diagnosed with the presence of a huge cyst in the frontal lobe of his brain, which might have had some participation in a diminished auto control capacity, and thus might explain to some extent his extreme reaction.

Davis  also depicts another very important growing body of evidence regarding Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a condition that affects people who sustain repeated impacts in the head, such as boxers and american football players, that have been analysed both in vivo and post mortem, and where a very important neurological damage has been established. Famous players that have gone into very violent behaviors that have led them to stand trials, have been studied and found to have severe organic alterations in their brains.

Kevin Davis book "The Brain Defense" is a fundamental contribution to place in the minds of all of us, a relevant and trascendent subject, the importance of organic brain disfunction, as main cause or at least participant factor in the triggering of violent behavior, and places a big question in the appropiate interpretation of "full free will" and responsability of defendants.

My interest in the real determinants of human behavior, subject about which I have written several articles and chapters both in spanish and english, and that can be linked from this blog, goes well beyond the law and court room environment, but with no doubt Kevin Davis contribution with this book will be of primary relevance, for all its implications, present and future.

My congratulations for a great work!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Some clarifications on the concept of variability. Chapter 5.

We have said that every human being is unique and unrepeatable, and that it is even possible to detect differences in the reactions and behavior of identical twins, as small as these may be, because they can be easier to detect than physical differences.

The above is a consequence of the embryological development of every human being, for reasons that we still do not clearly understand, but that are related to the mechanisms of  interpretation and organic development  based on genetic information. There are variations that produce not only differences in physical traits, but also the conformation, and therefore the expressions in behavior, induced by the primary and secondary brain.

In the primary brain, differences in its preprogramming that will characterize it in all its tendencies and innnate reactions, and in the secondary brain, the final capacity that it will have to acquire knowledge, analytical capability and cognitive skills, and to be able to control to more or less extent the influence of the primary brain, or be controlled by it.

Indeed, as we have already said (Chapter 4) with respect to the primary brain, it is pre-programmed with a series of innate tendencies. Here, we must point out that this does not occur in a simple scheme of existence or non-existence of certain tendencies such as to violence, submission, deceit, etc., but that all of them will be always present, but can have varying degrees of intensity, from very weak, to very strong, on each individual.

That is, it is a quantitative,  not qualitative, problem.

We all have some degree, greater or lesser, of all tendencies. For example, we all have the tendency to help another person when he or she needs it, but this tendency can be of great intensity, or of medium or minimal intensity, in any of all possible degrees of that spectrum. Thus, each primary brain will express, each in a different degree, all possible tendencies, but some may be so intense that they will be extremely visible, strongly characterizing that person, while others may be so weak that might seem non existant.

It is also possible that a person has no strong tendency at all, neither negative nor positive. If that primary brain comes in tandem  with a not very brilliant secondary brain, we will have a more or less anodyne person, who will never be outstanding or prominent.

So, we can have an infinite number of possible profiles characterizing the primary brain of each person, depending on the relative strength of each trend. In this way, on the specific profile of tendencies that each person has, all different from person to person, we have the origin of the enormous variability we can see.

This must be associated to the other component, the secondary brain, which will also participate by modifying the general profile of each person , thus adding an important multiplier factor of variability.

This secondary brain also exhibits an enormous variability in its own development and capacity of influence on the primary brain, depending on its maximum attainable intelligence, (which seems genetically determined) and the experience and enrichment experimented in its contact with the environment.

Thus, a high quality education and the inculcation of positive values, will be very important elements, capable of generating a solid moral conscience, which can reinforce the ability of the person to counteract with varying degrees of success the harmful and negative tendencies, when they come preprogrammed with intensity, in their primary brain.

A moral conscience of great strength is produced by the association of a powerful secondary brain in intelligence, experience and education, with a primary brain in which the preprogramming of personal protection and that of the clan or tribe prevails over the preprogramming of the most damaging and destructive tendencies.

In short, the ability to counteract the most negative and damaging tendencies will depend on the relative intensity of the positive and negative tendencies of the primary brain, and the secondary brain's strength.

We can then understand the enormous range of possible conformations that can exist in any primary-secondary cerebral binomial, there are infinite profiles, each with greater or lesser differences.

At the same time, in all those cases where a set of the same tendencies appears to be more clearly determined, and in which they have a relative similar strength, we begin to find certain characteristic human types, that shoud be soon subject of study in this work.

Without pretending to overtake the due order in the elaboration of this fascinating theory, we can, on the basis of all ideas mentioned above, see the transcendent importance for every society to have high quality educational systems, and priorization of positive values and protection over negative and destructive tendencies.

It is about the development and strengthening of the secondary brain where we have better possibilities to intervene, since it is clear that on the primary brain we are less  likely to have influence, not only because we are technologically limited for that, but also because, if it was possible, we might invade a very dangerous field of intervention on the very essence of human nature, with unpredictable consequences.

May 2008

Jorge Lizama León.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Human Behavior, Chapter 4

At this point, and using the ideas presented in previous chapters, we can begin to outline a more elaborate scheme of what the gross organization of the human  mind might be, related to the factors that determine and/or affect decisions, and therefore participate in the behavior of each individual.

Up to now, these approaches are limited to a theoretical basis where they integrate the incomplete scientific information available today, the empirical observation of human behavior,  and pure reasoning, since we have not yet complete information or a technology capable of studying human brain functions in accurate detail at the neuronal level.

This work aims to propose a different, more logical and less idealized alternative, as to why human beings behave as they do in the real world, often in a selfish, cruel, violent and dehumanized way, and in others, with such an altruistic and generous dedication, for the benefit of others.

To recapitulate, let us remember that in our theory the human being has, from a functional point of view, not one, but two brains, each from different evolutionary origin and time: the primary brain, more similar and comparable to the one of other mammals, and the secondary brain, or neocerebrum, which is the one that distinguishes us from them, and gives us  the high human characteristics and capabilities, which make us unique in the animal kingdom.

It is neither possible nor desirable to attempt a precise functional and anatomical characterization of both brains, on the one hand because we do not have the necessary technology,  and on the other, because through its thousands of years of evolution, it is very likely that in the human brain there has been occuring modifications in the assignment of functions to zones or structures that originally had different purposes. This is coupled with the enormous number of inter-zonal associations, characterized by complex systems of both positive and negative feedback between them.

Notwithstanding this, it is clear that the secondary brain is based mainly (though not exclusively) on the large cortical mantle of both hemispheres.

In a less precise distribution, the primary brain  includes more primitive brain areas from the evolutionary point of view: among others, brain stem, midbrain, thalamus, limbic system, and primitive cortical areas, through all of which it interconnects densely with the secondary brain.

We have said that the interaction of both brains is especially complex and not without many imperfections (chapter 3), to the point that each of these brains (or processors) can in many cases suggest or stimulate the individual to take totally opposite decisions and actions in the face of a given situation, thus generating conditions that explain many of the conflicts, sometimes very serious, that characterize people, and which historically have tried to be explained as manifestations of illness, insanity, neurosis, psychopathy, etc. (Famous in human history have been numerous cases of "vital contradictions").

A transcendent question has sought to be unveiled by many thinkers throughout human history: is it man at birth a blank slate, capable of absolutely conforming to his upbringing, education, and, in general, to all the influence of the environment where he lives? Or is it, on the contrary, a being that already comes pre-molded, predestined to have certain behavioral characteristics and traits that will accompany him all his life?

There have been authors who have been inclined to each of these options, although without doubt the first one is the one that more support "of the scholars" has had through history.

As we continue with our analysis, we can see that both positions have elements of truth, and that the definitive explanation, which until now seemed so difficult to achieve, is much simpler to understand if we study the problem from the point of view of our double brain scheme, the primary-secondary brain binomial.

Our primary brain comes pre-molded (hardwired), with lots of information and pre-programmed responses (just like other animals).

On the other hand, our secondary brain starts essentially "blank", prepared both to incorporate information from the internal (our own organism), and external environment, and to develop a series of capacities.

Thus, the human being brings in his primary processor or primary brain a program, (comes "wired", "pre-programmed", brings a "chip"), genetically codified, including a lot of  information, reflexes and reactions ready for execution, some very simple and others more elaborate, to respond to a myriad of situations, some of them vital, that he could face during its existence.

In this respect the human being does not differ essentially from other animals, such as tigers, dogs, sheep, eagles, etc., which also bring their own programming, which allows them, without having to be "taught", to recognize which enemies are dangerous, which food is appropriate or not, how and when to develop walking, running, flying, etc.

We must note from now on, as was pointed out in previous chapters, and as a fact of the utmost importance, that has a direct relation with the genetic information of  each individual and with the embryological systems that participate in the generation of his brain(s), that this pre-programming is characterized by a similar general basis in all members of the same species, but at the same time contains great variability from one individual to another, thus determining,  both for animals and for humans, significant differences in the responses (behavior) of these individuals to the same stimulus, as well as the perception they have of each other, and indeed, of themselves and the world in which they are immersed.

This variability is indeed enormous, probably much greater than the variability of physical traits, since it is clearly expressed in cases of identical twins, who are easier to distinguish by their behavior and typical reactions than by their physical characteristics.

Moreover, it is precisely because of the great variability of the configuration of the primary-secondary cerebral binomial that it is so difficult to characterize human beings on the basis of a single pattern of behavior. To the extent that all individuals are unique and unrepeatable, it is impossible to characterize them only based on rigid patterns: there are as many configurations as individuals, and each configuration generates more or less different behaviors.

This does not mean, however, that just as there are physically alike human beings, there can not be behaviorally similar and groupable individuals, who, despite having differences, can share very marked traits that are quite similar.

This happens, for example, with all those people who present psychopathic traits originated in similar tendencies, a subject with which we will dwell later.

Thus, both in humans and in animals, certain characteristics of behavior may be distinguished very early, including those that differentiate an individual from another or others, such as, for example, primary features as courage or cowardice, recklessness, tendency to domination or submission, to exercise or to appropriate more or less eagerly of certain rights, to the use and control of territory, feeding, etc.

But at the same time, and unlike those animals, human beings have developed in their evolution this second brain (secondary processor), which is "prepared to incorporate and structure a great amount of information", and therefore has an enormous capacity of learning and subsequent performance, that is developed and refined as the individual grows and relates to the environment, through his 3 most distinctive and powerful tools: memory, imagination and language, which are extensively used for its analytical capacity.

The secondary brain, which unlike other mammals has only reached this very high development capacity in human beings, is nourished by information and experience from several sources:

from the primary brain, (which is what makes it "feel from the heart ", in the words of literarians and other artists), and from the external environment, through the sense organs.

All data is received, integrated, analyzed and processed by both brains, although in the case of the primary brain in an unconscious and / or preconscious way, while the reception of information and its analysis by the secondary brain constitute a very important part of consciousness (and simultaneously self-consciousness with enormous recursive capacity).

All this information received, and capable of being consciously analyzed by the secondary brain, has been the subject of a series of processes of great complexity, about which today there is much more ignorance than certainty, processes in which different and numerous zones have participated, that communicate and feedback with each other, both positively and negatively, through complex neural networks.

As we have said before, the final behavior of the individual will be determined by the complex interaction of both brains, a phenomenon that we will try to characterize next.

An essential element in our theory is to recognize that the interaction between both brains, by the very fact that the secondary brain has the ability to adapt to the current world, while the primary brain brings a preprogramming intended to favor the survival of the individual in conditions of very primitive relation with the environment, (including especially the other living beings), is an interaction that often results very conflictive.

Thus, the primary brain can stimulate the individual to take actions totally opposite to those suggested by the secondary brain, which has "learned" to recognize as the most convenient, practical and appropriate behaviors, all what we consider "normal" in our modern and civilized world.

In this way we can start from the premise that any act or behavior of an individual can be a response to the command of his primary brain (especially when it is more instinctive and emotional, preconcious or totally unconscious - even totally irrational), or his secondary brain, when it is more reflexive and analytical. And it can also be a "mixed" product, originated in the more or less balanced influence of both.

We then place in the primary brain the fundamental preprogramming of our mammalian species, which takes care of everything that is more "instinctive", and in the secondary brain, everything that is more rational.

The Affective Filter.

Along with this, and due to the existence of powerful drives or tendencies, which we will see in more detail below, our primary brain constitutes a true "filter" through which we "feel" the world, both internal and external, and which gives us the basis of our "tastes," "vocations," and "innate values" (which are not necessarily "socially correct" - see Chapter 2).

Thus, our primary brain comes pre-programmed with a series of innate "tendencies" that will be characteristic of each individual, which can be felt with enormous intensity, and that are able to determine our destiny dramatically, depending on their strength and orientation.

Thus, these tendencies will have the ability to determine the life of a person, especially in all those cases where they are very strong, being able to lead the individual through a meritorious and successful path if they are positive, or through a very negative path if they are more contrary to the "common good" and what is "socially accepted".

We include here a list of several of those tendencies that we characterize as innate and not totally avoidable, in a conception that is opposite to the usual and more common interpretation that has been made (and continues to be made) through human history, and which relates them more with "goodness", "virtue", "evil" and / or "vice or sin".

Free will?

These tendencies have the capacity to influence, often decisively, even against what rationality (secondary brain) recommends, in the performing of certain acts that analyzed coldly by an observer can appear as absolutely "incomprehensible" and " inexplicable".

This means that, in many cases, a certain behavior is "forced by a tendency imposed by the primary brain", and, therefore, is not product of a completely "autonomous, free and rational" decision on the part of the individual.

This is a consideration of great transcendence in the interpretation of human behavior.

Moreover, in many cases, and contrary to what has historically been accepted, it is often the case that the most rational part of the individual (secondary brain) not only fails, though he may try, to determine propper behavior, when he "opposes" the drives coming from the primary brain, but can even reach the point of "being dominated and put to the service" of this primary brain, for the achievement of purposes that the latter presents as inevitable imperatives.(eg cases of methodical and elaborately designed, planned , and executed acts of vengeance).

Thus, we consider as a fact that the primary brain can dominate over the secondary brain, and we assign to the existence of very powerful tendencies, which are pre-programmed in the primary brain, the cause of all the more instinctive and even irrational behaviors. Among these, there are a series of behaviors that characterize certain individuals, among which the most outstanding are those that are contrary to the "social order" normally accepted as correct and adequate.

We can mention as examples of these tendencies:

The tendency to exert violence and / or threat to obtain certain results, effects or benefits.

The tendency to use deception and / or simulation for the same purpose.

The tendency to obtain and hold great power and domination over others.

The tendency to possess great wealth, in territories, in goods, and money.

The more or less preferred and more or less exclusionary tendency to heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality, among the most prevalent sexual inclinations.

The tendency to religiousness as a fundamental element of moral guidance, support for our fears and the unknown, and that allows us to "understand and accept the inexplicable."

The tendency to suffer intense feelings of guilt, circumstance that weakens us and makes us "manageable".

The tendency to help, to collaborate, to defend (and / or save) others.

The tendency to insecurity and fear.

The tendency to submission.

The tendency to be reckless, courageous, leader.

The tendency to idealization, and to the self-convincement that these idealizations are or could be real.

(It is more comforting to think that what one wants most is what really exists, even if it is not so, another weakness of which some unscrupulous ones use in their favor, those characterized by some of the tendencies mentioned above, and which exist in all fields of human activity).

The concern (or lack of) of maintaining an adequate image in front of the others, resulting, in certain cases, the need to hide our true feelings and / or thinking.

The tendency to feel (or not feel) naturally as "own", values and principles that defend the integrity of individuals and societies, to the point of being (or not being) individuals naturally inclined towards respect for human rights, justice , honor, equality of opportunities, the right to life, dignified death, etc.

(From this we deduce that even the moral, religious and political position of each individual are determined, or at least greatly influenced, by the primary brain).

As we said before, this set of tendencies, according to the intensity of each, produce a very characteristic "configuration" in each person, distinguishing that individual from others. (This configurations constitute a special subject in a future chapter).

The Tribe.

It is important to emphasize the fact that there is also a preprogrammed set of inclinations aimed at protecting the immediate collective of the individual (those with whom he relates more directly), which have been crucial and determinant in the ability to survive of the human race, and have probably been originated and established very early in the evolutionary process of hominids. They are characterized by the fact that individuals generally "know and understand" them, regardless of how much they "feel them like theirs."

Thus, there is a preprogramming probably established in the most evolved part of the primary brain, if not in the transition area that gave rise to the secondary brain (primitive cortex), consisting of a set of tendencies that have as main goal the protection of the community more or less immediate to which each individual belongs (family, clan, tribe, etc.).

These tendencies imply the concept of the "common good" and a certain "moral order", key elements for the survival of that group, and on which all its members must at least appear before others as genuinely committed.

If the rest does not trust the "loyalty" of a certain member, the group characterizes that individual as potentially dangerous, and eventually deserving to be separated from the community or tribe, with the loss of rights and protection that that belonging implies.

Of course, and depending on the behavior of that individual, and the seriousness of his "betrayal," he may become worthy of proportional punishment, including death.

From the point of view of the individual, he who intuitively and / or consciously understands the importance of this concept will always try to appear very committed to the common good, whether he feels it genuinely or not, and will try to maintain an image that shows (or not) his true feelings and / or thinking. Along with this, if he always appears to be loyal to the group, he says the right things, and appears to behave appropriately, and tends to emphasize more the positive than the negative aspects of those around him, will be granted with a lot of success and popularity (emotional intelligence).

Thus, and as a consequence of this fundamental preprogramming, we continue and will continue to experience values such as loyalty, solidarity, and altruism as the most important for mankind.

Based on this concepts, we can understand the origin of the set of "social values" that characterize our life in community.

The Modern Processor.

On the other hand, along with the "feelings" we experience in our existence from our primary brain, there is our "thinking", which originates primarily in our secondary brain.

These two influences do not occur in a totally pure and separate form, since our "consciousness" probably comes from a complex interaction of both brains, to the point that we do not normally discriminate in a precise way which is weighing more in the evaluation that we make of any specific situation.

However, if we do a more directed and attentive exercise of analysis, using our secondary brain (on which we have more "control"), we understand that in general everything that comes from the primary brain is characterized by a strong emotional component, which we "receive" already more or less elaborated in our conscience and which is of clear pre-conscious or unconscious origin.

We must therefore include in our primary brain everything that seems to "reach us from the heart," "the irrational".  "I feel I am in love," "I hate this person".

While everything that is more analytical, resulting from a more conscious evaluation process, based on experience, on acquired knowledge and skills, is what comes from our secondary brain.

("Joining this business may not really benefit me," "if I do this I want so much, I might be catched and fall into the hands of justice," etc.).

In this way, it is in our secondary brain, "our rational side", where our most analytical capacity, our powerful capacity for learning and inventiveness reside.

It is also where we analyze and value our moral conscience, and where, therefore, we perceive all the conflicts that produces in us to understand as "inconvenient, inadequate, or morally reproachable those thoughts", those "unconfessed desires" that we can feel. (Coming from our primary brain).

Who Wins?

However, the fact that a person brings certain pre-programmed tendencies into his or her primary brain, even if they are very strong and contrary to the protection and defense of human rights, it does not automatically mean that these tendencies will be expressed without limit.

On the contrary, as we have already said, there are different levels capable of opposing them, with different degree of success, according to the particular "configuration" that each "brain binomial" (primary-secondary brain) reaches in the different stages of the life of the individual.

To the purest tendencies, especially if they are "negative", those "unconfessed appetites" will oppose to a greater or lesser extent varied factors, that if powerful enough, might be able to block them from actually being performed.

Among these factors we must, of course, include our "moral conscience."

This moral conscience can become a true "building" of greater or lesser strength, which has been built based on a series of ingredients that are integrated to conform it.

First, the codification existing in the primary brain itself for the protection of the clan or tribe (which can reach only the immediate environment or be more widespread), immediate or extended family group, neighborhood, community, country, interests group, fans of a sports club, etc.), which in each individual, due to the variability that we have exposed before, can be of moderate strength, or very strong, or very weak.

Second, from the secondary brain, by the series of social norms "learned" as part of family rearing and school education, and from the influence and pressure of both the people in our immediate environment, and through the media like newspapers, radio, television, directly or through the internet, etc.

Third, from the moral convincement developed that a person can achieve from the positive elements that his religion provides. (Which unfortunately are often mixed with negative elements).

The moral conscience is added as a factor that discourages the concretion of the most negative tendencies, the fear of rejection and the reaction that the "environment" can exert against the person, capable of producing in practice a punishment that can be both moral and physical .

In the evaluation of the risk of this rejection and potential punishment, the secondary brain intervenes directly, based on a rational analysis, to which ingredients are added from the primary brain, like the tendency to recklessness, courage, defiance, arrogance, etc. , which according to their respective intensity are also able to finally tilt the balance in the sense of unleashing that "appetite" or not.
In addition to the above, we should consider the possiblity that under the influence of both brains, these "unconfessable tendencies" can be taken into practice, if there is a certainty of being able to do so in a more or less secret or reserved way.

The social rejection and reaction can come from different sources, depending on the age of the offender and the nature and seriousness of the offense: from the parents and the immediate family environment, from the peers themselves, from the wider community if the person is very well-known and / or the fault is very serious, from the earthly justice, from the divine justice, etc.

Thus, the person can live an existence in which his brains permanently struggle with each other, producing more or less tension in the individual, as these opposing forces collide, the most basic tendency, when it is contrary to the social and moral order, versus the moral conscience and the fear of the consequences of its concretion.

In this contest, the possibility that these tendencies are expressed or not will depend on the relative strength of both brains, and on the circumstantial dynamics of a given moment, which may make some of them stronger than the others.

Should we be optimistic about the future?

Regardless of how pessimistic or optimistic we are about the strengths and weaknesses of the human species, it is an undeniable fact that our secondary brain has been made over time, through generations, increasingly stronger and more developed if compared to the primary brain. Therefore, mankind is becoming, in many parts of the world, more humane and civilized.

Nevertheless, it is also a fact that we must continue to coexist for a long time with the important share of suffering caused by the behavior of all those whose primary brains prevail too much over their secondary brains, unleashing harmful behaviors for themselves and for those around them, especially in situations of marked social inequality, huge differences in living standards, high inequality of opportunity (the only remedy in the medium and long term is the availability of good education for all) , and at the same time in permissive environments that do not adequately discourage reprehensible, harmful, and / or downright criminal behavior.

Regarding the implications of this, and the necessary changes in the educational, preventive and repressive systems that human society must implement, if we truly want to decrease the incidence of abuse, violence, crime, and frauds of all kinds, we will dedicate at least one future chapter, to the transcendent subject of delinquency.

Stay tuned ;)

* This theoretical proposition has been conceived by me, based on pure reflection, for several years now. Only recently has come to me information about the work by Paul MacLean and his theory of the triple brain (The Triune Brain). Although I have read some references and comments on this theory, which seems to include concepts that are very similar to mine in terms of the probable existence of competition and conflict between these brains, which would enjoy different degrees of autonomy and independence, I do not wish to study it in detail, in order to continue to elaborate my own theory without being exposed to influence from that work.

Jorge Lizama León.

Santiago, April 2008.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Free Will.

The free will concept is central to any human behaviour theory. Our pretended free will is very relative. As humans we struggle between our tendencies (desires, drives, that are more or less secret according to social acceptance), and our rational capacity of evaluating which is the best choice we can make in a given circumstance. Some times we make a very thoughtful choice, but others, especially in very emotional or stressing ocasions, we make choices that we may deeply regret later.
In this struggle we are choosing between two main "suggestions" for responding, one commanded by our primary brain (instinctive) and the other by our secondary brain (rational). The more stressful circumstances are, the more predominant our primary brain will get.
As the behavior we finally decide will be the result of this struggle, which can be more or less intense and/or stressed according to circumstances, we can logicaly conclude that there are a lot of instances when there is no full free will available for us.