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Neuroscience surprisingly teaches us that not only is psychotherapy purely biological, it is the only real biological treatment. It addresses the brain in the way it actually develops, matures and operates. It follows the principles of evolutionary adaptation. And it specifically heals the problematic adaptations of the brain in precisely the ways they evolved in the first place. The operations of the brain are purely biological.
These interconnected webs of webs of webs create larger circuits that map all throughout the architecture of the cortex. This generates high level symbolic neuronal maps that take form as images in our consciousness. The play of consciousness is the highest level of symbolic form. As we adapt to our environment, the brain maps our emotional experience through cortical memory. This starts very early in life.
If a baby is startled by a loud noise, his arms and legs will flail. His heart pumps adrenaline, and he cries. The baby is restored by his mother’s holding. These two basic modes underlie the mapping of the entire play into memory.
A play written with good enough loving will promote authenticity and love. One written from trauma will generate a darker narrative and psychiatric symptoms. A problematic play affects the very sense of self of the child, his self-worth and value. It also warps the quality of relatedness with other people to one of distrust, emotional removal, and anger.
It is our individual genetic temperament which determines the form of psychiatric symptoms, whether depression, anxiety, phobias, hyperactivity, obsessions, compulsions, or psychosis. The process of psychotherapy specifically and biologically repairs the damage done to the play. To introduce how we map our experience and how to effect brain change, I’ll use a simple example of neuromuscular learning. This example is about learning to play the guitar. Neuro-muscular learning is similar with learning other musical instruments, sports, dance, or any other learned physical activity.
What happens in the brain as you learn to play the guitar chord B7? It requires total attention to separate your fingers in a precise way in order to hold down the strings within certain frets. When first attempted, you can’t do it. You’d have to slowly place each finger in the right fret.