The Man Who Wasn't There: Investigations into the Strange New Science of the Self The Man Who Wasn't There discussion


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BIID nonsense!

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message 1: by Mike (last edited Aug 19, 2015 03:31PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mike So why not begin with a question. What makes anxorexia, gender dyspmorphia, or even something like homosexuality, anything different from BIID disorder?

I may have hit a political correctness chord by including homosexuality, but here me out. Why in the hell does Anathaswamy believe that BIID is a 'brain disorder'? On what basis does he make this claim?

Alas, he offers no good sound explanation because he seems to be completely ignorant of the field of developmental psychopathology; furthermore, if we as a society can't even think rightly about the etiology of homosexuality (not that there is anything wrong with it!) we are bound to go to the same sorts of explanations that theorists trying to explain homosexuality have gone to: it's innate! It's genetic: it's "in the brain".

Well no freaking DUH it's in the brain. But that doesn't explain IN WHAT SENSE it's in the brain. In what way does this condition manifest, and furthermore, what factors lead to it's genesis?

This chapter annoyed me so deeply because I've got knowledge others don't have. Like the people who believe they have a full-fledged brain disorder (whose only cure lies in the intensely UNETHICAL solution of unnecessarily chopping off a limb)I too have a disorder that, like BIID, some have tried to 'ontologize' - to set in stone - as a real medical condition. It's called "spadmodic dysphonia", and like BIID, it's etiology is ENTIRELY developmental, which is to say, is not a permanent situation.

So where do I begin with this tale? How bout I state it clearly: these conditions are EMOTIONAL in origin, and have to do with TRAUMA at EARLY ages; furthermore, whether the issue is gender (gender dyspmorphia) ones weight (anorexia, bulimia) one voice (spasmodic dysphonia)or ones body part, the point is, the trauma itself BECOMES ASSOCIATED via a RELATIONAL experience (traumas happen in relation) with some relevant aspect of self: body weight for the person made insecure by the surrounding cultures hyper emphasis on body image; the gender dysmorphic person associates their gender with imagined weakness; the person who struggles to communicate (spasmodic dysphonia) surprisingly, but not surprisingly given how traumatic experiences are wiped out by the effects of cortisol on episodic memory, leaves the person perpetually struggling to communicate. Do you see the trend? Please tell me you do. The trend is this: trauma AFFECTS development; not only that, trauma becomes EMBODIED in neurobiological structure. And here's the additional factor that Anathaswamy apparently doesn't have the expertise to notice: feedback loops create these sorts of conditions. The story of Peter who cut off his leg, who recalled from the age of 4 that his leg didn't feel like it was "his", is OBVIOUSLY dealing with a dissociative disorder whereby his LEG, for some specific, likely meaningful experience he had in his past, implicated his leg as "something to be disowned"; in the same way, ones voice can feel broken and raspy BECAUSE THE EPISODE is wiped clean from memory by cortisol during traumatic experience.

How is it we as a culture do not recognize this SCIENTIFIC fact? Reality: society and the culture we live obviously dissociates us from the relational conditions that generate the self. Just as developmental facts about human development, such as attachment theory and the basic fact that human beings are shaped by their interactions with others, is not something society can square with "free market principles", we see a disorder like this, and, being naive and unsophisticated in the art of psychoanalytical reflection (which doesn't yield 'quick fix' solutions, so wanted by the insurance industry) we assume that it must be "congenital". Of course, it must be!

But the brain is plastic! In the age of neuroplasticity, it is even more frightening that Anathaswamy favors an explanation that ignores the way experience shapes both gene expression (through DNA methylation and acetylation) and general neurological function (how the brain wires). A corollary of this knowledge is the development of psychotherapy's that leverage the relational process to "rewire" the brain along new pathways. The reason why this works and is so successful is another, hardly emphasized scientific facts about human beings: our brains evolved in context with other people; ergo, the existence of other people UNCONSCIOUSLY activates brain processes that are tagged by past evolutionary function and structure (in our brains!) to self-organize, or, said differently, to stimulate a response in the human organism to CONNECT.

I am flabbergasted by this story because it speaks to the extremes of how dissociative human thought is: how can this disorder be treated as a 'disease' in the medical sense when trauma, as already knows, affects ALL SORTS of mental systems, such as ones experience of time, thought, emotions, and body. Why should weight - a social construct - , voice - what we use in interaction, indeed, the very vehicle of persuasion, or gender - how we identify ourselves vis a vis others, be removed? Why should traumatic experience NOT BE LINKED with other aspects of identity?

Anathaswamy's book is entertaining and good - humane in many ways. But this chapter could not have been better proof of how imperfect our society is when it comes to acknowledging the way trauma - negative experience - implicates and involves anything that accompanies our lived experience. It need merely be associated with the traumatic experience.


message 2: by Mike (last edited Aug 19, 2015 03:40PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mike And yes! since paying attention to the phenomenological dimensions that underlie certain symptoms (issues with body parts; with voice; with gender, etc) I not longer speak with that raspyness that I use to struggle with.

Another thing that bears mentioning: the brain is REPETITIVE. The striatum in particular contains neurons that turn action from impulsive (ventral) to compulsive (dorsal). When the compulsively performed action feels powerful (perception of a limb that is disordered) the false perception can be created that something FUNDAMENTAL is wrong with you, as opposed to their being a neurological "wiring issue" that stems from early life trauma that, through the process of time, has become 'relooped' so many times that a veritable delusion about the body has been created.

Furthermore, that people 'converge' on the same malady is not proof - AT ALL - that this is a standard medical condition. It only means that similar relational conditions can effectively create similar problems in self-experience in different domains i.e. voice, weight, gender, and even body parts.


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