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measuring the mind

Hello all,

Somehow the following argument bothers me:

If one has the ability (some piece of technology) to measure the state of the brain every second that person will see that the brain changes its chemical state every second. On a longer timescale one may see how old neural pathways disappear and new neural pathways are built. So the question is if the chemical composition of the brain changes "all the time" does the person also change? In other words are the transformed every second into a different person even if the difference is unnoticeable to us? The Theists' say that only through "god" we are defined as a person because atheists can't really define what "person" means. They think that only "god" can define a sort of "true boundary" within which a person is "fundamentaly" still the same when observed by fellow human beings. They also bluntly claim that science cannot define such a "boundary".

Well, what do you think about this? Isn't that some kind of "god of the gaps" argument again? Just because science cannot define such a boundary right now doesn't mean that it doesn't exist? Is there a better counter argumentation for this?

Look up Id, ego and alter ego and personality. Look under scientific research. A "god of the gaps" or apologists arguments are never scientific. Where did the consciousness come from? There is no scientific proof of any of this. There is plenty of proof of how our brain evolved, how we learn and how we became who we are.

Learning changes the neural (connections) in your brain. What is in those neural pathways becomes permanent when you learn something. In other words when you are learning (a skill) or finding answers through research it is learning. Indoctrination is not learning. Rational thinking and believing on faith is very different. If you are being programmed to just believe and encouraged not to ask questions or use critical thinking (doubting) then you will not associate using (critical thinking) pathways with that subject. It's faith alone. The first steps to brainwashing - stop thinking and just believe.

Learning to use critical thinking does create neural pathways to rational thinking. You have to ask questions and do research to find out if what you are learning is true. If it is not true then you are not learning. Learning is finding answers and going on to bigger problems to solve (like in mathematics). Religion is repetition (repeating something) in order to confirm that it is true, it is not like looking for testable proof. You may repeat a mathematical equation until it is easy, as well as, proving that the answer is true. But you are always finding new problems. Religious indoctrination is very repetitious and the answers are always the same with no proof.

Your neural pathways (and mental connections) influence and decide which neuro-chemicals (and how much) will pass through the synapse (synaptic gap). Your neural pathways (and mental connections) determine your neurochemistry, not the other way around. Brainwashing does effect your brain chemistry.

There are advocates of religion and brainwashing programs for 'problems' that claim it brings about a permanent change, but there are no statistics on their success. If there is a miraculous cure it seems strange that it takes a constant vigil of brainwashing to prevent a relapse.

The "born again" claim "new creature in Christ" claim is what you are talking about, and there are incredible failures that are often overlooked. The 'Born Again' Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, plainly hoped to please his religious right-wing supporters, who believe that Jheezus could turn a murdering rapist into a Saint - until they got out. The former governors' faith-based clemency policies in Arkansas continued for years after the convicted rapist and killer named Wayne DuMond was released (leading to the murder of at least one and probably two more women.) Huckabee denied accusations that he pressured the Arkansas parole board into freeing "the born again" through prison ministry "God fearing" DuMond. This is an example of politicization of "faith" that has no place in elected office, and what caused this tragedy (believing that prisoners guilty of heinous crimes could be 'washed clean or changed' by Jheesus.) This is not therapy for any of the many forms of mental illness, and those who are suffering from mental illness often do wind up in prison once they become destitute. Some psychopaths should never be free but there are rational programs that use cognitive (not brainwashing) skills, therapy and medication that are very successful and much less advertised. There is also "Rational Recovery" for substance abuse.

Researchers found that Danes and the Swedes (who don't go to church or pray in the privacy of their own homes) don't believe in god or heaven or hell, but may be the most civilized people on earth. They have a well known extensive welfare and health care service. They have a strong commitment to social equality; their murder and rape rate is much lower than "god-fearing" countries, including America. A study that looked at 18 democracies found that the more atheist societies tended to have low murder and suicide rates and relatively low incidence of teen pregnancy. Also: The vast majority of felons incarcerated in the U.S. are Christians. Atheists make up a tiny fraction of the prison population. A Christian is just as likely to have an elective abortion as a non-Christian.

On the topic of brain chemistry, when our neural pathways and mental correlation changes, our brain chemistry also changes. You can turn off or turn on which process of the brain you use through (conditioning) by developing and using neural pathways to rational or to irrational thinking. The cure for bad or crazy is not hearing voices and having imaginary friends.

Well, they can find the science about how the brain works, but I doubt that they can put it all together the way you have. It all makes a lot of sense.

There are many theories as to how the brain and consciousness form. The nature nurture argument is still in full swing with most current psychologists, etc, thinking that it's about 50/50 each way. Neuropathways are not totally permanent, they can diminish if unused, strengthen when well used, and you can grow new ones, and have damage destroying old ones. Aphasia is an interesting disorder that I think adds value to the no god argument in this equation. Aphasia is a disorder that affects the brains ability to encode and decode, or some variation between. For example, a person who has been the life and sole of the party can have a brain injury and become a grumpy recluse. Also, someone who has the best memory can forget things left right and centre. This disorder shows that the essence of personality is totally held within the organic material of the brain. Damage to the brain can drastically change a person. This is because the nature of a person is created and stored through learned behaviour, understandings, traumas, triumphs and love, as well as the inherited base traits such as extraverted or introverted. In addition to this is the influence of trauma in the development of behaviour. A person who has been raised in an abusive environment will likely be deeply affected by this. Their personality if raised without such trauma might have been light and easy-going, yet with the trauma included are anger, hypersensitivity, depression, fight/flight response, and other baggage. Linda is most correct when she states that evolution is well supported in this field. The brain has clearly evolved and is clearly capable of further evolution. I find no god that explains it all better, or even close.

Ok, I understand. If one tries to define the personality of a person by looking at the chemical state of the brain in a unit of time (e.g. second) then it's the same as if one looks at the tail of an elephant without seeing the whole elephant or the whole picture. ;-) I also agree with the other things you said.

In my first post I tried to point out that mind control techniques do change the brain chemistry and can change your personality. Mind control techniques (brainwashing) that are used to instill irrational beliefs are not the same as learning. The fact that the chemistry of the brain changes alone is not enough to change the person.

In the book 'Battle for the Mind: A Physiology of Conversion and Brainwashing' by William Sargant he describes his experiences in his early life of religious conversions in the Methodist church and as an army psychiatrist in treating war victims suffering from (PTSD) post traumatic breakdown. In looking for a psychological basis for neurosis, although afraid of the consequences for his career in exposing the origins of religious indoctrination, he recognized and wrote in this book the links between vulnerability to brainwashing and psychological manipulation at times of stress. And he described these same techniques as used in religion. Stress, like from mind games - ever heard of them? If you haven't I can give you some really good information - I know them all.

Brain Cells are the basic building blocks of the brain. They are specialized nerve cells that make up the central nervous system: neurons. The nerve cells proliferate before birth. Before birth the brain produces roughly twice as many neurons as it will eventually need an "evolutionary" over production that gives a better chance of having a normal brain. Most of these neurons are gone by the time we are born but there are billions of brain cells left. Every neuron has an axon an output fiber that sends impulses to other neurons. Every neuron has many dendrites (short hair-like fibers that receive impulses from other neurons. Neurons are constructed to form connections. Each cell grows becoming bigger and heavier. The reproduction of dendrites accounts for a lot of this growth. The dendrites branch out forming dendrite trees that can receive signals from many other neurons. Forming and reinforcing connections are key for early brain development. The brain forms trillions of connections or synapses. Axons hook up with dendrites, and chemicals called neurotransmitters facilitate the passages of impulses across the resulting synapses. Each neuron may be connected to as many as 15,000 other neurons, forming a network of neural pathways that is immensely complex. This elaborate network is sometimes referred to as the brain's "wiring" or "circuitry." If they are not used repeatedly, or often enough, they are eliminated. So, 'natural selection' is what the brain does after we are born, it eliminates connections that are rarely used. Language is something that we learn and do use it all of the time. Unless something happens to our brain through a medical problem or injury this connection will never go away.

Research shows that people do not "learn" languages through memorization, language is learned in the context of meaningful interactions with people who speak the language they want to learn. A good environment does stimulate the brain causing synapses to grow and existing connections to get stronger. Connections that are used become permanent. They also do not consider memorization learning.

Pavlov identified three distinct and progressive states of transmarginal inhibition. The first is the equivalent phase, in which the brain gives the same response to both strong and weak stimuli. The second is the paradoxical phase, in which the brain responds more actively to weak stimuli than to strong. And the third is the ultra-paradoxical phase, in which conditioned responses and behavior patterns turn from positive to negative or from negative to positive. With the progression through each phase, the degree of conversion becomes more effective and complete. The way to achieve conversion are many and varied, but the usual first step in religious or political brainwashing is to work on the emotions of an individual or group until they reach an abnormal level of anger, fear, excitement, or nervous tension.

Religious indoctrination creates it's own blocking mechanism in the mind (true believers) to stop information that might be a threat to the dogma. When the dogma is threatened it can lead to acts of hostility, and even war.

Hello Linda,

Thanks for the information. If I have enough time, I will read the book you recommended. More info about these "mind games" also sounds interesting; Please post the info about it.

nineteeneightyfour said, "Thanks for the information. If I have enough time, I will read the book you recommended. More info about these "mind games" also sounds interesting; Please post the info about it."

I got side tracked looking at interesting stuff, not included, I think I will write a book about it. I hope you're still checking out the message board.

Nobody, except those who know a great deal about brainwashing, should sit in a building and turn their brain over to someone. Most people that are brainwashed never realize that they are brainwashed. They do not know. Brainwashed people passionately defend their indoctrination and the indoctrinators. They have been shown the "way" and changed in miraculous ways. They were "rescued" not brainwashed. If you don't want to be brainwashed ask questions and demand answers.

It is very possible for a person's brain to go into alpha waves - the most receptive state - a lot like daydreaming. This is when people are the least resistant to suggestion. Within 30 seconds of watching tv our brain goes into alpha waves. Researchers know that there are methods to achieve the alpha mental state. This can be done with repetitive sounds or music. A repetitive beat (a rhythm close to the beat of the human heart) is very hypnotic and can generate an altered state of consciousness. When you are in an alpha state, you are much more susceptible to suggestion than you would be in the beta (fully conscious state.) Music and lighting and the voice can be used on an audience to put suggestions into their mind. Speaking in a monotone and emphasizing things you want the audience to remember, it does have a hypnotic influence.

When an audience experiences various types of emotions - peaceful, excited or pandemonium, mass hysteria - it can put them in a state that makes it very easy to manipulate them. It is no secret professionals can be consulted about technology, which is very sophisticated, that can be used to achieve the desired effects. The professionals know that a lot of the effectiveness will be in the lighting and sound system. These are two important things to induce altered states of consciousness.

Always on the lookout for more members they have developed methods to attract people. Although, they rarely have any real interest in the individual, they may love bomb them. Everyone probably knows about that, but what they may not know is that individuals in a group can be used to befriend someone, they have no real interest in them; the only interest is getting them in the fold. If they gain the confidence of the prospect they will find out everything they can about them, and it will be used against them - guilt feelings are played upon.

Some of them also use verbal abuse on the budding protégé as part of a narrative to embarrass them in front of others, which causes tension and uncertainty. They cope with this stress by mentally going away, making them many times as suggestible as they normally are. The group goes from love bombing the person to being very cold and disinterested and even hostile. What they are doing is causing an altered internal chemistry, which generates anxiety and a slight disruption of the nervous system, which assists in the ability to influence the individual. Once they think the person is sufficiently manipulated they introduce them to the loaded language - which triggers a response. Vicious language is also frequently used, purposely, to make participants uncomfortable. "True believers" are totally convinced that they must bring everyone into the fold. Therefore, they have millions of people with a mindset that assures their loyalty and assistance weather it's bringing in converts or working for political candidates. The proceeding can vary (sometimes they are very subtle) but the outcome and goal are the same. If you think that you can attend such gatherings and not be affected, you are probably wrong. Also, it's sad but true, many people don't mind giving up their power to unscrupulous puppet masters.

This is actually very close to something that I've experienced, and I knew later on that something wasn't right. I don't think you do realize it at the time.

Linda, hypnotizing an audience goes back to ancient times. I want to know if you have any information on Julian Jaynes book about the Bicameral Mind?

Julian Jaynes was a Princeton University psychologist who wrote a book "The Origin of Consciousness: Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind." Of course it was highly controversial, I think because of the religious implication. There were highly qualified people in the same field who thought Jaynes ideas had merit and were important. Jaynes's (through investigative studies) deduced that consciousness is a recent development. The study of ancient cultures had made it apparent that the brain of modern man and ancient man were not the same. Consciousness evolved in the recent past and before that the brain actually operated differently. There is no doubt that we evolved? There is no reason for any scientist to think that the brain function could not have been very different in the past. Julian Jaynes idea caused the same people that would do it today to dismiss his ideas. Of course the TAG'ers today would go into a frenzy because it is clear that consciousness evolved. Jaynes thought it began as recently as 3,000 years ago. Before that time human mentality was characterized by auditory and sometimes visual hallucinations, in which people heard the voices of the gods speaking to them and telling them what to do.

Jaynes maintains that the mind of preconscious people was split functionally in two (bicameral mind) parts, probably as a result of dissociation between the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

In ancient times the brain of man (mentality) was characterized by auditory and sometimes visual hallucinations, in which people heard the voices of the gods speaking to them and telling them what to do. Only when this process became internalized and recognized, as coming from within the percipients' own minds did truly modern consciousness begin.

An American psychologist Julian Jaynes knew this in 1976 and was the first to say God cane from a mental disorder and hallucinations. Jaynes says that ancient myths demonstrate this, and gives "The Greeks and the Irrational" as an example. When they do something the idea does not come from them, but from something outside of them. It comes from a figure that appears out of nowhere or a voice. These stories are nothing like what anyone would write today to explain why they did something or what caused something to happen. It is the difference in two different mentalities. The same things can be seen in the ancient Holy Books.

The book illustrates that Jaynes knew a great deal about ancient people and neurophysiological science. Jaynes thought that vestiges of the pre-modern kind of mentality are still going on. We know more today about the brain than science knew when Jaynes wrote the book, but it does not change a thing about Jaynes ideas about when we developed consciousness. Jaynes was alone in the 70's suggesting that consciousness might be a very recent development, but he is not alone any more; others are coming to comparable conclusions. A psychologist (who does not refer to Jaynes) has drawn attention to the striking similarities in the style and technique that exist between cave paintings of the Upper Palaeolithic and the drawings of an autistic girl who had no language skills. There are numerous similarities both in content and in technique between these drawings and those of the cave artists. These were remarkable drawings of autistic children thought to be because of the fact that they had no language (the inability to speak.) It is often assumed that the extraordinary skill shown by these unknown cave artists indicates that they had essentially modern minds and full use of language, but these modern day cases of autistic drawings shows that this is not necessarily true. The ability to make these drawing would not be inhibited by language. There is a huge difference in the painting of cave dwellers and the painting in Egypt and Mesopotamia that were done when man could speak and had developed writing.

Both Jaynes and this psychologist theorize that modern consciousness arose much more recently than most people have supposed, and language too is a relatively recent development. The psychologist places the shift in consciousness earlier than the date proposed by Jaynes between 11,000 and 5,000 years ago, which is not a big difference. Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio is a recent writer who definitely does refer to Jaynes in his book on human consciousness "The Feeling of What Happens." He thinks that the evolution of consciousness may have extended into even later times than Jaynes suggests, for he maintains that Plato and Aristotle did not have a concept of consciousness in the way that we do today. He believes that consciousness is new, only three and a half centuries old, coming to the fore in the twentieth century. Christopher Wills "The Runaway Brain" another writer who approves of Jaynes ideas. Others say Jaynes ideas about the brain are right and use the Computer to compare the brain of today with the brain of cave dwellers. The hardware of the brain may be the same now as it was thousands of years ago but, there must have been a change in the organization of our information-processing system for us to be the way we are today. Julian Jaynes was ignored when he wrote about consciousness but today there are more and more scientist agreeing with his idea.

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