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PERSONAL HEALTH

How to Build a Better Culture of Good Health

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By Dr. Gabor Mate

We human beings are biopsychosocial creatures whose health or illness reflects our relationship with the world we inhabit—including all the variables of family, class, gender, race, political status, and the physical ecology of which we are a part. A recent article from the National Institutes of Health called for a new foundational theory for medicine, based on a “biopsychosocial-ecological paradigm.” Given the ideological limitations of mainstream medicine, this forward-looking initiative is not likely to be heeded soon.

As early as the second century, the Roman physician Galen noted the connection between emotional burden and illness, an observation repeated by many other clinicians over the centuries. The pathway from stressful emotions, often unconscious, to physical disease was often driven home to me as a family physician and palliative care practitioner, although nothing in my medical education even remotely hinted at such links. People I saw with chronic disease of all kinds—from malignancies or autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or ulcerative colitis to persistent skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, and neurological disorders like Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and even dementia—were characterized by certain unmistakable emotional life patterns. Among these was the chronic repression of so-called negative emotions, especially of healthy anger, as in the Woody Allen character’s wry confession; an overriding sense of duty, role, and responsibility; an undue concern for the emotional needs of others while ignoring one’s own; and, finally, a core belief—again, often unconscious—that one is responsible for how other people feel and that one must never disappoint others. The expression “the good die young” has—sadly—more validity than we sometimes appreciate.

Exemplifying the characteristic of an overwrought sense of duty, role, and responsibility, New York Times contributor Julia Baird recently reported her diagnosis with ovarian cancer. “I have always been healthy and strong,” she wrote in a recent column. “I regularly do hot yoga and swim a two-kilometer stretch in a bay teeming with fish near my home in Sydney, all while caring for my two little kids, hosting a TV show, writing columns and making the final edits on the book I am writing.” Inadvertently, Baird depicts precisely the “I can do anything, I’ll be everything to everybody” multitasking persona I found in everyone I ever met with her particular malignancy. People are unaware, and their physicians rarely know to inform them, that such self-imposed stress is a major risk factor for disease of all kinds.

But is it purely self-imposed? It is not accurate to see it that way. A materialistic culture teaches its members that their value depends on what they produce, achieve, or consume rather than on their human beingness. Many of us believe that we must continually prove and justify our worthiness, that we must keep having and doing to justify our existence.

Lou Gehrig, the baseball great after whom ALS is named, embodied self-abnegation to the nth degree, as do all people with ALS I have ever treated, interviewed, or read about—or have been described in medical papers. His famous record of consecutive games played was not about his indestructibility, but about his unwillingness to surrender his self-identity as invulnerable, with no needs. He suffered injuries like all other athletes: All his fingers had been broken at least once; some more often. He would play even when wincing with pain and sick to the stomach with the agony of it, but his dutifulness would not allow him to rest.

Gehrig’s story, as those of many people with chronic illness, leaves us with the question of how such emotional patterns help potentiate physical illness. Why do people develop and maintain such self-harming traits?


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Compulsive self-disregard and emotional repression are never deliberate or conscious—nobody can be faulted for them. They begin in early childhood as coping mechanisms. Gehrig, for example, had an alcoholic father and a highly stressed mother. As a child, he assumed the shell of invulnerability because the responsibility thrust upon him was that of being the emotional caregiver to his parents. Such role reversal, said psychiatrist John Bowlby, the pioneer of attachment research and theory, is inevitably a source of pathology for the child later on. Gehrig was compelled in his childhood to develop a persona that, in time, became his ineluctable self-identity. This is how he adapted to his dysfunctional environment; he knew himself no other way.

A recent article in the journal Pediatrics well summarized the notion that early childhood coping dynamics may result in adult illness and dysfunction:

“Short-term physiologic and psychological adjustments that are necessary for immediate survival and adaptation … may come at a significant cost to long-term outcomes in learning, behavior, health, and longevity.”

The separation of mind and body is an erroneous view, incompatible with science.

During our dependent and vulnerable childhoods we develop the psychological, behavioral, and emotional composite that later we mistake for ourselves. This composite, which we call the personality, often masks a real person with real needs and desires. The personality is not a fault—in stressed environments it evolves primarily as a defense, a defense that can turn saboteur.

The separation of mind and body is an erroneous view, incompatible with science. Personality traits—that is, psychological patterns—conduce to disease because the brain circuits and systems that process emotions not only exert a profound influence on our autonomic nerves, as well as our cardiovascular, hormonal, and immune systems: In reality, they are all conjoined. The recent, but no longer new, discipline of psychoneuroimmunology has delineated the many neurological and biochemical mechanisms that unite all these seemingly disparate systems into one super-system.

A somewhat breathless report in Science Daily outlined the latest such finding, from the University of Virginia:

“In a stunning discovery that overturns decades of textbook teaching, researchers have determined that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist. The discovery could have profound implications for diseases from autism to Alzheimer’s to multiple sclerosis.”

In effect, when we repress emotions—just as when we are completely at their mercy, such as in moments of untrammeled rage—we are playing havoc with our nervous system, hormonal apparatus, immune system, intestines, heart, and other organs. The result can be chronic or acute illness. As repressed anger eventually turns against us, the immune system can as well, as in autoimmune disorders, for example.

Interactions between the brain and body also determine that adverse early childhood circumstances—even in utero experiences—leave us in the long term with more than psychological and emotional effects. The physical impact of early childhood experiences can also directly promote disease. Studies from the United States and New Zealand have shown, for example, that healthy adults who suffered childhood mistreatment were more likely to have elevated inflammatory products in their circulation in response to stressful experiences. Such overactive stress reactions are, in turn, a risk factor for conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other illnesses.

It is impossible to overstate the impact of childhood trauma on adult mental and physical health. Myriad studies have demonstrated that early-life suffering potentiates many illnesses, from mental diseases such as depression, psychosis, or addiction to autoimmune conditions to cancer. One Canadian study demonstrated that childhood abuse raised the risk of cancer nearly 50 percent, even when controlled for lifestyle habits such as smoking and drinking.

The first question is never why the addiction, but why the pain?

Addictions in particular are responses to early trauma. Whether to drugs, food, gambling, or whatever other form they take, all are attempts to soothe stress and emotional pain. The first question is never why the addiction, but why the pain? We cannot understand the addictions that beset our society without recognizing the suffering and stress they are intended to alleviate, or the childhood trauma at their source. In this light, the obesity epidemic now facing us reflects primarily an epidemic of pain and stress.

Astonishing to say, most medical students never hear the word “trauma” in all their years of training, except in the the sense of physical injury. “The medical profession is traumaphobic,” a well-known colleague in San Francisco once told me. The results for patient care are devastating, whether in the treatment of physical or psychiatric conditions—a distinction that, given the mind/body unity, is in itself misleading.

Individual family dynamics unfold in the context of culture and society. Just as families have their histories in which they transmit trauma across the generations, so do societies. We can see, then, why the poor and the racially oppressed and the historically traumatized are more prone to disease. Need we mention the high rates of alcoholism, violence, obesity, diabetes, and overdose deaths amongst aboriginal populations in North America and, say, Australia, or the relatively unfavorable health outlook and life expectancy of black Americans?

The effects of trauma become multigenerational through repeated psychological dysfunctions. The new science of epigenetics is identifying the mechanisms that even affect gene functioning. The children of Holocaust survivors, for example, have altered genetic mechanisms leading to abnormal stress hormone levels. Animal studies are showing that the physiological effects of trauma can be passed on even to the third generation.

Finally, family stresses, trauma, and social and economic deprivation can also affect human brain development in ways that lead to behavioral problems, learning disabilities, and mental illness. CT scan studies at the University of Wisconsin showed that brain centers responsible for academic performance were up to 10 percent smaller in children who grew up in the poorest homes. Why? Because the human brain itself is a social organ, shaped in its neurophysiological and neurochemical development by the child’s relationships. In the words of the above-cited Pediatrics article:

“The interaction of genes and experiences literally shapes the circuitry of the developing brain, and is critically influenced by the mutual responsiveness of adult-child relationships, particularly in the early childhood years.”

Parents stressed by multigenerational trauma, relationship issues, economic insecurity, maternal depression, or social disconnection are simply unable to give their children the “mutually responsive” attuned interactions that optimal childhood development requires. The result is the epidemic of developmental disorders among our children that we are now witnessing. In line with the prevailing ideology, the medical response is mostly pharmaceutical. Rather than considering the environment that, throughout childhood, shapes the brain, we seek to manipulate the child’s brain chemistry instead.

To be whole is much more than to experience the absence of disease.

What then are people to do when doctors, the gatekeepers to health care and its primary providers, are blind to the basic realities of what generates health and what undermines it? When their training denies them knowledge of the unshakeable unity of mind and body, of emotions and physiology? When they do not recognize that social factors are far more powerful determinants of health than genetic predispositions? When they are unaware of the powerful role of psychological trauma in human life?

On the societal level, we must understand that health is not an individual outcome, but arises from social cohesion, community ties, and mutual support. In this alienated culture, where “friends” may be virtual electronic entities rather than human beings, too many suffer from what University of Chicago psychologist John Cacioppo calls “the lethality of loneliness.” We need a broad attitudinal and practical shift, consciously willed and created, toward a culture based on the fundamental sociality of human beings. We know all too well, from data too persuasive and too somber to be disputed, that emotional isolation kills.

Policymakers and community leaders need to be taught that economic and social disparities, insecurities, and stresses, as well as racial or ethnic inequalities, inevitably result in health problems and vastly increased health costs. In truth, almost all diseases are social diseases.

Health promotion must begin at conception. In the womb the growing human is already affected by maternal stress. Pregnant women need much more than blood tests, physical exams, and ultrasounds. They require emotional support so the hormones of stress do not chronically flow into the fetus via the umbilical cord. Current birthing practices, egregiously over-medicalized, interfere with natural physiologic processes and maternal-infant bonding.

With the role of parental presence and attunement being recognized in brain and personality development, young mothers and fathers must be helped to spend much more time with their children. In advanced European countries even fathers are accorded parental leave.

Adults need to know, even if their physicians often do not, that their health issues are rarely isolated manifestations. Any symptom, any illness is also an opportunity to consider where our lives may be out of balance, where our childhood coping patterns have become maladaptive, exacting costs on our physical well-being.

When we take on too much stress, whether at work or in our personal lives, when we are not able to say no, inevitably our bodies will say it for us. We need to be very honest with ourselves, very compassionate, but very thorough in considering how our childhood programming still runs our lives, to our detriment.


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Ultimately, healing flows from within. The word itself originates from “wholeness.” To be whole is much more than to experience the absence of disease. It is the full and optimal functioning of the human organism, according to its nature-gifted possibilities. By such standards, we live in a culture that leaves us far short of health.

The importance of nutrition and a healthy ecology, of an environment free of toxins and pollution, need hardly be stressed. They, too, are social issues more than individual ones.

I’m often asked how people should approach their physicians, who may be very adept at their craft but limited by the narrowness of the medical ideology. “It’s the same as going to a bakery,” I reply. “When you enter a bakery, don’t ask for salami, just as when you go to the butcher, it is no use to ask for cookies.” Receive, I suggest, what the physician can offer—and often that can be miraculous—but do not seek what the doctor cannot. Find alternative sources for what most physicians cannot provide: a holistic approach that considers not organs and systems but the entire human organism. Take responsibility for how you live, the food you ingest, your emotional balance, your spiritual development, the integrity of your relationships.

Give yourself, as best you can, what your parents would have loved to grant you but probably could not: full-hearted attention, full-minded awareness, and compassion. Make gifting yourself with these qualities your daily practice.

“A culture can be toxic or nourishing,” writes Thom Hartmann. If we wish to take full responsibility for health in our society, we must not only be vigilant guardians of our personal well-being, we must also work to change structures, institutions, and ideologies that keep us mired in a toxic culture.

About Dr. Gabor Mate:

About Dr. Maté

A renowned speaker, and bestselling author, Dr. Gabor Maté is highly sought after for his expertise on a range of topics including addiction, stress and childhood development.

Rather than offering quick-fix solutions to these complex issues, Dr. Maté weaves together scientific research, case histories, and his own insights and experience to present a broad perspective that enlightens and empowers people to promote their own healing and that of those around them.

For twelve years Dr. Maté worked in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside with patients challenged by hard-core drug addiction, mental illness and HIV, including at Vancouver’s Supervised Injection Site. With over 20 years of family practice and palliative care experience and extensive knowledge of the latest findings of leading-edge research, Dr. Maté is a sought-after speaker and teacher, regularly addressing health professionals, educators, and lay audiences throughout North America.

As an author, Dr. Maté has written several bestselling books including the award-winning In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction; When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress; and Scattered Minds: A New Look at the Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder, and co-authored Hold on to Your Kids. His works have been published internationally in twenty languages.

Dr. Maté is the co-founder of Compassion for Addiction, a non-profit that focusses on addiction. He is also an advisor of Drugs over Dinner.

Dr. Maté has received the Hubert Evans Prize for Literary Non-Fiction; an Honorary Degree (Law) from the University of Northern British Columbia; an Outstanding Alumnus Award from Simon Fraser University; and the 2012 Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award from Mothers Against Teen Violence. He is an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Criminology, Simon Fraser University.

Source: Dr. Gabor Mate

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Food

Moving beyond the Moo– A Post Cow World

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The Protein Universe: To an Infinite Protein Palate and Beyond, Thanks to Precision Fermentation

According to a new report by the Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return (FAIRR) initiative, a global investor network that aims to put factory farming on the environmental, social and governance (ESG) agenda, animal agriculture is deeply unprepared for the transition to a sustainable food system. But there is one interesting silver lining: 28 out of 60 publicly-listed animal protein companies – almost half – now have some involvement in animal free proteins, which includes seven in cultivated meat.

The shift toward animal free proteins even from within parts of the existing agricultural system is a signal of what’s to come: Precision Fermentation (PF) will disrupt the food industry – a process Catherine Tubb and Tony Seba describe in detail in the RethinkX report, Rethinking Food and Agriculture (2019) – and contrary to prevailing myths, it is already on track to become cost-competitive and eventually cheaper than the conventional livestock industry over the next decade.

But the disappearance of animal agriculture is just the beginning. According to Tubb and Seba, PF means that we will be capable of producing all kinds of different molecules from fats and oils to pigments and vitamins, and will open up endless possibilities for new products in the future. This will bring about profound change to the food system as a whole. And while each class of molecule is important the most important, the one that will drive the disruption, is protein.

This blog contains a summary of Rethinking Food and Agriculture, 2019 by Catherine Tubb and Tony Seba.

 

What is a Protein?

Proteins are a class of biomolecule that execute an immense number of functions to make life happen. They are found throughout nature, in plants, animals, fungi, and so on, and are responsible for the many key processes that keep them alive. The ability to manipulate proteins confers the ability to manipulate life itself.

There are many different types of proteins:

  • Structural proteins (keratin, collagen)- Provide structure and support for the cell and the body and allow the body to move.

 

  • Antibodies (immunoglobulin G) – Help protect the body against foreign particles such as viruses and bacteria.

 

  • Enzymes (Amylase, Lactase) – Assist with the formation of new molecules by reading the genetic information in DNA. They speed up reactions and carry out almost all of the thousands of chemical reactions that take place in cells.

 

  • Messenger proteins (Insulin, Growth hormone) – Transmit signals to coordinate biological processes between cells, tissues, and organs.

 

  • Transport proteins (Hemoglobin, Ferritin) – Bind and carry atoms and small molecules within cells and throughout the body.

_______________________

“Every functionality in every living organism on the planet is based on making protein polymers”

-Dan Widmaier, CEO Bolt Threads

_______________________

The Protein Universe

How many proteins are there in the world? The short answer is that we don’t exactly know.

Proteins are a key part of the inner and outer workings of all living things, which, given the diversity of species, gives a sense of just how much variety in proteins there exists in the natural world. While similar species groups have a similar base set of proteins – i.e., all mammals produce collagen – even the same type of protein in each animal is different, expressing different properties. If we then apply that to every protein within every system within every organism, the total number of proteins appears larger and larger.

 

To Infinity…

When we break down proteins into their components and examine the question from a genetic perspective, the number of possible proteins is effectively infinite.

Proteins are made up of long chains of amino acids (aa) – ranging from about 100 for short ribosomal proteins to over 33,000 for something like titin, which gives human muscles their elasticity. These linear sequences are held together by different peptide bonds and fold into three-dimensional structures, which give proteins their biological and chemical functionality.

The median length of a eukaryote protein (most living organisms, including plants, fungi, and animals) is about 400 aa. While there are about 500 aa in nature, only 20 of them appear in the genetic code. So, the total number of possible unique proteins of length 400 is 20400. Type this into Google’s scientific calculator and the answer is infinite (other calculators simply give an error message).

The same is true for prokaryota (bacteria and archea) proteins. Prokaryota protein length is about 300 aa, so the total number of possible unique proteins of length 300 is 20300. Again, the answer is ‘infinity’. We finally get a number when we lower the protein length to 225 aa, about 10292. To put that into perspective, there are 1080 atoms in the known universe.

 

…And Beyond

If there are an infinite number of proteins that can theoretically be designed, what does that mean for the food system?

The food system as it currently stands may seem diverse but is actually fairly limited. Aside from being one of the 4 macronutrients, proteins act as key ingredients in foods, bringing functionality like taste, texture, and structure to different products. They are responsible for key properties like emulsification, glazing, binding, and frothing that bring complexity and variation to different foods.

We currently use all kinds of different proteins in the food system – largely sourced from the 12 plants and 5 animals that make up 75% of the world’s foods. Despite the fact that each of these plant and animal species contains a wide variety of proteins that we extract for food, materials or pharmaceuticals, and that altogether they do provide access to a large pool of proteins that are available to use, plants and animals still cannot possibly compete with an infinite number of potential types of protein.

Precision Fermentation is the technology on which the disruption of food and agriculture depends because it does not just allow us to produce proteins – it allows us to produce any proteins. Using genetic engineering we can take the genes that code for any of the proteins we use today from our collection of plants and animals, insert them into a microbe, and produce them through fermentation. But we are not limited to directly copying the proteins we already use; we can use genetic engineering to mix and match genes from different places and even add in synthetic ones to create completely novel proteins. Ones that are upgrades on the ones we use, and ones we have never seen before.

This means that using PF to make proteins for the new food system is not a 1 for 1 substitution. It doesn’t end at simply replicating the proteins we already extract and use in a more efficient way. Instead, it means that new food products can be designed with functionality in mind. Custom proteins mean that we can essentially make and tailor the taste, texture, and structure of food to do anything we want it to.

PF also puts protein and, later, product design, production and distribution in the hands of many. It enables a distributed network of food production, product design and distribution that is far superior and much more expansive than the centralized production system we currently have. In this way, just like with protein, the disruption of the overall food system is not a 1 for 1 replacement of the one we already have – but instead, a totally new system.

Source: RethinkX

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The Decisive Role of Conscience: Clues for Non Violence

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“Some clues for nonviolence”: 10 – The decisive role of conscience: “A clue to nonviolence

We transmit to you the study “Some clues for nonviolence” carried out by Philippe Moal, in the form of 12 chapters. The general table of contents is as follows:

1- Where are we going?
2- The difficult transition from violence to nonviolence.
3- Prejudices which perpetuate violence.
4- Is there more or less violence than yesterday?
5- Spirals of violence
6- Disconnection, flight and hyper-connection (a) Disconnection.
7- Disconnection, flight and hyper-connection (b- Flight).
8- Disconnection, flight and hyper-connection (c- hyper-connection).
9- The different ways of rejecting violence.
10- The decisive role of consciousness.
11- Transformation or immobilisation.
12- Integrating and overcoming duality and Conclusion.

In the essay dated September 2021, the author expresses his thanks: : Thanks to their accurate vision of the subject, Martine Sicard, Jean-Luc Guérard, Maria del Carmen Gómez Moreno and Alicia Barrachina have given me precious help in the realisation of this work, both in the precision of terms and ideas, and I thank them warmly.

Here is the tenth chapter:

The Decisive Role of Consciousness

Our inventions and creations, the progress of science and technology, but also our beliefs, our ideological choices, our values, our lifestyle, etc. are the fruit of the intentionality of the consciousness that is shaping the world in its image. If consciousness is altered, the resulting world is altered; a violent consciousness generates a violent world, a consciousness on the run produces a runaway world.

The question of consciousness therefore deserves to be addressed, but let us begin with the concept of the unconscious, which is omnipresent in today’s society.

It is true that psychoanalysis and developments on the unconscious have made it possible to unveil our inner world and reveal its meanderings: fear, anguish, resentment, contradiction, compulsions, the desire for revenge, and so on. We know that these inner contents have implications for life and that they are very active. However, today there is a new tendency to resort to the development of consciousness, as if we decided to move to another stage, to change the level of consciousness.

If psychoanalysis has allowed us to understand that the contents of consciousness are active, phenomenology has also allowed us to discover that consciousness is active. The subject of intentionality is arousing great interest. The image inculcated during education, in which consciousness was shown more as a critical judge than as an ally, is being questioned.

The presentation of the active role of the conscience is moving away from the classical theses on the subject. Indeed, the consciousness does not transmit its vision of the world to us according to the information it receives, like a simple mirror; it does not passively reflect the world, but, on the contrary, it does something with the world it perceives. It does not limit itself to evaluating whether what we do is good or bad, but integrates and interprets the data that reaches it and, above all, structures this data, uses it to elaborate responses in order to transform what it perceives, even to transform itself.

Being active, it is therefore mobile and therefore free in its essence, as it is not subject to determinism. We note that fixation on values, beliefs or prejudices immobilises it in conceptions that can cause it to close in on itself and become violent.

It is easy to notice this active aptitude of the conscience. “I ask myself about a particular situation or a problem to be solved without being able to give an immediate answer; sometimes, after several days and in an unusual situation, the answer suddenly appears to me”. The conscience, silently one might say, has continued to search for an answer during all this time. The questions, doubts, needs and desires that I formulate internally are acts that activate the consciousness to give an answer. Technically, we speak of an act-object operation.

However, the initiated acts are not always completed with an object, that is, they do not always find an answer, which generates a tension that, in a certain way, places the consciousness in a constant dynamic, in a state of permanent search, in order to complete the initiated acts.

It is clear that sometimes these acts of consciousness are not completed in an object, because sometimes it happens that the object is not found. Then there remains a line of tension. Fortunately, on the other hand. It is because consciousness is not complete that consciousness is dynamic. It is because consciousness is not stopped, completed in an object, that consciousness can set its various mechanisms in motion [1].

By showing the active nature of consciousness that expresses itself through intentionality, we approach the thesis of phenomenology, according to which the world is given to consciousness, creating a reciprocal interrelation between consciousness, which exists because it is part of this world, and the world, which exists because I am conscious of it, both forming a consciousness-world structure. However, the Husserlian concept must be completed by specifying that intentionality is expressing itself through the image and that consciousness essentially intends to transform the world.

Moreover, with the issue of human intentionality, we are moving away from today’s dominant reductionist theses, according to which only physics and chemistry would explain the essence of life and its evolution, reducing everything to matter.

The premises and background of the idea of active consciousness are to be found in the philosopher Frantz Brentano [2], who, at the end of the 19th century, introduced the notion of intentionality as a basic universal descriptive concept [3]. 3] One of his students, Edmond Husserl, further developed the concept and created phenomenology, describing intentionality as a fundamental structure of consciousness (and not only as a psychological phenomenon). Another pupil of Brentano’s, Sigmund Freud, developed the concept of the unconscious at the same time as Husserl, which shows the effervescence that reigned around the subject of consciousness at that time and which was heralding the discoveries to be made from this time onwards about the inner world of the human being [4].

Until then, past experiences were considered to have little impact on the present and even less on the future. Freud’s great contribution was to demonstrate that the contents of the psyche are active, and this was a real revolution for the time. However, it was Husserl who contributed the concept of the active role of consciousness: not only are the contents of consciousness active, but consciousness itself is also active.

New currents in the field of psychology were making their appearance… The winds of renewal were blowing in, while one by one our old idols were falling: no more Binet tests, no more Rorschach psychological diagnoses, no more Ribot, Wundt, Weber and Fechner… Experimental psychology had become a statistical or neurophysiological branch. The Gestaltists had landed on these beaches so far from the high psychology debate. Wertheimer, Koffka and Köhler were synthesised with behaviourism thanks to Tolman and Kantor. Behind all this, we saw a gigantic methodology which, moreover, was influencing the fields of logic, gnoseology and even ethics and aesthetics. It was the Husserlian phenomenological method that had long ago produced its critique of psychologism and transcended Heidegger and the psychology of existence. The psychoanalytic pantheon then collapsed with Sartre’s criticisms of the schema of the unconscious based precisely on the application of phenomenology. In particular, we discussed one of Sartre’s least studied essays, his magnificent Outline of a Theory of the Emotions [5].

The two schools of thought mentioned above obviously entail different research methodologies for resolving violence. Broadly speaking, let us say that one looks to the past and the other to the future. “With phenomenology, we free ourselves from the worlds behind us”, said Nietzsche.

In one case I see violence according to what I interpret and in the other I interpret it according to what I see. In the first case, there is a tension linked to the fact that I start from the interpretation. In the second case, I start describing without explaining, without analysing, without a previous reading grid, which allows a more relaxed approach to the problem, although it is necessary to be as exhaustive as possible in the description of the phenomenon. Moreover, I can observe without noise and see without interpreting, allowing intuitions and inspiration to emerge.

Nor do we appeal to the action of a supposed subconscious or unconscious, or some other epochal myth whose scientific premises are incorrectly formulated. We rely on a psychology of consciousness that admits diverse levels of work and operations of different pre-eminence in each psychic phenomenon, always integrated in the action of a global consciousness [6].

Research on consciousness does not use the concept of the unconscious, but considers the concept of co-presences [7] which, although we do not see them, although we are not aware of them – in the sense of not being aware of them and not in the sense of being unconscious – have a strong influence on our everyday life. Jean Gebser illustrates the phenomenon as follows: “We never see what we have in front of our eyes, without thinking that to the visible side corresponds a side that is not perceived because it is not visible, but indispensable for the whole to exist [8]”.

The co-presences can be unresolved background noises of everyday life, permanent preoccupations, subjects of reflection that occupy the mind, more deeply rooted beliefs whose values dictate life and intervene when one moves away from a certain line of conduct. The formative stage is therefore very important, as beliefs and values are formed at this time and can resurface at any time.

The co-presences may be at the surface, linked to the contexts in which I live, but they may also come from my more distant memory and resurface suddenly and unexpectedly, by association with situations that I am experiencing in the present. Their accumulated emotional and affective charge can be the trigger for great violence. In a conflict between two people, memories linked to the conflict come to the surface and act in co-presence.

Every individual representation is part of a more or less copresent system of representation, which varies according to the conditions of the memory data. In other words, a response to the world elicited by a stimulus has been selected by a field of copresence among many other possible representations. Thus, the co-presence system, in more than one sense, determines the overall behaviour of individuals and human ensembles [9].

9] Research on consciousness shows that it is primarily oriented towards the future. This vision conditions present behaviour and positively and gradually counteracts the burden of past traumas. Reconciliation with a lived situation, for example, aims at rehabilitation for tomorrow. I was able to experience a real integration of difficult experiences from my past by being able to elaborate future projects related to those same painful experiences.

No phenomenon is predetermined, including violence, as Ilya Prigogine demonstrated in his thermodynamics experiments [10]; there are multiple options in any situation and our free will allows us to always have the possibility to choose.

“We are condemned to be free [11]”, says Sartre, for whom, once thrown into this world that we have not chosen, we are responsible for everything we do in it. If we do not choose, we cannot speak of freedom. One cannot reply: “If one chooses to be violent, one is therefore free”, because this freedom, which is granted by eliminating that of the other, is at the origin of an enchainment, in which case one cannot speak of freedom.

In 1960, in a public speech as assistant pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta with his father, Martin Luther King also invoked the notion of choice: “It is not a choice between violence and non-violence; it is a choice between non-violence and non-existence”.

Silo poetically refers to the need to choose in the chapter The Guide to the Inner Path in his book The Inner Look: “… On the inner path you can walk darkened or luminous. Attend to the two paths that open before you. If you allow your being to be thrown into dark regions, your body wins the battle and dominates. Then sensations and appearances of spirits, of forces, of memories will arise. There you descend further and further. There is hatred, revenge, strangeness, possession, jealousy, the desire to remain. If you descend further, you will be overcome by frustration, resentment and all those reveries and desires that have brought ruin and death to humanity. If you push your being in the luminous direction, you will meet resistance and fatigue at every step. This fatigue of ascent has its culprits. Your life weighs, your memories weigh, your past actions impede the ascent. This ascent is difficult because of the action of your body which tends to dominate [12].

[1] Foundations of thinking. The pure form from the psychological point of view, Silo Lecture, Corfu, October 1975, Winged Lion Editions, 2019, p. 21.

[2] Franz Brentano (1838-1917), German philosopher, author of the reference work Psychology from the Empirical Point of View, Ediciones Sígueme, 2020.

[3] La phénoménologie et les fondements des sciences (Phenomenology and the foundations of the sciences), Hermann, 2019, Edmund Husserl, “Founding text of phenomenology. Husserl establishes here the principles and methods that make possible a new science, the pure descriptive science of the structures of consciousness, transcendental phenomenology. Revealing the implicit laws of intentional life and the constitutive power of intentionality” Jean-François Lavigne, specialist in contemporary philosophy, ontology and phenomenology.

[4] The influence of Husserlian phenomenology on the psychological sciences has been considerable, as has Heidegger’s philosophy derived from it. Many authors belong to this current. Almost all of them have been influenced by the phenomenological method of Franz Brentano and Husserl. The works of Jaspers, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre and Binswanger are universally known. As a psychiatric trend, the Third Viennese School of Viktor Frankl joins this trend. The psychological work methods of Ludwig Ammann in his Self-Liberation System are also well known.

[5] Self-Liberation, op. cit., p. 11.

[6] Contributions to Thought, Psychology of the Image, op. cit. p. 54.

[7] Self-Liberation, op. cit., p. 111.

[8] La imagen del hombre y la conciencia, lecture given in 1965 by Jean Gebser (1905-1973), German philosopher and poet, phenomenologist of consciousness, author of Origen y Presente, published in Spanish by Atalanta, 2011.

[9] La modificación del trasfundo psicosocial, Silo Conference, 4 January 1982 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Source: Pressenza

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Phytotherapy, knowledge and experiences 03- “A path to the deep”.

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(Image by Claudia Mónica García)

We continue sharing from REHUNO Health the series of notes that Horacio Mesón gives us under the title: Phytotherapy, knowledge and experiences. In this third and final installment, the author invites us to delve into the relationship between his passion and knowledge in Phytotherapy with the depths of his inner world and his purpose in life. As Horacio himself tells us at the end of the article: “Phytotherapy is, for me, the best excuse to carry out my Purpose”.

By Horacio Mesón

My garden is small but with little you can do magic. The house is warm, comfortable and simple.

Summer was ending and our grandson Lorenzo had turned three years old. Very lively, sparkling, awake and emotional, with an interesting character when he plants himself.

I thought it was the right time and, in an orderly way, I took him with me to the garden and introduced him to some aromatic plants. First the creepers and then the shrubs. We gently caressed them.

We went from Peperina to Hierba Buena; then the Muña Muña that we collected last spring in the field. The Manzanilla was the one he liked the most.

We came to the Citronella, the first bush, there was rejection. The Pennyroyal more or less. He liked the Lemon Balm, but when we got to the Rosemary he jumped on it. A smile exploded all over his face without laughter and he hugged it. It was just in flower and he caressed its tops, dragging the scent towards him, I think he was imitating me.

Six months went by and he remembers the names of all of them, for him they already have an entity. But with Rosemary the chemistry, the affinity, the compatibility is very great. A bond was established between them as if they had known each other for a long time?

This link also grows between the three of us, it has the depth of my emotional and ancestral memory.

The plants that I came to as a child playing, out of devotion to my grandparents and then out of necessity, showed me in depth a path that I had already begun.

I came to understand with the heart of a city-dweller, that I have a feeling for Pachamama. That Mother-Earth concept, that unique devotion that I dare to call Love or something similar.

I understand that any “Craft and Discipline” faced with the Inner Force, that is to say with everything and without holding anything back, leaves us on the threshold of what is desired.

I understand that along the way one has passed even without method through certain “places” and registers.

That’s why a scheme of forms is required that allows one to precipitate…

There are key questions and tracer questions, directional questions. They help to focus, to concentrate and bring us closer to goodness.

In the service of what are my vocations? In the service of what are these capacities? Why do I do what I do without thinking about it? What is the motive? Is this my purpose? Do I have a plan? If I do, how do I perfect it? Do I want to go further? How far am I willing to give? What is the Valid Action? What is my greatest desire or aspiration?

Ancient dreams come together with the present and the future. The three times act in a permanent dynamic. Sometimes you think things are coming from the past but they are coming from ahead, from what will be. The register is here and now.


(Image Horacio Mesón)

The purpose was designed and deepened in dreams as children and today it detonates feeding on the future, on what is intuited and inspired.

The warm embrace between peers and the meaningful exchange is so necessary.

Valid action is not just an act, it is an achievement of actions guided by the chosen direction and pulled by the future thanks to the Purpose. Connected to the best of oneself.

If there is something natural as a very human virtue it is the action of Giving, this is the original intention.

A Purpose thrown forcefully out into the world and to others is a whirlwind, a cascade and a myriad of valid actions. And yet it does not live or register as a whirlwind, nor as a waterfall.

The greatest desire or aspiration is to be able to help others until the last moment of my life.

Final question: What then is Phytotherapy for me: “it is the best of excuses to carry out my Purpose”.

So much for the author’s words which complete this series of 3 notes on Phytotherapy. If you would like to know more about this knowledge and experience, please contact the author directly: horaciomeson@yahoo.com.ar

REHUNO Health

Source: Pressenza

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