Friday, October 24, 2014

Our nervous system creates our philosophy

A client, early twenties but unsettlingly savvy about his psychological self, has for much of his life felt he is the only human being.  Earliest-age sense of difference and alienation, even from his friends, evolved into chronic depersonalization and derealization, living in the clouds.  “I can relate to not being able to interface with reality” was one of several fluidly uttered variations of his self-sense.  Parents’ divorce, father’s Asperger’s-like cloister-like silence and isolation, mother’s “drama” and being beaten by boyfriends, and their moving often probably grew the roots of two branches: his early, even infancy-stage perceptual-neurological desynchronization from live stimulation – nervous system being “out of phase” with others, mother then the rest of the world; and the resultant safety-making dissociation from everything.

I believe I could empathize with the young man because I’ve long been aware of my own fundamental “out-of-phase” with people.  It doesn’t stop me from loving and empathizing and even communing with others: I guess we are too complicated to be ruled by one neural strand.  But it is real enough to have taught me how birth trauma and social gaucheness and shyness and “social phobia” and dissociation and “amotivation” and dysthymia may all be one family.

I wouldn’t be surprised if many people could, if so inclined, track layers of fronts of connectivity to others within their psyche.  Before my latency-stage anxious disconnect grew, I had rich loving feelings toward a friend or two; but I would have felt crippled or anesthetized to touch them: A basic out-of-phase already existed.  At all times when I touch an object or a pet or a person, I know I am not fully feeling it.  The wall of separation is impossible to describe, both subtle yet deep as the ocean.  But I know it is the master hand behind my cognitive states, my view of life, my philosophies, my maleness, the sometimes ungainly-artificial feel of my walk, the feminine-textural curves of my signature, my potent or obnoxious turns of phrase, my preferring chewy to crunchy foods, the quality of my eye contact, of all my relationships, the substance and possibilities of my future.  I remember a young Asian woman, during my first counseling internship, who told the social worker that she didn’t know how to walk.  She, too, was trapped, wine in hand, in Montresor's crypt.*

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* Poe, The Cask of Amontillado

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Comments are welcome, but I'd suggest you first read "Feeling-centered therapy" and "Ocean and boat" for a basic introduction to my kind of theory and therapy.