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Paul Grobstein's picture

Brains, interacting and otherwise - PG thoughts

Strong sense of some of the benefits of interacting brains in our last session, both in general and in highlighting differences in ways of thinking/stories. Is the brain/mind material, like the kidney? Sure. Ought one therefore to approach the brain the same way one does the kidney? No, because story telling and story revising is an intrinsic part of the function of the brain, and is not of the kidney. Manipulations of the brain inevitably and necessarily affect one's stories whether that is intended as not, as per Adi's account of the sequelae of surgery for a brain tumor. Manipulations of the kidney may, of course, as well, but the link is less direct. The upshot is that a "medical model" that neglects the significance of story telling is clearly inappropriate for thinking about "mental" health (and may be, as well, in many cases of "physical" health).

None of this says that one shouldn't, as appropriate, make use of therapeutic procedures developed by a "medical model" approach. What it does suggest is that one shouldn't presume that such procedures will be effective in all situations. Perhaps even more importantly, one shouldn't presume that the medical model approach to research will in the long run uncover effective procedures for all situations. If story telling is a central feature of brain function, that needs to become a consideration in research aimed at developing effective mental health therapeutic procedures.

And one needs, as well, to incorporate the idea that "conflict" is not itself a problem but instead a driver of ongoing change, of "getting it less wrong." What is problematic ("unhealthy"?) is unresolveable ("destructive," "unconstructive"?) conflict, conflict that inhibits the generation of new candidate stories? That seems to me worth thinking more about, in terms of the brain as well as in terms of interacting brains.

Looking forward to seeing how this new brain-based story of mental health, one featuring dynamic interactions between the unconscious (with "filters," "schemas") and story telling, evolves (or fails to) as we move into encounters with an array of more concrete issues/phenomena.


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