April 16, 2014

The Power of being with others that shapes our Brain

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To gain a deeper understanding of the interwoven tapestry of biological, psychological, and social processes that compromise human life, we must according to Cozolino (2006:1-2) resist the urge to  become attached to any particular frame of reference. “Frame of reference” refers to the locus of psychotherapy: the individual, the family, the tribe or further out. Instead of having one focus point we must focus in and out; even from neurons to neighborhoods, in its increasing layers of complexity. In this article I attempt to give a condensed summary of some models of reasoning about what are the dominant intra- and inter- factors that plays an developing or evolutionary role in the sustainable, healthy social life of people; the togetherness of human beings.

Relationships shaping our brains

Cozolino (:8-9) is as therapist especially interested in how relationships reshape the brain throughout life and comes to the conclusion that it is the power of being with others that shapes our brains. Relationships are a fundamental and necessary building block in the evolution of the contemporary human brain. He (:4-5) accept the existence of a social synapse. A synapse is the space between the neurons in the brain. This space is filled by a variety of chemical substances engaging in complex interactions that result in synaptic transmissions that stimulates each neuron to survive, grow, and be sculpted by experience. In a similar way the social synapse is the space between humans and the medium through which we are linked together into larger organisms such as families, tribes, societies and the human species as a whole. Neurons has three sequential levels of information exchange. They are the communication across the synapse that changes the internal biochemistry of the cell, which in turn activates messenger ribonucleic acid (the material that translates protein in to new brain structure), and protein synthesis to change cellular structure. It is through these processes that the brain changes in response to experience. Cozilino explore the possibility that the same process happens in the interaction between two or more people: impacting each other`s internal biological state and influencing the long term construction of each other`s brain. He explain this process further under “From Neurons to Narratives”(295-312) and how storytelling serves as a means of homeostasis and integration of brain functioning.

Relationships as our primary context

Cozolino (2006:13) emphasize the fact that human babies survival  is based on the abilities of their caretakers to detect the need and intentions of those around them. Mothers and fathers shape the brain of the baby from the inside out in a dance of interacting instincts. Cozolino (:6) quotes research done by Crabbe & Phillips, 2003, and Le Doux, 2003 that shows that our brains are built in the enigmatic interface between experience and genetics where nurture and nature become one. At first genes serves as a template to organize the brain and trigger critical and sensitive periods, later they orchestrate the ongoing transcription of experience into genetic material. It is called genetic transcription. Transcription genes control the experience-dependent aspects of the brain`s organization and development by allowing the brain to be shaped and reshaped by learning. The transcription of protein into neural structure via RNA accounts for approximately 70% of the brain`s structure that is added after birth (Score, 1994). It is through gene transcription that environmental stimulation allows for ongoing learning and adaptation (Black, 1998) (:40). Although this interplay between genetics and experience continues throughout life, this phenomenon is of crucial interest in the first few years of life. It is a period of exuberant brain development, early experience has a disproportionate impact on the development of neural systems (:38) in the womb of the mother the fetus engages in spontaneous activity that stimulates the mother to think about her new child. Newborns move continually all parts of their bodies, allowing them to discover their hands and feet as they attract attention. Although these movements seem random, they may actually been the brains best guests at which intentional movements will eventual be needed for more mature motor skills (Katz& Shatz,1996; Shatz,1990).

Cozolino (2006:13) comes to the conclusion that for humans other people are the primary environment: if we are successful in relationships, we will have food, shelter, protection, and children of our own, we will get what we need. In connection with Darwin`s survival of the  fittest, he makes the point that survival of the fittest is entirely dependent on environment to which the organism is trying to adapt and that we are adapting to information overload, spiraling expectations, and being stuck in traffic. He asks the question if it could be that the fittest in our society is the average citizen, going about to daily routine with a solid sense of self, able to successfully navigate relationships and regulate the stress of sitting through business meetings.

About the complexity of our social structure Cozolino (:21) points out that the size of our brains correlates with both the length of our juvenile period and the complexity of our society structure. Long childhood and complex societies make for larger brains and visa versa. He refers to the work of Cheney, Seyfarth, & Smuts,(1986) who found that because we are dependent on groups for our survival, we have evolved elaborate neural networks for interacting with others as well as reading their minds and predicting their intensions. These systems of attaching, predicting and communicating are all functions of the social brain. Humans, having the most complex brains and intricate society, have the most prolonged period of dependency of any species (Cacioppo & Berntson, 2002). But human babies are born quite early relative to the maturity of their brains. According to Gould, (1977) the pregnancy should be 24 months. It may be a strategy that by developing the brain outside the mother’s body will increase the effects of social relationships on the developing brain. Cozolino (2006:22) stress the fact that to facilitate the continued growth of the brain, the carnal sutures don`t close for many months after the birth and the scull continues to grow in to puberty.

The brain is a living system

Neurons are social; they shun isolation and depend on their neighbors for survival. If they are not sending and receiving message from other neurons on a constant basis, they literally shrink and die. Most neurons have fibers, called axons, that become covered with myelin, which serves as a insulator that enhances axons` firing efficiency. One way of measuring the maturity of neural network is to measure its degree of myelination(van der Knapp et al., 1991) Many neurons develop elaborate branches, called dendrites, that interconnect with dendrites stemming from other neurons. Thus, a second measure of neural development is the size and degree of dendritic branching in individual neurons. Neurons that fail to communicate with other neurons die off through a process called apoptosis. Paradoxically, a third way to measure brain development is by the decrease in the overall number of neurons, as survivors take over and form increasingly efficient networks (Edelman,1987, Huttenlocher,1994; Purves & Lichtman, 1980). It turns out that the pruning of neurons that have not established positive connections is a vital component of the growth and development of the brain. Half the volume of the brain is made up of glial cells that participate in neural communication both by modulating synaptic transmission and carrying their own messages.

The growth of the neurons and the expansion of the dendritic connections happens especially in the neo-cortex, the area most involved with social cognition and inhibitory control. In order to participate in social groups we need to process and utilize the social information and also inhibit self-serving, aggressive and sexual impulses. Inhibition also aids attention, concentration, and learning, while maximizing plasticity in networks that are capable of higher cognition, contemplation, and empathy. Inhibitory abilities are necessary for parents to deal with the unrestrained impulses and needs of children.

Cozolino (:43-48) demonstrates through the process of adolescence the  reciprocity influence of brain structure and behavior in a person as well as on the  brain changes and behavior of the people around this person and on the environment. The changes, discovered in the adolescent brain (12 to 18 years of age), show a loss of neurons with an increase in the number of myelinated fibers connecting functional neural networks. These changes represent a process of selection and reorganization of neural networks with a goal of faster and more efficient information processing. Enhanced efficiency and speed of communication among cortical areas and between cortical and sub - cortical structures ultimately leads to increased of brain functions located in diverse regions of the central nervous system. At the same time three social transmissions take place: (1) The adolescent moves away from the family of origin, (2) establishes an identity and connection with a peer group and (3) creates a new family. As adults we are able to integrate all three into a complex set of attachment relationships. The brain needs to be plastic to develop new relationships, a new self image, and to learn of new roles in society. The tasks of the adolescent require breaking (differentiates) with the values and structures of the original family, (in which he was embedded) in order to become as desirable as possible to peers and potential mates, (to evolve  into a next developing stage). This shifting among social contexts requires ongoing plasticity in networks of the social brain. The term “brain plasticity” is the term which neuroscientists use to describe  the constantly accruing changes in the structure of the brain that accompany experience. The brain is pliable, like plastic. (Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology, Fifth edition. Kolb, B and Wishaw, I Q 2003 Worth publishers New York, USA:662). The changes in the brain`s reward circuitry required for new attachments during adolescence can also lead to confusion, disorientation, and depression. These biological and behavioral shifts are no doubt connected to many impending life transitions that lay ahead. Cozolino (2006) notes that, in referring to the work of Chambers et al., 2003; Rosenberg,1995; Spear, 2000; Teicher et. al.1995, these shifts are unfortunately fraught with dangers related to an increased vulnerability to risky behaviors and addiction coupled with poor judgment and lack of adequate impulse control. Cozolino (:45) stresses the well-known fact that parenting an adolescent is no easy task. It requires of supportive affection and discipline as the parents simultaneously try to encourage the adolescents` enthusiasm while reigning in their impulsive brains. As the toddler heads toward the stairs, drunk with  the glee to be able to run through space, the adolescent heads toward sex and drugs, intoxicated with his or her newfound independence, unconcerned by any potential dangers. This reciprocity influence of the developing brain structures and the inter- and intra social plasticity, correspond with the idea of experience-dependent plasticity.

Restructuring of our brains in relationships

Our brains are structured and restructured by interactions with our social and natural environments.(;81-82) A lot of research work is done on the reciprocal stimulation of  each other`s brain to grow, between mother and child (Fleming, O`Day, & Kraemer, 1999; Hatton et al., 1987; Modney et al.,1994; Salm et al.,1988; Theodosis & Paulain, 1984). Mothers experience a period of heightened arousal and responsiveness after childbirth, when their newborn takes on “special salience” (Fleming & Corter,1988). Cozolino ask the question if it is possible that the emotional  lability we see in many new mothers is an expression of a heightened sensitivity to interpersonal cues required for optimal attunement and learning. (:83). The impact of the sight of a mother`s face on her babies social brain is that it triggers high levels of endogenous opiates, which are responsible for the pleasurable aspects of social interactions and act directly on the sub-cortical reward centers. Positive and exiting stimulation by the mother also triggers the production of corticotrophin-releasing factor in the infant`s hypothalamus, thereby activating the sympathetic nervous system, which control endorphin and ACTH production in the anterior pituitary, also stimulates  the production of dopamine. These same neurochemicals are centrally involved in the regulation of brain metabolic energy levels and maturation of the cortex and limbic system (Cirulli et al., 2003; Schore, 1997) The biochemical cascade activated by mother-infant interaction also triggers the birth of new neurons as, protein synthesis, and neural growth. Cozolino concludes that caretakers do more than regulate the present psychobiological state of an infant; they activate the growth of the brain through emotional availability and reciprocal interactions (Emde,1988) The deficits in abstract abilities often seen in isolated and institutionalized children reflect the lack of early contact required for the development and integration of the brain, in general, and more specifically in in many experience-dependent neural circuits of the frontal lobes (Goldfarb1945). During early critical periods, serotonin and dopamine also play an important role in the responsiveness of the cortex to environmental stimulation. These neuromodulators influence the development of neural networks. Monoamine activation of both glycolgenolysis (biochemical reactions that triggers the release of glucose in conditions of intense activity) and the pentose phosphate pathways that mediate brain-building processes underscores the preeminent role of monoamines in the generation of high quantities of energy required for the developing brain (Schore,1997) We have to attach and reattach to different individuals and groups and play a variety of social roles throughout our lives, therefore the networks of the social brain are especially experience- dependent. Our ability to form attachments and successfully navigate the social world depends on our ability to regulate our impulses and emotions. Thus, along with building neural networks of social communication, we are also shaping networks that regulate our emotions and behaviors (:85). Caretakers greatly contributes to the development of circuits that are vital to affect regulation and the social brain Abuse, neglect, under stimulation, and prolonged shame reduce levels of endorphins, CRF, and dopamine and increase stress hormones and noradrenalin. This biochemical environment inhibits plasticity and creates a vulnerability to psychopathology. Abused and neglected children show less adaptive affective regulation then children not abused and neglected (:86-87) (Gaensbauer,1982; Score,1994). Repeated experiences of moving from regulation to dysregulation and back to a regulated state are stored in networks of sensory, motor and emotional memory. The participation of caretakers in this process and their repeated assistance in moving an infant back to regulated states build and reinforce  these circuits. The experience, memory, and control of transition states become encoded as implicit memories of positive state transitions. Positive parent-child interactions establish an environment within the brain that maximize positive emotional rebound as well as neural growth and affect regulation.

Sustained social engagement represents a complex evolutionary accomplishment. To explain it Cozolino uses the polyvagal theory, proposed by Stephen Porges (1998, 2001, 2003b). The theory is about the sequential evolution of three separate autonomic subsystems. The third system is the social engagement system or the “smart” vagus that allows us to modulate autonomic arousal in a prosocial manner and controls the muscles of the eyes, face, mouth, and inner ears for social communication. Its purpose is to provide regulation of visceral and autonomic activity, allowing for the dance of engagement and disengagement with others without activating fight/flight responses and behavioral states in a manner that supports sustained social contact. During the first years of life, the vagal system develops and integrates with other cortical and limbic structures to regulate our experience and behavior and translate what we learn from experience with caretakers into moment-to-moment bodily experience. Evolution is not just a matter of developing new and more complex brain regions, but that systems need to be modified and combined to perform increasingly complex functions. Positive parenting contributes to the building of positive vagal tone, which in turn, supports ego strength, physical health and the ability to engage in sustained and mutual regulating social interactions.

Touch is an important channel of communication and a vital mechanism of human bonding with the skin as our largest sense organ to do this communication with (:102). The skin contains two different types of sensory receptors; some transmit information and others are connected to the core of the social brain and is dedicated to communicative social touch. Touch has a life-changing impact and underlines the importance of physical contact for physiological regulation and attachment, especially to those who are the most vulnerable (:103) (Anderson, 1991; Bergman et al.,2004; Field et al.,1986; Ottenbacher et al.,1987; Acolet et al., 1993; Dieter et al,. 2003; Shanberg & Field, 1987; Weiss et al., 2001)

The Cingulate cortex is a vital structure of the social brain that coordinates maternal behavior, nursing and play. It evolved around the time sound became an aspect of social communication and certain scent glands were modified into mammary glands for nursing (Duvall,1986; Kennard, 1955; Robinson,1967) and provided  the basic circuitry for the evolution of communication, cooperation, and empathy (:104-105) (Rilling et al., 2002). This process enables the mother of securely attached children to shift fluidly from house work or conversation to monitoring and attending to the needs of their children.

To develop healthy affect-regulation and self esteem, a baby needs to internalize experiences with its mother, such as soothing touch, being held softly and securely, comforting warmth, the experience of homeostatic balance in regard to sleep, hunger and stimulation, repeated experience of emotional transitions from states of distress to states of calm, a sustained positive emotional state  (114).

The regulatory capacity of relationships and neurochemical modulators is discussed by Cozolino (115-126) under the head of “addicted to love” and implicit social memory as the storage of images, emotions, and bits of information. He concludes that attachment schemas are a category of implicit social memory that reflects our early experience with caretakers. An understanding of implicit social memory, attachment schemas, and how they impact our experience of one another is an important tool in psychotherapy. Knowledge of these unconscious processes provides a language and logic with which to discus thoughts and feelings that are automatic, overwhelming and destructive of intimacy. It help to understand the importance of consistent caretaking, emotional availability, and self-insight in raising children.

The evolution of the social brain revolves around the increasingly participation of the amygdale in the evaluation of visual information gleaned  from the direction of the eye gaze, pupil dilatation, blushing, and facial expressions.

Mirror neurons and the neural networks they coordinate, work together to allow us to automatically react to, move with, and generate a theory of what is on the mind of others. Mirror neurons link networks in the brain but also one brain with another and are a essential component of the social brain and an important mechanism communication across the social synapse. Utilizing mirror circuitry as a core system and expanding it to include additional systems of the social brain, we may be able to begin looking for a fundamental network of resonance and empathy. On page 204 table14.1 Cozolino summarizes the circuits involved in imitation, resonance and empathy. About disorders of the social brain and inter personal trauma (213-240) he states that the depth of the harm caused by neglect, abuse, and inadequate nurturance rest on the fact that the human brain is a social organ. Relationships that cause pain teach children that their role in the group is tenuos, their existence is unnecessary and their future survival is in question. Negative interpersonal experience impact an individual`s ability to relate to others and they also damage the body`s ability to maintain and heal itself in response to physical illness and subsequent psychological stress. Raising a child includes building a brain that will last a life time. (:240)

Research work on the function and dysfunction of the brain bring a lot of new insight on the borderline personality disorder as an interpersonal disorder and the possible neurodevelopmental dysfunctions in this context (256-268) and the prefrontal cortex as a vital component in the cause of anti-social personality disorder as well as autism, Asberger syndrome and William Syndrome. (269-281)

Cozolino(324) asks the important question for therapy: can attachment schema change for the better? Although there is consistency in attachment style from childhood into adulthood, many people show changes that reflect ongoing neural plasticity in attachment circuitry (Hamilton, 2000). Individuals reclaiming admission to the social world through personal struggle, have accomplished “earned autonomy” through later relationships and/or working through and integration of childhood experiences. There are many stories in every culture with this  “earned autonomy” as theme.

Cozolino ends his work “The Neuroscience of Human Relationships” with:

“Placing our individual views into a social perspective, knowing our limitations, biases, and prejudices, and appreciating the importance of human relationships have the potential to lead us to a more loving world”.`

Interpersonal attunement

“Interpersonal attunement” is the term that Siegel (2007:27 - 28) uses from the perspective of interpersonal neurobiology for the same interaction to which Cozolino refer as the action in the social synapse. For Siegel interpersonal attunement is the fundamental characteristic of a secure attachment between a child and the parent. This attuned communication enables the child to develop the regulatory circuits in the brain – including the integrative prefrontal fibers – that give the individual a source of resilience as he or she grows. This resilience takes the form of the capacity of self regulation and engagement with others in empathic relationships. Siegel (:347 ) examined what mindful awareness, secure attachment and prefrontal brain function could have in common. He came to the important discovery of the mirror neuron system which is the ways in which the social brain has processes in which it perceives the intentional, goal – directed actions of others and links this perception to the priming of the motor systems to engage in the same action. He argues that this is the derivation of the term “mirror neuron” in that what we see we become ready to do, to mirror other`s actions in our own behavior and at the same time there is neural correlates of perceiving intension in others, that might translate into self awareness of one`s own intention at the heart of mindfulness. Mindful awareness (Curiosity, openness, acceptance, and love), is seen by Siegel (:26) as a way of cultivating the mind`s awareness of itself. It is harnessing aspects of the original neural mechanisms for being aware of other minds. As we become aware of our own intensions and attentional focus, we may be utilizing the same circuits of the brain that first created maps of the intention and attention of others. The social construction of the brain and the role of attachment relationships are particularly important in interpersonal neurobiology. The coherent state of an integrated system is reflected by the qualities of connection, openness, harmony, engagement, receptivity, emergence, noesis, compassion, and empathy (COHERENCE).

Systems Biology

Social  cooperation plays an invaluable role even in sustaining life in the biosphere.Lipton (2005:43), mention the symbiotic relationships in nature as described by Ryan

(2002:16) : a crab carries a pink anemone on top of its shell. When his predators,fish and octopuses, approach him, the anemone shoots out its brilliantly colored tentacles, with heir microscopic batteries of poisoned darts, and sting the potential predator, encouraging it to look elsewhere for its meal. The warrior anemone gets something out of the relationship as well because it eats the crab`s leftover food.

Lipton goes further and shows that studies of these relationships is now a rapidly growing field called “Systems Biology”. Lipton (:43} warns that the message of war against   microorganisms ignores the fact that many bacteria are essential to our health and that the rampant use of antibiotics is detrimental to our survival. Advances in genome science have revealed that living organisms integrate their cellular communities by sharing their genes. This gene transfer speed up evolution since organisms can acquire ”learned” experiences from other organisms. In the light of this knowledge of inter- and intra -species gene-transfer mechanism, the dangers of genetic engineering become apparent as the engineered genes are spreading among, and altering other organisms in the environment. With evolutionists he predicts that if we fail to apply the lessons of our shared genetic destiny of cooperation among all species, we threaten human existence that can cause the sixth cataclysm (extinction of life) on our planet not by extraterrestrial events, but by one animal-organism: man.

In the light of genetic research, (Surani 2001; Reik and Walter 2001), it is revealed that parent`s responsibility to take care for their children, starts even before conception. In the final stage of egg and sperm maturation, a process called “genomic imprinting” adjust the activity of a specific group of genes that will shape the character of their child yet to be conceived. Lipton (:172) suggests that what is going on in the lives of the parents during the process of genome imprinting, has a profound influence on the mind and body of their child and that a massive body of research is documented how important parent`s attitudes are in the development of the fetus once the child is conceived. As an example Lipton (174) referring to the work of Lesage et al,2004; Christensen, 2000; Arnsten, 1998; Leutwyler 1998; Sapolsky,1997; Sandman et al, 1994; states the fact that  when the blood of a pregnant mother, experiencing chronic stress, flows through her placenta, her hormones will profoundly alter the distribution of blood flow in her fetus and change the character of her developing child`s physiology.

Kegan, (1982:17 – 21) points out that it is not only the parent who bonds with the child but also the baby`s ability to recruit attention. The baby`s capacity to hold the mother with recognizing eyes is as fundamental to our development as the prehensile capacity to hold a physical object. There are a number of similarly primordial experiences that begin in the infant`s social world. What distinguish these from the grasp of things is that they are intrinsically social; that is, the object which is grasped, is also a self, itself a grasper. No experience is more powerful perhaps then the glance, the interplay of eyes, the looking at someone who is looking at you. The experience of being seen or not being seen, universally acting out in the play of peekaboo ( waar`s hy, waar`s hy? Daar`s hy!) is as subject to future abstracting as the prehensile grasp (Kegan:18). The need to been seen, to been recognized, however it changes in the complexity of its forms, may never change in its intensity. The attention – recruiting infant is doing something he will try to do all his life: recognize and be recognized. But the capacity to recruit another`s invested regard, so uniform at birth, becomes a various affair as people grow older: some people has a much greater ability to recruit people`s attention to them than other people do. Who comes into a person`s life may be the single greatest factor of influence to what that life becomes. Kegan (:19) argues that who comes in a person`s life, is part a matter of luck, in part a matter of one`s power to recruit others, but in large part a matter of other people`s ability to be recruited. People have as varying capacities to be recruited as they do to recruit others. One way to enhance the ability to recruit people and to be recruited by people, is to learn to see people and to allow to be seen by people. And at the bottom is the activity of meaning.

Kegan (1982:19) gives attention to the fact that meaning making is, in its origins, a physical activity ( grasping, seeing), a social activity, ( it requires another), a survival activity (in doing it, we live). Meaning, understand in this way, is the primary human notion, irreducible. It cannot be divorced from the body, from social experience, or from the very survival of the organism. Meaning depends on someone who recognize you. Not meaning, by definition, is to be utterly lonely. Well-fed, warm, and free of disease, you may still perish if you cannot “mean”. Kegan (:11) uses a phrase out of the work of William Perry(1970): what an organism does is organize; and what a human organism organizes is meaning. It is not that a person makes meaning, as that the activity of being a person makes meaning. Kegan continues that there is no feeling, no experience, no thought, no perception,  Kegan (1982:82-83) holds the opinion that the term “object relationship” requires explanation because it is also used of people and that may sounds as if they are things. In the etymology (origin of meaning) of the word object the root “ject” speaks of an action to throw. Taken with the prefix “ob” the word suggests the motion or consequence of thrown from or thrown away from. Object speaks to that which some motion has made separate or distinct from, or to the motion itself. Object relationship, by this line of reasoning, might be expected to have to do with our relations to that which some motion has made separate or distinct from us, our relations to that which has been thrown away from us or the experience of that throwing itself. This preliminary definition is the underlying conception of the Neo-Piagetian theory. Central to that theory is an understanding of motion as the prior context of personality. It is evolution as a meaning constitutive activity. Evolution activity involves the creating of the  object, (a process of differentiation) as well as our relating to it (a process of integrating). By this conception, object relations are not something that go on in the space between a worldless person and a personless world. Rather they bring into being the very distinction in the first place. Subject-object relations emerge out of a lifelong process of development: a succession of qualitative differentiations of the self from the world, with a qualitatively more extensive object with which to be in relation created each time, a natural history of  qualitatively better guarantees in the world of its distinctness successive triumphs of ”relationships to” rather than “embeddedness in”. By such a conception the term “object relations” is an acceptable term, because, properly understood, the term does not relate persons to things, but creates a more general category. In the term is a recognition that any given person may differ from us not only by her distinctness of other persons, but by the differing ways in which we ourselves make sense of her, of which differences, none may be so important as the extent to which we distinguish her from ourselves. Kegan, (:113) suggest that to understand another person in some fundamental way, you must know where this person is in her evolution. For Kegan  a lifelong process of evolution or adaptation is the master motion in personality. From a neo-Piagetian view, the transformation in the first eighteen months of life (giving birth to the object relations) is only the first instance of that basic evolutionary activity taken as the fundamental ground of personality development. The infant`s “moving and sensing” as the basic structure of its personal organization (the reflexes), get “thrown from”; they become an object of attention, the “content” of a newly evolved structure. Rather than being my reflexes, I now have them. ”I” am something other. “I” am that which coordinates or mediates the reflexes, what we mean by “impulses” and “perceptions”. This is the new subjectivity. For the very first time, this creates a world separate from me, the first qualitative transformation in the history of quaranteeing the world its distinct integrity, of having it to relate to, rather than to be embedded in. The Constructive-developmental psychology reconceives according to Kegan(:115) the whole question of the relationship between the individual and the social by reminding that the distinction is not absolute, that the development is intrinsically about the continual settling and resettling of this very distinction. There is not one holding environment early in life, but a succession of holding environments, a life history of cultures of embeddedness. They are the psychological environments which holds us (with which we are fused) and which let go of us (from which we differentiate). Every person is at the same time embedded in one aspect of the environment and individuated from another aspect of the environment. (Kegan:116-117).

Soul centric community

As a world community we shall not arrive, according to Plotkin, (2008:15), at the point where we can live in the Now as our authentic spontaneous selves as long as our communities are dominate by adults that are in themselves pathological adolescents resulting in  contemporary societies that are materialistic, greed-based, hostilely competitive, violent, sexist, and ultimately self-destructive. We must evolved from an egocentric society to a soul centric community, and engaged individually and collectively in a authentic adulthood. By soul he means a thing`s ultimate place in the world. He uses the word ”thing”(:10) to embrace the fact that everything has a particular place in the world and therefore a soul. By “place he means not a geographical location but the role, function, station or status a thing has in relation to other things. He arranges the live stages in eight phases: the Innocent, Explorer, Thespian, Wanderer, Soul Apprentice, Artisan, Master and Sage. The norm for the stages is not age but the essence, depth, or significance that characterizes that  specific stage. It is a model for a human lifespan rooted in the cycles and qualities of the natural world. Plotkin desires to create a viable human-Earth partnership with mature human individuals through the template that nature provides for us. This is an eco-psychology of human maturation where the conscious discovery and cultivation of the unique and mystical relationship to the wild world is at the core of true adulthood(:3).


Cozolino, L. (2006) The Neuroscience of Human Relationships.W W Norton & Company Inc., N .Y.

Lipton, B H The Biology of Belief (2005) Sparrowhawk Publications, USA.

Kegan, R. (1982) The Evolving Self. Harvard University Press, England

Kolb, B &Wishaw, I Q (2003). Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology, Fifth edition.  Worth publishers New York, USA.

Moss, R ( 2007) The Mandala OF Being Canada: New world library

Siegal, D J & Hartzel, M (2003) Parenting from inside out: How a deeper selfunderstanding can help you raise children who thrive. Tacher/Putman, New York