Saturday, February 26, 2011

Keith Rice - A Biological Basis for vMEMES?

Over at Keith Rice's site, Sociopsychologist, he lays out what feels to me like a preliminary look at finding neural correlates for the developmental values memes (vMEMES) in the Clare Graves, Beck & Cowan model of Spiral Dynamics.

Although it's a good first effort, there are only brain regions suggested and not specific structures. He hints at some better detail (in the work of Joseph LeDoux, for example), but he also derails his project by using Freud's concepts of id, ego, and superego - something most psychoanalytically trained folks don't even do these days.

I would propose that there is much to be gleaned from the work of interpersonal neurobiology (especially the brilliant work of Allan Schore, which is psychoanalytically based, in the neuroscience of attachment affect regulation [a major component of the development of the self]), especially regarding the more communal memes. Likewise, I suspect there is much to learn from the work of Antonio Damasio about how the "self" is created in the brain, and how that applies to the more individualistic memes. That is only for starters.

I would also look at work by Jaak Panksepp, Rodolfo Llinás, Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, Merlin Donald, Gerald Edelman, Francisco Varela, Steven Rose, Michael Gazzaniga, Robert Sapolsky, and so many others. I would also look at people like Jerome Bruner, Geroge Lakoff, Kenneth Gergen, and other people working in language and interpersonal realms.

Anyway, here is the beginning of Rice's post.
A Biological Basis for vMEMES?

vMEMES, the motivational systems identified in Spiral Dynamics, clearly have to have a neurological basis. Whatever your views on Dualism and the Mind-Body Debate - whether or not we think there is a ‘mind’ or ‘soul’ distinct from the brain - the motivational effect we recognise as the work of what we call a ‘vMEME’ has to have a concomitant pattern of neurological activity.

So where is it? Or: where are they...the 8 vMEMES identified so far from the work of Clare W Graves, that is?

According to Spiral Dynamics co-developer Don Beck (Wright Foundation, 2009) a project has been launched with the Brain Research Laboratory at the University of Cologne to track the neurology of the vMEME systems. Until Cologne’s Brain Research Laboratory publish their findings, just how vMEMES operate in the brain will remain a mystery...or will it?

In fact, by some judicious mapping of existing neuroscience, it is possible to build a picture of how 1st Tier vMEMES might work in the brain. 2nd Tier systems appear to be decidedly more tricky.

1st Tier vMEMES and Sigmund Freud

In our quest to track how vMEMES might function neurologically, we need to consider the work of arguably the single most influential psychologist ever, Sigmund Freud. It is possible to create a rough match between Freud’s structure of the mind (based on observation and reflection) and that of Graves (based on arduous research).

Read the whole article.

Are we hard-wired to continuously connect?

Here is another article that purports to look at the impact of technology on our lives - both good and bad. The focus of the article is on Hal Niedzviecki and his book & documentary, Peep Culture, which observes that . . .
pop culture has morphed into peep culture, where voyeurism becomes an entertainment in which we watch ourselves or strangers in unscripted moments. Or days. Through this, he says, ordinary people become objects of entertainment, not of empathy.
He goes further however . . .
In The Peep Diaries he describes how he tracked his wife’s progress to work on a Google map. She had a GPS in her purse. He saw how easily he became obsessed with his wife and child’s whereabouts, just because he had the technology that allowed him to follow them.
So he reluctantly became the subject of his own reality show and documentary which aired on CBC back on February 16 (the show is called The Passionate Eye). If you live in Canada, you can watch the show online, if you are in the US, you're sol. For the rest of us, here is the trailer:

The article also looks at Sherry Turkle's Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, a new book that explores the intrusion of the digital world into modern life.

You can read more from Niedzviecki's perspective in this "first person" article from the National Post.

Are we hard-wired to continuously connect?

Leslie Scrivener, Feature Writer
Published On Sun Jan 30 2011

“It’s an old, outmoded concept to say we’re only friends if we spend time together in real life.”

— Adam, in the documentary Peep Culture

Hal Niedzviecki reflects on who he is, acerbic but loving, a loner with a handful of friends, a wife and a child. A writer — nine books — he works from home in his basement office. He’s active on the Internet but has no cellphone; he’s says he likes to be alone with his thoughts when he walks.

The 40-year-old is content not to be connected, but curious about how technology changes the way people — the Tweeters, texters, bloggers, peepers, Facebook posters and reality show wannabes — relate to one another.

Not really the kind of man who would want to be on a reality show, you’d think. But there he is, in a documentary film looking hopeful, keen even, at a reality TV casting call.

“Interesting look, the glasses, the hair — but not hot,” says one casting agent viewing Niedzviecki’s audition video.

“Schlubby look,” says another.

“All talk and no action,” says the first.

Why expose oneself to this embarrassment?

In 2009 Niedzviecki wrote a book called The Peep Diaries, in which he argues that pop culture has morphed into peep culture, where voyeurism becomes an entertainment in which we watch ourselves or strangers in unscripted moments. Or days. Through this, he says, ordinary people become objects of entertainment, not of empathy. Researching the book, he discovered how hard it is to resist snooping around in other people’s lives.

RELATED: Is the Internet detrimental to human relationships?

In The Peep Diaries he describes how he tracked his wife’s progress to work on a Google map. She had a GPS in her purse. He saw how easily he became obsessed with his wife and child’s whereabouts, just because he had the technology that allowed him to follow them.

It was similar, though less compelling, watching what was going on in his back alley, where he’d installed a surveillance camera. His wife, Rachel Greenbaum, got the bug too, saying, “Nothing ever happens, but I can’t stop looking at it.”

Pursuing this theme, he became the subject and narrator of a documentary film called Peep Culture, for which he reluctantly — he is a private person — installed web cameras in his west Toronto semi for nearly two months, starring in his own on-line reality show. How would he respond to being followed, to having fans who could comment, uncensored, on his quiet life, which is often dull? After all, he is a writer, not a lion tamer.

The film, to be broadcast Feb. 16 on CBC’s The Passionate Eye, coincides with the publication of a new book by Massachusetts Institute of Technology psychologist and ethnographer Sherry Turkle. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, explores the intrusion of the digital world into modern life.

Turkle pares down the hope and optimism she had in the mid ’80s about the Internet and other technologies. Now it’s time for a correction, she says, since we’ve come to use technology as a substitute for face-to-face connections, and to create “the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.”

Niedzviecki was surprised to see how quickly he yearned for this “illusion of companionship.” He wanted fans, and he wanted them to watch him.

“I began to be very interested in who was watching me and what they had to say. I began to have this nagging sense if I wasn’t on line, sharing some aspect of my life in as dramatic as possible a form, I was wasting my time.”

Then he began altering his behaviour to make the watching more interesting, once even putting a pot on his head and dancing around his kitchen for no reason other than a fan urged him to do it. “Even though I knew what I was doing, I couldn’t stop myself. It is a really powerful addiction and it taps into this human need for connectivity that modern society has made very difficult.

“That was the insidious, really scary aspect of it — someone like me with a lot of resistance gets sucked into.”

Niedzviecki (whose parents called him Hal after his great-grandfather and the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey) does get out of the house — to the reality TV casting call, to a lonely man in San Francisco who finds community in the people who follow him on his home webcam as he vacuums or endures insomnia, and to Vancouver, where he meets a group of 20-ish hipsters who have no reservations about making their private lives public.

There’s Adam, who works in IT and records lists of every aspect of his life — from buying a hot dog to sex acts, given and received — on a website. Anyone can read them.

The film’s director, Sally Blake, says for high users such as Adam there’s no line between physical and online reality.

“He really scoffs at people who use the word ‘real’ life,” she says. “That’s so 1995. It’s such an outmoded way to think of your real life and online life. It’s so integrated. He knows so many people because he met them on the Internet. It’s so natural. It’s kind of fourth dimension.”

Since Adam — who was Tweeting constantly throughout the filming, “without thought” — volunteers so much about his life, it doesn’t bother him that strangers know a lot about him, Blake says. “He wasn’t defensive about privacy.I felt the whole paradigm of privacy has shifted. He was getting more out of participating in these networks than not . . . He doesn’t really have a choice. If you don’t participate, you don’t actually have a social life.”

This blurring of real and digital friendship is worrisome to psychologist Turkle. “Does virtual intimacy degrade our experience of the other kind and, indeed, of all encounters?” she asks.

American teens from 13 to 17 now text about 120 messages every day, according to a Nielsen report released this month. And this at a time when, as Turkle observes, teens should be developing not only their identity but also empathetic skills. They need stillness, they need down time, they need to have secrets, she writes, and they need to separate. And yet she says, they are constantly “tethered . . .

“The text driven world of rapid response does not make self-reflection impossible but does little to cultivate it.”

But it’s not only a generational compulsion. Who hasn’t been annoyed by a friend’s attention to his cellphone rather than the conversation he’s meant to be part of?

Turkle attends a funeral and to her dismay sees mourners around her texting during the service. “I couldn’t stand to sit that long without getting on my phone,” one of the texters, a woman in her 60s, explained.

Some find constant connection a tyranny and admit the triteness of much that’s said. In an extreme example of text overload, a 16-year-old interviewed by Turkle politely turned off his cellphone while they were speaking, then found he had 100 texts when he turned it back on an hour later. As he walks away, he murmurs to himself, “How long do I have to continue doing this?”

Maddy Hope-Fraser, a 19-year-old fine arts student from Toronto, recalled for the Star the freedom she experienced last summer when her phone was broken. “I felt sort of released,” she says. “I didn’t have the responsibility to be in touch and always texting to show I was still their friend. When I went back to school I had to get a cellphone and I was dreading it.”

There are practical reasons for texting — it’s free, and young people also say it poses less risk. “You can feel more comfortable texting someone you’re less close with,” says Elizabeth May, a 21-year-old MBA student who has studied social media. “Talking on the phone is a much more personal interaction.”

Sonia Wong, a fourth-year Montreal economics student, knows the strategies behind texting. “In the first stage of dating, in terms of ‘the game,’ texting works better than meeting the person. It reinforces that distance, builds a mystique or wall.”

Yet many people, especially the young, use texting and social media to stay constantly connected. “That’s what all our friends are doing,” Hope-Fraser says. “That’s where the updates are, because all our friends are in the loop and you want to be in the loop and not missing out things. There’s a bit of addiction. You open your computer and the first thing you do is check Facebook. I realize I don’t need to.”

The banalities of the postings surprise even the posters. “It’s where I put instantaneous ideas,” says May. “This morning I posted ‘caffeine is fantastic.’ Why would I do that? You think about it after the fact — well, that was not really necessary.”

Niedzviecki says he was surprised that the most ho-hum experiences seemed to attract the most viewers to his webcam footage. “That’s the allure of peep culture. . . It is so banal, you’re fascinated by its nothingness.”

He recalls that when he disconnected the video cameras he felt a little lost without his online fans. First there was the elation of being freed from the bonds of constant surveillance. Then, he says, “I fell into a kind of depressed state as I missed my followers and their constant presence watching every move of my life.”

He did not confuse friendship with followers. “I thought of them as people in my life, background. It’s not a real community and it’s not real friendship.”

Open-Minded Man Grimly Realizes How Much Life He's Wasted Listening To Bullshit

From The Onion, America's Finest News Source:

Open-Minded Man Grimly Realizes How Much Life He's Wasted Listening To Bullshit

February 26, 2011 | ISSUE 47•08

Richman estimates he's squandered 800 hours alone by letting salespeople
pitch things to him that he's not going to buy.

CLEVELAND—During an unexpected moment of clarity Tuesday, open-minded man Blake Richman was suddenly struck by the grim realization that he's squandered a significant portion of his life listening to everyone's bullshit, the 38-year-old told reporters.

A visibly stunned and solemn Richman, who until this point regarded his willingness to hear out the opinions of others as a worthwhile quality, estimated that he's wasted nearly three and a half years of his existence being open to people's half-formed thoughts, asinine suggestions, and pointless, dumbfuck stories.

"Jesus Christ," said Richman, taking in the overwhelming volume of useless crap he's actively listened to over the years. "My whole life I've made a concerted effort to give people a fair shake and understand different points of view because I felt that everyone had something valuable to offer, but it turns out most of what they had to offer was complete bullshit."

"Seriously," Richman added, "what have I gained from treating everyone's opinion with respect? Nothing. Absolutely nothing."

According to Richman, it was just now hitting him how many hours of his life he's pissed away listening intently to nonsense about celebrity couples, how good or bad certain pens are, and why a particular sports team might have a chance this year. The husband and father of two said that every time he's felt at all put out or bored by a bullshit conversation—especially a speculative one about how bad allergy season was going to be—he should have just turned around, walked away, and gone rafting or repelling or done any of the millions of other things he's always wanted to do but never thought he had time for.

At various points throughout the day, Richman could be heard muttering to himself that he couldn't believe he was almost 40 years old.

"Twenty minutes here, 10 minutes there. It all starts to add up," said Richman, who sat down and figured out that between stupid discussions about favorite baby names and reviews of restaurants in cities he'll never visit, he'd wasted 390 hours of his life. "And you know what the worst part is? It's my fault. Here I thought being considerate to others by always listening patiently to what they had to say was the right thing to do. Well, fuck me, right?"

According to Richman, he started thinking about how much time he's flushed down the toilet being an approachable person after a work meeting in which he let a coworker, David Martin, ramble on and on with an idea everyone knew was "total shit" the moment the man opened his mouth. Richman said that a single glance at the clock made him realize he had just spent 14 minutes of his finite time on earth not playing with his kids or being with his wife, but listening to garbage.

"It was like I stepped out of my body and saw myself actually listening to this man's worthless drivel—but it wasn't him who looked like a moron, it was me," Richman said. "I was nodding my head like an asshole and saying ridiculous things like, 'Right,' and, 'I see your point, Dave,' when I should have just said, 'Dave, your idea isn't good and you are wasting our time and you need to shut up right now.'"

By his estimates, Richman's receptiveness has resulted in 160 irreplaceable hours of listening to grossly uninformed political opinions, 300 hours of carefully hearing out both sides of pointless arguments, and at least a month of listening to his parents' bullshit about how important it is to be open-minded.

Eighty days have been wasted on the inane blather of his college friend Brian alone.

"All those hours I could have been relaxing, or reading all these great books, or getting into shape, or working on side projects that I'm really excited about," Richman said. "But instead I've been listening to overrated albums recommended to me by my asshole friends."

"Did you know that in my life I've listened to five days' worth of people talking about their furniture?" he added. "It's true. That's a trip to Europe right there."

While Richman has vowed to cease being open-minded to absolute horseshit, acquaintances reflected on his approachability.

"I love Blake," coworker David Martin said. "He's such a good listener. A lot of people are closed-minded and self-absorbed, but Blake always makes an effort to hear where I'm coming from. The world could use more people like him."

Friday, February 25, 2011

National Institute for Civil Discourse to open at University of Arizona

The National Institute for Civil Discourse

I am seriously skeptical that this new National Institute for Civil Discourse will be anything more than a vanity project for those involved (especially the U of A). They are all too prominent to do anything meaningful - although if they were actually qualified, the selections would be too low profile to get any attention.

The Institute was created in response to the Gabrielle Giffords shooting in January - and one might even credit Sheriff Dupnik (who has been virtually crucified in the media, and faces a recall here in Tucson) for his comments about the violent rhetoric in the media in making the quality of discourse in this country a hot topic.

Here is the mission statement:

The National Institute for Civil Discourse

Mission: The National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD) is a national, nonpartisan center for debate, research, education and policy generation regarding civic engagement and civility in public discourse consistent with First Amendment principles. It offers an institutional structure to support research and policy generation and a set of innovative programs advocating for civility in public discourse, while encouraging vigorous public debate, civic engagement, and civic leadership.

Putting aside my sense that this is going nowhere, it's a great idea. As a nation and a people, we need to be able to talk about serious and important issues without resulting to yelling over the top of each other, using half truths, or simply refusing to actually listen to other points of view. Maybe we need an institute for open minds.

And another thing . . . Greta Van Susteren . . . seriously? She is married to John P. Coale, who has been an occasional adviser for Sarah Palin (and Van Susteren has done three powder-puff interviews with Palin). She and her husband are both Scientologists, which is not illegal or anything, but cult membership should always be a red flag.

Anyway, here is the story from the U of A site for the Institute.

Bush, Clinton to Chair New National Institute for Civil Discourse at University of Arizona

February 21st, 2011

A new center – to be chaired by two U.S. Presidents – has been created at the University of Arizona to advance the national conversation currently taking place about civility in political debate.

The National Institute for Civil Discourse is a nonpartisan center for debate, research, education and policy generation regarding civility in public discourse.

Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton have agreed to serve as honorary chairs for the institute.

"I am honored to join President Clinton in supporting this important effort at such a critical time in our nation’s history," said President Bush. "Our country needs a setting for political debate that is both frank and civil, and the National Institute for Civil Discourse can make a significant contribution toward reaching this goal."

Bush and Clinton Making a Join Announcement for the Tsunami Relief in 2005

"America faces big challenges in revitalizing the American Dream at home and preserving our leadership for security, peace, freedom and prosperity in the world. Meeting them requires an honest dialogue celebrating both a clarification of our differences and a genuine stand for principled comparisons. I believe that the National Institute for Civil Discourse can elevate the tone of dialogue in our country, and in so doing, help us to keep moving toward 'a more perfect union.' I'm pleased to join President George H.W. Bush to help advance this important effort," said President Clinton.

"It is right and fitting that two of America's most successful practitioners of American democracy – Presidents Bush and Clinton – have now joined to help save it," said Fred DuVal, vice chair of the Arizona Board of Regents and originator of the idea for the institute. "And equally that the Tucson-based University of Arizona would host this bipartisan effort. This institute is the right people in the right place at the right time."

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (retired) and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle will be the institute’s honorary co-chairs.

A diverse array of political backgrounds are represented among the institute’s other board members, who include:

  • Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State
  • Ken Duberstein, former chief of staff for President Ronald Reagan
  • Greta Van Susteren, host of "On the Record", FOX News Channel
  • Trey Grayson, director of the Harvard University's Institute of Politics
  • Jim Kolbe, former U.S. Congressman

Several new board members will be announced over the next few months.

National Institute for Civil Discourse initiatives will include:

  • Convening major policy discussions with elected officials, policymakers and advocates on topics that tend to generate polarized positions.
  • Promoting civil discourse, civic engagement and civic leadership.
  • Organizing workshops and conferences in Washington, D.C., Tucson and across the country.
  • Promoting a national conversation among prominent public figures from government, business and media regarding challenging political issues in a non-partisan setting.
  • Developing programs and research centered around the exercise of First Amendment freedoms conducted in a way that respects both the ideas of others, and those who hold them.

The commitment by the honorary co-chairs and board members reflect a commitment by highly influential leaders to cross political boundaries to address issues that divide many Americans.

"The mission of the National Institute for Civil Discourse is essential for our nation's future success," said O'Connor. "I am pleased to be part of the effort to unite Americans across the political spectrum in constructive debate about critical issues."

"Civil discourse does not require people to change their values, but should provide an environment that all points of view are heard and acknowledged," said Daschle. "If our nation is to successfully address its problems, we must unite behind shared values and principles and bring people together to develop solutions."

The institute is in the process of naming a working board that will be chaired by DuVal.

The National Institute for Civil Discourse will be housed in the UA's School of Government and Public Policy, in collaboration with the UA Rehnquist Center on the Constitutional Structures of Government in the James E. Rogers College of Law and other departments throughout the University.

Fletcher McCusker, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Providence Service Corporation, headquartered in Tucson, is the first to step forward to provide community support for the project.

Joseph Anderson, former chairman and chief executive officer of Schaller Anderson, also has pledged a major gift to enable the establishment of the institute.

"The University of Arizona is a place where all political views are welcome and where discussion and vigorous debate can take place in a respectful manner," said UA President Robert N. Shelton. "I am pleased that the National Institute for Civil Discourse will advance the cause of elevating the tone of our nation’s political rhetoric."

"The University of Arizona is committed toward helping provide solutions to the challenges facing our country," said UA Provost Meredith Hay. "It is an ideal home for the National Institute for Civil Discourse, which will focus on bringing Americans of all political backgrounds together to solve problems collaboratively."

One of the key goals for the institute is to connect people with diverse viewpoints and to offer a venue for vigorous and respectful debate.

Among the institute’s first events will be an executive forum with media, foundation, academic, government and corporate leaders regarding moving forward the national conversation about civil discourse and proceeding with constructive solutions.

Film - Exit Through the Gift Shop

Exit Through the Gift Shop is one of this year's Academy Award nominations in the documentary category - I've been wanting to see it, but it isn't on Netflix last time I checked, so it shows up online for free (probably not for long, so see it while you can).

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Exit Through the Gift Shop: The story of how an eccentric French shop keeper and amateur film maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner with spectacular results. Billed as ‘the world’s first street art disaster movie’ the film contains exclusive footage of Banksy, Shephard Fairey, Invader and many of the world’s most infamous graffiti artists at work.

Please Excuse The Ads Which Pop Up On First Click. These Have Nothing To Do With Us. They Are Built Into MegaVideos Player & We Do Not Support Popup Ads of Any Kind!

Watch it in full size by clicking the "full screen" function in the tool bar.

The Democracy of Matter: A Networkological Approach

These were two recent posts from Networkologies (online home of Christopher Vitale, Assistant Professor, Media and Critical/Visual Studies, Pratt Institute) on the "Democracy of Matter."

He was inspired by a post from enemyindustry (Flat Ontology II: a worry about emergence) to offer a proof (sort of, in a metaphorical way) that emergence is possible through the interplay of differentiation, where multiplicity is a norm and the potential for divergence is high, and specialization, where small specialized clusters can decide for the whole -- and the exemplar he gives in the 2nd post is the brain.
This is what democracy and difference look like when combined together. This is what is known as complexity.
And . . . .
What brains do best is adapt, and they skirt right in between specialization and flexibility, by means of a higher level of democracy. For in the type of democracty we see in brains, it is not so much that everyone votes in terms of which direction the vortex as a whole should go, and which particular water molecule decides to do this, but rather, which particular cluster of brain cells gets to determine the decision made by the whole brain.
Great, though slightly geeky, posts for those interested in philosophy.

Emergence, or the Democracy of Matter: A Networkological Approach, Part I

What is emergence? Without question, in the sciences, this term has been essential. But what would a philosophical concept of emergence entail? David Roden has a really great, smart post up at enemyindustry about emergence. It asks all the right questions about emergence (a key term in my networkologies project), and brings to light several concerns about this term that I think need to be addressed before it’s philosophically useful.

Firstly, the philosophical import of the concept of emergence, as described by figures like Manuel Delanda, for example, is, as David rightly states, that emergence allows for the construction of what many have called a ‘flat ontology.’ This term, as used by Deleuze, Delanda, and Bryant, has slightly different meanings for each. I’d like to argue that an ontology should not be fully flat, lest it be univocal (Badiou’s take on Deleuze), rather, it should be ‘flat yet thick’, not a one, but a oneand, without a transcendent, but with space for a wide variety of potential transcendentals (which is closer to what Deleuze describes himself). I think Guatarri does a great job of this, as shown in a text like Machinic Unconscious, and further developed in Thousand Plateaus.

I agree with David: weak emergence is not enough. That is, most scientists describe emergence as non-predictable behavior, in which a series of micro-agents produce macro events which cannot be deduced from the rules which govern the micro-agents. But this approach implies that emergence depends upon the limits of the knowledge thereof. Is there a more ontologically useful concept of emergence, one which does not rope human knowledge and it’s limits into the mix?

I think so. And I agree with David – without this, no flat ontology, no workable assemblage theory. A lot rides on this. But where to start?

A Networkological Theory of Emergence: First, the Issue of Levels

Emergence, firstly, depends on the notion of level. This notion is implicit in any discussion of emergence. But who gets to determine macro, meso, and micro? From a networkological perspective, this is all relative to the ‘network of reference’ employed to ‘know’ an entity. This network of reference can be employed by anything, from an electron to a human.

Read the whole post.

Complexity, or the Democracy of Matter, Part II: A Networkological Approach

Complexity: Why Brains Beat Vortexes

But are brains more democratic than vortexes? Certainly they are more complex, and the question is getting at precisely what this distinction means. In a vortex of water molecules, all the molecules that compose the vortex are exactly the same. That is, while there’s macro and micro levels, beyond this, there’s no long term structure. And this is why as soon as metastable energetic conditions vanish, the vortex collapses.

Brains, on the other hand, make sure that they have a continually meta-stable supply of energy, by means of the support structure commonly called a body, which eats food, etc. But this means that the brain must also support the body in question, they don’t just exist ‘in vats’, so to speak. Unlike vortexes, bodies are specialized for the environments in which they were evolved. And brains are full of specializations as well, and specialization implies differentiation and limitation.

Brains are specialized in highly specific ways, however. What brains do best is adapt, and they skirt right in between specialization and flexibility, by means of a higher level of democracy. For in the type of democracty we see in brains, it is not so much that everyone votes in terms of which direction the vortex as a whole should go, and which particular water molecule decides to do this, but rather, which particular cluster of brain cells gets to determine the decision made by the whole brain. Of course, this happens at many levels of scale, and this is what is so wonderful about emergence, the fact that it opens up many quasi-levels of scale in between the macro in the process of emerging and the micros from which it is composed. Each cascades up and down until equilibrium is reestablished.

This is what deep, complex democracy looks like, and the brain is the model.
Read the whole post.

Seth Lloyd on Quantum Life: How organisms evolved to use quantum effects

Very cool to think about - Big Ideas presents Seth Lloyd of the Massachusetts Institute for Technology on Quantum Life, how organisms have evolved to make use of quantum effects. The talk was given at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

UTNE Reader - Losing It - America’s mental health crisis is a matter of priorities

Important article from the UTNE Reader on the state of mental health care. The article spends some serious time on the issue of Jared Loughner, the troubled kid who held a three-year grudge against Gabriel Giffords and then tried to assassinate her, killing six innocent victims and injuring many more. Giffords was shot in the head - and although she survived and is recovering, the wound will leave with some level of disability.

So why was a kid so obviously (according to reports on his behavior from classmates and peers) allowed to wander around without treatment AND buy a gun and extended magazine, essentially creating a held-held, easily concealed machine gun?

For me, however, this is the key point in the article, the real source of the problem:
Besides a few glancing references on the odd editorial page, no connection was made between the shooting spree in Arizona and the lack of affordable, universal health care. Politicians, who once again made a show of mourning the loss of America’s innocence, also escaped scrutiny for spending the last 15 years systematically severing society’s safety net, forcing social service workers and health care professionals to make life and death choices based almost entirely on the bottom line.
This is Arizona, and this will happen again. We have some of the most lax gun laws in the country. We have a One Billion Dollar Deficit in the state budget, and despite this horrible lack of funds that is destroying health care for the poorest citizens, gutting the state university system, and even destroying the public school system Governor Brewer swore to protect in her campaign - despite all of this, state GOP leaders (including Brewer) just passed a 500 million dollar tax cut for the wealthy and for businesses. Seriously.

You know where that money is going to come from? Services for the poor, including mental health services. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities offers some hard numbers:
As a result of state budget cuts, over 1 million low-income Arizona residents have lost access to Medicaid services offered by the state, including emergency dental services, medically necessary dentures, insulin pumps, airway devices for people with chronic lung disease, gastric bypass surgery, certain hearing aids for the deaf or severely hard of hearing, and prosthetics.


Arizona has eliminated a host of behavioral health services for 4,000 children ineligible to receive such services through Medicaid, and has also cut case management, therapy, and transportation services for 14,500 individuals participating in a non-Medicaid program for the seriously mentally ill.


Arizona eliminated preschool for 4,328 children, funding for schools to provide additional support to disadvantaged children from preschool to third grade, aid to charter schools, and funding for books, computers, and other classroom supplies. The state also halved funding for kindergarten, leaving school districts and parents to shoulder the cost of keeping their children in school beyond a half-day schedule.


Arizona’s Board of Regents approved in-state undergraduate tuition increases of between 9 and 20 percent as well as fee increases at the state’s three public universities. Additionally, the three state universities implemented a 2.75 percent reduction in state-funded salary spending and through a variety of actions, such as academic reorganization, layoffs, furloughs, position eliminations, hiring fewer tenure-eligible faculty, and higher teaching workloads.


Arizona is cutting the time limit for temporary cash assistance to 36 months from 60. As a result, an estimated 8,200 families will lose eligibility for that assistance.
Is it fair to cut services for the poor, the elderly, and the mentally ill - not to mention cutting education, the backbone of a healthy and successful society - so that wealthy people and businesses can pay less in taxes?

This is one of the central issues in my perspective - Government should not be involved in every area of our lives, but it should be a safety net for those who need help. We have spent the last 30 years making sure that is no longer the case.

Losing It

We have to start talking about America’s mental health crisis

Read the rest of the article.

Musicians@Google: Reggie Watts

BIG Thanks to Casey Capshaw for this -he described Reggie Watts as taking "postmodern comedy, like 5 levels up." The beatbox stuff is pretty damn cool, too. This is from last summer.

Musicians@Google: Reggie Watts

AtGoogleTalks | Jun 1, 2010

If you don't already know who Reggie Watts is, he won't take offense, but after seeing him once, you'll never forget him. Hand-picked by Conan O'Brian as the opening act for his nationwide comedy tour, Reggie is a tour de force of cutting edge entertainment. He is part musician, part comedian, part tech geek, and 100% unlike anything you've ever seen or heard before.

A master at beat-box and looping, he is probably best known for his music, however his unique style blends familiar elements with novel sounds and allows Reggie to explore unknown territory. His comedy, on the other hand, is a bit harder to explain... let's just say he's a comedian's comedian... trust me, you're gonna love 'em.

He reminds me a bit of Steven Wright back in the 1980s when he's appear on Letterman and the audience would be silent in incomprehension. Good stuff - requires functional brain cells - very intellectual humor, very erudite humor.

My Review: The Mindfulness Revolution - Leading Psychologists, Scientists, Artists, and Meditatiion Teachers on the Power of Mindfulness in Daily Life

Browse inside the book, courtesy of Shambhala Publications.

There is probably no hotter topic in psychology and neuroscience research than mindfulness. Shambhala Sun editor Barry Boyce has assembled a "who's who" of mindfulness researchers, teachers, and authors in the new book, The Mindfulness Revolution (Shambhala Publications, 2011).

I was fortunate to read a preview copy of the book (for the Kindle, so no page numbers, alas) and found myself both grateful for and frustrated with the offerings. Many of my favorite teachers and authors are represented here (most notably Pema Chodron, Dan Siegel, Ellen Langer, Matthieu Ricard, Daniel Goleman, and Ronald Siegel), but that is part of my problem with the book - there's not much that is new to anyone who has been reading in the field for any length of time.

However, for the mainstream reader who is not Buddhist or who does not read much about psychological research, this book will be a treasure-trove of teachings, observations, and revelations about the health benefits of mindfulness practice.

Boyce pays appropriate homage to Jon Kabat-Zinn, the doctor who basically single-handedly founded the field of mindfulness research outside of its Buddhist tradition with his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction method, developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. Kabat-Zinn has two essays in the book.

Likewise, Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Chogyam Trungpa - all early promoters of Buddhist meditation in America - are included. In fact, regular readers of Buddhist magazines will recognize many of the authors.

My interest is more in the research and applications around psychotherapy and neuroscience, so I was drawn to the essays by Dan Siegel (The Proven Benefits of Mindfulness), which was little more than a simple overview of some of his recent work (for those who have read his books); Ellen Langer (Paying Attention to Our Own Mind and Body), a nice piece I had not seen before; Matthieu Ricard (This Is Your Brain on Mindfulness), a good overview of much of his other, more in-depth work; and a nice article from Ronald Siegel (From Me to Us) that, again, offers an overview of the material he covers in more depth in his academic writings.

I wanted more science - but then this would not be the introductory book that I think was intended. Maybe there will be other publishers who want to fill that niche by collecting the best of the mindfulness research that has been conducted and published in he past decade.

Where this book eventually caught my interest and attention was in the essays by people with whom I was not familiar, and who offered more personal, grounded, and insightful essays on mindfulness as an integral part of their daily lives.

Among those essays, the ones that stick out in my mind are Karen Maezen Miller's essay on housework (Do Dishes, Rake Leaves), Sue Moon's tender meditation on aging and "senior moments" (Senior Moment, Wonderful Moment), an excellent essay from Bob Howard called "Wild Raspberries," and an essay from someone new to me, Saki Santorelli, who offered an insightful piece, "The Wounded Places."

There is something in here for nearly everyone - so although this is not the book I wanted it to be, it is an excellent introduction to mindfulness practice, filled with insights, lessons on how to do mindfulness, and ways to apply mindfulness practice to other areas of our lives.

As an example, here are some interesting observations from Steve Flowers in his essay, "Mindfully Shy" (something with which I can relate, since I have social anxiety, essentially shyness on steroids):
The essential components of mindfulness are antithetical to the components of shyness that create suffering:

• As mindfulness is nonjudgmental, you can be accepting of yourself rather than self-critical.
• As mindfulness is a moment-to-moment, here-and-now awareness, you can actually be here rather than in some imagined future you feel anxious about.
• As mindfulness is turning toward and being with, you can stop avoiding the thoughts and feelings that scare you and stop generating the self-criticism and shame that can be fueled by avoidance.
• As mindfulness is compassionate and openhearted awareness, you can extend compassion to yourself rather than condemnation.
• As mindfulness is awakening to the fullness of being, you can stop identifying with a false and limiting sense of self.
• As mindfulness is kind and warm, you can free yourself from the prison of self-consciousness and extend the same generosity of spirit to others that you extend to yourself.

Mindfulness has no agenda. It’s a way of being rather than a means to an end. Shifting into the perspective of mindful awareness, you simply are where you are, as you are. You can discover a place here, within yourself, that isn’t governed by the nagging critic and the ever-striving but always insufficient performer in your head. When centered in this place of wholeness, you can make mindful choices and experience greater freedom. However, these benefits don’t come overnight or all at once; they are generally discovered along the way rather than achieved at some specific point in time. It can take a long time to discover your wholeness and completeness, even though it’s been your essential nature all along. Be patient.
Even though I know all of this stuff (part of why I started meditating back in my 20s was to cope with the social anxiety), it's still good to read a new angle, some gentle reminders.

The book is due out on March 8, 2011 - but it can be pre-ordered now from Amazon or directly from Shambhala Publications.

Here is the Table of Contents:
Introduction: Anyone Can Do It, and It Changes Everything

Part One: How to Practice Mindfulness
What is Mindfulness? - Jan Chozen Bays, MD
A Receptive, Respectful Awareness - Jack Kornfield
Is Mindfulness for You? - Susan Smalley and Diana Winston
Here, Now, Aware - Joseph Goldstein
Mindfulness Meditation Instructions - Bob Stahl and Elisha Goldstein
Mindfulness and Awareness - Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche
A Mindfulness FAQ - Jeff Brantley, MD
Mindfulness for Everyone - Norman Fischer
Why Mindfulness Matters - Jon Kabat-Zinn

Part Two: Mindfulness in Daily Life
Mindfulness Makes Us Happy - Thich Nhat Hanh
Do Dishes, Rake Leaves - Karen Maezen Miller
Wild Raspberries - Bob Howard
Let Your Passion Cook - Edward Espe Brown
Digital Mindfulness - Steve Silberman
Your Mind and Your Money - Kristi Nelson
At Work, Be a Don’t-Know-It-All - Michael Carroll
Mindfulness, Photography, and Living an Artistic Life - Andy Karr & Michael Wood
Making Music - Madeline Bruser
Senior Moment, Wonderful Moment - Sue Moon

Part Three: Mindfulness, Health, and Healing
Paying Attention to Our Own Mind and Body - Ellen Langer
This is Your Brain on Mindfulness - Matthieu Ricard
The Proven Benefits of Mindfulness - Daniel Siegel
Living Well With Chronic Pain - Vidyamala Burch
Sickness is Like the Weather - Toni Bernhard
Healing Trauma - Claude Anshin Thomas
Mindfulness and Addiction Recovery - Lawrence Peltz
Mindfully Shy - Steve Flowers
Mindful Eating - Jan Chozen Bays
The Wounded Places - Saki F. Santorelli

Part Four: Interpersonal Mindfulness
The Great Mirror of Relationship - Dzogchen Ponlop
The Natural Warmth of the Heart - Pema Chödrön
From Me to Us - Ronald D. Siegel
Are You Listening? - David Rome and Hope Martin
Stop, Go, Wait - Susan Chapman
Parenting with Mindful Awareness - Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness for Children - Susan Kaiser Greenland
A Mindful Consumer Can Help Change the World - Daniel Goleman
Taking Responsibility for the World’s Well-Being - The Fourteenth Dalai Lama
Creating a Mindful Society - Barry Boyce

Attachment theory in clinical supervision: Past, present, and future

This paper was written for my class on supervision and consultation class - part of a section our learning team did on attachment theory and clinical supervision. I'd like to add links and good stuff like that, but I don't have time - full references are listed at the end.

* * * * *

Attachment theory in clinical supervision

When John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth (Ainsworth & Bowlby, 1991) began developing the attachment model for which both are now credited in revolutionizing psychotherapy, their focus was specific to the mother-child bond. Ainsworth joined Bowlby’s team in 1950 and left three years later to pursue another job (and because her husband had finished his Ph.D.), but they continued to share research and ideas over the rest of their careers. In some ways it was the perfect relationship in that he focused more on theoretical approaches while she preferred to work directly with the mother-child dyads and eventually developed the “strange situation” scenario, first reported in 1969 (Ainsworth & Bowlby, p. 339), to test Bowlby’s ideas.

In those early years, it likely was not conceivable that their work would be extended into nearly every other form of relationship, including adult romantic relationships (although they later helped develop this aspect of the model as well, see Ainsworth, 1989). If important new ideas are slow to gain acceptance, then attachment theory was a truly great idea—it has taken 40 years or more for their work to become widely accepted, but in the 1990s and early 21st century interest in all forms of attachment has exploded. Attachment theory has even hit the mainstream of relationship books with the recent publication of Attached: The new science of adult attachment and how it can help you find—and keep—love (2010) being only the most recent (and talked about) example, most of which claim attachment as a “new” science.

Over the past twenty-five years, as attachment theory has slowly infiltrated the therapeutic community and become a central element in many of the psychodynamic therapies, the processes of attachment bonding have also become a prominent element of some supervision strategies. Working from John Bowlby’s definition of attachment as “any form of behavior that results in a person attaining or retaining proximity to some other differentiated and preferred individual, who is usually conceived as stronger and/or wiser” (1977, p. 203), his perspective is also often true of the supervisor-supervisee relationship.

Pistole and Watkins (1995) offer a more in-depth definition of attachment in a paper that has become a standard reference for the attachment model in supervision:

[A]ttachment theory is specific to (a) people's biologically-based, normative tendency for proximity in an emotionally important relationship that provides protection, that is, a safe haven and felt security, as well as an anchor for exploration, and (b) the normative emotional distress reaction that ensues when the tolerable limits of the proximity are exceeded. (p. 458)

The biological basis of attachment, mentioned in this passage, is a central issue in more recent work on attachment and is a topic that will be addressed in more detail below. However, it is important to point out that Bowlby conceived of the attachment function as innate, as a “cybernetic behavioral system, biologically imprinted before birth” (Neswald-McCalip, 2001, p. 18). Our need to be relational, to bond with others, is hard-wired into the infant at birth from this point-of-view. More recent evidence seems to support that position (see Siegel, 1999; Schore, 1994).

Pistole and Watkins apply Bowlby’s model (and his definition of attachment provided above, in which the supervisor becomes the “preferred individual”) to clinical supervision by focusing on three fundamental areas: “developmental unfolding, the secure base, and pathological attachment styles” (p. 468). While Pistole and Watkins note that an actual attachment bond can form between the supervisor and supervisee, this generally is not the situation (however, other authors disagree, as will be seen below). More often the supervision takes on elements of the attachment bond, for example becoming the “secure base” or offering the element of emotional “holding.”

A. Developmental unfolding

The attachment model is essentially developmental in nature, seeking to understand the ways in which the parent-child relationship shapes affect regulation (Schore, 1994), brain development (Siegel, 1999), and any number of other maturational processes. Likewise, the supervision process is also developmentally oriented, regardless of which supervision model is employed. Pistole and Watkins observe the similarities in the relationships:

The attachment between counselor and supervisor would initially reflect close involvement and monitoring. Supervisees at the start of their training are often more in need, have to rely more so on their supervisors for help, guidance, and assistance. (p. 469)

As the supervisee matures and gains skills, s/he is no longer as dependent on the supervisor for guidance, yet there is a sense of comfort (haven of safety) in knowing that person is available when needed for support or assistance. The supervisory relationship functions as safe developmental space for the supervisee, promoting growth and maturation.

B. The secure base

The supervisor, as well as acting a “safe haven,” also serves as a secure base from which the supervisee can explore new skills and competencies. In this sense, a secure base is defined as a supervisory relationship that is able to “ground or hold the supervisee in secure fashion” (Pistole & Watkins, p. 469). The authors expand on this idea in the following way:

The secure base can be seen as serving a protective function, letting supervisees know that (a) they are not alone in their counseling efforts, (b) their work will be monitored and reviewed across clients, and (c) they have a ready resource or beacon—the supervisor—who will be available to them in times of need. (p. 469)

When the secure base is present, the supervisee feels more grounded in the learning process.

As the supervisee develops within the cocoon of the relationship (the safe haven) and with the guidance and support of the supervisor (the safe base), s/he is more apt to try new skills and find a unique voice as a therapist. The supervisee may try on different therapeutic models (cognitive behavior or psychoanalytic), attempt different interventions (somatic awareness or voice dialogue), and explore different ways to engage clients (role playing or a creative expression with art). This process is essential for the supervisee to find her or his own unique way of working with clients, conceptualizing cases, and to learn what does not work.

So how does one become a secure base as a supervisor? Pistole and Watkins identify a handful of qualities that the supervisor can embody to be a secure base: “availability, consistency, responsiveness, and judicious intervention” (p. 470). They add several more qualities identified by other researchers that are also important:

Empathic sensitivity and flexibility would also seem critical (cf. Osofsky, 1988; Watkins, in press-b). We, too, believe that appropriate structuring, setting of, and agreement on goals and tasks (see Bordin, 1983), and having set regular meeting times and meeting place contribute to the formation of a secure base. (p. 470)

What makes the base secure is that it is reliable, constant, nurturing, and is a place (person) to which one may return as needed. There are likely other factors involved, as well, that are unique to each relationship and each individual.

C. Problematic attachment styles

In his own work, Bowlby (1977, 1978) identified two basic versions of problematic attachment (no attachment style other than disorganized is pathological, only adaptive)—anxious attachment and compulsive self-reliance; he also added a variation, compulsive care-giving. Pistole and Watkins look at each those three pathological styles in turn (p. 471-473), however those are not the adult attachment patterns with which most people are familiar. Mary Main co-developed the Adult Attachment Inventory (AAI; George, Kaplan, & Main, 1984), an assessment tool that allows therapists or researchers to work directly with an individual rather than having to observe a dyad. The terminology builds on the original infant attachment styles (secure, avoidant, ambivalent-resistant, and [added after Ainsworth initial work] disorganized):

Like the avoidant infant, the adult who is dismissing of attachment minimizes the importance of attachment relationships. Analogous to the secure infant, the autonomous adult values intimacy and freely expresses her- or himself with respect to attachment. Similar to the ambivalent-resistant infant, the preoccupied adult is engrossed in attachment relationships, but cannot modulate stress through them. Finally, like the disorganized-disoriented infant, the unresolved adult experiences the periodic collapse of his or her predominant attachment strategy. (Atkinson & Goldberg, 2007, p. 8)

In looking at adult romantic attachments, which had been assumed to be the best indicator of attachment styles, Hazan and Shaver (1987) found that approximately 60% of adults self-identify as secure, 20% self-identify as avoidant, and around 20% self-identify as anxious-resistant (the outcomes tend to differ on the AAI). Most of the mainstream approaches to attachment (i.e., relationship books such as the previously mentioned Attached [Levine & Heller, 2010]) focus on these three simple attachment styles, confusing the terminology and, in general, losing the connection to the childhood patterns.

Neswald-McCalip (2001), however, also uses these three basic attachment patterns in her paper in support of Pistole and Watkins, and she does so without losing the complexity of the patterns. She identifies the secure pattern (seeing the attachment figure as available and supportive), those who tend to embrace challenges, enjoy exploration, and often ask for help when needed; anxious resistant (seeing the attachment figure as inconsistent or undependable), those who experience anxiety in new situations or when faced with challenges, who can seem needy and dependent, or who seem to always be in crisis; and anxious avoidant (see the attachment figure as inaccessible when needed, a pattern that can look a lot like learned helplessness), those who believe they are on their own, with no expectation of help when needed, who expect to be ignored, and who tend to be overly self-reliant (p. 20). A much more detailed model is available for clinical use from Brennan, Clark, and Shaver (1998), in which they generate a model based on two axes, low anxiety-high anxiety and low avoidance-high avoidance (offering four attachment styles, see appendix A).

Critical incidents and attachment supervision

As far as supervision work is concerned, there are basically secure and insecure (anxious) attachment styles in the supervisee. Taking this perspective as a general approach, Pistole and Fitch (2008) have articulated a supervisory model to employ when supervisees encounter a “critical incident” that triggers attachment patterns. The “important person” in attachment theory, the caregiver (supervisor), is the focus of their model, but they emphasize awareness of the basic terminology, including the care-giving bond (supervisory relationship), the safe haven and secure base (both the supervisor and the supervisory relationship), and exploratory behavior (trying new skills, and so on). They observe:

For a supervisee, the supervisor may be the preferred caregiver when stresses or anxieties are related to counseling sessions and training experiences.

The critical incident experience activates the supervisee’s attachment system because of the experience’s novelty (Bowlby, 1969) and the challenge that is associated with emotions, such as being drained, exhausted (Ellis, 1988), pressured, or defensive (Haferkamp, 1988). (p. 196)

When the supervisee presents as triggered and exhibiting attachment behaviors (largely variations on anxiety in this context), the supervisor is advised to operate from the care-giving bond, act as a secure base, and make the supervision session a safe haven. The goal is to deactivate the attachment system so that the supervisee can return to exploratory behaviors that will help them resolve the presenting issue.

Neuroscience of attachment and the mindful supervisor

Alan Schore (1994, 2003a, 2003b) has spent a couple of decades exploring and detailing the neuroscience behind attachment and how this model leads essentially to what is known as affect regulation. Also involved in similar research, but much more active in disseminating his work in books for the general reader (Schore’s book are dense with references and really aimed at professionals), Daniel Siegel has taken the findings of attachment theory and applied them to brain development (1999), the therapeutic process (2010), and to personal transformation (2007, 2010). The central goal of Siegel’s model, which he has termed interpersonal neurobiology, is to offer a “definition of the mind and of mental well-being that can be used by a wide range of professionals concerned with human development” (2006, p. 1).

In the same way that the attachment process helps wire the growing and developing infant’s brain and mind, so too does the interpersonal relationship between the therapist and client rewire the client’s brain, and likewise, by extension, so does the supervision relationship rewire the supervisee’s brain. In fact, all meaningful (i.e., emotionally important) relationships have this impact on the brain through a variety of mechanisms, including mirror neurons, neural plasticity, and modeling (Siegel, 2006; Schore & Shore, 2008).

Siegel employs an embodied cognition approach in suggestion that attachment relationships offer vertical integration (as well horizontal integration, but the focus here is on vertical processes) of brain functions, a process that mirrors at least seven of the nine basic elements of how mindfulness practice rewires the brain (see The Mindful Brain, 2007).

Linking the basic somatic regulatory functions of the brainstem with the limbic circuits’ generation of affective states, motivational drives, attachment, and appraisal of meaning and laying down of memory is a first layer of vertical integration.

Above the limbic circuitry emerged the neocortex, or “outer bark” of our evolving brains. The cortex, unlike the brainstem, is quite underdeveloped at birth and is shaped by both genetics and especially by experiences out in the world. In general, the posterior regions of the cortex are specialized for perception of the physical world (our first five senses) and the body itself is registered in the more forward aspects of this posterior region. (2006, p. 5)

He goes on to detail the involvement of the frontal lobe of the cortex, the prefrontal cortex, the dorsolateral prefrontal region, the orbital frontal area, the medial prefrontal cortex, and the anterior cingulate. Also involved are the insular cortex, and several other medial areas collectively referred to as the “middle prefrontal cortex” (p. 6).

This is the important and interesting piece—it is possible to see in attachment processes the same brain changes that result from mindfulness practice (a hot topic in psychological research at present). Siegel identifies nine qualities that are integrated within the middle prefrontal cortex (all of this is based on independent research by others in the field, including Schore): body regulation, attuned communication, emotional balance, response flexibility, empathy, insight, fear extinction, intuition, and morality (p. 6). Most of us are not fully integrated in this way, which makes mindfulness practice or a therapeutic relationship, or even a healthy, securely attached romantic relationship, necessary to achieve this level of integration.

A full explanation of how this works requires a longer citation from Siegel’s paper, but to put it in simplest terms, the vertical integration of body, brain stem, limbic system, and higher brain (the cerebral cortex) is the eventual outcome of healthy, secure attachment.

It is relevant to note that these nine middle prefrontal functions can be seen to emerge not only with mindful awareness practices, but at least the first seven are also be associated with the outcome of secure attachment between child and caregiver (13). This finding may suggest that experiences of “mental attunement” – interpersonal in the case of attachment or internal in the practice of mindful awareness – may be at the heart of developing an integrated brain and well-being. Healthy self-regulation, through relationships and self-reflective observation, may depend on the development of the integrated circuits of these prefrontal regions (12, 14, 15). (p. 7)

He goes on to explain how horizontal integration (bi-lateral integration of brain hemispheres) also plays a role in this process. The right hemisphere develops first after birth, which is why Schore has spent so much time writing about the importance of this early period in the development of affect regulation. In addition, the right brain (this is not a strict either/or, as both hemispheres share most skills) includes a wide range of functions that are important to healthy attachment patterns, including “stress response, an integrated map of the whole body, raw and spontaneous emotion, autobiographical memory, a dominance for the non-verbal aspects of empathy,” as well as a comfort with ambiguity, or “analogic” thinking, “meaning it perceives a wide spectrum of meaning,” not simply rational logic (p. 8).


All of this research grew out of Bowlby’s and Ainswoth’s (as well as many others) early research into parent-child attachment. The application to clinical practice came first, but it was not long before the interpersonal and intersubjective value of attachment theory was applied to the supervisory relationship. One need not know about all of this to be using it and benefitting from the ways attachment theory can support personal growth in the supervisee—but knowing about it does make it easier to apply the interventions of secure base, safe haven, and so on to deactivate the attachment patterns in the supervisee who has been triggered and to return him or her to an exploratory mode of learning and development.

Finally, as is apparent from the research of Schore and Siegel, among others, that there is much more going on in these supervision sessions than we are consciously aware. As the neuroscience continues to develop, it is likely we will learn new ways to mentor and supervise, ways that can rewire the supervisee’s brain (through emotional attunement) and allow them to be more effective therapists. It may even require that we rethink the separation of supervision and therapy—the two may be happening together even while we are not aware.


Ainsworth, M. D. (1989). Attachment beyond infancy. American Psychologist, 49, 709-716.

Ainsworth, M. D., & Bowlby, J. (1991, April). An ethological approach to personality development. American Psychologist, 46, 333-341. Retrieved from

Atkinson, L. & Goldberg, S., Eds. (2004). Attachment issues in psychopathology and intervention. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Bowlby, J. (1977). The making and breaking of affectional bonds. I. Aetiology and psychopathology in the light of attachment theory. British Journal of Psychiatry, 130, 201–210.

Bowlby, J. (1978). Attachment theory and its therapeutic implications. In S. C. Feinstein & P. L. Giovachini (Eds.), Adolescent psychiatry. Vol. VI: Development and clinical studies (pp. 5-33). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Brennan, K., Clark, C. & Shaver, P. (1998). Self-report measurement of adult romantic attachment: An integrative overview. In J. A. Simpson & W. S. Rholes (Eds.), Attachment theory and close relationships (pp. 46-76). New York: Guilford Press.

George, C., Kaplan, N., & Main, M. (1984). Adult Attachment Interview Protocol (1st ed.). Unpublished manuscript, University of California at Berkeley.

Hazan, C. & Shaver, P. (1987). Romantic love conceptualized as an attachment process. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52(3), 511-524.

Levine, A., & Heller, R. (2010). Attached: The new science of adult attachment and how it can help you find—and keep—love. New York: Tarcher/Penguin.

Neswald-McCalip, R. (2001, September). Development of the secure counselor: Case examples supporting Pistole & Watkins’s (1995) discussion of attachment theory in counseling supervision. Counselor Education & Supervision, 41, 18-27.

Pistole, M.C. & Fitch, J.C. (2008, March). Attachment theory in supervision: A critical incident experience. Counselor Education & Supervision, Vol. 47, 193-205.

Pistole, M. C., & Watkins, C. E., Jr. (1995, July). Attachment theory, counseling process, and supervision. The Counseling Psychologist, 23, 457-478. doi: 10.1177/0011000095233004

Schore, A. N. (1994). Affect regulation and the origin of the self: The neurobiology of emotional development. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

Schore, A. N. (2003a). Affect dysregulation and disorders of the self. New York: W. W. Norton.

Schore, A. N. (2003b). Affect regulation and the repair of the self. New York: W. W. Norton.

Schore, J.N. & Schore, A.N. (2008). Modern attachment theory: The central role of affect regulation in development and treatment. Journal of Clinical Social Work, 36:9–20. DOI 10.1007/s10615-007-0111-7

Siegel, D. J. (1999). The developing mind: How relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are. New York: Guilford Press.

Siegel, D.J. (2006, April/May). An interpersonal neurobiology approach to psychotherapy. Psychiatric Annals, Vol. 36, Number 4, 248-256.

Siegel, D.J. (2007). The mindful brain: Reflection and attunement in the cultivation of well-being. NY: W.W. Norton.

Siegel, D.J. (2010). Mindsight: The new science of personal transformation. NY: W.W. Norton.

Siegel, D.J. (2010). The mindful therapist: A clinician's guide to Mindsight and neural integration. NY: W.W. Norton.

Appendix A

Brennan, Clark, & Shaver (1998) offered this useful diagram in looking at adult attachment issues in individuals.

Figure 1. The two-dimensional model of individual differences in adult attachment.