Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Musings on the neurology of 12 step programs, addiction, autism, and mysticism

The point with the Higher Power (HP) thing for me, for the scientist part of my mind, is the neurology of the thing. 

My first experience of this was when I did natural childbirth. At that time I was in very good spiritual condition from doing a lot of yoga & meditation. I felt I had some ability to control what is supposed to be an involuntary process, but it felt sort of magical, like ESP.

I have also read that, when schizophrenics hallucinate, it has to do with coming in contact with parts of their brains that are normally inactive. The schizophrenic brain has large regions shut down. When parts come active, it can feel like something exterior. Schizophrenics often believe their hallucinations come from God or the devil, but really it's their own brains lighting up.

Similarly, with autistic people who are also aphasic, the brain scans show a connection not happening in the brain that does in normal people. Autistic brains also scan with more and smaller cells than normal brains, which may help explain why it is difficult to make connections.

Similarly, again, with the addict, there are connections that are not being made to inhibit behavior -- a sense of observing oneself doing something that is against one's better judgment and not being able to stop it.

Brain scans also show that experienced meditators having something called synchronized gamma activity spreading over very large regions of the brain, while normal people, when they meditation have smaller regions implicated. Schizophrenics have still smaller regions.

Some studies of aphasic autistics show that low level electrical current can stimulate the brain to speak -- by forcing the connection between regions.

When I started Overeaters Anonymous, I found that I had a sensation like fluid flowing in my brain -- something that has been reported by other mystics. I have also had an experience like that when my foot falls asleep, that when circulation returns there is a sensation like fluid flowing into the foot. 



The one woman I know who emerged from profound aphasia at age 11 was also a mystic who prayed and meditated frequently.

I conclude that the mystical experience has a neurological effect that integrates brain functioning. This is useful for the addict in overcoming involuntary behavior. It could also be useful to a person with an autistic spectrum disorder who is experiencing reduced function due to excessive cells in the brain I would suspect.


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