Lincoln Stoller, PhD, 2018. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) www.mindstrengthbalance.com
And the Illusion of Disease
This piece is about what we think is real and the difference between sensation and feeling. It is about the worlds of imagination and dreams, and the process of making feelings into sensations, that is making dreams real.
This confusion about real and imagined disease is just plain dumb. It is a fallacy that imagination is not real, it can have as much effect as any other perception. In fact, everything sensed through perception is an act of imagination. Perception is imagination we’ve all agreed on.
What we’re really talking about is organic versus malingering disease. The symptoms of the first have a mechanical cause — perhaps yet unknown — while the symptoms of the second have none. But here’s the thing: all systems consist of parts and relationships, and a dysfunction can occur either in the parts, or the relationships. You cannot extract relationships and put them under a microscope, but they are as real as the parts.
This is clouded by the unhelpful intrusion of clinical medicine — more a position than a science — that asserts objectivity distinguishes reality from imagination. This deception works because people turn off and prostrate themselves before science, as before Jehova. An unfortunate result of the religion of science. The idea that “real disease” is what can be observed as separate, is caused by something separate, or is due to some external effect, is baloney.
A little microbiology is useful. It’s accepted, according to what’s called the endosymbiotic origin of eukaryotes, that our cells formed by aggregating simpler living organisms within a single membrane. Our body is the collaborative effort of many cells working together.
In this picture three levels of disease are obvious: problems that occur within a cell, problems that occur in maintaining the integrity of a cell, and problems that occur in orchestrating cells.
So far in our young medical history we understand something about the second sort of problem, problems of our cells integrity. These are the problems caused by opportunistic bacteria, and we are able to disrupt bacterial invasions using antibiotics. We know almost nothing about the two larger and more complex aspects to disease, the intra-cellular and systemic.
From our limited success, and because we overlook what we don’t understand, we have come to think of all disease as a pathogenic invasion. Following this, and ignoring our own better judgement, we have created a medical establishment that promulgates this point of view. Our medicine works when this is true, and it fails when it is not.
Fixing this massive failure, Dr. Mark Hyman says in the 2014 book The Disease Delusion,
“…requires a fundamental paradigm shift from medicine by symptom, to medicine by cause; from medicine by disease, to medicine by system; from medicine by organ, to medicine by organism… an ecological view of the body where all the networks of our biology intersect and interact in a dynamic process that crease disease when out of balance, and creates health when in balance.”
It’s great to talk about paradigm shifts, but talking does not make it happen. Better to just tell people what to do.
And as any good educator knows, you can’t teach anything to anyone unless they are ready to discover it for themselves. So, I hope you are ready to discover the obvious. You are a system.
The Software is Real
The system that is you consists of things that function, an environment, an awareness, and the ability to respond. And what’s making you “alive” is the “software” that animates you, and software is real.
Somewhere in that mix is your sense of self. In fact, you’re in all of those things, which is why separating what’s real from what you feel, see, or think is dumb. Here’s a picture.
In this picture the blue lobes interact to maintain balance. They each have a relationship with the environment depending on, responding to, and affecting it. Allopathic medicine considers only two of these lobes: function and environment. According to the mechanistic view, health is just a matter of function, and if you’re not functioning, we’ll fix it.
Hypnotherapy manages awareness, and encourages response. Hypnotherapy recognizes self-controlled function relies on self-awareness, and self- awareness triggers protective and restorative responses.
I take it further. Working with the brain’s underlying networks I increase self- awareness. I can train the autonomic nervous system using hypnosis and neurofeedback. I can teach you how to remix the frequencies of consciousness. These set the communication speeds for each of a host of simultaneous inner voices. Voices of joints, organs, tissues, and mind.
The connection between awareness and response is poorly understood. Medicine has thrown the baby out with the bathwater saying, “since we don’t understand the mind, it isn’t real.” With the invention of new kinds of observations, new things have become real but, for the most part, healthcare has not changed.
Molecular biology and genetics spawned the field of psycho-neuro-immunology. Genetic responses to environmental changes created the field of epigenetics. Brain science opened new views into how we regulate ourselves, “real” connections between body and awareness.
Voluntary change in your autonomic functions, once considered impossible, is documented but, lacking a theory, is overlooked in healthcare. I’m reminded of the Yogi Berra-ism of astrophysicist Sir Arthur Eddington, who supposedly said:
“Never trust an experimental result until it has been confirmed by theory.” As profound a nonsense as you’ll ever find, especially since medicine has no theory!
You are normally unaware of autonomic functions and, because of this, assume you cannot control them. It would seem a contradiction to assert control over something you’re unaware of. Yet there are channels of control below awareness, and here medicine has taken a blind turn. This is not a mechanical connection, but it is real. Subconscious control operates through synchronization, focus, inclination, intuition, telepathy, and imagination.
Awareness is not the same as consciousness. Awareness is feedback and self- regulation. We have some awareness of every aspect of our system, everything from muscles, to the DNA in our big toe. We have some awareness of everything, without regard to our being conscious of this awareness. This awareness is not only real, but necessary.
At the same time, the opposite is also true: much of what we’re conscious of we never perceived but rather invented. Almost nothing of what we see, taste, hear, or feel is a “real” perception. It’s all created in the software of our brains, and much of it is guesswork, and much of it is wrong. We live in a world of constructed hallucination, as Dr. Anil Seth demonstrated in his entertaining TED talk.
And Everything Makes Sense
We are used to living in a causal world. We look for causes and we expect them, but we only see what we look for, and only look for a tiny part of what’s there. Much of what goes on we don’t see, and we don’t recognize what or who drives these systems. Our blindness leads us to think we understand things when we really don’t, and much of this magical thinking we call “science.”
Science cannot supply the ultimate cause for anything, and never claimed to. When it comes to our own actions, we credit ourselves with “free will,” a magical notion if there ever was one! We think we’re completely rational, but it’s unclear if we are ever rational. Instead, we’re governed by what’s habitual and socially acceptable. We do what we expect others will understand. This comes to us as feelings.
Can you tell what’s real apart from what’s imaginary?
What about the difference between imaginary and more imaginary?
If you look carefully at why you behave the way you do, or why you feel the way you do, or at anything you feel at all, you’ll hit a wall of silence. At this wall everything fades into fog. You don’t have words to go farther, no sentences come to mind. Free will does not explain itself.
At the boundary of the known, at that point where new ideas form, most of us run out of steam. In the territory of confusion, we turn around and head back to the comfort of consensus opinion. “Consensus opinion,” I think, is what we call “free will.”
At the boundary of the known we feel ill at ease. Things don’t work right there. It can be a crazy place of chaos and malfunction. The dis-ease that we feel mirrors the dysfunction we perceive, a dysfunction we imagine.
… Until It Doesn’t
How can we regain control if only to regain balance? One answer is to analyze, and this is our inclination, but on the edge of knowledge, where we cannot see and hardly understand, analysis usually fails.
Another answer is we talk, and this we do to extremes, ceaselessly, and without direction. We talk in circles, trying and retrying pegs in holes they would not fit before. This is the understanding delusion, a particularly human predicament. It sometimes works.
Repeatedly battering a problem can work, and it will work better if we’re sloppy and don’t repeat ourselves. We credit ourselves with being creative, but most of the time we’re just wrong. In quantum mechanics this is called tunneling, and it involves random movements in a direction toward a slightly rewarded, or even unrewarded goal. It is how everything works. How it really works.
If you’re fast and determined, then you’ll make progress, though it’s hard to know how much. It’s 100 monkeys at typewriters writing Shakespeare. They do it for the bananas. Through the repeated efforts of many, a new understanding may emerge.
Talking to Emptiness
How to interact with what you’re not aware of? By imagining it. Where do the words come from? From the same place where our sensations connect with our awareness. In that realm of which we’re unaware, or think we are.
How do you connect with the beating of your heart, the function of your liver, the intention of your disease, the chatter below your mind, or the voice of your ancestor? You imagine there is connection, and you allow yourself to create a response. Is it real, or is it imagined? There is no difference!
That is why I like to work with sleep, sleep issues, and people who think they are rational. Sleep, of all our realms, is the least rational, and the most fertile. Sleep is a rabbit hole, and you won’t be the same on the other side. You don’t want to be.
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