Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The busy-ology of physiology

This morning I started thinking about physiology yet again, when I saw a full-text paper by Benedetti posted to facebook. Recently I had listened to a podcast interview of Bud Craig. He's the interoception guy. Here is a link to some notes I made re: a video of his I watched a few years ago. Fascinating.

Both these items, fresh in my mind, reminded me of Jorge Fuente's work, coming at it from a different angle but still trying to show the world that really, it's all about the therapeutic relationship, not whatever ritual might be being performed within it. I remembered David Butler, at least 12 years ago, saying, "We don't treat anatomy, we treat physiology."

I thought of my recent plunge into a rethink of metaphor in culture, instigated by Mike Stewart, and Keiran O'Sullivan's video about Ally who in the middle of a full-on stressful life fell and broke her tailbone, and developed chronic pain which was very hard to live with until someone (him) started to listen to her, empathically, as though she were a competent human instead of a "case" (discussed/blogged about here). I bumped (yet again) into my own self, my own bumps and snags and realization that I can demonstrate good listening and empathy, but probably only in short bursts. Probably because I really don't enjoy being around people much, except for in short bursts. 




I thought of the cartoon I made of the evolved nervous system (see below), how in order for it to get a grip on itself, it requires communication/social input. Imagine that.
Humans have been designated the "neotenous ape". This means, adult while still in juvenile form.
You can see it, can't you? How dependent we are, on each other, on the systems that emerge, like a bunch of large babies? Big brains that are not fully myelinated until age 25? The way we have rampaged all over the planet, wrecking it, and fighting with each other like a screaming bunch of wild toddlers with no day care lady to keep us cookied and juiced and napped and meaningfully distracted?

I think, once we've been born, and we're stuck here anyway, we should try to help each other get through life to the end with as minimal damage as possible. Personally I'm against reproducing very many more of us, even as I can empathize with the biological need to reproduce (.. that I managed to completely escape being gripped by, thank goodness..).  


But back to physiology.
Bud Craig, the neuroanatomist says he discovered a new pathway in the brain that had previously been overlooked: It joins up the interceptive fibres with the cognizing brain, so that we can be aware of our body states. These are pathways that are essential to homeostasis. I don't recall if he said these are just human or if they are more broadly primate. I'd have to listen to the whole interview again (I've ordered the book. Can't wait!). I think he said they are in primates, but no other kinds of (studied) mammals, and greatly increased in humans. (I really appreciate that he discusses these pathways and homeostasis, in general, as being energy conserving. That makes sense to me. Our brains are such monster fuel hogs..)

Homeostasis is all about physiology. Remember that in the beginning was the nerve net. The human brain came later. 
Remember that the nerve net is bi-directional, and enclosed within tubes where it can get itself into some big, echo-chamber, positive feedback loop trouble. 

From "Neuritis


All of this was on my mind, then I saw the Benedetti paper, Placebo and the New Physiology of the Doctor-Patient Relationship. 
The coin dropped again.
Yup, our poor overly big sorta helpless human primate brains need external validation before they can turn around the physiological problems inherent in pain production, for example. Possibly.
At least that's true for me, even though I hate that I "need" anyone to help me, therapeutically, physically, sometimes.. at least, my brain does..


I remembered Jorge Fuentes when someone on SomaSimple posted a link to all his publications. I remembered I had even blogged about him a few years ago. I found the post again. He is definitely somebody to watch carefully. Maybe he will be someone who can lead this profession out of the post hoc ergo propter hoc forest it got lost in, decades ago, and is still lost in..


Be sure to register for the San Diego Pain Summit, Feb. 2016. Benedetti will be speaking there!!
Robert Sapolosky too, the fabulous primatologist and stress researcher. 

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