Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Manual therapist brains - how they are so danged.. human.

A few months ago I posted several times about Iain McGilchrist's book, The Master and his Emissary. I don't have the book open in front of me, but as I recall, the book's title comes from a story about a master who came to rely too much on his emissary. Here, I'll let Jessa Crispin tell the story:
"In The Master and His Emissary, McGilchrist uses the Nietzsche story of the same name to illustrate his position. The Master, a wise man who is beloved by his subjects and rules with wisdom and caring, uses an emissary to conduct his business. The emissary begins to believe he is doing all of the important work, and usurps the throne. Only he is so concerned with material goods and ruling with an iron fist, things deteriorate. McGilchrist believes that we are seeing an unprecedented overthrowing of the Master (right brain) by the Emissary (left), and in his book he examines why this matters, how it influences philosophy, art, mental illness, and business, and how this balance of power has changed and shifted through the ages."
Earlier this week, one of the people who participated in my DNM workshop in England last October, a massage therapist, posted a note to SomaSimple, about his forearm, which had been fractured, internally fixated with plate and screws 16 years earlier, and some work we had done together at the workshop. I had "treated" him. Well, I hadn't actually intended to treat him... I had asked him if he was willing to be a demo, for another participant. All I did was put my hands on his forearm, hanging down off the side of the table, its owner prone. Immediately the arm/the brain inside watching over that arm responded with a great deal of movement, not deliberate, quite visible though. I knew better than to interrupt this situation, so just left my hands on his arm and let it play itself out. It took about 10 minutes. 

He wrote: 
"I was lucky enough to have Diane work on my (16 yrs ago motorcycle prang) screwed and plated left arm during Octobers 2012 UK course. My arm did a 10 min ideo motion and ever since has felt exactly like my undamaged right arm. 
What I specifically remember is Diane's quality of touch = engaging skin with minimal pressure but somehow a glue like contact. This contact has been difficult for me to replicate. But after a very shakey start and lack of my own brains confidence I can finally (after 7 mths ) join the happy throng and announce I GOT IT ! 

1/ the thumping heart beat under my finger pads ? whose is it ? mine or theirs ? does it really exist ? 
2/ skin that starts off thick and tight, now floats and rolls into great mounds with minimum effort. 
3/ Ever seen those piano's that can play themselves ? I start doing DNM and the brain starts a systems check of all the muscles ! one by one they twitch creep roll anywhere on the body, sometimes accompanied by a very short burst of ideomotion. Sometimes the client will laugh or say "this is strange" but all positive, no negative remarks."

I replied (slightly edited for clarity, with a third point added later):
"I think your brain has built up a storehouse of representations which you can now "see" with your own interoception, just like it takes months for someone to develop the sensitivity to read [not just feel, but to read, make sense out of] Braille. 
Congratulations. You wedded your human, meaning-making brain to your sensing, critter brain - at least the right hemisphere of it; you let these two build bonds, pathways, circuits to communicate with each other. Consciously communicate. 
Keep your left hemisphere over there on the left, where you need it to remain, detached, idle but interested, so it can watch over everything like a parent with good boundaries; let it remain skeptical:

1. so that it can bear in mind the third-person, objective, constructed cultural reality of everything, the carefully, deliberately, painstakingly accumulated collective social knowledge of the entire science-based human primate troop, the neurobiologicalpsychosocial explanations upon which it must ultimately rely, if human primate social grooming is not to go the way of the dodo bird, in this, our abstracted, conceptually cluttered, symbol-glutted western culture. 
2. that it not attach undue explanatory modeling of the operator kind to anything you might sense or do while treating, but will wisely stand back, keep its own counsel, and marvel at how your right-sided cognizer and re-cognizer knows exactly what to do next and why, according to it, based on input it receives through its connections to your own critter brain handling another critter brain. 
3. that it allow the right hemisphere to reach its own conclusions, build a sensory, kinesthetic representational bank, filled with rich and searchable and reachable and reproducible imagery, completely intrinsically valid, yet indescribable and irreproducible and certainly, untestable, in the outer world." 

I saw this very nice succinct blogpost later on: You Are Not So Smart and You Are in Very Good Company, from Big Think. Here is an excerpt: 
"You and everyone else come into the world preloaded with these pesky and completely wrong ways of seeing things.. and you rarely notice them.... we all think and do stupid things...  each scientific discipline offers epiphanies that call into question the magnitude of your personal fears and insecurities. The size of a nebula or the machinery inside a cell or the length of time between yesterday and a dinosaur's foot pressing into the mud - these things should make your anxieties seem very small, a part of something too immense to hold in one thought.... There is a vulnerability that you must accept once you start to unravel the biases, fallacies, and heuristics. The story you tell yourself to explain yourself is imperfect. Your personal narrative is bent and twisted and inaccurate, and that's beautiful because it's true for all of us.... we are a community of messy, stumbling, fumbling beings tumbling through space wrestling with a confusing gift of consciousness." 

A confusing gift of consciousness, indeed. 

In another comment to another poster in Europe, who asked about myofascial release, I replied; 
"MFR: The Great Conversation
This is the thread where MFR was thoroughly deconstructed. Once and for all. Eviscerated. But MFR is such a zombie it won't stay dead. It wanders all over the world eating brains. It's a tissue based explanatory model that refuses to stay in its grave. Stay well away from it. Don't buy it. It's not real.  
"xxx was here for about 5 minutes, then he left. xxx has never been here, but kicked me off his facebook page because I challenged his explanatory model. Tissue-based explanatory models are like the Dementors in Harry Potter: 
"Dementors hold no true loyalty, except to whomever can provide them with the most people to feed off. They cannot be destroyed, though their numbers can be limited if the conditions in which they multiply are reduced, implying that they do die off eventually"
So, what is the metaphor most appropriate to the left hemisphere? Is it an emissary who tries to take over the throne? A dominator who tries to shut out the other? Does it concoct "dementor" operator explanatory models, willfully allow them to exist by not doing its real job of holding all possibilities simultaneously, uncertainly - instead being lazy, defaulting to some logical but closed explanation of events that occur during treatment? Models that are then grabbed out of thin air - for money!- by other eager left brains who are hungry for closure, no matter how absurd tissue-based models actually are? 

Left brains could get together and instead slay all these models, simply by pointing out how absurd they are, if they would only be bothered to, instead of supporting them or letting them exist out of some misplaced misguided loyalty or pretend kindness. 

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