Love, Neuroplasticity, our inner thoughts and the death penalty. What a strange mix you say? They are related and there’s more!

If you want to read about these and other things related to the most complex brain on the planet (human) read on.

Warning there is a lot to read in this post but it is mostly related so read it when you have time or take it in sections if needed 🙂  I hope you find it as fascinating as I.

Neuroplasticity

Is a topic that I would like to talk about as well as an interesting story of how I came about learning of this and some other interesting info.  I will also talk a bit about something that may re-enforce or change your mind about your stance on the death penalty which we do not have in Canada but is practiced in parts of the US and other countries.

Neuroplasticity (aka cortical re-mapping) refers to the ability of the human brain to change as a result of one’s experience, that the brain is ‘plastic’ and ‘malleable’. The discovery of this feature of the brain is rather modern; the previous belief amongst scientists was that the brain does not change after the critical period of infancy.

I work for IMRIS in Winnipeg who sell high tech medical imaging suites for large hospitals around the world.  They are working on some amazing things including but not limited to improving their products to better assist surgeons in brain surgery and other surgery where imaged guided therapy is needed.  This is not what has spurred my recent interest in Neuroplasticity.  I read about this a few years ago and was fascinated but heard more about it recently on CBC radio and it has come a long way in a short time.

 

How I learned about Neuroplasticity originally is quite interesting.

Several years ago something serious happened in my life and it almost sent me on a completely different path.  One day I may share more about this but for now lets just stick with it being some thing serious.

At this time there was a few very difficult days for me and I had to make some choices.  I see now I made the right choices but at the the time and for quite a while after I was not sure.  Having been involved in IT (Information Technology) for quite a while and more likely because I am male I sometimes unconsciously take the logical “fix it” mentality to other areas of my life which I unknowingly did in this case.  I knew that it had to do with the thoughts and actions of myself and a few others but that wasn’t enough.  I wanted to understand more about these thoughts and how they turned into actions.

Shortly after this I was in the book store at the O2 Centre in North West London and was in the psychology section and came across the book:

“Love Sick” – Love as a Mental Illness, by Frank Tallis.

Basically what the title means is the initial falling in love or romantic love can induce states of being that are found in some types of mental Illness.  This book was so profound to me that I still clearly remember where I got it (I would be hard pressed to do this for most of the other books I have read).  Now I guess I got you thinking eh!

The book was very interesting and I recommend anyone who wants to learn more about love. Be warned it may be disturbing for anyone who strongly believes in fate when it comes to love as the author goes in to depth on how our genes have a lot to do with this.  He talks a bit about some of theories of Charles Darwin in relation to love and an interesting insight Charles had when he was in love.   This book help me better understand some of my actions when in this type of love and I have written a bit about this earlier in my blog.

 

“Love Sick” is well written and answered a lot of the questions I had but left we wanting to learn more.  This led me to finding another very interesting book but unfortunately not as well written:

The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force, by Jeffrey M. Schwartz & Sharon Begley

I think I got this at Borders across the North Circular from Brentcross mall.  There are some disturbing parts of this book including info about the tests that were done on the Silver Spring Monkeys in Silver Springs Maryland, their treatment and the environment they were kept in.  They did learn more about the ways the brain can change even in adults but at a high cost to the monkeys.  The book also shed some light on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and some of the crude treatment methods and also some of the more successful ones.  I think all of us have at least a little OCD and this sheds some light on this as well.  I don’t think I ever did finish the book as it got difficult to read but it did get me to try again at learning the piano 🙂 but unfortunately to this day my Yamaha keyboard  still gets little action from my fingers other then the odd jazzed up version of marry had a little lamb with cords.  😦

 

Language

While we are on the topic of the brain and how it works I would like to tell you about something else I find very interesting and another interesting time in my life.

Language is a powerful tool especially when you consider how much we use it even in our internal thoughts.  Without it would we have consciousness?

Without language we would not have the ability to take control of our thoughts so we might as well use it.  Some say there is untold power in using positive language in your own thoughts and when speaking with others whether they be members of a team you are working with or leading, your children or players you coach on a team etc…

With children it could be something as simple as saying “take care of your bed” when you find them jumping on their bed and see what happens rather then “don’t JUMP ON THE BED”  Some say the child may only hear the last part in upper case.  If this is the case with the positive version they may think about it a bit and stop.  If not explain what you mean by taking care of the bed but in a positive way like if may damage the springs inside and it may not be comfortable to sleep on after or will not last as long.

I think I have always been a fairly positive person with exceptions of course for I am only human but I think this was taken to a different level after taking a course.  While my wife and I were living in London England several years ago we took the Landmark Forum and so did several friends of ours from Canada, NZ, OZ, UK & elsewhere.  It was and may still be a 4 day course with a large group (about 250 people), long hrs each day and a lot of group participation.

Participants were encouraged to work on different exercises at different times and with different people they did not know.  Examples included sharing something about their life, insights they had and in some cases actions they had taken so far in the course regarding their life.  Either in front of the entire group or between a stranger beside you.

Most of us took the course at different times and some of us met there.  It is recommended for spouses or partners & close friends to take the course separately to allow each to get more out of it.  This course allowed most if not all of us to have huge insights into who we were being and who we have been in our lives and how to make positive changes (or transformations as they call it) in the areas most important to us.

Seeing what things are holding you back from accomplishing what you want in life whether it be with your career or your family or your love life etc…. 

One of the things many people learnt was that a lot of the time events from our past or more importantly how we interpreted these events that happened to us control a lot of what happens in our lives and the actions we take or have taken.  This included seeing back to one or more specific events that changed the way we started thinking (usually when you were young).

Another power tool this course taught was “being present”  which can be applied in several contexts.

Like being present to who you are really being at any particular moment rather than being so caught up in your own thoughts or feelings and emotions that you don’t even realize who you are being.

This can be difficult and sometimes you need to ask someone for help.  It helps if they are familiar with this concept and you can ask them for coaching but if not just ask them to be honest and tell you how they think you are being or behaving.  Once you are present to how you are really being then you have power because the way you are feeling does not have to be who we are being.  i.e. you have a choice to have your actions reflect how you are feeling or how you want to feel.  e.g. I feel like crab because of ……… but I am going to make a choice to feel …..

This may sound strange but this is used in lots of self motivating techniques.

or

Like being truly present when someone is talking to you and listening to them properly and not listening more to the voice in your head then them.  We all have this voice, it is our internal thoughts and sometimes this gets more attention then the person you are talking to and then after you don’t really understand what they were saying.

This becomes even more powerful if you use it and then try and put yourselves in the “other persons shoes” and try and think what it would be like to be them.  Then you are truly listening.

Or worse yet

Looking away while someone is talking to you.  This happens more then you realize and some people do it more then others.  A simple exercise to emphasis how much of a negative effect this is likely to have on someone is to get someone to purposely look away from you while you try and talk to them for a couple of minutes about something important to you.  You will quickly see it is not very nice.

Even thought it has been I while since I took this course I still sometimes catch myself listening to my internal thoughts more than someone talking to me and have to snap out of it.  Or I stop and listen to the voice in my head or something I am saying out loud and catch my self saying something that is not positive or is not going to help myself or anyone else.  This is a powerful tool but is something you must work at to be effective with and if not practiced become less useful or less present in your life.

Another powerful concept taught in this course is “Not making someone wrong”.  The idea behind this is if you come from the space of not judging and making someone wrong you will communicate a lot more effectively with them and they are more likely to hear what you are really trying to say rather then just tune out.  This may also be a difficult thing to grasp and even more so to practice.  It helps in this to once again try and get into their shoes.  There is a lot more to write on this concept but I will save this for another day.

The Not making someone wrong” also applies to our internal thought and our communication with others.  i.e a guy driving a nice Porsche “ man he must be stinking rich” and or something else negative. v.s. celebrating their success and saying something like “man I want to be successful and make lots of money so I can afford a Porsche” or something else positive.

Using the word “and” or something else instead of “but” can be a more positive way to communicate something.

I really need to review the notes I took during this and the 2 follow up courses myself and most of the above friends took after as well to refresh.  I know I am practicing this less and of course not catching my self as often.  Some people take the Forum again at a reduced “Refresher” price.  Not sure if I am there yet 🙂  I will let you know after I read my notes and see how I make out.

 

Another interesting area based around positive language is Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) which most people probably know from Anthony Robbins.  More info on the Landmark Forum and its courses and NLP:

http://www.landmarkeducation.com/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landmark_Education, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuro-linguistic_programming

 

Have you ever wanted to be a Mentalist? 

Do you know what this is?  I didn’t until the other day.  I had not even hear of the TV series with the same name until now after consulting the Oracle (aka Google).

aka a thought reader or one who can project thoughts or Performers that appear to demonstrate highly developed mental or intuitive abilities

I was recently listening to Q on CBC Radio with Gion Gomechi who had “The Amazing Kreskin” Mentalist (George Joseph Kresge) on the show.  He is 75 yrs old, claims to jog at about 4am for 45 mins almost each day and reads 4 books a day usually.  A pilot & fan calculated he has travelled 3 million miles for shows etc…
Every show his pay check is hidden by audience without him in the room and if he can’t find it he doesn’t get paid.  He has only failed 7 times in career to find it.
The other night in Toronto he almost gave up and after spending 20 mins mostly looking in novels that he would ask some audience members if they had.  It ended up being inside a guys novel, same novel with several checks that he had already checked 1st but misses because it was folded small and in an insert.  He said he was absolutely exhausted after trying to find it which may be why he didn’t do his 45 min job the next morning 🙂
He also did a exercise where he claimed to project a time into Gion’s head which sounded pretty realistic they way they did it.

Do you believe in these abilities or is it just a clever skill?

He recently put out his 18th book which I am going to get and read and see what I think and my read his others.

Check this link or the CBC website to get the pod cast.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Amazing_Kreskin

 

Emotional Intelligence & the Death Penalty

Here is another book that I found very interesting and to this day still believe some of the things in it if true give more merit to the movement to abolish the death penalty in the US and other countries that practice it.

Emotional Intelligence – Why it can matter more then IQ, by Daniel Goleman.

I am not sure where or why I bought this book but it either had something to do with what was going on in my life at the time or maybe I was just intrigued by the front or back cover.   I may have wanted to read more about different emotions and states of being and came across it.  I vaguely recall being in an airport news agent / stand.

Anyways there are several parts of this book that are interesting but one of the most profound parts for me talks about how traumatic or other specific incidents in our lives (e.g. almost getting hit by a car etc…) get stored in a separate part of our brain.  It says that this is a survival mechanism so if needed in the future our brain can retrieve this information and take action quickly without processing taking place in the rational part of the brain which is slower.  e.g. make sure we get out of the way of a fast moving car in the future without thinking about it.

If this is true is that the reason behind some people committing horrendous crimes?  Does the processing of one or more traumatic events result in actions later in life that happen without thinking?  Is that why they have “criminal insanity” or “not criminally responsible” or “crimes of passion”?

If so should they allow the death penalty at all?  Or maybe only in cases where there is no chance they did not process their actions rationally?

Will technology ever advance to the point where they can see what is stored in this part of the brain? or others so they know if someone did something or not?

Based on the Neuroplasticity principal can therapy using NLP / positive language and or other therapies help cure ones found to be criminally insane or not be criminally responsible etc…?  Should this be used for rehab for all criminals?  Is this being done already? If not has this been considered already?  Do law makers etc.. know about this?  I could not sleep but am to tired to consult the Oracle so will end here and go to bed.  Good Night or maybe Good Day or …. to those of you over seas.

 

What are your thoughts on any of this?  Add your comments or find me on Facebook or Windows Live.

p.s. should I get on Twitter?  I have been holding of for quite some time.  The reason, I am not sure of.

I am seriously considering it now (actually more of a thing to definitely do).  Recently I heard the police and fire departments and possibly other public services are starting to use Facebook and Twitter to also advise the public of emergencies and other important public notices and you need to subscribe to there tweets or feeds or what ever they call them to get them.

Resources:

For those of you I know and are near if you want to borrow any of these books don’t hesitate to ask.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroplasticity

“Love Sick” – Love as a Mental Illness, by Frank Tallis.

The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force, by Jeffrey M. Schwartz & Sharon Begley

Emotional Intelligence – Why it can matter more then IQ, by Daniel Goleman.

http://www.landmarkeducation.com/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landmark_Education, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuro-linguistic_programming

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Amazing_Kreskin

About Kevin Yaworski

I use my blog to write about things I find interesting or that I think are matter of public interest.
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