Paranoid-schizoid position

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Paranoid-schizoid position

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:23 pm

Greetings,

The Paranoid-Schizoid position is defined here as...
The term 'paranoid-schizoid position' refers to a constellation of anxieties, defences and internal and external object relations that Klein considers to be characteristic of the earliest months of an infant's life and to continue to a greater or lesser extent into childhood and adulthood. Contemporary understanding is that paranoid-schizoid mental states play an important part throughout life. The chief characteristic of the paranoid-schizoid position is the splitting of both self and object into good and bad, with at first little or no integration between them.

Klein has the view that infants suffer a great deal of anxiety and that this is caused by the death instinct within, by the trauma experienced at birth and by experiences of hunger and frustration. She assumes the very young infant to have a rudimentary although unintegrated ego, that attempts to deal with experiences, particularly anxiety, by using phantasies of splitting, projection and introjection.

The infant splits both his ego and his object and projects out separately his loving and hating feelings (life and death instincts) into separate parts of the mother (or breast), with the result that the maternal object is divided into a 'bad' breast (mother that is felt to be frustrating, persecutory and is hated) and a 'good' breast (mother that is loved and felt to be loving and gratifying). Both the 'good' and the 'bad' objects are then introjected and a cycle of re-projection and re-introjection ensues. Omnipotence and idealisation are important aspects of this activity; bad experiences are omnipotently denied whenever possible and good experiences are idealised and exaggerated as a protection against the fear of the persecuting breast.

This 'binary splitting' is essential for healthy development as it enables the infant to take in and hold on to sufficient good experience to provide a central core around which to begin to integrate the contrasting aspects of the self. The establishment of a good internal object is thought by Klein to be a prerequisite for the later working through of the 'depressive position'.

A different kind of splitting, 'fragmentation', in which the object and/or the self are split into many and smaller pieces is also a feature of the paranoid-schizoid position. Persistent or enduring use of fragmentation and dispersal of the self weakens the fragile unintegrated ego and causes severe disturbance.

Klein considers that both constitutional and environmental factors affect the course of the paranoid-schizoid position. The central constitutional factor is the balance of life and death instincts in the infant. The central environmental factor is the mothering that the infant receives. If development proceeds normally, extreme paranoid anxieties and schizoid defences are largely given up during the early infantile paranoid-schizoid position and during the working through of the depressive position.

Klein holds that schizoid ways of relating are never given up completely and her writing gives the impression that the positions can be conceptualised as transient states of mind. The paranoid-schizoid position can be thought of as the phase of development preceding the depressive position as a defence against it and also as a regression from it.
Does anyone have thoughts on how and whether:

- Some people never outgrow the paranoid-schizoid position?
- Some people regress back to the paranoid-schizoid position?
- A biological adult might function or behave, if operating exclusively from the paranoid-schizoid position?

:thanks:

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Paranoid-schizoid position

Post by Kim OHara » Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:19 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:23 pm
Greetings,

The Paranoid-Schizoid position is defined here as...

...Does anyone have thoughts on how and whether:

- Some people never outgrow the paranoid-schizoid position?
- Some people regress back to the paranoid-schizoid position?
- A biological adult might function or behave, if operating exclusively from the paranoid-schizoid position?

:thanks:

Metta,
Paul. :)
Hi, Paul,
I think the most useful question is whether Klein's theoretical framework is capable of offering any useful insights at all, and I think the answer to it is "no". Then again, I have no time for her Master, either, so you might put that down to bias. :shrug:
Here's a view of Klein and her theories from inside the western psych tradition but outside her own little bubble. http://changingminds.org/disciplines/ps ... /klein.htm

Why not trust the dhamma for insight into the human condition?

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: Paranoid-schizoid position

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:49 pm

Greetings Kim,
Kim OHara wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:19 pm
Why not trust the dhamma for insight into the human condition?
I do, and it's evident that people suffer due to avijja, tanha and such... but within that there's a massive breadth of personalities that fall within those domains of dukkha.... including some with a little dust over their eyes, and at the other end of the spectrum, some that could be buried alive with the amount of proverbial dust they have over their eyes.

The latter of those will find the true Dhamma utterly incomprehensible, but perhaps if I have a clearer understanding of what's going on in their heads, I can have a better comprehension of where they're coming from. Unfortunately, I don't have the blessings in this life to solely encounter people who comprehend the Dhamma.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Paranoid-schizoid position

Post by Kim OHara » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:46 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:49 pm
Greetings Kim,
Kim OHara wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:19 pm
Why not trust the dhamma for insight into the human condition?
I do, and it's evident that people suffer due to avijja, tanha and such... but within that there's a massive breadth of personalities that fall within those domains of dukkha.... including some with a little dust over their eyes, and at the other end of the spectrum, some that could be buried alive with the amount of proverbial dust they have over their eyes.

The latter of those will find the true Dhamma utterly incomprehensible, but perhaps if I have a clearer understanding of what's going on in their heads, I can have a better comprehension of where they're coming from. Unfortunately, I don't have the blessings in this life to solely encounter people who comprehend the Dhamma.

Metta,
Paul. :)
So you're trying to use Klein's theory to explain people to themselves because they wouldn't accept a dhammic explanation? Or to understand how they might frame their understanding of the self?

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: Paranoid-schizoid position

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:49 am

Greetings,
Kim OHara wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:46 am
So you're trying to use Klein's theory to explain people to themselves because they wouldn't accept a dhammic explanation? Or to understand how they might frame their understanding of the self?
Just the latter... I'm not interested in explaining it to them (for I'm sure it would be as incomprehensible to them as the Dhamma)... I'm interested in better understanding certain people, given that this is not Pure Land and I have the "pleasure" of dealing with people of all different capabilities, personalities and backgrounds.

What I quote aboved, prima facie, seems to apply to certain adults I know, despite the paranoid-schizoid position typically being associated with infants - hence my questions...

:?:

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Paranoid-schizoid position

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:01 am

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Re: Paranoid-schizoid position

Post by cappuccino » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:28 am

"The drinking of fermented & distilled liquors — when indulged in, developed, & pursued — is something that leads to hell, leads to rebirth as a common animal, leads to the realm of the hungry shades. The slightest of all the results coming from drinking fermented & distilled liquors is that, when one becomes a human being, it leads to mental derangement."

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Re: Paranoid-schizoid position

Post by aflatun » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:52 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:23 pm
Greetings,

The Paranoid-Schizoid position is defined here as...
The term 'paranoid-schizoid position' refers to a constellation of anxieties, defences and internal and external object relations that Klein considers to be characteristic of the earliest months of an infant's life and to continue to a greater or lesser extent into childhood and adulthood. Contemporary understanding is that paranoid-schizoid mental states play an important part throughout life. The chief characteristic of the paranoid-schizoid position is the splitting of both self and object into good and bad, with at first little or no integration between them.

Klein has the view that infants suffer a great deal of anxiety and that this is caused by the death instinct within, by the trauma experienced at birth and by experiences of hunger and frustration. She assumes the very young infant to have a rudimentary although unintegrated ego, that attempts to deal with experiences, particularly anxiety, by using phantasies of splitting, projection and introjection.

The infant splits both his ego and his object and projects out separately his loving and hating feelings (life and death instincts) into separate parts of the mother (or breast), with the result that the maternal object is divided into a 'bad' breast (mother that is felt to be frustrating, persecutory and is hated) and a 'good' breast (mother that is loved and felt to be loving and gratifying). Both the 'good' and the 'bad' objects are then introjected and a cycle of re-projection and re-introjection ensues. Omnipotence and idealisation are important aspects of this activity; bad experiences are omnipotently denied whenever possible and good experiences are idealised and exaggerated as a protection against the fear of the persecuting breast.

This 'binary splitting' is essential for healthy development as it enables the infant to take in and hold on to sufficient good experience to provide a central core around which to begin to integrate the contrasting aspects of the self. The establishment of a good internal object is thought by Klein to be a prerequisite for the later working through of the 'depressive position'.

A different kind of splitting, 'fragmentation', in which the object and/or the self are split into many and smaller pieces is also a feature of the paranoid-schizoid position. Persistent or enduring use of fragmentation and dispersal of the self weakens the fragile unintegrated ego and causes severe disturbance.

Klein considers that both constitutional and environmental factors affect the course of the paranoid-schizoid position. The central constitutional factor is the balance of life and death instincts in the infant. The central environmental factor is the mothering that the infant receives. If development proceeds normally, extreme paranoid anxieties and schizoid defences are largely given up during the early infantile paranoid-schizoid position and during the working through of the depressive position.

Klein holds that schizoid ways of relating are never given up completely and her writing gives the impression that the positions can be conceptualised as transient states of mind. The paranoid-schizoid position can be thought of as the phase of development preceding the depressive position as a defence against it and also as a regression from it.
Does anyone have thoughts on how and whether:

- Some people never outgrow the paranoid-schizoid position?
- Some people regress back to the paranoid-schizoid position?
- A biological adult might function or behave, if operating exclusively from the paranoid-schizoid position?

:thanks:

Metta,
Paul. :)
Hi Retro

Assuming Klein's theories and the psychodynamic tradition as valid for purposes of conversation, I wonder if people that don't outgrow the paranoid-schizoid position are likely those that would be especially prone to splitting, e.g. narcissistic and borderline personalities.

I think we all split though, to some extent, especially when under severe stress, etc.

And more generally speaking we're all splitters (existence or non existence) until we enter the stream, so maybe we can classify what the psychologists label "splitting" as a species of Eternalism and Annihaliationism :tongue:

That said, I'm not a psychiatrist or psychologist, and I might be inappropriately mixing and matching the language of different disciplines in the mental health world...so hopefully a psychologist or someone in the mental health field can chime in here.

As far as how they behave: I've dealt with a few narcissists professionally, and its an absolute nightmare I wouldn't wish on anyone!
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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Re: Paranoid-schizoid position

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:32 am

Greetings aflatun,
aflatun wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:52 am
I wonder if people that don't outgrow the paranoid-schizoid position are likely those that would be especially prone to splitting, e.g. narcissistic and borderline personalities.
I wondered this too.
aflatun wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:52 am
And more generally speaking we're all splitters (existence or non existence) until we enter the stream, so maybe we can classify what the psychologists label "splitting" as a species of Eternalism and Annihaliationism :tongue:
Well, technically asmi-mana ceases with arahantship, but I see where you're going...
aflatun wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:52 am
As far as how they behave: I've dealt with a few narcissists professionally, and its an absolute nightmare I wouldn't wish on anyone!
Honestly, as sad as it is to say, your life is better off without such people in it. This is true even if they happen to be family.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Paranoid-schizoid position

Post by aflatun » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:44 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:32 am
Well, technically asmi-mana ceases with arahantship, but I see where you're going...
Yes of course. I do tend to think of conceiving, when the lower grades of ariyans lapse into it, as a kind of guilty pleasure where they know better (Right View) and don't actually "see" existence or non existence anymore, but they still indulge...but maybe this is overly generous as ignorance is still not entirely gone, obviously. Off topic from me, apologies :)

retrofuturist wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:32 am
Honestly, as sad as it is to say, your life is better off without such people in it. This is true even if they happen to be family.
That is the really sad part. And what's really difficult for me is when we have no choice but to endure such people and they happen to be your superior (e.g. professionally). 'Twas the story of my life for a solid two years recently!

PS: And the family scenario is actually more difficult to deal with, come to think of it I'm not a stranger to that either
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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Re: Paranoid-schizoid position

Post by Kim OHara » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:29 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:49 am
Greetings,
Kim OHara wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:46 am
So you're trying to use Klein's theory to explain people to themselves because they wouldn't accept a dhammic explanation? Or to understand how they might frame their understanding of the self?
Just the latter... I'm not interested in explaining it to them (for I'm sure it would be as incomprehensible to them as the Dhamma)... I'm interested in better understanding certain people, given that this is not Pure Land and I have the "pleasure" of dealing with people of all different capabilities, personalities and backgrounds.

What I quote aboved, prima facie, seems to apply to certain adults I know, despite the paranoid-schizoid position typically being associated with infants - hence my questions...

:?:

Metta,
Paul. :)
Most of us have "the pleasure of dealing with people of all different capabilities, personalities and backgrounds" (I have carefully removed your scare quotes because we might as well be positive about it) and if being "interested in better understanding" them is good.
But we can understand them in our terms (e.g. dhammic terms), in their own terms (e.g. a decent bloke but a bit rough around the edges :tongue: ) or in some other scheme (e.g. Klein's version of Freudian analysis).
I like to look at your problem/endeavour as a map:territory problem. Each of these ways of looking at someone is a map, and each person is the "territory" being mapped. Most maps are useful, in that they show some aspect/s of the territory, or they wouldn't have been created, but no map shows the whole territory. In fact, maps are so useful precisely because they are simplifications of the territory; one map of Australia might show the roads but not the mountains, while another might show the mineral deposits but not the population centres, and we choose whichever map tells us the most about what we're interested in.
In those terms, I have to say I rarely find Freud's maps useful. YMMV. Good luck!

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: Paranoid-schizoid position

Post by DooDoot » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:38 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:23 pm
Klein has the view that infants suffer a great deal of anxiety and that this is caused by the death instinct within, by the trauma experienced at birth and by experiences of hunger and frustration. She assumes the very young infant to have a rudimentary although unintegrated ego, that attempts to deal with experiences, particularly anxiety, by using phantasies of splitting, projection and introjection.

The infant splits both his ego and his object and projects out separately his loving and hating feelings (life and death instincts) into separate parts of the mother (or breast), with the result that the maternal object is divided into a 'bad' breast (mother that is felt to be frustrating, persecutory and is hated) and a 'good' breast (mother that is loved and felt to be loving and gratifying). Both the 'good' and the 'bad' objects are then introjected and a cycle of re-projection and re-introjection ensues...
Death instinct? Vibhava tanha?
In classical Freudian psychoanalytic theory, the death drive (German: Todestrieb) is the drive toward death and self-destruction. It was originally proposed by Sabina Spielrein in her paper "Destruction as the Cause of Coming Into Being" (Die Destruktion als Ursache des Werdens) in 1912, which was then taken up by Sigmund Freud in 1920 in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. This concept has been translated as "opposition between the ego or death instincts and the sexual or life instincts". In Pleasure Principle, Freud used the plural "death drives" (Todestriebe) much more frequently than in the singular.

The death drive opposes Eros, the tendency toward survival, propagation, sex, and other creative, life-producing drives. The death drive is sometimes referred to as "Thanatos" in post-Freudian thought, complementing "Eros", although this term was not used in Freud's own work, being rather introduced by one of Freud's followers, Wilhelm Stekel.
While I don't know much about the subject matter, I find Gregory Bateson's & R.D. Laing's 'Double-Bind' theory as more plausible, which is about dysfunction or acquired confusion in systemic (cause & effect) relationship. In other words, there is a shared systemic failure causing the dysfunction. Often, I get the impression Jewish psychology (Spielrein, Freud, Stekel & Klein) focuses on individualizing the demon rather than examining phenomena arising due to systemic cause & effect relationship. Thus, Freud's 'id, ego & super-ego', which are very Jewish or St Paulian in structure, focuses on 'ego', including 'God' (super-ego); rather than a greater collective & even communal context & failure.
Romans 7:15-24 New International Version (NIV)

15 I (ego) do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law (super ego) is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin (id) living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil (id) is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law (super ego); 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
A classic example of focusing on individual (rather than systemic) dysfunction is the Cultural Marxist classic: 'The Authoritarian Personality', where, somehow, the individual dysfunction occurs in isolation rather than occurs in a far greater collective context.

Using a Buddhist framework, 'individualizing' the problem moves the problem into the sphere of lokuttara dhamma; focusing on craving & becoming. Where as following a 'collective systemic' approach to the problem keeps the problem in the sphere of morality (sila dhamma); given there is shared or communal causality.
Kim OHara wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:19 pm
Why not trust the dhamma for insight into the human condition?
Exactly which Dhamma teaching explains this condition & offers a solution?

:)
Last edited by DooDoot on Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:27 am, edited 14 times in total.

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Re: Paranoid-schizoid position

Post by chownah » Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:32 am

From the wikipedia article on klein:
While Freud’s ideas concerning children mostly came from working with adult patients, Klein was innovative in working directly with children, often as young as two years old. Klein saw children’s play as their primary mode of emotional communication. After observing troubled children play with toys such as dolls, animals, plasticine, pencil and paper, Klein attempted to interpret the specific meaning of play. Following Freud she emphasized the significant role that parental figures played in the child’s fantasy life, and considered that the timing of Freud’s Oedipus complex was incorrect. Contradicting Freud, she concluded that the superego was present from birth.

After exploring ultra-aggressive fantasies of hate, envy, and greed in very young and disturbed children, Melanie Klein proposed a model of the human psyche that linked significant oscillations of state, with whether the postulated Eros or Thanatos pulsations were in the fore. She named the state of the psyche, when the sustaining principle of life is in domination, the depressive position. This is considered by many to be her great contribution to psychoanalytic thought. She later developed her ideas about an earlier developmental psychological state corresponding to the disintegrating tendency of life, which she called the paranoid-schizoid position.[7]
Is it reasonable to think that through observing disturbed children it is likely that a workable theory of how everyone develops will emerge?

Is it reasonable to think that studying children only "often as young as two years old" that a workable theory about how newborns react to the breast will emerge?

Is much of freud's work still widely accepted as valid and worthy of efforts to use it as a basis for further theroizing in professional circles?

My own limited view on this gives me three "no"s ; one for each question.
chownah

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Re: Paranoid-schizoid position

Post by DooDoot » Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:44 am

chownah wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:32 am
Is much of freud's work still widely accepted as valid...
Really? Oedipus complex, Electra complex, anal phase, castration anxiety, penis envy, etc? Did Freud's work bring healthy results?

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Re: Paranoid-schizoid position

Post by Saengnapha » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:03 am

aflatun wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:52 am

Assuming Klein's theories and the psychodynamic tradition as valid for purposes of conversation, I wonder if people that don't outgrow the paranoid-schizoid position are likely those that would be especially prone to splitting, e.g. narcissistic and borderline personalities.

I think we all split though, to some extent, especially when under severe stress, etc.

And more generally speaking we're all splitters (existence or non existence) until we enter the stream, so maybe we can classify what the psychologists label "splitting" as a species of Eternalism and Annihaliationism :tongue:
The best description that I've come across in Buddhist terms that describe stress and other disturbances is Punnaji's beginning description of the path. He calls this disturbance, emotional reactivity. It is described as citta, the unconscious reactions of the 'animal' parts of our brain, the amygdala, that involve unconscious fear and survival activities along with all the other disturbances we develop. The job of the beginning stages of practice is to make these emotional reactions conscious by using mano, the thinking and reasoning part of our brain, the neo-cortex. He calls this Selective Thinking. We change the orientation of our emotional state to one of Dhamma, this being Samma Ditthi, Right View. Mano is the part of the brain that can 'control' these unconscious reactions from influencing our overall state of mind. This is the same theory that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy uses but Punnaji insists the Buddha discovered this 2500 years ago! and is built into the 8 Fold Path. The neo-cortex is said to grow and begin to override the amygdala's responses leading to harmony and tranquility, 'entering the stream'. Then the deeper stages of practice can unfold once the emotional reactivity has been calmed.

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