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A READER'S JOURNAL
The Strange, Familiar, and Forgotten
An Anatomy of Consciousness
Published by Alfred A. Knopf/NY in 1992
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2000
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In the front of the book is a striking quotation from Octave Uzanne from Les Modes de Paris, 1898:
Une mode ancienne demeure une curiosité; une mode passée depuis peu devient un ridicule; unde mode régnante qu'anime la vie nous semble la grâce même. In English this translates to: "An old fashion remains a curiosity; a fashion but late gone by becomes an absurdity; a reigning fashion, full of life, strikes us as the very personification of grace."
And what about a brand new fashion? It is ridiculed until it becomes the reigning fashion, and thus life goes on. The formerly reigning fashion becomes the late fashion, the late fashion the old fashion, and no one pays much attention to the absurdity of the transitions they accept so readily, up until now. In Paradigms and Barriers by Howard Margolis we learned to call the reigning fashion in science a "paradigm." In the annals of science we find the very new or the late and old fashions ridiculed like nowhere else, except perhaps in the field of women's fashions. These thoughts of fashions and paradigms have been on my mind a lot as I ponder the nascent science of doyletics , which may one day become the reigning fashion of science alongside its sister science, genetics.
Israel Rosenfield, in this fine book, has brought together ideas that point us to the need for a new fashion in thinking about thinking. He claims on page 3 that for too long we have studied theunconscious and ignored the conscious in psychology, that we have listened to people talk about their memories as if they were pulling them from a storehouse to display for us.
[page 3] But this was to ignore the possibility that memories were in fact part of the very structure of consciousness: not only can there be no such thing as a memory without there being consciousness, but consciousness and memory are in a certain sense inseparable, and understanding one requires understanding the other.
In the long tradition of medical science, researchers have oft looked to the salient properties of the abnormal in humans to cast light on the functioning of normal humans that is otherwise invisible because we are so used to its operation as to be blinded to it. For example, Broca and Wernicke found the areas of the brain that provide motor word images (Broca's area) and auditory word images (Wernicke's area) by examining the brains of people who were either unable to talk or unable to understand words. It is with much gratitude that I study Rosenfield's work with the "strange, familiar, and forgotten" aspects of humans because his study casts much light on the new science of doyletics, and vice versa.
In the above quote he says that there can be "no such thing as a memory without there being consciousness." This is true so far as it goes, but doyletics shows us that doyles are a form of memory without consciousness. Doyles are physical body states stored before one reaches the age of five years old, and they are re-created whenever an associated stimulus is triggered for the remainder of the person's life. When these doyles are re-created, the person is not aware of the doyle's occurrence, but experiences the effect of the doyle as if it were a natural consequence of what is happening in the world at the moment! Thus the person is unconscious of the doyle at the level of cognition while intensely, at times, conscious of the effects of the doyle.
To make this more concrete, assume a woman has acrophobia and approaches the ledge of a high porch. As soon as she notices the height of the porch and the nearness of the edge, she moves away from the edge, fully aware of the increasing heart-rate and respiration rate, etc, that she experiences as acrophobia, but completely unconscious of the cognitive content of the memory that the doyle is giving her. During a doyle trace, she stays near the edge enough to keep the doyle active, goes back in time to before five years old until the doyle disappears. At this point, the theory of doyletics says that the doyle or physical body state has been changed into a cognitive memory. If she asks herself, "What's a plausible that could have happened to me at the age the doyle went away?" she will likely receive a dim image or sounds that will represent what happened to her at age two, let's say. What she'll get is a cognitive memory of the event that was stored as a doyle at age 2, the very cognitive memory that was created by her brain during the trace, when, for the first time in her life, she went before the time of the original event with the doyle present and with full cognitive memory capability in her brain. That full cognitive memory capability began about five years old. Before five all events were stored as doyles; after five all events were stored as cognitive memories. A doyle trace converts doyles to cognitive memories. Thereafter the doyles, those unwanted physical body states of increased heartbeat and respiration, never return, instead the newly stored cognitive memory is presented to her brain, which she may access in consciousness if she wishes.
I must wholeheartedly agree with Rosenfield when he says:
[page 3-4] Indeed, the more we learn about the complex structure of consciousness, the more we are forced to abandon many received ideas about memory and the nature of thought and action. A reexamination of the neurological evidence gives us powerful reasons, I believe, to address one of the most interesting - and long-neglected - question we can ask about ourselves: What is the nature and structure of our consciousness? . . . human memory may be unlike anything we have thus far imagined or successfully built a model for. And consciousness may be the reason why.
What makes Rosenfield's work in this book so important is that he recognizes consciousness at a deeper level than many others have and thereby provides the basis for a new model of consciousness that builds on what we already know and carries us further than we had ever thought to go, up until now. It is as though he looks deeply into consciousness and memory and finds a common root from which they both spring.
[page 8-9] Traditionally, neurologists and psychologists have argued that in the classic cases, the disease or trauma in the brain destroyed specific memories, or limited certain of the patient's capabilities. This book challenges that view; for it is not possible to lose specific memories without profound alterations in the entire structure of an individual's knowledge. I shall argue, rather, that the clinical studies reveal these profound alterations in the patients' consciousness. If we study the neurological cases in light of that hypothesis . . . what emerges . . . is a richer, deeper understanding of human psychology and its origins in the mechanisms of the brain.
Rosenfield's view of the parallel importance of both consciousness and memory puts him at odds with other contemporary psychologists who are apt to claim, e.g., such as the one he quotes on page 9, that ". . . it is already clear that the role of consciousness in mental life is very small, almost frighteningly so." The case is similar with memory - led astray by a long history of mechanical models for the brain, psychologists are apt to consider memory as the recording of a trace or image somewhere in the brain, and many persist in that belief to this day in spite of long years of searching for an "engram" or memory trace in the brain without success. When we alter our perspective to match Rosenfield's, a new panorama of possibilities unfold before our eyes.
[page 18] . . . memory is an integral part of each mental faculty, and its very nature differs from faculty to faculty; memory is not a recording of an "image" or a "trace" but part of the process of knowing and understanding, which differs in each faculty or mental organ.
In doyletics, we recognize two distinct types or processes of memory: doylic memory and cognitive memory. Each one operates as an independent process, but works in synchronism with the other. Remember the famous PBS series Upstairs, Downstairs? Imagine that the neocortex is upstairs and the limbic system is downstairs. Note that these are both structures, physical things - they provide the possibility of movement, storage, and coordination. A bell is rung upstairs and movement happens downstairs to send a messenger upstairs. There is a dumb waiter that provides instant transport of goods from downstairs to upstairs. In other words, two portions of a smoothly running operation with particularization of functions and processes in each, but always and every way possible, they are coordinated and always running in parallel to each other. Doylic memory is the downstairs process supported primarily by the limbic system and hypothalamus; cognitive memory is the upstairs process supported primarily by the neocortex and other recently evolved brain structures and processes.
Imagine a stimulus arrives at the eyes, it is transmitted both to the limbic system and to the neocortex. The limbic system does a very fast pattern recognition in the amygdalas, find a match, and activates the hypothalamus which triggers an immediate response by the parasympathetic nervous system, increasing heart rate and respiration. While all that is happening the signal that went to the neocortex is still being processed. Suppose the stimulus was a fleeting dark shadow on the wall of an alley at night. One's heart begins pumping while waiting patiently for a response from the command center as to what action to take. Finally, milliseconds later, the neocortex sends its report, "It's a cat." The limbic system sees the internalized picture of a harmless alley cat and signals the hypothalamus to react appropriately to a cat, which it does by returning the heart rate and respiration to normal. In our upstairs, downstairs metaphor, this might be equivalent to a fire alarm ringing from upstairs causing all the servants to rush upstairs to put out a fire and when they get there, they discover the ashtray fire has already been doused.
In the previous paragraph I discussed a salient example of the operation of the two nested systems that comprise our memory and consciousness system. In this example we imagined a threat from the outside and went through the operation of the system noting how each of the upstairs/downstairs components worked together to a resolution. What I would like you to imagine now is not some emergency response, but the normal everyday operation of this same system on a second to second basis: there is still the delegation of functions between the upstairs and downstairs teams producing a smooth operation which constantly requires coordination between the upstairs and the downstairs. There must be signaling, flow of goods, storage, activations and de-activations at all levels. From this metaphor we can get a glimpse of what I call a stream of doylic and cognitive memories that flow between the two levels. This stream may comprise signals, the flow of glandular juices, the storage of cognitive memories, and the activation of the nervous system and its subsequent deactivation. One doyle can be linked to another doyle in time and thence to another and another indefinitely. Each doyle in sequence can activate a cognitive memory which can then activate one or more cognitive memories and each of the cognitive memories have the possibility of activating one or more doyles. From this complex stream of doylic and cognitive memories, our very consciousness evolves on a second to second basis.
How do we discover the operation of such a smoothly operating system? I remember my first used car that I bought for $50, a 1949 Plymouth — it never ran smoothly for very long, so I learned a lot about the operation of cars in a very short time. Unless a system breaks, either on its own or by artifice on our parts, we can learn but little about it. It was such a broken system in aphasics that led Carl Wernicke to pinpoint a portion of the upstairs brain system that provides the system for understanding speech. He had patients that could speak without difficulty but were unable to understand when someone else spoke. This portion of the brain is called, in his honor, "Wernicke's area." What about folks on the other side of the coin, the ones that could not speak correctly, but could understand speech? Another pioneer, Paul Broca, discovered an area adjacent to Wernicke's area responsible for providing the necessary motor word images required to speak correctly. This is known today as "Broca's area". Wernicke thought of memories as simply stored "images," and this is common of many researchers of memory and consciousness, up until now. Rosenfield provides a sharp rebuke to them in the hopes of pointing them to a more productive view of memory and consciousness as an integrated tandem:
[page 21] And while they often say that conscious memories may be "distorted" or incomplete forms of their unconscious counterparts, they fail to recognize that the notion of a distorted memory makes sense only if one has a coherent account of the nature of consciousness.
Kurt Goldstein, who held an anticlassical view pointed out the case of a man with a lesion of the frontal lobe who is unable to perform a simple addition problem in arithmetic, and when asked to do so, "looks dazed, changes color, becomes agitated, anxious, starts to fumble," etc. Goldstein said:
[page 26] One might infer . . . that the patient's reaction as a whole is simply his reaction to his experiencing adequacy or inadequacy, respectively, to the task.But the fact that the reaction complex does not follow the performance or nonperformance, but occurs simultaneously with it, speaks against such an explanation. A further argument against it is that often the patients have no idea why they have been agitated, angry, or resistant.
In the next example of Goldstein's that Rosenfield looks at on pages 27 and 28, a patient of Goldstein's was unable to understand the name "red" as it applied to a category of shades of colors, but was able to group the same shades of colors into the grouping of red shades.
[page 28] Classical neurology could not explain how these categories, which are not innate or predetermined before birth, might have been created by the brain.
In doyletics terms, this can be explained thus: one has a stream of doyles that circulates when one sees a red color of any shade and that stream of doyles (downstairs) is connected intimately with the flow of cognitive memories (upstairs) and the result is strong vote from both upstairs and downstairs that this is the color we call "red." If either the upstairs or downstairs voting capability is disabled, we have a confusion as to the otherwise unambiguous category of red. Another neurological problem that can be understood better in doyletics terms is "Tourette's syndrome" in which a series of tics, gesticulations, imitations, and other repetitive body movements (i.e., doyles) are a necessary concomitant to both understanding and expression. It is as if in the case of Tourette's syndrome, the stream of doyles are made visible as the person tries to understand the world and communicate with it.
With our understanding of doyletics, what might we predict would happen if a person were to have a defect in her limbic region so that no stored doyles were ever retrieved, but her real-time sensory apparatus was fully functional? If the stream of doyles is an integral part of what we call our body image or sense of body, then she would not feel alive, and would have to have a constant stream of real-time stimuli impinging on her body in order to feel alive. In the work of the French neurologists G. Deny and P. Camus we find a report of exactly such case from 1905 in the case of Madame I. Rosenfield says, "Her illness began with a period of mental confusion. She became forgetful, wandered about, and undressed herself in the middle of the street. On several occasions she attempted suicide. When her state of confusion passed, Madame I described what she called her general insensibility":
[page 39] I'm no longer aware of myself as I used to be. I can no longer feel my arms, my legs, my head, and my hair. I have to touch myself constantly in order to know how I am. I have the feeling that my entire body is changed, even at times that it no longer exists. I touch an object, but it is not I who am touching it. I no longer feel as I used to. I cannot find myself. I cannot imagine myself. My insensibility is frightening, as if everything were empty.We learn that Madame I's "taste and smell were gone; she was never hungry: voices and the sounds of the street were no longer the same. Things looked different":
[page 39-40] The world appears changed to me. People and things appear like phantoms, as if they are not real. I recognize them, but they no longer seem the same. When my husband and children come to visit me, they don't appear to be as real as they once were. I recognize them, but seeing them doesn't give me any pleasure. I don't experience anything, I am insensitive to everything. It is terrible to be like this. I don't love anyone, and I can't even love myself. Life means nothing to me. I'd rather die.
In addition she said, "I can imagine neither my parents, nor the interior of my house, nor other places that I know well. I have forgotten the tastes of food, the odor of flowers, and the voices of my children. Sensations never remain with me, and I can never I recall them." Rosenfield tells us on page 40: "Physically her head often felt heavy and her throat tight. She had difficulty in breathing and was often thirsty, 'but after drinking I don't feel that I have had anything to drink.' None of this troubled her; it was her 'insensibility' that made her suffer and complain. Deny and Camus wrote:"
[page 40] Though she is profoundly handicapped by her state, Madame I is perfectly clearheaded. She tries to analyze her problems without wild interpretations or hysterical ideas. At moments when she is not dominated by her anxiety, she helps other patients, reads, and sews. But most of the time she tries to recover her lost sensibility. And her complaint is always the same: "I don't feel and see myself as I used to; when I speak I no longer hear the sound of my own voice. I don't feel that I am doing things. I no longer have the desire to eat, for I seem to be incapable of feeling hungry. I am insensitive everywhere; it is as if I were dead."Here's the key part as far as doyletics is concerned, as written by Rosenfield on page 40, "Physical examination revealed that Madame I had normal sensitivity to touch, that she could distinguish hot from cold, that she could identify objects by touch with her eyes closed. Her sense of smell and taste were normal, and her vision was slightly disturbed only in judging distance." Her sense of smell and taste were normal, but she reported above that she had "forgotten the tastes of food, the odor of flowers, and the voices of my children" and more importantly, that "Sensations never remain with me, and I can never I recall them." What does it mean to be unable to recall a sensation, but that the stream of doyles in our "downstairs" system is broken? From a doyletics point of understanding Madame I's syndrome, one would be led to suspect a lesion in her limbic region, and indeed a footnote on page 45 suggests exactly that. Rosenfield tells us more about her, "What was not normal was her failure to recognize the position of her arms and legs, and her complete insensitivity to pain. When her skin was pierced with a needle, she showed no signs of discomfort, though the sight of a cauterizing instrument frightened her. Deny and Camus ended their account with these words:"
[page 41] Since her admission, the patient has remained in the same state. Constantly she says that she cannot feel the different parts of her body, that she does not have the same sense of her surroundings as in the past, and that she is incapable of normal recall of the images that are stored in her memory. She claims that she is lost, that her disease is incurable and she will never get better; she accepts neither treatment nor consolation.Finally Rosenfield summarizes his case by saying, "Madame I's case shows, I believe, that there are no memories without a sense of self. Without knowledge of one's own being, one can have no recollections." Clearly the stream of doyles underlies what we come to know as our most intimate being, our body image, our sense of self as stored and re-created in the moment by our unique stream of doyles as stored idiosyncratically in each of us as we grew to the age of five years old. As we read the passage below, it should be clear that when we say "the brain knows something unconsciously" we are referring to information coming from the doylic or downstairs system, and when we say "the brain knows something consciously" we are referring to information from the upstairs or cognitive system of memory.
[page 44] How can one know a sensation is missing if it is not "transmitted" or is suppressed? What is the brain's frame of reference that creates such doubts? Deny and Camus imply that the brain both knows (unconsciously) and yet does not know (consciously), and because of the ambiguity, one doubts the existence of one's body or of another person.
Madame I can be understood to lack a body image because of a lesion in her limbic system which, by disabling her doylic memory stream, prevented her from creating the "expansive present" in which the rest of us live and consider as normal. Examine the next two quotes. In the first, you'll find that the perception of one's body image is a relational one, always being referenced to some immediately previous body image which suggests that body image is a result of a stream of body states (doyles) immediately prior to the current time. In the second the author suggests that the body image is required to create a richness in our perceptual world, which Madame I lacked and bemoaned the lack of.
[page 47] Perception of an immediate sensation is possible only in relation to a preceding one, and the latter, too, makes sense only in relation to earlier ones, and so on ad infinitum.In the case of "alien limbs" where one leg is paralyzed, seeing is often not enough to be convinced that the leg is there. This creates a paradoxical relationship to the leg that Sacks explains so cogently in his book, A Leg To Stand On. Here is a neuropathologist with a damaged leg who is experiencing this directly rather than hearing it reported from a patient. In Sack's account of his recovery we follow his trials and dilemmas as his direct sense of self is minus a leg, but his conscious mind can see the leg which all his other senses tell him is not there. In the experiment that Richard Gregory designed we can each realize the paradox that occurs when our senses belie our direct experience. He constructed a special cube whose near face appeared to be the far face. When asked to rotate the cube, one is exposed to either of two possibilities: the cube appears to distort itself upon rotation or "the object remains a cube but one's wrist feels as though it were breaking." (page 62) This leads Rosenfield to proclaim, "Self-reference is ever-present." More evidence comes to us from a study of "Korsakov's Syndrome" in which short-term memories disappear while long-term memories remain. Patients complain, "I haven't felt alive for a very long time." (page 73) H.M. had his hippocampus removed from his brain and lost most of his short-term memory. This led to an investigation of the role of the hippocampus in short-term memory, but Rosenfield has us re-assess the matter in light of his hypothesis of the importance of body-image to memory, especially short-term memory.
[page 49] The qualitative richness of each person's perceptual world is created by the dynamic qualities of his or her body image; without it there would be no world that anyone could know.[page 71-72] What might be a more accurate assessment of the importance of the hippocampus in determining our notions of self? The hippocampus is closely linked anatomically to parts of the brain that regulate the body's internal mechanisms such as heartbeat, digestion, and respiration; one might then quite plausibly argue that injury to the hippocampus, in destroying the relation between external and internal stimuli, destroys the ability to create a "memory" that will have a meaningful relation to self.Destroying the relation between external stimuli (immediate perceptual data impinging on the sensory apparatus) and internal stimuli (physical body states re-capitulated by the limbic system, i.e., doyles) clearly leads to a loss of body image and sense of self. This occurs when the communication between upstairs and downstairs is severed, i.e., when the cognitive and doylic streams are disconnected from each other. Henri Baud who had a similar loss of short-term memory, when asked when he had last seen his girl friend, would always say, "Last Saturday," even though he had not been out of the hospital for thirteen years. His immediate body sense told him "last Saturday" and it was never updated. This indicates that our stream of doyles have something to do with our sense of time. When Henri ate, he could taste the immediate taste of the food, but was otherwise completely indifferent to it and twenty seconds later could not recall eating it. Without the stream of doyles activated by the eating of a food, it seems that we would lack the ability to even recall or talk about the eating of it. We have seen how it is possible to remove food dislikes over one's life by doing unconscious doyle traces or remove a food dislike in minutes via a doyle trace, but that is removing only the salient and unwanted features of our body's response to the food. Henri had lost all the features of his body's doylic response to every kind of food while maintaining a sensory apparatus that could tell, for instance, that the instantaneous taste of aloes is bitter. (page 74) In further work it was shown that it was the limbic system that correlated the external and internal states, which correlation is necessary to have a normal body image or sense of self.
[page 86] In fact, it has been found that whenever a person is remembering, there is activity in the limbic system. It may be that the limbic system is essential for establishing the correlations between body image and external stimuli that are the basis of consciousness.In Rosenfield's chapter on language, there is information on children who grow up without adults around. They learn to gesticulate and babble and eventually generate a form of gestural language out of their babbling, similar to what Nell did in the eponymic movie of the 1990's. Rosenfield argues from this point that Noam Chomsky is wrong about the existence of innate grammars in humans, but he raises a question about why in the second generation of such children that a true grammatical language with symbols evolves. He asks the question, but never answers it, only states it as a fact and drops it there. With the knowledge of how doyles, stabilized physical body states such as those of gestures, are stored before five years old, we can hazard an answer to second generation question. In the first generation of children growing up alone without adult supervision, they have no doyles of the language that they will evolve as they grow up, because the major gestural and babbling components of the language will not be in place before they reach five. In the second generation, children will have access to the gestures and spoken language as soon as they are born, and will store these as doyles or automatic operations of their limbs and vocal apparatus. Given the enormous efficiency of stored doyles of gestures and vocalizations, the second generation will be able to tackle the difficult task of creating a language with symbols to represent the gestures and vocalizations. Thus doyletics provides an answer to this otherwise unanswered question of Rosenfield. In the next passage Rosenfield provides us with more hard evidence for the existence of doylic memory - the storage of physical body states by the limbic system.[page 123 footnote] Much has been written about patients who appear to have "knowledge without awareness." Individuals, for example, with a disorder known as prosopagnosia are unable to recognize the familiar faces of people such as their own family and friends. Nonetheless, some of these patients had galvanic skin responses when shown photographs of family and friends whom they other wise could not identify. . .The presence of a galvanic skin response indicates that some activation is occurring from limbic region of the brain, in other words, a doyle is being triggered. At the same time, the patients have no conscious recognition of these same people. This indicates that the stream of doyles is still present, but the stream of cognition is empty of responses. The use of galvanic skin response to measure the existence of unconscious responses to thoughts is a technique used to "clear" people of these unwanted reactions by Scientology. What is happening during a clearing session is an unconscious doyle trace is being performed, but rather than a simple one-time through speed trace, the person is presented the stimuli and the evidence of the response over and over until finally they succeed in removing it. A simple speed trace removes the need for the galvanometer, the need to have another person monitoring the instrument, and the need for the repetition. Unwanted doyles can be removed by a speed trace -- a simple and quick one-pass operation that anyone from age five on up can learn.
The strange, familiar, and forgotten all have stories to tell us about how we are constructed as human being if we will only pay attention. Rosenfield makes it easy for us to notice them by compiling them in this one volume and providing us with a non-traditional and insightful way of viewing by means of his hypothesis of a body image or sense of self.
Any questions about this review, Contact: Bobby Matherne
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