Tom Jonard's Psycho-Neural Identity PagePsycho-Neural Identity is the term that identifies the currently most accepted theory of the mind -- that the brain is the organ of the mind and the mind is a part of the brain. The evidence for this theory is straight forward:
When we say that the above observations are replicable we mean that the same effect is seen in all persons under the same conditions.
- Damage to specific parts of the brain (due to trauma or stroke) results in the loss of specific mental functions in a replicable way.
- Stimulating specific parts of the brain results in specific mental and motor responses in a replicable way.
- Non-invasive monitoring of brain function shows that specific mental functions result in specific brain activity in a replicable way.
- Specific drugs have been shown to be effective in modifying specific mental functions in a replicable way.
Furthermore since the functions mapped in this way are distributed throughout the organ of the brain so must be the mind. Philosopher's starting with Descartes speculated that the mind might interface with or be located in a specific substructure of the brain. Clearly they were wrong. They were led to think this because the mind is so much different from the brain that it hardly seems one could be the other. That the numinous realm of thinking and feeling can be reduced to the chemical reactions of the organic brain is a most astounding idea. (In his 1994 book of the same name Francis Crick, co-explicator of DNA, calls this the Astonishing Hypothesis.)
Adding to our confusion is the common perception that we are somewhere in our heads. This perception is probably due to the fact that four of our five sense organs and our mouths are located there. Most importantly we look out of our heads to see. But we know from neurological evidence that there are other sensations of time and space that are subtle and therefore little noticed that when damaged reduce in important ways our sense of self. We are not just heads on top of bodies any more than we are minds moving around our environment inside of bodily mechanisms.
The mind and the body are a whole package of which one cannot exist without the other. This insight leads us to abandon all the ways in which we have sought to detach our minds and bodies. Treatment of illness cannot simply be a process of mechanical repair of the body ignoring the uncertainty, fear and expectation that holds the mind. Neither can we any longer ignore that the mind can create real physical illness where no pathogen or trauma occurs. But most importantly the mythology that we are somehow either one or the other -- either mind or body -- can no longer be held. Neither materialism or its opposite (for which there are many candidates) does justice to the whole that we are.
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Created August 27, 2002,
© 2002, Thomas A. Jonard