Mental Disorders and the Limbic-Cortical Theory of Consciousness

Egbert Haynes
Mental Disorders and the Limbic-Cortical Theory of Consciousness

No theory of consciousness can exist independently of the reality of human nature; your standards must go hand in hand with the experience of living a human life.

Our understanding of the brain and nervous system comes largely from knowledge derived from mental illness and disease. Neuroscience in this sense is certainly interesting, but it is often applied in a narrow and dogmatic way, too rigid to be of any use in developing a theory of consciousness..

The influence of psychopharmacology largely establishes the belief that neurotransmitters and brain chemistry are the undisputed basis of consciousness and psychiatry, a profitable and therefore highly questionable construct. But a true theory of consciousness must take into account much more than just neurotransmitters and brain chemistry; must take into account human nature, how it manifests itself in the brain and body, how it is developed and organized, and how everything evolved.

More and more research studies show that many mental disorders listed in DSM5 could be successfully treated by intentionally deactivating problematic limbic circuits in our brain. To understand this process we have to consider how the limbic-cortical processes develop in our brain.

It is believed that in the limbic system the organization of consciousness is generated.

The development of consciousness

According to the limbic-cortical theory, the development of consciousness begins to be generated in very early stages of life. Its first genesis occurs in infants, once they reach around six weeks of age, at which point the limbic-cortical system is mature enough to create a senseless sense of "being", like a formless self. . The first mapping of the experience begins while the baby is still in the womb, when the limbic cortex is forming, and continues as the child interacts with the maternal environment..

As the baby grows into a small child, it absorbs enormous amounts of information from its environment like a "sponge", information with which the limbic cortex creates a "map" based on experiences and creating a definite sense of " me "and the" others ". This concept becomes more and more orderly, until it reaches the symbolic stage, or consciousness, which is a representation with images in the mind, a creation of the child's imagination. Thus arises the child's first true sense of himself.

This image of himself is in continuous construction, modifying and evolving during childhood and adolescence through the already established limbic-cortical brain maps, which govern through the fairly automatic processing of through the entire cerebral cortex, guiding the child through life. Consciousness, therefore, is not located in a specific region of the cortex, but can be seen as a product of the entire system. Each part of the crust serves this mission of the whole, rather than existing on its own.

This is why abuse during these formative years can, and does, mark a person's self-concept for the rest of their life. When the brain is overstimulated, serotonin stores are depleted, leading to dysfunctional attempts at coping that, over time, can be linked to a mental disorder.

Application of the limbic-cortical theory of consciousness to treat mental disorders

The hope for people with mental illness lies in the fact that these learned cortical assignments can actually be changed. Problematic circuits can be "deactivated" for lack of use, and more functional circuits can be activated in their place, built through new and better experiences..

This change begins through a grieving process, in which the old circuits begin to fade in the limbic system, and new strategies are created with the help of a conscious change..

Much of psychotherapy is based on this process, on the main idea that new brain circuits and connections can be created thanks to new experiences and knowledge, which replace the old, dysfunctional and painful ones..

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