Friday, November 27, 2015

choose NOT to waste life in an ill-fitting and uncomfortable suit...,

Body and Mature Behavior  |  In all neurotic states we find anxiety, nausea, giddiness, museular tension, digestive and breathing troubles and sexual disorders of some sort. So long as there is no improvement in these troubles there is no improvement in the general state and vice-versa. Muscular tension and anxiety are invariably so closely interwoven in all states of emotional disorder that it is difficult to'see how any real advancement towards clearer understanding of the nature of cures is possible without greater knowledge of the phenomenon of anxiety.

A number of facts must be brought together to give at least a direction for constructive thought. Lesions destroying exactly the same areas in two adult brains do not cause the same symptoms. The life experience of the brain is in some way written in the cortex. "Even in the excitable motor cortex (Sir Charles P • .symonds, President of the Royal Society of Psychiatry), where functional patterns are relatively stable, it is evident that response depends on individual experience. Whether extension or flexion will take place in a digit depends on what has just happened, not only at this point of the cortex but in the sensory cortex behind it." Emotional tensions affect the cortex via the vegetative nervous system. All neurotic symptoms are intimately connected with and express themselves by affecting the relationship of the person to other persons or society in general.

It is of the greatest importance to be quite clear on what is amenable to human influence. If behaviour means all response to stimulus, we must distinguish between reflex responses which are by definition outside human influence, and those, formed under the influence of environment after birth, which are likely to be influenced by change of environment a priori.

A reflex activity is a biological inheritance generally common to a whole group of animals and it is essentially immaterial whether the individual has had any previous experience or not, since the first stimulus will elicit the same response as the second. Subject to the laws governing fatigue of the nervous cell and some other laws, the response is elicited every time the irritation occurs. Such inheritance is genetic, i.e., handed down to each individual through the genes of the species, and we can do little to alter it unless we can modify the genes of the species. If we could modify the genes we would obtain a new species in which the modified genes would be perpetuated in all subsequent generations. Any behaviour that is not handed down to subsequent generations in accordance with the general laws of inheritance is not ofa genetic character, and is therefore an acquired response or an acquired behaviour. It follows that human behaviour is so essentially acquired that some of our most cherished beliefs unquestionably need revision.

Acquired behaviour is the result of interaction of the genetic entity with its environment. Thus it seems legitimate to assert that, provided the environment can be altered, the acquired behaviour would undergo change. In other words, all characteristic be .. haviour that does not obey the laws of inheritance is amenable to environmental influence.

The conclusion just reached is rich in consequences, especially if we consider genetic inheritance to embrace complex as well as simple reflexes. For complex sequences or a simultaneous combi .. nation of simple reflexes is the physiologist'S definition of an instinct.

This important conclusion results then, that true instinctive behaviour alone is impervious to experience and environment. More precisely, only those responses that cannot be elicited after an alteration in the nervous paths concerned are instinctive; all other behaviour is acquired and has nothing permanent about it but our belief that it is so.

It is in this connection that the study offunction and structure relations appears in its full significance. In every case where the actual use made of the body can be shown to account for the physical structure, it becomes certain that the particular shape of the structure, though it may be similar to that of the parent, is still amenable to human influence.

This approach makes it imperative that answers to many problems will have to be revised in the light of better knowledge of the functioning of the nervous system.
The revision of all human behaviour in the light of our conclusions is beyond the scope of this book, or anyone book for that matter. We will, however, treat some important particular instances fairly exhaustively.

Modern psychology is well aware of the importance of environment in the final make-up or personality, but its approach is timid and piecemeal. Some workers stress the importance of one group of conditions, some of another. Thus the Freudian school established that neuroses and psychoses are due to conflicts arising in the mind in the process of adjustment; but psychoanalysis accepted implicitly the existing laws of society, religion and family as sacrosanct. Every individual must accept these whether he wants to or not, ifhe is to be normal.

The possibility of the fault being in the very conditions to which the individual is called to adjust himself might have been faintly understood but was never expressed. It was, and with many analysts still is, the rule that the patient's marital and other relations of social origin are not to be manipulated by the therapist. His job was to make the patient accept what Tom, Dick and Harry do.

However, the rapid development of analysis showed that Tom, Dick and Harry do not accept, what the patient is induced to accept, with such unreserved completeness as the layman thinks ; that neuroses of all degrees of gravity are, in fact, widespread in all layers of society; it thus became more and more difficult to expect the patient to succeed where so many fail.

The obvious way out was to attack the immutability of the social laws, habits and traditions themselves. The attack shifted from sexual conflicts to those arising from family conditions, and at present the full weight of attack is thrown against the beliefs, traditions and economic conditions which are the foundation of our society.

Every such attack has met great antagonism, the bitterest fight being put up by the protagonists of the established school who cling to their teachings with the same tenacity as the public to their traditions.

It is hard to deny that the traditional foundations of our social structure need thorough revision. No objective observer, free of prejudice, will argue against the necessity of radical changes. Some will prefer gradual adjustment, some drastic change, but change there will be. Indeed change is 'already being effected. In such changes lies hope for a better future. A social structure in which economic and marital conditions are devised to mini~ mise and perhaps eliminate the greater difficulties of adjustments, should in time reduce the present increasing number of malad~ justments and mental conflicts.

Yet there is no room for complacency. The fact that antagonism to revision of old notions is as strong among analysts as among laymen shows that either the analysis they undergo is not carried far enough, or that analysis cannot completely eradicate bad habits.

While expecting hopefully that the environment will be changed by our collective efforts, we must also make sure that everything amenable to human influence in each individual is used to facilitate adaptation. This will not only eliminate much misery in the present generation but will also give a better chance to the next.

In anticipation of our conclusions it may be said at once that we do tolerate certain limitations, physical and mental, just because we do not know that they are amenable to our influence. The results of faulty habits are called character or chronic diseases which, as their name suggests, are incurable. And improper use of oneself is explained as unfortunate inheritance or permanent deformation. Degeneration of the human species is so often in~ voked as confirmation of the futility of all endeavour to improve, that it seems proper to see what truth there is in it.