The Neuropsychology of CRP, Dreams, & REM
P300 Waves & PGO Spikes in Consciousness Restructuring
by Iona Miller, Graywolf Swinney, and John Penkert
Asklepia Foundation, ©2001
Abstract: This paper describes a grant solicitation where a protocol for detection of P300 MERMERS and PGO wave-generation during Consciousness Restructuring sessions is outlined. MERMERS indicate a psychological significance of the stimuli to the subject, whether that object is physical or imaginal. They may help us objectively document psychological shifts in internal states during therapy which lead toward spontaneous healing.
During dreams PGO activity is interpreted by the brain as sensory stimulation. Through self- organizing dynamics, coherent dream experiences emerge from the influence of apparently unpatterned PGO stimulation. When the dreaming brain is free of external sensory patterns of neural excitation, it is subject to even subtle influences. PGO waves provide perturbation that keeps the dream narrative in motion, that produces bifurcations in attractor patterns, and leads to abrupt alterations in dream experiences. Likewise PGO spikes may signal the bifurcations and content changes seen in consciousness journeys. PGO stimulation may be related to plot shifts during REM, and this is subject to potential verification with 128 channel EEG.
Keywords: self-organization, complex adapative systems, PGO waves, P300 waves, spontaneous endogenous activity, endogenous evoked potentials, sleep, REM, chaos theory, psychotherapy, perception, dream, dream work, experiential therapy, EEG, placebo, neurofeedback, neural feedback, perceptual synergetics, Consciousness Restructuring Process (CRP),
In the prevailing medical model, nearly all research on the brain is in the language of neurotransmitters and psychotropic drugs, and not in that of frequency or of mental exercise or restructuring. This has been the prevailing conceptual framework. But there is much to learn about the generation of our complex internal states from the frequency domain. This is the process by which that which matters to us psychologically is transformed in the very matter of our psychophysical self: what matters materializes.
Treating individuals with drugs can short-circuit the important process of recognizing, comprehending, and coming to grips with their psychological state. Both experiential and neurofeedback therapies provide access to internal processes, often in ways we do not fully understand, which somehow allows us to regulate them. The use of high technology in a medical setting has a high placebo effect, but can also help train an individual, for example, to increase blood flow into the brain. Blood flow, metabolism, and high frequency electrical activity all work together. Increased blood flow alone may help the brain reset itself in a normal range.
Electroencephalography (EEG) records minute, fluctuating potential differences between electrodes placed on the skull. This measure of frequency is relatively crude, but allows us a window into the excitability of the brain. If the neural substrate is intact, it can be retrained, and this is the basis of brainwave feedback and a healing channel for experiential therapy.
Electrodes are placed on the scalp in an ordered array. Signals from the brain are amplified allowing the microvolt-level potential differences to be detected. The resolution of EEG is quite low, since the brain is about 1 cm from the surface of the scalp. The major distinctions of EEG include alpha, beta, theta, and delta activity.
EEG is a measurement in the realm of frequency. The EEG machine is a neural amplifier. Frequency is the rate at which electrical charges move through brain cells. The four basic frequency ranges discriminate levels of arousal or excitability within the brain. In delta, the sleep state, signals are moving through clusters of neurons very slowly, just four cycles per second, or hertz (Hz). Just above that is theta, around 4 to 8 Hz, a deeply relaxed state. Next is alpha, a slightly less relaxed state, at 8 to 13 Hz.
The most rapid brain waves are beta, and they reflect normal waking consciousness. Beta can be further classed as low beta, a relaxed but alert state of 12 to 15 Hz, to mid-range beta, around 15 to 19 Hz, up to an excited, hyper state of high-beta, which can range to 35 Hz.
Researchers believe that many disorders are associated with the brain’s underarousal or overarousal. If operating speed is either too high or too low, the brain needs to be stabilized, rendered more robust, so that it does not overreact toward hypo- or hyper-arousal. Stability and arousal are the two important parameters.
Optimal idling speed is around 14 Hz. Activity lower than that (8-13 Hz) can cause an individual to feel tired and seek stimulants or stimulation, and is implicated in depression, ADD, and mild dissociative disorder. Depression is linked to underproduction of beta rhythms. Overarousal, an inability to unwind, may lead to drinking or drug taking to modulate arousal level.
Anxiety attacks, hypervigilance, stress, and obsessive behavior are symptomatic of overarousal. Sensory motor rhythm (SMR) is a beta wave in the 12 to 15 Hz range of the EEG spectrum. It has been theorized that alcoholics drink because they cannot get into alpha states naturally and therefore cannot produce self-soothing neurotransmitters on their own.
While PET and MRI are recorded over extended periods of time, EEG can detect and record the rapid changes in potential that occur in the active brain with millisecond temporal resolution. EEG can determine the time course of brain activation following a particular stimulus, faster than PET or MRI analysis.
Data obtained over a particular time frame allows us to “follow” the processing of incoming information, as well as our brain’s response to this information. Changes in brain activity can also be observed during sleep. Sleep spindles are transient cortiocothalamic potential oscillations recorded as EEG transients within the 9-15 Hz band during sleep. Many neurons in the cortex and thalamus synchronize during certain stages of sleep. Nobody knows why they do it.
In the Consciousness Restructuring Process imagery spontaneously arises which functions as an information-carrier and visual stimulus. Endogenous Evoked Potentials are related to the psychological significance of the stimuli to the subject. This reaction can be detected as a P300 response, that is identical when triggered with either visual or auditory information [or potentially any somatosensory channel] and is recorded most easily over the parietal cortex.
The P300 response is called a MERMER (Memory & Encoding Related Multifaceted Electroencephalographic Response). This paper describes a protocol for their detection during the Consciousness Restructuring Process (CRP), and determination of their relationship to exogenous, or historical events, particularly of traumatic nature. Internally generated input via internal pattern generators would constitute an efficient way to specify, develop, and restructure functionally appropriate perceptual organization.
The start of REM sleep is defined by unique EEG wave patterns that originate in the pontine reticular formation (in the brainstem). Electrical bursts create initial waves, which continue throughout REM, referred to as PGO waves (pontine-geniculo-occipital waves). This demonstrates the influence of the brainstem in REM induction. In CRP, as the aminergic activity of the waking state ceases, activated PGO cholinergic neurons stimulate rapid eye movement patterns, reflecting PGO cholinergic discharge patterns.
It has been hypothesized that PGO waves are the internal source of visual stimuli present during REM dreaming, and probably during consciousness journeys. PGO waves are the first signal of the onset of sleep. PGO waves are associated with increased visual system excitability, and possibly with plot shift at bifurcations. Auditory and somatosensory stimuli influence PGO wave activity.
Kahn, Krippner, and Combs (2000) assert that “raising the cortical temperature by PGO stimulation would allow the ongoing patterns of cortical activity to relax into natural forms (attractors) shaped by the emotional and cognitive influence present at each moment...Second, the bombardment of the visual cortex with PGO waves might also have the effect of frequently derailing ongoing patterns of activity, or in other words producing ‘catastrophic bifurcations’ in the attractor patterns there. One might imagine abrupt alterations in dream experiences at those times...PGO stimulation is tied to the high rate of narrative or plot shifts in dream experiences at those times.”
A protocol is proposed and described to detect PGO waves during therapeutic sessions. The function of the PGO wave-generation network has been linked to informing the visual system about eye movements, promoting brain development, and facilitating the response to novel environmental stimuli. PGO waves are high amplitude electrical potentials which function as internal pattern generators.
P300 waves and PGO waves may help us objectively document psychological shifts in internal states during therapy which lead toward spontaneous healing. Whatever persists with a constant form is sustained as the unfoldment of a recurrent and stable pattern which is constantly being renewed by enfoldment and dissolved by unfoldment. When the renewal ceases the form vanishes. The notion of a permanently existing entity with a given identity, whether a particle or anything else, is therefore at best an approximation.
Consciousness may be seen as an explicate form sustained by continually converging and diverging waves unfolding from an unconscious field of psychic potential. This is a holographic projector of endogenous sensory imagery. The recurrent and stable pattern that unfolds during waking hours must be renewed during sleep by the enfoldment of waking experience into the seamless subtext of the unconscious.
Consciousness creates Reality. Human consciousness emerges from the all-pervading universal consciousness by a process similar to the collapse of a quantum waveform into the localized form of an observed particle. In this case, of P300 waves and PGO waves into neural firing patterns and chemical neurotransmitters which affect the entire mindbody. The process is intimately linked to information-carrying multisensory imagery and its recognition and transformation.
The Universe, and ourselves are an interplay between information and energy. Information is those processes which provide recognition and identification of separate existences--and energy is the transformation and displacement of the contents of space.
One means of objectively observing this process in the brainmind is by using a circular array of eight electrodes, called a rosette. Spatial differentiation of vectors of electrical activity is detected and mapped between opposing electrodes, (Clynes). Higher-level organizations in the brain have been shown to exhibit their own characteristic shapes; but they are not structured shapes, they are organizational shapes, space-time shapes, algorithms bearing in them the potential of family of spatio-temporal shapes. These algorithm structures are inherent in the brain and are part of its normal growth--they are inherently programmed entities. They are essentially archetypal response patterns.
For example, distinct characteristic evoked-potential shapes and sequences are obtained for changes in color. Changes in intensity of a single color produce very simple response shapes. There is evidence for different data processing for intensity and color. Light and darkness show no evidence of being opposites or different values of the same variable.
They are rather the result of stimulating and also inhibiting different receptors, a 2-channel process. In no way, may they be viewed as positive and negative. Each has its own individual character. White appears as the result of the mutual inhibition of color. At this fundamental level, results clearly imply an inherent form of organization and not a random learning of nerve nets.
According to Manfred Clynes, it is clear that every stimulus form corresponds to a particular space-time shape in the brain in terms of the electrical activity. These space-time shapes are evidence of relationships between the external world and its representation in the brain. Thus, different representations are spatio-temporal “keys.” This has tremendous implications for experiential or process-oriented therapy. Replication and amplification of Clynes experiments could shed great light on the transformations reflected in endogenous evoked potentials.
In general, psychologic thresholds seem to parallel physiologyic threshold observations as determined by evoked potentials. Often evoked potentials forms can even be observed below psychologic threshold levels--at “subliminal” levels. Clynes asserts that all the perceptual characteristics of sound, for example, have their counterparts in the coding of evoked-potential shapes -- in brain space-time. Again, the implications for experiential therapy and bioengineering are numerous.
In all these processes it is not individual brain centers but regions that operate in an organized manner. Every perception has a unique counterpart as a space-time code form in the brain. They are identical among subjects for certain organizational characteristics. For example, the case of the color red, the number of regions, the sequence, and their timing are identical.
This organizational identity may be the basis of similarity of individual perceptual experience, and perhaps the “archetypal attractors,” a robust, recurrent and persistent CRP phenomenon. In all probability, the organization of vector potential is based on the mathematics of Synergetics, nature’s most economical lines of communication, the lines of least resistance.
REM indicates an increase in the excitability of the brain’s internal communication system between cortices of the brain. This communication occurs by synchronous firing of action potentials, electrical vectors, or evoked potentials. For example if an internal stimulus occurs a synchronous PGO wave should fire in the auditory cortex.
External sensory pathways are inhibited during REM sleep. Therefore, the intensity for producing synchronous PGO waves in, for example, the somatosensory cortex are relatively small compared to full waking states. The communication in the brain during REM sleep is what we call dreaming.
Stage 1 of sleep onset is reflected as combined alpha and theta activity, signifying transition between sleep and wakefulness. Stage 2 includes theta activity, sleep spindles and K complexes, which keep us asleep by decreasing sensory awareness. Stages 3 and 4 display delta activity and “slow wave sleep”; in this deep sleep, if awakened the sleeper acts groggy and confused. Nightmares may occur, but if awakened, they report not a story, but an emotionally-charged situation.
REM is associated with theta waves, rapid eye movement, phasic activation of the visual pathway, muscular paralysis or inhibition of sensory input, activation or inhibition of various brain stem neurons, and cortical desynchrony. REM sleep is not necessary for dreaming. However, the prevalence of dreams is certainly greater in REM. An intense level of activation in the brain, REM dreams are longer, more vivid and more emotionally charged than non REM reports, which are more realistic and thought-like ruminations.
The dreamer is easily aroused if necessary and will appear fairly alert and attentive. They may report a narrative-type dream. A complete sleep cycle is about 90 minutes long and each cycle contains a 20-30 minute period of REM.
The purpose of REM is related to learning. There is more REM after learning, implying it may be memory processing. Research suggests that retention from learning sessions comes from phasic components, namely the number and frequency of REM episodes. The results emphasize the importance of the phasic components with regard to memory processes.
This process deepens during slow wave sleep which contributes to memory consolidation by transferring information from the hippocampus obtained in the waking state, to the neocortex by means of fast sharp wave bursts, called SPW. Sharp waves are intermittent bursts of activity (200 Hz) during slow wave sleep by neurons sending output from one part of the cortex to another.
Researchers (Buzsaki & Solt, 1995) think the SPW bursts may be transferring information from experience into memories. Conversely, REM sleep may serve to update the information in the hippocampus which can be trasferred back into the neocortex during the next slow wave sleep period. SPW bursts have also been shown to activate growth hormone release which initiates long term, protein dependant, synaptic modification.
Hobson gives a plausible model of a neurophysiological explanation for the dreaming process, implicating the brain stem as the location of the “dream state generator.” In this theory, the brain stem produces REM periods, as well as triggering the dream state. During these REM periods, sensory input and motor output is blocked, while the cerebral cortex is activated by the complex impulses received from the brain stem.
The forebrain proceeds to process and synthesize the internally generated information from the brain stem. This series of activation and synthesis creates the imagery we experience in the dream state. The forebrain receives the chaotic signals from the brain stem and begins to assimilate the information into a coherent pattern.
The concept of central pattern generators implies preprogrammed neural information produced by the brain stem during dream states. This process may ultimately create the internally generated behaviors such as visual and auditory hallucinations. The link between the behavior and the pattern generator is not direct since the forebrain plays an important role both in creating and synthesizing images.
The forebrain integrates or couples this chaotic genetically programmed information with the appropriate experiential data contained within its memory banks. The neuronal genesis of dreaming is linked to the reciprocal interaction of neuromodulatory system in the brain stem. Neuronal bursts propagate through and phasically activate the genculate bodies in the thalamus, and the visual cortex. The propagation through these three bodies can be experimentally measured and are refered to as PGO waves.
The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is also implicated in the hallucinatory episodes of REM dreams. The RAS produces the internal, sensory independent images characteristic of the dream state. There is also increased blood flow to the amygdala during REM-dreaming, an indication of the basis for the emotional content in dreams.
Immediate-Early Genes (also called “Primary Response Genes” or third messengers) play a central role in the dynamics of waking, sleeping, dreaming, and mind-body healing at the cellular level.
There is evidence that “immediate-early genes (IEGs) function as mediators of information transduction between psychological experience, behavioral states, and gene expression. A wide range of behavioral state-related gene expression (from relaxation, hynosis and sleep to high arousal, performance, stress and trauma) culminate in the production of new proteins or homeostasis, physical and psychosocial adaptation.”
Behavioral states modulate certain patterns of gene expression. Interaction between the genetic and behavioral levels is a two way street. Genes and behavior are related in cybernetic loops of mind-body communication.
SLEEP AND MEMORY
According to Kavanau, the origin of both sleep and memory appears to be closely tied to the evolution of mechanisms of enhancement and maintenance of synaptic efficacy. Repetitive activation of synapses is referred to as “dynamic stabilization” (DS). It is induced either in the course of frequent functional use or by spontaneous neural oscillatory activity. In the course of DS during sleep, some of the information stored in the circuitry being reinforced achieves the level of unconscious awareness as dreams and other sleep mentation.
In 1966, Roffwarg, Musio, and Dement alleged the main function of the spontaneous, repetitive excitations of neural circuits during REM sleep in the human embryo facilitates circuit development and maintenance. Those circuits are maintained throughout life by such excitations during REM sleep. Human declarative memories become established in the neocortex through repetitive hippocampal ‘replay.’
The paradigm of “dynamic stabilization” (DS) posits that synaptic efficacy in neural circuits stores inherited information (phylogenetic memories) and information acquired during experience (ontogenetic information). This is facilitated or enhanced by frequent synaptic activation (“use it or lose it”). This occurs either in the course of frequent functional use or through spontaneous oscillatory neural activity.
DS is required for circuit development (synaptogenesis), maturation, fine-tuning and maintenance in embryos of warm-blooded animals, including humans. DS during sleep states largely supports the consolidation and maintenance of phylogenetic and ontogenetic memories in the infant, child, and adult. That’s why children need large amounts of sleep and extensive self-activation in brain circuitry.
Both phylogenetic and ontogenetic memory circuits are equally susceptible to remodelling and other alterations. Genes that normally are unexpressed, that mediate the synthesis of new messenger RNA and proteins, become activated--within a very narrow time window during learning--leading to alterations of synaptic efficacy that last for a few weeks to a month or more.
Ernest Rossi (2000) has conducted research on gene-expressed proteins and state-related learning:
There are persistent alterations in IEG expression in the process of adaptive behavior on all levels from the sexual and emotional to the cognitive. They can transduce relatively brief signals from the environment into enduring changes in the physical structure of the developing nervous system as well as its plasticity in the form of memory and learning throughout life. If external cues can modulate cell function through regulation of gene expression, this could also be true for internal cues.
Immediate-Early Genes (IEGs) are also fundamental in the regulation of REM-on, REM-off neurons, neuronal networks that are associated with REM sleep and dreaming. That makes them significant in CRP as molecules which can modulate mind, emotions, learning and behavior. They influence the rhythm of the natural healing process and circadian and ultradian rhythms of the body, in general. Ultradian rhythms are those shorter than the 24-hour circadian rhythms.
Milton Erickson discovered that his therapy sessions usually took from one and a half to two hours to come to natural closure. Later it was discovered that this delineates the natural work cycle that is harmonious with our own internal rhythms. CRP unfolds in a similar time-frame. IEGs modulate this process. This ultradian time frame is related to the activation or deactivation of the expression of specific genes and can occur in a matter of hours or even minutes.
“Most arousing environmental stimuli that have been studied can induce immediate-early genes within minutes, their concentrations typically peak within fifteen to twenty minutes and their effects are usually over within an hour or two. These time parameters IEG expression and their ultimate translation into the formation of new proteins correspond to the parameters of a complete work cycle of mind-body communication and healing. The changes in gene transcription and new protein formation initiated in this time frame, however, can lead to lasting changes in the central nervous system by converting short term memory to long lasting learning by the process of long term potentiation. . .the activation or deactivation of the expression of specific genes can occur in a matter of hours or even minutes."
This mechanism assesses the duration and intensity of prior waking and/or the homeostatic or executive mechanisms that bring about sleep. This is likely the mechanism that is disturbed in the manic depressive which results in sleep disorders. Sleep deprivation leads to a wide variety of psychotic and non-psychotic symptoms. This system is also associated with the neuronal network associated with the dynamics of REM sleep. Deprivation of REM and dreaming creates its own phenomenology.
“The study of IEGs indicates that sleep and wake, as well as synchronized and desynchronized sleep, are characterized by different genomic expressions, the level of IEGs being high during wake and low during sleep. Such fluctuation of gene expression is not ubiquitous but occurs in certain cell populations in the brain. Thus...IEG induction may reveal the activation of neural networks in different behavioral states. Do the areas in which IEGs oscillate during sleep and wake subserve specific roles in the regulation of these physiological states and a general ‘resetting’ of behavioral state? Is gene induction a clue to understanding the alternation of sleep and wake, and of REM and non-REM sleep?”
In Rossi’s Dream-Protein Hypothesis, “new experience is encoded by means of protein synthesis in brain tissue...dreaming is a process of psychophysiological growth that involves the synthesis or modification of protein structures in the brain that serve as the organic basis for new developments in the personality...new proteins are synthesized in some brain structures associated with REM dream sleep.”
Rossi generalizes the dream-protein hypothesis, “to include all states of creativity associated with the peak periods of arousal and insight generation in psychobiologically oriented psychotherapy.”
Enriched internal and external environments leads to the growth and development of new cells. IEG cascades lead to the formation of new proteins and neurons along with increased synapses and dendrites that encode memory and learning. On the other hand, excessive trauma and psychosocial stress can lead to suppression of growth processes in the brain. When psychotherapy contributes to arousal, enrichment, and relaxation it facilitates actual growth in the brain to encode new memory, learning and behavior, optimizing growth and healing.
“Communication within the neuronal networks of the brain is modulated by changes in the strengths of synaptic connections...meaning is to be found in the complex dynamic field of messenger molecules that continually bath and contextualize the information of the neuronal networks in ever changing patterns. Most of the sexual and stress hormones...have state dependent effects on our mental and emotional states as well as memory and learning, a constantly changing dynamical field of meaning.”
Memories are catagorized as declarative memory or nondeclarative memory. Declarative memory involves conscious recollection and explicit remembering of facts and events. Nondeclarative memory concerns behavioral changes acquired implicitly after many repetitions, such as in lifechanging experiences, repetitive or chronic traumatization, skill learning, perceptual learning, conditioning, etc. Permanent consolidation of declarative memory involves hippocampal input to the neocortex, which must be replayed for 1 to 3 years, in so-called “recall episodes,” much as in the initial experience.
This phenomenon of “recall episodes” may be related to the value of recalling both dream and real-time memories in CRP experiential therapy, rather than wakeful talk therapy. Facilitation of state-related learning in REM and its unfolding in the present apparently allows for rewriting, or restructuring of memories and events that have patterned consciousness, personality, and psychophysical structure.
The hippocampus is not a long-term storage site. Memory is distributed in neocortical sites that together represent the memory of an event. Storage takes place via the frequency domain, lending a holographic quality to memory. Repetitive interactions bind the storage sites together. ‘Permanent’ establishment signifies that, after the initial period of dependence on hippocampal replay, encoding synapses in the neocortex are reinforced spontaneously on a ‘permanent’ basis.
Hypothesis: That the CRP journey process changes basic neural circuitry patterning. That this change in patterning is associated with subsequent neuromodulation, changes in the functioning of the pineal and the pituitary glands affecting the production of neurotransmitters and hormones. That we should be able to monitor and determine correspondences in certain psychophysical changes during the CRP process if our theories about the origins of certain robust phenomena in the journeys are correct.
We can monitor the brain wave generation of a person during the Consciousness Restructuring Process to detect certain predicted shifts. Our theory holds that the journey process takes place largely in REM, since the related rapid eye movement is easily and consistently observed. The onset of REM is marked by PGO spikes. PGO spikes in EEG in a subject immersed in CRP would indicate the onset of REM.
PGO spikes are also implicated in the radical shifts in content during dreaming. If we can show that PGO spikes occur in relation to bifurcations in gestalt imagery in CRP journeys, we can verify those subjective internal shifts as psychophysical. In chaotic consciousness the mentored is likely to be focused or very deeply internalized which should be reflected as either theta or delta activity.
Co-consciousness might be measured via the observation of spontaneously shared, matching or resonating brainwave frequencies, and might be induced by shared biofeedback where both parties synch to the same deepening rhythm. This resonance creates, in essence, one shared biofield between mentor and mentored, in which synchronicity and ESP phenomena are spontaneously evoked.
P300 waves can be observed in relation to the journeys to determine if psychologically significant imagery will trigger this objective sign of recognition. This is particularly to be expected if their significance is rooted in real-time historical experience, rather than inherent meaning of archetypal forms. When the two are combined, the memory of an archetypally-conditioned event, we might expect a very intense reaction, larger spikes, or wider cortical involvement. P300 waves indicate pattern recognition.
Information is encoded in a field, rather than just being a field. The firing of neural networks is synchronized by fields. Neuronal field patterning could be considered a gestalt. Idiosyncratic experiences are encoded as gestalts. Epistemological metaphors, “how you know what you know,” what that experience is like, are multisensory gestalts.
This imagery presents spontaneously as a fundamental phenomenon of human existence which includes a rich inner life. This is the raw material of the therapeutic process--the expression of the existential psychophysical condition. This imagery also reflects disease patterns which echo at every level of observation.
CRP is a process of perceptual synergetics, whose result is greater than the sum of its parts. Potential applications include stress management, balancing personality, restructuring neural circuitry, memory increase, changing habit and behavior patterns, spontaneous healing, autohypnosis, and self-transformation.
128 channel Electroencephalograph and peripherals; P300 wave detection
Autogenics Audio/Visual EEG Biofeedback Amplifier-Neurofeedback
EMG, Electromyograph to check for muscle atonia in REM
Thermister, temperature feedback to monitor blood flow
GSR (Galvanic Skin Response)--to conduct word association tests
8 electrode rosette for detecting spatio-temporal directional shift
Voice Stress Analyzer, to monitor an additional parameter
Certified CRP Mentors to conduct sessions
EEG technician or R.N.
Co-therapist to monitor objective measures of process-work
Principle Investigator to report, summarize, and synthesize results
Medical Director in supervisory capacity
Baseline MMPI before and after course of treatment
Myers-Briggs Typology Test (Introversion/Extroversion)
Northridge Developmental Scale (for Self-Actualization)
A protocol is proposed to determine the electroencephalographic correlates of key bifurcation points in the Consciousness Restructuring Process (CRP). The process begins with the recounting of a dream or fragment, “becoming” a part of the dream, immersion in the stream of consciousness, onset of REM, followed by a series of bifurcations in imagery and narrative, resulting in progressive deepening of the subjective state, amplification and resolution of conflicts, and a resting phase of renewal, learning, and restructuring. Equally important with pattern recognition is pattern synthesis. The synthesis process plays an important role in the use of context in recognition.
Rhythmic activity in the adult neocortex, as revealed by EEGs, is pervasive at all times and can be recorded electrically. Brain waves manifest themselves as oscillating voltage. They have two main dimensions: the frequency of oscillation and the amplitude.
In highly aroused and attentive waking states, the EEG consists of low amplitude fast waves (14-30 Hz), the beta rhythm. In a quiet room, at rest, on closing the eyes, the beta rhythm gives way to primarily high amplitude, synchronized slow waves (8-13 Hz)--the alpha rhythm. This rhythm is blocked by sudden sensory stimuli or mental activity. During putative sleep, occurrence of the alpha rhythm usually indicates arousal. Alpha activity increases during early stages of meditation, that have been compared to states of sleep or relaxation. The phenomenon of body asleep/mind alert is seen in hypnosis.
The major synchronized EEG waves of nonREM (NREM) sleep states 2-4 are delta waves, spindle oscillation, and slow sleep oscillation. REM's complex EEG rhythms lack low-frequency components. The observation that some individuals come out of the journeys virtually unable to move, and still very groggy and confused, leads us to believe they must experience delta activity or "slow wave sleep" by the culmination of the journey. Reporting internal states at this point becomes literally a mute point. Just being there and later assimilating, digesting, and restructuring yields to rejuvination and reentry.
PGO spikes occur widely in warm-blooded animals. The startle response is a waking PGO spike and startles can act as trance inductions in certain situations, such as traumatic conditioning and hypervigilance. PGO spikes are the pacemaker for phasic events of brain activity in REM sleep. PGO spikes indicate a brain arousal state resembling alert wakefulness.
Theta rhythm, infrequent to rare in waking human adults, plays an important role in waking infancy and childhood, and during adult drowsiness and sleep. Yogis and meditators are able to demonstrate theta while maintaining a deep focus of attention. Theta facilitates and gates flow of information through the hippocampus to target structures, facilitates synaptic enhancements in these targets, as in consolidation of declarative memories, and facilitates or induces LTP in hippocampal circuits. Its proportional representation in the hippocampal EEG is highly predictive of learning rates in classical conditioning. The rhythm also occurs during conditioning stimuli in aversive-conditioning paradigms.
Theta is probably the best model we have for the shared nature of co-consciousness. Though it generally indicates a deep sleep, it is possible to remain awake and even interactive in the journey process with the mentored. If both participants are in Theta in close proximity, we can assume a resonance effect where both tend to come into oscillatory harmony with one another, in a deep focus of attention.
Stanley Krippner has suggested the reality of Dream Telepathy (1973) in his research on the subject, and we suggest this is the mechanism of co-consciousness in mentoring the Consciousness Restructuring Process. Spontaneous ESP results were reported by the Greens in their experiments in Theta Training, imagery and creativity exploring hypnagogic reverie (1977).
Sensory input information for each mode converges in the entorhinal cortex, where it receives its most refined analysis, as well as back to the appropriate thalamic neurons. Each sensory system also sends inputs to separate parts of the amygdala, which interprets incoming sensory information and integrates neuromodulatory influences on the storage and strengths of longterm memories, particularly those that are emotionally influenced.
From the amygdala and entorhinal cortex information is relayed to the hippocampus. Thus, if a single perceptual event is formed by the roughly simultaneous receipt of ensembles of sensory inputs, the highest order of perceptual abstraction of these sensory inputs, together with an emotional association, are presented to the hippocampus for processing. From the hippocampus, information is relayed to other limbic structures and then directly and indirectly back to the neocortex.
In REM, the brain is in a modified attentive state, with its attention largely turned away from sensory inputs toward the functions of its internally generated signals (Hobson, 1989). This enhances synaptic efficacy in labile new circuits and maintains existing stable circuits. Accordingly, with great depression of sensory perception (and absence of proprioceptive input during REM sleep, circuit consolidation and reinforcing functions of the hippocampus and information processing by other brain structures can proceed unimpededly.
Research shows there is extensive redundancy in neural circuitry, and the presence of extensive modulatory circuitry. Circuits need to be fired periodically to maintain health and memory; they are subject to changing their patterning by minor perturbations. Complex functions are supported by several circuits, the 'multiple interactive neural systems' approach.
Cortical memory trace is widely distributed. Multiple, parallel, and widely dispersed cortical areas are dedicated to a single sensory function and modality, as is motor control. The redundancy of neural circuitry suggests that in the primitive nervous system DS may have been the primordial means of serially prolonging or enhancing synaptic efficacy. DS also helps regulate ancillary non-motor circuits that regulate hormone and neurohormone secretion.
Cognitive science implies that dreaming is "the occurrence of inconsequential phasic events of REM sleep". But dreams are consequential. They change us at the most fundamental psychophysical level. The evanescent, prophetic and diagnostic nature of dreams has been heralded since the dawn of history. Pre-sleep emotional states are a by-product of, and tightly linked to, mental activities normally occuring during REM sleep. The consolidating and reinforcing, or restructuring of neural circuits storing memories is not limited nor restricted to the activities of REM sleep.
According to Kavanau, "dreaming is a very short-term unconscious awareness of manifestations of processes of activating selected ensembles of labile ontogenetic memory circuits (say younger than 3 years) to render them stable, and of stable phylogenetic and ontogenetic memory circuits (say, older than 3 years) to maintain them."
The tendency of dreams to favor current events, the "day residue" of Freud, and of these dreams to be lengthily coordinated and, sometimes not far short of authentic recall, may owe to the integrative role of the hippocampus in replaying only relatively recent events in the neocortex. The fact that a vividly recalled dream can repeat with fidelity over a period of many years suggest that the hippocampus also can integrate and replay memory circuits established through dream recall.
ON EACH REPETITION AND RECALL OF A SALIENT DREAM, IT APPARENTLY CAN AGAIN ACHIEVE THE STATUS OF A RECENT EVENT, THEREBY ENTERING AGAIN INTO HIPPOCAMPAL REPLAY.
Thus, consciousness journeys using dream material or symptomology can refresh or reactivate circuits and open them for self-organizing creative repatterning and restructuring. It's a chance at a psychological "do over." The old self dies; the new self is reborn. After such a process, the psychophysical self is no longer the same. The issues addressed are no longer suppressed but allowed to 'matter.'
What's New with My Subject?
Healing through Consciousness Restructuring:
Placebos, Dreams, New Science and A New Healing Paradigm
by Graywolf Fred Swinney
Almost twenty years ago in my dream-therapy group, a very remarkable event occurred. I watched a woman heal in body and mind before my eyes. It had the characteristics of the placebo effect. I contributed very little, and what little I had done was to accompany her on an imaginative inner journey.
She had adopted a very hard and cold personality as a means of coping with a long childhood experience of repeated sexual abuse by her four older brothers and father. She was driving everyone away from her, most particularly her husband. Her body symptoms were of rigidity and hardness, and reflected her mental condition. This body configuration would soon lead to fibromyalgia, rheumatism, arthritis or some other similar somatic condition.
One morning a dream had awakened her in terror. In the dream she was tied onto a cart on a track and being pulled into a spinning hub covered with razor sharp knives. She felt trapped helpless and doomed in the dream, just as she had in her childhood. She brought this dream to the group and on hearing it, I invited her to re-experience the dream, which is usual in the Gestalt practice of dream therapy. What came next was unusual in this context but consistent with my shamanic bent, and in truth response to a deep intuitive urge.
"Instead of waking up, imagine letting yourself be drawn into the knives.”
She reported being slashed with flesh and blood spattering all over, but what she noticed most was the razor-sharpness, and a deep, penetrating, black cold sensation as the blades cut into her. Giving in to this pain-cold, she next became a thick layer of black ice covering a lake, very cold, very hard and very frozen. I was fascinated because she had precisely described the personality characteristics that she wanted to change.
“Go deeper into this coldness and blackness, become it.”
She entered a black void of absolute zero, so cold that nothing, not even molecules moved. Some time passed and her body began to relax. Muscles that had been tense since I first met her two years previously began to soften and flex. Asked about her experience, she answered that as she let go deeper into the void and cold, somehow her sense of self had shifted; she experienced becoming the water beneath the ice. Her deep felt sense of self was now warmer, more fluid, and boundaryless. I invited her to stay in that consciousness; to explore and own it. When she finally opened her eyes after about ten minutes, there was a profound change in her personality and physiology.
We were both inspired by this event, which subsequently proved to be a permanent change in her and an ongoing influence in shaping her body and mind. This was the kind of healing work I aspired to, but seldom realized. The tools of psychotherapy and even the guided imagery processes that I used were frankly too shallow, unreliable, and often manipulative.
Something remarkable had happened, but how? I knew that I must find out. I continued exploring this deep process with other clients, retreat guests, and in dream workshops. We consistently got similarly remarkable results with both physical and mental diseases. At the time, however, I was struck by the realization that I was not the healer, but as with a placebo, it came from deep inside. It involved a profound shift in self-perception and was a restructuring of consciousness. The same was true in subsequent explorations; it was their own imagination and dreams that carried the clients into healing dynamics, not my intervention as a therapist who was in awe of the process. The healings proved to be both profound and permanent, and involved both somatic and mental diseases. Thus was conceived, gestated and born the Consciousness Restructuring Process, (CRP). In my attempts to understand it I have arrived at the following notions.
The CRP represents a basic “paradigm shift” for the healing arts. It requires the “new sciences” of relativity, quantum, chaos and holographic theories to understand and define how CRP restructures consciousness dynamics to bring such changes in body and mind. It also describes the mechanism by which placebos perform their mysterious healing. This fundamental shift in existential perspective puts into question the fundamental models by which we understand how reality and healing work.
Culturally and socially, we are in a major crisis-evolution and science plays a significant role in this. For 300 years, Newtonian (classical) Science and Cartesian philosophy have ruled and shaped our civilization and culture. This classic science depicts a mechanistic clockwork universe in which we stand outside of nature and objectively manipulate it through our thinking and intellect. It gave us technology to momentarily elevate and free us from the dictates of nature and provides the illusion of control, but its technology now threatens our existence. It is a model of separation and inevitable predictability; very little is more alien to healthy human process. We are very complex and evolving organisms, deeply interconnected with our environment. The principles that create the whole universe are within each of us, within each cell and atom of our body.
Einstein attacked two tenets: objectivity and absoluteness. Relativity theory demonstrated that everything is relative. There is no absolute frame of measurement anywhere in the universe. Our perceptions depend on our frame of reference.
Quantum Physics implies the universe is an interconnected web of relationships and within the harmony of this interconnection; each observer affects its constant unfolding and creates unique reality for himself. It gives us quanta, which is somehow both and yet not committed to being matter or energy. It is the essence of our mindbody level of consciousness.
David Bohm’s Holographic theory adds the notion that all reality is nothing more than shifting complex interference patterns (holographic negatives) created from waves emerging into space-time from implicate order. Pribram demonstrated that the brain’s perception of reality is a hologram based on chemo-electric currents reaching the end of a synapse, and emitting waves to interact and create holographic negatives (interference patterns) in the brain.
We are complex organisms and Chaos theory best describes this. In the new paradigm, our structure of self emerges from chaos in an environment of complex interacting systems, responsive to and shaped by that environment. What else is the moment of our conception? Eventually, the structure grows brittle, doesn’t respond to the ever evolving and changing environment and disintegrates back into chaos from which emerges new structure. At the personal level we experience this process as a life crisis or a disease, particularly if we fight the change. It is this dance of evolution that is reality and healthy, not the temporary forms and structures that we fix on, nor the chaos that we avoid. They exist only in passing. Our true health is in being, becoming, and accepting this ever evolving self.
Suddenly, the whole framework of reality is like jelly and there is nothing firm left to stand on. We find ourselves as part of a shifting, complex and self-creating reality; influencing it and being influenced by it at subtle levels, where structure is only a passing creation of continuing evolution. Transformation is the essence of reality; and reality is created from infinite potential.
How does this relate to spinning hubs of knives and healing transformations?
Nowhere are these ideas more important than in the healing arts and sciences. Natural self-healing or self-correcting process is something medical science does not understand and so hides behind the labels "placebo effect," and "spontaneous remission," but is something that new sciences permit and Consciousness Restructuring Process describes and accomplishes. This level of reality is also from whence come our dreams and is the home turf of the CRP.
Medical science offers no satisfactory operational mechanism for how spontaneous remission or the placebo effect work. Until recently, it has done little more than grudgingly admit to their existence. However, when I began the dream journey and consciousness restructuring work, I suspected that I was on the trail of understanding these phenomena. CRP seemed to work with the same inner process; restructuring the consciousness that defines self, our illness or health, our existential holographic perceptions of reality.
Healing, as are dreams, is a sensory not an intellectual process. Senses inform us when we are sick or well. Our dreams also reveal disease often before symptoms appear. Mind and intellect only deal with symbols of reality. We move beyond, "I think, therefore, I am" into a reality of becomingness. "I am and I know this through my senses."
In this journey process one experiences a level and sense-image of the diseased self, for example being very black, hard, rigid and cold. Openings, doorways in this sensory image invite even deeper imaginative delving into the conscious dynamics that feed and maintain the illness. This deep illness image, when experienced, spontaneously self-destructs into chaotic or unbound consciousness. Since an image, thought or vision represents a specific neural firing sequence, chaos would be subjectively experienced as a nothingness, for example, a deep black coldness where nothing moves The new sensory self-image that emerges from or is found in this chaotic consciousness, is a new easeful structure that replaces the disease, for example a deep felt sense of warmth, flow and boundarylessness.
Fundamental to CRP is that it works in REM with sensory elements of our dreams. Dreams alone are healing. Deprive people of REM - let them sleep, but prevent dreaming - and after a week, hallucinations and other mental/emotional problems appear. Within a couple of weeks, the immune system weakens and somatic illness follows.
REM is fundamental to all known life forms and is now known to be the best state for forming new neural pathways. It also produces the most chaotic brain wave dynamics yet measured. The CRP consciousness shift is experienced in REM and we create new neural pathways through the experience of a shifting sense of self. In this way our perceptions and experience of personal reality or the fundamental existential self-hologram changes. This changed perception reflects changes in the brain’s synaptic firing structure that also change our body and brain chemistries through the pituitary and pineal glands to ultimately affect how our cells and mind operate. Placebos create the same type of perceptual and neuro-chemical changes, and I believe utilize sleep time REM to do so.
Shamans are masters of consciousness dynamics and altering consciousness. CRP blends shamanic technique and Gestalt dream work using imagination to reach these healing consciousness dynamics. This shaman/therapist approach bridges both world-views, and is the essence of, and even more than both. The premise that science and spirituality/mysticism are separate is faulty. The CRP brings them together in an elegant fashion.
The CRP teaches a new way of flowing through life. It provides the experience of doing so in a virtual reality experience of wakeful REM, and directly alters reality perception and empowers the client. Those who practice this technique are referred to as mentors rather than therapists, because the essence of their role is more like a placebo, helping the mentored bring out their own best potential.