The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness
Harcourt Brace & Company
Chapter seven Extended Consciousness
“If core consciousness is the indispensable foundation of consciousness, extended consciousness is its glory. (Damasio/FWH/195)”
“When we slip and say that consciousness is a distinctively human quality, we are thinking of extended consciousness at its highest reaches, not of core consciousness…extended consciousness is indeed a prodigious function, and, at its peak, it is uniquely human. (Damasio/FWH/195)”
“Extended consciousness goes beyond the here and now of core consciousness, both backward and forward. The here and now is still there, but is flanked by the past, as much past as you may need to illuminate the now effectively, and, just as importantly, it is flanked by the anticipated future. (Damasio/FWH/195)”
Anticipated being central from a developmental standpoint – anticipation is at the root of shame, too.
I only had fear for anticipation.
“The scope of extended consciousness, at its zenith, may span the entire life of an individual, from the cradle to (Damasio/FWH/195) the future, and it can place the world beside it. On any given day, if only you let it fly, extended consciousness can make you a character in an epic novel, and, if only you use it well, it can open wide the doors to creation. (Damasio/FWH/196)”
“Extended consciousness still hinges on the same core “you,” but that “you” is now connected to the lived past and anticipated future that are part of your autobiographical record…..The range of knowledge that extended consciousness now allows you to access encompasses a large panorama. The self from which that large landscape is viewed is a robust concept in the true sense of the word. It is a autobiographical self. (Damasio/FWH/196)”
“The autobiographical self hinges on the consistent reactivation and display of selected sets of autobiographical memories. In core consciousness, the sense of self arises in the subtle, fleeting feeling of knowing, constructed anew in each pulse. Instead, in extended consciousness, the sense of self arises in the consistent, reiterated display of some of our own personal memories, the objects of our personal past, those that can easily substantiate our identity, moment by moment, and our personhood. (Damasio/FWH/196)”
“The secret of extended consciousness is revealed in this arrangement: autobiographical memories are objects, and the brain treats them as such, allows each of them to relate to the organism in the manner described for core consciousness, and thus allows each of (Damasio/FWH/196) them to generate a pulse of core consciousness, a sense of self knowing. In other words, extended consciousness is the precious consequ3nce of two enabling contributions: First, the ability to learn and thus retain records of myriad experiences, previously known by the power of core consciousness. Second, the ability to reactivate those records in such a way that, as objects, they, too, can generate “a sense of self knowing,” and thus be known. (Damasio/FWH/197)”
“As one moves biologically speaking, from the simple level of core consciousness, with its generic sense of self, to the complex levels of extended consciousness, the prime physiological novelty is memory for facts. As for the prime trick, it consists of more of the same: multiple generations of simple “sense of self knowing” applied both to the something-to-be-known and to an eternally revived and complex something-to-which-the-knowledge-is-attributed – the autobiographical self. The final enabling factor is working memory, the ability to hold active, over a substantial amount of time, the many “objects” of the moment” the object being known and the objects whose display constitutes our autobiographical self. The time scale is no longer the fraction of a second that characterizes core consciousness. We are now in the scale of seconds and minutes, the time scale at which most of our personal lives are transacted and which can easily extend to hours and years. (Damasio/FWH/197)”
“Extended consciousness is, then, the capacity to be aware of a large compass of entities and events, i.e., the ability to generate a sense of individual perspective, ownership, and agency, over a larger compass of knowledge than that surveyed in core consciousness. The sense of autobiographical self to which this larger compass of knowledge is attributed includes unique biographical information. (Damasio/FWH/198)”
“Autobiographical selves occur only in organisms endowed with a substantial memory capacity and reasoning ability, but do not require language. Developmental psychologists such as Jerome Kagan have suggested that humans develop a “self” by the time they are eighteen months old, and perhaps even earlier. I believe the self to which they refer is the autobiographical self. [1 ch 7] I also believe apes such as bonobo chimpanzees have an autobiographical self, and I am willing to venture that some dogs of my acquaintance also do. They possess an autobiographical self but not quite a person. You and I possess both, of course, thanks to an even more ample endowment of memory, reasoning ability, and that critical gift called language. Over evolutionary time as well as individual time, our autobiographical selves have permitted us to know about progressively more complex aspects of the organism’s physical and social environment and the organism’s place and potential range of action in a complicated universe. (Damasio/FWH/198)”
“Early on, the structures which are remarkably active in those newborn brains, almost as isolated islands in a sea of neuroimaging silence, are the brain stem and hypothalamus, the somatosensory cortices, and the cingulate. As you can see, the set of activated structures entirely matches those needed for the proto-self and second-order maps. The functional maturity of these structures at birth is noteworthy. Given that other brain systems have also been in full swing, e.g., auditory, the activation suggests a considerable functional precedence. The next structures to show up in PET scans, a few months later, are the ventromedial frontal lobe and the amygdala. (Damasio/FWH/266)”
“It may sound strange, at first, that feelings of emotion – which are steeped in the representation of body states, only come to be known after other representations of body state have been integrated to give rise to a proto-self. And it sounds strange, for certain, that the means to know a feeling is another feeling. The situation becomes understandable, however, when we realize that the proto-self, feelings of (Damasio/FWH/280) emotion, and the feelings of knowing feelings emerged at different points in evolution and to this day emerge at different stages of individual development. Proto-self precedes basic feeling and both precede the feeling of knowing that constitutes core consciousness. (Damasio/FWH/281)” [cc from chp nine feeling feelings]
“Extended consciousness is not the same as intelligence. Extended consciousness has to do with making the organism aware of the largest possible compass of knowledge, while intelligence pertains to the ability to manipulate knowledge so successfully that novel re- (Damasio/FWH/198) responses can be planned and delivered. Extended consciousness has to do with exhibiting knowledge and with displaying it clearly and efficiently so that intelligent processing can take place. Extended consciousness is a prerequisite of intelligence – how could one behave intelligently over vast domains of knowledge, if one could not survey such knowledge in extended consciousness? (Damasio/FWH/199)”
“Extended consciousness is also not the same as working memory although working memory is an important instrument in the process of extended consciousness. Extended consciousness depends on holding in mind, over substantial periods of time, the multiple neural patterns which describe the autobiographical self; and working memory is precisely the ability to hold images in mind for a long enough time that they can be manipulated intelligently. (Damasio/FWH/200)”
“Core consciousness is part of the standard equipment of complex organisms such as we are; it is put in place by the genome with a little help from the early environment. Perhaps culture can modify it to some extent but probably not by much. Extended consciousness is also laid out by the genome, but culture can significantly influence its development in each individual. (Damasio/FWH/200)”
“…when core consciousness is removed, out goes extended consciousness. (Damasio/FWH/200)”
“Extended consciousness is a bigger subject than core consciousness, and yet it is easiser to address scientifically. We understand fairly well what it consists of cognitively and we also understand the corresponding behavioral features. An organism in possession of extended consciousness gives evidence of attention over a large domain of information which is present not just in the external environment but also internally, in the environment of its mind. (Damasio/FWH/201)”
This is something that does not operate particularly well in borderline – or in dismissive attachment disorders, etc.
“An organism with extended consciousness gives evidence of planning of complex behaviors, not just on the moment but over larger intervals of time – many hours and days, weeks and months…..what a person does must make sense not just in immediate terms but in terms of larger-scale contexts. (Damasio/FWH/201)”
“In a neurologically normal state, we are never completely deprived of extended consciousness. (Damasio/FWH/202)”
“Considering that our memory of the here and now also includes memories of the events that we constantly anticipate – what I like to call memories of the future….(Damasio/FWH/203)”
“The “cognitive score” of patients with impaired extended consciousness is a good counterpart to the external observation. The sense of wakefulness is present; so is the sense that images are being made and attended; and so is the sense of being alive and capable of feeling. But the higher reaches of meaning are just not available to the personal mind. The mental representation of the autobiographical self is so impoverished that the mind does not now where this (Damasio/FWH/216) self comes from or where it is headed. A life is being sensed but not really examined. (Damasio/FWH/217)”
“…the self in our stream of consciousness changes continuously as it moves forward in time, even as we retain a sense that the self remains the same while our existence continues….the seemingly changing self and the seemingly permanent self, although closely related, are no one entity but two. The ever-changing self…is the sense of core self. It is not so much that it changes but rather that it is transient, ephemeral, that it needs to be remade and reborn continuously. The sense of self that appears to remain the same is the autobiographical self, because it is based on a repository of memories for fundamental facts in an individual biography that can be partly reactivated and thus provide continuity and seeming permanence in our lives. (Damasio/FWH/217)”
“This dual arrangement requires the mechanisms of core consciousness and the availability of memory. Core consciousness provides us with a core self, but we also need conventional memory to construct an autobiographical self, and we need both core consciousness and working memory to make the autobiographical self explicit, that is, to display the contents of autobiographical self in extended consciousness. Creatures with limited memory…inhabit a world one step up from innocence. They probably have the seemingly continuous experience of moments of conscious individuality, but they are neither burdened nor enriched by the memories of a personal past, let alone by memories of an anticipated future. (Damasio/FWH/217)”
“In my proposal, core consciousness is a central resource produced by a circumscribed mental and neural system. The fact that core consciousness is central does not mean that it depends on one structure. (Damasio/FWH/217)”
“When we consider the anatomical scale of the whole brain, the basic system underlying core consciousness (the combination of the regions that support the proto-self and of the regions that support the second-order account) is confined to one set of anatomical sites rather than being evenly widespread throughout the brain. There are plenty of brain sites not concerned with the making of core consciousness. (Damasio/FWH/218)”
“…core consciousness can be used by any sensory modality and by the motor system to generate knowledge about any object or movement. (Damasio/FWH/218)”
“At any given moment of our sentient lives, then, we generate pulses of core consciousness for one or a few target objects and for a set of accompanying, reactivated autobiographical memories. Without such autobiographical memories we would have no sense of past or future, there would be no historical continuity to our persons. But without the narrative of core consciousness and without the transient core self that is born within it, we would have no knowledge whatsoever of the moment, of the memorized past, or of the anticipated future that we (Damasio/FWH/218) also have committed to memory. Core consciousness is a foundational must. It takes precedence, evolutionarily and individually, over the extended consciousness we now have. And yet, without extended consciousness, core consciousness would not have the resonance of past and future. The interlocking of core and extended consciousness, of core and autobiographical selves, is complete. (Damasio/FWH/219)”
THE NEUROANATOMICAL BASIS FOR THE AUTOBIOGRAPHCIAL SELF
“To discuss the neuroanatomical basis of the autobiographical self I will invoke the theoretical framework with which I have considered the relation between mental images and the brain. The framework posits an image space, the space in which images of all sensory types explicitly occur and which includes the manifest mental contensts which core consciousness lets us know, and a dispositional space, a space in which dispositional memories contain records of implicit knowledge on the basis of which images can be constructed in recall, movements can be generated, and the processing of images can be facilitated. Dispositions can hold the memory of an image perceived on some previous occasion and can help reconstruct a similar image from that memory; dispositions can also assist the processing of a currently perceived image – for instance, in terms of the degree of attention accorded to the image and the degree of its subsequent enhancement. (Damasio/FWH/219)”
“There is a neural counterpart of image space and a neural counterpart of dispositional space. Structures such as the early sensory cortices of varied modalities support neural patterns that are likely to be the basis for mental images. On the other hand, higher-order cortices and varied subcortical nuclei hold dispositions with which both images and actions can be generated, rather than holding or displaying the explicit patterns manifest in images or actions themselves…..I have proposed that dispositions are held in neuron ensembles known as convergence zones….To the partition of (Damasio/FWH/219) cognition between an image space and a dispositional space, then, corresponds a partition of the brain into (1) neural-pattern maps, activated in the early sensory cortices, the so-called limbic cortices, and some subcortical nuclei, and (2) convergence zones, located in the higher-order cortices and in some subcortical nuclei. (Damasio/FWH/220)”
“The brain forms memories in a highly distributed manner. Take, for instance, the memory of a hammer. There is no single place of our brain where we will find an entry with the word hammer followed by a neat dictionary definition of what a hammer is….Instead, as current evidence suggests, there are a number of records in our brain that correspond to different aspects of our past interaction with hammers, their shape, the typical movement with which we use them, the hand shape and the hand motion required to manipulate the hammer, the result of the action, the word that designates it in whatever many languages we know. These records are dormant, dispositional, and implicit, and they are based on separate neural sites located in separate high-order cortices. The separation is imposed by the design of the brain and by the physical nature of our environment…..the pattern we use to move the hammer cannot be stored in the same cortex that stores the pattern of its movements as we see it; the phonemes with which we make the word hammer cannot be stored in the same place, either. The spatial separation of the records poses no problem, as it turns out, because when all the records are made explicit in image form they are exhibited in only a few sites and are coordinated in time in such a fashion that all the recorded components appear seamlessly integrated. (Damasio/FWH/220)”
“I would like to suggest that the memories for the entities and events that constitute our present autobiography are likely to use the same sort of framework used for the memories we form about any entity or event. What distinguishes those memories is that they refer to established, invariant facts of our personal histories. (Damasio/FWH/221)”
“I propose we store records of our personal experiences in the same distributed manner, in as varied higher-order cortices as needed to match the variety of our live interactions. Those records are closely coordinated by neural connections so that the contents of the recors can be recalled and made explicit, as ensembles, rapidly and efficiently. (Damasio/FWH/221)”
“The key elements of our autobiography that need to be reliably activated in a nearly permanent fashion are those that correspond to our identity, to our recent experiences, and to the experiences that we anticipate, especially those in the near future. I propose that those critical elements arise from a continuously reactivated network based on convergence zones which are located in the temporal and the frontal higher-order cortices, as well as in subcortical nuclei such as those in the amygdala. The coordinated activation of this multisite network is paced by thalamic nuclei, while the holding of the reiterated components for extended periods of time requires the support of prefrontal cortices involved in working memory…..The images which represent those memories explicitly are exhibited in multiple early cortices…..They are treated as any other objects are and become known to the simple core self by generating their own pulses of core consciousness. (Damasio/FWH/221)”
“The sustained display of autobiographical self is the key to extended consciousness. Extended consciousness occurs when working memory holds in place, simultaneously, both a particular object and the autobiographical self, in other words, when both a particular object and the object’s in one’s autobiography simultaneously generate core consciousness. (Damasio/FWH/222)”
THE AUTOBIOGRAHICAL SELF, IDENTITY, AND PERSONHOOD
“…identity and personhood, the two notions that first come to mind when we think of the word self, require autobiographical memory and its actualization in the autobiographical self. The repository of records in autobiographical memory contains the memories that constitute identity along with the memories that help define our personhood. What we usually describe as a “personality” depends on multiple contributions. One important contribution comes from “traits,” whose ensemble is often referred to as “temperament,” and which are already detectable around the time of birth. Some traits are genetically transmitted and some are shaped by early developmental factors. (Damasio/FWH/222)”
Even those genetically transmitted are affected by early factors – changing the genotype’s phenotype.
A family is not only a transmitter of culture, it is a culture.
“When we talk of the molding of a person by education and culture, we are referring to the combined contributions (1) of genetically transmitted “traits” and “dispositions” which can themselves be affected by cortisol stress hormones in the brain] (2) of “dispositions” acquired (Damasio/FWH/222) early in development under the dual influences of genes and environment, [that is a huge missing piece if they do not add in that stress in the developing brain alters the phenotypes!] and (3) of unique personal episodes, lived under the shadow of the former two, sedimented and continuously reclassified in autobiographical memory. (Damasio/FWH/223)”
Some of this “autobiographical memory” is cemented implicitly and will never become conscious – if autobiographical the way he uses it means that it must be explicit! How can this be made compatible with his ideas?
“We can imagine the neural counterpart to this complicated process as consisting of the creation of dispositional records on the basis of which the brain can evoke, given the appropriate stimulus, a collection of fairly simultaneous responses ranging from emotions to intellectual facts. Using the convergence-zone framework, we can imagine that these responses are controlled by records in particular brain sites which direct the playing out of the responses in a variety of structures – early sensory cortices for the depiction of sensory images of varied nature; motor and limbic cortices [he does not say so-called here] and subcortical nuclei for the execution of a large range of actions including those that constitute emotions. (Damasio/FWH/223)”
“Not only are there many such convergence zones/disposition sites, but they are not even contiguously located. In all likelihood, some are located in the cortex while others are in subcortical nuclei. Those in the cortex are distributed in the temporal as well as the frontal regions. (Damasio/FWH/223)”
“In those personalities that appear to us as most harmonious and mature from the point of view of their standard responses, I imagine that the multiple control sites are interconnected so that responses can be organized, at varied degrees of complexity, some involving the recruitment of just a few brain sites, others requiring a concerted large-scale operation, but often involving both cortical and subcortical sites. (Damasio/FWH/223)”
This would be describing certainly the secure attachment-formed brain, and due to his emphasis on organized, would also include those with the organized insecure attachment histories, as well.
What it would leave out, by implication, is the brains of those with disorganized insecure attachments! Imagine that! And how unfortunate and how unfair.
So this would include all those with early forming PTSD with the resulting “different brains.” And should we wonder that it affects our identities? And the implications, of course, are here for dissociative identity disorders.
“The simple notion of identity is derived from precisely this arrangement. In a number of sites of both temporal and frontal regions, convergence zones support dispositions that can consistently and interactively activate, within early sensory cortices, the fundamental data that define our personal and social identities – everything from the fabric of our kinships, to the network of our friends, to the roster of places that have marked our lives, all the way to our given names. Our identities are displayed in sensory cortices, so to speak. At any moment of our waking and conscious lives, a consistent set of identity (Damasio/FWH/223) records is being made explicit in such a way that it forms a backdrop for our minds and can be moved to the foreground rapidly if the need arises. (Damasio/FWH/224)”
Of course with identity disorder, what creates this need and which set of records being made explicit is another matter.
“Under some circumstances the range of activated records can be enlarged to include a greater sweep of our personal histories and of our anticipated futures. But moment by moment, whether or not we enlarge the scope of such memories, they are active and available. We know that their inactivation does not go by unnoticed – the result of their inactivation is some variant of transient global amnesia. (Damasio/FWH/224)”
Or dissociative disorder.
In my case as a child, my sweep of my personal history was very small if there at all, with no anticipated future up to the age of 18. If there was something wrong with my memories, and/or with my memory recall for autobiographical memory, this could explain it. For me, they were not active or available.
“The idea each of us constructs of ourself [sic], the image we gradually build of who we are physically and mentally, of where we fit socially, is based on autobiographical memory over years of experience and is constantly subject to remodeling…..The autobiographical self we display in our minds, at this moment, is the end product not just of our innate biases and actual life experiences, but of the reworking of memories of those experiences under the influence of those factors. (Damasio/FWH/224)”
This is one of the main problems with PTSD. The memories are not workable in this fashion. They are perhaps “stuck” at the core consciousness nonverbal story level. This, as related to this statement, means that the development of the autobiographical self is affected by this “disability.”
“The changes which occur in the autobiographical self over an individual lifetime are not due only to the remodeling of the lived past that takes place consciously and unconsciously, but also the laying down and remodeling of the anticipated future. I believe that a key aspect of self evolution concerns the balance of two influences: the lived (Damasio/FWH/224) past and the anticipated future. (Damasio/FWH/225)”
Grave implications for PTSD people, especially those of us with different brains formed under peritrauma conditions. We do not have the “correct” ability to have an anticipated future – and obviously our memory processes have been affected!
Perhaps Fosha would say that the trauma memories have not been completed, and that is why they are not available for this reworking process. I don’t think if we have an incomplete past that we can have an adequate future, either.
“Personal maturity means that memories of the future we anticipate for the time that may lie ahead carry a large weight in the autobiographical self of each moment. The memories of the scenarios that we conceive as desires, wishes, goals, and obligations exert a pull on the self of each moment. No doubt they also play a part in the remodeling of the lived past, consciously and unconsciously, and in the creation of the person we conceive ourselves to be, moment by moment. (Damasio/FWH/225)”
This is a tough one for me. My PTSD-formed different brain never had a self, let alone desires, wishes, or goals – and still doesn’t. This makes me think of the preoccupied attachment style, where the trauma memories are present in the present and are not resolved so that they contaminate the present and the future in the same way the trauma contaminated the past where they came from originally.
Then it is all about toxic contamination! Stress hormones contaminate the brain and change it. The unintegrated memories contaminate the present and the future. Our lives are a toxic wasteland!
They create an incomplete and inadequate self. We have a partially and incompletely remembered past that prevents us from living a fully remembered present or future. It is a waste of a person’s lifetime!
And just as preoccupied preschoolers cannot tell where the boundaries are and who is experiencing distress, I think there is a parallel inability to separate past, present and future – those boundaries do not exist correctly, either, because that is what was wrong with the PTSD parents who did this to them in the first place.
“In some respects, it is almost astonishing that most of us have only one character, although there are sound reasons for the singularity. The tendency toward unified control prevails during our developmental history, probably because a single organism requires that there be one single self if the job of maintaining life is to be accomplished successfully – more than one self per organism is not a good recipe for survival. (Damasio/FWH/225)”
Neither is a partial, incomplete, and inadequate self a good recipe for survival, except in a doomsday world, I guess! One of ALONE fundamentally, without assistance.
Being alone as a person in a world of threat, a member of a social species that cannot fit in, is a bad thing also.
“…the shadows of the deeply biological core self and of the autobiographical self that grows under its influence constantly propitiate the selection of “drafts” that accord with a single unified self. Moreover, the delicately shaped selectional machinery of our imagination stakes the probabilities of selection toward the same, historically continuous self. (Damasio/FWH/225)”
he mentions “…the strange condition of multiple personalities…(Damasio/FWH/226)” in passing, but makes no connection between that condition and anything else he is presenting here. That seems like a shame to me, because I think there are application implications in his writings – that he is evidently not remotely interested in pursuing!
I would think his theories offer plausible explanations for the possible origins of this condition.
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SELF AND THE UNCONSCIOUS
“…the darkness at the bottom of human memory….We are not conscious of which memories we store and which memories we do not; of how we store memories; of how we classify and organize them; of how we interrelate memories of varied sensory types, different topics, and different emotional significance. We have usually little direct control over the “strength” of memories or over the ease or difficulty with which they will be retrieved in recall. (Damasio/FWH/226)”
“We have all sorts of interesting intuitions, of course, about the emotional value, the robustness, and the depth of memories but not direct knowledge of the mechanics of memory. We have a solid corpus of research on factors governing learning and retrieval of memory, as well as on the neural systems required to support ad retrieve memories. [16 ch 7] But direct, conscious knowledge, we do not have. (Damasio/FWH/226)”
“The memories which constitute our autobiographical records are in precisely these same circumstances, perhaps all the more so because the high emotional charge of so many of those memories may lead the brain to treat them differently. We experience the contents that go into the autobiographical records [I guess, unless we dissociate during experiences and/or we are a young child – is it really the same thing?] – we are conscious of those contents – but we know not how they get stored; how much of each; how robustly; how deeply or how lightly. Nor do we know how the contents become interrelated as memories and are classified and reorganized in the well of memory; how linkages among memories are (Damasio/FWH/226) established and maintained over time, in the dormant, implicit, dispositional mode in which knowledge exists within us. (Damasio/FWH/227)”
“…we do know a little about the circuits that hold those memories. They are abundantly located in higher-order cortices, especially those of the temporal and frontal regions, and hold close network relations with cortical and subcortical limbic [again, not so-called] regions and with the thalamus. (Damasio/FWH/227)”
“Certain contents of autobiographical memory, however, remain submerged for long periods of time and may always remain so. It is easy to imagine, given that memories are not stored in facsimile fashion and must undergo a complex process of reconstruction during retrieval, that the memories of some autobiographical events may not be fully reconstructed, may be reconstructed in ways that differ from the original, or may never again see the light of consciousness. (Damasio/FWH/227)”
Or were never stored correctly or completely in the first place.
“Instead, they may promote the retrieval of other memories which do become conscious in the form of other concrete facts or as concrete emotional states. In the extended consciousness of that moment, the facts so retrieved may be unexplainable because of their apparent lack of connection with the contents of consciousness that command center stage then. The facts may appear unmotivated, although a web of connections does indeed exist sub rosa, reflecting either the reality of some moment lived in the past or the remodeling of such a moment by gradual and unconscious organization of covert memory stores. (Damasio/FWH/227)”
NATURE’S SELF AND CULTURE’S SELF
This following statement STILL is not acknowledging the affect that environmental stress has on the infant’s internal environment as the brain is growing.
“It is usually foolhardy to revisit the nature versus nurture argument and try to decide whether a certain cognitive function is shaped in a particular manner and in a particular individual by the genome, via its related biological constraints, or by the environment, via the influe-(Damasio/FWH/228) ence of culture. (Damasio/FWH/229)”
“…I would venture that virtually all of the machinery behind core consciousness and the generation of core self is under strong gene control. Barring situations in which disease disrupts brain structure early on, the genome puts in place the appropriate body-brain linkages, both neural and humoral; lays down the requisite circuits, and, with help from the environment, allows the machinery to perform in reliable fashion for an entire lifetime. (Damasio/FWH/229)”
Ok, this statement needs to be updated! Gene control can be altered by stress hormones in an infant’s brain. Is that a disease? Whatever it is, we have to realize that it happens, that it was preventable, and that it has serious lifelong consequences!
And, no, as stated following, this is NOT a different matter from the development of the autobiographical self!
“The development of the autobiographical self is a different matter. To be sure, the connection between core self and the structures which support the development of autobiographical memory is organized under gnomic control. So are the processes on the basis of which learning can take place and modeling of cortical and subcortical circuits can occur so that convergence zones and their dispositions are put in place. In other words, autobiographical memory develops and matures under the looming shadow of an inherited biology. (Damasio/FWH/229)”
“However, unlike the core self, much will occur I the development and maturation of autobiographical memory that is not just dependent on, but is even regulated by, the environment. For instance, the schedules of reward and punishment offered to developing infants, children and adolescents do vary among different home, school, and social environments; the shaping of the events which constitute the historical past of an individual and his or her anticipated future is controlled in no small measure by the environment; the rules and principles of behavior governing the cultures in which an autobiographical self is developing are under the control of the environment; likewise for the knowledge according to which individuals organize their autobiography, which ranges from the models of individual behavior to the facts of a culture. (Damasio/FWH/229)”
I was telling Cindy about remembering the future, and she’d never thought about that. There is no such THING as a future, or the future. It is all in our minds. Each time we think a thought about the future, about our future, it instantly gets put into our memories, so every time we think about it we are remembering it again and adding to those memories.
Yet also, for me, I have some kind of problem with the “remembered past,” also – the attachment part of it, the disorganization of not having the memories connected together correctly – and also the remembered future. I no doubt have problems with the remembered present, as well!
“The autobiographical self is the brain state for which the cultural history of humanity most counts. (Damasio/FWH/230)”