Chapter 46 States of Mind


“The differentiation of primary emotional states into categorical emotions [done by specificity of appraisal] is a rapid process illustrating how various layers of the brain are influenced by the unfolding state of mind.  In its essence, emotion is a set of processes involving the recruitment of various circuits under the umbrella of one state of mind.  Thus the appraisal and arousal [again, appraisal put before arousal] processes create a neural net activation profile – a state of mind – whose characteristics in turn directly shape subsequent appraisal and arousal processes.  [Why does he put appraisal first and arousal second?  Would it really be the other way around?]  This intricate feedback mechanism helps us to see why patterns of emotional response can be so tenacious in a given individual.  The elements of continuity in specificity are self-reinforcing.  (siegel/tdm/252)”  [this paragraph is from chapter 50 regulation]


includes self-organization, some note on chaos, depression  (p 223, etc)


this is moved/copied to DISSOCIATION NOTES 6

At times, the mind cannot organize itself effectively in response to experiences.  Such experiences are traumatizing, in that they overwhelm the mind’s ability to adapt….in the case of disorganized attachment, some interpersonal experiences result in the mind’s becoming unable to form a cohesive and adaptive state.  In this situation, the mind enters a chaotic, disorganizing state of activations lacking cohesion.  The noncohesive characteristic of such a state may itself actually become a trait of the individual.  Disorganization or disorientation becomes a repeated pattern of activation or state of mind.  This may explain the acquisition of dissociation as an adaptation to stress seen in those with histories of disorganized attachments.  (siegel.tdm/211).”


“neural net profile of activation, or state of mind.”  Tdm/226



modules of information within the brain “become activated in organized patterns that create the mind”

“How is the flow of energy within the widely distributed activations of neurons regulated? ….States of mind allow the brain to achieve cohesion in functioning. (siegel/tdm/208)”

A “state of mind” can be defined as the total pattern of activations in the brain at a particular moment in time.  Patterns of activation reveal the neural net profiles within the various circuits that mediate the mental modules of information processing.  These circuits are distributed in a widely interconnected web, with profoundly complex inputs and outputs linking various clusters of cells that carry out particular functions.  At a very basic levell, for example, we can suggest that a fearful state of mind is the clustering of related processes in a cohexive whole.  A state of heightened caution, foral attention, behavioralhypervigilance, memoriesof past experiences of threat, models of the self as a victim in need of protection, and emo- (siegel/tdm/208) tional arousal alterting the body and mind to prepare for harm are all processes that become functionally primed or readied for activity.  A state of mind therefore involves a clustering of functionally synergistic processes that allow the mind as a whole to form a cohesive state of activity.  (What about when dis-associated, or dissociated?) The benefit of cohesion is to maximize the efficiency and efficacy of the processes needed in a given moment in time.  Cohesive states of mind are highly functional and adaptive to the environment.  (siegel/tdm/209)”

“…One of the most basic processes of the mind is the representation of information.  As neural symbols, representations both contain information and make further processing events happen.  In this way these dynamic representations cause further neural excitation, which itself carries information.  The links among such a changing, distributed system of processes are overwhelmingly complex. (siegel/tdm/209)”

representations are neural symbols


  1. (siegel/tdm/209)”

modalities = modes (209)

activation = energy (210)

representations = information (210)

“Examples of other systems of the mind include the various forms of implicit and explicit memory.  Within explicit memory, there is a system composed of modes of autobiographical versus semantic memory.  Within autobiographical mode are the modules encoding specific episodes, gists, and generic autobiographical knowledge.  For example, when we ask someone to tell us what he remembers about last year, he will acti- (siegel/tdm/209)vate his explicit memory system’s subcomponent mode of autobiographical memory and its basic modules…these components have specific neural circuitry involved in the encoding and retrieval functions of autonoetic consciousness.  (siegel.tdm.210)”

“…the activities of the brain, these layers of increasingly complex information processing, become organized in a patterned fashion.  We experience these patterns of activity as states of mind.  We will see that a state of mind does two fundamental things:  It coordinates activity in the moment, and it creates a pattern of brain activation that can become more likely in the future.  That is, a state of mind can become a remembered brain activity configuration or neural net profile.  Repeated activation of particular states – for example, a shame state or a state of despair – can become much more likely to be activated in the future.  In this manner, states can become traits of the individual that influence both internal and interpersonal processes.  (siegel/tdm/210)”

“A state of mind clusters the activity of specific systems of processing.  The degree to which this clustering is effective and useful determines the state’s cohesiveness….The regulation of emotion directs the flow of energy through the changing states of activation of the brain….there are convergence zones in the brain, such as the orbitofrontal cortex, thought to be responsible for the coordination of the activity of widely distributed systems:  bodily state, arousal-appraisal centers, attention via the lateral prefrontal cortex, perception fro the sensory cortices, abstract representations within the associational neocortex, memory processes via the medial temporal lobe, and motor responses via the basal ganglia.  The activation (energy) of these circuits determines their contribution to the overall state of the brain at a given point in time.  When activated, these circuits create and process representations (information) within their specialized computational modes.  The regulation of emotion is mediated by the limbic region of the brain, with its structural interconnections and functional capacity to coordinate a wide range of brain activity.  (siegel/tdm/210)”

“…the various systems that make up the brain, from “lower” or “simpler” ones (such as the registration and regulation of the autonomic nervous system’s control of (siegel/tdm/210) bodily states) to the “higher,” more complex ones (such as the neocortical conceptual representations of thought), can be functionally linked and temporally associated with each other in a given state of mind.  In this context, “linked” means that the systems are simultaneously activated and have functional influences upon each other.  This is a state of mind. (siegel.tdm.211)”

“Particular states of mind may develop cohesion through their repeated activation, as well as through the functional benefits of their internal linkages.  (siegelt/dm/211)”

A state of mind can be proposed to be a pattern of activation of recruited systems within the brain responsible for

(1) perceptual bias,

(2) emotional tone and regulation,

(3) memory processes,

(4) mental models, and

(5) behavioral response patterns.

A state of mind can have enduring clusters of activation of each of these basic elements.  One can discover the elements of an individual’s state of mind by focusing on the elements of her






beliefs, and

desires –

and how these may be influencing her behavior and interactions with others.

Also, because states of mind are dynamic processes, trying to understand them also requires that we look at the changes in the individual’s mental processes over time.  Siegel-tdm/211)”

“For example, if an individual has been exposed to repeated neglect as a young child, a state of despair may have been activated (siegel/tdm/211) and engrained.  In this excessively low energy state, perceptions of the world are marked by a sense of rejection; emotions are filled with shame and hopelessness; memories may evoke previous experiences of being rejected; a model of the self [at least if they HAVE a self] as unlovable and of others as unavailable may be activated; and there may be a behavioral tendency to withdraw.  Because this state of despair has been repeatedly activated, it will be more likely to be activated in response to even minor signs of rejection, such as a friend’s or therapist’s not returning a phone call on time.  The change in state in response to this environmental context is a function, in part, of this individual’s history.  The entire cluster, however, can quickly become the dominant information-processing mode at such a moment, giving the individual a sense of massive rejection and despair far exceeding the initial stimulus and not having any clear, consciously accessible connection to experiences from the past (siegel/tdm/212).”


[these sentences are continuously connected in one paragraph in siegle/tdm/212]

“Our subjective lives emerge from mental states that are exquisitely sensitive to social interaction.”

[Like what Siegel says, that the mind emerges from the point of where the brain interacts with environment?  Is it really and more precisely that our “subjective experience” emerges at the point that our mind interacts with our environment?]

“Recall that as open, dynamic systems, we are composed of lower levels of subcomponents as well as being ourselves subcomponents of the larger systems of social connections in which we live.”

“Our brains have circuits specifically designed to receive and send social signals.”

“Our minds are thus able to process this information and utilize it so that we can be active participants in social communications.”

[The website on the brain, the brain from top to bottom, they talk about hierarchies, and that we are solely and fundamentally concerned with getting what gives us pleasure and avoiding what gives us pain.  And that, ultimately, is what all “social cues” are about – competition for resources.]

“In the example above of a despair state, this individual’s prior history has engrained a tendency to be excessively sensitive and responsive to social signals containing information about another’s lack of interest.  In simper terms, the person can easily feel rejected.”

[Isn’t this, from my point of view, ultimately about belonging or not belonging, and that the “not belonging” state is activated in this example?  Isn’t this more fundamental that just reacting to “another’s lack of interest”?  What the need is, is to belong.]

“When not in such a state of mind, the individual may function perfectly well.  However, the regulation of her state of mind – her modulation of emotion – is such [?] that she can quickly (and maladaptively) enter a paralyzing state of despair, which influences the rest of her mind’s information processing in the direction of reinforcing that state.”

[Key words: “the regulation of her state of mind – her modulation of emotion” – “paralyzing state of despair” – she is NOT regulating – it is automatic!  Thus troublesome and troubling.  What is he saying here, that this is her ABILITY to regulate her state, or DISABILITY?  That she is regulating or NOT regulating — disregulated?]

“She perceives, feels, remembers, conceives, thinks, and behaves in ways that even more deeply engrain the state of mind at that time.  Such are the organizing and self-reinforcing effects of a state of mind.”

[Again, how is this “organizing? And around what?]


A shift in a state of mind can lead an individual “to have a perceptual bias to interpret stimuli in the environment as threatening.  A behavioral response pattern of flight or flight will become activated…”  sensations feed back to emotional processing centers, “especially the orbitofrontal cortex”….focus of attentional mechanisms….response to danger of anger or fear….(siegel/tdm/213)

“Context changes can be quite subtle; they may be induced, for example, by alterations in a companion’s tone of voice or facial expression.  Our minds are continually responding to external cues, especially from the social environment.”  (siegel.tdm.214)


“A state of mind allows disparate activities of the brain to become cohesive in a given moment in time.  (siegel/tdm/214)”

complex systems – complexity theory

“theory of nonlinear dynamics of complex systems….applied…in an attempt to understand the often unpredictable but self-organizing nature of complex clusters of entities functioning as a system.  The human brain…[is] one such nonlinear dynamic system, also called a dynamical system….some of the basic ideas of this approach are described here.  Moreover, applications of these principles not only to the single mind, but to the functioning of two or more minds acting as a single system, are proposed.  These applications allow us to deepen our earlier discussion of states of mind and (siegel/tdm/214) their fundamental importance in creating internal experience and shaping the nature of interpersonal relationships (siegel/tdm/215)”

“Complex systems are also believed to have an innate property that creates a sense of order, cohesion, and stability across time.  Again, this is called “self-organization.”  Natural selection, connectionism, and information-processing views are all compatible with complex systems or “dynamical” perspective on self-organization.  Evolutionary theory helps us understand how systems evolved into adaptively complex forms designed to carry out specific problem- (siegel/tdm/216) solving behaviors.  Connectionist theory helps us understand how these skills in processing information can be carried out within the three-dimensional substance of interconnected neural tissue.  Specialized information processing helps describe the fundamental components of the mind that reflect this evolutionary history and the physical reality of brain structure.  Now we will add complexity theory to the conceptual mix in order to understand how the mind organizes its own functioning – and its states of mind.  (siegel.tdm.217)”

“Dynamical systems have three major features:  (1) They have self-organizational properties, (2) they are nonlinear, and (3) they have emergent patterns with recursive characteristics.  (siegel/tdm/217)”


Self-Organization:  The Movement toward Maximizing Complexity

“Within an individual living being, a driving force of development is the movement from simplicity toward complexity….Rather than viewing children as having stepwise increments in their abilities, we can view development as the emergence of patterns of increasingly complex interactions between children and their environment…..From a dynamical viewpoint, the system is maximizing its complexity and therefore its stability by (siegel/tdm/217) pushing behavior forward, applying old patterns in slightly new situations.  Every moment, in fact, is the emergence of a unique pattern of activity in a world that is similar but never identical to a past moment in time.  (siegel/tdm/218)”

“Patterns emerge in interaction with the environment.  Certain patterns of coordination become fairly stable under specific conditions or contexts.  These reinforced patterns or states of activation are called “attractor states.:  A state consists of activity of each component of the system at a given point in time;  with unfolding experience, especially with the presence of the value systems of the living brain, certain states become more probable as they are engrained within the system.  A “state of mind” as we have defined it earlier can therefore be seen as an “attractor state” of the system.  The probability of activation of a state is determined b both history and present context or environmental conditions.  (siegel/tdm/218)”

“….This activation of various components of your brain, the heterogeneous elements of your dynamical system, assemble themselves in a pattern representing your recollection of that day long ago.  As elements of your brain become active, they may recruit other neuronal groups to join in the pattern of activation.  Your value systems including your appraisal centers, will have reinforced the strength of such an attractor state in the infinite range of possible patterns of neuronal activation.  In this way, the self-organizational properties of the system create a sense of ordered complexity out of the trillions of synaptic connections that can be potentially fired.  (siegel/tdm/218)”  [How can they say there is even such a thing as a “disorganized state of mind?”  We all have “attractor states” – just some aren’t very pleasant!]

In the brain, we can propose that emotional responses constitute a primary value system that engrains patterns of neuronal firing and shapes the emergent states of activation of the system.  As states become engrained through repeated experience and emotional intensity, they become more likely to be activated.  These attractor states help the system organize itself and achieve stability.  Attractor states lend a degree of continuity to the infinitely possible options for activation profiles.  (siegel/tdm/218)”

Repeated instantiation (activation) of a particular profile of activations, a state of mind, can make such a configuration a deeply engrained attractor state.  (siegel/tdm/218)”  (Siegel gives the analogy of hikers carving a path through tall grass to a pond, the more the other hikers use it, the more of a path it becomes)

“Such is the case for states of mind.  With repeated activation, the states of mind becomes more deeply engrained, and the state is remembered….the brain is more likely to activate this clustering of processes in the future as a cohesive state of mind.  [Some must be pretty NOT cohesive! Like mine, like my mother’s?]  ….the mind also has a self-reinforcing quality to its organization, which serves as the mechanism for such reinforcement….repeated states of activation at critical early periods of development shape the structure of neuronal circuits, which then form the functional basis for enduring patterns of states of mind within the individual.  (siegel/tdm/219)”

Stability of the system is achieved by the movement toward maximizing complexity.  Complexity does not come from random activation, but instead is enhanced by a balance between the continuity and flexibility of the system.  “Continuity” refers to the strength of previously achieved states, and therefore the probability of their repetition; it implies sameness, familiarity, and predictability.  “Flexibility” indicates the system’s degree of sensitivity to environmental conditions; it involves the capacity for variability, novelty, and uncertainty.  The ability to produce new variations allows the system to adapt to the environment.  However, excessive variation or flexibility leads toward random activation.  On the other hand, rigid adherence to previously engrained states produces excessive continuity and minimizes the system’s ability to adapt and change.  (siegel/tdm/219)”

“Even pathological developmental pathways can move toward increasing complexity.  Complexity alone cannot be a criterion for defining mental health.  Mental disorder can be envisioned in part as restricting the overall movement of the system in an adaptive manner toward complexity by an imbalance in continuity and flexibility.  Pathological states may force the system into a range of excessive disorder or of rigidity; either one limits the movement of the system as a whole toward emerging complexity and adaptation to the environment…..examining the regulation of emotion and the flow of states of mind across time may serve as an important measure of the whole system’s coherent functioningAn individual may experience relatively cohesive states that, in isolation, may function fairly well.  However, the individual’s ability to integrate states of mind across time into a coherent whole may be restricted if these cohesive states are themselves conflictual.  (underlining and bolding is mine – siegel/tdm/220)”  [this sounds like the “bubble” thing I was envisioning – or the puzzle sections put together, but never integrated.  But here he makes it sound as though these segments of the puzzle are not even from the same puzzle….that sure wouldn’t ever fit together!]


“Dynamical systems are called “nonlinear,” the second basic principle of complexity theory, because a small change in input can lead to huge and unpredictable changes in output.  Part of this unpredictability is due to the context-dependent nature of the system’s response.  The unpredictability also stems in part from the fact that the system as a whole is inherently “noisy”; this means that there will be random activations that may or may not be reinforced by encounters with the environment.  Systems have both determinate (predictable) and indeterminate features to their behavior.  Because of these features, small changes in the microcomponents of the system can lead to large changes in the macro-behavior of the organism. (siegel/tdm/220)”

“In viewing the mind as a complex system, we can see that the “dysfunction” at one level of organization may produce large changes in the functioning of other levels and of the system as a whole.  Within brain activity, one can envision these changes in the functioning of the mind as emanating, for example, from particular regions responsible for an emotion such as fear.  (siegel/tdm/220) …Though the origin of a dysfunction may emanate from the abnormal messages sent from one component of the brain, the cascade of subsequent reactions can be unpredictable, can be huge, and can involve a widely distributed response from other components as well as from the brain and the mind as a whole.  This is nonlinearity at its most painful, out-of-control worst.  (siegel/tdm/221)  [he had a part in there on obsessive-compulsive, but my mother could fit in here, too]

“On the more beneficial side of nonlinearity is the finding that small changes in a person’s perspective, beliefs, or associations of particular forms of information processing can suddenly lead to large changes in state of mind and behavior.  For example, the art of psychotherapy can be seen as finding a way to align oneself as a therapist with a patient in such a fashion as to know what sort of change is needed and what alterations in the constraints on the system might permit such changes to occur.  Some of the most difficult kinds of ruts can be reinforced by deeply engrained, inflexible attractor states, including bad habits, intrusive memories, or isolation of information processing.  For some people, a small change in behavior or memory processing can yield subsequent changes in mental set (or system state) that produce large changes in behavior and internal experience.  The often challenging task is to figure out which system changes are needed in order to alter the constraints on rigidly engrained attractor states.  (siegel/tdm/221)”  [I would think that changes in life events could do this, too….losses, children leaving home, relationships – starting them, ending them –all kinds of things affect states of mind!  ]


[I remember when he said just earlier that the patterns of neuronal firings are infinite in possibility – how does this work with predictable probabilities?  Is the former chaos, and the latter what happens when the chaos is becoming ordered?]


Emergent and Recursive Patterns

“….emergent and recursive properties of the patterns of organization.  “Emergent” means that each of us is filled with a flow of states that evolve across time.  “Recursive” means that the effects of the elements of a given state return to further influence the emergence of the state of mind.  We are always in a perpetual state of being created and creating ourselves.  We will never be the same, and we have never been quite the way we are right at this moment.  This emergence of being as we flow from state to state is characterized by an underlying sense that there is an incredible amount of both freedom and cohesion within the system in a given moment.  As a person’s states of mind emerge in ways determined by the system’s own internal constraints and by the external constraints of interpersonal connections with others, the self is perpetually being created. (siegel/tdm/21)”  [sounds like sort of a looping process, forward and back and forward – I can see it like I was writing it, but can’t draw it on this computer!]

“On a daily basis, we each experience this sense of emergence when we enter a “bottom-up” mode of perceiving reality.  [Right hemisphere?]  The sense (siegel/tdm/221) of vitality in such living provides a window to the evolving quality of states of mind and human experience.  In contrast, recursive or repeating patterns in these states can bring a sense of familiarity to these new encounters.  [ Left hemisphere?]  This recursive quality reinforces patterns of representational response learned from earlier encounters with the world.  This quality can be adaptive in allowing us to respond rapidly to our perceptions of the world.  When engrained and restrictive patterns are taken to their extremes, however, the mind can become deadened to the vital and emergent uniqueness of lived experience.  (siegel/tdm/222)”

“The recursive nature of complex systems is revealed in the increasing specialization of a system’s trajectory of states.  Early on in development, for example, a wide array of states may be possible; as the system or organism evolves, it develops a more limited set of possible states.  The increase in the system’s differentiation, this specialization in the patterns of activation, is based on the coordination of basic elements into a more highly coupled, integrated system.  Such differentiation may be a product of genetically encoded information and the unfolding of developmental processes in transaction with experience and the ongoing emergence of self-organizing brain states across time. Though at first glance such differentiation and the limitations in the flow of states with development may appear to limit the system’s flow, such a differentiated system actually enables the states of activation to achieve more complexity.  In this manner, the recursive, self-perpetuating nature of development moves the system toward increasingly differentiated and integrated states….when differentiated sub-component elements become functionally coupled into a larger system, such integration allows for continued movement toward maximizing complexity as the states of the system continually emerge.  [and I would assume here that he is specifically NOT saying when they become dysfunctionally disintegrated and coupled!!]    (siegel/tdm/222)”


“The system attains a balance between continuity and flexibility by having the ability to modify what are called the “constraints” on the system.  These constraints are both internal, including the alteration of synaptic strengths…between neurons and neuronal groups, and external, governed by interactions with the environment.  The modification of constraints is not performed by a hidden designer, a “homunculus,” or a “ghost in the machine” – that is, some mind within the mind whose purpose is to help the organism adapt or organize its functioning.  Constraints are modified by the (siegel/tdm/222) mathematically predictable probabilities of the activities of the subcomponents of the system.  The mind organizes itself automatically, based on its ability to modify internal or external constraints. (siegel/tdm/223)”

”Adaptation occurs through modification of constraints.  Self-organization is dependent upon the modification of constraints in an effort to achieve maximal complexity.  Dysfunctions in self-organization can be conceptualized as due to any pattern of constraint modification that does not permit movement toward such complexity….patterns of modifying constraints can be effective in adapting to certain environmental conditions at one time, but can produce later limitations on the probabilistic movement toward maximal complexity.  Such an adaptation may be the general process serving as the source of psychological dysfunction.  (siegel/tdm/223)”

Within given states of mind, dysfunction may be revealed as an incohesive clustering of mental processes.  In posttraumatic stress disorder, for example, intrusions of memory, hypervigilance, and excessive arousal are experienced as fragmented mental states.  In the states of mind characteristic of other disorders, such as personality disorders or chronic anxiety, there may be a semistable cohesiveness in which the isolated elements of the particular states of mind have a cohesive functional quality within themselves.  The semistable or temporary quality of this cohesion is revealed when the whole system’s constriction is examined.  At the moment of activation of a semistable cohesive state, other elements (such as memories, other emotions, more flexible thought patterns, or responses to others) are strategically omitted from activation.  (siegel/tdm/223)”

Attachment and Self-Organization

(see this next part, put over in SELF NOTES 6 – IMPORTANT also part copied over to DISSOCIATION NOTES 6)


Siegel is referencing the work of Beebe and Lachman – “studies of communication patterns within various mother-child dyads. (siegel/tdm/225)”

“…vocal rhythm matching (in which the response of one person corresponds to that of the partner) demonstrates….[in] Securely attached dyads…a midrange balance in which there is clearly a correspondence between signals, but each member has the freedom to vary responses, which in turn will be registered and contingently responded to by the partner.  (siegel/tdm/225)”

“In avoidantly attached pairs, vocal rhythm matching…demonstrates a marked independence of communication signals.  Each member communicates almost as if the other hasn’t been heard.  (siegel/tdm/225)”

“With ambivalently attached pairs, at the other extreme, there is an excessively matched pattern of response.  Each individual acts as a tightly bound mirror of the other.  (siegel/tdm/225)”

[As usual, there is nothing noted or mentioned about disorganized pairs – not helpful!]


“…the midrange response in communicative contingency [is] the pattern allowing the maximal amount of complexity to be achieved….two systems have become functionally linked or integrated in a manner that allows them to function as a single, complex system.  Maximal complexity is achieved by the combination of individual differentiation and interpersonal integration.  (siegel/tdm/225)”

“In contrast, being independent from one’s partner (as avoidantly attached children are) is a situation in which the system of one individual acts as if alone, decreasing complexity by way of excessive internal continuity.  Being tightly coupled with another [as ambivalently attached pairs are], almost verging on intrusive matching or being paralyzed by being a mirror of the other, also decreases complexity by reducing any variability between the interacting systems.  (siegel/tdm/225)”

“As a dynamical system, the mind may be restricted in its balanced movement toward complexity either by excessive responsiveness to others or by an intense autonomy and resistance to joining with others’ states.  (siegel/tdm/226)”

“Other people may tend toward dissociative states in which the overall state of mind can only be organized by dis-associations of the component parts of mental functioning. (siegel/tdm/226)”  [this is also copied into DISSOCIATION NOTES 6]

[How does this fit with peritrauma and constant, chronic aloneness in infancy?  Overly autonomous – “As a dynamical system, the mind may be restricted in its balanced movement toward complexity either by excessive responsiveness to others or by an intense autonomy and resistance to joining with others’ states.  (siegel/tdm/226)”…]



The activity of the brain creates the mind….this activity is composed of the flow of neuronal activations, or energy, through a complex neural network that serves the purpose of carrying and transforming mental representations, or information.  The processing of this information allows the mind to solve problems.  [Including the unsolvable ones, like the disorganized infant must do?The specific pattern of the flow of energy through the brain creates a particular neural net profile of activation, or state of mind.  Emotion is fundamentally linked to the same circuitry that is responsible for creating meaning and value for mental representations.  It is no surprise that particular emotions become associated with particular states of mind:  Emotions, in fact, are a fundamental part of the process that creates a state of mind at a particular moment in time.  (siegel/tdm/226)”

“”…the energy flow within states of mind …[is] a flow of information through a self-organizing system.  Emotions reveal the way in which a system regulates its states of activation in processing information.  This self-organization is dyadic – a part of the interaction between two people – and reflects the fundamental way in which the mind is created within interpersonal interactions and neurophysiological processes.  [I grew up severely lacking in this, and hence am very uncomfortable around most people, including aggregates of people – and yet often feel so lonely and disconnected – a quandary!  I never learned that I was a people, and I never learned what a people was or what a people was “good for.”  I was forced to be autonomous because I was alone!  Again:

“As a dynamical system, the mind may be restricted in its balanced movement toward complexity either by excessive responsiveness to others or by an intense autonomy and resistance to joining with others’ states.  (siegel/tdm/226)”]


“The state of the system is dependent upon the induction of alterations, or disequilibrium, in the movement toward self-organization.  These alterations are created by emotional transactions with others.  (siegel/tdm/226)”

[There has to be a huge difference between “dysfunction” and forced adaptations to impossible situations for infants.  I think every day was a different state of mind growing up with my mother.  Every abuse incident was separate and independent from the others.  It was a way to avoid becoming overwhelmed….the fact that I could, at almost 18 years of age, sit on the side of the mountain for a day (if mother went to town and took someone else with her) and never think a single THOUGHT other than to notice the arrangement of rocks and lichen and flowers and clouds on the mountain, to watch ants work and carefully take their log apart to I could see more of their world – but no separate thoughts, no questions, no wondering, no self reflection.  So, the “organization” was not around a SELF – it was not self-organization.  But was it organized at all?  It must have been, or I could not have functioned!  So is this what they call “disorganization,” dis-association?  The fact that none of the experiences were connected, that there was no big or bigger picture for me or to me?  Just some sort of absolute acceptance of the state of affairs of my childhood.  I never knew I was an “other” from mother – I did not know what an “other” was – how does this compare to “Nell?”.]


“In clinical practice, therapists see a continuity of behavioral and emotional responses that can make people inflexible [left hemisphere?], nonproductive, dysfunctional, and unhappy.  Their minds have lost the capacity [or never had it in the first place, like never having been sane!for adaptive self-organization [remembering that the disorganized state was adaptive, and that it is formed into the brain-mind – but that the self-organization may never have existed as there’s no self….this kind of talking he is doing is unsettling because he is not acknowledging the REALITY of life for those of us who were so severely abused and raised in peritrauma.  Is he saying here that the capacity for self-organization itself has been lost in these cases, or just the adaptive quality of it?] and have become stuck in inflexible patterns of activation.  These are among the many reasons individuals may come to a psychotherapist for help.(siegel/tdm/227)”

[In my mind, it is not helpful to judge us in any way.  We need to be applauded and to applaud ourselves for the extremely adaptive methods we have devised in order to survive the “unsolvable problem” and to adapt to it.  Later in this paragraph Siegel says, “Often people seeking psychotherapeutic help feel stuck in patterns of response and internal experience that they are desperate to change but have been unable to alter.  To help patients alter such an engrained and unhelpful pattern in the flow of states of mind, therapists need to consider how the brain establishes such a continuity across time and what interventions can be designed to change such a process.  (siegel/tdm/227)”  What is important is that we, ourselves, begin to learn about how we adapted to survive, and find ways outselves to “make things better.”  This is a huge task for anybody to undertake.  For those of us raised in peritrauma from chronic infant abuse, the challenge will be on the same scale as the first one was!  We need to find the possible “hinge” points.  We must remember that “alter” does not mean to change into something else.  (see definition below).  But this needs to be a process of respect, appreciation and honoring.  There is no shame or blame.  We did the very best we could – as infants with virtually no resources or abilities.  We must find the ones we did have, and did use, and identify the ways we used them – and then alter how we use and apply these abilities today.  Most of us will never get to a therapist.  And even if we do, and can afford their services, it is doubtful that they will specifically be trained in how to deal with the specific kinds of problems chronic infant abuse survivors have – we are the “disorganized,” and yet as long as we even continue to view ourselves from this perspective, we will miss the advantages we created from the impossible.  We have simply “organized” around something else!  Maybe not around our clear SELF as we should have – and finding our true SELF, to me, would be our first task, and the first task a therapist should take us on.  But we need to look specifically at our situations back in infancy, and look at the way WE adapted, for this adaptation itself will be unique and can give us some road signs to our SELVES that did this adapting.  What did we organize around?  I think of my mother’s recurring image of a “dream home,” and the fire story – that is part of how her SELF, her psyche, imaged the disaster of a life she was faced with.  We need to see the specific images that are unique to how we view things, and put things together.  We also have to look at the losses, what we missed and what we are missing.  It is not realistic to expect us to turn completely into something or someone else!  How do we change our process of “continuity across time?”  Many of us don’t even really know what time is because the developmental milestones were not crossed correctly (i.e. the mental representation times, when representation became misrepresentation, because that’s what was fed to us by those who had them themselves.  Yet the misrepresentations are accurate, given what we were given back then.  But the reality they were created from was ugly, and these just look like misrepresentations compared to the representations of nicer things most other people were given to work from/with.  And, remember that he is also saying very small changes can effect huge changes, i.e. trajectory – a word I thought weeks ago would probably apply here.]

“Certainly people show unpredictable, spontaneous behaviors (right hemisphere?] that seem to “come out of nowhere.”  These are “predictable” from the nonlinearity of complex systems.  As Boldrini and colleagues have stated, “In chaotic systems, several different patterns of movements are simultaneously present and very small changes in initial conditions can alter the system’s trajectory.  The system can itself give rise to turbulence and, under some circumstances, this leads to an evolutionary advantage, while, in other cases, it does not yield stability, but leads to intermittent chaos.”  [Siegel is quoting these authors here]  (Siegel/tdm/227)”

These are “patterns of response and internal experience” that are difficult to alter.  They are an “engrained and unhelpful pattern in the flow of states of mind” – we need to “consider how the brain establishes such a continuity across time” – before any interventions can “change such a process.”  (siegel/tdm/227)  [they were extremely “helpful” and in fact allowed the individual to survive.  “Unhelpful is a value statement, a judgment.  We must remember this – see two paragraphs above this one]

“Continuity in the flow of states across time is established in part by internal constraints – the neuronal connections that have been established by constitution and experience.  In such a model of probabilities, the system moves toward increasing levels of complexity while maintaining elements of continuity, sameness, and familiarity in the face of new and unfamiliar activation patterns.  The system by its very structure has a property that maintains some aspect of continuity.  As the system produces outputs (behaviors in response to the environment), these too can produce a somewhat consistent pattern of reactions from the outside world, and thus can shape external constraints…. (siegel/tdm/227)”  [he continues with shy children example here]

ALTER (14c)

[ME, fr. ML alterare, fr. L alter other (of two); akin to L alius other – more at ELSE]

1: to make different without changing into something else


syn see CHANGE

ELSE (bef. 12c)

[ME elles, fr. OE; akin to L alius other, alter other of two, Gk allos other]

1 a: in a different manner or place or at a different time  b: in an additional manner or place or at an additional time


(DEPRESSION mentioned)

“One way of viewing a state of mind is that the profile of activation includes which modules of information processing are active, as well as what they are processing. (siegel.tdm’228)”

“Of note is that certain circuits that function well in some states appear to be markedly impaired in depressed states, as evidenced, for example, by decreased ability to detect facial emotion and the corresponding brain imaging findings of decreased right hemisphere blood flow during these tasks.  In depression, the module for processing facial affect is impaired. The recursive (feedback-loop) nature of states of mind is such that the blockage of this module may reinforce the intensity of the very state of mind that produced the blockage.  In other words, the depressed person loses the ability to utilize the facial expressions of others to help modulate his own emotional state.  External constraints become unavailable, and the person must rely on the isolated and depressed functioning of the internal constraints alone.  Such a person feels and is truly disconnected from others.  (siegel.tdm’228)”

“The selective activation or deactivation of information-processing modules of the mind creates its own continuity in the creation of a given state of mind….As clusters of neurons can become rapidly activated or deactivated in the creation of a state of mind, the pattern of neural firing can reflect abrupt shifts in self-organization.  The complex system of the brain is inherently capable of abrupt transitions in states.   One way of characterizing the nature of the brain’s self-organizing properties is through its coordination of such transitions:  When a brain remains stuck in a given state, such as depression, or exhibits dysregulated and abrupt shifts in state, such as in dissociation, this may be due to dysfunctional self-organization.  (siegel.tdm’228)”  [this is also copied into DISSOCIATION NOTES 6


Here again, dysfunctional self-organization is a value judgment.  When that label is laid upon us, we will arise to defend what we know inside, even if we don’t know it consciously – and this is part of what this book will be designed to combat and counteract.  Our organization is so complex, yet also kept us alive, “don’t you DARE call it dysfunctional!  You try to survive what we have gone through since our birth, and then call it and us dysfunctional!  You might not like what you see, and it might not make our lives “easy” or being around us “easy,” but we did adapt, and we did survive.  What we are organized AROUND would be the more helpful thing to spend energy looking at, rather than judging us.  You stay “stuck” like we are stuck in the mud.  Probably it is more like a fixation of focus point – like looking at a complex picture and not seeing some of the details, or missing the point the artist put into it.  That we can be helped to broaden our perspective – or like a car stuck against a brick wall – we need movement toward wholeness.  Why phrase all this in the negative?”


“How does the encapsulated episode of experience, the state of mind, become reinforced by the process of self-organization?  The characteristic flow of information within a given state helps to define its own boundaries.  Being furious can lead to certain thoughts, images, and sensations that reinforce themselves in a rageful state.  As (siegel/tdm/228) this processing begins to become more flexible, the intensity of the state begins to subside, and the state dissolves into a more neutral flow of activations.  In this manner, certain states have fairly definable boundaries and characteristics.  Others are more adaptive and flexible in the patterns of activation that become clustered as a functional unit.  In these more “fluid” and “neutral” states, there may be less easily defined beginnings and endings.  Thus the flexibility in information-processing modules may help define the flow of states across time, rather than merely the processing itself.  (siegel/tdm/229)”


+ self-organization is a process

+ the flow of information (thoughts, images, and sensations ) within a state has a particular characteristic that helps define its boundaries

+ patterns of activation become clustered as a functional unit

+ state intensity can diminish when processing becomes more flexible

+ intense states have fairly definable boundaries and characteristics

+ some states are more “adaptive,” “flexible, “fluid,” and “neutral” than others

+ flexible states have “less easily defined beginnings and endings”

+ if flexibility is included in the information-processing module, the flexibility will help define “the flow of states across time”

+ if flexibility is not included in the information-processing module, the “processing itself” will define “the flow of the state across time” by itself


Continuity and Self-States

+ Siegel is calling divided information-processing modules – multiple and varied “selves”—or clusters of modules and the content of their information – into fairly distinct states of mind

+ he says these are different roles, different ways of “being” – as we adapt to different social contexts

+ “many layers of information processing” having “unique sets of rules” and “specialized problems they are attempting to solve”

“…in the case of disorganized attachment, unresolved trauma, and dissociation, the mind is capable of clustering its modules and the content of their information within fairly distinct states of mind. But is this the case only in those who have experienced disorganized attachments or childhood trauma?  The answer appears to be no. Studies in child development suggest, in fact, that the idea of a unitary, continuous “self” is actually an illusion our minds attempt to create.  Childhood is filled with normal examples of the many ways in which a child must “be” – different roles to take, in order to adapt to different social contexts (with parents siblings, peers, teachers).  Adolescence is filled with new challenges to deal with the emergence of new “selves” with seemingly separate identities:  a sexual self, a student self, a self independent of parents.  Even in cognitive science, the mind is considered as having many distinct “parts” responsible for a wide array of activities, from feeding and reproduction to affiliation and reading other people’s minds.  As intelligent beings with desires and beliefs, we attempt to achieve our goals by assessing our situations and applying our internal rules to interactions with the environment. Our many layers of information processing have unique sets of rules, as well as specialized problems they are attempting to solve.  Dividing these information-processing modules is necessary to carry out efficient interactions with others in the world.  We have multiple and varied “selves,” which are needed to carry out the many and diverse activities of our lives.  (siegel/tdm/229)”

+ I had no goals as a child.  I was one long run-on sentence.  I had no punctuation.  I was not distinct from my mother.  I had no distinction  I was separated from my siblings and invisible to my peers.  I had very little contact with anyone – minimally with teachers as none ever took any special interest in me or looked me in the eye and asked how I was doing, or who I was.  I remember liking some of my classes growing up, but mostly because they had creative projects.  And yet I was not reflective of self during the doing of the work.  I just worked at things and finished things and handed them in and went on and on and on.

So maybe this lack of having things distinguished from each other was part of the problem.  Just the long simultaneous or continuous life without break – just peritrauma, but I kept on going and growing.  Every day brought some kind of trauma.  When in high school, mother criticized how the veins showed through my skin at the base of my throat and top of my chest.  She did the same about the hair that grew on my arms, so I thought she would be happier with me if I shaved it off – yet when I did, she criticized me because my skin looked like pig skin.  She thought I wiggled my “bottom” when I walked, and didn’t stand up straight so she would make me stand against the wall and walk around the house with books on my head.  She criticized my complexion.  She did everything she could to eradicate any sense of myself even as a teen that I could have perhaps mustered – yet I still “snuck” rolling up my skirt waste band at school so my hemline would be shorter.  When I worked as a senior I bought nylons and make up and hid them in my locker at school, being sure to remove all the makeup before going home in the evening.

But I don’t think there was anything developing like a normal self – or even like a normal collection of “selves”  from self notes 6:  These children’s fragmented internal worlds come to resemble the fragmenting interpersonal communication that shapes the development of their minds. (siegel/tdm/225)”


“Alan Sroufe has defined the “self” as an internally organized cluster of attitudes, expectations, meanings, and feelings.  In his view, the self emerges from an “organized caregiving matrix” that in part determines how the individual responds to and engages with or avoids the environment.  Relationships also determine how children interpret (siegel/tdm/229) experience….the “selves” in which we live are dependent upon relationship context.  [What happens if we organize these selves around things other than people?  Like nature, or animals, or our work, or a sense of place?  Are they ONLY organized around human relationships?]  Furthermore, our relationship histories may have shaped particular patterns of feelings, attitudes, and meanings that are more likely to become activated in the future.  In these ways, history and present context shape whichever “self” is organized in the moment.  As relationship experiences are repeated, these “self-states” become repeatedly engrained and develop their own histories and patterns of activity across time.  (siegel/tdm/230)”


Or whichever self is NOT organized in the moment.  I have nothing to organize my self around in the present moment.  I am drifting.  Seriously drifting!


“…we have many selves.  Within specialized “self” or “self-state,” as we are now defining it, there is cohesion in the moment and continuity across time.  [This is what I FEEL I am missing!]  For example, a person’s sexual self is made up of all of the states of mind that have been clustered over time to deal with sexual information:  sexual arousal from within, sexual interaction with others.  This sexual self then has a continuity by virtue of its connection strengths or internal system constraints….Within this continuity is a sense of cohesion.  That is, the various modules of the mind cluster together in the service of specialized activity – processing information in order to achieve a particular goal.  Within this cohesion of the specialized self emerges a continuity across time (in that self-state) of feelings, beliefs, intentions, memories, and so forth, which creates a qualitative sense of unity.  (siegel/tdm/230)”


various modules of the mind cluster together in the service of specialized activity – processing information in order to achieve a particular goal” – like what I am calling the “borrowed” attachment of raising my children.  I had a goal, a specialized activity, and my mind clustered together the “various modules of the mind” to achieve this particular goal.  Or like the goal of being with Ernie.  But it isn’t enough.  This is an EXTERNALLY focused organization.  As it was with being “mother.”  I had in that continuity “a sense of cohesion,” as I did when I was with Ernie.  Without these external focuses, I am left without “a qualitative sense of unity.”


“The mind as a whole, although it exists across time and is composed of many relatively distinct but interdependent modules, [does that mean mine are more “independent?”] functions as a system itself.  As a complex system, it is made up of subcomponent specialized self-states, as well as itself being a subcomponent of a larger interpersonal system.  (siegel/tdm/230)”


“Here’s a bit of vocabulary clarification.  We can use the term “state of mind” to refer to the cluster of brain activity (and mental modules) at a given moment in time.  This “moment” can be brief or extended, and the states of mind can have various degrees of sharpness or blurriness to their boundaries across time.  The repeated activation of states of mind as time goes by – over weeks, months, and years – into a specialized goal-directed set of cohesive functional units is what we are going to call a “specialized self” or “self-state.”  (siegel/tdm/230)”

“The most basic division is that between a private, inner self and a public, outer self….Developmental studies have examined how individuals struggle with their (siegel/tdm/230) various roles in life and how these may be composed of various degrees of “true” or “false” selfhood. Other examples of specialized selves include sexual, affiliative, status-seeking, survival-oriented, and intellectual selves.  [Certainly being a mother fits at least the middle three of these clearly.]  Clearly the divisions could go on and on, until we get back to our basic unity of the state of mind in a given moment in time.  And this is just the point:  How does the mind create a sense of continuity across states of mind, if it does at all?  (siegel/tdm/231)”

“The proposal here is that basic states of mind are clustered into specialized selves, which are enduring states of mind that have a repeated pattern of activity across time.  These specialized selves or self-states each have relatively specialized and somewhat independent modes of processing information and achieving goals.  Each person has many such interdependent and yet distinct processes, which exist over time with a sense of continuity that creates the experience of mind.  (siegel/tdm/231)”


I think there is something wrong here for me – I don’t know that mine are either distinct or interdependent.  I don’t think I have the “sense of continuity that creates the experience of mind” in a “normal” fashion.


“Susan Harter and colleagues’ developmental studies suggest that certain self-states may conflict with each other.  Such conflicts may be a central source of dysfunction, especially during adolescence.  Also, the more extreme the degree of “false selfhood” within specialized selves, the more individuals may experience a sense of disconnection from others and from themselves.  How a person resolves such conflicts may be an important determinant of future emotional resilience.  The question may not be whether there is a sense of unifying continuity, but how the mind integrates a sense of coherence – of effective functioning – across self-states through time.  (siegel/tdm/231)”

If people become stuck and disabled, if they are filled with adaptive specialized selves without a sense of authenticity, or if they are filled with intense and unresolved conflicts across self-states, then the development of a specific process that integrates the selves across time may become important. Clinicians often encounter patients who face these dilemmas.  Catalyzing the development of such an integrating process may be the central feature of psychotherapy for these individuals.  (siegel/tdm/231)” [I wish he would do more to define this “false selfhood!  It is important!”]

“The next chapters will examine how the mind achieves integration and self-regulation, and how interpersonal relationships can assist people in developing the vital capacity to transform their self-organization.  (siegel/tdm/231)”

[That’s probably what I need more than anything – to “transform” my self-organization.]


(most of rest of chapter moved to Chapter 49 INTERPERSONAL SYSTEMS AND DYADIC STATES OF MIND)


What kind of distinction would I make between “false selfhoods” and an “artificial self” that I see coming from borrowed attachments?  Both have to do with this issue of self-organization and an integrated self across time.

I would think that a self-state would be organized around certain priorities.  How does this fit in?  “goal-directed set of cohesive functional units” – I need to work on this – I want to be happy and still have time with Ernie, but the sadness has to go – all my sadness and “lostness”  — this has to have something to do with MEANING – and the scrambled nature of my learning about this in my infantile brain – assigning meaning and value so one can have goals and priorities in their flow of self states across time.  When I could sit on the side of that mountain at 17 for a day and not think a thought, I did not have MEANING – nothing had MEANING – and therefore no value!?!?

Perhaps most importantly, what is need is goal specific understanding and information – so that one can become goal-directed.

It must have something to do with a person not having or being a “false self,” but KNOWING internally what they value and what they WANT – some sort of future focus that influences their actions in the present.  This also has to be connected to the concept of BELONGING – what belongs and doesn’t belong – approach pleasure, avoid pain.  Knowing which is which and what causes what – and in disorganized attachment this is all messed up!

Even with the harvester hand signal and me taking off without a loaded truck – that split second of confusion and dissociation when I misinterpreted the situation and his signals – I didn’t know what belonged to what – which signal belonged to which response.

As well as to what is right for me and what is wrong for me – like I don’t feel today that going to that house in Lubbock is right for me – it doesn’t match my finances or my timeline – even though I want to please Cindy and be grateful – it would probably be more right for me to go to the Amarillo shelter until I figure some things out – and see a therapist.  Doing what is right for us is avoiding the “false self” syndrome?

Trying to borrow attachments so that I belonged somewhere is not “true self” stuff.

What others’ brains form around naturally does not come naturally to me.  I have to struggle, and change things – major things within me have to change – ALTER, as Siegel uses that word.

“Solitude may permit the reflection necessary to enable her to initiate such changes.  If she then makes a deliberate effort to alter her state – and especially her behavioral responses and patterns of communication – major changes in interpersonal interactions may occur.  (siegel/tdm/235)”

Yet I also know it deeply has to do with the idea of what I deserve.



“We are all nonlinear dynamical systems.  This means that small changes in input can lead to large, often unpredictable changes in output.  It also means that a good portion of human behavior and the human mind are unpredictable in the long run.  (siegel/tdm/235)”


“…repeated activation of states, especially those involving significant emotional intensity during the early years of development, makes them more likely to be repeated in the future.  In this manner, historical patterns of states of mind, both within an individual and within a family system, may become characteristic traits.  It is in this way that attractor states become engrained within us and allow old interpersonal states to continue to influence our individual patterns of self-organization.  [This appears to probably be written for those within the “normal” range, not dissociated or disorganized]  (siegel/tdm/236)”

“Rigidly engrained states produce reduced variability in the system, which diminishes its adaptability to the environment and its capacity to maximize the system’s complexity.  Self-organization, always attempting to move us toward increasing levels of complexity, is inhibited if flexibility is reduced.  Individuals, families, or groups of people in whom states have become so engrained as to inhibit exploration of new possibilities can no longer grow and develop.  The subjective experience of such a condition is one of stagnation and malaise.  Infusing energy into a system, destabilizing old states, and bringing new life to a stuck set of patterns demand establishing a new balance between continuity and flexibility – one that will allow for emergent states of increasing complexity.  The dynamic experience of such emergent states of mind within responsive interpersonal relationships can create an electrifying sense of vitality.  (siegel.tdm.236)”  [I remember he used similar references to “vitality” in talking about Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.  And I still don’t see how this has to be limited only to interpersonal relationships – at least not just with others.  What matters most is our interpersonal relationship with our SELF!]



Emotional growth is based on the movement of dynamical systems toward a balance between continuity and flexibility in the flow of states across time.  A balanced flow of energy within the system – without either rigid constraints on which neuronal groups will be recruited (excessive control) or a chaotic, random flow of activations (excessive disorganization), such as in “strange attractor states,” which limit the complexity achieved by randomizing the recruitment process – is a goal of emotional development.  In other words, past adaptations may have led to either excessively rigid or disorganized self-regulation.  Either condition limits the stabilizing movement toward increasing levels of complexity of the system.  These conditions reflect emotional dysregulation.  (siegel/tdm/236)”

“The attainment of maximum complexity is a function of the bal- (siegel/tdm/236) ance between flexibility and continuity of the system.  Flexibility is based on the generation of diversity of responses and variation in the flow of states; it allows for the creation of a degree of uncertainty in the novel adaptations to changing environmental conditions.  In contrast, continuity emerges from the system’s learning processes, which establish a degree of certainty in response patterns as determined by an engrained set of constraints.  This balance between flexibility and continuity, novelty and familiarity, uncertainty and certainty, allows a dynamical system to recruit increasingly complex layers of neuronal groups in maximizing its trajectory toward complexity.  (siegel/tdm/237)”

Over time, cohesive states achieve enduring continuity within their organization as self-states.  [This by itself does not indicate the quality or kind of self-state, or the degree or lack of organization.] Each self-state is created and maintained in order to carry out specific information-processing tasks.  As environmental conditions change, the context-dependent nature of states leads to the instantiation of a particular self-state required at that time.  The healthy, adaptive mind is capable of entering a range of discontinuous (but minimally conflictual) self-states, each with its own cohesion and sense of continuity.  (siegel/tdm/237)”  [And what, then, holds them all together – in a self-organized fashion?  What is the “overriding” organizing agent or agency?]

“There are various ways in which cohesion and continuity may be impaired.  Excessive rigidity in a state of mind leads to an inability to try new configurations and to adapt flexibly to changes in the environment.  Such rigidity may be seen in those with avoidant attachment histories, in which input from other people is eventually adaptively blocked in order to maintain self-organization.  Homeostasis is achieved at the expense of the connections with others and with primary emotional states of the self.  In this manner, right-hemisphere information processing may be dis-associated from that of the left hemisphere in order to maintain functioning.  Such a person faces the challenge of learning to create some [new] tolerable level of disequilibrium, in order to allow the system to try new pathways toward [different, new, and more] balanced self-regulation.  In such a case, we can envision strategies of moving toward growth and development as initially involving right-hemisphere-to-right-hemisphere communication between two people.  Eventually, further internal change may be brought about by a process facilitating integration of the right and left hemispheres within the individual.  Within a psychotherapy setting, such techniques as journal writing, guided imagery, and exercises for “drawing on the right side of the brain” have proven helpful to catalyze such a new form of bilateral resonance.  (siegel/tdm/237)”

“In ambivalently attached individuals, states may be somewhat fragile and easily disrupted.  Cohesion may have a semistable quality (siegel/tdm/237) that is particularly vulnerable to perturbation from social nuances.  Some such individuals may be quite sensitive to subtle nonverbal cues and inadvertent misattunements; these disconnections may lead rapidly to states of shame from which it may be difficult to recover.  For other people, past histories of parental intrusion make their semistable cohesion hypervigilant [sic] to the intrusion of others’ internal experiences into their own.  In this manner, they may defensively guard against the perception of others’ minds, creating interpersonal disconnection.  (siegel./tdm/238)”  [He sure doesn’t offer any insights into how these people need to change or how they could be assisted to change]

“In individuals with disorganized attachments, two major forms of dis-association can occur.  One is within a state of mind at a given time, in which there is a “strange attractor” state of widely distributed activations.  In the second form, cohesive states are dis-associated from one another across time; that is, there is a functional isolation of information transfer across states.  Cohesion is achieved only through the restriction in complexity achievable by this particular configuration of self-states.  (siegel/tdm/238)” [this paragraph also copied into dissociation notes 6]

“Complexity theory suggests that self-organization allows a system to adapt to environmental changes through the movement of its states toward increasingly complex configurations.  Moving with a balance of flexibility and continuity, the system emerges within the internal and external constraints that define the trajectory of state changes.  Internal constraints include the strength and distribution of synaptic connections within neural pathways; external constraints include social experiences and attuned emotional communication between people.  By regulating these internal and external constraints, the self-system evolves through an emerging set of self-states that have cohesion and continuity within themselves.  The mind as a non-linear system is also quite capable of abrupt shifts in constraints, which lead to the instantiation of distinct, discontinuous self-states.  The mind’s creation of stable systemic coherence across these self-states is one of the central goals of emotional development and self-regulation.  (siegel/tdm/238)”




“The integrating mind attempts to create a sense of coherence among multiple selves across time and across contexts….the inherent features of computation, complexity, and connectionism create a property of cohesion within a state of mind in a given slice of time.  Self-states have a repeating pattern of cohesive activity, which lends a sense of historical continuity to their existence.  If each of us existed as a continuous flow of states, this might be the end of the story.  But…the complex systems of our minds are capable of abrupt transitions into markedly different statesThese state transitions lack cohesion and continuity.  How, then, does the mind achieve coherence across self-states?”  (siegel/tdm/315)”

“The struggle to satisfy needs and desires within a complex social world is often filled with conflict….experiencing “conflictual needs,”…[is] a part of the experience of segmented self-states.  The properties we’ve seen in states of mind, the research on normal child and adolescent development, and the findings of cognitive neuroscience all suggest that in fact the normal functioning of the mind consists of many processes that can indeed function fairly autonomously.  Just as the body is made of its component parts, the mind as a whole system is made up of the activity of these multiple self-states.  (siegel/tdm/315)”

At the transition between self-states, there may be a temporary disorganization or incohesion and discontinuity in the activity of the brain; however, once a new state of mind is instantiated, cohesion is reestablished. [this last sentence copied into dissociation notes 6]  How can a four-dimensional sense of coherence be created with such discontinuous transitions across states?  Why can’t the mind merely function as independent sets of self-states?  Answering these questions is facilitated by reviewing the way the mind functions as a self-organizational system.  (siegel/tdm/315)”

“Self-organization at the level of the mind must involve the integrative processing of these self-states across time and context.  It is at the moments of transition that new self-organizational forms can be constructed.  Indeed, integrating coherence of the mind is about state shifts. Congruity and unity emerge at the interface of how information and energy – the defining elements of the mind – flow across states.  [copied into dissociation notes 6]  As Allan Schore has stated,

The term “self-organization” can be imprecise and misleading, because first, despite the implications of the two words used to describe the process, self-organization occurs in interaction with another self – it is not monadic but dyadic.  And second, the organization of brain systems does not involve a simple pattern of increments but rather large changes in organization.  Development, the process of self-assembly, thus involves both progressive and regressive phenomena, and is best characterized as a sequence of processes of organization, disorganization, and reorganization.

Schore 1997 p 607

Early organization of the nonlinear right brain and development of a predisposition to psychiatric disorders

Development and Psychopathology 9, 595 – 631

Integration is about how the mind creates a coherent self-assembly of information and energy flow across time and context.  Integration creates the subjective experience of self.  (siegel/tdm/316)”  all this part copied to prenotes  chp 21 trauma

[Integration is not the same thing, then as self-organization, even though earlier siegel says it is flaws in self-organization that are passed down the generations.  Is it rather and more exactly, then about integration, development and self-assembly?  This is the subjective sense of self – then self-organization is about how others perceive us and how we are when we interact with others?  I am confused here!  What is the possible point of making a distinction here between self-organization as other oriented and self-assembly as self oriented?  Yet another case of me going along so far thinking I undesrtand what siegel is saying and then he throws in something like this!]


when he said:  “Unresolved trauma or loss leaves the individual with a deep sense of incoherence in autonoetic consciousness, which tries to make sense of the past, organize the present, and chart out the future.  This lack of resolution can produce lasting effects throughout the lifespan and influence self-organization across the generations.  (siegel/tdm/297)”


The inability to form an attachment, then, is like the inability to reach a state of mind of feeling felt.  If we can’t reach it, then we can’t integrate it.  I also have “dissociative symptoms, such as depersonalization and derealization” which must complicate things for me


I also suspect that smoking cigarettes is a form of dissociation – or getting caught in an expanded experience between changing states of mind – organize, disorganize, reorganize – caught in the middle again and again – a transitional state of mind between other states of mind.  Literally “taking a break” between states of mind.  Falling into the cracks between states of mind


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