“Neuroscience, PBSP Psychomotor, and the Re-Invention of Talk Therapy”
by Robert Lea, Ed.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Neuroscience has proposed that the language of the brain is recurrent parallel process computation and that consciousness itself may be a function of the simultaneous, multi-layered, recurrent monitoring within and between neural networks of the brain – of parts of the brain watching and shaping the information processing of other parts of the brain. The implications of these concepts for the practice of psychotherapy are profound.
If the neuroscience parallel processing computation model is correct, then beneath the linear processing of the language based Self of traditional talk therapy lies a vast computational network capable of trillions of simultaneous fine-grained computations which shape, monitor and control every aspect of our being – movement, perception, memory, affect, thought and self awareness. In that case the focus of psychotherapy could no longer be limited to the language based levels of the Self addressed by traditional talk therapy. Psychotherapy would have to be re-invented as a process of re-programming the patterns of activation and interaction of the neural networks of the brain.
In PBSP Psychomotor Therapy, the structure of the treatment experience – known as the Structure – simulates the recurrent parallel processing features of the brain described by contemporary neuroscience. In the Structure, a virtual reality spatial model of internal verbal-affective-motoric processing is established: 1. By enrolling the negative voices and internalized figures of the language based Self in objects or group members; 2. By witnessing or naming affect responses to those voices and figures; 3. By enhancing and interacting with motoric responses to the emerging virtual model, and; 4. By virtue of the fact that the client is consciously monitoring all of these interactions as they occur.
Furthermore, the enhanced short term working memory necessary for the recurrent shaping and reshaping of affect/motoric perception in the Structure emerges as a function of the fact that the enrolled voices and figures remain in place during the 50 minute Structure. This density of processing cannot occur in traditional talk therapy because the recurrent parallel processing requirements for this type of work need an expanded short term memory which exceeds the serial processing capacity of short term linguistic memory.
In this way the Structure experience imitates the parallel and recurrent processing features of the neural networks of the brain. The PBSP Psychomotor Structure could be considered an external model of brain functions monitoring and shaping each other, perhaps even a model of consciousness itself.
The goal of PBSP Psychomotor is to go beyond the talk therapy serial processing of putting words and sentences to thoughts and feelings and to initiate instead a consciously directed reprogramming of the natural basis of the experiential self. That the projection, or enrolling, of aspects of the brain functioning in the Structure creates a trance-like experience in which deep reprogramming of historical scenes may be achieved can be confirmed by anyone who observes the process. Is it possible that the neural networks of the brain respond more powerfully to the parallel processing features of the Structure than they do to the serial processing of speech in talk therapy, and that this might account for the deeper level of neural processing changes commonly achieved in Psychomotor Therapy?
RE-WRITING THE HISTORICAL SCENE
The critical moment in PBSP Psychomotor Therapy is the transformation of the negative experience of the remembered historical scene into the positive experience of the ideal need satisfying scene. Why is this important? What actually happens?
The remembered historical scene is a reconstruction of an event associated with a pattern of physical responding. It emerges in consciousness as a memory of a negative event associated with the negative voices enrolled in the Structure. When the remembered historical scene is staged in the PBSP Psychomotor Structure, it marks a moment of arousal of perceived psycho-physiological deficit which is then used as a template for the construction of an antidoting, need-satisfying scene. The positive experience of this ideal need-satisfying scene antidotes the negative brain/body organismic state associated with the historical scene. The ideal organismic experience of need satisfaction is then used as the physiological foundation for the elaboration of positive verbal statements antidoting, this time at the level of spoken language, the negative Self statements derived from the negative experience of the historical scene.
The experiencing of the ideal need-satisfying scene releases new organic wisdom to be embedded in the narrative of the Self – so that life might no longer be, “A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing.” – but rather a more authentic signification of organismic wisdom in the discourse of the self.
Neuroscience cannot yet tell us how the organismic experience of emotion is incorporated into the subjective narrative of the feeling self. Nevertheless, from the perspective of the PBSP Psychomotor Structure, we can observe an interaction between two types of symbolic discourse, art and history, in the creation of new narratives of the Self. The representation in the Structure of the remembered historical scene appears to open the organismic files for the insertion of the fictional representation of an ideal need satisfying state created, with the wisdom of hindsight, to match exactly the deficits represented in the historical scene. Perhaps neuroscience will some day be able to describe the organismic basis of this therapeutic event.
BEYOND THE STRUCTURE
How does PBSP Psychomotor Therapy become a living part of a client’s life between sessions and after the sessions stop – that is, for a lifetime of personal growth?
It is not enough to say that PBSP Psychomotor just causes reprogramming of the experiential self. After all, many powerful life experiences do the same – birth of a child, death of a parent, and traumas of all types. It is important to say also that PBSP Psychomotor adds two critical new elements to the re-programming process: 1. The re-programming experience takes place under consciousness awareness and control of the client, and 2. the therapist helps the client experience and magnify the naturally occurring personal symbols which emerge in response to the re-programming experience. The client therefore comes away from the re-programming experience possessing symbols of the new experience which have the power to re-evoke that experience on demand. Practice between the sessions in the use of personal symbols to re-evoke the new experience deepens the re-programming itself and trains the client in the skill of changing states of consciousness by choice. In this way, personal growth experienced and symbolized in the Psychomotor Structure can become a foundation for continued self directed growth after the Structure.
This is similar to the process provided by an artist in creating a work of art for communal use. Aristotle described the creation of art as an imitation of life. He meant by that, not that art copied life, but rather that the artist created a magnified image of some aspect of our fleeting life’s experience by means of which we could see more clearly and feel more deeply the image of our being. A work of art can be thought of as a symbol, or set of symbols, which anyone can use to experience an aspect of life more clearly and more powerfully. This is, of course, why art exists – that we might live a richer life by listening to music, seeing visual art, and experiencing dramatic productions. In the same way, we can use our own symbols emerging out of Structure experience to clarify and deepen the experience of the life we live over the course of a lifetime.
The Engine of Reason. The Seat of the Soul: Churchland, Paul, First MIT Press, Paperback Edition; 1996
Descartes’ Error, Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain: Damasio, Antonio R., Avon Books, 1994, New York
Private Conversation with Carl Clarke, Ph.D., Certified PBSP Trainer
Affect, Imagery, Consciousness, Vol 1-4, Tomkins, Sylvan, , Springer, NYC, 1963 & 1990
Interpersonal World of the Infant, Stern, Daniel, Basic Books, NYC, 1986
Copyright 1997 © Robert Lea