Why is it that some individuals can read people like a book, and others just seem to be strung through life from one social mishap to the next? Often times, people who are continuously hurt the most seem to be the most kindhearted, and this tends to leave people feeling quite cynical. If there is one thread of ancient knowledge that should never be forgotten, it’s that everything is analogical.
This means that because of the intrinsic axiom of analogy and symbolism that comes with the capacity for self-awareness, there is an endless maze of analogical possibility that is solely dependent on a person’s own consciousness; as unique as a fingerprint. The less aware a person is of their own brain mechanisms (hereon defined as “CoEx Systems” which stands for Condensed Experience), the louder and more abrasive these mechanisms continue to manifest themselves.
In today’s society, scientific studies into mankind’s sociological projections of their self only further demonstrate this principle and continue to shed interesting light on how a person’s tendencies toward action reflect their inner cognitive mechanisms like a flashing neon sign. Furthermore, it sheds light on how a person may learn to navigate their way through these holotropic reflective brain states.
During childhood, humans (and essentially all forms of macroscopic life) participate in a neurological “imprinting” process, which allows animals to learn migration patterns, and allows humans to primarily learn things like critical thinking ability and social interactive tendencies. The “filing system” of these things like social tendencies, and emotional response patterns of an individual, are what Dr. Stanslisav Grof has characterized as CoEx Systems, and these patterns not only set the template of a person’s social interactions, but also dictate what exactly a person calls into question about their own social tendencies, and what tends to “fly under their radar.”
A recent study released on February 10th adds yet another interesting piece to this concept, with Union College NY’s Department of Psychology conducting a study on heterosexual men and how exactly their self-perceptions dictate their social interactions with women (and while the study is tailored towards men, the insight that this sheds into CoEx Systems is certainly applicable to all humans). Joshua Hart, one of the lead researchers of the study, said of the results,
“We see in reality what we wish to see, not necessarily what’s there.”
The study gave nearly 500 men a basic thought-experiment in which they see an attractive woman at a club they walk into. The man being told the scenario exchanges a glance with the theoretical woman, who smiles, and the men are next asked a series of simple questions that were designed for the study to gauge emotional responses. The study found that a man (and also a woman, at least to a degree) can oscillate between one of two basic CoEx Systems that provide a template or type of “sofware engine” that sets the man’s context of the upcoming events. These two CoEx Systems can be defined as “Attachment Anxiety” and “Attachment Avoidance.” To quote the Abstract of the study,
“Specifically, men’s attachment anxiety predicts increased desire for intimacy, which predicts their hope that a woman will be sexually interested; consequently, men imagine themselves as more flirtatious in the scenario, which biases them toward imagining the woman as more flirtatious, too. A similar process occurred for attachment avoidance, but in the opposite direction.”
A simple truth that can be taken from this is that a person’s social success and achievement is not necessarily contingent on how accurately or objectively they perceive a situation, but rather if and what kind of Cognitive Dissonance a person is projecting onto a situation at any given time.
Moving forward to the next piece of this puzzle; a recent study released by the journal, Psycho-Pharmacology provides further context into what motivates the CoEx Systems that the study on men’s social attachment highlighted. This study, entitled “regulating task-monitoring systems in response to variable reward contingencies and outcomes in cocaine addicts,” gives a peek into the negative CoEx Systems involved with neurotic social tendencies.
This study EEG’d the brains of individuals pressing a button as soon as an X popped onto a screen, to test their coordination. However, what the participants did not know was that all of the results were uniformly predetermined for all parties. The results can be broken down into three categories of Reward Processing in the brain (Reward CoEx Systems):
1) Reward Anticipation: how much a person’s brain seeks rewards
2) Task Monitoring: how someone predicts the likelihood and practicality of these rewards that they are seeking
3) Reward Consummation: the sense of achievement from the reward; i.e. the actual dopamine received for the achievement
Within these three classifications, which are the prerequisites of both healthy and unhealthy reward-seeking behavior, it was observed that neurotics (cocaine addicts in this case) have a “Reward Anticipation” CoEx System that is very overactive. Neurotics also have a dysfunctional “Tasking Monitoring” CoEx System, meaning that empirically they have a much more difficult time “recalibrating” their response patterns based on prior failures and successes; additionally, neurotics have a notably less prominent final dopamine reward during their “Reward Consummating” CoEx System. Of course, these results cannot be 100% uniformly transposed onto all forms of neurosis since cocaine itself modulates dopamine receptors in specific ways. So, what is being noted instead are the habits, brain-mechanisms, “Co Ex Systems” that provide the basis of an unhealthy habit like cocaine dependency, or, in cross-analysis with the formerly mentioned study, neurotic social tendencies.
Another recent Study further accents just how these CoEx Systems are cognitively formed by the process of “imprinting,” which is often characterized by a child learning from their parent, but can also be seen as lessons imprinted on a child simply through its environment during its developmental phases. The concept of post-natal childhood imprinting can be seen all throughout Nature in the life cycles of just about every living creature and can be most aptly classified as a time-period of peak impressionability at an early age, designed for maximum learning capability.
The Study at hand took a look at earthworms. Taking a quote from Psy Post on the matter,
“Young worms… form more lasting impressions. The researchers allowed newborn worms to hatch directlyonto a lawn of pathogens, and left them there for their first twelve hours of life — the first larval stage. (The bugs gave the worms intestinal infections, but didn’t kill them.) Then, when the worms encountered the pathogens again as adults — three days later — they fled. Worms that hadn’t been hatched onto poisonous bacteria found them just as attractive as harmless ones.”
What can be observed here in part is that an individual’s cognitive CoEx Systems not only generally dictate what they like and do not like, but also what they question and do not question.
To provide one last analogy for this concept of self-projected social CoEx Systems, another recent study commented on by Psy Post entitled, “Separating Narcissism From Self Esteem” psychologically demonstrates that a person with narcissistic traits has a neurotic reward regulation system. This is strongly comparative to the cocaine addicts in the aforementioned study and is another example of the connection between drugs and neurosis. People with narcissistic tendencies show a deeper sense of need for reward from the ambient environment around them because of their intense lack of self-esteem that must be constantly reinforced by their environment; this wreaks havoc on their brain’s Social-Reward CoEx Systems.
What should be taken here is a brief sequence of concepts, to provide food for thought:
1) The concept of CoEx Systems within the neurological network of an individual (formulated during largely during childhood) dictate their basic character traits, most poignantly, what their social-interactive tendencies are, and how successful they are.
2) These CoEx Systems, because they are templates for tendencies towards thought and action, determine not only how a person engages in social interaction, but also by the same means determines how a person perceives social interaction from other people. Thus, you cannot have a healthy relationship with others without a healthy relationship with the self first.
3) Not only do CoEx Systems dictate all templates for social interaction, but they further dictate how one gauges the data acquired from prior social experiences; that is to say, the CoEx Systems as well provide the template with which one learns from their social interactions, and what one does and does not call into question about themselves.
“Brain states become character traits,” whether they be positive or negative, and in any case, the first step on the road to personal rehabilitation is authentic, unfiltered acceptance of truth as it comes, which should be constantly prodded with empirical questioning.
(For those interested in understanding the rehabilitative process from Negative to Positive CoEx Systems within the brain, this article on the concept of neuroplasticity is recommended: https://www.thelastamericanvagabond.com/health/trauma-transcendence-neuroplasticity/)
(Further understanding the analogical process of CoEx Systems can be found here: https://www.thelastamericanvagabond.com/featured/coex-systems-autonomous-ego-mechanisms/)
Sources: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886915301124, http://www.psypost.org/2016/02/attachment-style-predicts-mens-misperception-womens-sexual-interest-40907, http://www.psypost.org/2016/02/narcissists-not-necessarily-satisfied-with-themselves-40926, http://cdp.sagepub.com/content/25/1/8.abstract, http://www.psypost.org/2016/02/how-your-brain-might-be-secretly-thwarting-your-new-years-resolutions-40922, http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(16)00043-9, http://www.psypost.org/2016/02/scientists-learn-how-young-brains-form-lifelong-memories-by-studying-worms-food-choices-40901, http://www.psypost.org/2016/02/study-sheds-light-on-source-of-drug-addicts-risk-taking-behavior-40881, http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00213-015-4191-8