Sunday, August 23, 2015

Limbic Resonance, or the Ancient Ability to Read Minds

"...Within the effulgence of their new brain, mammals developed a capacity we call limbic resonance - a symphony of mutual exchange and internal adaptation whereby two mammals become attuned to each other's inner states. It is limbic resonance that makes looking into the face of another emotionally responsive creature a multi-layered experience. Instead of seeing a pair of eyes as two bespeckled buttons, when we look into the ocular portals to a limbic brain our vision goes deep: the sensations multiply, just as two mirrors placed in opposition create a shimmering ricochet of reflections whose depths recede into infinity.

Eye contact, although it occurs over a gap of yards, is not a metaphor. When we meet the gaze of another, two nervous systems achieve a palpable and intimate apposition.

So familiar and expected is the neural attunement of limbic resonance that people find its absence disturbing. Scrutinize the eyes of a shark or a sunbathing salamander and you get back no answering echo, no flicker of recognition, nothing. The vacuity behind those glances sends a chill down the mammalian spine.

...To the animals capable of bridging the gap between minds, limbic resonance is the door to communal connection. Limbic resonance supplies the wordless harmony we see everywhere but take for granted - between mother and infant, between a boy and a dog, between lovers holding hands across a restaurant table. This silent reverberation between minds is so much a part of us that, like the noiseless machinations of the kidney or the liver, it functions smoothly and continuously without our notice.

...It seems a strange irony that we need science to rekindle faith in the ancient ability to read minds. That old skill, so much a part of us, is not much believed in now. Those who spend their days without an opportunity for quiet listening can pass a lifetime and overlook it altogether.

The vocation of psychotherapy confers a few unexpected fringe benefits on its practitioners, and the following is one of them. It impels participation in a process that our modern world has all but forgotten: sitting in a room with another person for hours at a time with no purpose in mind but attending. As you do so, another world expands and comes alive to your senses - a world governed by forces that were old before humanity began."

Page 63 - 65,  'A General Theory of Love', Thomas Lewis, M.D., Fari Amini, M.D., Richard Lannon, M.D.

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