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The Bimodal Personality; A Socio-sexual Model of Human Motive and Behavior

December 13th, 2018 by Robert DePaolo | Posted in Psychology | No Comments » | 53 views | Print this Article

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Cosmic Phenomena

May 21st, 2018 by Robert DePaolo | Posted in Psychology | No Comments » | 35 views | Print this Article

by Robert DePaolo Abstract

This article raises several questions regarding current ideas on non-locality, isomorphism, quantum mechanics, gravity and the acceleration of the universe, including the possibility that para-classical explanations might not be necessary in describing the laws of nature.

With admittedly little insight into the mathematical operations that underscore current interpretations of classical and quantum physical laws, this writer (having read numerous books on the subject) has yet ended up confused more than informed. Part of the reason has to do with the writing style of author-physicists who, admirably, seek to popularize complex topics. While some stick to concrete ideas and definitions others lapse into abstractions with no spatial, geometric or experiential foundation, i.e. concepts that don’t seem to coincide with the world we live in; for example multi-verses, time travel and the existence of extra dimensions. Often unable to bring their explanation down to earth, they rely on cart-before-the horse mathematical models to create reverse resolution.

While this method is reasonable the speculation typically goes well beyond that into areas that might never be confirmed or refuted. At times it seems in their zeal to uncover a theory of everything, these thinkers come up with so many “every-things” as to be left with nothing. In this opinion, science should dovetail at least loosely with common sense. In that context, a series of items is discussed in concrete terms about current theory and the nature of our world.

Item # 1: On Gravity…

The confusion-driven search for a theory of quantum gravity is feverish in scientific circles. Confusion results from the fact that on a large scale gravity is lawful with regard to the influence of one body on another (whereby the more massive body will draw the less massive one in via an inverse square law based on the respective mass and distance between the two). However this only applies to objects with mass equal to or beyond that of an atom. The subatomic (quantum) world acts differently, particularly regarding massless particles which move around seemingly on their own, independent of surrounding matter and in a way that makes it impossible to track their position and momentum sequentially. At face value this conflict begs for resolution which is why physicists have sought a theory of gravity that encompasses both General Relativity and particle (quantum) physics. But is this confusion justified?

Item # 2. Do we need a theory of quantum gravity?

One could ask: if gravity is a function of mass and particles such as photons and electrons have no mass, why they should behave as if in a gravitational relationship? How can something that “weighs” nothing attract something else? In addition, “mass” reflects the congestion of particles or atoms within a body; for example uranium, with an high density of atoms has greater mass than a more sparsely congested liquid such as water. As the density of a body decreases (at some point down to a single particle such as a quark) it would have less mass. With only one particle there can be no congestion unless the particle itself has internal components that congeal. Even then, (assuming there exists a root form of matter which cannot be further broken down) there would have to be a point where gravity could not pertain due to zero mass. In other words, gravity is ultimately a spatial, mathematical composite that cannot exist without at least two components pressing on one another. As an aside, this is something to consider when discussing the mass of any singularity. More specifically, once anything is whittled down to a single body can its information/communicative content reach a point where its implicit redundancy adds up to zero congestion and zero mass, despite the antecedent “crunching” of diverse elements that ended up in a singularity? In that context one could argue that Einstein’s model of gravity is sufficient; the search for a quantum/classical combine unnecessary.

Beyond that, since both gravity and massless particles travel at light speed wouldn’t gravitational influence on the particle be canceled out as a result of relativity? For example if you travel at 100 mph on a highway and a wind of 100 mph is facing you, your car would come to a stop – all things being equal, and exhibit neither momentum or regression. Along the same lines; gravity would require differentials in mass, acceleration etc. (something that is discussed below in term of Information Theory).

Furthermore, celestial bodies do not simply adhere to gravitational relationships. All are hurtling through space at enormous speeds. As a result it isn’t just gravity that is influencing their movements, but also momentum, centripetal and centrifugal force, inertia or “drafting” (as when a cyclist cuts down on friction by undercutting wind factors when riding directly behind a competitor) and the action/reaction principle as depicted in Newton’s third law of motion – the latter holds that as a body thrusts forward it does so into an atmosphere containing some matter (not all of space is a vacuum), which leads to a counter-reaction in the opposite direction. Conceivably any and all of these forces are influencing planetary and galactic movement. Is it possible that the acceleration of the universe, as well as dark matter could be explained as some juxtaposition of all these influences rather than through a single explanation such as superstring theory, brane theory or hologram theory?

Eine Gedanke…

One interesting thought experiment would be to imagine gravity’s influence if all bodies, notwithstanding mass and distance, were completely inert: that is, had no momentum, rotation, or any susceptibility to centripetal, centrifugal forces, drafting, or action-reaction mechanics. Presumably gravity could not exist in such a state because in an inert universe any sort of gravity-induced attraction/collapse would entail a change in momentum, i.e. movement. Thus, if lack of motion cancels out gravitation then one might assume motion is the most essential correlate, or even cause of gravity.

Item # 3. Non-locality…

At face value the notion that particles have no lawfully discernible locations or momenta and can act lawfully only when observed seems either weird or tautological, depending on one’s perspective. One explanation for this phenomenon (the anthropic principle) holds that the observer is implicitly connected to the physical world, thus can never truly be an observer. In other words he is as dependent a variable as the particle being observed; it is as if only God can truly be an observer. Other explanations refer to the particle being virtual, darting in and out of reality or parallel universes, thus being beyond the circumscribed physical laws peculiar to our universe. Both explanations raise the question of why, even if the observer changes the particle’s behavior, both wouldn’t be subject to physical laws.

This point has been made far more eloquently. For example Witten believed the act of observing stimulated particles because the observer’s vision could only occur by firing photons at the particles (Zimmerman-Jones, Robbins 2014) – leaving the observer in roughly the same position as someone bobbing for apples. Others, for example Bohr, argued against this idea, stating that the uncertain nature of particle behavior is built into the particle and nature itself; seemingly mysterious, then again, perhaps not.

Mind and Matter…

One way to address this issue is by discussing the layout of the human brain. Early Russian research, beginning with Pavlov, demonstrated the existence of a brain mechanism known as the second signal system. He demonstrated that the dual hemispheric makeup of the cerebral cortex leads us to categorize experience in two ways: one spatial/material and one associative i.e symbolic/linguistic (Windholz 1990). The encoding of the former onto the latter – much like a card catalogue – enhances not only our communicative capacities but also our memory storage. For instance we don’t have to commit to visual memory all items in the sequence….’apple’, ‘orange’, ‘pear’, etc. because we can assign the label “fruit” to each and access all of them by cross reference. As a trite, but perhaps amusing aside it appears that by conceptual symbolic thought our brains are able to override the quantum (individual, piece by piece) model of nature favored by quantum physicists through nifty, integrative mental mechanisms.

Yet while this neural mechanism provides a mnemonic and communicative advantage it can also lead to a hyper-categorization of experience. That is why Eskimos label a dozen types of snow when in fact the composition of snow is always the same.

If, due to that neuropsychological mandate, we cannot break free of a dual signal system then we cannot conceive of an un-categorical phenomenon like quantum mechanics. Due to the human penchant for categorical drift we are forced to attribute the uncertainty of particle behavior to something. That “something” might have less to do with reality than with the evolution of the human brain (which, after all is designed to survive, not just discover).

In that context one could ask whether we even need labels to describe non-locality. Perhaps there is no such (material) “thing” as a photon. Its apparent capacity to operate as a wave or a particle might really pertain more to our cognitive dispositions than to the photon’s nature. Our brains are finite and until we can soundly, experimentally verify a theory (bearing in mind that neither an atom, electron or a photon has ever been observed) we might be looking at nature through a neuropsychological prism.

The Particle/Wave Duality…

Another issue in physics is the apparent dual nature of reality – more precisely of matter. In various contexts a particle can behave like a discrete entity with circumscribed location and motion, yet at other times exhibit a wave property (which ameliorates its positional features as it appears to draw out and scatter probabilistically). It is an interesting quality that adds to the confusion in scientific circles. Once again, however this might be explained with Occamesque simplicity.

Consider the following hypothesis. A particle such as a photon or electron does not decay. Yet it has been established that all systems undergo entropy (decay) unless they are replenished periodically by outside energy sources. Even with that, entropy usually wins out due to the passage of time. That is because, among other things, those outside sources are finite and will themselves wind down. Thus, perhaps something inherent in the particle’s non-entropic quality can address the duality problem.

One can begin by asking why a photon does not decay. One possibility is that the underlying source of entropy is time itself.

An example comes to mind. If a person could remain at a certain age – say 15, in year 1967, and that year extended into perpetuity he would never age. In that case an outside energy source would be unnecessary; first because he wouldn’t need it, second because with no time lapse it would be impossible for “new” energy sources to be absorbed because a time lapse would be required even if just for one to open his mouth, bite down and ingest the new source of energy. Renewal, or counter-entropy implies a temporal sequence from depletion to energy restoration, which involves an event transition and a time lapse. Without a time lapse, there can be no entropy and no need or possibility to re-energize. In that context it might be time that ultimately determines entropy.

If a particle is traveling at light speed, it is moving neither forward nor backward in time. It becomes “constant” not only in terms of its unsurpassable speed but also as a chronological anchor point in the universe. Since it does not experience time lapses it cannot by definition be at one location at one point in time, then in another later on. While the “where” and “when” of human measurement depends on time passage massless particle do not recognize time passages. In the particle’s range of experience there is no such thing as time.

Similarly, with no time elapse, there can be no spatial transition. That means the particle is what it is and everything that it is, i.e. temporo/spatially neither here nor there. It’s dual nature is a simple manifestation of its para-chronological and para-spatial make-up. Theories superimposed on its behavior create closure, which satisfies the dual signaling system of the human brain, but might not reflect the non-spatial, non temporal realities of the subatomic world.

The Classical/Quantum Dichotomy…

It is understandable that physicists venture beyond parsimony at times in the attempt to unify classical and quantum physics. Perhaps because simple answers have been ruled more complex solutions are the only recourse. Yet our universe is undeniably systemic and as such it must be integrated on some level. The elegant stability of its various characteristics make that obvious. For example, just the right amount of matter overrides anti-matter to make existence (symmetry-breaking) possible. Another example is seen in the even distribution of matter and energy spread throughout the universe. Others can be seen in the spatial regulatory limits of the Planck length, Newton’s inverse square law and the regulatory trick played on us by light speed which is so functionally stubborn that any possible differences in speed that might occur as a result of two people viewing an object in motion from different perspectives must lead to a corrective change in time lapse (time dilation) in order to hold “c” constant. All such mechanisms offer clear indications of a universe with a disposition toward stability.

The pervasive existence of cosmic order suggests there might be a congruent and/or co-functional relationship between quantum and classical physics (an idea implied by David Bohm via the hidden variables theory of quantum mechanics (Riley, 2010). Ultimately both the classical (order-based) and quantum theories must agree, and perhaps even be dependent on one another. Still physicists continue to grapple with the apparent discrepancies so it is worthwhile to discuss this issue further.

Information and the Pre-material Universe…

One way to connect classical and quantum physics is through a concept that simultaneously refutes and confirms both theories. It is found in an essential component of Information Theory. This bears some preliminary discussion.

Many theoretical physicists have referenced “information” in their writing, particularly regarding the behavior of black holes (Barbon 2009). Information in that context typically refers to matter and energy. For example, if an object is sucked into a black hole, the object will break up, as seen in various Star Trek movies. Yet since the law of energy conservation holds that the energy of the object cannot be anihilated, can only change its form the info-energetic components of the object cannot disappear. In effect, all of the information content must continue to exist in some form. One reason why Stephen Hawking believed that radiation would materialize and radiate beyond the black hole (and not be completely absorbed) was that the law of energy conservation, combined with beneath-the-surface energy fluctuations that characterize a quantum state means that some of the information content – the stuff that popped in and out of existence (virtual particles) had to continue to exist, and to retain the information content of the mass that was absorbed into the black hole. More simply put; you cannot get something from nothing, or nothing from something. That use of the term information as applied to matter and energy is useful but possibly incomplete.

An Abstract Universe…

This writer has discussed this topic in previous articles but the idea is worth repeating. Information equates not just with mass and energy but with existence in every sense of the word. While theoretical physics assumes matter and energy are essentially all there is – thus the word “physics”, there is a universal “something” that is not completely physical.

Information theory holds that “something” can only come into existence by being extracted from a prior state of monotony or uncertainty. The latter refers to a super blend without any internal distinctions, whether in the form of mass or force. The amount of information corresponds to the amount of uncertainty that is reduced. For example, if we type out the letters “tele”…and ask which word it refers to, answers would vary (uncertainty would be high). But if we add one letter at a time, each new letter (say initially the letter “p” it would reduce uncertainty by one bit. Now we have the letter sequence “telep.” Still this can entail several possibilities so uncertainty still prevails, as does redundancy. If, however we add the letter “h”, followed by the letters o…n…e. the word “telephone” emerges ( a kind of grammatical “creation)”. At that point maximal information has been attained, while uncertainty is reduced to zero. In an analogous process this gives the idea of nothing a slightly different meaning.

Within that model each reduction in uncertainty..(i.e. each distinction extracted from redundancy item) creates a viable message….a “something” that can apply not just to language but conceivably to any aspect of nature.

In a cosmic context, “nothing” would equate with complete/infinite redundancy. For example, with no distinctions between a photon and an electron, between, plasma and matter, between a fermion (matter-carrying particle) and a boson (a force-mediating particle) there could be no existence; neither perceptible to the human eye nor with any functional or communicative properties. By that process, perhaps the entire universe – its essence, its functions, its communicative features originated, not quintessentially in a big bang but more functionally through information expansion in process that could be called cosmic resolution.
In some ways this is coincides with the anthropic principle but goes beyond that to a broader world mechanism which can be discussed through another experiment (sorry about the redundancy).

Universal Noise…

Imagine a universe with no distinctions among particles, forces, stars, planets, flora and fauna; only an infinite blend. In that state nothing could communicate with anything else. Changes, adaptations, messages, force and mass variations, as well as symmetry-breaking would all be impossible. This redundant world would not just be in a permanent state of entropy. It would not be a “world” at all because only with a transition from a state of uncertainty to information can existence originate.

A Proto-physical Explanation…

In that sense, a bridge between classical and quantum physics might lie in information dynamics. Without the uncertainty of the quantum world there could be no classical, lawful world. In that sense classical and quantum physics might be complementary rather than contradictory. In other words, just as one cannot get information without a prior state of uncertainty, one cannot get the lawful classical world without it being extracted from the uncertain quantum world.

Room for Dissent…

There are several problems with this argument (I told you I was fairly ignorant on this subject matter). One is that it explains the universe in abstract, rather than material terms. In this model Information theory replaces physics as a prime frame of reference. Second, it transcends both the quantum and classical models by postulating a ‘derivation’ theory of the cosmos whereby one cannot have order without an initial state of disorder. That would seem to refute the the typical order to chaos sequence implicit in thermodynamics. Another problem lies in the implication that something can arise from nothing, which runs contrary to the principle of energy conservation.

How to address such conundrums? It is not an easy task. Quantum mechanics has been not only verified by research but employed very effectively technologically. So have classical concepts – or else we couldn’t not travel into outer space or use GPS systems in our cars. On the other hand so has Information Theory, both technically and mathematically. The notion that information is measured by a reduction in uncertainty is almost well established (Stover 2014).

Another potential problem is that this idea raises interesting questions about reality; converting it to something more metaphysical because origin and causation are considered pre-material. It is scientific in that information lends itself to measurement through the uncertainty reduction postulate but the ultimate unified theory is not a field or theory of quantum gravity but a non-material info-resolution process.

What About the Beginning?

How might one conceptualize the pre-informed universe? One way is by drawing a parallel between two forms of energy – potential and kinetic. Potential energy corresponds to mass but has no impact or communicative possibilities or any effect at all, without movement (which converts it to kinetic energy). Potential energy is a state of pre-existence with no cause-effect manifestations. Like potential energy the proto-universe might have been implicit, at least until one bit (the first distinction) of information was extracted from its absolute state of redundancy.

Once a distinction occurred and separated from the pack (electron, photon, helium gas etc) something interesting would have happened. Not only would the information content of the cosmos have increased at that point, but through separation by distinction it became possible for the first foray into communication to begin. That is because only with a capacity for signal differentiation can there be a message. Thus the newly distinct particle/gas entities were at some point able to exert influence on each other where none existed before in the potential universe. That in itself would have led to more rapid signal distinctions. An information explosion would have unfolded into a plethora of celestial bodies (which could be categorized as cosmic bits). Eventually, the four main forces would have separated functionally.

From information to systemization and complexity…

As more distinctions occurred, more bits of information would have obtained. Atoms developed distinctions in the form of electrons, a nucleus, protons etc. as part of information proliferation. Massive clouds of gas swirled until gravity pulled some together into distinct galaxies, which entailed still more information (uncertainty reduction) in the universe.

The question is whether existence, as applied to the origin and evolution of the universe can be seen as an evolving information system. If so, the quasi-entity prior to creation would have to be described as somewhere between a physical and a pre-material world. Not “nothing” as with a vacuum, but “nothing” in a functional/communicative sense; governed most basically by a process encompassed in information dynamics, and ultimately manifest through a resolution process, not unlike the cognitive quest for discovery by those who study the universe.


Barbon JLF (2009) Black holes, information and holography, Journal of Physics, Con. Ser.. 171 01

Burridge, L. Pavlov and his Disciples. The Pavlovian Journal of Biological Science. Vol. 25 (4) 163-173

Bohr, N. Discussion with Einstein on Epistemological Problems in Atomic Physics; The Value of Knowledge; A Miniature Library of Philosophy. Marxist Internet Archive (Retrieved 2010-8-30. From: Albert Einstein, Philosopher-Scientist (1949) Cambridge University Press.

Cover, J.M. Thomas, JA (2006) Elements of Information Theory (2nd Edition) Wiley-Inter-science

Riley, B.J. (January 2010) Some Remarks on the Evolution of Bohm’s Proposals for an Alternative to Standard Quantum Mechanics TPRU, Birbeck,University of London.

Stover, J.V. (2014) Chapter 1; Information Theory; A Tutorial Introduction. University of Sheffield, England

Zimmerman-Jones, A, Robbins, D (2014) Physics: String Theory disagreement about the Anthropic Principle. Internet Article in Education-Science- Physics.

Zimmerman- Jones, A. Robbins, D. (2009). String Theory for Dummies, Wiley Publishing Co.

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The Universal Membrane

February 16th, 2018 by Robert DePaolo | Posted in Psychology | No Comments » | 34 views | Print this Article

by Robert DePaolo


This article discusses a possible connection between the origin of life and the origin of the universe. The point is made that in both instances regulatory processes might have resulted from the advent of membranes (not “branes” in the context of string theory) that by their constraining nature forced interactions within the atom and, in biological terms, within the cell until such time as a level of cooperation occurred, thereby creating the organizational structure and functions of both the atom and the cell. Speculation is provided regarding the disagreement between classical physics and quantum physics with regard to phenomena such as quantum fluctuations, isomorphism and non-locality.

Origins and Boundaries…

It might be interesting to discuss the structural and functional connections between the origins of life and of the universe; not in a metaphorical sense but in terms of how all systems in nature seem to operate. The assumption of a common template between life and the cosmos is not an original idea. Pribram (1969), Bohm (1986) and Talbot (1991) proposed possible connections between how organic life (particularly brains) operate and the essential nature of the cosmos. The holographic theory they espoused presumed that everything within the biotic and cosmic domains is part of a gross singularity – not in the sense of a black hole but as fractional components of a whole to which everything responds and in which everything is structurally and functionally entangled.

That idea has met with both excitement and criticism – the latter because it is a model that is difficult not only to prove empirically but to conceptualize. For example, one could ask what “connective tissue” is involved and what exactly are the wave functions that turn parts into wholes via interference patterns. Although some research and theory have raised optimism that such wave patterns exist (Pietsch 1981) the idea lacks proof.

Despite such criticism an argument can be made in its favor. For one thing, almost all of theoretical physics is based on speculation. While Newton, Einstein, Planck and Heisenberg provided insights and proofs regarding the “what” of physics they have not been able to provide a “why,” that is, a concrete explanation of why gravity operates differently from the other forces, why the universe became so thermally and materially isomorphic and why subatomic particles are able to sidestep the classical laws of physics requiring that all things must align in a specific location in order to move from point A to point B, i.e. have both position and momentum.* Even quantum mechanics, which has as its central principle that all phenomena consist of discrete packets of energy and matter (separate items rather than continuous, all-inclusive waves) entails a paradox, because it appears some types of matter act like particles in some instances, waves in others. Strangely the form it takes depends on whether an observer is measuring these qualities.
Although quantum theorists (actually, adherents, since its operations seem pretty solid) believe wave functions and particles are both quantum phenomena, this seems to beg the question with regard to waves, which have a continuous nature and can veer off in various directions. Without a boundary how can anything truly be defined as a discrete packet?

“Quantizing” nature would seem to mandate that location and momentum are a given, rather than a vaguely dualistic, probabilistic process. In a sense a quantum interpretation arguably appears more consistent with a local, rather than a non-local universe – even at the subatomic level. Yet it has been shown not only that particle interactions are not local but also that they can interact in concert with other particles with which they had initial contact across distances even beyond light speed…what Einstein referred to as at a “spooky distance.”

Einstein was one of the more vocal critics of quantum non locality, which he felt virtually obviated the need to study physics. * While his criticism was itself criticized by Neils Bohr, he was certainly justified in complaining about things operating beyond physical causation. Had he been around a bit longer he might have taken his criticism even further, not just because of the myriad, as yet un-proved (and possibly untestable) theories out there such as superstring theory, loop gravity theory, Hologram theory, Brane theory (which derives from string theory) and numerous others, but also because no one has yet observed an atom, nor have they observed an electron or photon. Indeed the terms “particle” and “atom” are defined variously as energy packets or circumscribed, material phenomena. No one knows what they are.

What this tells us is that when one takes away all the byzantine equations written on blackboards to prove that some theory “coincides with the math,”….shouldn’t it be the other way around?… physicists are still like blind men trying to determine the shape of the elephant.


One of the more interesting questions arising in theoretical physics is based on the anthropic principle. This is an intriguing if somewhat metaphysical attempt to explain why observations change the outcome of an experiment. More specifically it appears that by measuring/observing the path and location of particles we change one or the other. It suggests we are in effect barred from discovery; almost as if God, consistent with his admonition to Adam and Eve, did not want mankind to examine to eat from the tree of knowledge, and in an ironic twist gave the most elementary components of nature the capacity to outwit the most complex of his creations.

That, of course, is a metaphor – pardon the distraction. On the other hand the question implied in anthropic theory is quite relevant. To wit; are living organisms so linked to the cosmic fabric that rather than being outside, empirical observers, we are simply another causative agent, no different than gravity, the strong, weak or electro-magnetic forces – ourselves enclosed in a relativity of the sensorium?

The daunting, yet obvious implication of that point is that if we are part of a cosmic holograph we cannot, by definition, be empirical, scientific or even in a sense extant. Instead we would have to consider ourselves mere threads in a very large fabric, stretching, curling up, heading toward entropy in the same way as trees, rocks and atoms.

At the risk of appearing anthropocentric this writer would prefer to assign mankind and life in general a more distinct role in the natural world. After all, we not only created automobiles, airplanes, rockets, x ray machines and computers, but, in concert with flora, created the earth’s atmosphere – a distinct accomplishment if ever there was one.

Yet if we are detached from nature why the non-local phenomena? Why, in accord with Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle are a particle’s (photon’s) properties altered just by observing it? Here one can provide a possible explanation, not only of uncertainty but of the reason why there are distinct parallels to be drawn between life and the cosmos. It is an explanation that derives from principles of Information Theory.

The Organic Borderline…

Scientists have argued over time about the initial biological entity, the primordial seed, that set in motion the origin of life. One school of thought proposes that the first macromolecules had to be either RNA or DNA since only those molecules can replicate and, absent that capacity, evolution, organic complexity and adaptations could not have occurred (Marshall 2012). The other school of thought holds that proteins came first, via the gradual accumulation of amino acids (the string of building blocks that comprise proteins) because while DNA can replicate it cannot construct tissues needed to build organ structures. This debate has a chicken-egg feel to it, which can lead to endless questions. For instance one might ask what good a copying machine is with no body to copy? Conversely, what good a body is without a capacity to create a line of descent? Even though some research has shown that proteins, under certain controlled conditions show replicating tendencies, (Ikehara 2014) the evidence that this could have occurred on a grand enough scale to foment life is inconclusive. In some ways this argument is reminiscent of the universal origins conundrum and it is equally hard to resolve.

Distant Illusions…

In the domain of theoretical physics the aforementioned David Bohm tried to resolve the non local vs. classical physics argument by proposing that if one eliminated distance as a variable, it would be possible for two disparate particles to interact even beyond the constraints of light speed and gravitational pull. In other words he was saying one doesn’t need to explain spooky distance or non locality if distance itself (which implies a spatial separation between objects) is a misconception. Bohm clearly thought out of the box in a way that could be applied in a biological context. While Bohm eliminates distance, let us de-prioritize DNA, RNA and proteins with respect to life’s origin.

The Origin of Identity…

Although DNA, RNA and proteins are necessary in creating, sustaining and refining life forms, they might not have been the engine of life’s origin. Macromolecules like DNA, RNA and protein probably arose frequently in the primordial soup. Yet in the early stages of the earth’s formation, climatic conditions were extreme – as was true of most of the solar system before pan-gravitational influence led to systemic smoothing and more permanent planetary interactions. Day times were extremely hot, night times extremely cold. As a result of exposure to extreme conditions macromolecules would have cropped up and in most instances dissolved. Life was only a potential, mere raw material without an organizing machine to turn it into a distinct, “quantized” homeostatic entity. At one point a new substance came on the scene; a kind of shield providing shelter and insulation against the climatic vicissitudes. The substance was a lipid.

Lipids are essentially fats and they have three unique bio-insular and systemic properties. First, they can protect against environmental intrusion due to their thickness – like water off a duck’s back. Second, they are semi-permeable, which means that they allow some flow of energy to break through to prevent molecules from becoming so closed off as to undergo rapid entropy. The third component has to do with the fact that they provide partial enclosure of molecules within the lipid membrane. As a result of enclosure molecular “drift” is precluded. That forces interactions within the bio-packet and creates the potential for reciprocal feedback within that enclosure… sort of like having a talkative house guest who won’t leave and with whom you are obliged to interact.
Eventually one of two things can occur within a semi-enclosed system; either internal chaotic bombardment/noise will lead to disassembly of the parts or interactive agreement will evolve, leading to the creation of a homeostatic, regulated system. Once that system is created the gauge is set.

In the primordial soup there still would have been free, non-systemic molecules outside the lipid boundary. Absent a membrane they would have cropped up and been destroyed at some level of probability. Since they were not semi-enclosed and systematized they would tend to float freely and exhibit disorganized, possibly random (non-grammatical) interactive behavior patterns. Such states would have precluded the possibility of evolution. In effect the laws inherent in the biological world would not pertain, despite the fact that in their essence they possessed the basic components of life forms. This argument can now be extended to the realm of the universe.

First, an explanatory digression. Since the above concepts as pertaining to biology and cosmology are derived from Information dynamics some discussion of Information Theory would seem appropriate.

Certain Systems…

A basic component of Information Theory is “noise,” which refers to un-systematized elements without a regulatory code or repeatable, predictable interactive capacity. Information is always defined as a reduction in noise – which is often expressed as “uncertainty.” (Ash, 1990). Once noise is reduced and the structure develops a systematic capacity it will begin to operate by rules, redundancy and predictability, i.e. exhibit poly-stability (which means that some aspects of the system can change without undoing the overall balance in the system. This is tantamount to what physicists call “symmetry).” In order for any system to become internally regulated, it must first be separated from the tumult of the outside world – without so completely losing touch that it forfeits any chance at absorbing new, entropy- preventing energy sources.

The information model appears to affect every aspect of nature. A simple example can be seen in language. Without formal, systemic grammar, idioms, punctuation and other elements enabling people to understand each other’s statements there would be no language per se – and certainly not the kind that could reach a wide variety of people. Yet while language is a kind of enclosed system it needs to be able to absorb new idioms and accents to evolve – such as the French influence on English in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest in 1066, which led to its modern form.

The Universal Membrane…

It seems the classical cosmos might also operate as an information system with two components corresponding to the duality seen in classical and quantum physics. The quantum world, with its mysterious qualities of uncertainty and non locality can be said to be “un-membraned” consisting of particles that have not been encapsulated by borders, therefore not homeostatic, i.e. bound by lawful, systemic interaction patterns and integrative functions seen in atoms.

If such speculation notion has merit, then a question not often asked becomes; what comprises the semi-permeable membrane that insulates the classical from the quantum world and divides the cosmos into two parts?
Since no one has observed an atom or particle it would seem quite difficult to describe a protective, interaction-forcing membrane that systematizes some but not all components of the universe. Since electrons, neutrons, and a nucleus are trapped within the atom’s membrane – their interactions are in part reciprocal and dynamic. One could assume that without a membrane the universe would contain no systemic structure or information and that nothing would exist. By the same token the atomic membrane would have to be semi-permeable – otherwise energy renewal and the emission of radiation would be blocked and it would decay rapidly. In such conditions matter would at best feature a virtual in and out existence.

The membrane argument (not to be confused with the “brane” theory as derived from string theory) brings up the age-old question of what the prototype universe was comprised of, and how it originated. This writer cannot provide a ready answer but one can speculate.


If a “cosmic lipid” made possible the classical world, it would have required an initial component or starting point, simply because in order for any system to develop requires a prior availability of raw materials. Thus one might assume the universe was never “nothing” but rather an initially (eternal?) quantum state featuring constant perturbations typified by non locality. In that state virtual exit/enter particle reactions would have comprised a pre-informed cosmos. Without a membrane there would have been no systems, no redundancy and thus no laws of nature. Consequently there would have been no time, space, locality or redundant interactions. The primordial universe (if indeed one can call it that) would have been nothing more than a probabilistic state of non-systemic noise.

Whatever this pre-temporal, pre-massive, pre-spatial thing was, it was not responsive to laws, even gravity. The essentially para-physical nature of that proto-universe implied here can perhaps explain its isomorphic distribution regarding temperature and matter. If a-systemic particles can be everywhere, why not isomorphism? After all, skewing of matter is at the root a function of distance and time – here there is no time or distance. (Perhaps part of the confusion is based on our assumption that there is a finite quality to the speed of light). To a particle moving at that speed it would seem time would not lapse, thus neither would there be any spatial extension). It might also explain the mysterious things known as dark energy and dark matter, e.g. the reason we cannot see either is because they are non-systemic remnants from a quantum state that cannot be localized with regard to time and place and thus can be anywhere, at any time.

Why would that be true? Possibly because the presence of space and time- which are inherently redundant via lawful movement and topographic sequences – only came to exist with the advent of systemic atomic structures. In other words, no system, no space, no mass, no gravity and no time.

That lends itself to further speculation. For example, when we look out at the cosmos is it possible we are looking at two worlds; not in the form of extra dimensions or multiverses but instead at a dualistic world, one aspect of which has time, space and order, the other having none of those qualities which we can only perceive and measure by chance.

The Odd One Out…

If some series of events did lead to creation of a systematizing cosmic membrane that could explain some aspects of the cosmos including how the central forces originated. But those were mostly close-up forces that had to interact materially to exert mutual influence. Gravity is a different animal. The question is …why?

Use of the principle of parsimony might be helpful here. A simple explanation might be found in its range. Newton demonstrated that gravitational pull is determined by mass, and distance. Einstein demonstrated that the curvature/ indentation of space created by objects depends on their mass and can extend over long distances. (A shot put tossed into a pool of water will create a larger ripple than a golf ball – assuming both are tossed with the same or similar force). Thus by it very nature gravity has extraordinary spatial influence and despite its ostensible mystery it might be exactly what Einstein said it was- a spatial/temporal phenomenon. As such it has great potential contact with a larger swath of the universe as it transfers from one attractive body to the next. That in turn would expose it to more cosmic fields, including both the systemic and quantum (non-systemic) fields. In simpler terms gravity could be considered a hybrid force, influenced by both the systemic and quantum “landscapes” within the cosmos. It might create attractions within the systemic (classical) world but also interact with non-systemic, timeless, not-spatial fields where it would be at least partially, timeless, non-local and so perturbed and non-systemic that it could both push and pull – thus the rapid expansion of the universe. In that context one might assume that in areas of space with the least systemic topography, gravity would have a tendency to behave in quantum, uncertain ways.

Back to the cosmic membrane. What could it have been? A form of matter – perhaps a hydrogen membrane arising from cooling of the particles and energy sources? Or perhaps an energy-capturing mechanism like the Higgs field; creating a wave-like vibratory or magnetic shield around particles by which to house the atom’s components without prohibiting the absorption of renewed energy sources?

Since physicists still have difficulty differentiating between matter and energy, particles and waves the answer to that question seems at least as hard to resolve as the search for the origin of life. In that case this is just another attempt (by an amateur theoretician) to provide conceptual unity between two of the greatest forces and creations in nature; the biosphere and the universe.


Ash, R. (1990) Information Theory. Dover Publications Inc. New York

Bohm, D. (1986) A New Theory of the Relationship of Mind and Matter. Journal of The American Society for Psychical Research. 80 (2) April 1986 p. 128

Ikehara, K. GADV Protein World Hypothesis on the Origin of Life. Origins of Life Evolution of Biospheres. Dec. 2014 Vol. 44 Issue 4 pp. 299-302

Marshall, M. DNA Could have existed long before Life itself. Aug. 2012 New Scientist

Pietsch. P. (1981) The Quest for the Hologramic Mind. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin. p.78

Pribram, K. The Neurophysiology of Remembering, Scientific American, 220 January 1969. pp. 76-78

Talbot, M. (1991) The Holographic Universe. Harper Perennial

*Notes on Einstein and “spooky distance.” Einstein felt the cosmos was lawful, mainly because all his and Newton’s work on gravity, mass, the speed of light and other physical laws (those typically included in the classical physics model demonstrated that this was true. After reviewing the results of quantum mechanics research- which suggested localizing and tracking particles could not be done other than by calculating probabilities he became skeptical; in one instance stating that physics could not operate that way, that distant particles beyond light speed attraction could not communicate across such distances simultaneously. His use of the phrase “spooky distance” reflects that skepticism. He carried on a theoretical rivalry with renowned physicist Neils Bohr over this issue, who took se4veral opportunities to criticize Einstein for his skepticism over what Bohr considered to an experimentally verified model of the particle world.

*Notes; Newton used (actually developed) calculus to determine what he called the law of universal gravitation. He proved that that gravity is a function of mass and distance, i.e. drops off as distance increases (squared) and increases corresponding to the mas and closeness of objects. However he could not determine why – loosely assumed it was due to some sort of constant material (ether) that mediated the force. Einstein discovered that there was no medium per se doing the carrying, but that the mass of objects “caves in” space (creates a curvature) into which smaller objects fall in relation to massive objects. He was able to include the passage of time within his theory or relativity but he could not determine why gravity acted this way, particularly as pertains to the actions of other forces. He was unsuccessful at producing a theory that could umbrella all four of the forces, i.e. electromagnetic, strong, weak force and gravity. Planck and Heisenberg were able to determine that since subatomic particles do not obey the same laws discovered by Newton and Einstein with regard to motion, location and momentum and tend to act in unpredictable ways, but despite the statistical accuracy of quantum mechanics neither of them was able to explain what is often referred to as “quantum weirdness.”

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Essay: The Philosophy of Habit

December 31st, 2017 by Robert DePaolo | Posted in Psychology | No Comments » | 77 views | Print this Article

The Philosophy of Habit

by Robert DePaolo


This article discusses the adaptive nature of habits with regard to psychological, aesthetic and health-related considerations. While overly rigid adherence to behavioral habits is not seen as ideal (newness and progress being important factors in establishing a vibrant life style as well) habit is nonetheless viewed a pre-eminent aspect of psychological and physical health, that can be occasionally punctuated but not replaced by variety, change and the search for new experience.

Much of the literature and mores of human societies over time seems to suggest that change is pre-requisite to happiness, creativity and the advancement of ideas and perspectives. Over time the words of philosophers have lent support to the change mandate. The Greek philosopher Heraclitis insisted change was both inevitable and necessary. Thomas Jefferson maintained that to ensure continuation of a vibrant democracy required a (philosophical/political rather than violent) revolution every few decades. Meanwhile, Wilhelm Georg Hegel’s theory of history referenced a triadic progression consisting of thesis (the extant governmental/societal format) antithesis (the inevitable, historical challenge to that format) and synthesis (the new, resulting revision). For him societal and political change, which necessarily entails behavioral change, was unavoidable. He felt the only choice homo sapiens had was in deciding which new habits and formats to adopt. (1821)

Hegel’s model was adopted by Marx and Engels who took liberty (excuse the oxymoron) to define the new, inevitable synthesis as communism (Figes, 2014)). They in turn referenced Darwin’s theory of natural selection which emphasized the importance of evolutionary change in adaptation and survival. Similar sentiments have pervaded the field of psychology, as for example Carl Rogers’ notion of an ever-changing, expanding creative self (1961) and Freud’s ideas on stages of development.

No one would dispute that change occurs in virtually all natural and human endeavors. Indeed since time does elapse, it must do so. Yet there is a very practical, existential argument to be made against change, one that suggests that fixed habits might well contribute more to human existence and progress than change. The argument espousing that idea can be called the philosophy of habit.
First, a qualifier: Habit pertains to a fixed state of behavior, but by its repetitious nature, it can be viewed as a substrate of any structural phenomenon. It is a rigid word, associated with, at best boredom, stagnation and “squareness” (to re-state a term inspired by early Beat writers like Kerouac, Ginsberg and Lucien Carr) and at worst obsession, addiction and pathology. It has a bad rap, which is unfortunate, because the sheer power of habit in sustaining mental and physical health, prompting states of contentment, societal cooperation and creativity are inestimable. To underscore these points, let’s look at the problem from a neuro-psychological perspective.

Pathways to pleasure…

Research has shown that establishing habits has a strong, stabilizing and aesthetic influence on brain and mind. Indeed habituation could be considered the mechanism by which the stress inherent in novelty-based confusion and anxiety is overridden (Karamati, Gutkin (2014). As any animal develops a habit structure (defined as repeated behaviors that secure expected/needed feedback), a pleasure enhancing (catecholiminergic) response from midbrain neurochemical pathways is released, in effect “saying’ to the organism… now that you have attained a fixed response pattern you may feel good again. (Shoenfeld, Uretsky, 1972) That experience is more than relief, i.e. a negative reinforcement process. It is a hedonic experience.

High Octane Habituation…

Beyond neurobehavioral factors, habits have ergonomic benefits, one of which is that establishing habits precludes the need for ongoing vigilance, which can induce hyper-arousal and stress. In that sense habits are an ergonomically efficient behavioral mechanism. To the extent that theorists in many fields consider energy conservation the sine qua non of structure and function (whether in terms of psychology, physics, cosmology or biology) that is highly significant. Indeed one reason individuals afflicted with psychopathologies tend toward rigid behavior patterns, i.e. rituals, compulsions and obsessions, might be because habits reduce the stress inherent in their every day experience. (In that context, rather than being viewed as pathognomic such patterns might also be seen as internally adaptive.

The benefits of habit readily extend into the existential domain. For every individual who craves new circumstances, challenges and environments there are many who look forward to going to work every day, getting in their five mile run, thirty laps in the pool or practicing with the band once a week. For so many people routines are not stale but rather restorative.

Hip habits…

One argument against habituation is based on the notion of drabness, but is that really a valid argument? Behavioral research suggest not. Olds and Milner found that if the behavioral-feedback relationship is rewarding repetitive responding is typically experienced as a positive thing (1954). Thus, rather than habit in itself being “drab” it might be that the reinforcing value of the habit is the determining experiential factor. Beyond that, Premack’s studies clearly indicate that oft-repeated (high probability) behaviors tend to become reinforcing over time due to their sheer frequency of expression (1963).

Habits vs. Artistry…

Much criticism of the habitual life style emanates from the fields of art. For example, musicians, actors, writers speak constantly about spreading their horizons, trying out new material, taking creative risks etc. Presumably the essence of this argument revolves around two premises. One is that newness makes the artist feel more artistic. The other has to do with the artist’s presumption that the audience places a similar value on newness and divergence.
While one needn’t choose abjectly between habit and change this issue is rather easily resolved through the prism of Information Theory. This theory has many complex features and mathematical substrates which won’t be discussed here, but one of its tenets is quite interesting in terms of the habit vs. change dichotomy. It is found in the maxim first proposed by the Greek philosopher Zeno that change per se is impossible: more generally that one cannot perceive or create new information (change) unless it is derived from a pre-established level of uniformity – here the writer takes license to embellish Zeno’s basic conception.

For example, slang and other language nuances – as exemplified in the shift from phrases like “out of sight” in the 50s to “groovy” in the sixties to “awesome and amazing” among today’s millenials – could not have developed without access to the seedbed of extant, formalized English. In that sense habit can be said to be father to innovation.

Beyond the language realm, Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity could not have been developed without the pre-existing ideas of Maxwell and Minkowksi. In historical terms the newness of the Roman empire was derived from the ideological, religious and political habits of Greek culture, which in turn took its cue from the Egyptians, who borrowed from the Sumerians. There were probably pre-urban. nomadic groups whose ideas anticipated those.

Thus it could be argued that the structural nature of habit is what actually provides us with the capacity to explore, invent and take risks. It is life’s independent variable: all facets of experience typified not by ongoing change but through a process typified by themes and variations…the former providing the rock solid stability that sustains us, enables us to progress and adapt individually, socially and as a species.

That template has been applied to the study of aesthetics, often being referred to as the “synthesis-divergence” model. It was succinctly expressed by St. Augustine, who defined aesthetics as “order derived from the distribution which allots things equal and unequal” and supported by the research of Berlyne on the neuropsychological aspects of aesthetic experience (1971, (1974).

The physical and mental health implications of habit are particularly interesting. One fascinating version of this phenomenon was offered decades ago by Seligman who discussed the importance of learned hopefulness (an overriding sense of being able to manifest habits effectively) in maintaining mental and physical health. He even suggested a negative correlation between effective habituation (reinforcement control), depression and death (1975).

In a sense the above contention might seem counter-intuitive. After all, Lashley’s early studies on mass action and brain arousal patterns suggests the mind processes experience by first creating neurologically induced uncertainty prior to the search for closure (Rutherford, Fancher, 2012). Does that mean the brain implicitly rejects habit and certainty? Not if one acknowledges that, despite the uncertainty-reducing functions of the brain the mind could not possibly operate by an a priori random process without lapsing into a state of neuro-entropy. There would have to be original, ingrained cognitive and perceptual templates providing a pre-conception of desired outcomes, otherwise it would be impossible to determine if or when resolution occurred. In effect, without some mental foundation information processing cannot occur.

The philosophy of habit might seem to conflict with the mores and customs of the social world; as exemplified by sayings like: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”… or “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Then again is this a valid critique or merely a take by others (rather than the self) on what is right and necessary in defining an adaptive human being? For example, if one were to express what any given individual (for the sake of argument, assume he has reverted back to a state of nature) might feel about his own existence, the phrase: “happiness means discovering a few things you really like to do and continuing on that path” might in many instances be a more effective existential guideline by which to live.

Society and the Philosophy of Habit…

At the risk of taking this argument beyond its initial premise, the habit vs. change conundrum could have significant societal and moral implications. As the pace and volume of information increase, the possibility of info-consolidation decreases. As a possible consequence, attitudinal foundations can be compromised, destroyed or precluded. Every experience, triumph and tragedy could be diluted by interfering, overlapping subsequent experiences: the net effect being a lack of perspective, lack of meaning and no realization of existential signposts marking the historical journey of a society or of individuals within that society. Since individual human identity is in part derived from the time and place in which one lives, such a process could lead to self-image confusion – perhaps even to an increase in psychopathologies over time. One hopes not, and perhaps, having adapted to various stressors and strains over the course of human existence the ego will figure out some way to avoid such outcomes.


Berlyne, D.E. (1971) Aesthetics and Psychobiology, New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts

Berlyne, D.E. (1974) Studies in the New Experimental Aesthetics. New York, Wiley

Figes, O. (2014) A People’s Tragedy; The Russian Revolution 1891-1924. The Bodley Head. p. 127

Hegel, G.W. F. (1821) Elements of Philosophy of Right.

Jefferson, Thomas. in a letter to James Madison wrote “A little rebellion now and then is a good thing”. Revolution and Reformation: On Politics and Government. R.G. Eyler (ed) Early American Review.

Keramati, M. Gutkin, B. (2014) A Reinforcement Learning Theory for Homeostatic Regulation. Group for Neural Theory, LNC. ENS Paris, France.

Note: The Beat writers, including Kerouac, Ginsburg and Lucien Carr developed the bohemian mindset/attitude initially as rebellion against the conservative literary formats taught at Columbia University. Over time this belief spread into various aspects of life style and behavior patterns.

Note; Heraclitis’s famous quote: “One cannot step into the same river twice” was indicative of the pervasive idea in ancient Greece that the universe was typfiied by change. A possible exception to that belief was Aristotle’s concept of a god he referred to as the “Unmoved Mover.”

Marx, K & Engels, F. (1848) The Manifesto of the Communist Party. Marxist Internet Archive

Olds, J. Milner, P. (1954) Positive Reinforcement produced by electrical stimulation of septal area and other regions of the rat brain. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology 47 (6) 419-427.

Premack, D. (1963) Rate differential reinforcement in monkey manipulation. Journal of Experimental Analysis of Behavior (6) 81-90

Rogers. C (1961) On Becoming a Person; A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy. London, Constable

Rutherford, R.E. Fancher, A. (2012) Pioneers of Psychology: A History (4th edition) New York, W.W. Norton

Schoenfeld, R Uretsky, N.J. (1972) Operant Behavior and Catecholamine neurons: prolonged increase in lever pressing after 6 – hydroxydopamine. European Journal of Pharmacology Vol. 20 (3) 357-362

Seligman,M. (1975) Helplessness: On Depression, Development and Death. San Francisco. W.H Freeman

Note: St. Augustine reference from his work, City of God XIX

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A Discussion of Psychopathy

November 6th, 2017 by Robert DePaolo | Posted in Psychology | No Comments » | 79 views | Print this Article

by Robert DePaolo


The following discussion revolves around the ideas of neuropathy, singularism and social detachment as central factors in the developent of a sociopathic personality. It also discusses specific antecedent, developmental factors that could determine the degree of sociopathy as well as the probability that an individual with such developmental tendencies will act out.

Post-natal Incongruence

Research has shown that social detachment can be a precursor to sociopathy (Bowlby, 1952) but such a trait needn’t be the result of trauma or other severe psychological conditions. Indeed the very nature of child development suggests it can take shape from fairly innocuous origins. Many types of mammals imprint based on initial visual and tactile contact (Immelman, 1972). The criteria for human bonding between mother and child and are a bit more complicated. For example Freud felt feeding and general nurturance created closeness between child and mother (Ainsworth 1969). Since his early writings other factors have been added to the mix. One of these is intriguing, both because of its relevance to mother-infant bonding and because of its far ranging implications for the life long development of personality. It has to do with the behavioral and affective congruence between child and caretaker; in simpler terms a perceived emotional and perceptual correlation between the infant’s actions and those of the mother or caretaker (Lichtman 2014).

A child is obviously born under very dependent, symbiotic circumstances. In utero, there is no essential biological separation between mother and child. Both eat and drink the same nutrients, share the same cardiovascular, respiratory and digestive experiences. It is only when the child begin to move, i.e. “kick” in the womb that a first functional separation occurs.

Just how much cognitive or perceptual processing occurs on the part of the infant at this stage is unknown. Whether the pre-born infant “knows” there is a sudden distinction between host-mom and himself, the actions and feedback sensations between mother and child do begin to drift into separate directions. One could argue that this is the point in child development when a sense of self begins.

At birth the dam of independence really bursts. On being separated from the mother the child becomes capable of experiencing duress on its own and in the absence of symbiotic biological support from the mother’s physiology, duress increases, requiring a remedy. To restore equanimity a re-symbiotic relationship must be established.
While the infant cannot yet speak, he can, in a sense calculate his own experiences – particularly when under duress. In doing so the child must be able to establish trust, i.e. a bonding foundation based on whether the sudden transition from “us” to “me” can be re-worked to, in effect recapture the security of the womb.

Say me…Say you

While, as mentioned above Freud focused on feeding and nurturance (both of which alleviate discomfort) as criteria for bonding, there are many other stressful circumstances the newly bio-independent child experiences after birth; for example various manifestations of physical distress, loneliness, insufficient stimulus levels and fatigue. Because so many possible stressful experience can occur the only way for the child to process and truly “feel” the bond is to take what might be called an infantile overview; couched in a very primal kind of calculation. This consists of approximately the following appraisals: Does the behavior of my caretaker coincide generally with mine? When I tussle in the crib does she pick me up to alleviate irritation of my backside? When I laugh does she laugh; and if my apparent grinning is in fact stomach distress can she tell the difference? Also is she playful in response ot my playfulness, sad in response to my sadness, content in the face of my contentment? In other words does she have good social-reciprocal intelligence?

While this might seem an advanced level of cognition on the part of a child, there is little question that congruence regarding the actions and feelings between human beings at any age and on every level is a required element in bonding.

Carl Rogers discussed this as a central factor in positive therapeutic outcomes via his notions of congruence and empathy (Mearns, 1988), (McLeod 2015), In fact empathy (the perception of both self and other within a single experience) is seen as a highly effective social skill in maintaining all relationships, including that of marital partners, parents and children, teachers and students and even foreign diplomats trying to work out a trade agreement.

With regard to the bonding experience between mother and child, this would suggest (somewhat hyperbolically) that bonding involves the infant subjecting its mother to a social IQ test, with only one question: Does she know how to respond in a way that is congruent with my own behavior? Such behavioral-emotional reciprocity would alleviate the trauma of post natal separation, restore the infant’s equanimity and create a psychological facsimile of the biological symbiosis that occured in the womb.

The Binary Cognitive Stage

While congruence offers comfort so does independence. The child’s first movement in the womb was probably an invigorating experience; a first step on the road to what all humans seek throughout their lives – a sense of control. Despite the need for support the child is not willing to give that up readily and under normal circumstances he doesn’t have to. Once the child can learn to take bonding for granted he can seek more control and independence without concomitant anxiety. He can move for himself, think to an extent for himself, need and want for himself and even by age two-ish, rebel against the commands of his previous life-line – the mother.

From that point on, child development and (with apologies to political theoreticians such as Aristotle, Hegel and Kant perhaps the development of all social systems and people per se) becomes a function of binary social processing framed in a dualistic human theme. The needs for individuation and self assertion operate alongside the needs for affiliation and bonding such that all individuals and groups, whether based on race, economic-social systems, political parties or religions move through history under the impetus of that existential dichotomy.


The key to resolving the dilemma lies in a capacity to learn how to apportion and accommodate both needs. (As an aside one could argue that this conflict, might, as much as Freud’s clash between id and superego be central in the development of the ego.
Beyond apportionment lies still another task, because while both elements are crucial in psychological development they can both complement and conflict with one another. Thus in addition to apportionment there must be a capacity to integrate the two. For example, being able to empathize with others requires some sense of how one would react in similar circumstances. That implies the foundation of affiliation lies in early experiences of self fulfillment wherein the child learns what disturbs and pleases him clearly enough so he can extend that realization to others later in life.

If that is the case then the oft-referenced supposition that indulging a child necessarily interferes with empathic development might be at least partly inaccurate. Perhaps that’s why Freud suggested that any child who is deemed special by the mother is probably headed for a life of confidence and success – Mrs. Freud often referred to him as “Mein Goldener Siggy” (Margolis 1969).
Information and sociopathy

In that context, it would appear that the formation of a socially functional personality, and prevention of a sociopathic one involves both conguent experiences between child and caretakers to establish a firm, sense of self and solid expectations of need gratification and secondarily, a capacity to apportion and integrate self and other, both in an overall conceptual sense and also moment by moment in the course of daily experience.

The Proportionate Brain

Interestingly, that apportionment of concerns has neurological implications. In order for the mind/brain to be able to apportion and integrate the binary options of self and other entails certain requirements. For one thing, chronic and momentary arousal levels must be moderate enough to allow for multi-access among various circuits in the brain that house memories, motivations and cognitions regarding social and emotional phenomena. Without such access moral figure-ground perception will tend to be overridden (Easterbrook,1959). Secondly, anxiety levels, which can foster compulsive “adaptations” to override anxiety-provoking memories must be controllable. Once one track mindedness takes over the neuro-cognitive breadth and multi-access needed for self//other apportionment becomes eclipsed. As has been suggested in research and theory, neural hyper-arousal (fight/flight mode) typically compromises ego functions (Keiser, 1969).
Another intriguing possibility lies in the development of frontal lobe maturation and related language development. It would appear the pre-frontal and fronto-parietal cortical lobes are the latest neural systems to develop in human evolution (Lui, Hansen et. al 2011). More recently evolved traits can be more susceptible to anomalies – simply because nature and propagation have not had enough time to mix genes and insulate against mutative or abnormal developments. The frontal and pre-frontal lobes are prime generators of language activity. While studies have shown that a high percentage of prison inmates have language-related learning disabilities, many sociopaths clearly do not (for example Ted Bundy, Ted Kaczinski (the Uni- Bomber) and Dennis Rader (the BTK killer), who had strong language and intellectual capacities). On the other hand, there are two kinds of language; one more covert than the other. As Luria has proposed, covert language also emanates from pre-frontal cortical areas (1973). This is the language not of communication but of self-direction, i.e. conscience. One could have a capacity to speak eloquently with others but lack an ability to, in effect talk covertly to one’s self. This phenomenon is perhaps best described via Lazarus’ concept of cognitive appraisals (1991). It is the latter skill that holds back impulse, utilizes sequential logic to avoid guilt and legal repercussions and possibly serves as modulator between self and other. However since no studies have shown correlations between neuro- pathology (for example frontal hypoplasia) and sociopathy, this would have to remain in the realm of speculation.

Finally, and possibly related to this phenomenon, certain learning disorders such as Attention Deficit Disorder can by virtue of a brain-based difficulty controlling arousal and integration skills create a one-track cognitive style. In fact it is sometimes the case that the speed at which individuals with ADHD process experience is so fast that there is seldom enough time to weigh both self and other in their experiences. In a sense such individuals have “bad social timing.”

Beyond neurology is another pathogenic factor: compensatory self-concern resulting from overwhelming feelings of inferiority. Heightened self consciousness, resulting from a shame-based, hyper-critical parental style and/or highly punitive upbringing can also produce one track-mindedness. Having to self-protect, self nurture and self sooth constantly could preclude development of a self/other integrative outlook.

Based on those premises, one could in part attribute sociopathy to a process called hyper-singularization; that is, an over-focused, hyper-aroused personality structure. While other factors could contribute to sociopathy it could be diagnostically helpful and parsimonious to consider this as a core pathogenic element, especially for purposes of addressing the client’s cognitive schemata in the counseling process.


Clinicians and law enforcement officials would probably all agree that not all people exhibiting singularization act out. There are undoubtedly many reasons for this. For example singularizing can lead to intense motivation, resulting in vocational and financial success because obsessive traits can often be directed toward goal attainment. In that context singularization can actually minimize distractions and frustrations. Others might have the “core singularization pathology” yet have access to social supports so as to alleviate emotional duress, for example counselors, families and groups, while still others are so preoccupied with jobs and normal daily pursuits that they don’t have time to act out.

Despite test protocols like the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, which can distinguish between people with psychopathic tendencies and protypical psychopaths, there do not seem to be any diagnostic instruments designed to tap into the singularism trait. Until such time as one is developed there are questions clinicians and law enforcement officers can ask in assessing why sociopaths occasionally commit heinous crimes, for example:

A Quick Screener

1. Has the individual shown a singular focus on themes, persons or objects over an extended period of time? (The themes do not have to be threatening since just the presence of singularization could compromising the ego).

2. Are there developmental or neurological factors that interfere with multi-access in the brain with regard to stored schemes emotions, self and other perceptions?

3. Was there (clinically undetectable) pervasive incongruence between child and caretaker such that bonds were never established, leading the child to live out his life in cold, distant objective terms.

4. Was the individual raised in a shame-based environment such that he had to devote his behavior, attitudes and emotions to extreme and chronic compensatory patterns of dominance, diminution of others’ status and depersonalizing of victims?

5. Has the individual shown signs of extreme anxiety and a tendency toward obsessive thoughts and behaviors as a means of blocking out threats and fears?

6. Has the individual experienced early childhood trauma, which by definition produces chronically high arousal, fight/flight reactions and is thus conducive to singularization.

7. Has the individual developed a singular focus on self due to lack of parenting or caretaking whereby the child with few cognitive/psychological resources had to expend so much psychic energy on self-care that it resulted in a life long pattern of self protection/self soothing and narcissism?

8. Has the individual abused drugs to such an extent that addictions have led to neural damage, an extreme need to feed his habit and one-track mindedness that completely overrides the capacity for self/other apportionment?

These are rough-draft and not necessarily new considerations toward a model of sociopathy. Similar ideas have been presented in the past, including the well established relationship between ego dysfunction and sociopathy. The snag in those ideas and (those presented here) is three-fold. For one thing it is hard to determine which of these factors, or combinations thereof could cause any given individual to become sociopathic. Also, it is hard to tell specifically why some people with the singularism pattern do not act out. Finally it is even harder to determine why such individuals can go on for years without acting out then suddenly do so with horrific results.

Could it be specific triggers, generic sociological tension fomented by scandal-hungry media, themselves singularized with the gathering of listeners and viewers? Or perhaps the sheer proliferation of media such that every tragedy every storm, every foible of very human being on earth is broadcast, making it appear the world is so much more threatening? Is there such a thing as media-induced sociopathy; singularism cropping up as an adaptive obsession to override the overwhelming drum beat of 24 hour bad news? Many such questions are yet to be answered. One hopes clinicians and law enforcement officials can themselves apportion all of this out and arrive at effective ideas for prediction, prevention and treatment.


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Piscean Depression: A Clinical/Remedial Concept

October 6th, 2017 by Robert DePaolo | Posted in Psychology | No Comments » | 80 views | Print this Article

Piscean Depression:
A Clinical/Remedial Concept

by Robert DePaolo


This article discusses a type of depression pertinent to high activity/high achiever personality types. The clinical picture discussed is of individuals who must (by analogy to an ocean dweller – thus the word Piscean) “move to survive.” The point is made that the need to be on-task and chronically active represents an ongoing, remedial attempt to fend off chronic depression. The underlying cause of this pathology is discussed in neuro-behavioral terms.


Most fish must move to breathe. By their perpetual movement they are able to force water over their gills in a rapid enough manner as to manufacture oxygen, fuel cells and carry out digestive and other homeostatic functions. Should they stop moving the flow of the water slows down to a point where the friction between water and gills is so minimal as to preclude biological functioning.

Other than in an astrological sense it is a bit awkward to refer to a human as “Piscean.” Yet some of us are bound by psychological movement. This includes covert activity manifest as fantasy, imagination, anticipatory anxiety which provides impetus for us to act in order to avoid or escape from something – real or imagined) and overt actions. There are underlying reasons for such a movement imperative.

Survival Schedules

Research in the field of behavioral psychology has demonstrated that mood is largely a function of the relationship between one’s behavior and the procurement of reinforcement, (Carvalho, Hopko 2010) Seligman (1992), (1996). The latter has suggested states of learned helplessness can result from a sparse relationship between effort and confirming feedback. Meanwhile research on the depression-elation effect has shown that when there is a rapid shift from a sparse to a higher reinforcement schedule organisms display rapid response patterns and heightened physiological arousal. In humans this is often accompanied by feelings of elation and hyperactivity. (Coleman 2006)

Reinforcement need not always be primary, as for example the procurement of food or other forms of primal gratification nor secondary, i.e tied associatively to a concrete reinforcer. It can also take the form of a closure experience, where expectations are confirmed in the aftermath of a response sequence. (Messinger, 1998) (DePaolo 2014). In that context studies have shown that certainty attainment in one form or another provides negative reinforcement, i.e. relief from the pan-activation in brain that crops up in cognitive and problem solving activities. (Berlyne 1960).

The Perils of Passivity

An interesting aspect of this is that (as if to mimic a meritocratic social system) the mind/brain complex typically registers elation when there is movement or behavior preceding and leading to the outcome. To receive pleasure without acting to produce it, not only fails to provide closure but can produce mood instability – for example guilt. The same is true when behavior is exerted without confirming feedback. In other words a requisite element in preventing depression and securing adaptive, effective mood and behavior lies in a close, functional correlation between actions and feedback. (As an aside clinicians might one day be able to mathematize the dynamics of some types of depression using with this concept. That brings to mind the case of individuals with what will be referred to here as Piscean depression.

Some individuals have what McClelland referred to as a high achievement drive (2014) the nature of which can reach extreme proportions. The roots of this are myriad and somewhat unclear. Certainly a familial over-emphasis on success could be one component, particularly within the context of merit-based socio-political systems seen in many western societies.

Other factors undoubtedly play a role. For example overplaying the achievement motive can run parallel to failure-induced compensatory behaviors and cognitions. A person who feels inferior will not usually simply dwell in that domain. Rather he or she will tend to move in the opposite direction, possibly through mere braggadocio but often by summoning a super-achievement motive. Life for such individuals becomes a constant quest to override a sense of inadequacy. As Adler suggested with regard to neurosis, this is usually not momentary but a pervasive driving force in one’s life style (1979).

Adler proposed a way around this problem via adherence to higher, more altruistic concerns – what he called “social interest”) but for some individuals with a clinical picture that might not be sufficient. As seen in politics, religion, philanthropy and other social endeavors a competitive mindset seems unavoidable. Humans are primates and we can, through learning, override certain evolutionary behavior patters – but not all. Given Homo sapiens’ need for heroes and idols, it appears the primate proclivity for climbing the totem pole (forming hierarchies) seems an inescapable psycho-evolutionary albatross around the neck of our species.

Still other factors come into play. For example, while sex is a basic biological need it is also a highly social/political phenomenon. Since females in virtually all social systems (primate and otherwise) seem to prefer the most accomplished (high status) males there is a high correlation between attained success/status and mating opportunities. Thus, when it comes to propagation, altruism might not be enough.

Mind, Brain and Success

In nature it is often the case that, despite Darwin’s monolithic concept of fitness an organism’s most adaptive trait can also be its most potentially maladaptive trait. Dinosaurs, particularly the large carniverous species, had the advantage of size, strength and imposing jaws and teeth. But those large bodies required vast food resources and once the latter dried up for various climatic and catastrophic reasons size became a liability.

A similar trend might be seen in the quintessential human adaptation – a large brain. Having so vast a neural network and a tendency within the brain to pan-activate in cognitive and problem solving activities (Lashley, 1950) means a great deal of neural sifting is required to extract from that network a precise thought, word or action. That involves a tricky, stressful (and potentially pathogenic) process. Unless resolution/closure is reached fairly quickly prolonged arousal will ensue along with neural fatigue, leading to task avoidance via what Pavlov referred to as protective inhibition, (Tjew-A-Sin, Samur 2014). That makes control extremely important to human beings, indeed a likely foundation for the exploratory, high achievement, creative and indeed destructive behavior patterns that seem to have characterized our species throughout history.


The neuro-behaviorally driven needs to create-control-manipulate-seduce, build, defeat, explore and conquer are not represented equally in the psyche of all people. Since the control dynamic is to an extent a negative reinforcement process (relief from failure to control or succeed) it might be more prevalent among individuals with high levels of anxiety and/or concomitant self image rigidity. That is because the stress resulting from lack of control (response-feedback uncertainty) would tend to be greater in individuals with lower stress tolerance. Such individuals would be more caught up in the compensatory actions alluded to previously.
Interestingly, the need for constant (Piscean) movement toward a goal might be somewhat paradoxical in that while the actor is seeking an external outcome he is most fundamentally engaged in an act of internal self regulation. That leads to discussion of the essential nature of this pathology; specifically whether it should be classified primarily as a form of anxiety or depression.
In many ways that question is academic. Often the symptom patterns of anxiety and depression are so similar as to suggest a diagnostic synthesis. Medications such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Celexa that work for one tend to work for both. Masserman has discussed the causative relationship between anxiety and uncertainty (1970). Like anxiety, depressions are accompanied by great uncertainty;one reason why such an extreme act of suicide, which is in the final analysis an attempt at resolution occurs in the aftermath, (2014).

For purposes of discussion this article proposes that depression is a more primary factor; not just because it is more potentially dangerous and reflective of desperation but because it seems closer to a last step on the path from confusion-fueled anxiety, which initially can be dealt with through compulsions, avoidance behaviors, phobic creation/control scenarios and dependency. At the point where anxiety descends into depression options are either limited or non-existent, as Seligman’s notion of learned helplessness suggests (1995).

In that context Piscean depression might be viewed as a case in which individuals afflicted with “end-stage anxiety” possess a self image that declines rapidly in the absence of quests, goals and movement. The individual really does not exhibit primarily an anxiety symptom cluster, possibly because his self image and general experiences over time rendered anxiety-reducing behavioral adaptations ego-alien. It is as if compulsivity, fantasy, ritualistic behaviors, dependency and stimulus avoidance are too weak and escapist to assimilate.

For many individuals afflicted with such a syndrome, there are several critical dangers. For one thing the individual will tend to be so outwardly independent and “hooked” on action/feedback sequences that he might not seek help. Also if this pattern should persist into older age levels physiological and medical setbacks could result from the constant psychic and behavioral effort required to sustain this energy consuming, compensatory pattern.

Still another pathological feature is an impoverished ego function. The ego is at its functional best when it has referential breadth, i.e. can override rigidity to consider and weigh various outcomes, solutions, consequences and perspectives. Piscean depressives would tend to have difficulty with such a “forest and trees” perspective due to the narrow topography of their drives and motivations.

Treatment implications for such a symptom pattern might seem fairly obvious. As Carl Rogers suggested, broadening the self and focusing not just on external experiences and goals but on the life long process of creating an adaptive, expansive and resilient self would seem necessary to psychological functioning (1985). The one problem that would pose is that the client with Piscean depression would invariably experience significant anxiety in the course of abandoning his or her hyper-focused, compensatory action/feedback-based world view. To take the client beyond that threshold would seem to require a very strong support component in the counseling process and in that context tolerance by both client and counselor would be necessary to navigate a potentially rocky therapeutic road.


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