A Continuum of Persistent
Non-Symbolic Experience in Adults?
Jeffery A. Martin
Center for the Study of Non-Symbolic Consciousness
And
Harvard University
What is PNSE
Catchall phrase for persistent…
• Enlightenment
• Mystical Experience
• Nonduality
• Cosmic/God/etc. Consciousness
• (and about 200 other terms, worldwide)
• Not limited to spiritual or religious people.
What is PNSE
• Persistent Non-Symbolic Consciousness = PNSE
• Term is adapted from 2000 Cook-Greuter paper:
“Eastern psychologies have often pointed to the
nonsymbolically mediated, or immediate ways of knowing
as the only kind of knowing that can lead to enlightenment
or true insight into human nature. In fact, they consider
our addiction to language-mediated, discursive thought as
a major hurdle in realizing the true or divine Self, or union
with the Ground.” (Cook-Greuter, p. 230)
• Ultimately the term was used because participants
accepted it.
Approach
• Piece 1
– Start to get arms around the population
– Standard self-report instruments, from best guess within research
community, delivered in batches
– Chosen to be maximally compatible with existing data from other
studies of temporary and permanent forms of NSC
– Example: Batch 1 - Modified M-Scale, DES2, STAI, SWLS, BFI, TAS, and
Modified MUMEX
Approach
Three piece structure, continued
• Piece 2
– In-depth interviews (6-12+ hours)
– Focused on Cognition, Affect, Memory and Perception
– Extracting and refining testable psychological claims from self reports
• Example: “Loss of self” …what does this actually mean?
• Clearly talking to someone who’s saying “I did X”
– Population tends to speak in metaphors, be very vague, and so forth
– Often takes an enormous effort to correlate claims across subjects, try to
really get in and understand them, and narrow them down into something
testable
– Basically spending time scratching things off a large list
– Piece 1 and 2 were concurrent, and are still happening in some populations
• Piece 3
– Imaging/brain measurement
– EEG, fMRI, …
Participants
•
•
•
•
Super achievers => broke and homeless
Mostly religious or spiritual
Age range late teens to mid-nineties
Globally dispersed (we only track English speakers, but come across many
others)
• Generally educated
• Skewed toward men
• Various races but our sample is skewed towards Caucasians
PNSE Continuum
Location 1
Location 2
Location 3
Location 4
• Locations actually represent regions with sublocations
• Some people stay in one spot, others move
• Generally a forward progression but not
always
PNSE Continuum
Location 1
- Expansion of sense of
self, connection to divine
- Much less affected by
‘self’ thoughts
- Distance from but still
have positive and
negative emotions
- Deep peace but can be
suppressed by triggered
conditioning
- Effects from perceptual
triggers fall off quickly
- Deep peace and
beingness feels more real
than anything previous
- Trust in ‘how things are’
- Personal history less
relevant, memories less
PNSE Continuum
Location 1
Location 2
- ‘Self’ thoughts continue to
fade
- Peace increasingly harder
to suppress/conditioning
fades
- Shift towards increasingly
positive emotions, until
only very positive emotions
remain
- Intermediate levels of
perceptual triggers
increasingly fade
- More likely to feel that
there is a correct decision
or path to take when
presented with choices
- Higher well-being than
location one
Location 3
Location 4
PNSE Continuum
Location 1
Location 2
Location 3
- Only single positive
emotion remains
- Feels like a
combination of
universal
compassion, love,
joy, …
- Higher well-being
than location 2
Location 4
PNSE Continuum
Location 1
- Expansion of sense of
self, connection to divine
- Much less affected by
‘self’ thoughts
- Distance from but still
have positive and
negative emotions
- Deep peace but can be
suppressed by triggered
conditioning
- Effects from perceptual
triggers fall off quickly
- Deep peace and
‘beingness feels more real
than anything previous
- Trust in ‘how things are’
- Personal history less
relevant, memories less
Location 2
- ‘Self’ thoughts continue to
fade
- Peace increasingly harder
to suppress/conditioning
fades
- Shift towards increasingly
positive emotions, until
only very positive emotions
remain
- Intermediate levels of
perceptual triggers
increasingly fade
- More likely to feel that
there is a correct decision
or path to take when
presented with choices
- Higher well-being than
location one
Location 3
- Only single positive
emotion remains
- Feels like a
combination of
universal
compassion, love,
joy, …
- Higher well-being
than location 2
Location 4
- No sense of agency
- No emotions
- No ‘self’ thoughts
- Perceptual triggers
at their bare
minimum
- No sense of divine
or universal
consciousness
- life was simply
unfolding and they
were watching the
process happen
- Memory
deficits/scheduled
appointments, etc.
- Highest well-being
reported
Getting There…
Applied Research - Feedback
Narrow AI
rt-fMRI sEEG
MEG
fMRI
Home
Bio-feedback
Applied Research - Stimulation
tDCS
T/FUS
rt-fMRI sEEG
MEG
fMRI
Home Unit
Recent Experiment
•
•
•
•
•
•
Best practices
Combined based on data
Taught by best people in each area
4 months
2 classes – 1 course
6 participants
– 3 men, 3 women
– 2 high, 2 med, 2 low well-being (1M, 1F ea.)
Recent Experiment
• 3 weeks to go…
• NSE
– Location 1 = 1 person
– Location 2 = 1 person
• Measures
– STAI, STRESS, PILL, M-Scale, NETI, AHI, CES-D, FEQ,
GHS, PNAS, Gratitude, Optimism, Meaning, ATH,
SWLS
– All in ‘positive’ direction across subjects
Thank You!
Slides at: nonsymbolic.org/TSC2014.pptx
Paper at: nonsymbolic.org/PNSE-Article.pdf
Email: [email protected]
Download

A Continuum of Persistent Non-Symbolic Experience in Adults