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What are 'Psychological Processes"?

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS Discussion' started by lansbergen, Aug 2, 2014.

  1. lansbergen

    lansbergen Senior Member

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    Moderator: The following 15 posts have been moved from this thread.


    Please define psychological processes.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 2, 2014
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  2. Cheesus

    Cheesus Senior Member

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    While I can't give an exact definition, as a rough outline I would say psychological processes are those processes that transfer the arising and falling away of objective phenomena into internal experience.
     
  3. lansbergen

    lansbergen Senior Member

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    Can you give an excample?
     
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  4. Cheesus

    Cheesus Senior Member

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    I could. But i am wary of the direction this is heading. Do you have a point to prove or are you just interested? I am not keen to being dragged into a semantical debate regarding an off the cuff definition of the term 'psychological processes'.

    If you want to know more about psychology and how it is used within the BPS model I am sure there a various good resources online.
     
  5. lansbergen

    lansbergen Senior Member

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    I have no idea what you mean by psychological processes and if I don't ask I will never know.
     
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  6. Cheesus

    Cheesus Senior Member

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  7. Cheesus

    Cheesus Senior Member

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  8. lansbergen

    lansbergen Senior Member

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  9. lansbergen

    lansbergen Senior Member

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    In my browser it is the second but I assume you mean this.

     
  10. Cheesus

    Cheesus Senior Member

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    I will try to be a bit less of a dick.

    When I used the term, I meant it to describe the ongoing and ever-evolving psychological relationship we have with our surroundings and our internal experience. When phenomena arises it is an objective occurrence, however it must pass through the veil of the psyche before it reaches us, and in doing so it is twisted to fit into our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. We perceive the occurrence in the context of our historical exposures to similar occurrences.

    For example, I am at work and my boss glances over at me. Objectively all that happened was that my boss's eyes were momentarily pointing in my direction. However based on historical knowledge I might perceive it as being: critical of my work; as a benign look around the office; as a flirtatious pass; as a look of approval; etc. I will then have an appropriate emotional reaction relative to the initial reaction. I might then start up a dialogue with myself like "Oh I am going to get lucky later" or "Oh god why am I so crap at my work" and so on.

    The reason this is a process is because it is ever evolving and is never static. It is very similar to physiological processes: how our body processes exertion or digests foods, for instance. Psychological processes can impact the pathogenesis of disease. How this might occur exists on a spectrum. The importance of psychological processes are very obvious in illnesses such as anorexia, a little less obvious in illness such as type II diabetes, and perhaps rather opaque in something like autoimmunity.
     
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  11. Cheesus

    Cheesus Senior Member

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    Yes that is the one I meant.
     
  12. lansbergen

    lansbergen Senior Member

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    You might be suprised how many of these are biological.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 6, 2014
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  13. cmt12

    cmt12

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    I will take the bait for one reply with little expectation of changing your mind.

    Neuroscience completely ignores anything that may occur prior to what they can observe in brain activity so in their view the thinking process goes:
    Brain change -> mental state

    But in actuality if I want to think about something it goes like this:
    Intention (mind) -> brain change -> mental state

    If you agree with me that in order to have a CONSCIOUS thought, that you first have to have intention, then it is not unreasonable to think that it is a similar process on a subconscious level like in the example of the glance that Cheesus mentioned.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 6, 2014
  14. xchocoholic

    xchocoholic Senior Member

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    Hi. I'm just curious. Would knowing this benefit pwcs ? If so how ?

    I can readily see how anorexia is based on perception. And I understood that the bosses glance analogy is based on our perception from prior experiences or hopes.

    So are you saying our perception of how our bodies function is affecting our performance ? You never see an athlete start a marathon by yawning and complaining of being tired. Lol.

    This seems to be what UK cbt is all about, no ? Only they're encouraging complete denial of physical symptoms.

    But is there something pwcs could learn from harnessing our motivation, like an athlete preparing for a marathon, in a realistic manner ?

    Tx ... x

    Ps. I'm not trying to cause a war here. Just trying to understand how our minds influence our behavior.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2014
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  15. cmt12

    cmt12

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    This is not an easy topic to talk about without it getting into a philosophical debate, which I don't want to happen. How this topic applies to our situation is to ask can our perception or reaction to our symptoms cause them to worsen? More specifically, can fearful reactions to our symptoms cause a downward spiral that continues for as long as we continue to react fearfully.

    Let me use the example of a panic attack to make my point. This is based on my personal view. A panic attack is an extreme fear response that is disproportional compared to what you would normally expect right? Let's say someone gets panic attacks when they think about heights. Now, this person might already have a stronger fear response towards heights based on a traumatic childhood fall. But how can this strong fear response develop into regular panic attacks? It is often based on their reaction to the fear response. Let's say this person has to get on a plane the next day and their default fear response when stepping on the plane is an 8 out of 10. That night they are feeling some anxiety but instead of separating from it, they allow themselves to get swept away in it and the anxiety snowballs all night. Beyond being fearful about the plane, they also begin to feel fearful of their own fear response, afraid they might have a panic attack. The next day when they step on the plane, instead of the response being an 8 out of 10, it is now a 10 out of 10 and they have a panic attack. From this point on, they are so afraid of their fear response, so afraid of getting a panic attack, that they don't allow themselves to even think about planes or anything else involving heights, which keeps them trapped in this extreme state due to denial instead of improving through safe, grounded exposure. When someone even mentions a plane trip, it can cause this person to have a panic attack.

    Does that make sense? This person already had a strong default fear response to heights, but it was their reaction to it that caused the development of regular panic attacks. Similarly, I believe that how we feel in our bodies can have a potentially negative effect when it comes to our ME symptoms. This is especially true with this condition because not only do we have a lot of symptoms, but there is a lot of uncertainty. There is the uncertainty about cause/treatment and there is also the uncertainty about what or how much we can expose ourselves to. This can cause someone to sort of tip-toe in their body and constantly feel insecure and unsafe, which causes more stress and a stronger fear response, resulting in worsening symptoms and decreased functionality - a downward spiral.

    The question is how much control do we have, not over our baseline symptoms, but over our reactions to these symptoms? Mindfulness, CBT, and other self awareness techniques can be useful in this regard. With all that said, there is another group who thinks all this talk about mind having any affect on biology is not real.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2014
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  16. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Now that this thread is separated I am happy to respond.

    Similar threads can be found here:

    http://forums.phoenixrising.me/index.php?threads/mind-body.24076/
    http://forums.phoenixrising.me/inde...gh-catecholamines-and-low-blood-volume.30470/
    http://forums.phoenixrising.me/inde...on-psychoneuroimmunological-hypothesis.23909/
    http://forums.phoenixrising.me/inde...riables-in-cfs-role-of-graded-exercise.21514/

    In absolutely every case of "psychological" processes we could substitute brain processes. Thoughts are most likely outcomes of brain activation. Intention is a slippery word, and to debate it would necessitate getting into deep philosophy. Its not a great idea to go there.

    There are indeed thought processes that occur in disease, and the original aim of psychosomatic medicine was to examine these. That was a valid concept. Then psychosomatic came to be viewed differently as a result of work first by Charcot then Freud, a student of Charcot. This changed the focus of the study on how thought and disease interact, which is potentially a scientific question, to how thought drives disease. It rapidly descended into a whole lot of interacting circular fallacies which I am still trying to tease out.

    A simplistic interpretation is that Freud was primarily saying emotion causes disease, whereas modern CBT proponents are saying that thought causes disease. I have no doubt that how we think can modify the disease experience. I do not think it can cause disease, though I think it can exacerbate it.

    Most of the validity of these approaches are, in my view, about improving disease coping. CBT used for this purpose has some grounding. When however the argument is used to try to justify disease causation, as they have done with many diseases, its complete psychobabble. Were they right for tuberculosis, epilepsy, diabetes, gastric ulcers, MS, Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. etc. etc. ? Not once have they been right in claiming a disease is psychosomatic. They are losing the fight for claiming psychogenic causation in ME, FMS, IBS and so on, as the biology is being revealed.

    Psychological processes with respect to brain function has some scientific credibility, psychological processes with respect to mind has history and dogma, philosophy and rhetoric, but no science to speak of.

    PS I forgot the big one! Psychogenic proponents spent years trying to claim cancer had mental causation. This was especially true for breast cancer, as "everyone knows" women are weak willed. We forget just how much nonsense psychobabble has claimed in the past.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2014
  17. adreno

    adreno 3% neanderthal

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    Tundras of Europa
    The problem with both:

    Brain change --> mental state, and
    Mental state --> brain change

    is that they imply dualism, some kind of interaction between mind and body. I would have to say that both occur simultaneously:

    Brain change == mental state

    The same goes for :

    Psychological processes == brain processes

    I prefer the term neurocognitive processes (such as focusing of attention, problem solving, interpretation of incoming stimuli etc). Neurocognitive implies a unity between the neural and the cognitive. A computer also solves software problems, but it's based in hardware.


    Can faulty or unproductive neurocognitive processes cause disease? No. But neurocognitive processes can affect the way you are coping with disease, and can lessen or exacerbate symptoms.

    One example of this is I suffer from tinnitus. If I focus my attention on it, it becomes very bothersome, and the noise is amplified. If I focus my attention elsewhere and ignore it, it doesn't bother me. The same goes for pain. But attending to it neither causes nor cures the disease.

    Similarly, automated thoughts (sort of like a learned reflex) can be detrimental to health. For example, if you are thinking "it's my own fault I'm sick", or "no one can love me", or "I can never get better", this would be detrimental to your recovery.

    The change is brain structure that takes place in response to stimuli, is known as neuroplasticity.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2014
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  18. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    There are however examples of ideas, which can translate to thoughts when learned, that increase disease risk. Such as the idea that smoking is not harmful, which dominated much of last century. Or the social practices of sharing meals and salt with large numbers of people in close quarters, which still happens in parts of the world, and predisposes to transmission of H. pylori. Such things are usually about increasing or modifying risk, not direct causation. Though habits like smoking and alcohol abuse definitely increase the health risk from things its physical things: tobacco and ethanol are not great for our health, although ethanol might have some benefits in moderation - but then so might smoking. Nicotine can be used medicinally for some conditions.
     
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  19. Cheesus

    Cheesus Senior Member

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    This is where I find it fascinating. If we take it that they are equal to each other - two sides of the same coin - then is it not possible, in some instances, that thought processes which burden our neurological and thus physiological processes could theoretically prevent the body from staging its own recovery?

    If neurology is psychology and psychology is neurology, then surely in treating a neurological disease I want my thoughts processes to be as placid as possible. I want to prevent the depletion of neurotransimmiters, I want to stop stressing the endocrine system, I want to prevent excess cortisol setting off an immune response. I can assist that by allowing my thoughts to move from frantic worry about being sick - something that is undeniably very stressful - and try as much as possible to remain centred and calm.

    I'm not saying that thought processes cause physical disease. I am saying that theoretically they could play an important role in allowing the body to heal itself. If I want to remove toxic physiological stressors, then I shouldn't just look to my diet, if I have mold in my bedroom, if my cleaner is using too much bleach and what medications I am taking. I also need to look to the physiological stressor that arises from negative and burdensome thought processes.

    I would never say it is the whole picture, but could it not be a peice of the puzzle?
     
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  20. Cheesus

    Cheesus Senior Member

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    We're just not biologically designed to cope with the chronic psychological stressors we are typically faced with in this day and age. In treating biological illnsess - particularly something that is so closely related to the limbic system, of all things - neutralising toxic thought patterns can surely play an important role?
     

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