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Lessons From Harry: How We Get It Wrong, But Very Cleverly

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A new born infant is born with potential. It has the potential to think. The child thinks and has thoughts. They are two parallel processes. Software and hardware are in synergy. They are mutually developing as one. Piaget described it by saying that the child is developing and testing theories.

There is another similar explanation. It is more dynamic. It seems to be an admixture of two ideas. The ideas are those of Darwin and the Theories of Complexity. Basically the new description goes like this. Thoughts are merely a series of circuits. But not the electrical circuits we used to picturing. We are now asked to imagine it like a tree. Think of a possible idea as a bud. At any one time this bud is in competition with other buds next to it. Which bud will win? The bud that is the 'fittest'. But this now begs a new question. What defines fitness? A fit bud does best at what thinking supposed to do. Thinking is merely the making of predictions. Our ability to think is our ability to predict what will happen. It is associated with a label which tells us if this is pleasant or unpleasant. We are asking what will happen and is it good? In other words we have explained thoughts and associated emotion. The fittest thought or bud is the one that is closest to getting it right.

We can carry our tree analogy further. Buds eventually becomes twigs. Each twig has its own buds competing.  Twigs become branches. Each branch has its own twigs.

Let us use an example of a game I played with my grandchild, Harry. The game was extremely simple. He sat in his pram and I hid first I hid my face and exposed it either above or below him. Harry looked and eventually predicted where I may be. He liked that a lot and was happy. But then I changed the rules. I added right and left. Harry added looking right and left to his repertoire. He did this more rapidly and he enjoyed himself even more. What are we seeing here? Harry developed a series of buds. One was right. This in itself developed into twig and with its own buds. Twigs and branches direct to the appropriate bud. In other words Harry was better solving the more complex problem because he had learned how to solve the easier one.

We now see how that the current thought affects the future thinking process. We call this experience. We also see the emergence of a dyad of thoughts and feelings. We can also see that there is an element of choice. We can also see how important early development and parenting is. Harry had learned how to do something good and not how to avoid something bad.

We know that things can go wrong. Very often buds, twigs and even branches go the inappropriate places. We can react ‘as if’ this was a specific situation. Often this is not the case. When this occurs there is a feeling of frustration as the expected results are not realized. But the person finds it hard to correct his basic error.

Psychotherapy helps undo this fault. Conventional therapy tries to understand how this 'came about'. They virtually retrace the antecedents of the twig or branch. If the 'bud' is indeed on the wrong branch then it probably justified to go these lengths. In all probability best results achieved in more deeply seated pathologies are after the use of conventional therapy.

Latter day therapies in particular Cognitive Behavioral Therapy will simply undo the placement of the 'bud' on a particular twig. There is no attempt to learn why it is there. Not surprisingly we can offer therapy as a learning process using learning techniques. These therapies are more than adequate for 'simple mistakes'. The patient is enabled to 'place the bud' in a more appropriate place.

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