This article explores the intersection of clinical narcissism and Buddhist meditation practice. Through the lens of Otto Kernberg and Heinz Kohut's theories of narcissism, the article investigates the many facets of Eastern spiritual practice when undertaken by a narcissistic practitioner. In particular, questions are raised regarding the potential psychological dangers of pursuing meditation practice when suffering from clinical narcissism. Potential applications for a cross-pollination of psychoanalytic support and Buddhist practice are also considered for the narcissistic patient and/or spiritual practitioner.
OBJECTIVES: Randomized controlled studies on the effectiveness of body-oriented methods of treatment for children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are lacking. Our aim was to compare the effectiveness of two methods of treatment (yoga for children vs. conventional motor exercises) in a randomized controlled pilot study. METHODS: Nineteen children with a clinical diagnosis of ADHD (according to ICD-10 criteria) were included and randomly assigned to treatment conditions according to a 2x2 cross-over design. Effects of treatment were analyzed by means of an analysis of variance for repeated measurements. RESULTS: For all outcome measures (test scores on an attention task, and parent ratings of ADHD symptoms) the yoga training was superior to the conventional motor training, with effect sizes in the medium-to-high range (0.60-0.97). All children showed sizable reductions in symptoms over time, and at the end of the study, the group means for the ADHD scales did not differ significantly from those for a representative control group. Furthermore, the training was particularly effective for children undergoing pharmacotherapy (MPH). CONCLUSIONS: The findings from this pilot study demonstrate that yoga can be an effective complementary or concomitant treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The study advocates further research into the impact of yoga or body-oriented therapies on the prevention and treatment of ADHD.
<p>Within the past few decades, there has been a surge of interest in the investigation of mindfulness as a psychological construct and as a form of clinical intervention. This article reviews the empirical literature on the effects of mindfulness on psychological health. We begin with a discussion of the construct of mindfulness, differences between Buddhist and Western psychological conceptualizations of mindfulness, and how mindfulness has been integrated into Western medicine and psychology, before reviewing three areas of empirical research: cross-sectional, correlational research on the associations between mindfulness and various indicators of psychological health; intervention research on the effects of mindfulness-oriented interventions on psychological health; and laboratory-based, experimental research on the immediate effects of mindfulness inductions on emotional and behavioral functioning. We conclude that mindfulness brings about various positive psychological effects, including increased subjective well-being, reduced psychological symptoms and emotional reactivity, and improved behavioral regulation. The review ends with a discussion on mechanisms of change of mindfulness interventions and suggested directions for future research.</p>
OBJECTIVE: This study was undertaken to identify brain structures associated with emotion in normal elderly subjects. METHOD: Eight normal subjects aged 55-78 years were shown film clips intended to provoke the emotions of happiness, fear, or disgust as well as a neutral state. During emotional activation, regional cerebral blood flow was measured with the use of [15O]H2O positron emission tomography imaging, and subjective emotional responses were recorded. Data were analyzed by subtracting the values during the neutral condition from the values in the various emotional activations. RESULTS: The stimuli produced a general activation in visual pathways that included the primary and secondary visual cortex, involving regions associated with object and spatial recognition. In addition, the specific emotions produced different regional limbic activations, which suggests that different pathways may be used for different types of emotional stimuli. CONCLUSIONS: Emotional activation in normal elderly subjects was associated with increases in blood flow in limbic and paralimbic brain structures. Brain activation may be specific to the emotion being elicited but probably involves complex sensory, association, and memory circuitry. Further studies are needed to identify activations that are specific for emotion.
Brosnan's research on chimpanzees and capuchin monkeys provides invaluable clues to unlocking the complex nature of human morality. Elaborating upon her claims, we explore the role of emotions in basic social interactions, social regulation processes, and morality, all of which may be crucial to both human and nonhuman communities. We then turn to a conceptualization of teasing and play as forums for negotiating norms and the boundaries of acceptable behavior, and focus on the role of emotions in assessing the moral character of others. Finally, we consider points of convergence and departure between human responses to relative deprivation and those observed by Brosnan in primates. We conclude that work such as Brosnan's paves the way for fruitful collaborations between scholars of morality from diverse fields.
<p>Mindfulness meditation is an increasingly popular intervention for the treatment of physical illnesses and psychological difficulties. Using intervention strategies with mechanisms familiar to cognitive behavioral therapists, the principles and practice of mindfulness meditation offer promise for promoting many of the most basic elements of positive psychology. It is proposed that mindfulness meditation promotes positive adjustment by strengthening metacognitive skills and by changing schemas related to emotion, health, and illness. Additionally, the benefits of yoga as a mindfulness practice are explored. Even though much empirical work is needed to determine the parameters of mindfulness meditation's benefits, and the mechanisms by which it may achieve these benefits, theory and data thus far clearly suggest the promise of mindfulness as a link between positive psychology and cognitive behavioral therapies.</p>
<p>A number of issues important to the clinical utility of mindfulness require systematic study. These include the most parsimonious definition of mindfulness for clinical purposes, how mindfulness is best described to be most approachable to patients, and the extent to which mindfulness shares common mechanisms with other mind-body programs. The discussion includes a brief review of the transition of mindfulness from traditional into clinical settings as well as the components commonly contained within clinical descriptions of mindfulness. A model based on facility in the use of attention is proposed, and a description of mechanisms by which attentional skill may lead to the recognition of internal associational processes and account for psychological outcomes is given. Using constructs already familiar to patients, an attention-based conception may also be more accessible to patients than more elaborate descriptions and have greater utility in identifying commonalities that mindfulness training may have with other mind-body programs.</p>
Studies have primarily examined meditation's effects as a self regulation strategy for stress management. Fewer studies have examined its utility as a self exploration strategy for enhancing psychological health in psychotherapy and behavior change. And, few studies have examined meditation's effect regarding its original religious purpose as a self liberation strategy to enhance spiritual growth and wisdom, and cultivate compassionate service. This article examines the reasons underlying this differential proportion of studies on each of the above variables and details the merits and limitations of research that attempted to remove the religious and philosophical context of meditation in order to focus on its content. The article then examines why it has been necessary to reintroduce the context of meditation as a variable, whether that context be stress management, psychotherapy, or a religious perspective. Finally, based on the mentalist and cognitive revolution, this article asks: "Is God always a confounding variable in meditation research?"
<p>A federal court held that a state law requiring one minute of meditation or prayer in the public schools is legal. (IRT)</p>
This article examines a recurring phenomenon in students’ experience of contemplation in contemplative and transformative education. This ground-of-being phenomenon, which has been reported by students in higher and adult education settings, is a formative aspect of the positive changes they reported. It is examined here to highlight the ways in which the depth of felt or precognitive meaning that can occur in contemplative education impacts these changes. The subtlety and range of contemplative experience is described through the ground-of-being experience as a means to support the call from contemplative and transformative education theorists for pedagogies that include the subjective and contemplative.
<p>Forward to the special issue of Teachers College Record on Contemplative Practices and Education.</p>
<p>Despite a growing interest among college and university students in exploring questions about spirituality through higher education, few are provided with opportunities to do so. An integral approach to the study of consciousness addresses this gap by examining theories of consciousness and spirituality from diverse epistemological perspectives, includingWestern science and non-Western wisdom traditions. This study explored the intellectual and personal effects of this approach for undergraduate students who were enrolled in an Honors course about consciousness at the University ofWashington duringWinter Quarter 2008. Results indicated that students became more open to diverse ideas about consciousness, more self-aware, and more committed to meditation and self-reflection. Implications for the growing discourse about spirituality in higher education and the development of spiritual intelligence are discussed.</p>
How do abstract philosophies turn into lived reality? Based on 2 years of ethnographic observations and in-depth interviews of vipassana meditation practitioners in Israel and the United States, the paper follows the process through which meditators embody the three main Buddhist tenets: dissatisfaction, impermanence and not-self. While meditators consider these tenets central to Buddhist philosophy, it is only through the practice of meditation that the tenets are experienced on the bodily level and thereby are “realized” as truth. This realization takes place in the situated environment of the meditation center, where participation in long meditation retreats facilitates the production of specific subjective experiences that infuse the knowledge of Buddhist tenets with embodied meaning. The paper illustrates how abstract concepts and embodied experience support one another in the construction of meditators’ phenomenological reality and suggests a general framework for studying the variety of relations that exist between the conceptual and embodied dimensions of different types of knowledge.
The relation between brain activity and the immune system was evaluated by assessing immune responses in 20 healthy women who manifested extreme differences in the asymmetry of frontal cortex activation. One group showed extreme and stable left frontal activation; the other group showed extreme and stable right frontal activation. As predicted, women with extreme right frontal activation had significantly lower levels of natural killer cell activity (at effector:target cell ratios of 33:1 and 11:1) than did left frontally activated individuals. This difference did not extend to two other immune measures, lymphocyte proliferation and T-cell subsets. However, higher immunoglobulin levels of the M class were observed in the right frontal group. In this study, the immune patterns could not be accounted for by plasma cortisol levels, anxiety- and depression-related symptomatology, or recent health histories. These findings support the hypothesis that there is a specific association between frontal brain asymmetry and certain immune responses.
The prefrontal cortex (PFC) has been well known for its role in higher order cognition, affect regulation and social reasoning. Although the precise underpinnings have not been sufficiently described, increasing evidence also supports a prefrontal involvement in the regulation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Here we investigate the PFC's role in HPA axis regulation during a psychosocial stress exposure in 14 healthy humans. Regional brain metabolism was assessed using positron emission tomography (PET) and injection of fluoro-18-deoxyglucose (FDG). Depending on the exact location within the PFC, increased glucose metabolic rate was associated with lower or higher salivary cortisol concentration in response to a psychosocial stress condition. Metabolic glucose rate in the rostral medial PFC (mPFC) (Brodman area (BA) 9 and BA 10) was negatively associated with stress-induced salivary cortisol increases. Furthermore, metabolic glucose rate in these regions was inversely coupled with changes in glucose metabolic rate in other areas, known to be involved in HPA axis regulation such as the amygdala/hippocampal region. In contrast, metabolic glucose rate in areas more lateral to the mPFC was positively associated with saliva cortisol. Subjective ratings on task stressfulness, task controllability and self-reported dispositional mood states also showed positive and negative associations with the glucose metabolic rate in prefrontal regions. These findings suggest that in humans, the PFC is activated in response to psychosocial stress and distinct prefrontal metabolic glucose patterns are linked to endocrine stress measures as well as subjective ratings on task stressfulness, controllability as well as dispositional mood states.
We present a new subcortical structure shape modeling framework using heat kernel smoothing constructed with the Laplace-Beltrami eigenfunctions. The cotan discretization is used to numerically obtain the eigenfunctions of the Laplace-Beltrami operator along the surface of subcortical structures of the brain. The eigenfunctions are then used to construct the heat kernel and used in smoothing out measurements noise along the surface. The proposed framework is applied in investigating the influence of age (38-79 years) and gender on amygdala and hippocampus shape. We detected a significant age effect on hippocampus in accordance with the previous studies. In addition, we also detected a significant gender effect on amygdala. Since we did not find any such differences in the traditional volumetric methods, our results demonstrate the benefit of the current framework over traditional volumetric methods.
Large waves of global interest in meditation over the last half century have all focused on techniques stemming from Hinduism, Buddhism and Daoism. This collection of essays explores selected topics from the historical traditions underlying such practices. The book ventures far beyond the well-known Hindu repetition of sounds, Buddhist attention to breath and body, and Daoist movement of limbs and bodily energies. A picture emerges of meditative traditions that are much richer and more diverse than our modern viewpoint typically acknowledges. Many of the practices are also shown to be of greater cultural relevance than commonly recognized. (Publishers description)
Neurosurgical treatment of psychiatric disorders has been influenced by evolving neurobiological models of symptom generation. The advent of functional neuroimaging and advances in the neurosciences have revolutionized understanding of the functional neuroanatomy of psychiatric disorders. This article reviews neuroimaging studies of depression from the last 3 decades and describes an emerging neurocircuitry model of mood disorders, focusing on critical circuits of cognition and emotion, particularly those networks involved in the regulation of evaluative, expressive and experiential aspects of emotion. The relevance of this model for neurotherapeutics is discussed, as well as the role of functional neuroimaging of psychiatric disorders.
The present study investigated the premise that individual differences in autonomic physiology could be used to specify the nature and consequences of information processing taking place in medial prefrontal regions during cognitive reappraisal of unpleasant pictures. Neural (blood oxygenation level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging) and autonomic (electrodermal [EDA], pupil diameter, cardiac acceleration) signals were recorded simultaneously as twenty-six older people (ages 64-66 years) used reappraisal to increase, maintain, or decrease their responses to unpleasant pictures. EDA was higher when increasing and lower when decreasing compared to maintaining. This suggested modulation of emotional arousal by reappraisal. By contrast, pupil diameter and cardiac acceleration were higher when increasing and decreasing compared to maintaining. This suggested modulation of cognitive demand. Importantly, reappraisal-related activation (increase, decrease>maintain) in two medial prefrontal regions (dorsal medial frontal gyrus and dorsal cingulate gyrus) was correlated with greater cardiac acceleration (increase, decrease>maintain) and monotonic changes in EDA (increase>maintain>decrease). These data indicate that these two medial prefrontal regions are involved in the allocation of cognitive resources to regulate unpleasant emotion, and that they modulate emotional arousal in accordance with the regulatory goal. The emotional arousal effects were mediated by the right amygdala. Reappraisal-related activation in a third medial prefrontal region (subgenual anterior cingulate cortex) was not associated with similar patterns of change in any of the autonomic measures, thus highlighting regional specificity in the degree to which cognitive demand is reflected in medial prefrontal activation during reappraisal.
OBJECTIVE: In this case study, we describe the effects of a particular individual's concentration/meditation technique on autonomic nervous system activity and the innate immune response. The study participant holds several world records with regard to tolerating extreme cold and claims that he can influence his autonomic nervous system and thereby his innate immune response. METHODS: The individual's ex vivo cytokine response (stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells with lipopolysaccharide [LPS]) was determined before and after an 80-minute full-body ice immersion during which the individual practiced his concentration/meditation technique. Furthermore, the individual's in vivo innate immune response was studied while practicing his concentration/mediation technique during human endotoxemia (intravenous administration of 2 ng/kg LPS). The results from the endotoxemia experiment were compared with a historical cohort of 112 individuals who participated in endotoxemia experiments in our institution. RESULTS: The ex vivo proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokine response was greatly attenuated by concentration/meditation during ice immersion, accompanied by high levels of cortisol. In the endotoxemia experiment, concentration/meditation resulted in increased circulating concentrations of catecholamines, and plasma cortisol concentrations were higher than in any of the previously studied participants. The individual's in vivo cytokine response and clinical symptoms after LPS administration were remarkably low compared with previously studied participants. CONCLUSIONS: The concentration/meditation technique used by this particular individual seems to evoke a controlled stress response. This response is characterized by sympathetic nervous system activation and subsequent catecholamine/cortisol release, which seems to attenuate the innate immune response.
<p>The purpose of this theoretical study was to investigate the potential compatibility of existential-humanistic psychotherapy and Buddhist meditation as they are practiced in the contemporary Western world. The fundamental philosophies and practices of Buddhist meditation, drawn from Tibetan, Zen, and Vipassana sources in Western publication, were presented. The principles and practices of existential-humanistic psychotherapy, represented by the works of May, Rogers, and Maslow, were next brought forth. After these presentations, the major ideologies and techniques of each discipline were compared and contrasted, with a view toward examining their essential similarities and significant points of departure. Following this examination, contemporary practices in the synthesis of existential-humanistic psychotherapy and Buddhist meditation were discussed as they exist in current usage in therapeutic situations. The voices of persons expressing opposition to a synthesis of Buddhist meditation and existential-humanistic psychotherapy were also brought forth for consideration. It was found that a sequential approach, wherein psychotherapy precedes meditation, is of overall greater benefit to the client and to both the disciplines of psychotherapy and meditation, than a blended approach. Among the reasons cited for the favoring of a linear progression from psychotherapy to meditation is a respect for the developmental tasks of each individual. In this regard, it was noted that the existential-humanistic therapy tasks of self-identification, emotional contact and expression, ego-development, and increase in self-esteem are necessary before the individual can undertake, in a serious way, the Buddhist meditational tasks of dis-identification for emotional and egoic concerns. In this light, another advantage of the sequential approach is the opportunity provided for the individual to be sufficiently prepared and matured for the discipline of meditation, which is a journey toward higher realms of consciousness not generally obtainable in existential-humanistic psychotherapy. Additionally, it was shown that although Buddhist meditation and existential-humanistic psychotherapy perform corollary functions in the enhancement of individual well-being, the intensification of present awareness, and the lifting of repressedness, there are philosophical differences that are of such sufficient degree that a separation is deemed advisable. It was further seen that a clear distinction between the two disciplines maintains the full integrity and power of each to best accomplish its stated aims. It was noted that meditative practice offers the student specific skills that facilitate the attainment of a still mind, a state of inner harmony, and a transformation and transcendence of the concerns of the pyschotherapeutic level of development.</p>
- Contexts of Contemplation Project,
- Buddhist Contemplation by Applied Subject,
- Contemplation by Applied Subject,
- Contemplation by Tradition,
- Psychiatry and Contemplation,
- Psychology and Buddhist Contemplation,
- Science and Buddhist Contemplation,
- Psychotherapy and Contemplation,
- Health Care and Contemplation,
- Buddhist Contemplation