Interpersonal Neurobiology & the Need for Integration in the Age of Polarisation
How can neuroscience inform us about the necessary shifts needed to move our species towards living as an integrated part of the whole?
In this conversation with acclaimed author and psychiatrist Dr. Dan Siegel we explore the evidence provided by interpersonal neurobiology, why integration is crucial for health and how to bring about significant shifts in awareness through one simple model.
What is Interpersonal Neurobiology
Interpersonal neurobiology brings together research from over 40 disciplines to look at common findings in order to create a consilient framework for understanding health. Consilience is the principle that evidence from independent, unrelated sources can “converge” on strong conclusions.
In interpersonal neurobiology integration is seen as the essential mechanism of health as it promotes a flexible and adaptive way of being that is filled with vitality and creativity, which leads to harmony in the system.
The absence of integration leads to chaos and rigidity; a finding that enables us to re-envision our understanding of mental disorders and how we can work together in the fields of mental health, education, and other disciplines, to create a healthier, more integrated world.
For the brain, integration means that separated areas with their unique functions become linked to each other. These integrated linkages enable more intricate functions to emerge such as insight, empathy, intuition, and morality. A result of integration is kindness, resilience, and health.
The Wheel of Awareness
The Wheel of Awareness is a process developed by Dan that helps people come into greater awareness of themselves and their interconnectedness in the world, that love is the substance of the universe, and this leads to significant behavioural changes as well as an increase in wellbeing.
The hub of the wheel represents the experience of awareness itself and the rim contains that which is known to us. We can send a spoke out to the rim to focus our attention on one point or another on the rim. The wheel of awareness thereby becomes a visual metaphor for the integration of consciousness.
To create the paradigm shift that is needed at this time, we must integrate the inner self (“me”) with the relational self (“we”) to create the inter-self (mwe), which is a level of identification with “other” – people, rivers, trees etc. If this were our worldview we would treat each other and the planet very differently.