Beware: Reductionist Approaches to Understanding the Soul Can Undermine Human Existence and Cause Suffering
“What if we consider your soul as the sum total of your neurocognitive essence, your very specific brain signature, the unique neuronal connections, synapses, and flow of neurotransmitters that make you you?” [Marcelo Gleiser for NPR]
I’ll be honest, to me it is so painfully human and reductionist to try to pin down the concept of a soul and apply it to something more concrete. The mechanisms behind neurocognition are all directly observable, and understandable to humans. We know that brain processes happen as a result of action potentials that occur in the context of neurons, and neurotransmitters. We know that our brains are made up of the same core components but that they are all different. These differences are the result of our genetics, and our individual experiences. So, this perspective is reductionist-yet- it is safe. Because we can grasp the concepts associated.
And, I get it. I understand why we need to continue to have these conversations. Because, it is human nature to want to know more about human nature. And as alluded to in the aforementioned article, we are constantly striving toward advancements in technology and motivated to achieve immortality.
We have all of these unanswered questions swirling around in our heads. Floating around in abstract space as we go about our very concrete lives. In certain moments, we may tap into this space. And explore, postulate, question. Most of the time, either out of necessity to cater to our concrete lives, or out of fear we exit this space. Without having any answers. Sometimes, there are brave souls who formulate theories in an attempt to explain what has up until that point been unexplainable.
Imagine! That word alone has the ability to open people’s minds to endless possibilities. It allows us to experience alternate realities unique to our own perceptions and perspectives on the world. Most of the time when we think of imagination, we think good things. Imagination is Unicorns, flying dragons, taking a trip around the world in a rocket ship, teddy bears that can talk, cell phones (before they existed), and a man on the moon.
And of course, there are well established reports and research indicating that a robust imagination is not only a healthy part of childhood, it is directly correlated to a healthy childhood. Furthermore, a healthy imagination in childhood has been linked to positive outcomes and experiences in adulthood. In fact, adults who are able to hold on to their sense of imagination are reportedly happier for various reasons.
As a child therapist, much of my work is centered upon tapping into a child’s imagination as a conduit to reconciling social, emotional, and behavioral challenges. Because to them, imagination is easy. It allows us the ability to explore how they feel in a way that is removed yet still connected to their sense of self. This translates to a feeling of comfort which allows for positive change to occur more readily.
What is less talked about though is how Imagination can work against a child. Especially a young one who is using their imagination to fill in the gaps as they are making sense of the world. Let me explain.
Self Esteem and Maturity are two key components to being a successful adult navigating today’s world. So, why not do …
A Seat At the Table: How To Strategically Use Shared Decision Making To Empower Your Child, Foster Maturity, and Decrease Emotional Oubursts
Shared Decision Making is a topic I explore with parents often. This is the concept of allowing your child to be in on the …