Bisexuality, Anxiety, and the Cerebellum

SHIRT & TIE [small] (final)Using national data and the criteria from the DSM 4 to identify people with Anxiety Disorders, a group of researchers[1]  concluded that men who reported lifetime sexual behavior with both male and female partners had the highest rate of every mood and anxiety disorder. This was matched, but by a lesser degree, with women who reported both male and female partners. In some truly significant numbers, 46.5% of bisexual men experienced some mood disorder in their lifetime, compared with 26.8% of men who reported only same-sex sexual partners, 29.3% who reported no sexual partners, and 19.4% who reported exclusively female partners. These numbers are highly significant from two perspectives, first we bisexual men are almost twice as likely as other men to experience clinical anxiety, and secondly, almost half of us have experienced some form of severe anxiety during our lifetime.

So what is happening in our brains? Converging evidence suggests that the culprit may be the cerebellum which was traditionally thought of as the part of the brain responsible for motor control, voluntary movement, and balance. New information based on brain scans suggests that it may be much more than that. One of the surprising areas seems to be associative learning. Remember Pavlov’s dog and conditioned responses? Well it appears our anxiety may be related to conditioning. I read an article once (can’t find the source) that described gay and bisexual lives as death by a thousand cuts. We apparently are subconsciously responding to a lifetime of mini-traumas and now exhibit symptoms of PTSD. It’s like we have been in the trenches waiting for next call to charge the enemy through a mine field. In other words we suffer generalized anxiety because we feel that we are living a life where our sense of security is constantly being threatened.

The cerebellum also forms neural circuits with the thalamus, the hypothalamus and the amygdala. In other words it connects to the limbic and reticular systems which are associated with the two powerful emotions of attraction and fear.  This links whole body involvement with the dopamine pleasure seeking drive and the alert hormones of the sympathetic system.  Therefore, for those of us who have learned to live with generalized anxiety, it is not hard to understand why our whole body seems to be involved in our anxiety and not just our minds or genitals.  I am sure as bisexuals at least half of us have experienced that elephant on the chest, the frequent occurrence of shallow breathing, and mental fatigue that accompanies generalized anxiety.

Generalized anxiety involves the whole body, and therefore the relief has to involve the whole body. In the past the fastest and most effective way to get into my body was through same sex encounters. Unfortunately that was only temporary relief. I would walk away with a hollow feeling akin to depression and a gradual rebuild up of anxiety. The involvement of the cerebellum suggests that these anxieties have passed on beyond mind control and have become a part of my implicit memory and subconscious response systems. In other words I am now stuck with a chemical imbalance that is beyond the scope of psychological therapy. Typically that means medication with all its possible side effects, and that only provides relief for the symptoms and not the cause. It’s like taking a Tylenol for cancer. I have spent the last fifteen years of my life leaning to deal with my anxieties and in the process have found a new way of life that uses my anxiety as nervous energy to accomplish amazing things including this amazing blog.

 

My five suggestions for bisexuals on how to deal with anxiety by controlling our bodies:

  1. We can get in touch and stay in touch with our bodies. It’s simple – meditate. Fifteen minutes a day where we shut down our mind and concentrate of the sensations of our bodies. In the process we will find an inner presence that is interacting with the world around us. It will help us stay grounded.
  2. Practice soothing activities whenever we feel anxious. We simply become aware of our breathing. Deep breath in from the belly, hold, let out slowly and completely.
  3. Practice touch. Touch the area where we are feeling the anxiety and then bring the touch down to the heart and hold it there until the anxiety subsides.
  4. We sooth by talking to ourselves. We acknowledge the fear and its source thus bringing it from the subconscious to the conscious level. It is best done out loud. Then tap your heart and say “There. There, now. It’s all okay. I am here to protect you.”
  5. Whatever our sexual practices, we have a right to experience it without shame and remorse. If you feel that empty feeling, take charge of it and emphatically claim the right to seek pleasure anyway you so choose.
[1] Bostwick, Wendy B.;  Boyd, Carol J.; Hughes, Tonda L, and  McCabe, Sean Esteban. Dimensions of Sexual Orientation and the Prevalence of Mood and Anxiety Disorders in the United States. Am J Public Health, v.100(3); Mar 2010. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2820045/?tool)

 

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Bisexuality and the Bonobos

SHIRT & TIE [small] (final)This blog focuses on bisexuality, and as much as I would like it to be more mental and spiritual, it seems to keep coming back to just plain (or not so plain) sex.  And, if you take the ‘l’ out of ‘plain’, plain can become ‘pain’. It appears that one thing the human mind cannot cope with is boredom. If we do the mathematics, plain sex = boredom = pain. That makes the letter “l” very important. and of course. the “l” stands for “love”. Love includes sexual pleasure but it is much more than that.

Why do we bisexual often seek sex without love? For one answer beyond the pure aspect of pleasure, we can look to our fellow primates. As we go from simple to more complex animals (that means a bigger brain), sexual behavior becomes subject to learning and environmental influences and not just reproduction (Buss, 2007a, 2007b). For example, in one species, the bonobos of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, sexual activity can occur at any time, not just when the female is fertile. Bonobos also engage in oral sex, intense tongue kissing, and homosexual and group sex. Among the bonobos, sexual interaction is used to increase group cohesion, avoid conflict, and decrease tension that might be caused by competition for food (de Waal,1995). Bonobos’ behaviors appear to be instinctive for social and stress relief reasons; these lucky fellows can seek pleasure for the sake of pleasure and the instinctive needs of the group. They are not capable of love as we know it.

Are we like our friends the bonobos? Are we just sex craved bisexuals merely releasing our aggressive tendencies so that we do not wreak havoc on society? I think not. You see, unlike the bonobos, we do have the ability to make complex rational decisions. Because of the evolution of our brains, we can hold two or more concepts or mind states simultaneously and employ our powers of reason to compare or combine them to make decisions for the self’s greater good. We can even take that one step farther and combine all our mind sets to create an emotional whole-brain mindset that we can call love. It then can become our guiding force that can control sexual pleasure by bringing it into the mindset as one whole-brain, whole-body experience that is greater and more powerful that the just sex-for-pleasure feeling.

Like our cousins the bonobos, we bisexuals often are out just for the pleasure of sex and to release our sex-based tensions so we can go back to our heterosexual world.  However, without love, sex can become merely an addictive pleasure seeking activity, and like with any other pleasure centered drug, the mind will seek greater and greater “highs”. Sex for the sake of sex will eventually become repetitive and mundane. If our only goal is pleasure, the obvious path is to find someone else who can start us off on a new high. If that fails, we can try same sex pleasure, and if that does not work, we can try fetishes. If that does not work, do we give up on sex? No. We give up on life.  In other words, our sexual desires have to be based on something more than just plain pleasure if we are to truly enjoy living.

Granted, a lot of us pleasure seeking bisexuals choose to follow our drives and not use our brains; however, we do have a choice.  And somewhere along the way, we may come to realize that pleasure for the sake of pleasure is literally a dead end street. And then we can try to put the “l” back into pain and just relax and enjoy good old plain sex with someone whom we can relate to on a mind and soul basis. We can choose to have sex because we love and want to be loved.

My five applications to bisexuality:

  1. Seeking pleasure is a good thing. It’s what keeps the old heart ticking. We can discover what turns us on and go out and find it. All is okay. No self judgement. No shame.
  2. We can use our brain to monitor our sexual drives and notice when the pleasure seems to be slipping. We can add new ideas and positions etc. to enhance the experience. This is also okay, but if we follow this path alone, it may never be enough.
  3. There is nothing wrong with repetition and familiarity. It’s okay to establish sexual patterns – the brain likes predictability. We do not have to work on our technique to increase pleasure, we just have to work on our minds.
  4. We can stop the noise of the mind that equates increased excitement with increased pleasure. We simply shut it down and enter into a sexual experience mindfully, allowing the mind to slowly absorb all the sensations that come from all seven senses.
  5. We can focus on our feelings for our partner and enjoy their increased levels of excitement and anticipation. We can learn to increase our own pleasure by enjoying the pleasure we give to the one we love. [1]

[2]

[1]Buss,DM.. Why Humans Have Sex. NCIB Resources. 2007. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17610060)

[2] De Waal, Frans B.M. Bonobo Sex and Society. Scientific American. 1995. (https://www.scribd.com/document/317081020/de-Waal-1995-Bonobo-Sex-and-Society-abbrev-pd)

Mind vs Spirit

SHIRT & TIE [small] (final)Before we go on to explore the nature of spiritual energy, I think we have to take a good look at the elephant in the room, and that is the nature of the human mind and its ability to create new mind sets through imagination. In other words, is the spiritual self, and all the so-called evidence of a spirit, just creations of the imagination power of the human mind?

As we discovered in a previous blog, according to science the mind thinks and creates through the activities of the orbitofrontal cortex which operates in the ongoing present through its autobiographical-self. In other words it is creating and living its own story, and if we take that one step farther, it is creating and living its own self. This mind-self is composed of a variety of related mindsets or sets of neurological pathways connected to past experiences that it can light up at any given time to address the needs of the moment. One might argue that one of these mind sets is the spiritual-self. Yes, we do think about our own spirituality, and it is a definite possibility that these spirit based thought patterns are just a creation of the mind-self. In other words, there may be no spirit, just a mindset that the mind has created to deal with issues or questions that it cannot solve through rational processes. This includes the nature of life itself, the process of death and dying, and the mind’s need to create an afterlife to prevent its complete and total destruction. The argument is that the old brain’s need for survival at all costs has been processed by the mind-self to create the spirit-self and thus provide a solution to the life and death question. We have to admit that this is a definite possibility, and that the bright light at the end of the tunnel may be merely a final flash of energy from the dying brain.

To find an argument for the spirit-self, we have to leave science behind (however, there are some scientists today who are searching for scientific evidence of a spiritual aura but we will address this another time) and enter the field of philosophy. The desire or belief in an afterlife goes back into the origins of modern man and was addressed by Plato and Epicures during the Golden Age of Greece. During the Age of Enlightenment in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the wise men of the time dared to imaging that the experience of life was simply a product of the functioning of the human mind. Emmanuel Kant developed an excellent argument against these atheistic theories. Kant argued that the concepts of space and time and cause and effect  do not come from just the human mind but are an essential part of our total humanity. He suggested that there is a noumenal (spirit-mind) world as well as phenomenal (rational-mind) world. In other words, we exist in two worlds with two minds, the world of our physical senses and the world or our spiritual senses. In essence, we have a body and a soul or a mind-self and a spirit-self.

So which one do we believe? To answer that question we have to look at the evidence. The presence of a mind-self that seems to direct all physical and mental activity appears to be irrefutable. Through the science of brain scans, we can see these parts of the brain light up when we think certain thoughts. It definitely exists. But does it create and direct a spirit-self or does the spirit-self create the thought that is evidenced by the activity of the brain.?  This is where the rational processes go from fact to theories that are only substantiated by the negative hypothesis. The absence of scientific evidence does not prove that the spirit does not exist.

Now let’s turn to spiritual evidence. All the unanswered questions of the mind fall into this category. All the miracles (and yes there is physical evidence that they have happened) are a result of irrational origins; they are beyond reason. The mind-self has no answer to these except the random solution. But are they random? Did they merely happen by chance? I think not,

My dear French Canadian grandmother lived a life of miracles, and the birth of my son, which I have discussed in a previous blog, was something special in my life that can not be explained by medical science. However, when looking for a definite example of a possible spirit based event, I immediately thought of a dear friend of mine.  She actually had her enlarged heart return to normal size after a prayer and the apparent transfer of spiritual energy that seemed to flow from the hands and words of a preacher. After a subsequent medical examination, the heart specialists from the University Hospital in that region had no logical explanation. They confirmed that this could not have occurred by any medical or scientific procedure. The question again is ” Does the lack of a scientific explanation prove there is a spiritual solution and therefore the evidence of a spirit-self?”. We cannot claim this on a scientific basis nor on the absence of such. However,  something inside me knows that I am more than what the eye can see, and my personal beliefs have been reaffirmed over and over again as I have learned to walk along my spirit filled path.

So why even bother with this science versus spirit exercise in logic and lack there-of? It is important because our beliefs direct our feelings, and our feelings direct our emotions, and our emotions direct our behavior.  We set goals and live our lives according to our beliefs. If I believe I am only a mind-self, I am limited by the power of my fragile mind. However, when I begin to explore the possibilities of my spirit nature, I become a powerful being. I am mind and spirit. My mind controls the activities of my body but my spirit controls the activities on my mind. I am not just the mind-self manipulating mind sets to create and co-ordinate thought and activity; I am spirit coordinating my life choices through the activities of my brain. It is not just the lighting up of neural pathways that creates “me”, my autobiographical-self, it is I, my spirit-self, that is creating the thought patterns in my brain. I light up the neural pathways; they do not light up and create me.  I have the power to create. I am a powerful, beautiful ball of eternal energy. I can create a life of miracles. I can create the life I love to live.

Here are my five suggestions for bisexuals and everyone else for that matter:

  1. If we believe only in the power of our mind and have mind issues that come with our bisexual nature, we are severely hampered on how we can respond to the struggles of life. We are alone with our limited mental resources and all the mental and emotional blocks that make it difficult to make good choices.  However, we do not have to accept what life appears to offer. We can face our issues head on and try to learn to control them through  the power of our minds.
  2. However, if we believe we are spiritual beings, we then open up the possibility of a higher self with access to the infinite power of the spiritual world. Just this thought alone, even if the spiritual world is a creation of our mind, creates a whole new world of possibilities. When we focus on being aware of our innate beauty and power, the mental issues will begin to dissolve themselves. We will attract good things into our lives that will bring joy and a feeling of well being.
  3. By associating with others who believe in the spiritual self, we can form powerful bonds that multiply our individual powers to create. We can let the power of love flow through us to others and let their love power flow through us.
  4. Our gender issues do not control us. We control our gender issues. Yes we accept them and the nature of the male and female sides our bisexual nature, but they are not problems we have to live with. They are attributes, gifts that we can use for our own pleasure and to offer to those we love. Our sexuality is a gift. We need to recognize and treat it as such.
  5. As spiritual beings, we have a simple purpose and that is to live, to love, to enjoy and to expand and grow as powerful beings. If we choose to live with a special someone, they have to accept and acknowledge that we are indeed special just as we have to recognize the people we love are also indeed special.

 

Energy and the Brain

SHIRT & TIE w.out white background (final)It’s time to take a closer look at physical and spiritual energy. We are energy beings. Right down to the atoms and molecules that make up our cells, we are in constant motion. We are constantly changing. If we are to truly understand our self as a physical and spiritual being, and use this knowledge to grow and expand, we have to understand the nature of the energy by which we breathe, think, and have our being.  There is no better place to start than with the human brain.

The brain uses more energy than any other human organ accounting for up to 20 percent of the body’s total energy requirements. The source of energy that powers the human brain is mainly sugar, more specifically – glucose. Glucose is a hydrocarbon that is broken down with the help of additional oxygen (which we get through breathing) to create ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is responsible for energy transfer in the human brain.

After reading the complex scientific information on ATP, it appears to act like an enzyme which is responsible for the binding of metals, predominantly magnesium, which then act as catalysts for the creation of protein strands and the breaking down of glucose. In the process, it creates an abundance of hydrogen ions which provides the energy for flow of information between neurons.  ATP supplies the energy required for these ions to traverse cell membranes thereby initiating many biological processes that keep our neurons firing.[1] When the accumulation of hydrogen ions increases the voltage in a neuron, the neurotransmitters are released firing an electrochemical impulse across the synapse to the dendrites of the neighboring neuron. The ATP then goes to work resetting the neurons to negative, through transfer of Sodium ions (which we get from salt) back across the membrane, making it more positive, and resulting in the uptake of the neurotransmitter back into the sending neuron. The neighboring dendrites where neurotransmitters are released do the same to the next neuron.

These chemical processes take a great deal of energy. During active mind activity, two thirds of the energy is used to fuel electrical impulses that neurons employ to communicate with one another. The remaining third is used for “housekeeping,” or cell-health maintenance.  When the brain is inactive, during sleep or relaxation (meditation), the process changes to about 50% for maintenance, thus resupplying the neurons with ATP and ions for future brain activity. This information indicates that we need to provide sufficient rest through relaxation periods throughout the day, especially if we are involved in high neocortex activity which includes most of us working in today’s information occupations in our western culture.

This is all fine in a healthy mind in a healthy environment where stages of brain activity are followed by brain maintenance; however, what happens when this does not occur. One study using brain scans showed the inferior parietal cortex (IPC), an area that helps us control the amount of energy we use, becomes deactivated when people felt they were being observed. In other words, if we feel comfortable with the people around us, the system continues to perform well, but if we’re concerned about how others are feeling about us, our performance deteriorates. This suggests that prolonged stress caused by unhealthy social relationships can affect our ability to employ and restore our brain energy systems. The brain will continue to employ its problem solving structures to restore balance, but if it is unable to do so, the mind will be unable to relax and restore the ATP and ions needed for thought and action.  Over an extended period of time this can lead to chemical breakdown and possible depression.

In another study, Cambridge[2] researchers found that when we are involved in intensive thought processes, the brain will place its own energy needs above the energy requirements of the rest of the body.  Again, over a prolonged period of time, this can create problems with the heart, which also requires a great deal of energy, and our immune system, which is responsible for healing and regeneration of other organs. This can lead to disease and the growth of cancerous tissue. In addition, the continued employment of the sympathetic nervous system creates high levels of salt in the blood stream which can lead to interference with ion transfer in the brain, and increased blood pressure in the body which is dangerous for heart failure and strokes.

Here are my five applications for bisexuals (and everyone else for that matter):

  1. First of all, we have to take good care of our minds with frequent periods of relaxation and mind rest. We can do this simply by learning to read the anxiety levels of our mind when the brain is overloaded. Once we become conscious of our mind states we can learn to provide it with sufficient rest.
  2. When we feel high levels of anxiety, we stop what we are doing and relax. Sometimes this will be a brief meditation where we concentrate on our breathing until the negative feelings dissolve.
  3. If the anxiety has transferred to the body through the sympathetic system, we may have to release this negative flow of body energy by physical exercise. A half hour brisk walk, where we concentrate on our surroundings and squelch our minds problem solving desires, usually does the trick.
  4. If this anxiety occurs whenever we engage in the same stressful activity or relationship, we may have to do an inventory and decide if this is the job or relationship that we really want to engage in. We must be prepared to make life changes to protect the energy system of our minds. If we are unable to make those decisions on our own, we may need to have someone help us through the process. We should take a leave of absence and find a good therapist.
  5. We need to pay special attention to our sex life as it can be a source of great pleasure and stress release or a cause of great anxiety. We have to be sure that our sexual behavior leads to and ends in the pleasure reward system without accompanying shame and anxiety. We may need to change our behavior or the way we think about it, or we may need to change our sex partners. Again, if we cannot seem to do this on our own, we may need professional help.

 

  1. Where Does The Human Brain Get Its Energy? Forbes – Whoa Science (https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2017/03/06where-does-the-human-brain-)
  2. Nikhil Swaminathan, Why Does the Brain Need So Much Power? Scientific America (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-does-the-brain-need-s/)

 

Sex and the Mind

SHIRT & TIE [small] (final)I think we would all agree that any problem with sex originates in the mind. Our bodies are just answering nature’s call, and the higher self is only concerned with relationships. When we look at the functioning of the brain, the genetic based sexual impulses seem to work at the autonomic level. It is only when the impulses go to the prefrontal cortex for second appraisal do we begin to second guess what our bodies and old brains are telling us. To understand how this works, we can view sexuality as two separate functions: arousal and desire. Adams et al. in their thorough review of brain and hormone activity defined sexual desire as “the behavioral drive that motivates individuals to fantasize about or seek out sexual activity.” In contrast, sexual arousal is defined as “the autonomic physiological processes that prepare the body for sexual activity.” [1] For the purpose of this blog we will be mainly looking at desire.

[1] Adams, Kristian; Favaloro; Dundas, Brendan; Dillon, Aaron; Nixon, Daniel. The Neuroscience of Sexual Desire. (http://neurosciencefundamentals.unsw.wikispaces.net/Sex+and+the+Brain.+What+parts+are+involved%3F)

But first, let’s take a brief look at the nature of arousal. Arousal is an old brain/body function. The activities of the tests and ovaries are regulated by a complex chain of events known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. Sexual arousal is controlled by the autonomic nervous system which interacts with the sex organs creating an increase in steroids, body heat, and heart rate.  Male arousal is largely controlled directly by emotion through the limbic system, particularly the amygdala, with limited interaction with the rest of the brain.  Males on average have a 16% larger cortico-medial which is the area responsible for steroid uptake which, among other effects,  regulates flow of blood to the genitals. The activity of the limbic system precedes and triggers penile erection, sexual feelings, sensations of extreme pleasure, and memories of sexual intercourse. This creates a dopamine rush similar to a shot of heroin.

Female arousal appears to be more of a whole brain activity. A woman’s brain literally lights up when viewed in brain scans during stimulation of the brain via the vagus nerve.  Increased activity was noted in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) (sympathetic nervous system – increasing  the dopamine rush –  and regulating blood flow), midbrain central gray (GABA and increased sexual reception), amygdala (emotion), hippocampus (memory), anterior cingulate (blood pressure, heart rate and reward anticipation), frontal parietal (body sensations), temporal and insular cortices (sensory processing and memory), anterior basal ganglia (psychomotor behavior), and cerebellum (motor movement). This results in a complex interaction between the brain and body. It also results in increased lubrication and enhanced touch sensation.

Through the technology of improved use of brain scans, we see that desire on the other hand increases brain activity in both males and females . The center for sexual desire appears to come from the amygdala; however, it does not function in isolation. The amygdalofugal pathway connects the amygdala with the thalamus, median hypothalamus, brain stem and nucleus accumbens. The nucleus accumbens is a large cluster of dopamine generating neurons which produces extreme feelings of pleasure as well as motivation to pursue sexual behavior. The anterior commisure is also activated connecting the left and right amygdala combining left brain (thought) and right brain (visual imagery) stimulation. One theory states that the anterior commisure may be responsible for gender orientation with gay men having am anterior commisure more similar to a woman’s (left brain dominant); however, this has not yet been established by neuroscience. Oxytocin seems to be a major player in sexual desire serving both as a stimulus to arousal and a neuromodulator to the flow of information through the neurotransmitters in the brain. All this happens in a blink of an eye where arousal and desire seem to interact simultaneously. This creates a yo-yo effect with our sexual drive system with constant interplay between thought, emotion, and hormonal arousal.

A review of the literature on neuro-sexual activity by Carl Zimmer[1] leads to some interesting additional information. One study observed that the medial orbito frontal cortex (OFC) was active in desire-impaired  but quiet in the normal men.  The OFC’s connection with the hippocampus  produces emotional memories which create states of mind. Through the interaction of states on mind, the OFC mediates reward and punishment, creates personal assessment, and manages expectations. It is also responsible for  understanding the thoughts, emotions and intentions of other people. It weighs action and consequences thereby influencing sexual desire. The OFC also connects to the neocortex particularly in the lobes involved in sensory integration including all somatosensory (body sensations) modalities.  The OFC also connects to the anterior insula, which is what we use to reflect on the state of our own body sensations. This interplay between the OFC, the anterior insula, and the neocortex may produce the good or bad feelings we associate with sexual arousal. Another set of studies noted that information not only travels from the visual cortex and the emotional centers to the higher regions of the brain, but also goes from the top down. Therefore, the higher regions may be instructing the eyes on what looks sexually desirable. The brain regions that handle self-awareness and understanding others may also be telling the emotional centers what to feel.

The two main disorders relating to sexual desire are hyposexual desire disorder (HSDD) and hypersexuality. The causes of sexual desire disorders vary, but some may include a decrease in the production of oestrogen in woman or testosterone in both men and women. HSDD is characterized by low levels of sexual desire and fantasy. This may be due to genetic predisposition or brain damage to the medial orbitofrontal cortex or the limbic structures of the amygdala, hypothalamus, or the temporal lobes. Hypersexuality can be considered as increased desire for sex that makes it difficult to meet social commitments and/or personal development. Evidence has been found that hypersexuality occurs‍ more often in the right hemisphere of the brain with far more cases in males. Studies also indicate that genetic predictors of homosexuality are associated with increased “risk taking” behavior (hypersexuality) due to irregularities of the serotonin production gene and over stimulus of the dopamine drive system.

I think we can conclude that sexual desire is the culmination of several different neural mechanisms, neural pathways, and states of mind, each of which is controlled in different areas of the brain and is activated at different stages of the sexual experience. In other words, arousal cannot be separated from desire. It is part of the bottom up process but almost simultaneously meets and meshes with the top town approach from the prefrontal cortex. Emotions, impulses and hormonal activity seem to pinball among various areas of the brain once arousal takes place.

Here are my five applications for bisexuals:

  1. Since sex is a whole brain activity, we can learn to control our mind and then use our mind to control our sexual impulses. We can do this through meditation and dealing with the pain stimuli coming from the ego (OFC). We can restructure our neural circuits through the wisdom of our higher self, affirm our desires as natural sources of pleasure, and rewire our mind with positive feelings of self-acceptance.
  2. Our sexual impulses are, by their nature, healthy. If we are attracted to men or women or both, it is merely part of our arousal system. We are free to indulge. However, before we can truly enjoy our sexuality, we must also heal the feelings coming from the prefrontal cortex (ego). We can do this by repeating step one whenever we experienced negative thoughts about our sexuality.
  3. I do not believe that hypersexuality is a legitimate problem except in rare cases. I do not believe it is due to a damaged limbic system. A strong sexual desire system is a sign of a healthy human body. The so-called addiction problems are a result of   developed mind sets that involve implicit and explicit memories connected to negative emotions. We simply have to change the circuits and remove the unhealthy inhibitions which are usually based on shame induced structures from family and religion.
  4. Hyposexuality is a problem, but it is not usually centered in the physical brain  structures. It is more likely an inhibitor from the orbito frontal cortex. We have to remove those inhibitors in order to enjoy our sexuality so that we can have fuller and more passionate relationships.
  5. Gay and bisexual men often have amazingly powerful sex drives. This is natural. We have to learn to enjoy it without shame or blame. When our sexual behavior involves a significant other, we have to be sure that he/she understands our drive, and we have to work out a general understanding that involves both of our needs and desires. We have to open up the doors of communication to take away the potential shame and blame.

[1] Zimmer, Carl. Discover, 2009. (http://discovermagazine.com/tags/?tag=carl+zimmer)

 

 

The Mind and Relationships

SHIRT & TIE w.out white background (final)As humans, we have a great need for intimate connections with other human beings. Somewhere around fifty thousand years ago, mankind saw the need to belong to a larger social group for the purpose of hunting and survival. Those who had the genetic and mental skills to adapt to social settings became alphas in the group and passed their genes on to the next generation. Those who did not were separated from the group and died out. Through natural selection, the human brain has developed a process where one mind can directly interface with another through the transfer of energy and information and thus create a super system between two or more individuals.

So how does this social ability work? At conception, we receive a genetic code that fashions a region in the brain known as the prefrontal cortex. At the center of this is the orbitofrontal cortex which is believed to be responsible for emotional and social processing. The right side of this region seems to be able to create an emotional state and then  send signals that  directly shape the emotional mindset of the receiver. This is perceived subconsciously through facial expression, voice tone, and other types of body language. This activates the emotion system of the receiver through the amygdala and the anterior cingulate thereby orienting attention and creating arousal. Through verbal response, the sender and receiver  begin to share information from one mind to another creating similar representational processes, appraising meaning, and influencing individual or group behavior.

This process begins during infancy. The function of the developing brain is shaped by the parent’s more mature brain. There is an alignment of states of mind between parent and child. When this attunement is conducted in a warm supportive manner, the child understands and feels what is perceived to be right or wrong. This process eventually leads to the child self-regulating its own behavioral impulses. Shame is the emotion evoked when the child’s arousal state is not confirmed or attuned to by the parent. When this attunement is accompanied by a parent’s anger or some other form of disconnection, the parent fails to soothe the child’s sense of shame thus resulting in a deeper negative sensation that we can refer to as humiliation. The way to cope with humiliation is for the child to experience self-loathing or to strike back in anger to protect the self.

I did not receive good parenting. I was neglected as a child because my single parent mother with nine children was unable to meet my need for loving and supportive attunement.  As a result, I  developed a personality disorder which made it very difficult to relate to others, particularly members of the opposite sex. On the outside, I was a handsome, athletic, and intelligent guy who attracted a lot of female attention, but I was not sexually aggressive or assertive. I was able to maintain heterosexual relationships and eventually married and had four children, but sexually, I found it much easier to relate to men.

In my case, the processes begun during childhood continued into adulthood. Because the emotions constitute the fundamental value system of the brain, I not only subjected myself to the positive or negative energy of others, but I also opened myself up to absorbing their value systems. This led to self-loathing because I could not control my gay impulses which were in direct conflict with my heterosexual and religious family relationships. I  lacked awareness of internal pain or dissatisfaction with my relationships which otherwise might have served to motivate change. I  became very skilled in providing what I thought others wanted, but I did not take care of my own wants and needs. This eventually led to a mental breakdown and divorce.

The good news is the orbitofrontal cortex remains plastic throughout our life time. We cannot change what we have received in the way of parenting, but we can change the way our brain works. The most important relationship we can develop is with our higher self. This creates an internal attunement with our own positive spiritual guide which will always be gentle and will never seek to shame or humiliate. Through the higher self, we can overcome early damage by being aware of our thinking patterns. We ask our higher self to verbally respond to the child within. This allows us to make left hemisphere sense out of right hemisphere emotional feelings and create a sense of order out of our own chaotic  processes. By focusing in on our pain and the cause of our pain, we can bring in the vibrations of our higher self to soothe and rewire those circuits.

By analyzing our relationships, we can then begin to function consciously instead of just reacting subconsciously. We avoid negative relationships and nurture positive ones. Because we are subject to an intense sense of vulnerability and loss, we learn to recognize these feeling and reconnect them to the higher self for soothing. Because we tend to over compensate and recreate ourselves to please others – the chameleon effect – we learn to recognize our own needs, and love, respect and defend ourselves. Because we may have a profound fear of annihilation or abandonment, we recognize our strengths instead of our weaknesses and take time to just be alone with ourselves.

I have learned to attune to my higher self.  Above all I have learned to parent the ego or child within. In the process, I have established the following guidelines that I would like to pass on to you.

My five applications for bisexuals:

1. We look in the mirror each morning and establish loving eye contact.

2. We use our tender voice for self-talk, never condemning or being disappointed in ourselves.

3. We only allow good touches from others.

4. We practice focused attention with ourselves by choosing some activity each day just for us. We create our own sense of purpose and set aside time and space to do the things we really want to do.

5. Above all, we shape our own present and future by developing prospective memory which allows us to imagine, create, and remember a set of future feelings and goals and then set our will or sense of purpose to creating the life we would love to live.

Self-Regulation, Bisexuality, and the Mind

SHIRT & TIE w.out white background (final)I am back in Costa Rica for the winter, a place I came to for refuge twelve years ago. I had had a mental breakdown, got divorced, had to leave the work I loved (but was killing me), took an early retirement. I sought a place of peace, not to put my life back together again because that part of me was dead, but to find the courage and resources to start over again. It has been a long journey with a lot of traumatic ups and downs, but this time in Costa Rica, I know I have arrived.

Self-regulating processes and mindsets are a result of leaning on the parent for attunement and guidance during infancy. This results in a resonance of states of mind by which the parent guides the infant into understanding and regulating their own emotions. As the child advances into early childhood, the reliance on the parent gets replaced by self-regulation with guidance on the side from the parent as needed. For the lucky ones who come through childhood with healthy mental processes, the mind is free to battle through negative emotion, create goals, and pursue them with focus and purpose. The healthy mind can think, act, and evaluate thus modifying mindsets to solve new problems and storing the new strategies in memory to solve similar problems in the future.

But what happens when the parent is abusive or negligent? I was born into a single parent family with nine children and a mother who did not have the resources to help me regulate my emotional needs. I grew up lost and neglected. Because of my childhood, I had no means to resolve the feelings associated with my emotions, so I suppressed them except for an underlying feeling of shame and self-loathing. Due to the power of a very skilled and creative mind, I managed to survive for fifty years until I was overwhelmed by the negative energy in my life. When I crashed, I was diagnosed as having a borderline personality disorder with a sexual addiction related to my suppressed gay side, a clinical depression, and an acute anxiety disorder. I was a mess. Eighteen weeks of intensive therapy at a psych outpatients hospital clinic along with medication gave me renewed energy and a few new coping mindsets. However, it did not solve the problems that were buried in my implicit memories. The shame and self-loathing continued.

The emotionally damaged child continues to face emotions the only way that it knows how, by denial or repression. It is then unable to use the energy from primary emotions to find new ways to resolve the problems it is facing. Again, the old patterns are reinforced and the child believes that negative problems filled with negative emotion cannot be solved. When faced with negative energy, it can only react through fight (anger), flight (fear) or freeze (withdrawal) because it has not learned to involve the left brain rational processes to solve the right brain feeling problem.

The only way out of these dips and dives is to seek a high level of arousal through pleasures such as food, sex, or chemical highs from drugs including our old friends alcohol and marijuana. For a wounded mind, this will inevitably result in addiction or lead to mood disorders like depression with dysfunction in perceptions, memory, beliefs and behaviors. On the other side of the equation, it may result in chronic anxiety with excessive sensitivity to the environment with ever present signals of impending disaster. This person may seek someone to defer control and responsibility and enter a dependency relationship. Again, this is usually a one way street and the significant other tires of the great need for love and acceptance and leaves, thus reinforcing the feelings of isolation and self-loathing. On occasion, he or she may enter a co-dependency relationship which seems to work until both partners are depleted of their energy producing resources.

The common solution is psychotherapy. A skillful therapist provides the external system of processing or restraint for the person who lacks positive sets of self regulating processes. Sounds good but it is far from fool proof. We all go through stages that seem to be cyclical. In other words, our ability to cope will fluctuate. Whenever we feel overwhelmed, the depression or anxiety will reoccur. If we were children we could run to mama or papa for a hug and all would be well again. But as adults we run to our therapist thus creating another cycle of dependency. Medication provides some relief in restoring chemical balance, but it does not lead to a new set of mindsets where we seek purpose and joy.  It simply dulls the pain for awhile and it too can lead to chemical or psychological addiction.

After indulging in these dark and dreary mindsets, I think it is time we look at real solutions. Twelve years ago in a mountain cabina in Costa Rica, I found the way to soothe my mind without therapy or medication. To do that, I had to go beyond the cognitive strategies of my brain and learn to soothe the emotion and right brain processing centers of my mind. Because my mind was still dysfunctional, and because I had no one to run to for attunement and soothing, I had to step outside my mind and seek attunement with the self within my self; the self that was always there ready to listen and hug the child within. When confronted with a negative thought, energy, or feeling, I simply stilled the mind and traced the feeling back to its nonverbal source. I waited there with this feeling until I began to sense a soothing from within. I eventually found a presence there. I let the feeling of my ego flow into this presence thus forming an attunement of my wounded ego with my higher self. I experienced an infinite source of positive energy. I just let it flow. No thinking.  I did not restructure my mind sets with thought but infused them with this positive feeling of well being. I could sense it flooding through my neural pathways connecting the spiritual self with the physical self through the pleasure center of my brain.

This is the one and only lesson that I want to impart through these blogs. Whenever we feel the old feelings return, we can address them immediately before they take root. We can experience a high that results from the flow of our own brain and body chemistry. That’s what the prescription and hard drugs do, but we can get those same feelings without the addiction and side affects. We simply flood our whole minds with this beautiful flow of positive energy until the old negative feeling disintegrates and is replaced with the new. Then, while are brains are clear and overflowing with positive energy, we instruct our minds to seek a solution to the problem at hand. All of a sudden, the solutions with be clear and ridiculously manageable. We will automatically know when and how to pursue or when to walk away without guilt or shame.

If feels good to be back in Costa Rica, much better than the first time. I now live a life of gratitude for my wife of three years, my present flow of abundance, and yes, even for the dark days that brought me here. I have learned to control all the negative energy that comes from negative emotions, and in fact, I have learned to find the positive in, and be thankful for, every negative event that occurs in my life.There is no self-loathing, there is only peace, beauty and the power to live a life that I can love.

My five applications to bisexuality:

1. Our sexual impulses are not a mental illness, a dysfunction, or even a faulty thinking pattern. There should be no negative energy associated with our sexuality. We can turn these negative thoughts over to our higher self. We will find no judgment there.

2. We can enter a state of meditation and go back into past negative  experiences and recognize the positive gift associated with these experiences. We can then experience a feeling of gratitude and bless the people involved.

3. If we have feelings related to neglect and abuse, even to trauma, we do not have to feel gratitude for the actual experience, but we can feel gratitude for the support of our higher self which has allowed us to survive these experiences. We can ask our higher self to reveal the lessons we have learned. Once we get beyond the hurt and pain we can begin to see that we are more than just survivors. We are now more powerful people because of our experiences.

4. We do not stay there locked in the past. We acknowledge the powers that helped us survive and we move on. After this healing process, when triggers bring back the old feeling, we thank the ego for its diligence, and acknowledge that we are now superior to those events, feelings, and the people who caused them, and move on.

5. We learn to live and enjoy. We design the life we want to live and use the power of our beautiful minds to make it happen.