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8.1 Structure of the brain and levels of the mind. Zones of adaptation and defence.

Medicine as well as education can profit greatly from the germ-layer classification of body and behaviour (Chapter 7). The model is in agreement with the Maps of growth, development and learning which we have been discussing in previous chapters. This adds a measure of mutual validation to the proposed concentric models.

We have come upon palpable examples of concentrically arranged functions. In cross-sections of a developing embryo the concentric arrangement of the embryonic layers is evident. Equally suggestive of a concentric building plan is the arrangement of the full-grown brain. According to Yakovlev (1948) in the midbrain the following functions are represented, from the centre outwards ('pallium' or 'paleo-' refers to a phylogenetically old part of the brain):

Referring to Altmann (1966) and MacLean (1975), Oliverio (1978) has proposed a transition from behavioural rigidity to plasticity in systems from the centre of the brain to the surface:

It thus appears that a concentrically layered ground-plan of the human neural organisation is firmly established. With every layer that has been added during evolution the whole system was reassembled and brought up to date so as to secure the optimal exchange between the layers.

8.2 From Identity to Cognition.

The following map 8.2.1 gives an approximation of the growth-zones of the human mind and its principal behavioural objectives (based in part on Ericson 1972). The map has helped us to answer such questions as:

When someone firmly decides to free himself of misdirected attitudes and behaviours a strong motivation is important to succeed. However, people are often less "voluntary" in their willing and doing as we or they themselves would like them to be. In what measure can one be free to decide about a change of behaviour? Not before some fundamental conditions for healthy development have been met. This can be an arduous task especially if unfavourable conditions have prevailed in the earliest stages of personality development, such as deprivation of early bonding. A successful attachment between mother and child is necessary for the child to develop it's personal identity, intimacy and healthy emotions in a secure environment. Attachment (bonding) is NAD's pre- and post-natal analogue to the LAD's pre- and post-natal immune-dependence. Maternal antibodies, ingested during breast feeding, shield the child from being poisoned or infected. This support, supplied by the maternal LAD, lasts for a period of many months after birth, as long as the child is breast-fed, until its own immune system has matured sufficiently to give protection, independent of the mother's immune-support. In a similar way the emotional bond with the mother makes for a safe environment for the child to develop an identity of it's own and to build it's private mental immunity.

The first steps towards maternal bonding have been accurately observed by H. Nakajima (1994) in a Maternity Hospital at Saitama, Japan: When immediately after birth the newborn is gently accosted by the mother and allowed to rest, the child will not cry, but lies still with a Buddha-like face during ten minutes. It will then make little movements of the fingers, wrists and arms, and eventually start searching for the nipple.

After many years, when the last steps towards completion have been taken, a competent mental immunity includes: undistorted cognition of it's own particular world, and the social skills to cope with it. Development towards emotional, social, intellectual and moral maturity is sketched in the following Map 8.2.1. Reaching mental immunity lasts considerably longer than the period of breastfeeding and subsequent acquisition of somatic immunity, which is practically completed in early childhood.

1. The awareness of Identity is at the core of a person. "it feels good to be the one I am". Identity is nourished by discovering the contours of "self" and "non-self" in an accepting environment.

2. Intimacy is the innermost protective layer of the Identity: it is the capacity for attachment and love; fundamental trust in the mother and, later, in other people:"It is alright for me to exist, I trust those around me and feel secure". The environment provides security and expresses kindness.

3. On the basis of Identity and Intimacy and controlled bodily functions, a balanced emotional life develops, self-confidence and the ability to cope with stress. "I feel safe, even when standing up for myself". This is fostered by an encouraging environment.

4. Social interactions, creating new relations, generate the next protective layer, and gradually replace the bond with the primary caretaker. As soon as a child can move around he is taught social manners: he learns to respect the boundaries of others and to defend his own. He learns to give and take, and to accepts his place in a group. "I belong and feel responsible". The environment should be sufficiently challenging as well as rewarding.

5. Creativity and willpower provide the driving and executive force to put one's intentions and goals into effect. Play and work alternate. "I count with others and feel competent". The environment provides role models and encouragement.

6. Developing cognition. Mapping one's environment, without distortions. Realistic interpretations of the world and one's potentialities in life. "I feel at home in the world and can express myself in it". A family-environment that does not invite selfish games and devious ways is helpful.

Map 8.2.1 Layers of the personality. Personal development, from identity to mature judgment, in enveloping spheres, identity in the centre

Each successive layer implements a part of the motive or incentive dictated by its predecessor. Identity is protected by intimacy; intimacy can continue to exist only when crude self-protecting emotions make way for more subtle social feelings; these give rise to social interactions and in turn are refined by mature relationships. From social feedback one derives the knowledge and power to implement one's goals; by striving for something and encountering difficulties one acquires knowledge of the world. Arrears in any of the six zones of adaptation and defence can be made up by appropriate remedial training. If a defence-zone is overdeveloped, it can block the communication between zones, and has to be opened gently and patiently. As in every evolutionary process we see a development by dialogue, that is by synergy of opposing tendencies:

We have used this map for diagnosis and advice in cases in which therapy for communication disorders had run aground. This is illustrated in the case of a family with a stuttering child. Usually a child that stutters is experiencing some form of pressure, from which it is trying to escape. Counselling the parents takes the form of searching together for the source of the emotional pressure. Sometimes no cause of undue pressure is found in the family system. The map of zones has then served to disclose a weakness in the personal development of the child which has reduced it's resistance to stress. Once this weak point has been found, the appropriate measures to relieve pressure on the child usually present themselves. It is up to the parents to strengthen the child's resistance to adversities and frustration, and to increase its sense of identity and intimacy. We have found holding sessions (Welch 1989) to be particularly helpful.

The concentric layers in the developing person can be conceived as the gates and the walls around a city. They have to be renewed as the city grows and expands (compare 7.1). Mental and moral growth processes have their origin in an urge to improve the quality of one's life and to adjust one's interaction with the environment to new requirements. The environment widens from the primary caretaker to the family, to the household, to the neighbours and the school, to the town, the nation and finally all nations on earth. It is of considerable interest that a person's capacity for moral judgment keeps pace with his growing responsibility and with his increasingly wider view of the world.

8.3 Moral judgment grows in expanding circles.

Growing, also in a mental and moral sense, again and again involves shedding of an old protective skin and acquiring a new one. Growth occurs at the frontier of chaos, in a mixture of fear and fascination. A desire for renewal competes with fear of the unknown when one takes the next step; because of this, the step is carefully prepared. In the LAD the components of the lymphoid system form a network that responds to environmental challenges, similarly in a moral system for adaptation and defence (MOAD) successive notions together form a system of ethics. Such notions have a cohesive structure with which one evaluates and responds to the challenges of the social environment. This environment is different for an infant, a child, an adolescent or an adult. The moral system of adaptation and defence therefore grows in layers. Passing from one stage of life to the next, one has to renew one's moral rigging.

As in the other systems for adaptation and defence, ethics develop in a dialogue between the genome and the environment. The genome supplies two instincts, one for self-preservation and one for preservation of the group (family, tribe). The two instincts often cooperate, but sometimes compete for supremacy. In an insecure person, whose life is guided by fear and worries, self-preservation often dominates and rarely cedes the leading role to group-interest. Therefore group-interest is better served by an individual who feels fundamentally secure and rarely feels the need to let self-preservation dominate. Inevitably there is an interaction between an individual's development and his history of life within a group. Motivation to exert oneself for the benefit of the group will be activated if the child has experienced that the group supports his well being. Every higher step in the moral hierarchy reconciles the opposing tendencies that in the lower level fought for supremacy.

Preparing a new layer of one's MOAD-strategy is accompanied by episodes of anxiety and doubt. Anticipating a period of vulnerable nakedness may make a person hesitant whether or not to take the next step towards a new pattern of adaptation / defence based on a new and broader view of the world. The uneasiness of being inadequately equipped for an ever widening environment and the accompanying inner conflicts, force a person to relinquish an old skin. The passage is made easier when a close relative, a teacher or a friend helps the process along by showing the benefits of a new equilibrium and by giving the reassurance that, even though it is difficult, the next step can be and should be taken.

We can retrace the notion of a stepwise development to J.Piaget (1965), author on child development. He found that moral conceptions develop in a child in more or less discrete stages. L.Kohlberg (1969) has confirmed that there are levels of moral development. Different people are guided by moral values at different levels, and one person may switch back and forth between levels, depending on circumstances (regression). Too little is known about the social, educational and spiritual ambience that fosters the development of values. Social scientists from the political left have denounced the whole concept of a hierarchy of values. In their view it is a deceitful instrument that is used by the establishment to deflate revolutionary ideals. In spite of that accusation I hope that a layered model of moral values will be recognised and accepted as the fabric that strengthens the structure of a just and mutually supportive society. As we will see the hierarchy is not only from top to bottom, it is also from the bottom upwards.

Stage 1 of Level 1 is heteronomous (literal meaning: the laws are outside oneself) and child-like in nature; the person follows a trusted parent or leader, or a revered and feared person or divine being. Obedience is motivated by wanting to avoid punishment. Stage 2 of this level is self-centeredness, everything revolves around satisfying one's own needs, and feeling that one has the right to do so.

Level 2 is called the conventional level. Stage 3: There is attention for "what others think of me": conformity and avoidance of social disapproval is the ethic. Stage 4: Meeting the expectations of society, performing one's social duties.

Level 3, which is attained by a minority of the population, again has two stages. Stage 5, in which a person makes choices on the basis of what is good for society, while being also truly aware of the inviolable rights of other individuals. At stage 6 full autonomy (literal meaning: the law is inside oneself) has been reached. Moral principles, embodied in one's conscience, are in accordance with the universal principles that underlie social commitments. They are applied consistently and are upheld in spite of allurements and temptations. Map 8.3.1: for a short summary of the stages of moral development and subsequent quotes I rely on Map 38 by Hampden-Turner (1981):


STAGE 1. Egocentric deference to a superior power. Obedience and punishment orientation
STAGE 2. Right action is instrumentally satisfying. Naively egotistic orientation


STAGE 3. Conforming to stereotyped cultural images. Good boy/girl orientation
STAGE 4. Orientation to support authority and social order


STAGE 5. Orientation on social contracts and interpersonal commitments
STAGE 6. Appealing to ethical universality. Orientation on conscience and principles

Kohlberg's model of moral development in six stages has been extensively tested in large populations and found to be valid. It has also been criticised: the description of levels of moral judgment is hard to accept by people who find it discriminating. These critics however confound factfinding with passing judgment. It is a statistical fact, not a judgment on anybody, that the majority of Americans and Europeans (75%) never develop beyond the stages 3 and 4 on Kohlberg's scale. Nor does the scale of moral development run parallel with social status. It may be easier for somebody in a high and responsible social position to clearly see the consequences of human behaviour, including his own, which will influence his moral decisions. However there are sinners and saints to be found at all levels of society. Much depends on the individual having passed safe and sound through all the stages of emotional, social and mental development (6.2). Moral behaviour is very much a matter of willpower, and willpower is courage combined with creative phantasy.

C. Morris brought a refinement to the value system: the discrimination between operant and conceptual values. This reconciles the double standard paradox which is so typical for human behaviour. A drug addict knows full well that his habit has damaging effects, yet he lets the operative value of immediate gratification prevail over the conceived value that it is better not to become addicted.

It has been shown that the level of moral insight can be elevated e.g in classroom discussions, and this raises the hope that defects in moral reasoning can be repaired. This is especially important in multicultural classrooms, where the clash of religious backgrounds has to be reconciled by dialogue.

Since moral consciousness appears to be arranged in a concentrical way similar to what we have seen in many previous maps, we are not surprised to find the customary two-way hierarchy. Top-down:

The hierarchy in the other direction, bottom-up, has already been mentioned: every next stage enables a person to participate in a social order that is more coherent and thriving than the previous one. The concentric structure of the moral adaptation and defence system (MOAD) is the result of individual development, in interaction with one's cultural and educational environment.

Again the map shows the pattern of a two-way hierarchy. It summarizes the information-flow between successive layers of adaptation and defence, that can be characterised in short form as [1] dependency, [2] dominance, [3] detachment. They are the essence of the Varieties of Human Value, discovered by C.Morris (1956). The fact that they are influenced to a large degree by culture and education take away the sharp edges of biological determinism that biological variety seems to (but does not) imply. Human society profits by the cooperation of seemingly conflicting tendencies. As the scale of moral values expands every grade on the MOAD scale has its assignments in a particular field of action.

Values change with the stages of life. For a baby the primary values are nourishment and loving care. Detachment at this stage would be fatal. When, on the contrary, an adult has reached the stage of maturity and wisdom, his serene attitude of detachment may be a source of inspiration to the younger generation. However without Promethean fire nothing can be forged out of abstract idea's. Although the values of Dependance, Dominance and Detachment are intrinsically different, they complement each other and are equally valuable.

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