On The Process of Mental Thermodynamics

A little while ago I commented briefly on the Theory of Mental Thermodynamics [1], the brainchild of Joseph Richard Crant [2]. Let us comment again on this subject so that we may understand his view of the process of mental thermodynamics, and also examine where the process may break down, causing problems. Specifically, let us examine how abusive and intrusive events such as trauma may lead paradoxically to mental growth but also to great stress on the mind. An understanding of this paradox can help us understand how some creative people (writers and musicians, for example) can be strong in some parts of mental health and weak (or “troubled”) in others.

According to the theory of Mental Thermodynamics, all events are singular and “absurd,” and the mind saying “no” to the experience is what begins the process of internal dialogue. This first state of mental thermodynamics is “chaos,” the state where one’s internal perception of reality is violated by external reality. In particular, let us note that events which disturb the mind’s internal equilibrium are likely to be perceived as traumatic. These could be experiences in warfare, dealing with rape or sexual abuse, the death of a relative, the loss of a job, or any event which is seen as unjust and unfair. Therefore, at the base of mental thermodynamics we have the traumas of life, some of the relatively “ordinary,” and some of them deeply troubling on multiple levels. The traumas of our life give us the raw material for mental (and spiritual) growth but also the seeds of great psychological trouble. Handled well, they can make us far stronger and wiser than we could be normally. Handled poorly, they can cripple us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. More often we can handle some aspects better than others, and so we show some elements of great strength and others of great weakness.

Once the mind accepts the reality of the trauma (and is no longer in denial or shock) the second state of mental thermodynamics begins. This state is called entanglement, and it represents the physical-emotional sense response to the traumatic event. These feelings are often very intense, and very mixed. There are a host of dangers attached to this stage. If the feelings are too overwhelming, the intensity of grief may actually shut down the body and mind’s ability to cope or process the overwhelming feelings. This walling away of emotions can cause long-term and crippling damage to not only the person (which may be manifested in an increase of blood pressure, crippling migraine headaches, autoimmune difficulties like chronic fatigue or Morgellons, and eventually death by heart attacks or strokes) but also to the person’s abilities to make and form lasting relationships with others. Additionally, problems can result if the person decides to cope with the trauma by becoming less sensitive to the world around, which can cause dangers from a lack of ability to recognize and respond to threats. When trauma comes from the family, children in particular may feel it is too dangerous to recognize the permanent state of threat and thus engage in double-think and denial strategies to cope with the constant danger without having to think about it. This refusal to ruminate—to struggle with the reality—prevents mental growth and healing from occurring because it shuts off the possibility of accepting reality. This is the first gate that must be passed to lead to restoration of equilibrium and contentment.

Once the mind has passed that gate and committed itself to wrestling with the problem, the third state, or commitment, is reached. In this state the mind wrestles over and over again with the problem seeking to defeat it by understanding it. The mind mulls over various ways of dealing with the problem in an internal debate, seeking to understand the reason and the purpose for it all. There are a few dangers in this stage of dealing. For one, the mind can be exhausted in dealing with it and loses commitment to keep wrestling, which forces the mind back on the previous gate’s problem of denial. Another difficulty is that at this stage the pain of dealing and wrestling with the problem is very acute—there are often very serious and very unpleasant implications of one’s ruminations, and often people try to dull the pain by medicating it away with alcohol and drugs, or distract it away with work or pleasure addictions. This leads to other abuse problems that merely complicate the initial one. It is at this stage that one finds many activists and writers—wrestling publicly and openly with their problems, without resolution but also without trying to escape from the force of the trauma or the ugly questions it raises.

The fourth state is rest. This state is reached when the mind finds closure or acceptance of the truth and gains insight from the trauma. No longer is it a raw wound sensitive to the touch, but it is a pearl of great price formed from the intrusive sand that for so long troubled the heart, mind, body, and spirit of the person. Through much (hard) work the mind reaches contentment and acceptance and there can be the enjoyment of wellbeing and health, as the trauma is no longer causing collateral damage. To reach this state, with any trauma, is to gain an accomplishment of making sense of what happened and putting it in its proper place. Once it troubles the mind no more, the mind can reach a new equilibrium. Many people fail, for whatever reason, to reach this point. Nonetheless, this is our goal with each trial and each trauma that we face in our lives.

This model provides a reason why some people may show up better on some measures of mental health than on others. For example, those who remain sensitive and responsive to the outside world will show up as being more “open” than those who have shut themselves off from painful and unpleasant realities. They will correspondingly show up as more healthy. Those who ruminate on the unpleasant aspects of life, like oysters trying to keep the sand at the core of a pearl from bothering them, will show up as healthier than those who engage in doublethink or other strategies of self-deception. However, until acceptance and closure is reached, all of those people will show some (perhaps serious) measures of mental and emotional stress as well. Perhaps they will be wrestling with chronic depression, or PTSD, or some other such disease.

This particular model offers some major conceptual possibilities, as well as the chance to quantify the “work” of the mind in terms of thermodynamics, allowing what has been until now a very nebulous and vague field to be quantified. There are a few questions that would need to be answered before such a theory could be seen as verified, at least in part. For example, what is the picture of a mind in each state? What parts of the brain are working and active during the states of chaos, entanglement, commitment, and rest? How can one quantify how strong a trauma is, or how “entangled” (or sensitive) someone is to their outside surroundings? How can one quantify how much work a brain does to ruminate about an unpleasant subject so that it an be understood? These tasks remain to be solved, and until they do mental thermodynamics will remain an interesting concept, but not something that can be seen as scientifically verified. Nonetheless, they remain at least within the realm of possibility of verification or falsification, or of tweaking in case it should be necessary to add other terms.

[1] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/07/27/on-the-science-of-the-mind/

[2] http://eohtbeta.wetpaint.com/page/C%3Dea2

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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9 Responses to On The Process of Mental Thermodynamics

  1. Joe says:

    You have shown me there is hope for this theory to be worked out to better understanding in that it does show some promise. I would like to point out here that I have as a result of the findings of this researched theory developed practical treatments and therapies that can be implemented into the lives of any person who is having trouble with emotional distress. If I can find someone willing to dig deeper into what I have discovered I feel confidant many will benefit from learning about the underpinnings of this work and what has, and what can be developed from it.

    One of the main points to understand is that from my own testing (informal) of which I have been doing for many years does show it to be of a certain high value to those who suffer.
    One way that it works to establish relief is when a person discusses what it implies and suggests, this person is led to work it through before reacting too soon.

    The science behind this is; 1. it may create a new neuro-path in a person whom had never had proper parental guidance for various reasons and cannot understand or accept that things sometimes do not go well and one has to struggle to overcome difficulties. 2. It may awaken or repair a damaged neuro-path that has become dysfunctional from trauma, emotional or physical.

    In any event the outcome that I have seen in people whom I have treated, is that they are able to more quickly decide and feel satisfies with their decision as they realize they must take responsibility for their own thoughts and actions. It kind of allows a person to mature in a sense.

    • Very true. The therapy of bio-psychodynamics would be in helping a person who is in distress to find a way out of the constant feedback loops of anger, blame, and frustration. By finding a way out of the labyrinth of the mind, tension is reduced, anger is lessened, and mental health is improved. Additionally, the person grows in learning new ways of thinking, which allows them to solve other difficulties. As someone who has suffered a fair amount of trauma in my own life, I saw the process of mental thermodynamics primarily in that light. Clearly, having case studies or scientific research would help demonstrate the validity of such claims, though.

      • Joe says:

        True, I also beileve that this theory will improve the lives of many people simply from the fact they conduct a research of their own. Doing this will also improve a person’s ability to infer as well as raise the level of intellect in terms of greater or latteral thinking ability.

        As for my self, I have only a grade eight education. I have managed to self educate through this research which was and is still a hobby of sorts. The reason I could not absorb much of my early education was that I was too emotionally distressed and therefore unable to focus or pay attention to my studies.

        With this research I was highly motivated to protect my own children and in a short time I noticed I had a vested intereste as well. In combination the motivation to continue was very high.

        People need motivation to succeed and to succeed in the area of mental and emotional health must be at the forefront of many peoples concerns.

      • Indeed, people need motivation to learn. Often this requires knowing the reason why a given field or subject is important. All too often in our learning we are given subjects to learn but without any connections to other fields of knowledge, so that the motivation is removed from the study and knowledge of the subject only becomes a tactical goal for educational advancement rather than a deeper investigation of knowledge. But that is another story.

  2. Joe says:

    Allen Newell argues for the need of a set of general assumptions for cognitive models that account for all of cognition: a unified theory of cognition (UTC). A UTC must explain how intelligent organisms flexibly react to stimuli from the environment, how they exhibit goal-directed behavior and acquire goals rationally, how they represent knowledge (or which symbols they use), and learning.

    I had been wondering for quite some time if this C=ea2 would qualify as a Unified Theory of Cognition (UTC)? And if it did, what could it lead to? Nerd smile

    • Universal theories in general are the dreams of theorists, but very difficult to formulate and prove. The fact that they require such a combination of divergent and convergent thinking but simultaneously solve so many problems means they are the grails of theorists in any field. Who knows if what you have come up with qualifies as such a theory, but such a thought is a very appealing one, no doubt.

  3. Joe says:

    I cannot say that I completely understand everything that I have formulated as a result of this theory, however my research and theory was never a contrived thing. As I have stated many times that it was because of my own suffering and batteling with emotional distress that I began to dig in to find ways to educate and thus protect my own children from negative impacting of human cruelty, and from there everything just seemed to flow to the point at which it is at present.

    • There are often implications of what we study that we may not understand. This is a part of being a human being and seeing through a glass darkly. That said, the general way for any possible grand theory of cognition to be developed is to assume an orderly process of how the mind deals with matters, and then to work out the details. If we begin by assuming coherence and flow and a structure to cognition, rather than assuming that it is random and purposeless, we will at least put ourselves in the right ballpark for figuring out what the structure of cognition is.

  4. Pingback: A Week To Remember, A Week To Forget | Edge Induced Cohesion

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