Sunday, February 26, 2006


Why research an 'Internal Evolutionary Mechanism'? (1)

1) Background and Perspective: 'Life isn't a rehearsal'

My primary interest is in a specific form of psychological trauma: its characteristics, potential for reversibility, and the insights into the nature of life that effective 'methods of resolution' must necessarily reflect.

For all practical purposes this type of trauma can be considered to originate within the limbic system, a term coined by Paul MacLean in 1952 (see The Triune Brain) and also referred to as the "Old Mammalian Brain" - an indication of the point in evolutionary history when such wounds first became possible.

Indeed, characteristic 'psychological signatures' found in a number of today's cultural institutions can have their historical roots traced although it is worth remembering that such patterns exist solely because of the prevalence of trauma at the individual level (for a topical reference see Evolution: The Horse Whisperer, Richard Dawkins, and Danish Cartoons).

In the mid-1990's a series of meetings took place between myself and a representative of a London-based institue of psychotherapy in which certain 'anomalies', found below the level at which trauma occurs, were discussed. The point of origin of the anomalies, as much as their nature, clearly indicated they pre-dated the evolutionary appearance of trauma. Consequently, the anomalies have no direct relevance to the current 'discipline' of psychology.

The outcome of the discussions was a decision on my part to investigate, when time permitted and more or less as a 'hobby', the current perception of how evolutionary changes occur with an initial emphasis on two particular areas:

1) Previous proposals of internal evolutionary mechanisms and their associated 'methods of testing'.

2) Evolutionary phenomena exhibiting a homeostatic signature consistent with that indicated by the anomalies.

The Model of an Internal Evolutionary Mechanism webpage represents a first attempt to translate the anomalies into terms of conventional evolutionary theory: 'adaptive mutations' anchor the proposed homeostatic mechanism at one end of the evolutionary spectrum and the 'baldwin effect' at the other.

The website was begun in 1998, but owing to other commitments, it has received little attention in the intervening years. The current content leaves much to be desired although the very small trickle of people who continue to join the mailing list may indicate the core concept is understandable despite the inadequacies of the current presentation.

If the proposal of an internal evolutionary mechanism were merely an intellectual idea whose merits were to be discussed in opposition to existing explanations, or reflected an acquired belief (religious or otherwise), then I feel sure more fulfilling ways of experiencing life would spring to mind. After all, life is not a rehearsal and time is the most precious thing that any individual has to spend.

Finally, Marcel Proust said "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes": I feel sufficient evidence exists to give serious consideration to the possibility of an internal evolutionary mechanism, it just needs putting together in a comprehensible way.

John Latter

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