“Ancient Greek philosophers were fond of the aphorism, “know thyself,” inscribed above the entrance of one of the Temples of Apollo at Delphi. One expression of this tradition, variably attributed to Socrates and Plato, is that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Another, attributed to Aristotle, is “to know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” And, according to Socrates, the path to such self-knowledge is through inner reflection, or what we now call introspection.
Thousands of years later, professions arose to help people know themselves better…(however) Behavioral, cognitive-behavioral, and pharmaceutical approaches have all traditionally assumed that successful treatment must go beyond, or beneath, subjective experience—that the way to improve mental health is to change problematic behavior or the information-processing functions and/or brain physiology underlying it. Reflecting this view, insurance companies today are more likely to refer to “behavioral health” than “mental health.” But perhaps this assumption, which equates the behavioral with the mental, needs to be reconsidered…the idea that the subjective experience of fear is a hard-wired state inherited from animals is not universally accepted by psychologists or neuroscientists. How, then, might fear come about if not via an ancient subcortical circuit? It seems worth considering the possibility that it arises the same way as other kinds of conscious experiences…
The science of subjective experience has come a long way in recent years. While it is still about turning the mind in on itself, a rigorous body of scientific research on consciousness is emerging. Applied to clinical problems, modern understanding of consciousness could pave the way for more precise and valid assessments of human emotions and provide clinicians with new and improved strategies for treating emotional suffering.”
To Learn More:
- Read full article Know Thyself: Well-Being and Subjective Experience (Cerebrum)
- The State of Mindfulness Science: 10 Key Research Findings to Encourage and Guide your Meditation Practice in 2018
- Talk by Dr. Tom Insel during the 2017 SharpBrains Virtual Summit: Brain Health & Enhancement in the Digital Age (December 5–7th):