Sunday, February 08, 2009

Group evolution, integration and resilience...

The book "Developing Mind" is a complex, yet very readable book. I highly recommend to anyone who is interested in an integrated understanding of development of our personalities, emotional communication and human relationships = and the role that growth and complexity of the various components of the brain play in the process.

One big takeaway that I got is how patterns of interaction between attachment relationships with parents, caregivers in early life set patterns in motion based on chemical, neurological pathways in phases of brain development. That being said - the brain and emotional fabric of the personality continue to evolve over one's lifetime. Many in our society continue to believe that "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" or "that's just how so-and-so is" with respect to deeply rooted emotional patterns and challenging dynamics. To the contrary - the author points out that the mind, emotions and brain have plasticity throughout life giving new life and possibility in relationship and lifelong learning.

Furthermore - the current obsession with online social networking as a tool for interaction and group evolution are of great interest to me.

Along the lines of group interaction and evolution, the following quote really stood out for me:

"Functioning in a complex social network enhances people's capacity to survive as individuals, reproduce, and create a group of like-minded individuals who share such a capacity. This can be seend as a form of interindividual integration, in which an individual becomes a member of a community beyond the dyadic relationships of attachment and friendship. The potential for such a group to become a functionally cohesive system of individuals will enhance the chances of that group's surviving in competition with isolated humans or with groups that cannot process such social communication signals as well. Such shared mentalizing abilities permit the group to function as a cohesive system composed of connected individuals.

This allows for a "group state" to be achieved, which can facilitate the development of a highly effective problem-solving system to meet challenges in a world filled with competition. Being a member of a group in this way confers a sense of safety, security, and stability on an individual. A number of studies suggest complex relationships among early attachment history, experiences with teachers, relationships with friends, and social competence in peer groups. One of these studies has shown for example that peer acceptance and leadership abilities are associated with a history of secure attachments. Relationships, both early and later in life, clearly make a difference as our lives evolve. Overall, these findings support the notion that the individual continues to develop in interaction with an evolving set internal processes as well as social experiences within interpersonal and group relationships."

E.O. Wilson's book "Consilience" is also at the heart of the understandings from this book. I highly recommend both.

Dr. Siegel gave a wonderful talk about the findings in this book here.

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