[Buddha-l] monks, meditation and trauma

S.A. Feite sfeite at adelphia.net
Tue Apr 7 11:26:49 MDT 2009

On Apr 7, 2009, at 12:21 PM, Dan Lusthaus wrote:

>> Wow, it seems like you really missed my point to try to make this
>> implication
> And you seem to have missed my point. You have already decided  
> which type of
> response is preferred, and assume that brain pathology would back  
> up that
> preference. The implication is that someone responding in the less  
> preferred
> way (i.e., less preferred by you) must have their negative state
> isomorphically imprinted on their brain physiology.

Well, let's look at my original comment then:

"I would suspect the aforementioned example would be the exception
rather than the rule. It could be that trauma avoided might be
proportional to meditative expertise. It might also be an interesting
comment on what aspects of neural circuitry support healing and which
parts are potentially damaged.

I think the more Buddhist take on this might be that given the
reality of neuroplasticity, no one is a prisoner of karma."

Which "response" are you referring to? Trauma vs. no trauma? Immunity  
vs. non-immunity? Trauma inducing neurological changes vs. trauma  
which doesn't produce neuro. changes? Of course the preferred state  
would be the ability to remain immune vs. pathological changes to the  
brain--in the same way the preferred state for Smallpox would be to  
be immune via vaccination vs. infectable. Resilience from acute  
suffering vs. horrendous suffering.

Relatively immune from suffering vs. more potentially traumatized.

Of course I'm not including other forms of resilience here. People  
may be relatively immune for other reasons: environmental,  
developmental, genetic, etc.

What the assumption is is that trauma can cause changes to the brain,  
and that those changes represent a form of pathology and those  
changes are supportive for mental and emotional suffering that has  
the potential to remain--until neuroplastic changes occur to free one  
from that suffering.

An example: Reactive Attachment Disorder in young children who  
experience emotional trauma or neglect.

> It is also merely presumption -- not fact supported by evidence --  
> that
> certain types of practices and meditations, etc., will better  
> prepare one
> for life's adversities, including the sorts of things causing PTSD.

I'm pretty sure there is science on this. Whether the conclusions are  
parsed in a way you would accept is another question.

Since it appears a presumption in the research on MBCT is that once  
neuroplastic changes occur in certain patients with depression,  
resiliency is attained and therefore relapse is unlikely, I would  
expect similar resiliency to be possible for various afflictive  

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