AUTOR: JUAN PABLO MOLTÓ RIPOLL
In the Psychoneuroacupuncture (PNA) we study the Shen’s concept from different perspectives, and as a result we obtain a deeper knowledge of the Shen. We use different scientific specialities such as the neuroscience, which helps to understand how some emotions and behaviours are based on brain structures or in biochemical levels, that let us compare and see parallels between phases and emotions. At the same time, we know which neurophysiological structures are active during this process.
Later, we accurately analyze the emotions from two different perspectives: one of them comes from the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which is very subtle and sometimes has too many subjective constructs, the other perspective is the one from the Modern Psychology, which on the contrary, is more aseptic and precise, and loose the holism from the TCM. This is the reason why this study tries to find the connection between the TCM and the Psychology.
On the other hand, we have the classifications that the Chinese Medicine attributes to personality, for example: subject, wood, earth, etc. These classifications define the person’s constitution depending on his behaviour and his physical structure.
In Psychology there is a theory that enriches the knowledge from the TCM. “The Characteristic’s Model” and, more specifically, “The Big Five Factor Model” gives a more precise explanation about all these concepts, which surprisingly have as many phases as the “5-Phases Theory”.
And finally, the PNA tries to study some specific cognitive processes, trying to match them with the adequate phases to achieve a complete coverage of the system. This, naturally, refers to the Shen based on these theories.
The essence from this study, thanks the knowledge from both sciences, is to know how deeply our mind works. In PNA there is a theory known as “The Convergent Theory”. I would like to use a metaphor to explain it:
We have already explained that the Shen has seven emotions, which for the 5-phases theory reduce to five. In PNA we add 5 personality characteristics and 5 cognitions, based on a biochemical structure, which we study precisely: imagine that your brain is a pot that represents the structure for the mind. In this pot there are five different kinds of food (emotions).
Qualitatively we all have the same kinds of food, but the quantities are variable. And we cook this during many years.
The PNA not only includes the emotions, but also the five personality features based on “The Modern Theories of the Differential Psychology”.
It is not per chance that they are five phases and we also add five cognitive processes to each phase (motivation, empathy, creativity, etc.) and it is also part of the food in pot. After having cooked it during many years, we obtain a substance that is our Shen, our character. But this substance is richer in some persons, and in others it has no nutrient, therefore the Shen doesn’t work in good conditions.
The PNA gives us a personal diagnostic to identify which is the wrong food, and shows if there is more or less quantity in the subject. It tries to recover this food through an elaborate treatment’s protocol.
The PNA of this treatment is based on:
- A first formulation.
- A secondary formulation.
- A tertiary formulation.
- Plants formulas to rebalance the Shen
And the most interesting, verbal guidelines, that in each phase are concentrated on a point of the Shen of the subject.
I can’t expand this article too much, so I will give you only an example for each part of what we already have explained.
In the field of the characteristics I choose a phase at random, for example the Metal:
In this phase occurs “the neuroticism”, which, according with “The Thesaurus”, is the basic dimension of the personality. H.J. Eysenck describes it through a factorial analysis. It means big vulnerability in front of stress and emotional instability. It is often related with the control of emotions, with pessimistic tendencies as a negative aspect and the isolation as a positive aspect.
This is the name that Eysenck gave to a dimension which oscillate between calmed and tranquil persons and nervous persons.
His investigation proves that the last one suffers frequently from “nerve disorders”. But Eysenck only assures that people with high levels of neuroticism become neurotic problems easily.
If the Metal Phase is in Shi regarding its Shen, we will have a very melancholic, retiring subject with a passive behaviour. But if this phase is not in Shi, the subject will be positive, because it is well-balanced and in its isolation experiences a gratifying inner growth. But the problem emerges when this process suffers an imbalance. This could cause a pathological isolation and the no-communication.
The Xu predominates this phase, therefore the subjects are isolated and extremely melancholic. They become easily depressed, and normally their depressions are endogenous without an obvious cause. These subjects, moreover, in the long run exhaust both mother and son and become obsessed and frightened.
In the previous example we have briefly summarize “the feature-phase concept” and now we are going to do the same but with a cognitive one: the Fire Phase.
We have always learned that the happiness is achievable in the Fire Phase, but this concept is very ambiguous and therefore we believe the concept of motivation is more precise, because it could be treated.
In a documentary of the BBC entitled “The miracle of the regeneration”, in which it was reported that the latest scientific advances are studying the incredible human body’s ability to regenerate itself and permit that independent organs grow and replace the damaged organs. Some scientists assert we will be able to live 100 years without problems, and the most audacious say till 150 years.
But the curious thing is, that in a debate on the radio a philosopher declared that prolonging the human life could be an error. According to him, at the age of 70 many people are psychologically dead because they don’t want to do anything else. What would we do 70 years longer on this planet?
A member of the discussion replied that if we could live so many years, the aging culture should change and we would have to look for motivations to remain mentally active. Therefore we have to maintain the activity of the Shen till the end of our life, so a life without Shen is not a life.
If we have a subject with no motivation, no hobby, no job, etc. in the practice, that means he expresses the energy of his Shen in Heart. In this case it is really important to motivate him with activities he likes and that move and activate his general Shen.
Then, we also analyse the happiness, the laugh, etc.
Then, as the word PNA indicates, we have to find a physiological correlation for each part of the Shen.
I am going to start with the Earth Phase.
In the Chinese Medicine the obsession is a state of no-digestion of the thought and it is linked to the lack of creativity. Therefore we have to begin with a neuroanatomicall substractum or at least with a part of it.
With regard to the relation between the dopamine and the serotonin, we know that in this energetic phase of the Chinese Medicine the thought is placed and if it is rich it can be creative.
According to Eysenck, on the creative subjects dominate the personality variables considered part of the creativity, such as abnormality and strangeness. This means that creative subjects are more able to control their thoughts in a different way as the non-creative subjects. Therefore, in the Earth Phase the subject suffers a cognitive process called “over-inclusion”. The dopamine allows a process of cognitive inhibition, while the serotonin, on the contrary, increases the inhibitory processes.
This explains why the dopamine will increase the creativity or “the productive thought of Bazo” through the reduction of the cognitive inhibition, and so grows the isolation and the production of new combinations. But with the serotonin the opposite occurs.
Present studies carried out by scientists such as Clark and Watson (1999), and Rushthon (1997) support these theories.
But in the PNA we not only study each phase of the Shen, but also itself as a whole. For example:
We see how Yin and Yang agrees with the Eysenck’s “Theory of the Aurosal”. This theory fit also to the TCM’s concept about Yang subjects regarding to their behaviour. The study of this psychologist is based on the “biological grounds of the Extroversion ß à Introversion’s conducts”. This author bases his theory on the functionality of the brain’s cortical and subcortical centers and the concept of “general cortical activation”, which is very similar to the function Yin Yang. This depends on the “Reticular Ascendent Activating System” (A.R.A.S). Therefore, it attributes the different behavioural activities to genetic factors. Loelhin (1992), Plomin (1994), Plomin and Caspi (1999) hardly corroborate this theory.
The extroverts have high A.R.A.S activation’s thresholds, because they have low cortical activation levels. And this is why they need hard stimulations (parties, contacts, sports), so they get optimal activation levels.
The introverts, on the other hand, have lower A.R.A.S.’s thresholds, and consequently they have higher levels of cortical activation and tend to have quieter behaviour.
Yang subjects, in which dominate the Fire and the Wood Phases, have really extrovert behaviours and search the social contact, strong emotions and hectic situations and they prefer to live in big cities than in small villages. That is considered as an extrovert subject.
This theory is based on following information: It is known that the cerebral cortex has a continued stimulation that can have very low levels, like in sleep stages or very high levels like for example in a panic attack. Therefore, subjects in a permanent ground state and with a chronically low aurosal state, tend to act according with a Yang behaviour (Fire, Wood), while subjects with a standard of activation in high rest, tend to a Ying behaviour (Water, Metal).
In this theory, we can consequently notice a curious paradox.
“In our opinion, a subject has a Yang behaviour because his brain has a Yin behavioural guideline. This is curious because is the opposite of what it was thought. Therefore, we should wonder:
The acupuncture points used to calm the Yang, regarding to the physical excitation, work stimulating the brain’s Yang?
And so, indirectly, as they stimulate the cerebral cortex, would the A.R.A.S foment the quieter behaviours? What a strange paradox! To calm down the Shen, are used acupuncture points that stimulate the cortex excitation, because the hyperactivity observed is the cause of the brain’s Yang inactivity. This explains why children with hyperactivity syndrome are treated with stimulants.
The PNA uses the A.R.A.S. as the neuroanatomical basis in order to control the Yin Yang. Referring to the mental part, we know this system activates and deactivates the cerebral cortex, allowing the states of alertness and concentration as well as the control of the sleep-awake cycle, that we attribute to a systematic function of Yin Yang.
We know these theories are based on scientific studies that corroborate them. Campbell (1983) proved that extrovert students normally choose noisy areas in a library. Other experiments show that extroverts work better with higher intensity noises (54´2dB) as the introverts, and prefer to live with two or more people, while introverts tend to live alone or with one person. (Dianer, Sandvik, Pavot and Fujita, 1992). Moreover, it has been proved that extroverts prefer to be in contact with many people daily. This doesn’t ocurr with introverts (Pavot, Dianer y Fujita, 1990), as well as the extroverts choose more social works than the introverts (Dianer y Cols, 1992).
Therefore, the Yin Yang theory related to the Shen is basen partly on the Aurosal Theory of Eysenck. So we have already found a physiological basis in the concept of the Yin Yang.
And the last and more important part of PNA, the therapy, is developed from some tests to identify the posible alterations and profiles of the Shen. A structured and protocolized treatment to study and follow the different clinical psychoneuroacupunctures.
In the diagnostic we have to know how to differentiate all the syndromes, as well as to recognize the really internal structure of the Shen to precisely identify the alterations helping ourselves with the Test to identify the alterate phases.
Then we have a very structurated treatment protocol, in order to allow that other professionals of the PNA can make homogeneous studies:
We base our study on a primary formulation, based in the Ko and Zhen cycles. With these formulas we attack the origins of the dysfunction. A secondary formulation treats the syndrome detected, such as the Bazo’s Xu Yang. A terciary formulation that uses psychical points chosen from the manuals of PNA.
We also use herbal medicine’s formulas to harmonize each phase, “Zhan-Fu”.
And finally, once we have detected the emotional disorder, the cognitive, etc, each phase must be treated from a different psychological perspective that tries to help the subject. Therefore, we also make a verbal therapy based on the Chinese Medicine while the subject has the acupuncture needles in his body.
This is a really innovative system, which can be very helpful to analyze the area of the emotions, that unfortunatelly is nowadays the weakest one.
The only way to study PNA nowadays is following an introductory course, as well as the manuals “Introducción a la Psiconeuroacupuntura” from the publishing company “Dilema”. There is another advanced course which teaches the therapies, how to detect the alterations, etc. Following this course you obtain the certificate of “Clinical Psychoneuroacupuncturist”. And at the end you can submit a Thesis and make an investigation course in PNA.
At the present, courses are taking place in every spanish school for Traditional Chinese Medicine that want to offer them.
For further information, please contact following E-mail adress: