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Meaning Making

and
Dyadic States of Consciousness

Ed Tronick
University Distinguished Professor
University of Massachusetts
Harvard Medical School
Ed.tronick@umb.edu

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What Does It Mean,
Master?

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´7KHYLWDOLW\RIWKHSULYDWHVHOI
depends on the capacity to
generate meaning;; the inability to
generate meaning is a psychic
catastrophe. I propose that the
unconscious can be thought of as
a neurophysiological process that
has the potential to generate
PHDQLQJµ
A. Modell, p.144

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HUMANS ARE MAKERS OF MEANING
Jerome Bruner
*
ALL HUMANS
-­ INFANTS, CHILDREN and ADULTS-­
CONSTANTLY
TRY TO MAKE
A COHERENT AND COMPLEX MEANING
OF
THEIR
-­-­ SENSE-­OF-­SELF-­-­
IN THE WORLD
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Creating Something New
The Good, the Bad,
and the Ugly

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The Meanings Made
are

Intersubjective

Age Possible

Multi-­level
(Physiology to Explicit Awareness)

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States of Consciousness
are
Intersubjective
Some (but never all) of the meanings
in a state of consciousness
can be
communicated to others.
*
The meanings include:
-­-­ intentions to act on the world -­-­
-­-­ relational intentions with others -­-­
-­-­ sense-­of-­self -­-­
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,QIDQW¶V
Try to Make
Meaning of
Their World

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Infant Successfully
Making Meaning of
Her World
and
Reaching Out
To Do Something
With the Person

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Age 3RVVLEOH´$IIHFWLYH6WDWHµ
Meaning Making

Infants make sense of their self in


the world with intentional actions
and emotions
and
express it with emotional displays
and behavior

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´:KRµDUH\RX"

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I want that that!

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What and where?

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There it is!

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'21·7

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´'RQ·W'R,Wµ

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72''/(5·V´$IIHFWLYHµ$FWLRQ
Linguistic, and
´6\PEROLFµ
MEANING MAKING

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Alligator Boy

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7KH0HDQLQJRIWKH,QGLYLGXDO·V
Sense-­of-­Self in the World
is
Organized and Contained
in
,QGLYLGXDOV·
STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS

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The meaning in the State of
Consciousness
is expressed
moment-­to-­moment
in the organization of behavior

Consciousness does NOT imply


awareness by the individual of
their sense-­of-­self in the world,
and much it is out of
awareness.

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´%DUHG7RRWKHG*ULQµ

Infant and Mother

The Moment by Moment


Expression of Meaning
for the
Infant and Mother

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??Meaning??

Video

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NEW MEANINGS
for
Infant and Mother
‡ DANGER OR THREAT
‡ SELF-­ORGANIZED WAY TO BE SAFE
‡ NEW WAY OF BEING TOGETHER
‡ NEW WAY OF CHANGING WHAT
HAPPENED
‡ TRUST IN THE PARTNER
‡ NEW FORMS OF MEANING

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IN THE FIRST YEAR OF
LIFE THERE ARE AS
MANY AS
15,536,000 MICRO
SECOND BY SECOND
EXCHANGES
OF AN
ADULT AND THE AWAKE
INFANT
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BIOPSYCHOLOGICAL
MEANINGS
IN STATES OF
CONSCIOUSNESS

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CHOOSE YOUR FAVORITE

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??The Meaning Making
System???

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??Or This Meaning Making
System???

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??Or
´6WUHVVµ5HJXODWLQJ
System

Autonomic Nervous System


Controls levels of arousal
and fight or flight
responses. Both responses
are biologically costly.

Parasympathetic Branch:
Regulates level of arousal.
Measured using Cardiac
measures, such as
Respiratory Sinus
Arrhythmia
and Heart Rate

Sympathetic Branch:
Increases arousal.
Measured in variety of
Ways, including
Skin Conductance
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B O D Y
Autonomic Nervous System
Sensory Systems
Motor Systems
Metabolic Systems
2 Theo DCS

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SYMBOLIC MEANINGS ²
NAMED OBJECT, EVENT

EMOTIONAL MEANINGS &


PROCEDURAL KNOWING ²
FEARFUL/DANGER

BODILY MEANINGS ²
WHOLENESS/SAFETY BODY
Autonomic Nervous System
Sensory Systems
Motor Systems
Metabolic Systems
LEVELS and FLOWS of Meaning Making Systems and Meanings at Each Level

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Simultaneous Recording of the
Behavior and
Physiology of the
Infant and the Mother
Jacob Ham
‡ Behavior
² Microanalytic coding of gaze, affect and
expressive actions
‡ Heart Rate Variability (HRV)
² Use Vagal Tone/respiratory sinus arrythmia
as measure of parasympathetic influence.

‡ Galvanic Skin Response (GSR)


² Clean measure of sympathetic activity

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GSR and Normal Play

GSR normal

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GSR and SF

‡ GSR and SF

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GSR and Reunion

‡ Gsr and reunion

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INFANT MEAN
Infant Mean SCby
GSR Levels LEVELS
Episode BY EPISODE
Gas Pedal

Mean GSR level

Play SF Reunion
F (2,47) = .88
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INFANT MEAN
Infant LN(HRV) RSA BY EPISODE
by Episode
Regulatory Brake

Mean RSA

Play SF Reunion
F (2,47) = 3.19, p<.05

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Two kinds of Infant Gestures
Right Brain Control

Other-­directed ² communicative
gestures (reaching out,
pointing)

Self-­directed gestures ²
actions to self-­regulate
(sucking on fingers)
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Mean proportion time of LQIDQWV· OTHER-­DIRECTED and SELF-­DIRECTED
gestures regardless of body hemiside across the three episodes of the
Still-­Face paradigm (R. Montirosso, Scientific Institute ³E. Medea´ Bosisio Parini,
Lecco, Italy.)

0.30

0.25
Proportion of time

0.20

0.15 Other-directed gestures


Self-directed gestures
0.10

0.05

0.00
Play Still Reunion

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Physiologic Levels
and
Relationships

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High physiologic concordance (A) with corresponding running
moment-­to-­moment concordance score between therapist and
patient. Marci, Ham , et al, J Nerv Ment Dis 2007;;195: 103²111

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Heart Rate Synchrony During Fire Walking: Fig. 1. Heart
Related Spectator and Unrelated Spectator rates of a FIRE-­
WALKER (blue),
related
SPOUSE-­
SPECTATOR
(red),
and
UNRELATED
SPECTATOR
(green).
The red, blue,
and pink lines
mark the
beginning of the
ritual

i.Konvalinkaa, D. Xygalatasa, et al. Synchronized arousal between performers and related


spectators in a fire-­walking ritual.

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Correlations of Infants and Mothers GSR, HR and Vagal Tone In
Face-to-face Still-face Reunion Episode

Mothers¶

GSR HR Vagal

,QIDQWV· GSR .293

Heart .563 -­.337


Rate
Vagal .301
Tone

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Correlation of Infant and Mother
Skin Conductance r =.30

Match MisMatch

Infant

Micro-
Siemens
Mother

6:50 7:00 7:10 7:20 7:30 7:40 sec

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In Sum

A STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS

is made up of the totality of psychobiological


meanings, intentions and purposes of every
component and every level functioning of the
individual from molecules to awareness.

The sense-­of-­self in the world is inherent in the


organization of the state.

Consciousness does NOT imply awareness by


the individual of their sense-­of-­self in the
world, and much it is out of awareness.

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THE FORMS OF BIOPSYCHOLOGICAL MEANINGS
IN
STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS

Physiologic Body Processes


(Visceral, Muscle, Autonomic Processes)

Procedural Ways of Being


(Downing: Body Micro-­practices)

Implicit without Awareness


(Cognitive Neurosciences)

Dynamically out of Awareness


(Freud: The Dynamic Unconscious)

Explicit with Awareness


(Language, Symbols, Abstract)
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STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS

A broad term referring to the many


purposive forms of consciousness,
including
alertness, preconscious, unconscious, dynamic
unconscious, reverie, daydreaming, the multiple
states of sleep,
PHGLWDWLYHDQGRWKHU¶DOWHUHG·VWDWHV
and to the
purposive organization of physiologic, neurologic,
endocrine and all other somatic states.

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Therapy is a process of
changing the states of
consciousness that prevent
growth and development
and an increase in
complexity of the individual

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How do individuals
acquire meanings?

What is the process of meaning


making?

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