Limbic Resonance

Blogging – more than a ride on the technocycle – blogging, a magic carpet, a woven ride parked at the door opening onto today’s media. And each day, if we can learn one thing… then blogging provides an opening. Blogging is the door. Today’s lesson: limbic resonance… with a nod to one who seems to know

…This ability to feel the feelings of others and to project our own is called limbic resonance. It has particular importance for babies. When babies are born, their brains are only partly grown. Because women’s hips have not kept pace with the increasing size of our brains through evolutionary history, much of the growth of the neocortex—where we reason and speak—takes place after we are born. A baby’s limbic system must resonate with the mother’s for its brain to grow properly. In extreme situations where there is little contact, the brain grows only partially, and will never be healthy.

The resonance between the mother’s and baby’s limbic systems begins in the womb and continues to deepen after birth. Every baby imprints on its mother like it will on no one else. Its limbic system is hungry for resonance. Beyond guaranteeing physical brain growth, the baby’s brain learns its basic emotional expression by tuning to the mother. We feel what our mother feels. If we are fortunate to have a loving mother, we are set for life.

The most confusing thing to a baby’s brain is indifference. Researchers say that the mother who hates her baby sends the clear signal the baby’s brain needs to grow and differentiate. The hated child will have problems the loved child will not, but will be better off than the child treated with indifference….

Our need for limbic resonance never stops. As we grow older, we remain an open system. Our limbic system retains the need for contact. It is our dog brain that makes us fall in love. Resonance continues to change us. Who we love has a lot to do with who we become. Our significant emotional relationships change our brains, our feelings, and perhaps at the edges, our dispositions….

…We can choose to change. Maybe we get angry inappropriately. Maybe we fall in love with the wrong people. What we can do, argues Paul Ekman, is learn to become aware of our emotional triggers more quickly. With application, we can gain in awareness so that our emotions are not making decisions that harm us and foreclosing ones that would benefit us. Interestingly, emotion researchers are coming around to saying that ancient meditative awareness practice is a skilful way to reeducate ourselves emotionally.

Another thing to know, as Lewis, Amini and Lannon point out, is that Freudian talk therapy has no value in itself. We can’t talk our way to happiness. When psychotherapy works it is because love is present. It doesn’t matter what sort of therapy your therapist professes. What cures is a loving connection. If you go into resonance with someone who can give you the emotional cues you may not have had in earlier stages in life, you can learn from the resonance. Good teachers, good therapists, good friends and good lovers all offer a succoring resonance.

We are open systems throughout our lives. That’s what makes life worth living.

Posted in Friends
2 comments on “Limbic Resonance
  1. Jon Husband says:

    “love is present”

    “we are open systems throughout our lives”

    Great lines – I agree that blogging lets us touch those all-important sentiments, in a world where we have become surrounded by non-feeling technologic systems, mental models and mechanisms.

    Essentially the only medium left for us to do that outside of our immediate circles of family and friends.

  2. Nod... says:

    When I came across the concept of limbic resonance it was through a book called “A general theory of love.” Read it, you’ll be glad you did.

    I even named my band after it:




Recent Comments