Dr. Dan Siegel’s conclusions about the mind support the core theme of this blog: Mind is extended. But Siegel emphasises the importance of human relationships: “Mind is shared between people. It isn’t something you own; we are profoundly interconnected. We need to make maps of we because we is what me is!” (2010).
Siegel is developing a new area of cognitive science called interpersonal neurobiology that’s focused on understanding the mind and mental health. Siegel’s ideas seem to me to be both intuitively true and radical. For example, he claims that “relationships, mind and brain aren’t different domains of reality—they are each about energy and information flow” (2010). That means that our relationships are an integral part of the bodymind.
To some extent this recaps what many others have already said – the mind “cannot be separated from the entire organism” or the “outside environment” (Varela, 1999, authors emphasis), but Siegel develops this understanding and applies it to our mental health.
Although I very much like his emphasis on human relationships, we need to remember the other than human world. What do Siegel’s insights mean for our relationship with animals, forests, mountains and the rest? As Siegel himself says, “‘We’ are indeed a part of an interconnected whole”(2010).