Interpersonal Neurobiology Humor–“I’m Triggered: Neuroscience”

The video posted below basically poses the question, What if the budding field of interpersonal neurobiology becomes so popular and prescribed that we all start to communicate with each other accordingly?

Thankfully, it’s a question unlikely ever to be taken seriously, at least not in my lifetime.

Donna and Leslie are roommates who trigger each other. Now they have neuroscience terms to help them communicate and resolve their issues. They also have a facebook fan page to boost their self esteem: (from Funny or Die website)

As “special thanks” is given in the closing credits to Dr. Dan Siegel, the jargon explanations should come from him—his material, that is. A psychiatrist and educator, Siegel’s 1999 The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are is fundamental to the field of interpersonal neurobiology. An updated second edition came out last year. (He’s also written much more of relevance.)

Implicit memory is the first layering of memory, explicit the second. What does this mean? Well, you can either read something heady by Siegel, such as an article titled “An Interpersonal Neurobiology Approach to Psychotherapy: Awareness, Mirror Neurons, and Neural Plasticity in the Development of Well-Being” or, thanks to Kendra Cherry (, you can have it whittled down to this: “Information that you have to consciously work to remember is known as explicit memory, while information that you remember unconsciously and effortlessly is known as implicit memory.”

Fight flight or freeze. “The fight, flight, or freeze response is how the body responds to perceived threats. It is involuntary and involves a number of physiological changes that help someone prepare to…” do one of these three things. “Some people also include a fourth option, fawn or appease, in this response. Fawning involves trying to please the person who represents a threat in an effort to prevent harm” (Medical News Today).

Accessing my prefrontal cortex. In Siegel’s article (see above) he explains (in more detail than I’m going to) that parts of the middle prefrontal cortex of the brain “are crucial for generating nine aspects of life”:

  1. Body regulation
  2. Attuned communication
  3. Emotional balance
  4. Response flexibility
  5. Empathy
  6. Insight
  7. Fear extinction
  8. Intuition
  9. Morality

Automaticity is in MacMillan as “the ability to perform tasks automatically.”

Hub. Siegel’s Wheel of Awareness is a metaphor using a bicycle wheel, in which the hub represents mindful awareness—comprised of openness, clarity, curiosity, and calm.

Open plane of possibility is explained by Michael Perkola:

Energy is described (in scientific terms) as degrees of probability. If matter is energy, then the whole universe is really the manifestation of possibilities. Siegel uses a model called ‘The Plane of Possibility.’ From the open plane of possibility, something moves from >0% probability to 100%  probability or a peak of manifestation. From there, a precedent has been set and a plane of probability has been established. For example, if someone first brings up politics at a dinner party, there is a high level of probability that further topics will be connected to politics.

Developing new linkages in the brain. From Siegel’s website:

Integration is at the heart of both interpersonal neurobiology and Dr. Siegel’s mindsight approach. Defined as the linkage of differentiated components of a system, integration is viewed as the core mechanism in the cultivation of well-being. In an individual’s mind, integration involves the linkage of separate aspects of mental processes to each other, such as thought with feeling, bodily sensation with logic. In a relationship, integration entails each person’s being respected for his or her autonomy and differentiated self while at the same time being linked to others in empathic communication.

Integration. Again, Siegel’s site gives us the needed info:

For the brain, integration means that separated areas with their unique functions, in the skull and throughout the body, become linked to each other through synaptic connections. These integrated linkages enable more intricate functions to emerge—such as insight, empathy, intuition, and morality. A result of integration is kindness, resilience, and health. Terms for these three forms of integration are a coherent mind, empathic relationships, and an integrated brain.

River of balanced consciousness. Excerpted from the Siegel video below: “These two banks, if you will, outside of a river, of rigidity on the one hand, and chaos on the other, help us know when something is missing. And that something is called integration. And when we’re integrated, when we link different parts of our internal world and our relationships, we’re in the flow of a river that has the sense of harmony, it’s flexible, it’s adaptive, it has a coherence to it that holds together, and that’s energized and stable.”

Well, that definitely does it for me. “Achieve a cold state?” “Be in a faceless flow with you?” For those and more, you’re now on your own—something about my synapses stopping doing that thing they’re supposed to do.

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One thought on “Interpersonal Neurobiology Humor–“I’m Triggered: Neuroscience”

  1. Dear Ros, Thank you so much for posting our video! Allow me to clear up those last 2 phrases. We actually said: “achieve a COAL state” and “be in a FACES flow.” COAL is an acronym for curiosity, openness, acceptance, and love. FACES is short for flexible, adaptive, coherent, energized and stable. If you’re so inclined, join us on facebook! for more healthy discussions! Yours in integration, Donna and Leslie

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