Watch this video for a brief introduction of this week's topic presented by neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Siegel!
I have provided a link to a more in-depth look at IPND in the "Sources/Additional Resources" section of this post.
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Welcome back to the blog! In this post, I will be analyzing the mind, brain, and relationships triad, one of the fundamental components of interpersonal neurobiology (IPNB).
Note: This post follows the first chapter of Dr. Daniel Siegel's book, The Developing Mind. Use Amazon Affiliate link to purchase this book (provided below)!
Human beings are social creatures. In fact, we rely on social interaction for survival. From birth, we depend on others and learn everything from mirroring everything in front of us. Our earliest interactions with parents, caregivers, and educators predict how we will turn out.
Our relationships grow both our brains and our minds. There is no need to distinguish between the two because they are fiercely connected. The connection between relationships, the brain, and the mind are fundamental to our lifelong development, and is a founding component of a field of study known as interpersonal neurobiology, or IPNB. As you will read about further in this post, IPNB and this triad of connections can be related to almost any area of science, from linguistics to psychology to physics.
One problem all experts within IPNB struggle with is defining the mind. To them, the mind is elusive. It is not physically visible, but it is an element of the human consciousness and being that sets us apart from any other species.
Defining the Mind
Defining the mind scientifically seems like a challenging feat. Although the mind is often referred to in the field of psychology in terms of consciousness and unconsciousness, it also seems to have a deeper spiritual meaning that goes beyond the field of science.
Also, like the brain, each person’s mind is unique to them, so it becomes even more difficult to define something that is different for each individual. Before I provide Dan Siegel’s definition, I would like to say his definition stems from his field of neurobiology, and may differ from your interpretation.
*Let me know how you would define the mind in the comments!*
Dr. Dan Siegel defines “the mind” as “an embodied and relational process that regulates the flow of energy and information.” Wait, what?
Yeah, I didn’t understand it the first time I read it either. So, let me reword his definition a little differently. . .
The mind is a process or a system that takes in outside information and energy — often through social interaction— processes it, and integrates that information into the brain; the mind functions on relationships.
Most importantly, the role of the mind in the mind, body, and relationships triad is to regulate the flow of incoming information from social interactions. As I will discuss in the next section, relationships and the brain shape the mind and vice versa.
What is Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB)?
Daniel Siegel defines interpersonal neurobiology (IPNB) as a broad field drawing on the findings from a wide range of disciplines that explore human nature. The goal of IPNB is to create understanding of interconnections among the brain, mind, and interpersonal relationships.
IPNB highlights the importance of relationships to overall brain development. The brain and mind are dependent on relationships to shape appropriate behavior, develop language, and learn new things. That being said, some subfields of IPNB focus on the different forms of attachment and how attachment influences brain and emotional development.
As Dan Siegel states in his presentation “The Neurological Basis of Behavior, the Mind, the Brain, and Human Relationships,” the outcome of relationships changes the way the mind works.
That being said, there are three fundamental principles of IPNB:
1. the definition of the human mind as stated previously.
However, this principle reiterates that the embodied and relational process consists of the flow of energy and information both within the brain and between brains; the mind controls two main systems of information flow.
2. The mind is a process that emerges from both the nervous system and from communication that occurs within relationships.
Meghan Hesterman (she/her) is a child advocate and education blogger. While a student at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), she created Journal of a Future Teacher to share her journey in becoming an early childhood teacher.