Victoria NeuroNotes

Into the Gray

Words Can Literally Change Your Brain & Perception Of Reality

120 Comments

In 2011, on New Year’s Eve, I started thinking about all the years I spent in church listening to preachers talk dirt about humanity. I recalled the years I had a negative self-image. I knew why. Indoctrination began at a critical stage of brain development. There was continuous reinforcement in church, and from the Bible; there was no good thing in any of us—that our righteousness was as filthy rags.

The word “filthy” in Hebrew translates to “the bodily fluids from a woman’s menstrual blood”. Therefore, in the eye’s of the Biblical god, any prosocial behavior was as repugnant as a soiled feminine hygiene product. If you’re a woman, you are reminded where your place is in the patriarchal hierarchy. I heard over and over, and year after year, that humans were defective by nature, corrupt, evil and unworthy. Getting “saved” doesn’t change the internal dialog.

An excerpt from a video series by an ex-Christian:

“If an idea can’t stand on its own truthfulness, it has to find another way to survive. And often the way that happens is by the gradual, unintentional, or intentional refinement of the hijacking of our emotional architecture. Possibly the most effective, most powerful way a belief could do this would be to devalue or eliminate all other sources of self-affirmation— which Christianity does with devastating efficacy—so that there is no hope, or beauty, or meaning, and more importantly, no integrity of the self without it. Christianity alters your identity to ensure the survival of itself.

If a belief can do this to you, you will have almost no chance of being able to critically evaluate its truthfulness.”

Imagine what this does to the brains of the most vulnerable—children.

 

After my deconversion, I spent the next several years rebuilding my self-esteem. I researched for hours, days and years to understand human behavior, and the causes of both prosocial and anti-social behavior. I have no doubt that authoritarian religion, such as Christianity, especially evangelical, has played a huge role in negatively impacting the psyche of humanity.

Neurological studies using fMRI scans show positive words can alter the expression of genes, strengthening areas in our frontal lobes and promoting the brain’s cognitive functioning. They propel the motivational centers of the brain into action.

However, the scans also revealed that a single negative word can increase the activity in our amygdala (the fear center of the brain), releasing dozens of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters, which in turn interrupts our brains’ functioning. Fear-provoking words significantly influenced the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.

1 Peter 5:8 –“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”

Ezekiel 22:17-22 — “Because you have all become dross, I will gather you into Jerusalem. As silver, copper, iron, lead and tin are gathered into a furnace to be melted with a fiery blast, so will I gather you in my anger and my wrath and put you inside the city and melt you. I will gather you and I will blow on you with my fiery wrath, and you will be melted inside her. As silver is melted in a furnace, so you will be melted inside her, and you will know that I the Lord have poured out my wrath on you.”

 

Words create visuals and researchers discovered that even if these fearful thoughts are not real, parts of our brain (like the thalamus and amygdala) can react to negative fantasies as though they were actual threats occurring in the outside world.

Revelations 20

However:

“By holding a positive and optimistic [word] in your mind, you stimulate frontal lobe activity. This area includes specific language centers that connect directly to the motor cortex responsible for moving you into action. And as our research has shown, the longer you concentrate on positive words, the more you begin to affect other areas of the brain. Functions in the parietal lobe start to change, which changes your perception of yourself and the people you interact with.

A positive view of yourself will bias you toward seeing the good in others, whereas a negative self-image will include you toward suspicion and doubt. Over time the structure of your thalamus will also change in response to your conscious words, thoughts, and feelings, and we believe that the thalamic changes affect the way in which you perceive reality.”

The researchers emphasized that negative language partially shuts down the logic-and-reasoning centers located in the frontal lobes. Remember the quote from the ex-Christian ?

“If a belief can do this to you, you will have almost no chance of being able to critically evaluate its truthfulness.”

This knowledge about how words impact the brain, especially the frontal lobes, helps me to understand why it’s so difficult for believers in the Christian God (Yahweh/Jesus) to critically assess their belief system and their holy book, the Bible.

On that particular New Year’s Eve, back in 2011, a rush of endorphins coursed through my body while thinking about how far I’d come since I deconverted, and how my perception of myself and humanity had significantly changed. The peace within was genuine. The rest of that evening was spent searching for some of my favorite humanism quotes to post in a video. I published the video at the stroke of midnight.

 

What are some of your favorite humanism quotes.

 


 

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Author: NeuroNotes

Victoria predominately blogs about religion, and the brain's role in religious type experiences.

120 thoughts on “Words Can Literally Change Your Brain & Perception Of Reality

  1. I found the Einstein quote interesting. Maybe that’s why ‘peacekeeping forces’ don’t work?

    And while your post is about the effect of words from a scientific perspective, no one should ever underestimate the power of words. It saddens me when people misuse them to create false images.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Victoria, This is the best post I’ve read from you so far. What powerful videos!

    Liked by 1 person

      • I feel inadequate to express how very moving the videos were and what a contrast they were to each other. I have been conscious that I need to re-program my brain but am not sure how exactly to go about doing it. My husband is not deconverting but he IS doing biofeedback therapy for personal issues. He’s explaining the process to me and it’s fascinating!

        He gets to see his brain wave patterns as he talks about various issues. Apparently he found out the right and left hemispheres of his brain are in MAJOR conflict (much higher than his therapist usually sees). When he told me this it reminded me of that fascinating study about that man with one hemisphere of his brain being a theist and the other an atheist. I’m realizing I probably have a lot of conflict between the two as well and it’s exhausting!

        I am really enjoying my newfound freedom of getting rid of dogma and allowing all options out there on the table. I’m especially enjoying listening to non-Christian music without guilt. I’m realizing that even though there is no “good” or “bad” music I’m also realizing more and more that what we take in through our five senses and what we dwell on really does affect us. That is something I learned as Christian but it was always from a standpoint of “right” and “wrong.” Now it’s a matter of questioning what positive for my brain to focus on and what isn’t? It’s a learning process and I feel it’s a very slow one. It’s been frustrating.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Quixie, I really appreciate this heart-felt comment. I think so many of us who invested our love and devotion in the myth have had similar experiences. Your neurotransmitters/hormones get all out of wack. Your brain waves slow down, and then there’s the reprogramming which can take years, and in the meantime you are susceptible to triggers, and default thinking.

          “I’m also realizing more and more that what we take in through our five senses and what we dwell on really does affect us. “

          Indeed. As a human rights activist, I am exposed to some rather heart wrenching information, usually on a daily basis, and it can be difficult sometimes to not allow that to impact me physically, such as the release of stress hormones. However, I do feel an obligation as a citizen on this planet to do my part in helping to make this world a better place for future generations. That can come with side-effects. So it’s important to find balance, and nurture yourself.

          You wrote:

          “I am really enjoying my newfound freedom of getting rid of dogma and allowing all options out there on the table. I’m especially enjoying listening to non-Christian music without guilt.

          Hear, hear.

          Liked by 1 person

          • The idea that it’s going to take YEARS is sometimes really encouraging (Quixie, you can be patient with yourself!) and sometimes disheartening (“Holy” crap, this is hard!)

            Liked by 1 person

            • It is hard work, but well worth it. When I look back at what I went through, alone, I am awed by my courage, strength and tenacity. Yeah, I’m boasting on myself, and that’s OK. I didn’t know about any online support groups while going through deconversion, and I think that it would have expedited the process had I found support during that period. I really started questioning in the late 90’s.

              I certainly didn’t have any offline support, but I did have a lot of opposition. Imagine being the only nonbeliever you know. That will sure mess with your head — meaning — you start to question yourself. But, I had to follow my conscience, and I couldn’t, in good conscience, follow Christianity, primarily due to its association with the biblical god and bible.

              Once I dipped my toe in the waters of critical thinking, there was no turning back.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Words, like thoughts, are like boomerangs.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. “I know of no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too desirous of evidence in support of their core beliefs.”
    ― Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Great post! Look forward to reading people’s quotes.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I like Johns quote above.

    I agree with your post, although I’d never thought of it purely from a words angle before.

    Loved reading this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks GC. I find it interesting that the ancients, and even famous philosophers thought the brain was of little value. For example, the brains were discarded during mummification process, and Aristotle believed the heart, rather than the bran, was the organ of perception and cognition.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. “We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane.”
    -Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

    “Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. The grave will supply plenty of time for silence.”
    -Christopher Hitchens

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Hi Victoria, that was a lovely video you created. I was interested to see Anne Sullivan quoted. Is that the same person who is usually associated with Helen Keller? I was wondering that because Neil Anderson uses here as one of the stories in his Christian book Victory over Darkness. If you don’t mind I will include a quote from Neil’s book as the story is a wonderful one regardless of your faith perspective:

    The Story of Anne Sullivan

    At the start of the twentieth century there was an asylum in the suburbs of Boston which dealt with severely mentally retarded and disturbed individuals. One of the patients was a girl simply called Little Annie. She was totally unresponsive to others in the asylum. The staff tried everything they could to help her; yet without success. Finally she was confined to a cell in the basement of the asylum and given up as hopeless.

    But a beautiful Christian woman worked at the asylum, and she believed that every one of God’s creatures needed love, concern and care. So she decided to spend her lunch hours in front of Little Annie’s cell, reading to her and praying that God would free her from her prison of silence. Day after day the Christian woman came to Little Annie’s door and read, but the little girl made no response. Months went by. The woman tried to talk with Little Annie, but it was like talking to an empty cell. She brought little tokens of food for the girl, but they were never received.

    Then one day a brownie was missing from the plate which the caring woman retrieved from Little Annie’s cell. Encouraged she continued to read for her and to pray for her. Eventually the little girl began to answer the woman through the bars of the cell. Soon the woman convinced the doctors that Little Annie needed a second chance at treatment. They brought her up from the basement and continued to treat her. Within two years Little Annie was told she could leave the Asylum and enjoy a normal life.

    But she chose not leave. She was so grateful for the love and attention she was given by the dedicated Christian woman that she decided to stay and love others as she had been loved. So Little Annie stayed on at the institution to work with other patients who were suffering as she had suffered.

    Nearly half a century later, the Queen of England held a special ceremony to honour one of America’s most inspiring women, Helen Keller. When asked to what she would attribute her success at overcoming the dual handicap of blindness and deafness, Helen Keller replied, “If it hadn’t been for Anne Sullivan, I wouldn’t be here today.”

    Ann Sullivan, who tenaciously loved and believed in an incorrigible blind and death girl named Helen Keller, was Little Annie. Because of one selfless Christian woman in the dungeon of an insane asylum believed that a hopeless little girl needed God’s love, the world received the marvellous gift of Helen Keller.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A lovely story, Peter. Yes, that was the same Ann Sullivan, written with a spin. I’m not sure if you were aware of the letter that Anne wrote to Helen when she became an adult.

      “Date: 1917
      To: Helen Keller
      From: Anne S. Macy in Puerto Rico

      It pains me deeply, Helen, not to be able to believe as you do. It hurts not to share the religious part of your life. To me, as you well know, this life is the important thing. What we do Now and Here matters much because our acts affect other human beings.

      “I am fond of the Bible as poetry. I find beauty and delight in it, but I do not believe that it was any more inspired by God than all fine writing is,—inspired.”

      “The idea of living forever in some place called Heaven does not appeal to me. I am content that death should be final, except as we live in the memory of others.”

      http://www.afb.org/annesullivan/religion.asp

      Helen Keller was a follower of a Christian named Emanuel Swedenborg and member of the “The New Church”.

      Quote from Wiki: “The movement was founded on the belief that God explained the spiritual meaning of the Scriptures to Swedenborg as a means of revealing the truth of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Swedenborg claimed divine inspiration for his writings and followers believe that Swedenborg witnessed the Last Judgment in the spiritual world, along with the inauguration of the New Church.

      At age 53, he entered into a spiritual phase in which he began to experience dreams and visions, beginning on Easter weekend of 6 April 1744. In 1743, Swedenborg was dining in a private room at a tavern in London. By the end of the meal, a darkness fell upon his eyes, and the room shifted character. Suddenly he saw a person sitting at a corner of the room, telling Swedenborg: “Do not eat too much!”. Swedenborg, scared, hurried home.

      Later that night, the same man appeared in his dreams. The man told Swedenborg that He was the Lord, that He had appointed Swedenborg to reveal the spiritual meaning of the Bible, and that He would guide Swedenborg in what to write. According to The Heavenly Doctrine the Lord had opened Swedenborg’s spiritual eyes, so that from then on he could freely visit heaven and hell and talk with angels, demons and other spirits;”

      __________________________________________________________________________________

      Swedenborg also stated that he conversed with spirits from Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Saturn, Venus, and the Moon, as well as spirits from planets beyond our solar system.

      So, basically, she was following a guy who had hallucination visions about being chosen to “rightly” interpret scriptures and the second coming of Jesus. Not much different than Joseph Smith, St. Paul, and others who believed they had “the truth”. Nevertheless, Helen Keller did some wonderful humanitarian deeds, as did Anne Sullivan.

      Thanks for sharing and for your comment about the video.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Why is it relevant though that she was Christian? It seems to me that the key to Little Annie’s recovery is not so much the prayer and the reading but that Little Annie actually had someone that cared for her and spent time with her on a daily basis. Something this girl never had before and who had clearly been neglected. Through the love of another human was she healed. Not God’s love. Someone who was Hindu, muslim, or atheist who spent time with her in such a way would have an equal chance of healing Little Annie, and Annie may have still decided to stay and help others as she had been helped. Unless dedication, love and compassion are unique to Christians it seems dishonest to simply look at the events as they played out in hindsight and attribute it to Christianity. We could just as easily say, because of one selfless, compassionate woman who spent time with a little girl we had the marvelous gift of Helen Keller.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hi Swarm, it was relevant only because it suited the agenda of the author of the book, Neil Anderson. It was in essence a Christian self help book and the next paragraph went onto ask how can all Christians live with this sort of practical love. It then taught psychology dressed up as Christianity, that one must accept who we are in Christ, etc.

        When I was still a Christian the thing I really struggled with was the good non-Christian. I struggled with it because the Bible told me this was not possible. In the Psalms we are told that all of the acts of the person who denies God are vile. But my observation suggested this just was not the case.

        This is why I take particular exception to the Christian apologist rubbish suggesting non Christians could not be moral people.

        Liked by 2 people

        • “In the Psalms we are told that all of the acts of the person who denies God are vile. But my observation suggested this just was not the case.”

          Peter, that was preached in the pulpit a lot when I was in church. I had such a distorted view of atheists, that I can recall the first time I encounter several on a forum after my deconversion, and their behavior came no where close to what I’d been fed all those years. I mean, here I was a nonbeliever (agnostic at the time), and I still had a hard time wrapping my brain around nonbelievers being ethical, yet I became more ethical after leaving Christianity.

          Like

        • I agree with you. I had a similar reaction when my mom tried to convince me that Christianity was the way. Since I’m half Indian I have a bunch of family that are Sikh. They were also good people and I could not accept that good people should be punished in the afterlife simply because they were born in another country and had a different religion.

          Like

  9. Terrific post and wonderful videos.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great post. I was surprised how losing my faith made me love humanity, with all our faults, far greater than I ever loved humans as a Christian. Christians always think that sounds ridiculous. But really, it makes perfect sense 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Absolutely! I am, unequivocally, a better person since leaving Christianity. Quote:

      ” Atheists and agnostics are more driven by compassion to help others than are highly religious people, a new study finds. That doesn’t mean highly religious people don’t give, according to the research to be published in the July 2012 issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. But compassion seems to drive religious people’s charitable feelings less than in other groups.” http://www.livescience.com/20005-atheists-motivated-compassion.html

      And thank you. So glad you dropped by. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This is just a great post and I’m just going to reblog it because I don’t know what else to say. 🙂

    Here is my quote contribution. 🙂

    “We have a choice. We have two options as human beings. We have a choice between conversation and war. That’s it. Conversation and violence. And faith is a conversation stopper.”
    ― Sam Harris

    Liked by 2 people

    • You mean I rendered you speechless? Say it isn’t so. 😀 Swarn, you rock.

      That’s another powerful quote. I know there are believers who are against war and violence — but not because they are believers. One does not need faith to have empathy and compassion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha….it was. Your writing has been like an arrow right in the center of the target lately. 🙂 And I agree that there are plenty of religious people who are peaceful, but I thought the idea that faith isn’t something that encourages conversation, and that’s when the trouble can begin.

        Here is another quote I like: ““Faith in God means believing absolutely in something with no proof whatsoever. Faith in humanity means believing absolutely in something with a huge amount of proof to the contrary. We are the true believers.”
        ― Joss Whedon

        Liked by 1 person

        • “but I thought the idea that faith isn’t something that encourages conversation, and that’s when the trouble can begin.”

          Interesting that you should say that because I’ve always heard (and been told) that there are two things that should never be brought up in conversation around the table — religion and politics. Yet, both have wreaked havoc on humanity and the planet.

          That’s an excellent quote by Whedon.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yeah I’ve heard that too, but I always found Douglas Adams words in that speech transcript I may have linked to you that the idea that people’s beliefs are sacred and we must not attack them is a way in which some ideas remain unchallenged. While politics can be divisive, nobody would think you were wrong for attack a political idea, but for religious beliefs it’s a different story. People would think you were unkind if you were criticizing people’s beliefs and so faith in society I think is much more of a conversation killer. 🙂

            Like

            • I agree. It also appears to be the case among mental health professionals. In the British Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Psychotherapies, Psychologist Marlene Winell writes:

              “The institutions of religion in our culture are still given a privileged place in many ways. Criticism is very difficult. Religion can and does cause great personal suffering, fractured families, and social breakdown. There are many individuals needing and deserving recognition and treatment from informed professionals. We need to let go of making religion a special case in which criticism is taboo. It is our ethical responsibility to be aware and our human obligation to be compassionate.”

              Like

          • I’m a bit high, so sorry for the run on sentence! lol

            Like

      • Well the quote is a bit glib, I thought John Zande would also appreciate it. lol

        Liked by 1 person

    • Btw, I want to thank you for your generous donation to Michael and his wife, to help them save their home, and for linking his post on your FB feed.

      I reiterate: you rock!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Reblogged this on Cloak Unfurled and commented:
    An excellent post by a friend about how words can have very real impacts on our thoughts and the development of our brain.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Here’s a quote on words I found interesting. “I likes words. Day gives me da means ta say da tings I wants ta say, ‘n day sometimes makes me seem smart e’en when I ain’t.” Ken Ham to his pet squirrel, circa 1970

    Liked by 1 person

  14. He’s an idjit. A class A idjit.

    Like

  15. Ken Ham has frontal lobes? Ya learn somethin’ every day. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
    -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
    “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.”
    -Susan B. Anthony

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Linden, two greats. Thank you for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you ❤️ And great and informative post as always 😎😊

        Liked by 1 person

        • I appreciate your feedback. 🙂

          We’re both appreciative that the cat 3 hurricane fizzled out, eh? Don’t let your guard down just yet. Now we’ve got Erika to contend with. Still too early to forecast, but it’s not exactly looking good for the East Coast.

          https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/files/2015/08/aal98_2015082412_track_early.png&w=1484

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yeah that was giving me a bit of a headache thinking of Danny headed our way- but this is the first I heard of a potential hurricane Erika 😓😣 yikes! But I always give myself fake comfort when I say in my head “charleston sticks it’s butt out there and protects us a little further north and our land knows better so it curves inland- and then there’s Wilmington further north to stop the momentum and take the brunt of the storm so MB shall be safe and sound” Man I’m in denial lol- no worries- I do have hurricane boards. And I’ve seen some Texas thunderstorms I lived through were scarier than even tropical storms I’ve seen since I’ve been here 😳 I say scary but I chase storms- I’m one of those lol…not like the ones on TV- but still crazy enough to make people be like WTF is she still doing outside right now lol

            Liked by 1 person

            • Well, I’m a weather junkie, too. I remember one comment my daughter said — “Mom, you’re the only person I know who could watch the Weather channel all day and never get bored.” 😀

              Although I’ve been in several hurricanes, I experienced the eye of a hurricane. Been hooked ever since. The last hurricane I was in, I insisted that holes be drilled in the boards that cover the windows, so I could watch. 😛

              Liked by 1 person

              • Weather junkie I like that!! 😄😎 and I love the weather channel too. That is so neat you got to be in the eye!! I’m jealous!!! Did you get your daughter to at least appreciate a good thunderstorm?! Lol- I have my 4 year old already loving it where most kids freak out she’s fascinated just like momma ❤️ I would say my youngest who is now starting to talk (15 months old) will be just the same- as she climbs dives and jumps on everything and in everything and laughs when she falls down- so I hope that fearlessness remains in realms that are beneficial 😉

                Like

                • Well, my daughter has experienced plenty of thunderstorms. Living on the Gulf Coast, it’s quite normal to get an afternoon thunderstorm, almost daily. At the time I experienced that eye, my daughter was 18 months old. My step-dad was working for Stennis Space Center so that is where we evacuated, and camped out in the halls of one of the technology buildings. They were on generators, so at least we had air conditioning and electricity. So, when the eye passed over, some of us went outside. It was so damn cool – quite surreal to see the stars in the middle of the eye wall, which was swirling around. No words to really describe the experience.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Imagery you described sounds amazing! I could imagine that and that would be a surreal image to take in! That’s definitely one of those once in a lifetime things and that’s awesome you got to experience it 😎

                    Like

  17. I love this video Victoria and the quotes and images are very inspiring. You are inspiring! 😀

    If only more people would realize how words can either break you or build you and that their beliefs can do the same, they would think twice before saying or pushing down their beliefs on others. Our brains and words are so powerful and yet most use it to hurt others more than encouraging them. Thanks for sharing sweetness. 😀 ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey there Sonel *jumps up and down* 😀

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Made me smile. I agree, I don’t think people realize how words can either make us or break us, but you know what? Children know all too well, and yet they have no voice. I was just in the middle of looking for one of my favorite quotes by Neil deGrasse Tyson, and found it right when you commented. Now if I was the superstitous type, I’d say you were my lucky charm. *grins* ❤ I will post it here in your honor.

      ______________________________________________

      "The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation.

      For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you."

      — Neil deGrasse Tyson

      Liked by 2 people

  18. Quote of the day, “Ken Ham has frontal lobes?” Oh, my Jeff – you take the cake. I’ll be laughing about that the rest of the day.

    Victoria, that first violent video (juxtaposed against the innocence of the baby) was in complete contrast to the one you made, therefore the effect is far more startling. So peaceful, in comparison. A message worth sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  19. “Possibly the most effective, most powerful way a belief could do this would be to devalue or eliminate all other sources of self-affirmation— which Christianity does with devastating efficacy—so that there is no hope, or beauty, or meaning, and more importantly, no integrity of the self without it. Christianity alters your identity to ensure the survival of itself.”

    Maybe this is one of those “when you have a hammer everything is a nail” kind of things, but that is the same thing a narcissist does to their victim – isolates them and then sucks the life out of them to build up their own.

    Great post! I started watching the video, but I now have to stop and go read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to my kids. That has been a blast reading that to them!

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Awesome post! I learned a few new things about the brain here.

    I’ll check out the videos later when I have more time.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. “Raising curious, compassionate, strong, and loving children—teaching them to love others and helping them to see the beauty of humanity—that is the most meaningful and joyful responsibility we have.” – Joel Legawiec

    Like

  22. “Play hard, work hard, love hard. . . .The bottom line for me is to live life to the fullest in the here-and-now instead of a hoped-for hereafter, and make every day count in some meaningful way and do something—no matter how small it is—to make the world a better place.” – Michael Shermer

    Like

  23. You’re getting really good. Thanks for the insight, time, wisdom. Great comments too!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. ”I’m the one that has to die when it’s time for me to die, so let me live my life, the way I want to.”
    Jimi Hendrix

    Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/jimi_hendrix.html#M1Y6I8gERbUWpQll.99

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Reblogged this on Tiffany's Non-Blog and commented:
    Wow. Here are some powerful thoughts about the misanthropy (and corresponding self-loathing!) of religion, spoken from the perspective of someone who got away from religion to reason and science.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. The THIRD article today that I’ve read on the power of words. Yours was the first to address their impact on our own self-perception and feelings. Powerful stuff, Victoria. You continue to amaze and inspire me. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  27. “Words Can Literally Change Your Brain & Perception Of Reality” – no kidding. Isn’t this what Scripture teaches.

    If getting saved didn’t change your internal dialogue then you were into religion and not into Christ.

    Words affect matter, emotions.

    1. Everyone knows the difference between a blessing and a curse. A blessing is positive, a curse is negative. From Deut. The Father Himself tells us: I have set before you blessing and curse, life and death, [and if anyone doesn’t know what to choose, here let Me tell you] choose Life that you and your descendants may live.

    What are these blessings and curses – they are the very words that we speak into our lives, into our futures, over others etc.

    2. “My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh.” (Prov. 4:20-22)

    3. A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. (Prov. 18:20-21)

    Identity
    For those who are in Christ, the old identity is gone and our new identity is found in Him alone, and o what a glorious identity we have in Him. With His name comes real power and authority and He has given us the power of attorney to use His name.

    When one truly knows who they are, they will not be fooled into trying to become what they already are.

    Fear
    “Fear is bondage. Fear can steal, kill and bring destruction to our lives. An abundant life is impossible when fear is allowed to dominate some area of our lives.”

    There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear hath torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love. (1 Jn. 4:18)

    Conclusion:
    “By holding a positive and optimistic [word] in your mind…. we believe that the thalamic changes affect the way in which you perceive reality.”

    As Paul says: Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy.

    Like

      • LOL. Who switched off YOUR brain. Cognitive dissonance in deed.

        Like

        • I was giving you the benefit of the doubt. 😉

          Now tell me whose neural circuity has been deactivated in the frontal lobes?

          Yes, that’s a rhetorical question.

          Liked by 1 person

        • It is severe denial of reality and a true demonstration of cognitive dissonance to not accept the Truth of The One True God: Allah. From the Koran: 3:85: “And whoever seeks a religion other than Islâm, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.”
          The blasphemy that flies from the deluded, hallucinating minds and mouths of the arrogant christians is a stain on the Goodness that is Allah. Each lie they spray from their venom-filled mouths will have to be answered for come the day of judgement. Christians will stand before God and beg for a mercy that He will not grant them. From The Koran: 5:73: “Surely, disbelievers are those who said: “Allâh is the third of the three (in a Trinity).” But there is no god but Allâh. And if they cease not from what they say, verily, a painful torment will befall the disbelievers among them.”
          Allahu Akbar

          Like

    • Read these words, oh pro-claimer of lies and blasphemous words: “The God will say: ‘Jesus, son of Mary, did you ever say to mankind ‘Worship me and my mother as gods besides God?’ ‘Glory to You, ‘he will answer, ‘how could I ever say that to which I have no right?” (Surah 5:114-) There is no Truth but Allah. No Prophet but Mohammad. No reality but the words of The Koran. To espouse otherwise is to blaspheme and deny God’s love. To preach of Jesus as god is to invoke Allah’s wrath, not His love, for you insult Him and His True Words by doing this. How dare you speak of God’s love when His Words have so clearly never entered your mind. Awake! Feel the undying love of Allah! Accept His Truth! Or suffer for the lies reeking from your tongue like stench from moldering garbage! Allahu Akbar

      Like

    • ““Words Can Literally Change Your Brain & Perception Of Reality” – no kidding. Isn’t this what Scripture teaches”

      No, it isn’t what scripture teaches.
      Scripture teaches you to be dreadfully fearful of and to forcefully love an omniscient, omnipotent apparently omnibenevolent being or else you’re really, REALLY gonna regret it. Now or later or both.
      There’s only one person who’s switched off their brain and it isn’t Victoria.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Must be. Ever speak to a True Muslim about St. Paul. Oh boy, Mr. Paul sure ain’t a saint in their eyes. Doncha just LOVE religion?

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I’ve been coming back to this post on occasion. I know you talk about words with negative connotations, but can any words or phrases be conditioned to operate as such? The main reason I ask is because certain phrases and Bible verses end up working me up.

    Late last week I went with my dad to help install networking cable for their church, the same church I used to go to. That church operates a school, so the walls are plastered with cutesy Bible verses of sheep, love, and other common quotes. The focus also is (naturally) on children. Running into those verses, I felt like I was encountering hostile people. I’m fairly certain I was having a slight panic attack.

    It sucks because I think I make progress, and then this stuff happens. At any rate, this post is a great one. I’m sorry I didn’t comment on it earlier.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “but can any words or phrases be conditioned to operate as such?”

      You also wrote:

      “The focus also is (naturally) on children.”

      Absolutely, Sirius. Those words, which seem positive, actually have a negative connotation when you look at the bigger picture. Such words and phrases manipulate children’s emotions (releasing neurohormones associated with attachment) at a time when critical brain development takes place, and before their frontal lobes are fully developed. You know, sooner or later, they will be informed that they are unworthy, and corrupt, and will be sent to a hell, made by a “loving” god, if they don’t do such and such. My reaction, when I see words like that, aimed at children, is utter disgust and nausea. It’s very understandable why you felt a panic attack coming on.

      Glad you stopped by.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Hi, Victoria, I really appreciate your blog! Later on I’m going to reblog some of your posts. You’re already on my list of bloggers I follow and whose blog posts I reblog now and then.

    BTW, I hope you’ll find this article helpful and interesting: https://www.uclouvain.be/en-274207.html .

    A quote from that paper:

    According to many theoretical perspectives, religion is positively associated with submission and conformity. However, no study to date provided experimental evidence for this hypothesis. We did so in three experiments that relied on priming procedures.
    In Experiment 1, participants were tested for the strength of their religion-submission associations by using a lexical decision task. In Experiment 2, participants were primed with either religious or neutral concepts and were invited or not by the experimenter to take revenge on an individual who had allegedly criticized them. Both studies provided evidence for the expected religion-submission association, although the effects were limited to participants scoring high in personal submissiveness. Among these individuals, religious priming increased the accessibility of submission-related concepts (Exp. 1) and the acceptance of a morally problematic request for revenge (Exp. 2). Discussion focuses on questions for future research and implications for our understanding of religion’s role in morality and interpersonal relations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey BB, sorry for the delay in response. I wanted to read the studies you shared before replying. Here’s what really stood out to me in the first one:

      ______________________________________________________________

      “Yet, on the basis of the findings obtained in Experiment 1, we may predict the latter effect to be observed for individuals scoring high on submissiveness, that is, for participants who are more likely to hold religion-submission associations in long-term memory. Complementary analyses provided evidence consistent with this prediction: Participants scoring above the midpoint of the submissiveness scale (54% of participants) showed significantly more revenge when the request for revenge was preceded by a religious than by a neutral prime.

      In sum, this experiment shows that, whereas exposure to religious concepts makes people nicer in the absence of negative social influence, and this in dependently of personal submissiveness, exposure to the same religious concepts makes submissive people meaner in the presence of a negative social influence.

      In the second one it states:

      “[…this research provides evidence that exposure to subtle religious cues induces conformity in submissive people, even in the context of mostly informational influence. This original finding may have significant implications for understanding the role of religion in social behavior. Specifically, exposure to religious cues may enhance people’s willingness to assimilate their decisions to those of others, for the better or the worse depending on the specific content of the social influence..”

      _______________________________________________________________

      What I gathered from both studies is that those who scored high in religious submissiveness are significantly more likely to be mean, vengeful, and unethical.

      Attention Kim Davis.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The more I read your posts AND your comments, Victoria, the more i notice how clever and smart you are.

        Indeed you are full of intellectual virtues and seem to lack intellectual vices a.k.a. intellectual (or mental) laziness.

        So I don’t think I have anything new to teach you. Rather you’re the one who will teach me new facts of the evilness of religion. Or in other words, you’re the wizard, Victoria, I’m the wizard’s apprentice.

        Nevertheless I will recommend you, if you’ve got the time to do so, to read these two articles: 1) The Stanley Milgram Obedience vs Authority Experiment. For details, see: http://www.simplypsychology.org/milgram.html ; and 2) Pro & con arguments with regard to this interesting question/topic: “Are religious people guilty of intellectual laziness?” For details see: http://www.debate.org/opinions/are-religious-people-guilty-of-intellectual-laziness .

        IMHO both my article tips lend support to your drawn conclusions in the comment above this one. You wrote: “What I gathered from both studies is that those who scored high in religious submissiveness are significantly more likely to be mean, vengeful, and unethical.”

        You summarize the findings correctly, Victoria! Submissive and obedient people are prone to do, act and think what their authority, i.e. God or His proxy, the priest, tells you to do, act, think and so on.

        And all religions I know of, especially the abrahamic ones, are built on this one single concept: that the group (community) you belong to has been chosen by the group members’ God and therefore also, at least indirectly, is defended and protected by that same God.

        The cost of this chosenness is the coercion (shown as forces and threats) to obey, without questioning, what the godly proxies (the priests) tell the group members to believe in.

        One – maybe the most important – corner-stone to substantiate the concept of chosenness is to look at yourself as finer, better, more valuable than all the others who don’t belong to the same religious group or community (i.e. who don’t belong to the chosen ones).

        That kind of reasoning causes different types of xenophobic emotions and behaviors. It also acts as a hotbed for bigotry, biases, partiality, intolerance, unfairness, injustice, inequality, discrimination, repression, exploitation, misdeeds, offenses, and lots of other prejudices and wrongdoings.

        So you see, Victoria, that your conclusion is fully supported. Religious people are remarkably and strikingly – in your own words – “mean, vengeful, and unethical.”

        And finally, Victoria, I must beg you to overlook my writing in English. As you easily can see, English is not my native tongue. But hopefully you, and your followers, can get my verbal message and understand the red threads I’m trying to follow in my comments. even though some words I choose probably should be more nuanced and maybe, at least sometimes, even totally replaced.

        Like

  31. Pingback: Redefining Morality | Amusing Nonsense

  32. Reblogged this on The Recovering Know It All and commented:
    Is there really science that links words to genetic expression? I’ve never heard of this before but I’m fascinated. it may not be the way the WOF people or the New Agers tell it, but maybe there is something to the ‘Words creating Reality’. Thank you Victoria. -KIA

    Liked by 1 person

    • KIA, thank you so much for the reblog. 🙂

      Like

      • No problemo. It is truly fascinating stuff. Maybe ancients is right for the wrong reasons?

        Like

        • Yes. We are a pattern-seeking species, so it wouldn’t take long for people who were observant to see the correlations, changed behavior, and then come up with a strategy. For example, during the eighteenth century, Christian revivalism was spreading. Jonathan Edwards was a Christian preacher, philosopher, and theologian. He played a major role in the 1st Great Awakening.

          Edwards oversaw some of the first revivals in 1733–35 at his church in Northampton, Massachusetts. He delivered the sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God“. According to sources, these revivals gave Edwards an opportunity for studying the process of conversion in all its phases and varieties, and he recorded his observations in “A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in the Conversion of Many Hundred Souls in Northampton” (1737). He writes: “Even though this change has occurred, many Christians have no imagination that they are now converted.”

          In other words, people didn’t realize that Edward’s was using strategic words and phrases to get people to submit. A year later, he published “Discourses on Various Important Subjects”, containing five sermons which had proved most effective in the revival, and of these, he said “none was so immediately effective as that on the Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners”.

          Sources further state that he accidentally discovered the techniques during a religious crusade in 1735. He noted that by inducing guilt and acute apprehension and by increasing the tension, the “sinners” attending his revival meetings would break down and completely submit.

          How did he induce guilt and acute apprehension? With words. Charles J. Finney was another Christian revivalist who used the same techniques four years later in mass religious conversions in New York. The techniques are still being used in churches and revivals today.

          Liked by 1 person

          • @Victoria Neuronotes: I feel that comment of yours just has to be added to the comment field on my own blog, where I yesterday reblogged your blog post.

            To be honest, Victoria, your blog is one of the few on the internet where you can find pearls not only in the posts but also in their commentary sections. You have many clever commenters. Besides it looks like everything you yourself write and publish is of very HIGH QUALITY, full of knowledge, valuable facts, insight, and wisdom.

            I’m so glad I found my way to your blog, Victoria! Be certain more of your blog posts will be reblogged by me later on.

            Liked by 1 person

            • bb, thank you so much for your encouragement. In any opinion I write, I usually always include sources, because I am not only basing my writings on my personal experience, but on what the science shows. As you are well aware, our brains are very malleable, and religious leaders may claim innocence that they are manipulating people through fear (to keep the coffers full and ensure job security), but there will come a time when it is no longer taboo to call a spade a spade.

              Like

  33. Reblogged this on Mass Delusions a.k.a. Magical & Religious Woo-Bullshit Thinking and commented:
    A little while ago I wrote this post on my own blog: https://bbnewsblog.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/magical-thinking-springs-up-everywhere-and-language-is-its-accomplice-how-language-can-and-does-deceive-us/ .

    Now I notice that also my knowledgeable cyberfriend Victoria Neuronotes has written a post about how words literally can change the brain wirings and the way we perceive and interpret what is going on in the world (called reality) we all live in.

    Not only are words able to offend or encourage, they also deceive and prime our brains. They influence our salience, that is our (mostly) unconscious need/habit to decide (also unconsciously) what is more valuable – or less valuable – to us.

    Words also contribute to make us more biased. Especially religious people are very good at paraphrasing. That’s why they so easily can worship a God like the Abrahamic evil and punishing God and even claim, in a spirit of ecumenical and monotheistic understanding, that the God of the Muslims, Jews and Christians actually is the same God – a claim that is logically false. (Also consider the difference between monotheism and monolatrism/monolatry, where monolatrism is the recognition of the existence of many gods, but with the consistent worship of only one of all these deities, while monotheism is the doctrine or belief that there is only one real and true God.)

    Liked by 1 person

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