Examples of the Extreme Danger of Cognitive Fusion
A researcher by the name of Herbert Specter did an experiment about twenty years ago when he was the head of molecular biology research at the National Institutes of Health. He injected mice with a chemical called Polyisee, which stimulates the immune system, while at the same time exposing them to the smell of camphor. After a while, when the mice smelled camphor, their immune systems were activated.
Dr. Specter gave some other mice psychlophosphamite, which is a chemical that destroys the immune system; once again, he paired the drug with the smell of camphor. When those mice smelled camphor without the chemical present, they became functionally immunodeficient, quickly developing pneumonia and dying when exposed to the pneumococci bacterium. Exposure to carcinogens also led to swift and certain death.
In the first group, meanwhile, exposure to pneumococci and carcinogens had no effect. What was the crucial difference between survival and death in these mice? It was the interpretation of the memory of the smell of camphor. Lacking the human ability to recognize that they were fused with the pairing of those two stimuli—and also lacking the ability to de-fuse from it even if they could somehow become aware of their plight—the mice were helpless victims of the unconscious associations made in their brains.
Another example of the extreme danger of cognitive fusion has to do with humans. One of the most disturbing comments that hospitalists and nurses hear is a statement by someone who has been brought into the emergency department that he or she will not make it through the night. Whenever hospitalized patients make such an announcement, the medical staff gets worried because, statistically, these patients are usually dead by morning. It’s not that patients can predict the future. It’s that the belief that they are going to die, and their inability to de-fuse from this belief, is more powerful than most of the treatments they receive. This is especially true in hospitalized patients because being in the hospital can be so frightening that patients automatically go into an altered state of consciousness (ASC), and ASCs dramatically interfere with executive function, resulting in extreme cognitive fusion. Unfortunately, the various drugs given to hospitalized patients compound this problem of trance. Similarly, when patients are told that they have three to six months to live, most comply and die within that time period.
When someone has just been given a cancer diagnosis by a physician, the patient almost invariably enters an ASC and goes into cognitive fusion. When hospitalized patients are given a poor prognosis while in this state of cognitive fusion, their health will be negatively impacted. The only antidote at that point is to get the assistance of someone who can help them de-fuse from that state.