Physical Memory Is A Circle

Physical memories of experience are typed first and foremost according to intensity. The output of the Big-Brain is this intensity, the stimulation engine, perhaps quite like an engine in a car. The Big-Brain is the sensation dynamo, the sensory interface with the environment, and it generates a certain amount of thrust that is variably grounded into the little-brain, like the drive train transmitting energy to the wheels. This means that a dog can be in a situation that looks completely different from our point of view, and yet its body/mind is recording the exact same intensity value and thus the same layer of physical memory is being triggered to deal with whatever resistance it’s encountering.  This is why two dogs might be playing great and it would appear that everything is going fine, and then all of a sudden because their play has hit a certain intensity level, wherein there is one of them a physical memory of a sudden collapse, for no seemingly good reason a serious fight breaks out.

So a car could be parked with the engine revved, and the tachometer registers 3000 rpm and to a passenger the car is generating a lot of vibration. Then, on the open highway the car could be going 80mph at 3000 rpm and now to the passenger it all seems grounded since the energy is being smoothly transferred to the wheels and translated into forward motion. The two situations appear completely different but then if the driver were suddenly to kick the car out of gear, then the underlying intensity of engine output would be apparent. And then in between these extremes, the car could be in 1st, 2nd or 3rd gear and we would again see various degrees of vibration coming from the system at 3000 rpm, but the intensity value, the rpm of the engine, is exactly the same and so whatever resistance is being encountered from the systems’ or car’s point of view would be categorized in terms of that same intensity level.

That intensity ratings can run consistently across the behavioral spectrum is significant because it is how animals are able to link a chain of moments together into a contiguous sense of experience. For example, as a dog is “loading” it becomes more intense; let’s say it’s going from 1 to 10 on a scale of intensity, and then on the other side after taking action at the peak of a state of 10, on the descending side of the energy curve it will revisit 9 through 1 as matching values on its way down. What this means is that say for example a dog won’t push-for-food on the ascending side of the scale because that increasing rate of intensity (high-rate-of-change) has shut down its temperament through negative/instinctual experiences, but then after an outburst at a peak of 10, as its coming down one is far more likely to induce a dog to push in for food since it’s experiencing the rate of intensity as decreasing and is in the process of relaxing with that specific energy state. (This is akin to being physically and mentally okay with the same degree of pain on the descending side of the healing process, whereas it was fear inducing on the ascending side of the pain curve.) So I slip in the behavior I want on the downhill slope of the energy scale, i.e. push-for-food at say level 5, knowing that this vastly increases the likelihood that I can induce push-for-food at 4 if not 5 on the ascending side of the slope.

I’m thinking here specifically of taking a dog with incredible prey instinct down to my chicken yard. (This training sequence may be on/line as a Quantum Canine episode via FACT TV). As soon as the dog sees the chickens it goes into “missile-lock” and so I wait for it to begin to express energy into action. Meanwhile I’m holding the dog on a long lead at some distance from the chicken yard. At some point after dissipating some degree of tension in a futile expression of energy, the dog will turn to me and begin to show interest in the food, and then because I’ve already pre-conditioned the response I’m hoping for, it begins to push in with a fury. It’s now channeling chicken-energy into me at intensity state 5. On subsequent outings, its ability to turn to me for its release quickens. Soon, before it locks up it begins to willfully seek me out for the pushing outlet at full bore and little by little I increase MY INTENSITY to equal the high state of 10 that the chickens are able to induce. This becomes what killing a chicken begins to feel like. I’m turning prey instinct into prey DRIVE, i.e. be in harmony with me AND with the chickens. (Once I can get reliable drive energy, I can soon have dog and chickens eating food cheek to beak in the chicken yard with dog on a loose lead. Then I have dog search for egg in yard with chickens squawking and flapping so everybody gets the essence that Drive craves.)

Now the dog is learning that an increasing rate of tension doesn’t necessarily lead to a peak overload and paralysis of its temperament. This is why it’s so vital in the NDT system to not correct a dog for explosive behaviors (however I must make it clear that until the dogs’ Drive is strong enough to solve matters on its own, the dog is only put into safe situations so its expression of energy can’t do any harm to other dogs-or chickens-OR ITS OWN TEMPERAMENT.) because no matter how successful it may look in the short term, it only reinforces the old pattern of a shut down temperament in a high rate of change moment and with energy going toward the path of least resistance.

So resistance is synonymous with intensity, and all sensations of intensity are on the continuum of the fear of falling. For example, when someone is in our face, even though they may be passive in the way they’re intruding, we begin to feel a compression and this is directly related to the intense sensations affiliated with falling as an infant. These old physical memories are what make a “bad” feeling feel bad, although I also have to add that the physical memories of cramps and nausea are instinctual templates for why “bad” feelings feel bad innately. (When you think about it, why should a bad feeling feel bad?) When someone is compressing us either with their physical proximity or their words, if we pay close attention, we can feel the physical memory of our physical center-of-gravity rushing up our “First Primal Pathway” (spinal cord and alimentary canal) and then getting stuck in our face. (This is why we reflexively smile to dissipate nervous energy when we encounter someone (balance) whereas we intuitively smile in a far more relaxed manner as we open up and “ingest” or let someone into our being (hunger); like the newborn baby looking at her mother, no resistance, no physical memory; the wide open eyes and smile a pure expression of unmitigated Temperament.). And as I believe I mentioned somewhere else, we seek to “break our fall” by pushing them away with our hands, either physically, or literally with words. The most extreme expression of this would be slapping someone in the face.

All physical memories are catalogued in the body/mind in terms of the sensations of intensity. So let’s just say that a dog has the physical memory of having stepped on broken glass and cutting its foot, and a year later a door opens on its foot, the intensity values relative to that part of its body sensitized by physical memory are close enough so that it will relive the broken glass experience. I believe this is where the phenomenon of sympathetic injuries comes from. A dog breaks its leg and an owner tends it with great care, the intensity of the experience now being affiliated with the R value of the owner. Then a year later the owner gets mad at the dog and it “feigns” a broken leg. It’s not faking it, it’s reliving it. Then, if that works in this new context, it takes on a life of its own as a way of dealing with stressful situations of that intensity value.

Since Temperament is a circle, physical memory is a circle as well. It is a memory of how the body was aligned in a sensual/sensitive pattern about the physical center-of-gravity that either led to unresolved emotion being acquired, released or resolved. This is how dogs know how to “plug in” their body to another body, sensitive (-) pole to sensual (+), sensual (+) pole to sensitive (-).

I want to preface the following by saying that life on planet earth is characterized by friction and fractiousness (unlike the weightless resonance of life in the womb or the vacuum of outer space) and so by default it is impossible to have an experience, even in the first seconds of life, without acquiring physical memory because there will always be sensations of intensity that the world of resistance imposes on its constituents.

A physical memory isn’t a logical and literal remembrance of what happened, rather it’s formatted according to energetic terms, in terms of Temperament as a circle, with a direction of rotation for the flow of energy, like a clock hand sweeping clockwise across the clock’s face. This hand can only move in one direction, towards increasing complexity, which is why I believe we perceive Time as having a discrete direction and why calculus cannot work the same forward and backward in terms of evolution, as it can with the movements of billiard balls.

When the hand isn’t moving in sync with the conductivity of the surroundings, the individual experiences a sense of compression and unresolved emotion is acquired. The emotional collapse of this circle is directly hardwired into the balance circuitry and the more sudden the collapse, the more intense the sensations affiliated with it, and the more unresolved emotion is acquired and stored in the deepest cells of the emotional battery.

From the individual animal’s point of view, this clock hand “points” toward the most intense predatory aspect in the situation, this becomes 12:00 high, this is the negative (-) pole, and if energy can move toward that variable, that feels to the animal like “access-to-the-positive,” the positive or preyful aspect that carries the most arousal value to ground out the intensity. If this movement is in accord with the conductivity of the surroundings and context, some degree of unresolved emotion can be released. If not, then more unresolved emotion is acquired. Taking on more of a charge may be a problem from an individual’s point of view, but not from evolutions’ perspective because Nature has all the time in the world and from its point of view, energy has nevertheless been captured by the individual becoming charged.

When access to the positive becomes secured, we should now visualize Temperament evolving into a compass face, with a North, South, East, West Poles, and North/South and East/West axes, and finally a center, or midpoint. This is a vital elaboration because it allows individuals to “flip polarity” from one magnetic pole to another WITH NO LOSS OF EMOTIONAL MOMENTUM and really get the needle spinning like the armature in an electromagnetic engine.

This invisible architecture is embedded in any and all states of attraction and serves as the scaffolding for physical memory as it’s acquired when an emotional state of attraction leads to resistance or to a collapse. If the whole of this imprint can be felt by the dog (when dogs go into a new situation, they orient around it like homing pigeons flying in a circle when first released, trying to pick up these temperamental values of rate-of-change, most intense variable, most preyful arousal, direction of energy transfer, magnetic attunement to the variables in the moment), then I say that temperament is on/line and in this state the dog can calmly learn.

However the intensity of a past experience can be so severe that it may not be able to sense the circle in its entirety, and this could lead to avoidance or missile-lock. That the circle must become physically manifest each and every time is why when two dogs meet they must initiate it like a booting up process a computer goes through when turned on (although with fast doggy buddies it can happen so fast we may not see it.) So whenever a dog “wants” something and/or is attracted to something, this template or some lesser aspect of it is the filter it sees through, not to mention whatever physical memory is attached to the particular degree of intensity triggered by the situation at hand.

Here’s another classic example of physical memory from the wild. When the ruffed grouse is fledged, it flaps its wings rather uselessly in its first attempts to fly. It’s arousal for flow knocks itself off/balance. Then when it has chicks of its own and a predator comes around, it flaps its wings rather uselessly, the “broken wing” ruse and the predator comes after mother hen while its chicks get lost in the ground cover. The grouse isn’t cognitively trying to protect its young. It’s more attracted to the predator than usual because its prey drive is aroused by its young, but the predator has so much of a charge it knocks mother hen off/balance and so it can only express its attraction to predator with the broken wing. My rooster does the same thing when it’s courting (hassling?) the hens. It circles them in the broken wing dance.

Here’s an example of a reflexive response (rather than Drive) to physical memory from human behavior. And in the case of dysfunctional behavior we’re dealing with the analogy of a clock face for Temperament as a circle instead of the compass with the four Cardinal points since we’re dealing with an electrostatic discharge. So you could say that the clock face evolves into the compass when the flow of emotion as electrical current renders a magnetic field.

At any rate, a boy is beaten by his father and he then grows up to be a father and is going to have to contend with the physical memory of having been beaten. One might think that the tendency with intelligent human beings would be to have an undue compassion for his own son but unfortunately we know that the exact opposite is the truth. The man’s emotional battery carries the imprint of energy moving along the path of least resistance, from a place of highest resistance (father figure at 12:00 High) to a place of least resistance (young boy at 6:00 low) so that father-losing-temper-at-son is energy moving from 12:00 to 6:00. Then that boy grows up and when he finds himself at 12:00 as a father, when his young son cries, whines or acts up, he will be revisiting, compliments of his emotional battery, the exact same experience of intensity that he experienced as a boy. In his animal/emotional mind HE DEFENDS HIMSELF from his son who is causing the recapitulation of the memory, in other words, his son is his father from his animal point-of-view. The abusive father is now expressing the energy he was forced to internalize when he was helpless. Instinctively, the man accords to the predatory aspect of his son the intensity value of his father, but since his son lacks the emotional mass of his father, he now has the instinctual license to vent from 12 to 6 in accord with the imprint in his emotional battery. (Alternatively he may leave the room, go for a drive, develop a cutting wit, or even tune out in general as a means of coping.)

In the father’s animal mind, he is only defending himself from his father who is no longer present logically, but energetically certainly is within the deepest layer of his emotional battery, in the physical memory and habituated reflex of energy dis-charging from 12 High to 6 low.

Physical memory is omnipresent. It’s impossible in my view for a dog to ever have a conscious experience that hasn’t first been filtered through the template that formed in the first days of life, and then did build up some degree of physical memory; for example, the struggle that the newborn puppy experiences in the first seconds of life, which is an incredible surge of nervous intensity that can’t be grounded into smooth muscle action because the pup doesn’t even have the motor capability yet, and then being flipped over and rolled around by its mother every day for the next weeks to boot. (I am going to go into this at great depth in my next book, “Your Dog Is Your Mirror” which will be published by New World Library in fall (hopefully) 2010.) This is necessary because physical memory is the only means consciousness could evolve to reliably transmit information of an emotional content through time.

Degrees of intensity are the basis of all later sensations related to the experience of any kind of resistance whatsoever. So while a dog may have a thousand different types of experiences from a door shutting on its toes, to climbing a steep grade, to prolonged eye contact, these are all related to the intense vibrations of its central nervous system associated with the condition of being “disconnected” from the womb. And given the fractious and friction-filled reality of life on planet earth, this problem is constantly relived every time there is some degree of change in its environment. Our task is to see through the mirror of our own thoughts and see the truth of how energy moves. And there’s no better guide than the one already available to us, the animal most familiar and ubiquitous in our world, the most misunderstood animal on earth, the dog by our side.

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Published December 19, 2009 by Kevin Behan
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11 responses to “Physical Memory Is A Circle”

  1. I’m not sure I understand what you mean by the following: “life on planet earth is characterized by friction and fraction.”

    Did you mean friction and traction?


  2. kbehan says:

    Oops, sloppy word play. I should have said fractiousness.

  3. Thanks, I realized that’s probably what you meant when you used the word fractious later in the piece.

    I’m still absorbing the previous article, but I’ll put forth a couple of ideas on this one now.

    First, the concept of ascending and descending levels of intensity, and how the dog experiences them, is very important when working with dogs with behavioral issues. So I hope everybody reading this re-reads and memorized that stuff. However, while the analogy of the rpms of a car works at first, it seems muddled to me once you start shifting gears. The idea that you don’t feel as much intensity coming from the engine when the car is parked as you do once it’s moving (because the energy is more grounded by the car’s momentum) is very helpful. If it were me, I’d just leave it at that. (That’s me, the writer/self-editor speaking.)

    I haven’t said this before (not specifically), but one of the most valuable things about your articles and your approach to dog training, is that you have an amazing ability to notice things that no one else sees or has ever seen. I like to think I’m pretty good at that too, and I probably am. But your ability in this area beats mine by a factor of at least 10.

    That said, I still disagree with the concept of the emotional battery. This idea seems a mixed metaphor to the writer in me, and much too inexact to the dog trainer/natural philosopher. If emotions could be stored as latent or potential electric energy, then there could be an emotional battery. And I could be wrong, but it seems to me that emotions aren’t compatible with electricity. For instance, emotions can be repressed and even compressed, but I don’t think there’s any compression going on inside a battery. So unresolved emotions would have to be stored in something more like a reservoir. That’s why electricity works for describing the nervous system (which runs on it), and emotions are more properly (at least in my view) described through fluid dynamics. There are parallels — both water and electricity are said to flow in “currents” — but like water, emotions are more tangible. (Remember, the brain can’t feel anything.)

    My next point may seem strange and Twilight Zone-y, but I don’t think energy can be said to run only in a clockwise direction. Certainly, if we’re going back to the Big Bang, and dealing with the evolution of energy from simpler into more complex forms (which we are), then there is a clear clockwise nature (or rotation) to the forward thrust of the universe. But the strange science of quantum physics and string theory (among others) suggests the possibility (and perhaps the inevitability) of such thing as causeless effects, and even effects that precede their cause. (This may be what dark matter and dark energy are all about…)

    It also seems to me that evolution, and the nature of life, has a quality of both creation and destruction working hand in hand: Eros and Thanatos. Certainly the main thrust of evolution is, or seems to be, about increasing complexity, as you point out. And matter and energy can be neither created nor destroyed, only transformed. But it seems to me that the transformation process relies implicitly on the destruction, absorption, and transformation of both matter and energy. So the clockwise/counterclockwise flow of energy might be like an alternating current. (Just guessing.)

    I don’t know whether that gibes with your theory or not, but it’s possible that evolution could run both forwards and backwards at the same time, with the main, more visible thrust being the clockwise one.

    I could be totally wrong, of course. As far as I know there is absolutely no science to support the idea that evolution could run backwards.

    Finally, it seems to me that not only are there discrete forms of energy, physical, emotional, mental (which isn’t necessarily intellectual), there may be a physical, emotional, and mental body as well. At least there would be an emotional and mental energy field. I think this is part of what Valerie Hunt has been working on. (But again, I’m mostly guessing.)


  4. Donnie O. says:

    Little by little increase your intensity to a level 10…how? This, I think is a problem that I’m having with my technique. Jinxsie will push with me no problem if there isn’t anything else there to knock her off balance, but as soon as she sees a squirrel or someone playing ball with their dog then I don’t exist until her intensity lessens a bit. I previously used corrective training with her to try and solve these problems so I can see how the physical memory of my correcting her would create resistance in that high-intensity moment. I’ve been trying to go with the flow, just hold the leash saying nothing until her intensity lessens a bit and then when she comes in for a push to not be as intense about it as I would without any distractions around. Am I on the right track here?

  5. christine randolph says:

    hahah Friction and fracking fraction…
    I think energy can be said to go in only “one” direction.

    i.e. after the big bang, it goes OUTWARD. if it went Back on Itself, that would be a no no I think if i understand those astronomers correctly?

    evolution cannot run backwards because the old mutations are killed off, so if a new mutation happens to look like an old mutation, that is coincidence…??or?

    i think there is an emotional battery, or, a store of unused energy in the animal or human (or planet) which needs to be released from time to time…

    “…Old Faithful erupts every 35 to 120 minutes for 1 1/2 to 5 minutes. Its maximum height ranges from 90 to 184 feet…”

    so do dogs, perform a “passing on of the pressure”,like an abuser.abusee. Yes totally, I think this is where the notion of pecking order, hierarchy comes from, but, as Kevin said, it is really just “spoiled females” haha.

    I think there are many other behaviors and levels of communication between dogs/sentient beings, which we do not understand. maybe also between humans. for instance, my “spoiled female” starts a fight over food with my young male dog, gets all wound up, and in comes the other, littler female, and makes a very odd calming signal that is a nose touch to the aggressive dog’s face.. almost like a little bite. no visible response from the aggressive dog, other than the situation seems to be defused.. without my intervention which suits me just fine !!!!

    so, there may not be a hierarchy, but certain dogs seem to assume certain tasks in the group, depending on their temperament…
    we really know VIRTUALLY NOTHING about this

  6. kbehan says:

    I may not have been clear enough, you have to build up the intensity before you put your dog into a state of conflict. So increase hunger, tie out your dog to a post in order to increase intensity of dog making contact with you. To elicit intensity, you can also train dog to bark on command because this directly contravenes early repressive training and so helps the dog to feel free by expressing the stuck energy. The next step is to get your dog straining to get to the bite toy and enjoying a lot of physical rough handling. Once your dog will give you 100% in a training context, then you can do the conflict, be neutral and wait for dog to give you its drive, and then increase your intensity to the level you achieved in training. Good luck,

    Little by little increase your intensity to a level 10…how? This, I think is a problem that I’m having with my technique. Jinxsie will push with me no problem if there isn’t anything else there to knock her off balance, but as soon as she sees a squirrel or someone playing ball with their dog then I don’t exist until her intensity lessens a bit. I previously used corrective training with her to try and solve these problems so I can see how the physical memory of my correcting her would create resistance in that high-intensity moment. I’ve been trying to go with the flow, just hold the leash saying nothing until her intensity lessens a bit and then when she comes in for a push to not be as intense about it as I would without any distractions around. Am I on the right track here?

  7. Donnie O. says:

    Other than the tying out to a post, this is pretty much what I’ve been doing with her. We normally go to two parks, one which has fewer distractions. The other is a natural area where her squirrel nemeses reside. Perhaps I started her conflict training a little early in the process and should step back a bit. I always find it very tempting to jump ahead once I’ve seen some progress and definitely need to temper this!

    One more question on the subject of “rough handling”: often, when our wrestling is getting very intense, she will mouth my arms and hands. How much of this should I tolerate? She does seem to have good bite control and responds with lighter bites if I yelp when her bites get a bit too hard for me to handle. So far, I haven’t been doing anything to discourage her from contacting me with her mouth. From my perspective, I see this as returning to her temperament. am I right about this?

  8. kbehan says:

    This is exactly right. Physical memory in the emotional battery can only get out the way it went in. So if your hand was the means of repressing her energy, they mouthing your hand when in the presence of squirrels will represent her addressing the impasse between you and the squirrels. The trick is to displace it onto the bite toy for full intensity release. What you could do to prepare for this is increase the intensity of the hunger. In the first days of life, food and intensity are synonymous, in other words, food and prey instinct are synonymous. Your goal is to increase your dog’s degree of intensity toward you to equal what she gives to squirrels.

  9. Adam says:

    In your example above of the father beating his son, how would one address and solve this problem?

  10. kbehan says:

    That’s an interesting question. I think the important thing would prove to be that when the young boy matures and “migrates” to the North Pole of the circle, (father polarity) and experiences in the friction of family life the overwhelming intensity of compression over some matter, to recognize that there is an external source of resistance, in this case not even present but rather brought to the surface of physical memory, that is the true target of his anger, his own son being but the surrogate for his father. So now as a father he is in a position to experience exactly what his own father experienced and succumbed to because he lacked heart to deal with fear, and such a recognition opens the possibility to be capable of making a different choice. Not only that, but that there can also be a softening toward his abusive father since he now is in a position to recognize the fear that he has in common with his father. That I believe would represent the healing of the trauma.

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Books about Natural Dog Training by Kevin Behan

In Your Dog Is Your Mirror, dog trainer Kevin Behan proposes a radical new model for understanding canine behavior: a dog’s behavior and emotion, indeed its very cognition, are driven by our emotion. The dog doesn’t respond to what the owner thinks, says, or does; it responds to what the owner feels. And in this way, dogs can actually put people back in touch with their own emotions. Behan demonstrates that dogs and humans are connected more profoundly than has ever been imagined — by heart — and that this approach to dog cognition can help us understand many of dogs’ most inscrutable behaviors. This groundbreaking, provocative book opens the door to a whole new understanding between species, and perhaps a whole new understanding of ourselves.
  Natural Dog Training is about how dogs see the world and what this means in regards to training. The first part of this book presents a new theory for the social behavior of canines, featuring the drive to hunt, not the pack instincts, as seminal to canine behavior. The second part reinterprets how dogs actually learn. The third section presents exercises and handling techniques to put this theory into practice with a puppy. The final section sets forth a training program with a special emphasis on coming when called.
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