Saturday, November 23, 2013

Hypergraphia, the cure for writer's block + the balance between compulsion and intention, primal urge + cerebral impulse: an active-experiment in understanding.

this goes out to the scribes and the smiths, and those with epilisotory hearts and minds full of verse, with stomachs full of synonyms and mouths full of hmmmmmm and mmmmm,
I've just discovered the most fascinating of 'disorders'- (although I struggle fundamentally with the term disorder itself due to the subjective basis for determination)
...According to wiki:
 'Not to be confused with Hypergraphy.'
"Hypergraphia is an overwhelming urge to write. It is not itself a disorder, but can be associated with temporal lobe changes in epilepsy, and hypomania and mania in the context of bipolar disorder."

Interestingly enough, presumably for scribes this asymptomatic non-disorder disorder, actually manifests as an uncontrollable compulsion to write. Presumably on paper, napkins, whiteboards, post-its, keyboards, bathroom stalls or teeny iPod touches ( such as I come to you now from- with a little of that hypergraphic itch myself.)
Oddly enough in all my years dealing with deep compulsion to revel in the catharsis of verbosity- of all of the nights i spent acting vessel for the vowels to pour out of my hands-in a furious spasm of script, of all the times I have felt that slow burn build to an uncontrollable chronic need to come to the edge of elucidation with my words welling up like pressurized steam in a kettle, of all the many instances I could barely contain the vowels and alliterations arise from within, like a tide that came crashing upon the shores of any willing page, screen, or otherwise useful end point, in all my years of agonizing adventures searching endlessly, madly for the perfect pilot pen, possessed until i found release; the sweet stream of consciousness cessation, narration like an orgasm. And of the oh so many moments that I found answers, wrote revelations and found my own revolutions because of that intrinsic, incessant, OCD-esque, overdrive need to spill letters and spell healings, committing murderous redemptions with my muse...a scribe's need to write is not a choice but a deep and resonating impulse that indeed rises up like a flame ignited.
of all of those many supposed 'symptomatic' synergies, I find it indeed most fascinating after 20 years in tandem with the supposed tendency- I have never heard uttered the term, 'hypergraphia'
"hypergraphia—the unstoppable drive to put words on paper "
seems it is a far less common affliction than writer's block, which for centuries has baffled, imprisoned and tortured its sufferers...

According to Psychology today: " In the 1970s, neurologists discovered that hypergraphia was often triggered by temporal lobe epilepsy."  Some call them 'religious seizures'
( Unfortunately, Scientists later threw it in the same pile with Bipolar disorder which in itself is borderline tragic) More modern evidence though, now shows an abnormal interaction between the temporal and frontal lobes of the brain in those whom supposedly have Hypergraphia.
According to studies, activity in the temporal lobe is reduced, spurring activity in the frontal. ( the area that potentiates more complex behaviour like speech.) ( 1)

Recently explanations around hypergraphia have been drawing more attention
( possibly due to a Hollywood film coming in 2014 about the life of Arthur Inman-
(  ) the world's "original blogger" arthur inman,
whom in a pre-kerouac-esquse kerouac-ian streamofconsciousnessstyle, became the world's first 'blogger;  before his suicide in 1963- he completed one of the "fullest diaries ever kept by any American." Convinced that his bid for immortality required complete candor, he held nothing back. The published abridgment of the original 155 volumes is at once autobiography, social chronicle, and an apologia addressed to unborn readers. )
Further studies uncover findings that may reveal that within both the chemical and structural functioning of the brain, answers to the mystery of 'writer's block' may lay; and in this wonderfully paradoxical finding-  they are intimately connected to this mysterious hypergraphic affliction.

Subjective and Theoretically and Speculatively speaking: If indeed there is correlation between these two, to me it all seems to all come down then- to flow. The ability to reside in it. To abide by it. To find our way into alignment with it. To harness it, to surf and to rise with it, like that of the ever-swelling tide. If indeed these fits of language are indeed a result of some form of epistolary epileptic episode in the brain, then is its opposite, writers block- some form of energetic unchecked emotional dam?
Anyone who has suffered from writer's block, might look at these scientific findings of similarity as strange given one leads to blank pages- the other to effusive, endless discourse.
However as with all things creative, with all things that require a balance in order to thrive - and that balance is found in finding one's flow.

Both hypergraphic and writer's block tendencies arise from connection and change within specific areas of the brain, connected to your muse you are inspired, empowered, effusive with your art - disconnected with your muse, you become pent up, constipated and alienated from idea.

The drive to write, is controlled by the limbic system, that rin-like cluster of cells deep within the brain, which governs emotion, affiliated instincts and inspiration and is said to regulate the human being's need for communication. Words and ideas are cognized and understood by the temporal lobes behind the ears, ( and these temporal lobes are connected to the limbic system.) Ideas are organized and edited in the frontal lobe of the brain. (2 )

So then, in 'blocked-writers' if inspired action is all about giving that limbic-push of emotion required to hit the ignition switch and rouse the muse. Then stress, disharmony or emotional 'obstacles' of any measure would of course would attest for anyone's blockage in creating.

It's interesting as one who never seems to be blocked as a so-called writer, but has experienced the utter feeling of revolt from my words when seeking to lay them down on the page, as if somehow making the determination consciously, to write, was somehow lesser than feeling that uncontrolled and hypergraphic urge that i had often felt prior to any knowledge it had been 'labelled' as a so-called affliction, and the underlying feeling, that it was in fact a spark divine. Always with this spark, where i became the vessel for a great orgasmic catharsis of unplanned prose - there would come with it this sense, of amnesia.
I'd pick up the page days later- with no recollection of writing any of it.
As if my utter absence was needed to somehow create anything revelatory or transformational.
And perhaps all of that is true.
There have been times ( like now as i move into a more conscious and analytical state of mind )  when i have sought out with deliberate intention, to rouse the hypergraphic urge, consciously feeling as if i had some entitlement to the title of 'writer- had never been my perspective. In my mind, in every sense i was just born with the words. As if some are just born with great surrealistic masterpieces in them, waiting to be unlocked by booze and war and cocaine and promiscuity in a late 50's post-war era.
But the point is: having said that, The most disgusting and shameful egotistical feeling would come to me when i considered the idea that i really was some kind of 'author' by nature. I never sought to label my drive to create.
Seeking out to write or to document anything without a sense of urgency or compulsion- never, ever felt as fluid or natural; it aroused in me- some sense of self-absorbedness, some sense of shame that i could be so egotistical to think my words were anything to be beheld with any wonder or worthiness. In fact is roused in me- the very opposite: a blockage.
 ( I realize now post-writing this paragraph, that obviously this whole emotional sensation may  be based upon some post-traumatic childhood situation in which i was belittled and/or devalued for being the person i was- and instead instilled with the belief that instead - i ought to strive for bespoke beauty and achieve the end point of being desirous for my physical appearance. This would of course lead to a very long journey into self-deprication, though silent,  where my compartmentalized suffering gave way to versions of self that were based upon masochistic, compulsive,  behaviour, which at times was to the extreme - cutting to release endorphins - secret sexual escapades, climbing out teenage bedroom windows and being objectified to satiate the noise in my head, all in a guilt-ridden state of helplessness and a host of other pre-ado-and post-ado confusion and blind groping for the answer to the question that really burned on the edge of my tongue- where am i, who am i? The question became the answer when mindfulness gave rise in me. )
The entirety of this verbal digression was an experimental excerpt to see if i could finally blur the lines between writing out of compulsion and simply, consciously, sitting down with no words - but the intention to write- and witness that happen, without any similar to early-sexual experience post-coital feelings of awkward egotism. It worked. So i have somehow proved something to myself in that- the natural compulsion as an artist needs only alignment with flow to unleash the muse. This can happen either intentionally- ie: i am deciding to write something, or unintentionally via an uncontrollable and often primal urge- so called- hypergraphically )

Back to the science in this subject-
" Hypergraphia is understood to be triggered by changes in brainwave activity in the temporal lobe.
Activity in the temporal lobe is reduced, spurring activity in the frontal, the area that potentiates complex behavior like speech. A writer's inner critic goes quiet, and the ideas flow. "( 3)
In writer's block- the critic rages, stands tall atop an inner mountain and screams obscenities and insults @ you in utter, mute silence.
Under stress, a human brain will "shift control from the cerebral cortex ( memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought, language, and consciousness.) to the limbic system ( emotion )
In the case of writer's block this shift would have robbed the writer of supposed drive to write by removing one's ability to access memory, focus, consciously string together thoughts... a logical explanation for an outsider seeking objective hypothesis around the connection between blockage and serious, unstoppable flow.
The temporal lobe area of the brain ( which is hypothesized to be less-active in hypergraphia and in temporal lobe epilepsy- there are flash fits in this area...  ) contains several important areas including the hippocampus which to my utter fascination having mentioned my own experience in compulsion to write- can produce amnesia- both anterograde and retrograde. However it does not affect other aspects of memory such as sematic information ie: the ability to store and draw on facts and information about meaning. it's also been said that the hippocampus plays an important role in storing information about the spatial ( environmental ) context of events that have happened in the past. Damage to this region is associated with difficulties in navigating through familiar places. Taking that into consideration, knowing that this area of the brain in epileptic patients can become damaged- and considering that temporal lobe epilepsy supposedly triggers hypergraphia -  it might surmise to say that in an hypergraphic episode one's hippocampus might also temporarily function erractically- thus confirming 2 things:
1- indeed the consciousness does in a way go quiet- during these episodes causing latent amnesia. as previously described. ( in my case i have always considered myself a vessel for higher power to speak- as arrogant and awful as that sounds because i previously had no scientific explanation (label)  to describe or define my experience - now that i can put the hypergraphic label on it, i suppose my conscious mind knows how to characterize it, and if i abide by the belief that hypergraphia is a result of mania or bipoloar disorder, all that serves to do is further devalue my worth and my words and thereby - in this instance i stand by the words that sound arrogant, knowing in intention, i am striving for higher love by revelatory writing - further evidence to my own experience lays in the research around religious experience and its correlation to temporal lobe epilepsy- hence 'hypergraphia' being referred to previously as religious fits. The work around religious experience and temporal lobe epilepsy actually connects the two- stating that the areas of the brain activated during each are incredibly similar... think people who have been put into states @ church mass where they are speaking tongues and later have no recollection... an interesting study of brain activity and religious experience can be found here
2- most interestingly- perhaps hypergraphia and writer's block are counter-points to one another, co-existing in the same creative.
Perhaps when the temporal lobe fits that occur, inspiring those times when the individual is free=flow- stream of consciousness writing their prose or discourse, damage is being done or blockage is being created in this hippocampus -  the area that causes difficulty in 'navigating through familiar places' thus fast-forwarding to a time in which one is experiencing 'writer's block' then meeting this blockage or inability to navigate this place of free-flow writing, that they have so masterfully done previously. One begets the other, begets the other.
The Amygdala is also a part of the temporal lobe area- and often referred to as the "emotional brain" as it is believed to regulate a large number of emotional states. If writing is a limbic function we are accessing many emotions during this process and if hypergraphia is indeed the counterpoint to writer's block- then the emotional or limbic state needed to achieve a free-flow of writing may be damaged by previous episodes of ( temporoal lobe epilepsy-triggered- hypergraphia wherein the Amygdyla has been damaged.
The amygdyla is particularly associated with fear and anger and thought to be involved in emotional and autobiographical memory.
It also has the task of identifying the emotional significance of an event and making the event better remembered. So therein lays my strange but sematically sound, interconnected analysis of the scientific correlation between hypergraphia and writer's block.

were i any manner of mathmetician i might formulate an anatomical-based-on-brain-areas equation to illustrate the understanding of a happy middleground marriage ( and subsequent birth of lucid and literary brilliance ) between blockage and hypergraphia -
it might look like this:
(behind the ear areas) < = handles word, comprehension and birth idea.
+  in happy connection with
the frontal lobe ( behind your forehead) =  the editor, the organizer and the critic.
= discerning creative.
divided ( or Malfunctioning communicationbetween these areas)  = blockage.

If rousing the muse is merely a matter of making the right brain connections,
Hypergraphic behaviour it would seem - similar to writer's block does not leave room for a happy collaboration of aforementioned connections, instead simply shuts one connection ( brain area ) off to full immerse the basic desire to get the words out or in the case of blockage- confisedly shut down.
very much like people whom dissociate during sex,  having been in this place many times in each any every one of my sexual relationships where i would be fucked to the point of utter boredom, dissociate like a manufactured 'alter' and switch on the programming that allowed me to mimic pornography in order to elicit the quickened climax of my sexual partner- and thus end the experience sooner. I never really shut the door to believing sex could be better than that and when i met a tantric spanish yogi- my entire concept of the sexual experience was transformed into what i always imagined was possible. All of this is really to say- that previously having done much practice in transmuting sexual energy as a means to re-distribute energies elsewhere i believe that the tie between the sexual urge and  this hypergraphic proclivity indeed do initiate from the same area of the brain- and interestingly enough- as scientists are relating hypergraphia to this 'temporal lobe epilepsy' - thus for the purposes of this observation- they are one in the same: there was a study done in 36 patients suffering from temporal lobe epilespy- and the findings were that majority percentage of that focus group also suffered from some form of hyposexuality- or sexual dysfunction- leaving space now for the conclusion that the compulsion does in fact arise from the same igntion switch, the primal pushbutton that controls sexual desire. The epileptic patients studied in this - exhibited not only an attitude of frigidity but in some cases a complete lack of sexual curiosity and desire.

Fascinatingly( or perhaps unsurprisingly) - There has been little research done as to whether the affliction itself, actually results in productivity- ( that's another mess of interconnection and speculative reasoning altogether )  ...for regardless of whether one might have a burning compulsion to do something, that doesn't neccessarily mean that the end result yields any worthy harvest. Any more than an individual with OCD- gets more done by doing it 108 times, or a person with tourette's says more simply by speaking more... does a hypergraphic write more simply because they are fiercely compelled to?
Or is for some such as myself, the need. while it feels compulsive indeed, conjured from the instinct to seek answers, to implore inner landscapes for great mountainous movement. To channel that 'hypergraphic' energy, to seek wisdom... and succeed no matter how disorderly, desirous or demanding.
If so, is the answer then to somehow access the affliction to ease the affliction?
Is it to find balance somehow - for the cure just may lay waiting quietly upon the next blank page.

So whether you are seeking a solution to writer's block or whether you are simply, like me, fascinated that yet again some dude in a lab somewhere has been paid to research the behaviour of others and find yet another label to put upon it.

Writer's block, while I have never experienced it in a traditional way ( only when engaging in the act that caused the aforementioned repulsion from consciously and intentionally meeting myself at a blank page and sitting down to write ) I have to belief that the case i argued for blockage and obstacle is the answer - and the middle ground is the marriage between the extremes- hypergraphia and writers block. The balance is focused creation. Those who are hypergraphic also must sometimes suffer from its counterpoint writer's block and in fact, the two co-exist and are ever-present in those with the creative urge. To use a disgusting metaphor that just eeked its way into my awareness, consider writer's block like latent herpes, a disease that can be absent for months, years... only to breakout once in a while- causing all manner of ick upon the face and genitals of the sufferer. The pustules and cold sores- perhaps represent the remnants of a hypergraphic state- previously experienced, though the conscious mind with writer's block may have no recollection of this happening. Similar then, to my own experience of amnesia in re-reading things i have written.
Somehow i understand this condition despite my never having experienced what its like to be on a deadline and meeting only blank page or uttering useless shit babbled and scribbled for hours on end- when trying to complete a piece of work. Perhaps because i have experienced its compulsive now revealed-counter-point for so many years.
( a  brief interjected disclaimer: Any arrogance here, is purely inadvertent and accidental and perhaps occupational hazard would argue the case that as soon as you label yourself something- you run the risk of being asphyxiated by its preconception, definition and expectation. )
If i were to give any advice to anyone, anywhere on overcoming any syndrome be it hypergraphic, writers blockage, or fucken tendonitis- i would say toss your labels in the trash, the condition without definition produces less of the expected sideeffects. aka: attention is intention and the mind controls the movements and the manifestations of reality. Then your symptoms are free to become acts of healing, their effects become a measure and a matter of neither expected nor previously documented- and you are free to innovate.
In abstract flow the description of things always leaves me wondering whether as a writer my words ever seem contrived or whether people can see through me; recognizing my nature or see a condition- trying to label my afflictions- which in this case would be hypergraphic... Those who find themselves similarly 'afflicted' my greatest reflection upon completion of this topical digital catharsis- is perhaps that one can learn to channel the hypergraphic nature into something that has potential to impact the world in a positive way.
 I would love to collect data from those who have experienced writer's block- perhaps in endeavor to understand how the creative process stalls, how its flow becomes blocked, as to understand the nature of it - i believe is to find the answers to unblocking barriers in life itself. When abstracted to the point of seeing only the abject symbolism.
Perhaps hypergraphia has remained in the shadows less spoken of - as those of us who are compelled regardless of the nature of compulsion, to commit word to eternity,  all feel to some degree or another - that same fierce need.; yet recognize it as a blessing and not a curse that needs neither labelled order or disorder affixed to its existence. Regardless i believe it holds both fascination and answers both for the blocked and the bold, the baggage-laden seekers on the path to freedom.
 How anyone can call the fierce compulsion to be artistic, a disorder. The answer may blur once again those lines between genius and madness... and come back to humanity's fundamental need to change something, to box something, to put labels on something and morph and mold its being until it resembles a form they can understand, or resonates with something pre-existing, or previously expeienced- so they can suffice away the curiousity of newness. The sympotomatic labelling of a  impulse in this case, becomes a disorder- who's counterpoint can potentially cure a culture afflicted by blockage.

Whether art heals or compels it will always be fundamentally curative. It's nature is to heal and to reveal and in the act of creation you are always dancing with the answers.
But like Arthur Inman we must act with the belief that our "bid for eternity requires complete candor."

Interested in digging into the world of hypergraphia?  Either pick up a pen or click to discover how
Neurologists, psychoanalysts, and writers alike are addressing the question, of how advances in our comprehension of the role played by the temporal lobe and the limbic system impact our psychodynamic understanding and of the ironic hypergraphia and writer's block.

the end of this experiment in simultaneous analysis between the interconnection of hypergraphia and wrtier's block and the potential to find happy middle ground, and at once endeavouring to unleash my own hypergraphic impulse, this time consciously and without a desperate urge and subsequent amnesia- proved that hypergraphia is perhaps innate in some artists- as innate as the will to breathe and its functionality can be applied to unlock what's blocked - flip the script and find the balance between what's being thought of as a result of manic episode or epileptic seizure - and its opposite, a confused and blankened state of nothingness that is 'wrtier's block' the balance is in mindful action i believe, and upon finishing this piece- after months of having it sit untouched in a draft state- i found myself coming back to it once more, and obsessively researching details around the brain functions of each supposed affliction- to find an equation that would ascertain the nonduality and equal duality of each of the proposed 'syndromes' - what i find now, in reflection is the switch can be flipped, the muse can be sought and the state of writer's block can be overcome by exploring its perceived opposite. when the flow isnt flowing, veer off course to find the alignment and in that alignment the flow will return. Labelling anything will immediately limit its potential and thereby block all possibility for unprecedented greatness.

Love leans in with forgiving Grace to replace the millennia of suffering with an opportunity for elevation, for re-creation of our species&...