Brain Foundational

QM and the Study Guide

On this website, you’ll find the Quadrune Mind Study Guide. This blog provides background information to better understand the development and meaning of the Study Guide as an aid to our quest for spiritual understanding. This review of the Study Guide follows the headings and sections found in the Study Guide.

Quadrune Mind (page 1)

Quadrune Mind. Quadrune mind refers to the four minds in one that the healthy human brain is able to support.
Neurospirituality and the Four Minds of the Human Brain. For most of the history of the quadrune mind model, it was known as “Neurospirituality.” This name suggested that study of the physical brain is the best way to understand our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. This approach centered around empirical research of the physical brain conducted by Paul MacLean and other neuroscientists. Changing the name of the model to “quadrune mind” shifted the focus from neurology to philosophy. The “quadrune mind” name also explicitly identifies “four minds in one” as the subject of this model of consciousness.
Study Guide. The Study Guide is available to be used by people before, during, and after attending our presentations or workshops of the quadrune mind model. We hope the guide will continue to provide helpful ideas for participants as they explore the meaning of life.
Religion, Psychology, Philosophy. The profile of the human brain in the logo was my attempt to indicate that the neurospiritual model was directly related to the physical human brain. Listed above the brain are areas of studies related to the neurospirituality/quadrune mind model. The terms above the brain—“religion,” “psychology,” and “philosophy”—move from the brain stem toward the frontal lobes by design. The order of the terms roughly reflects the development of these areas of human interest (see the “Human” section on page 9 of the Study Guide). The change of the model’s name changes the focus from the structure of the brain to the function of the mind(s).

Introduction (page 2)

Introduction. Neuroscientist Paul D. MacLean, M.D. developed the triune brain model in order to explain behaviors of human beings in their daily lives. He was a skillful neuroscientist with an exceptionally humane philosophical approach to brain research. His work has been particularly influential in the growth of American studies in evolutionary neuroethology. Nevertheless, his model of the brain has been criticized by some neuroscientists as being wrong regarding the evolutionary history of the human brain and its structure. The “Resources” list in the Study Guide contains several citations discussing and supporting MacLean’s contribution to neuroscience, including: Cory and Gardner (2002), Farley (2008), Lambert (2003), and Newman and Harris (2009).

MacLean’s triune brain contributions to the understanding of human behavior continue to provide guidance for the quadrune mind model. We believe that a four mind model of consciousness offers the most elegant explanation of how people can exhibit an extraordinary range of behaviors, from heartless bigotry to sublime generosity. The quadrune mind model appeals to the distinct mentalities associated with our evolutionary ancestors: cold-blooded reptiles, herd mammals, culture-creating mammals (primates), and the apparently unique consciousness of the Human1 being (except possibly for the octopus). The quadrune mind model also relies on the developmental stages of our minds. The pattern of mental growth seen in our infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood seems to echo the mental developmental stages of our evolutionary ancestors.
Program Goals for Participants. Many of the presentations of the QM model have been made to professional audiences, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, drug and alcohol counselors, licensed professional counselors, nurses, and others. However, the same goals apply for all presentations, including to the general public.
Disclaimer. I resigned my Oklahoma Health Service Provider license to provide psychological services to the public about a year after I retired. Therefore, these presentations are for informational and educational purposes only.
Biography. In 1984, I was working at an alcohol counseling outpatient center when a training consultant presented Paul MacLean’s triune brain model to the staff. It was in 1997 when I made the first presentation of my version of the model, which I called the neurospirituality model. Now, the quadrune mind model continues to energize me in the development and sharing of a model of spirituality that I value ever more deeply.

Brain Evolution Linked to Concern for Others (page 3)

Paul MacLean was always interested in the big questions of life: What is the purpose of life and how should a human being live? He had originally planned to study philosophy to find his answers. Along the way, he changed course toward neuroscience. The value of this interview for me is how MacLean described what he had learned from his neuroscientific research. He had learned what he had always wanted to know: the meaning of life.

Figure 1. The Triune Brain (page 4)

Figure 1. The Triune Brain. Figure 1 is a schematic drawing that illustrates MacLean’s three-in-one structure of the human brain. MacLean used this tripartite structure to explain how different parts of the brain functioned together to produce different behaviors across species. Some neuroscientists have criticized MacLean’s conclusions. However, in a general statement about models, British statistician George E. P. Box said, “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” In other words, by their very nature, models simplify reality. However, that simplification often allows us to see truths that might otherwise stay hidden. It is MacLean’s discussion of how brains function in different animals and in people (as opposed to the exact accuracy of the brain’s structure) that is most useful for those of us who also want to learn how human beings should live.
Figure 2. The Brain. A profile illustration with some of the major areas of the human brain identified.

Quadrune Mind and Levels of Consciousness of the Human Brain (page 5)

This table gives a complete overview of the quadrune mind model. Areas of the human brain are used to correspond with evolutionary classes of animals. The human brain stem represents a reptilian-like brain, which dominates the behaviors of infants and adults who are stuck at an infantile level of consciousness. The limbic system, an old mammal-like brain, corresponds to the dominant brain of children and adults functioning at a childish level of consciousness. The new mammalian-like neocortex dominates adolescence and the adult with an adolescent consciousness. The newest part of the human brain, the prefrontal cortex, is dominant in the spiritual conscious of the Human adult. There seems to be no analogous mind to the Human mind in the history of biology.

Evolutionary Traits of the Brain (page 6)

This table lists the traits that generally appear well-developed for the first time within each evolutionary category.

Healthy Developmental Stages of the Human Brain (page 7)

This table lists the minds of the human brain as they become successively dominant from birth to adulthood. Various qualities of each mind are described. Minds do not suddenly appear fully formed. A complex neural structure is needed to support each mentality. This structure may require months or years to develop. In the meantime, early signs of a developing mind emerge from time to time before it is organized sufficiently to become our dominant mind. Unfortunately, the healthy progression from the mind of an infant to the fully mature spiritual mind of an adult Human being can be disrupted by many different causes.

Afflictions of the Human Bain that May Cause a Dissociation of Minds (page 8)

On this page are some examples of genetic, biological, social, and environmental factors that may damage the human brain. These afflictions of the brain can occur prior to conception or during infancy, childhood, adolescence, or adulthood. Damage to the brain may be severe enough to prevent a higher level of consciousness from arising at the proper developmental age. Or, insults to the brain may cause a regression of the person’s level of consciousness later in life back to a less developed stage. The consequences of afflictions to the brain may last for a lifetime or even affect several generations of the person’s descendants due to epigenetics.

The Four Minds of the Human Brain (page 9)

This page is my favorite one of the Study Guide. A comprehensive understanding of the quadrune mind model can be acquired from this table. Listed under the four mentalities of the human brain are sample references to every aspect of the quadrune mind’s model of consciousness, generally in the same order down each column. Reading from top to bottom, the broad areas of interest include: (a) level of consciousness of each mind and the trait that is missing related to the next mental level, (b) approximation of how many years ago the mind evolutionarily appeared in animals and recent human ancestors, (c) some descriptive names of the general brain area involved that supports the respective mind, (d) developmental stage during which the mind comes of age in the healthy brain, (e) the primary goal of the dominant mind, (f) quality of relationships to other people, (g) the highest good to a person at that level of consciousness, (h) the dramatic theme of the person’s life at that level of consciousness, (i) sample of functional traits typically found in people living lives at that particular level of consciousness, and (j) my generic name for the population of people dominated by each mind.

However, it is important that we use these labels as a tool to help us see the different mentalities in the real world (and in ourselves), not to “label” people with the goal of feeling superior. Although the model is hierarchical in a developmental sense, it does not say that the Human mind may look down on pre-Humans. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The Human being does not demonize or discriminate against anyone who functions within any given mentality. Indeed, the sole purpose of Human beings is to reduce suffering and increase healing wherever they can, including with each other, no exceptions.

Healing the Afflicted Brain—Dissociated Minds: A Developmentally Based Neurospiritual Model (page 10)

This treatment model, which I adapted from the work of the late child psychiatrist Stanley I. Greenspan, has been used to educate professional participants of the quadrune mind presentations. However, it is equally applicable to all attendees. It is not only professional helpers who are obligated to become as skillful as possible to heal the world; it is the existential meaning of life for all of us.

Value Statements (page 11)

All of these statements have something of value to say relating to the quadrune mind model.

Resources (pages 12-18)

A great variety of resources are listed here. As different as these citations may appear, they are all included for one of two reasons: (1) they provide information that is helpful in understanding the quadrune mind model or (2) the resource material is experienced in an enriched way when seen through the quadrune mind lens. Nevertheless, the choice to include many of the items in the list is rather arbitrary. Each source is cited because it appealed to my personal interests, and for me, connected in some significant way to my own spiritual quest. You may well already have your own list of inspirational “wisdom” material. I hope the quadrune mind model will be included. It is the best of me that I have to give.

  1. We capitalize the “H” in “Human being” when we are referring to our unique Human mind (in the quadrune mind sense), as opposed to when we speak of “human beings” as a synonym for Homo sapiens.