Introduction and FAQs

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Can you explain your BPS2.0 framework in one minute?

The traditional biopsychosocial view (see left picture) describes different types of processes affecting human beings: physical (e.g. blood pressure), biological (e.g. cell divisions), psychological (e.g. conditioning processes and cognitive processes, and social (e.g. relationships). This conceptual framework barely passes as a fundamental and unifying model of humans, but is rather the explicit acknowledgement of the existence of separate biological, psychological, and social processes. Moreover, those processes are fuzzily defined in terms of mental constructs (such as "to love" or "to age") and overlapping (loving and ageing use the same body and brain).

We propose that

    1. only a framework based on physical states can ever provide for holistic and operational models of the human system, and
    2. Humans are information gathering and utilizing systems (I.G.U.S.), and their brain's informational content, apart from body and environment, drives our behaviour and experience.

Our framework constructs overarching models of humans by slicing up the physical world into domains while considering the physical representation of information. The slicing method ensures that our description is complete. Our simplest human model consists of four domains:

    1. the environment,
    2. the body,
    3. the confined memories ("ames"), and
    4. the communicable memories ("memes") .

Important consequences of the model are:

    1. Processes of any type (physical, biological, psychological, and social) always involve changes in one or more of these four domains.
    2. To understand any human process, search for elements driving the process in all domains.
    3. Psychotherapy is about changing the informational content of the client.
    4. Mental constructs are stored within our brain and are the patterns that some types of recurring processes share.

Why do we need your BPS2.0 framework?

The human disciplines are all focusing on very specific phenomena using very specific perspectives. For example, the geneticist searches for a genetic predisposition in a certain type of cancer. Or the psychotherapist treats the fear of dying with a cancer patient. Their descriptive language and empirical knowledge is valid for their focus, but cannot achieve an overarching framework on human behaviour and experience. Such a framework is needed for a clear theoretical perspective that facilitates describing, classifying, and managing the complexity of human nature. Some people do not see such a need, in the same way that a sailor does not care to know that the planets go around the sun in order to navigate around Earth but that knowledge gives him a wider and clearer perspective.

A global framework could holistically study human processes and treat disorders. Students of the human disciplines must work too hard to make sense of the diversity of drivers of human processes in their own fields, in which they want to become an expert, and in all other fields, to which they want to be an observer. Patients are even more struggling to build up a simple global picture on what causes and modulates their symptoms and associated handicap. Of course, any area of society would practically benefit from a more effective holistic framework. Not to speak of the intellectual satisfaction to better understand ourselves and our place within the world.

What are memes and ames?

Human beings are information gathering and utilizing systems. The information is stored in the human brain in terms of identifiable physical structures, and crucially controls many behaviours and experience. We approximate the informational content as a list of discrete units of information, and distinguish between two forms depending on their communicability. We call a "meme" a unit of information directly communicable via language (essentially an idea that you can propagate), and an "ame" a unit of information confined to the human brain such as motor-sensory and associative memory).

The word "meme" was proposed by Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene as an illustration of the possibility of another replicator apart from genes. Like genes, units of cultural information can evolve, because they can spread from brain to brain, mutate, and be selected for. In our context, we define memes as those units of information that can be communicated via language, such as concepts (e.g parent, sea, and physics), knowledge and beliefs (e.g. my password is XYZ, my Name is Z, water freezes at 0° Celsius), scripts (e.g. how to tie laces, how to greet, and how to date), and labels (e.g. social labelling of sensorimotor memory, e.g. labeling the colour of red as “red”).

We created the word "ame" due to its simularity to the word "meme", and as a shortcut to association-motorcode-experience, where experience refers to sensory memory. In short, think of memes as ideas (but we did not name them ideas because we want to emphasise their communicability and ability to spread), and ames are just all other memories confined to yourself that you cannot communicate in words. Examples of ames are for associations (e.g. fear-spider in a spider phobia, bell-food in Pavlov's dogs), motor codes (walking, articulating vowels, and juggling), and sensory memory (e.g. face of mother, taste of chocolate, smell of cheese, and sound of bell).

What are the applications of your framework?

The framework provides the tools to construct models of the human system that allow to holistically describe, classify, and manage the complexity of human nature. Its completeness ensures that you can systematically cycle through the different domains of the model in your search for determinants of specific behaviours or disorders. Until now, this analysis was less systematic, either often based on fuzzy concepts and in the terminology of one human discipline. The framework has already been applied to stuttering, a multi-dimensional disorder, and you can find a presentation in the In-depth material section. The framework is generic and applicable to all kinds of human activity or disorders, and is especially useful for those that exhibit a diverse range of biopsychosocial influences. You will also find a complete hand-out of a three-hour workshop for physicians in training.