The word “heart” is written more than 1000 times in the Bible. It’s a common metaphor in our English language, with words like “heartache,” “sweetheart,” “disheartening,” providing metaphors for the core of our being, a source of emotions and knowledge from a non-verbal center of consciousness.
The modern medical-scientific paradigm holds that personality and emotions are located in the brain; profound behavioral differences are seen upon brain injury. However, the experience of heart transplant recipients leads to questions as to whether the heart contains some essential portion of a human’s consciousness.
Michael Liester, from the University of Colorado, cites multiple instances of profound personality changes following heart transplant. One poignant example comes from “a 47-year-old white male foundry worker who received the heart of a 17-year-old African American male killed in a drive-by shooting. The recipient described, “I used to hate classical music, but now I love it. So I know it’s not my new heart, because a black guy from the hood wouldn’t be into that. Now it calms my heart. I play it all the time. I more than like it.” The recipient’s wife elaborated: “. . . he’s driving me nuts with the classical music. He doesn’t know the name of one song and never, never listened to it before. Now, he sits for hours and listens to it. He even whistles classical music songs that he could never know.” The donor’s mother reported, “Our son was walking to violin class when he was hit. Nobody knows where the bullet came from, but it just hit him and he fell. He died right there on the street hugging his violin case. He loved music and his teachers said he had a real thing for it. He would listen to music and play along with it.”
Liester lists several examples of patients exhibiting uncharacteristic behaviors after transplant, including changing sexual preference, food aversions, and overall temperament. Patients will even report specific memories of the donor.
He offers one hypothesis which I find particularly salient:
“Pearsall suggested personality changes following heart transplantation may result from changes in the energy of the heart. Pearsall equates energy with information, explaining: “energy and information are the same thing. Everything that exists has energy, energy is full of information, and stored info-energy is what makes up cellular memories” One type of energy is electromagnetic energy and one source of electromagnetic energy is the heart. The heart generates its own electromagnetic field, which is the largest such field in the body, producing an amplitude 60 times greater than the amplitude of the brain’s electromagnetic field. Is it possible that the body contains mechanisms for reading this electromagnetic field, similar to how “readers” analyze epigenetic changes and then modify gene expression? If so, what types of information might be obtained? Descriptions from different cultures describe two types of information or knowledge, one located in the brain and the second centered in the heart. The ancient Greeks described these two types of knowledge as diakresis (i.e. rational or deductive knowledge) and gnosis (i.e. intuitive or spiritual knowledge). The source of the latter was attributed to the nous, an organ located in the region of the heart, which was also referred to as the “eye of the heart.”
“Ken Wilber described these two types of knowledge as dualistic and non-dualistic knowledge, whereas William James referred to them as conceptual and intuitive knowledge. Intuitive knowledge transcends rational knowledge, allowing access to information from a source other than the brain. Although this type of knowledge is often ignored by contemporary Western science, it has been valued and relied upon by other cultures for thousands of years. What types of information can be stored in electromagnetic energy? To answer this question, we need only turn on the radio, TV, or computer to find examples of information that is encoded, transmitted, and decoded as electromagnetic energy. Replacing one person’s heart with the heart of another changes the recipient’s electromagnetic field. If information is stored in the donor’s electromagnetic field, as suggested by Pearsall, transferring information via heart transplantation could alter the recipient’s personality via changes in preferences, emotions, temperament, memory, and identity.”
Cranial nerve 10 is the Vagus nerve. Surgery for heart transplant involves transacting the nerve, and patients often experience diaphragmatic paralysis following transplant. On the theme of electromagnetic disturbances, this is a potentially significant location of injury.
I’ll close this entry with Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”