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Neurolinguistic Programming:

An Integrative Model For States Of Consciousness


Gordana Vitaliano , M.D.
Boston, MA

Preface

This article is an excerpt from the new book, "Consciousness, Scientific Challenge of the 21st Century." Ed. Racovic D. & Koruga D., 1995, published by the European Centre for Peace and Development of the United Nations University for Peace

Introduction

The central task of our new integrative NLP model (Stanojevic-Vale ,1993), whether experimental or applied, is the understanding of the nature of human consciousness. In order to understand normal and altered states of consciousness, this model explores different, relatively separate areas of human behavior; for example, the areas of perception, of learning, of language, of cognitive processes, and of motor skills. Consciousness manifests properties that are para-conceptual by our ordinary concepts of space and time, and so require understanding in their own terms. As our understanding of these different areas of study in psychology grow, we continue to uncover the structures of human consciousness.

In the past few decades the West has witnessed a growing interest among scientists, psychologists and philosophers in what Ken Wilber (1977) has called "perennial psychology" - a universal view as to the nature of human consciousness. The purpose of this psychology is to develop a universal model of consciousness which integrates western and eastern philosophical doctrines and experiential practices.

The core insight of the perennial psychology is that human consciousness is a multi leveled manifestation of a universal consciousness. Each level of the spectrum is characterized by different and easily recognized sense of individual identity. A man can identify himself with the universe and have a feeling of supreme identity of the cosmic consciousness; or can focus only on his egoic tendencies and have a extremely narrowed feeling of identity related to ego-consciousness. There are numerous levels or bands of consciousness, described by different authors. We are presenting eight major levels in our hierarchical integrative model of consciousness.

The perennial psychology proposes that the various levels of consciousness (except that of Mind itself) are the products of dualism (Deutch, 1969). The dualism is the act of severance, cutting (con-scire) of the world into seer and seen, knower and known. The threefold meaning of consciousness is coming from the Latin words 'con-scio' that is to cut or make a distinction, and 'con-scire' to know. The original dualism is presented in mythology as the separation of heaven and earth, male and female, and sun and moon. In epistemology, it is the separation of subject and object, observer and observed; while in ontology it is presented as the separation of self and other, organism and environment. With the occurrence of the primary dualism, man's consciousness shifts from the nondual mind to his body.


Neurolinguistic Programming -
The Eight Levels

1. Perceptual Level

Man first identifies himself with his body that exists in space and time. That is, the level where the line between self and others, organism and environment, is becoming established. Out of the oneness of Universal Mind, the perceptual level emerges. Man becomes aware of his body separated from the environment. This knowledge simultaneously crates awareness of space -- the primary dualism. The primary dualism has been investigated by anthropologists concerned with the period in human evolution when man first learned to separate himself from his environment. Also, it has been described by psychologists who have studied infant development as the period when the child learns to separate himself from his immediate surroundings.

During the first 6 months of life, the self is identified with its environment and, especially, the mothering one (Mahler's "symbiotic phase", 1975). The new born infant cannot clearly differentiate himself as separate subject from his environment because the brain structures necessary for this process are still not developed. Most of the time, the infant is in the deep sleep. At the age of six months, the infant is becoming aware of his body and can recognize himself in the mirror. The self, basically as a sensorimotor and instinctual body, has differentiated itself from the environment.

The Perceptual Level includes the first set of filters called biological filters. Our nervous system with its sensory organs, initially determined genetically, constitutes the first set of biological filters which distinguishes external reality from our internal representation of the world; i.e., our experience of reality. Our genetically-given biological limitations allow us to perceive just a small portion of a broad range of continuous physical phenomenon.

Self development is followed by the development of the central nervous system. The functional specialization of the neural structures is associated with the process of myelinization of the brain structures. In the first 6 months of life, there is a myelinization of the Reticular Formation, which is responsible the state of arousal; and the Primary Zones of the brain's cortex, which are responsible for the development of the perceptual skills. The neurons of the primary sensory system respond only to narrowly specialized properties of sensory stimuli (e.g., shades of color, the character of lines, the direction of movement, and the loudness of sound) and preserve their strict modal specificity (Stanojevic, 1990).

The Perceptual Level is the level of altered state of consciousness, which exhibits predominantly theta (3.5 to 8 Hz) and delta (0.5 to 3.5 Hz) brain waves patterns. These brain waves usually correspond to normally unconscious informational content (Basar, 1980). At this level, the ionic acupuncture system is partly displaced from the body. Consciousness (i.e., subjective observer) is associated with an electromagnetic component of ELF (Extremely Low Frequencies) brainwaves that are embedded in the low dielectric gaseous weakly ionized medium (Rakovic et al., 1989). The ionic concentration in this diffusionally unstable medium after ~ 1 hour reaches the one in the atmospheric air outside the body, and the ELF brainwaves can flow through the surrounding weakly ionized atmosphere. The whole system is thus completely open for information exchange within the ELF domain, which can thus bring a sense of oneness with the surrounding world.

Subjectively, this state is experienced as a state of oceanic euphoria, unconditional omnipotence, and pleromatic paradise. Objectively, this level is characterized in our Integrative NLP (Stanojevic-Vale , 1993) by deep muscle relaxation, very slow metabolism, and decreased heart and respiratory rates. This state of awareness can be achieved in Integrative NLP by focusing internally on body function (i.e. breathing or heart rate), or on simple sensations of light, sound, smell or taste. Prolonged focusing on one external object can also produce this state of consciousness.


2. Emotional Level

As soon as man identifies with his body, and becomes aware of space, the problem of life vs. death occurs. At this moment appears the existential fear of death. In separating birth from death, man differentiates past from the future, and becomes aware of historical time. At the Emotional Level of awareness man, identified solely with his organism as existing in space (primary dualism) and time (secondary dualism). This knowledge creates an existential need to survive, and the fear of death. This is the level where man's emotional and thought processes, as well as his personal will, first begin to develop.

In developmental psychology, this period has been described as a beginning of the emotional life, and language acquisition. Sensory motor functions are now becoming more complex. The child starts to walk and to talk. He/she becomes more independent from others, and aware of him/her self as a separate emotional/physical being (Freud, 1923). By 18 months of age, a relatively stable core gender identity (i.e., the sense of being a boy or girl) is established. At the end of the second year, the child begins to use word "I" when he/she refers to himself or herself. On the biological level, scientists also describe the further development and the myelinization of the Limbic system (Cingulum) responsible for the emotional experience; and Secondary Zones of the brain cortex, which are responsible for the further development of perceptual and language functions. The Secondary Zones serve as an apparatus for the reception, analysis, and storage of modality specific information arriving from the outside world (Stanojevic, 1990).

The Emotional Level includes the second set of filters called sociogenetic filters. These filters are the internalized matrix of specific cultural premises, familial relationships, and social glosses; as well as social institutions of language, logic, ethics, and law. The sociogenetic filter represents those aspects of the environment that have been interjected during the developmental process. At the Emotional Level, the values of society are becoming mapped into the biological organism that exists in the space and time.

The Emotional Level is the level of altered states of consciousness, with predominantly alpha (8 to 13 Hz) and some theta (3.5 to 8 Hz) brain waves patterns that usually correspond to normally subconscious informational content. At this level, the ionic gaseous system is still partly displaced from the body. Consciousness associated with the electromagnetic component of ELF brainwaves is embedded in the low dielectric gaseous weekly ionized medium. The difference from the previously described state is that the periods of sleep are significantly reduced.

Subjectively, this state is experienced as a state of pleasant and unpleasant emotions, ranging from bliss and ecstatic release to fear and rage. It is also a state of impersonality, multivalent images, and archetypal forms (Jung, 1967), distance, and dissociation. Objectively, this is the level that is characterized in Integrative NLP by rapid eye movements or eye fixation, middle ear muscle activation, irregular heart rate and respiration, significantly reduced muscle tone with occasional muscle twitches, tremor, or cataplexy and catalepsy. This level can be entered in Integrative NLP by concentrating on different feelings, emotions, and visual imagines.


3. Symbolic Level

At the Emotional Level, a man fears death and fights for his life. In order to overcome the primordial fear of death, a man creates a permanent image of himself called "ego", which consists of fixed and stable symbols. On this level, man identifies with the seemingly undying idea of himself -- his "ego". He becomes aware of himself as "I". His identity shifts from his total psychophysical organism to his mental representation of his organism. This is the tertiary dualism which creates the next major level -- the Symbolic Level.

On the Symbolic Level, a man is not anymore directly identified with his total psychophysical organism as existing in space and time. He now identifies solely with a mental representation or picture of himself. In other words, he is aware of his ego, his self image. He feels that he exists in his body and not as his body. His consciousness is not anymore bound by the emotional level, but shifts to the level of awareness where the intellectual and symbolic processes emerge. His body processes mostly become unconscious, and the symbolic processes start to predominate in his awareness.

In developmental psychology, this period has been described as the beginning of cognitive development -- preoperational thinking (Piaget, 1954). From two to seven years of age, the child is capable to form symbols and concepts, but can not yet operate or coordinate those representations. For example, a child can count objects but cannot easily multiply or divide them. He/she cannot comprehend more than one dimension or property of the object, and cannot understand volume and mass. For example, the child learns to group objects by color or shape, but not both. Also, if the object changes shape, the child does not understand that the object preserves its original mass or volume. The major characteristic of this period is egocentrism because the child is unable to put himself in the place of someone else.

The Symbolic Level includes the third set of filters called individual constraints, or personal filters. By individual constraints, we refer to all the representations of the world that a man creates during the course of his life, based upon his own unique personal experiences. These models or maps will constitute a set of interests, habits, likes, dislikes, and rules for behavior that are distinctly his own. Every person has a different set of experiences in life, and thus creates different models or maps of the world that govern his/her behavior.

At the same time, on the brain level, scientists describe the further development and the myelinization of the Tertiary Zones of the brain cortex. The Tertiary Zones are involved in sensory data integration, and the transition from the level of simple visual representations to the level of complex symbolic processes (e.g. operations with word meanings, with complex grammatical and logical structures and with systems of numbers). The tertiary zones play an essential role in the conversion of concrete perception into abstract thinking (Stanojevic, 1990).

The Symbolic level is the level with predominantly beta (13 to 30 Hz) and alpha waves (8 to 13 Hz) in the brain. On this level, man becomes aware of normally conscious and subconscious information only in altered states of consciousness related to REM sleep phases. Consciousness is still associated with electromagnetic component of ELF brainwaves embedded in the low dielectric gaseous weakly ionized medium that is partially displaced from the body (Stanojevic-Vale & Rakovic, 1995).

Subjectively this state is experienced as a state of preoperational or mythic thinking, temporal desires, specific likes and dislikes, tension and relaxation, safety and belongingness. Objectively, this is the level in Integrative NLP where consciousness shifts from the relaxed day-dream state to the normal awake state in which all the activities can be fully performed. On this level in Integrative NLP we apply different techniques that include anchoring or reframing of the specific experience; transforming a negative experience into positive via play or ritual, imaginative problem solving, age regression and metaphorical stories.


4. The Rational Level

Finally, a man identifies with only a fraction of his psychic processes that he considers to be himself. He becomes aware only of the ideal image of himself, and all other unwanted aspects of his ego become unconscious. In an attempt to make his self-image acceptable, he represses all the "bad" aspects of his egoic tendencies, thus creating the new level, called the Rational Level. On this Rational Level, man imposes a dualism or split upon his own ego, represses the underlying unity of all his egoic tendencies, and projects them as the persona vs. shadow. Such then is a generation of the quaternary dualism.

At the Rational Level, man identifies with mostly inaccurate and greatly limited aspects of his ego, his ideal image of himself -- his persona. At the same time, all unacceptable aspects of himself are repressed and are projected as the 'shadow' (Jung, 1967). Man alienates and dis-identifies with psychic tendencies that he considers to be painful, miserable, or undesirable (e.g., unpleasant thoughts and emotions like fear or rage, sexual and aggressive instincts, and socially forbidden behavior) and finally projects them into the shadow.

At the Rational level, man has already lost direct contact with his body, and parts of his ego. Psychoanalytically, the unconscious contains wishes and ideas linked to the wishes that were banished from consciousness via the mechanism of repression. On the Rational Level, man dis-identifies himself with other levels that have become completely unconscious. Normal adult man usually spends most of his every day life within the Rational Level of consciousness. He is predominantly aware of his ideal self-image in relation to his environment.

In developmental psychology, this level has been described as the level of the concrete and formal operational thinking (Piaget, 1954). At approximately seven years of age, a child starts to comprehend multiple classification, as well as two or more classes occurring simultaneously (e.g. the child can order objects serially along a dimension, such as increasing size from smallest to largest). His thinking is not anymore egocentric and narcissistic. He/she is becoming capable to take the role of others; and to perform rule operations such as multiplication, division, and class inclusion. Concrete operational thinking is still bound to the concrete and obvious world, and cannot grasp possible or hypothetical relationships.

At around eleven years of age, the adolescent attains the capacity for abstract and propositional thinking about multiple variables. He/she is capable of looking at a problem from multiple points of view. The adolescent can analyze each variable independently, or as a part of the whole. Abstract concepts such as truth or virtue are subject to discussion or analysis. Erickson (1959) referred to this process as the formation of ego identity. This is the final stage of development of the ego. The mature ego becomes capable of imagining possibilities not given to mere sensory evidence or sensory-concrete operation. On the biological level, there is a continuation of the brain myelinization which occurs on the level of interhemispheric connections that coordinate functions of left and right brain hemispheres.

The Rational level is the level where consciousness, associated with the electromagnetic component of the ELF brainwaves, most of the day-time completely pervades the brain's neural network. At this level, there is a good separation of normally conscious and subconscious contents in the brain, while mixing of information that belongs to other levels of consciousness is only possible during the REM sleep phases (Stanojevic-Vale & Rakovic, 1995). At this level, the brainwave spectrum is dominated by the upper two ELF channels: gamma (30 to 50 Hz), and beta (13 to 30 Hz), and information mostly corresponds to normally conscious content (Basar,1980).

Subjectively this state is experienced as a state of concrete and formal operational thinking, inner dialogues, temporal goals and desires, self-esteem needs, self-control and will-power, different emotions (e.g., pride, guilt, love, and hatred). Objectively, this is the level where consciousness is completely associated with the normal awake state in which all the activities can be fully performed. This is the most superficial level in Integrative NLP (Stanojevic-Vale , 1993). The techniques that belong to this level are: goal planning, time management, future visualization and self-affirmations.


5. The Creative Level

The Creative Level is the level where the formal mind integrates all the ideas and experiences into one, whole picture model of the world. Man is now capable to envision how the truth or falsity of any one idea would affect the truth or falsity of the others. Man now comprehends a mass network of ideas, how they influence each other, and what their relationships are. This is the Arubindo's "higher mind" that can make connections, relate truths, coordinate ideas and integrate concepts. It is the highest integrative structure in the individual realm, "self-seen in the integral whole". All the structures of the human psyche are completely integrated into the one whole.

This is the creative phase in the development of human consciousness. There exists no more separation; but rather, integration of the human psyche. The fully integrated rational and symbolic levels are preparing to become one with the emotional level. There is now a completion of brain development, and the final myelinization takes place of all possible inter and intra-hemispheric connections.

The Creative level is the level where consciousness, associated with the electromagnetic component of the ELF brainwaves, together with the ionic acupuncture system, is deliberately displaced from the highly developed neural network of the brain (Stanojevic-Vale & Rakovic, 1995). At this level of prolonged altered states of consciousness, there is not only mixing, but also the efficient integration of normally conscious and subconscious contents. The brainwave spectrum is now exhibiting normal brain wave patterns that correspond to gamma, beta and alpha waves. In Buddhism this level is called "manovijnan", or the "intellect"; while in Hinduism it is referred as "stulasarir".

Subjectively, this state is experienced as a state of self-actualization, vision-logic, high fantasy, synthetic thinking, spontaneity, creativity, and supersensitivity. Objectively, this is the level where consciousness can easily shift from the rational to symbolic level, and finally back to the emotional level of awareness. All the information from these levels can be fully processed and integrated into the Creative Level of awareness. The techniques being used in Integrative NLP to enhance the development of the Creative Level of awareness are creative modeling, age progression, creative visualization, and moment to moment awareness.


6. Supra-Individual Level

This is the realm of high religious intuition and literal inspiration, of symbolic visions, of audible illuminations, of blue, gold and white light. This is the realm of higher presences, guides, angelic beings, deities -- all of which are high archetypal forms of one's own being (Jung, 1967). The subject is identified with an object of faith. At it's peak, the subject dissolves into the object. The worship, the worshipper and the worshipped are one.

On this level, man transcends his normal capacity of individual mind and body, and returns back to the higher realm of existence. He operates upon the world, and his body and mind, in ways that appear to ordinary people to be fantastic and extraordinary. He develops extrasensory perception, precognition, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, and so on. Man masters the level of psychic phenomena and paranormal powers by fully integrating his rational, symbolic, and emotional level. He originally came from this realm, and can occasionally go back, but the complete integration takes place only after the individual development and synthesis of mind and body. This level appears to be the same as the emotional level of the infant. The difference, though, is that the infant is aware but cannot operate on this level because neither brain nor mind are still fully developed. The infant is the passive observer, the mystic, the active creator.

This is the level where the ionic gaseous system is deliberately completely displaced from the body. Consciousness associated with the electromagnetic component of ELF brainwaves is now completely embedded in the low dielectric unhomogeneous gaseous weekly ionized medium (Stanojevic-Vale & Rakovic, 1995). There is an intense mixing and integration of normally conscious, subconscious, and unconscious information. The brain exhibits a normal spectrum of gamma, beta, alpha and delta waves. Hinduism calls this level "suksmasarir"; while Buddhism terms this level "manas", and defines it as the persistent source of existential, rational, and volitional awareness.

Subjectively, this state is experienced as a state of rapture, bliss, compassion, and gratefulness, extrasensory perception, developed intuition and inspiration, archetypal forms, audible illumination, and revalations of light and sound. Objectively, this is the level where consciousness can easily process all the information coming from completely integrated rational-symbolic-emotional levels in one Supra-individual level. The techniques being used in Integrative NLP to enhance development of this level are lucid dreaming, astral projection, astral travel, hypnotic reincarnation, and personal guides or spiritual teacher visualization.


7. Transindividual Level

The process of integration and transcendence continues even further by dissolving into the higher 'other' realm; leading finally to the Unity itself. This process has been described in both East and West mystical traditions (Wilber, 1977,1980, 1981, 1986).

At the surpra-individual level, man becomes aware of his archetypal Deity (as ishtadeva, yidam, dyani-Buddha), and finally becomes one with his Archetype. At the trans-individual level, man-as-deity dissolves into the final-God, which has been described as an intensive subtle 'audible illumination', the ultimate source from which all Archetypal forms emerged. Man becomes one with God. In the final transcendence, all the pervious levels become completely integrated, and dissolved into a formless, infinite, unbounded consciousness.

At this level, the displaced ionic gaseous system completely deteriorates, and becomes homogeneous. The ionic concentration in this medium reaches the one in the air, and ELF brainwaves can flow through the surrounding weakly ionized atmosphere. The whole system is now open for information exchange in the ELF domain, which brings the sense of oneness with the surrounding world. At the same time, there is a complete integration of all possible information (Stanojevic-Vale & Rakovic, 1995). The brain shows the full range of brainwaves spectrum: gamma, beta, alpha, delta and theta waves. In Mahayana Buddhism this level of consciousness is called "alayavijnan", or "supraindividual repository consciousness"; while in Hinduism, they are refer to it as the "karanasarir" or "causal body".

Subjectively, this state is experienced as a state of final illumination, radiant bliss, formless radiance, transcendent love in oneness, formless realization, and boundless consciousness. Objectively, this level is characterized by the final integration of all the levels: rational/symbolic/emotional/perceptual into one Trans-individual level. This state of awareness can be achieved via Integrative NLP by the practice of prayers and meditation (Stanojevic-Vale ,1993).


8. The Universal Level

Man's innermost consciousness is identical to the absolute and ultimate reality of the universe. On this level, man is identified with the universal mind, and his consciousness becomes spaceless and timeless, and therefore eternal and infinite. This is the state of nirvana, samadhi, satori, enlightenment, state of completely liberated consciousness and peaceful mind. In that moment, there is no distinction between subject and object, self and not self, seer and seen. Therefore, there is no more possibility for sending and receiving any information -- man is what there is and all there is.

At this level, there are no differences between the organism and environment. This is the state were a homogenous dielectric medium completely dissolves, enabling the peaceful mind without stream of consciousness (Stanojevic-Vale & Rakovic, 1995).

Subjectively, the entire world process than arises, moment to moment as one's own Being, outside of which and prior to which, nothing exists. This is the ultimate Unity, where all things and events, while remaining perfectly separate and discrete, are only One. This is the final differentiation of the Consciousness; the state of perfect transcendence; which is not a trascendence in the world but a final transcendence as the world itself. By interpreting and integrating all the levels, realms and planes, high or low, sacred or profane, consciousness operates as the entire world process itself. "Form is not other than Void, Void is not other than Form", says the most famous Buddhist Sutra ("The Heart Sutr"-see Wilber, 1981). At that point, the extraordinary and the ordinary, the supernatural and the mundane, are one and the same. This is the ultimate Unity toward which all evolution, human and cosmic, drives.

The ultimate goal of Integrative NLP is the same as in yoga and related esoteric disciplines -- the continual prolongation of altered states of consciousness 24 hours a day; with a displaced ionic system continuously open. This also means that the ultradian rhythm responsible for changes in states of consciousness (Rossi, 1986) does not exist any more. The biological basis for this phenomenon is probably the enhancement and completion of all possible connections between the left and right brain hemispheres, which then allows the displacement and complete deterioration of the ionic acupuncture system, accompanied by liberation of the "subjective observer"-- i.e., the electromagnetic component of the ELF brainwaves.


Conclusions

It has been showen in the Integrative NLP model of states of consciousness that a conscious neural network is able to process information in any of the following execution modes:

  • Brain: Processing takes place biochemically in the brain neural networks.
  • Brainwaves: Processing is parallelly executed biophysically via brainwaves, inside the ionic "optical" neural network of the ionic acupuncture system with embedded electromagnetic field of extremely low frequency (ELF) brainwaves. In altered states of consciousness, when a part of the ionic acupuncture system is displaced from the body, the processing is executed outside the body, too.
  • Mixed: Processing takes place via the mixed modalities of Brain and Brainwaves.

As a result we have significant implications:

(1) Supertemporal Processing: Mixed Modal processing in altered states of consciousness exhibits processing speeds that greatly exceed the brain's biochemical rate of execution.

(2) Proximity Leaning: A conscious brain's neural network is able to impart its knowledge to another close brain's neural network via ELF electromagnetic induction, which is also the basis of healing in NLP hypnotherapy.

Experimental investigation of conscious neural networks is possible, and includes the following procedures:

  • Testing, via computer-based tests, of the information processing capacity found in normal and altered states of consciousness;
  • Monitoring of the brain activity in normal and altered states of consciousness by using EEG and SQUID brain mapping.
  • Detecting the low-dielectric ionic structure by monitoring the local change in the ionic concentration in the vicinity of the body with highly sensitive infrared image processing;
  • Measuring the correlation between information processing capacity and parameters of the theoretically predicted ionic structure (ionic concentration, ionic currents, magnetic fields) in normal and altered state of consciousness.
  • Testing of low-power ELF transmission between neural networks with embedded ELF waves: One neural network can transfer its learned information to neighboring neural networks via electromagnetic induction coupling (this might also be the basis for short-range transpersonal interactions, such as healing).


Significance

The advantages afforded to our clients by our Integrative NLP model (Stanojevic-Vale ,1993) are as follows:

  • Precise, careful, documentation and quantification of psychological and biophysical functions in the Integrative NLP diagnostic procedure;
  • Appropriate, strategically developed, and carefully considered choice of Integrative NLP therapeutic interventions;
  • Flexibility and inventiveness in the selection and application of Integrative NLP therapeutic methods.

The significances of our Integrative NLP model of states of consciousness for the medical and scientific community are as follows:

  • This model focuses not only on individual differing deficits and clinical presentations, but also on the client's present abilities, and potential strengths in normal and altered states of consciousness. The latter are especially important for designing the appropriate therapeutic procedures.
  • Broad, flexible, effective, and standardized biophysical and psychological diagnostic procedures will enable better understanding of the client's strengths and limitations in different states of consciousness, and facilitate the appropriate choice of hypno-therapeutic intervention.
  • The careful measurement of the effectiveness of a given Integrative NLP intervention, and further monitoring during the course of recovery, will provide useful information to the therapist about possible further intervention. This in turn will allow for the development of more specific Integrative NLP strategies and alternative therapeutic programs.
  • The follow-up study of results and outcomes of the applied Integrative NLP interventions can be of great importance for further public health and welfare polices.


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