So, instead, here is a recipe for writing a hit popular brain book. Never fear: brain research has the answers. Can We Move Toward Mindful Medicine? Where ya been hiding lately?Hiding from the Wolves. I have no biblical training or degrees. Shall fall in it, fall in it (Even practising scientists sometimes make such grandiose claims for a general audience, perhaps urged on by their editors: that quotation is from the psychologist Elaine Fox’s interesting book on “the new science of optimism”, Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain, published this summer.) You then climax in a fit of premature extrapolation, inferring from the scientific result a calming bromide about what it is to function optimally as a modern human being. Distortion of what and how much we know is bound to occur, Paul Fletcher points out, if the literature is cherry-picked. In recent months I have seen published research showing neuro profiles of mood disorders and schizophrenia, to name just two. If you are the big tree, Let me tell you this: we are the small axe Ready to cut you down, (well sharp) Sharpened to cut you down.. © Repeat Chorus This is the insights and mind of a man in search of gods heart. Myself. Stephen Weatherhead, DClinPsy - February 9, 2014 . You then mine the neuroscientific research for an apparently relevant specific result and narrate the experiment, perhaps interviewing the scientist involved and describing his hair. Antipsychotics for Psychosis, Bipolar & More, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19367832, Cognitive Therapy is Safe & Effective for Schizophrenia, Without Drugs, http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/books/2012/09/your-brain-pseudoscience, Voting While “Mentally Ill”: A Legacy of Discrimination. In The Invisible Gorilla, Christopher Chabris and his collaborator Daniel Simons advise readers to be wary of such “brain porn”, but popular magazines, science websites and books are frenzied consumers and hypers of these scans. I am a student of Jesus and my heart beats for him I essentially began instinctively assessing people’s cognitive profile. I began to see how our unique cognitive profiles make us who we are.”, I would suggest the opposite may well be true of neuropsychology – uniqueness and ‘content’ are not parts of the explanatory model(s). Or thinner? The latter shows us awe-inspiring vistas of distant nebulae, as though painstakingly airbrushed by a sci-fi book-jacket artist; the former peers the other way, into psychedelic inner space. Repeat Chorus Updating things a bit for the kids, the evolutionary psychologist Robert Kurzban, in Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite, explains that the brain is like an iPhone running a bunch of different apps. How come the brain gives rise to the mind? that every person on the planet is ‘the same’ (cognitively… if not neurally) – bar the odd ‘alien’ amongst us (pace Caramazza). I had the fortunate experience of undertaking not only neuropsychological assessments, but also therapeutic interventions and service projects. Cherry-picking How can I be happier? 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Meanwhile, Susan Cain’s Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking calls dopamine the “reward chemical” and postulates that extroverts are more responsive to it.) None of the foregoing should be taken to imply that fMRI and other brain-investigation techniques are useless: there is beautiful and amazing science in how they work and what well-designed experiments can teach us. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Roberts, G.A. The dazzling real achievements of brain research are routinely pressed into service for questions they were never designed to answer. Psychiatry’s biggest crime is to remove meaning from our experience. And whosoever diggeth a pit 6. “This is your brain on music”, announces a caption to a set of fMRI images, and we are invited to conclude that we now understand more about the experience of listening to music. In mass culture, the fMRI scan (usually merged from several individuals) has become a secular icon, the converse of a Hubble Space Telescope image. Narrative and severe mental illness: what place do stories have in an evidence-based world? It’s an angry ghost in the machine. You say “My eyes were opened in a very positive way. The implicit picture is of our uneasy coexistence with a beast inside the head, which needs to be controlled if we are to be happy, or at least liberal. This is the plague of neuroscientism – aka neurobabble, neurobollocks, or neurotrash – and it’s everywhere. To invent things supposedly said by the most obsessively studied popular artist of our age is a surprising gambit. The hucksters of neuroscientism are the conspiracy theorists of the human animal, the 9/11 Truthers of the life of the mind. My journey with Christ. By this, I don’t just mean I like a good story (which I do), but also that I am drawn to narrative therapy, narrative research, and narrative philosophies. Thus, “neuroeconomics” is the latest in a long line of rhetorical attempts to sell the dismal science as a hard one; “molecular gastronomy” has now been trumped in the scientised gluttony stakes by “neurogastronomy”; students of Republican and Democratic brains are doing “neuropolitics”; literature academics practise “neurocriticism”. Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. Waterstones now even has a display section labelled “Smart Thinking”, stocked with pop brain tracts. You start each chapter with a pat anecdote about an individual’s professional or entrepreneurial success, or narrow escape from peril. People like a sales person who knows their needs, without having to spell them out. Self-help can be a tricky business. Iron sharpens Iron. Telling me that no weak heart shall prosper A little while ago, I heard a very insightful point made by a member of the public at a conference. Voilà, a laboratory-sanctioned Big Idea in digestible narrative form. I was recently caught by a BBC headline reporting £8,000 000 being spent on a new scanner at a leading UK neurosciences centre. I would be interested to hear how – apart from the trivially true sense – you see neuropsychology reveal uniqueness through neurocircuitry or cognitive profiles? In 2006 I undertook a neuropsychology placement during my Clinical Psychology Doctoral training course. Quite consistently, heir recommendations boil down to a kind of neo- Stoicism, drizzled with brain-juice. René Descartes located the soul in the pineal gland; the moral of modern pop neuroscience is that original sin is physical – a bestial, demonic proto-brain lurking at the heart of darkness within our own skulls. And whosoever diggeth a pit shall bury in it (In a sense, as Paul Fletcher points out, such books are “anti science, given that science is supposed to be our protection against believing whatever we find most convenient, comforting or compelling”.) Such is the rigid formula of Imagine: How Creativity Works, published in March this year by the American writer Jonah Lehrer. I hereby volunteer to submit to a functional magnetic-resonance imaging scan while reading a stack of pop neuroscience volumes, for an illuminating series of pictures entitled This Is Your Brain on Stupid Books About Your Brain. Neuroscience has made huge strides in the last 20 years. For example, I’ve never been neuropsychologically tested myself, but I’d be fairly confident in saying that I have strengths in verbal/auditory memory, but pretty low processing speed and executive functioning. (Gladwell, in Blink – whose motivational selfhelp slogan is that “we can control rapid cognition” – burblingly describes the fusiform gyrus as “an incredibly sophisticated piece of brain software”, though the fusiform gyrus is a physical area of the brain, and so analogous to “hardware” not “software”.) The Blinding Hate and The Rage That Made You Stagger. Shall fall in it, bury in it 2) Lots of psych treatments causes brain injury: ECT, benzos, antipsychotics and SSRIs among other stuff. I can see how you might arrive at these views, but not via neuropsychology…. 3) Wow this is a self-reinforcing circle now, with psych patients getting brain injured and / or traumatized (which presents much the same way) then getting more psych “treatment.”, Stephen Perhaps most influential has been the development of neuroimaging. My own view is a cautious one. And whosoever diggeth a pit Life advice is the hook for nearly all such books. Everyone can see the difference…its obvious. we learned lots about short-term memory from HM, but we never learned much/anything about ‘HM’. Author: Small Axe. These are the words of my master You can also subscribe without commenting. This meant a lot of people-watching, as folk were in the store. The trick in any sales setting is to quickly find out what the customer wants, and match what you are selling, to their needs. There is strong evidence for the amygdala’s role in fear, but then fear is one of the most heavily studied emotions; popularisers downplay or ignore the amygdala’s associations with the cuddlier emotions and memory. Neuropsycholgy is in severe danger of taking up the baton from psychiatry in its desperate search to neuroprofile ‘disorders’. Illumination is promised on a personal as well as a political level by the junk enlightenment of the popular brain industry. Perhaps Lehrer misunderstood his own advice about creativity. Chris Mooney’s The Republican Brain: the Science of Why They Deny Science – and Reality disavows “reductionism” yet encourages readers to treat people with whom they disagree more as pathological specimens of brain biology than as rational interlocutors. It was in a community brain injury service. There is “neurotheology”, “neuromagic” (according to Sleights of Mind, an amusing book about how conjurors exploit perceptual bias) and even “neuromarketing”. Things suddenly made sense; psychology, interactions, life, all became much clearer. BBC (2012) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19367832. Glory and honor to you Jesus, my lord and savior. Let me tell you that In my view, this is no different to some mountebank selling quacksalve by talking about the physics of water molecules’ memories, or a beautician talking about action liposomes.”. It is self-help armoured in hard science. Diving into Your Soul: Lessons from “Queer Eye”, Anticholinergic Drugs Increase Risk of Cognitive Decline, Researchers: It’s Time to Stop Recommending Antidepressants for Depression, Digital Psychiatry Transforms How We Think About Mental Health, Understanding Self-Harm as Embodied Communication, Insane Medicine, Chapter 2: The Scientism of Psychiatry (Part 1), The Double Standard at the Heart of Peer Services, An American History of Addiction, Part 3: Mr. Booze. We are the small ax You know there is obscure stuff going on under the hood, so you tinker delicately with what you can see to try to coax it into working the way you want. As I got more into neuropsychology, I began to apply the same skills. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Quick instinctive tips like this all made for better sales. That a part of it “lights up” on an fMRI scan does not mean the rest is inactive; nor is it obvious what any such lighting-up indicates; nor is it straightforward to infer general lessons about life from experiments conducted under highly artificial conditions.
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