Saturday, July 7, 2012

Quantum Psychology

In 1933, in Science and Sanity, Alfred Korzybski proposed that we should abolish the "is of identity" from the English language. (The "is of identity" takes the form X is a Y. e.g., "Joe is a Communist," "Mary is a dumb file-clerk," "The universe is a giant machine," etc.) In 1949, D. David Bourland Jr. proposed the abolition of all forms of the words "is" or "to be" and the Bourland proposal (English without "isness") he called E-Prime, or English-Prime.

A few scientists have taken to writing in E-Prime (notable Dr. Albert Ellis and Dr. E.W. Kellogg III). Bourland, in a recent (not-yet-published) paper tells of a few cases in which scientific reports, unsatisfactory to sombunall members of a research group, suddenly made sense and became acceptable when re-written in E-Prime. By and large, however, E-Prime has not yet caught on either in learned circles or in popular speech.

(Oddly, most physicists write in E-Prime a large part of the time, due to the influence of Operationalism -- the philosophy that tells us to define things by operations performed -- but few have any awareness of E-prime as a discipline and most of them lapse into "isness" statements all too frequently, thereby confusing themselves and their readers. )

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Friday, April 27, 2012

6 Ways Men and Women Communicate Differently

Men and women are different in many ways. They see the world through completely different perspectives. The key to understanding their differences is in the way that men and women communicate.

Here are six important communication differences that you should be aware of, to help improve your communications with your partner and make them smoother and more effective.

1. Why Talk?

He believes communication should have a clear purpose. Behind every conversation is a problem that needs solving or a point that needs to be made. Communication is used to get to the root of the dilemma as efficiently as possible.

She uses communication to discover how she is feeling and what it is she wants to say. She sees conversation as an act of sharing and an opportunity to increase intimacy with her partner. Through sharing, she releases negative feelings and solidifies her bond with the man she loves.

Is Your Anger a Cleansing Squall or a Destructive Hurricane?

Anger is the emotional energy within each of us that rises up when something needs to change. If you act on the need to create change, your anger can be channeled effectively. If it's not redirected to something effective, your frustration will build, sometimes to hurricane force.

Anger that is allowed to get out of control is as destructive as a hurricane, but anger that is expressed in healthy ways can "clear the air" just as a mild rainstorm does. If you express your anger clearly and cleanly, without too much drama, it will be like a cleansing rain, leaving you calm and relaxed. The problem will then be solved.

People who have angry outbursts, whether at spouses or freeway traffic, have poor impulse control. They are often emotionally "stuck" in the early childhood temper tantrum stage (about age 2 1/2 to 3) because they never learned to manage their own anger. Whoever was supposed to help them manage their temper, such as parents or teachers, was absent, intimidated or helpless, and allowed the child to grow into a raging adult.

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A Review Essay of Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes, by Alex Vilenkin.




The task of scientific popularization is a difficult one. Too many authors think that it is to be accomplished by frequent resort to explanatorily vacuous and obfuscating metaphors which leave the reader puzzling over what exactly a particular theory asserts. One of the great merits of Alexander Vilenkin's book is that he shuns this route in favor of straightforward, simple explanations of key terms and ideas. Couple that with a writing style that is marvelously lucid, and you have one of the best popularizations of current physical cosmology available from one of its foremost practitioners.

Vilenkin vigorously champions the idea that we live in a multiverse, that is to say, the causally connected universe is but one domain in a much vaster cosmos which comprises an infinite number of such domains. Moreover, each causally connected domain is subdivided into an infinite number of subdomains, each constituting an observable universe bounded by an event horizon. As if that were not enough, Vilenkin also endorses Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum physics, so that even the infinite multiverse is but one of an indefinitely large class of distinct multiverses. The result is a breath-taking vision of physical reality.

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Nothing but a pack of neurons?




The sort of Cartesian dualism that sees us as disembodied souls piloting a brain that exists only to sense the external (and internal) world and to execute action has long been difficult to reconcile with knowledge from neurology of the extent to which many aspects of cognition depend on the brain, in that they are impaired or lost when it is damaged.

More recently a wide range of techniques has been used to investigate information processing in the intact brain, both in humans and animals, so that for some aspects of behaviour we now understand not only which areas of the brain are necessary but also a good deal about the pathways and neuronal mechanisms involved.

While there is certainly much that we do not know about the brain and cognition, it would be fair to say that where it has been possible to define a quantitative procedure for investigating a cognitive task, it has been possible to find neuronal activity that correlates with the cognitive performance


Changing Your Brain By Changing Your Mind


When it comes to managing stress, the Eastern traditions may be especially effective. The Western health model is based on diagnosing the underlying cause of a problem and then finding an active medical or behavioral intervention to remove it. People with chronic illness are often urged to "stay strong," or to have "a fighting spirit." Eastern medicine has a more holistic view of disease as indicating a lack of balance or an energy blockage. The solution is to bring the body and mind back into balance using gentle, noninvasive techniques such as herbs, manipulative techniques, movement, or meditation.

How the Brain Processes Emotion

Our lower brain centers, such as the amygdala or hypothalamus, were made to detect and respond to threats, such as a tiger about to eat us. They generate an immediate "fight ot flight" response to increase the odds of survival, but they can become hypersensitive, interfering with our ability to experience the present moment in an open and relaxed way. Daily meditation practice can help to correct this imbalance and allow us to retrain our minds so we are less likely to overreact with intenseanger or fear to psychological threats, such as rejection. Being less chronically stressed can also help our immune systems function more efficiently to fight off disease.




Thursday, February 9, 2012

Meditating at Work: A New Approach to Managing Overload


Today's employees and managers are deluged with an unprecedented amount of information and distraction. If it's not emails, texts, and instant messaging, then it's phone calls, coworkers, and constantly changing demands and deadlines. Basex research found that 50 percent of a knowledge worker's day is spent "managing information" and that an excess of information results in "a loss of ability to make decisions, process information, and prioritize tasks." In fact, research shows that constant information overload sends the brain into the fight-or-flight stress response, originally designed to protect us from man-eating tigers and other threats.

According to Dr. Edward Hallowell, the prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain responsible for executive functions such as decision making, problem solving, and planning) cannot execute properly when it is in stress mode. Instead, the "lower part" of the brain, which is responsible for dealing with survival, takes over. The prefrontal cortex then waits for a signal from the lower brain that the stressor has disappeared. Until then, the prefrontal cortex still functions, but poorly. Intelligence declines, and flexibility is minimal.1The result of this information and distraction overload is wreaking havoc with both employees' and managers' mental and physical health, as well as with productivity. As Jonathan Spira notes in Overload! How Too Much Information Is Hazardous to Your Organization, this problem has been estimated to cost the U.S. economy $900 billion per year in "lowered employee productivity and reduced innovation."2 This figure also includes recovery time, which can be ten to twenty times greater than the time lost from the interruption itself.

While organizations have addressed these challenges with a variety of stress-management solutions, until recently meditation was not among them. It still had a reputation for being flaky and unfit for corporate consumption. However, scientific studies that have proven the value of meditation in changing the brain point to meditation's practical application in the workplace. Meditation is now gaining acceptance and being used in established American companies such as General Mills, Google, and Prentice Hall.

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No Matter What the Problem, There Are Only Four Things You Can Do


When faced with a difficult problem, you might find yourself paralyzed over deciding what to do. Emotionally sensitive people often have difficulty making decisions, tend to ruminate about issues and can become increasing upset as a result of thinking about the issue over and over.

Searching and searching for the right solution, perhaps one that won't upset others or cause pain or loss, adds to anxiety and upset. How can someone find just the right solution and know what the right solution is?

Marsha Linehan, the creator of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, outlined strategies for any problem that you face. Remembering these options can help decrease the struggle of not knowing what to do. The four options are Solve the Problem, Change Your Perception of the Problem, Radically Accept the Situation, or Stay Miserable.

Choice 1: Solve the Problem.

There are many problem solving strategies but most use the same steps. First, define the problem. Be as specific as possible. Use numbers whenever possible. For example "I've been overspending my budget every other month by $315."

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The Neuroscience Of Music



Why does music make us feel? On the one hand, music is a purely abstract art form, devoid of language or explicit ideas. The stories it tells are all subtlety and subtext. And yet, even though music says little, it still manages to touch us deep, to tickle some universal nerves. When listening to our favorite songs, our body betrays all the symptoms of emotional arousal. The pupils in our eyes dilate, our pulse and blood pressure rise, the electrical conductance of our skin is lowered, and the cerebellum, a brain region associated with bodily movement, becomes strangely active. Blood is even re-directed to the muscles in our legs. (Some speculate that this is why we begin tapping our feet.) In other words, sound stirs us at our biological roots. As Schopenhauer wrote, "It is we ourselves who are tortured by the strings."

We can now begin to understand where these feelings come from, why a mass of vibrating air hurtling through space can trigger such intense states of excitement. A brand newpaper in Nature Neuroscienceby a team of Montreal researchers marks an important step in revealing the precise underpinnings of "the potent pleasurable stimulus" that is music. Although the study involves plenty of fancy technology, including fMRI and ligand-based positron emission tomography (PET) scanning, the experiment itself was rather straightforward. After screening 217 individuals who responded to advertisements requesting people that experience "chills to instrumental music," the scientists narrowed down the subject pool to ten. (These were the lucky few who most reliably got chills.) The scientists then asked the subjects to bring in their playlist of favorite songs – virtually every genre was represented, from techno to tango – and played them the music while their brain activity was monitored.

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Can Passion and Security Coexist? Reflections on Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method”



In the new David Cronenberg film, A Dangerous Method, a tortured Carl Jung struggles with these very questions. He has met Sabina Spielrein, a fiercely writhing, twitching, hysterical patient who seems literally possessed by violence, her body stretched so taut that at times you half expect her to pounce. It's Jung's job to unearth the forces roiling within her that have her wound so tight, and that he does, with the help of a miraculous new "talking cure," fashioned by one Sigmund Freud, his elder mentor, who aims to shake the medical community (and the world) out of their complacent view that the human race has evolved as far beyond animal instincts as they'd like to believe.

With Freud's help, Jung uncovers the source of Sabina's troubles–traumatic, sexual memories, of course (no spoiler there)–and on she goes, almost completely cured, to become a doctor, herself. But the bond between her and Dr. Jung begins to grow during his visits to her at the University. And Jung's fascination with Spielrein's erotic energy–she still loves a good, humiliating spanking–brings the two together in sometimes frightening ways.

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