Observations on an Experiment with the Body-Mind Device

The other day, I made a demonstration video on the effect of depressive and activating stimuli on the output of the Body-Mind Reader. Making that video was a pain. I’m new to Youtube production, but I rather imagine those of you who do this sort of thing, have had days like this, where nothing goes right. Take 1: Barrage of text messages. New Tik Tok video for you! Call the bank! Take 2: Cat walks on keyboard. Take 3: Internet goes on the fritz. You get the picture.

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Chronic fatigue, POTS, and HRV

As Dr. Bill has been working on the Body-Mind Reader, he’s been focused on people who have insufficient parasympathetic tone. Using the car analogy, this would be a person who isn’t good at putting on the brakes, and it would be manifested by difficulty thinking properly.

I’ve grown interested in the converse; namely, people who are riding the brakes all the time.

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Whither POTS?

One day, a sweet nice 17-year-old young lady came to my office for help with her heart. She had to go to the Mayo Clinic to get a diagnosis of sorts; she told them, among other things, “every time I stand up, my heart beats real fast.” They told her she had Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome.

I laughed. Did she pay money for that? All they did is repeat back what she said, in Greek.

Turns out, they were closer to the truth than they thought. A small minority of people with POTS have a condition known as “autoimmune ganglionopathy.” She did, and we were able to treat it.

For the vast majority of people with POTS, though, the disorder does not arise in the immune system. The question for those people is, what causes it, and how to treat it? For one possible answer, we can look at the interaction between the body and the mind.

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Dying By the Sword

If we live by the sword, we die by the sword. Because we eventually get old.

In youth, aggressiveness and fast-twitch reflexes are enough. In middle age, it becomes a matter of fighting smarter, and then picking your battles. There will come a day when even that’s not enough.

That’s true in a more general sense with other forms of competition. With money competition, we tend to peak older, as being smart, and picking our battles, has a good return on investment. With sex, we tend to peak younger, because the physical and psychological equipment required to compete in the sexual arena wears out quickly. Yet the same principle applies. Money competition ends with the heart attack. Sexual competition kills the spirit before the body; but despair is not a formula for long life, and the body will follow soon enough.

“I will fight no more forever,” said Chief Joseph. Because he was an old man when he said it, it doesn’t matter if he said it in victory or defeat, as the outcome is the same.

For men who have gone to war have the benefit of a certain perspective. Many find they have had enough of killing before they are fully adults. Likewise, the unavoidable task before each of us is to resolve, at an age young or old, to step off the karmic merry-go-round. To rise above the cycle of betrayal and redemption. To find a little farm. To ride off on a motorcycle. To become a spouse. To mark out a corner of the world, perhaps with a picket fence, where we can live out what’s coming to us in peace.

It’s not that we have nothing to do, or that we seek to do nothing. If we are alive, we have important work to do. As to what that work might be, that’s a different conversation for a different day. The point is, there’s a “step one” involved. That’s true whether we live by the sword literally, or symbolically.

Announcing the Body-Mind Forums

Hi! I’m Dr. Dave. I’m a neurologist, an occasional contributor to this blog, and a moderator on our new Body-Mind Forums.

We will entertain any number of topics related to psychology and brain-behavior relationships. In particular, Dr. Bernstein and I are both very interested in psychopharmacology. We are looking to discuss traditional prescription meds, such as antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and anti-anxiety agents. As well as alternative treatments like cannabis or even visionary medicines. We are also interested in the psychopharmacology of addiction. How we define addiction, what addictive meds do to your mind and brain, and what it takes to become un-addicted.

We have also set up forums for discussion of film, politics and culture, all from a psychological or psychoanalytic perspective. Finally, we have a sub covering the use of heart rate variability in mental wellness, something that Dr. Bernstein has an acute interest in. See articles on the topic here and a discussion of the device he has in development here.

Our intent is for this to truly be a discussion forum. Not an advice forum, nor an advocacy forum. (Except to the extent that we enthusiastically advocate for further research.) Welcome, and enjoy.