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 in the butt. 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 TicTok video for you! Call the bank! Ex-girlfriend wants to give you grief! Take 2: belching elsewhere in the room. Take 3: brain fart, forgot lines. Take 4: Cat walks on keyboard. Take 5: internet goes on the fritz. You get the picture.

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Conspicuous Consumption

I just came back from a Walmart Super Store. Therein one can seemingly buy ANYTHING. The place is gigantic and stocked with food, clothing, hardware, kitchen ware, camping gear, drugs, electronics, home and office furniture, bath items, toys, automotive items, and on and on. It is the the Mount Everest of an economy built on constant demand for many essential and many stupid products. To me, the place is entirely depressing. Maybe it’s efficient to be able to buy anything you want in one place. But this is not what is disheartening about being there. It is seeing all the buyers trudge sadly through the aisles looking for what they think they need. They search for crap instead of feelings of friendship and love. The things that really matter. These feelings have been replaced by the need to acquire some of what they need and much of what they could do without.

I found it telling that when the virus quarantine was first lifted, people crowed into stores in order to buy new clothes! You know what makes up the largest percentage of land fills? Clothes. Things people throw away. Modern societies depend on constant demand for consumer goods, needed and inane. This requires constant production, ruthless competition for money, and status seeking. These in turn create alienation, class warfare, envy, denial of health needs, environmental degradation, racism, and the election of a schmuck like Trump. Consumer economies have worked to overshoot the carrying capacity of the planet and of human societies. I think this will all end soon and violently .

Psychical Impotence

Many males have an inability to enjoy sex with one they love or difficulty loving another they have sex with. This Freud called ‘Psychical Impotence’. Usually, a person who the man can perform with sexually is debased, thought of a whore. Hence the syndrome gets its other name: The Madonna-Whore Complex. Freud felt that this occurs when a man has unresolved Oedipus conflicts. That is, tender feelings of love reminds him of his original love, the mother. Having sex with one’s mother, a Madonna figure, is of course, incest. Such a grave sin is imagined to be certainly followed by great punishment. Psychoanalysts call this fear “castration anxiety”. Such intense fear makes it impossible to get an erection, hence the label Psychical Impotence. It’s not impotence proper because the person can perform sex as long as it is not with a loved one.

Much pornography is geared to men with the Madonna-Whore Complex. Woman are debased to make them attractive to the psychically impotent male who fears love. The severity of the complex runs from mild to severe. Patients with a less severe form of the disorder report becoming turned off, even disgusted by sex without love. This is improves their prognosis. The alternative, love without sex may turn into a more complete relationship in which one can have satisfactory sex with a loved one. That is, they can become Psychically and Physically Potent.

The Brain is in the Body, the Mind is in the Brain

This website is nominally about body and mind interactions. The body includes the brain. And the mind depends on the brain to function. Everything is connected. In the not too distant past, the mind was seen as totally ineffable. The words ‘spirit’ and ‘mind’ were often used interchangeably. That is, they were both considered beyond understanding. Today, with MRI devices, we are able to correlate the physical actions of a person’s brain with their subjective experiences of thoughts and feelings. In other words, we can relate body phenomena to psychological events.

Freud was a neurologist who built a psychological theory of the mind. He knew, of course, that the psychology depended on the biology. He thought that 100 years after he built the theory of psychoanalysis, we would be able to see connections between mental and physical events. It turns out he was exactly right! The field of Neuropsychoanalysis came into being in 1999, 100 years after Freud’s publication of ‘The Interpretation of Dreams” of 1900.

The biology of dreaming began to be be studied in the early 1950’s. Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (REM) was discovered then. Kleitman, Jouvet, and others found that the person had the most vivid dreams while their eyes darted back and forth during REM–a clear connection between biological and subjective experience. Animals from sharks to humans have REM sleep. So, certainly, REM sleep has been conserved over evolution as a key feature of maintaining brain functions, and it seems reasonable that lions, dogs, cats and apes have subjective experiences when in REM states.

Besides being able to measure brain and mind connections via MRI and EEG methods, a great deal is now know about how chemicals, especially psychiatric drugs, operate to affect feelings, thoughts and overt behavior. Antidepressants like prozac, stimulants such as ritalin, mood stabilizers like Lithium, and antipsychotics like Seroquel affect subjective experiences in more or less reliable ways. These drugs work at the level of neurons, the single cells which make up the brain and its connections to the rest of he the body.

So body-brain-mind connections are being increasingly illuminated. Today, there are more neuroscientists than any other kinds of scientists. Formerly genetics research drew the most biologists. Now it’s neuroscience. Computer technology is very related to brain-mind studies. Computers made it clear that concrete, physical things could do something like thinking. Such insights have transformed the world. This is very exciting and sometimes disagreeable. While these discoveries can enhance our lives, they also can be used by nefarious forces within governments, the military, and corporations. The world is now in a very unstable condition driven in large part by advances in computing which affect energy, agriculture, communication, manufacturing, education, medicine, government, the military, and frankly everything else.

I am not too optimistic about the short term effect of humankind’s scientific advances. Some lunatics deny the validity of science altogether. They want to think what they think regardless of scientific knowledge. This has been on stark display during the politicization of the Covid pandemic. But whenever one of these science deniers needs heart surgery, life saving medications, or even a root canal procedure, they run to the best scientific medical professional they can find. Go figure.

Seeking Something Old in Something New

When one has lost a cherished relationship they tend to seek a new one. But the new must have elements of the old. All Intimate relations involve satisfaction of needs for the warmth and comfort experienced in childhood. That is, satisfaction of basic, old needs are are a key aspect of all close relations. While the person who can satisfy those needs may be a new person, they still have to met the old, unchanging needs. All of our intimate relations serve the same function regardless of who the other person is.

A barrier to forming new bonds after old ones are severed is feeling of regret and perhaps guilt about the ending of the old connection. This means we may find it hard to be open to a new relationship. So, our basic unchanging needs will go unsatisfied for a long time. Depression, loneliness and despair will occur. How can one overcome this? Somehow we have to honor our needs. Realise that they are universal requirements for life. Denial of our needs is a denial of life. Knowing this can put one in touch with life outside the 3-D. One needs to connect to the ‘spiritual’ side of things. This is a basic need too.

The Misery of “Customer Service”

I just spent literally 2.5 hours getting a new health insurance policy. I spent 2 hours attempting to purchase an account with a computer company. Through both these calls, I was subjected to various sales pitches, suggestions to use online service sites, long wait time, crappy music, and mostly friendly real human beings. However, in the insurance case, the services reps had to recite over 50 features of the policy, 25 legal disclaimers, and a whole other lot of crap. In the case of the computer company, no one on the service line was able to find the right office for me to get help with my problem.

These sorts of annoyances are part of everyday life. This is in part because companies prefer customers to use the internet so as to not hire living service reps. The combination of corporate efficiency motives and excessive legal regulations makes these interactions horrible. I actually have to brace myself before making these calls. There are today few forms of sensible interactions over the phone with companies. Machines and legal minutiae have combined to cause anxiety about trying to buy complex health insurance and other regulated products on a phone. I was told at least 10 times something to the effect that further charges may apply. The sales rep was ‘required by law’ to make me agree to many conditions and exclusions of the policy. These issues are in no small part why people, especially those over 60, are exasperated by living in this ‘modern culture’. The ‘old days’ were much more preferable.

MBA killers

Starting about when Ronald Reagan got into office, college graduates who formerly wanted to attend medical or law school began going to business schools. They got a degree called Masters in Business Administration—the MBA. As far as I can tell, MBAs are taught to make as much money as possible without getting thrown in jail. The best schools, like Harvard, Wharton, Duke, and Columbia seem to attract the most aggressive sharks. There is even a TV show called Sharks on which no nonsense MBA types decide if some naif’s business plan will succeed. The contestants are grilled in a harsh manner and most plans are rejected as being too weak.

I saw this kind of MBA attitude when I took five psychology students to the Columbia business school to participate in a mock labor negotiation. The event was hosted by Margaret Chandler, a famous labor relations scholar. The psychologists played the role of labor, naturally the business students took the management roles. Though this was only a practice exercise the MBAs had the psychologists scared to death. They used a classic negotiating technique in which one person on the negotiation team acts entirely nuts, shouting and screaming like a psychotic This terrified the touchy feely psychologists so much that they lowered their demands to get the thing over with and flee the room.

In the old days MBAs were relatively scarce. They wound up as CEOs, CFOs, and other high level positions. Now, with many MBA graduates around, they often find themselves managing service departments, the mail room, and really every function in organizations. The MBA credo is to turn every office of a company into a profit center. For example, when you call the service department of the company that sold you a phone, vacuum, bicycle, or whatever, you don’t get service. Rather they try to sell you a new, more expensive replacement for the broken one. Now service goes from a cost center to a profit center, from service to sales. MBAs know that sales is where the money is. Service is a loser. Service interactions are a form of ‘bait and switch’. They catch the poor customer with a promise of service but then switch their role to sales. If not illegal, this is a kind of moral crime very common in business today.

The ‘anything for a buck’ attitude has spread throughout the country. MBA values dominate the entire culture. It is not an accident that two of the worst presidents in American history, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, were graduates of MBA programs.

https://www.bing.com/search?q=harvard+business+review&cvid=a7820cf4231b4fed96aa3416bee60f25&pglt=299&FORM=ANSPA1&PC=DCTS

Sophistication

I wrote a book called ‘Sophistication’. It actually was the runner up in the New Mexico-Arizona Book Co-Op competition. It was imagined to be a ‘self-help’ book. It is perhaps of some help to people wanting to make good, sophisticated decisions in life. But the book is not a typical self-help book. It makes some fun of such books. For instance these books almost always have some list of rules you need to follow in order to achieve success, popularity, spirituality, and so on. I satirize this kind of thing in ‘Sophistication’. It is so facile. In any case, the book that won the self-help category was called “49 Rules for Overcoming Heroin Addiction”. Somehow the judges were unable to get the joke. The winner did exactly what I was lampooning in my book. In contrast I have a list of 6 clever rules to achieve sophistication:

  1. Never believe that anything is caused by merely one thing.
  2. Never say thank you after someone thanks you.
  3. Never try to be normal,
  4. Never try to be abnormal.
  5. Don’t do what doesn’t work.
  6. Do what you want to do.

Now, this list might give you a sense of what the book ‘Sophistication’ is like. When I tried to enter another book contest I was told my book fit into no known category of books and, hence, I was excluded from the contest. When I said, “Isn’t a unique, one of kind book a great thing?. I was told it would not be fair to the other contestants. This the world we live in now.

Buy the book. You’ll love it

https://www.amazon.com/Sophistication-W-M-Bernstein/dp/1519142129

http://williambernstein.com

I Hate the Internet

It is a cliche to start a conversation or an essay with the phrase, “I don’t know about you but…”. However, I am going to say it anyway. I don’t know about you but I really hate how life has been overtaken by the internet. I am too old to have grown up with this annoying thing. Early in my career, I was entirely up to date. ‘Time Sharing’ was big in 1975. At The University of Texas we would sit at a portal in the Psychology Department logged into the mainframe computer that resided about 300 yards away. It was the time when IBM cards were being phased out. One could write FORTRAN code right on your screen. This replaced the cards. There was no internet. One was securely communicating with the big mainframe.

When Personal Computers arrived, I bought one of the first IBM PCs. It cost $6000 and had a tiny memory the size of, well, I don’t even know the difference between megabytes, gigabytes, and those little bytesized Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. But with a Hayes Modem I could still hook up with the big mainframe at the Columbia computer center. I was really current. But when Windows came on the scene I was totally flummoxed. Things that were supposed to be ‘intuitive’ in Windows never made sense to the FORTRAN crowd.

But things really went sour with the internet. As an aging academic, I can not keep track of the 700 passwords I have for every website that performs every function that used to be written on paper. This includes accounts for banking, credit cards, phone, taxes, utilities, music, you know what I mean. I don’t know about you, but even if I could remember or store the passwords somehow, I can’t seem to enter them correctly using the tiny “keyboard” on the tiny “phone”. It is ridiculous. It actually used to be fun to pay paper bills at the end of the month with paper checks, stuck in paper envelopes with a paper stamp.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Hate_the_Internet

https://williambernstein.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1401&action=edit

Counterphobia

Causing oneself pain by imagining or actually doing things likely to cause it is what psychiatrists label a ‘counterphobic response to anxiety’. Instead of fleeing the source of fear in the manner of a phobia, the counterphobic person actively seeks out the very situation that is feared. This involves striving to master excess anxiety through repeatedly coping with danger.

Dare-devil activities (e.g. race car driving) are often undertaken in a counterphobic spirit, as a denial of the fears attached to them, which may be only partially successful. Sex is a key area for counterphobic activity, sometimes powering hypersexuality in people who are actually afraid of the objects they believe they love. Traffic accidents have been linked to a counterphobic, manic attitude in the driver. The attraction of horror movies has been seen to lie in a counterphobic impulse.

A Counterphobic person inoculates him or herself from fear by imagining feared pain before it occurred— bracing one’s self.  “Praemonitus, Praemunitus” or “Forewarned is Forearmed”.  This can be a very effective way to combat fear .  A downside is one may feel invulnerable, able to control anything.  This can be very dangerous, increasing the odds of real pain and injury. For example, a child might stick an elbow into a hot toaster to see if it actually hurts.   This is, in part, a response to being told that doing something is dangerous or ‘not allowed’.

If one fears fear more than real danger, the danger can be underestimated or not considered fully. Actual dangers seem less real than are the needs of the defensive operation. Freud said that most people value thoughts more than external reality.  One controls what is controllable. If real risk can’t be controlled, the reaction to the reality of it all might be controllable. This is achieved, in counterphobia, by attempts to master fear by moving towards it.https://williambernstein.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Realisation-Concepts-Infinity-Cognition-Health-ebook/dp/B07D1877FJ