Saturday, November 06, 2010

What Is Your Values Mode?

This seems to be a cross between Spiral Dynamics (vaguely) and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - it assesses where one stands in terms of values in the culture. The site is, as the above image suggests, called Cultural Dynamics: Strategy & Marketing.

To take the brief quiz and discover your values mode, go here. I recommend taking the quiz before reading about this system - then come back here and share your results, in you feel comfortable doing so.

So of course I took the quiz, and apparently I am a transcender - I wonder if I am also an includer. This result may not be valid since I am not British, but it serves my self-image, so I'll accept it. :)


The leading edge. The Transcenders are the most self aware and contented of the Pioneers, but also the ones most likely to push their perceptual boundaries, in an attempt to gain greater harmony with their own value set and gain connection with others and the environment around them.

They are the “scouts” for the rest of the Pioneers, pushing farther, faster, yet with a “lightness” that is not often felt by the other Pioneers.

For the majority of the time, life is fun. They are intrigued by the unknown, and have a need for openness in their lives. Forgiving of themselves, they are the most likely to be forgiving of others.

Here is the explanation of the memes (values modes) in their system, based on Dynamic Maslow Group TheoryTM.


Over the last 30 years, an ongoing body of social survey research has tracked and forcasted the changing values, beliefs and motivations of the British population. Using the responses to over 1000 questions, we have developed a typology that explains the dynamics of personal, market and cultural changes.

The typology is called Values ModesTM.

The Values Modes categorize people into 12 discrete psychographic types. Each group represents between 7% and 12% of the population aged 15 years and over. The categorization is based on the responses to a short questionnaire (Lickert scales), which can be used in any piece of research and is easy to administer face-to-face, by telephone or on-line.

We license the use of the questionnaire to clients and third party companies - primarily research agencies - for use on customer and employee research. The process is simple. The responses are sent to us and the results returned witghin minutes or hours, depending on the complexity and size of the data file.

The 12 Values Modes - the VMs (pronounced "vims") - form a psychographic classification system based on individuals' Values sets. By the term "Values", we mean that nest of beliefs and motivations - largely subconcious - that underpin our attitudes to everything we encounter.

The VMs help answer the question of WHY people do the things and make the choices that they do.

This is a valuable understanding in itself but Cultural Dynamics takes this to a new level through its understanding of the dynamics of change that operate through the VMs. These changes, which occur at the level of the individual, aggregate in the population over time to form significant changes in organizational and societal (cultural) values.


At the heart of understanding these changes - these cultural dynamics - is the combination of empirical data, gathered from large surveys amongst the population at large, and the deceptively simple looking psychological theory of motivation developed by Abraham Maslow and summarized in his Hierarchy of Needs.

Within Maslow's hierarchy, we recognize three primary motivational levels - the Settler (Sustenance Driven), the Prospector (Outer Directed) and the Pioneer (Inner Directed). Within each of these, we discern four different four different "flavours" - the Values Modes.

Taken all together, this combination of theoretical and empirical understanding constitutes Dynamic Maslow Group TheoryTM.


The Settler (Sustenance Driven) needs are:

  • Core physiological needs.
  • Safety and Security.
  • Belonging.

The Settler Values Modes are:

Some typical Settler characteristics are:
  • Need to hold on to what you've got.
  • It's a "Them vs Us" world.
  • Worry about crime is never far away.
  • Clear sense of right and wrong. Rule breakers should expect just retribution.
  • Strong preference to socialise with "people like me".
  • Family/Community/Group is important - nationality, town, football team ...
  • Generally rather resistant to change.


The Prospector (Outer Directed) needs are:

  • Esteem of Others.
  • Self Esteem.

The Prospector Values Modes are:

Some typical Prospector characteristics are:

  • Priority is to get "Me" known out there.
  • Clear optimism about life. The world is a big opportunity.
  • "Savvy". Aware of what's going on around.
  • Earning and spending money are crucial activities.
  • Ambitious - position, power and visible success are important.
  • Rules are "flexible" (more like "guidelines").


The Pioneer (Inner Directed) needs are:

  • Aesthetic cognitive.
  • Self Actualization.

The Pioneer Values Modes are:

Some typical Pioneer characteristics are:

  • Fascination and curiosity with the world.
  • Unashamed acceptance of some larger purpose to existence.
  • Knows that knowledge usually leads to better questions rather than better answers.
  • Sometimes seen as a bit pompous or touchy-feely.
  • Needs activity, variety and a degree of ongoing change in life.

Stephen Mitchell - Minds: Uncovered or Constructed?

When people think of psychoanalytic theory as an approach to therapy, most still think of it as Freudian. While Freud is the "father" of psychoanalysis, very little of that approach is still based on techniques developed by Freud. His basic premise - that childhood issues inform most adult dysfunctions - remains as the basis of most modern depth psychology, and some of his ideas about transference remain in principle if not in practice.

Modern psychoanalytic theory has completely dismissed the privileged and "objective" stance of the therapist (which Freud advocated) in favor of relational models that recognize the importance of empathic attunement between the client and the therapist. Moreover, newer work has adopted some of (and, in fact, is partly the source of) the social constructionist ideas about the human mind - that who we are and how we function is not something that happens in a vacuum but, rather, is constructed through our interpersonal and intersubjective relationships with others.

The best known aspect of this model is attachment theory - the model of infant-caregiver interaction that helps shape all future relationships. But this same model is now a foundation in the therapeutic relationship, as well, in that the therapist can act as a surrogate attachment figure and through that relationship can help "heal" attachment failures from the client's childhood.

All of that is to set up this section on "minds," an excerpt from a chapter, "The Analyst's Knowledge and Authority," by Stephen Mitchell, from his book, Influence and Autonomy in Psychoanalysis. This section offers a constructionist model of the mind, in line with other thinkers, such as Ken Gergen, Jermone Bruner, and others.

Minds: Uncovered or Constructed?

In my view, the traditional approach, claiming knowledge about what is going on "in the mind," as if there were something to be found there that is inert and simply discoverable, starts us off on the wrong foot. There are no clearly discernible processes corresponding to the phrase "in the patient's mind" (in contrast to neurophysiological events in the brain) for either the patient or the analyst to be right or wrong about. The kinds of mental processes, both conscious and unconscious, that analysts are most interested in are generally enormously complex and lend themselves to many interpretations. There is no uniquely correct interpretation or best guess. As with good history, there are many possible good interpretations of important events occurring in the analytic situation.

In this way of thinking, mind is understood only through a process of interpretive construction. This is equally true for the first person, who is the mind in question, and for someone in the third-person position who is trying to understand the mind of another. Further, this is true for both conscious and unconscious mental processes. In a complex interpersonal situation, one can present to another in many different ways what is or was in one's mind. In an important sense, consciousness comes into being through acts of construction either by other or, through self-reflection, by oneself. Daniel Dennett (1991), one of the most influential contemporary philosophers, proposes a "multiple drafts" model of consciousness:

Just what we are conscious of within any particular time duration is not defined independently of the probes we use to precipitate a narrative about that period. Since these narratives are under continual revision, there is no single narrative that counts as the canonical version, the 'first edition' in which are laid down, for all time, the events that happened in the stream of consciousness of the subject, all deviations from which must be corruptions of the text [p. 136].

The phrase first edition is interesting to compare with Freud's (1912) phrase "stereotype plate" p. 100. Where Freud believed, consistent with the science of his time, that there is a discernible, objective prototype that the analyst comes to be able to identify, Dennett does not, because the edition, or draft arrived at is, for Dennett, partly a product of the process through which it is produced.

In this view, mind is an enormously complex set of processes of which anyone, including the person whose mind it is, can grasp only a small, highly selective segment. Thus, there can be no singular, authoritative version "in the patient's mind" about which either the analyst or the analysand can be right or wrong. Of course, this does not mean that anything goes, that all constructions of conscious experience are equally plausible or accurate. The actual experience, despite its malleability and ambiguity, provides constraints (in a way that is similar to form level in Rorschach cards [Hoffman, personal communication]) against which interpretations are measured. But it does mean that events in the patient's mind are knowable both to the analyst and to the patient only though an active process of composing and arranging them. Many arrangements are possible; although some are better and some are worse, there are no best guesses.

Unconscious processes, by definition, are even more ambiguous. As Ogden (1994) suggests, they are experienced as absences in presences and presences in absences. To understand unconscious processes in one's own mind or that of another is not simply to expose something that has a tangible existence, as one does in lifting a rock and exposing insects beneath. To understand unconscious processes in one's own mind or that of another is to use language in a fashion that actually discovers and creates new experience, something that was not there before. And there is an additional, crucial factor in the psychoanalytic situation: through interaction with the patient, the analyst is also cocreating new conscious and unconscious experiences, including our very efforts to interpret what took place previously.

This is really the crux of the matter. Traditional claims to analytic knowledge and authority presupposed that the central dynamics relevant to the analytic process are preorganized in the patient's mind and that the analyst is in a detached and privileged position to access them. As Friedman (1996) suggests, this is not a question of humility, but of epistemology and perhaps ontology:

What carries us beyond the question of the analyst's modesty is the more radical question of whether, a hidden meaning is known even to the Eye of God. If it is, then perhaps some piece of it might also be known to the eye of the analyst. If it is not--if there is no already given predisposition from which momentary developments are lawfully elicited--then the analyst's "co-creation" of meaning is, indeed, an adventure of a vastly different sort than we have imagined [p. 260].

When it comes to the question of what is in the unconscious, determining the best interpretation, the heterogeneous state of contemporary psychoanalytic schools is probably the most persuasive evidence against a singular standard of objectivity. Each school, each theory, each clinician organizes interpretations of unconscious dynamics in a particular fashion, and there are many, many plausible interpretations, or, in Nagel's (1995) terms, many ways to enrich commonsense.

Most interesting about Friedman's position is that, although he grasps the ways in which the "co-creation of meaning" makes psychoanalysis "an adventure of a vastly different sort," he wants to retain the trappings of classical authority as a hedge against what he fears will turn out to be an abyss.

It is hard to picture how an analyst would work who no longer believes in hunting for something that is already there to be discovered. For instance, Hanly observes that the strongest pillar of analysts' authority has always been their dedication to objective truth; it is that dedication that prevents analysts from pulling rank on patients, or engaging in other personal manipulations. If there is no objective truth to be known, what self-discipline will take its place? [p. 261].

Friedman (1988) often comes to the conclusion (this is true in many places in The Anatomy of Psychotherapy) that the psychoanalytic process cannot possibly work in the way that traditional psychoanalytic theory told us it did, but that there is something valuable, indeed absolutely essential, in analysts' acting as if they still believe it works in just that way. belief in a fictional objectivity is retained as a barricade against unrestrained feeling and activity on the analyst's part. This seems a weak rationale for retaining a dubious, increasingly anachronistic doctrine. (5)

Yet it is possible to anchor self-discipline, clinical responsibility and a respect for the patient's autonomy in an acknowledgement of the intersubjective nature of the analytic enterprise rather than a denial of it. Indeed, in my experience, "rank pulling" tends to be found more often in clinical work where the analyst believes he represents objective Truth (often under the banner of "standing firm") rather than in clinical work where truth and meaning are regarded as coconstructed. The patient's autonomy is more honestly and meaningfully protected through the acknowledgment of the analyst's influence than through claims to illusory objectivity.

A fundamental difference between the traditional approach to the analyst's knowledge and authority and more contemporary approaches is that many of us believe that each analyst provides a model or theoretical framework that does not reveal what is in the patient's mind, but that makes it possible to organize the patients conscious and unconscious experience in one among many possible ways, a way that is one hopes, conducive to a richer and less self-sabotaging existence. Thus, I would make very different claims for my model of psychopathology, based on conflictual relational configurations, than Brenner makes for his model, based on conflictual childhood sexual and aggressive impulses. I do not regard my model as empirically derived and objective, although it has certainly been influenced by empirical data and would likely be changed in response to disconfirming empirical data and any growing consensus of clinicians regarding some other viewpoint. I regard my model as one among many possible and valid ways of viewing psychopathology, one that reflects both the interpretive community that I was drawn to and trained in, and also my own distinctly subjective experience. Thus, my approach to the problem of the analyst's authority and knowledge is different from the traditional one, because it presupposes a different phenomenon (a different kind of mind, ambiguous and amenable to multiple interpretations rather than prefigured and distinct) about which the analyst hopes to have authoritative knowledge.

The analyst, if he or she is meaningfully engaged in the process, inevitably becomes touched and moved by the patient, and happily so. The understandings that emerge within the analyst's mind about the patient are embedded in the fluid, interpenetrating mix of their encounter, with their perpetual impact on each other. The analyst's guesses about the patient are not simply derived from the application of his or her theory but are saturated with the analyst's countertransferential responses to the patient. The traditional notions that the analyst is essentially invisible to the patient and that the properly functioning analyst understands the patient largely in dispassionate terms are essentially illusions, serving to disclaim the analyst's personal impact.(6)

This is not at all to deny that most, if not all, patients begin by attributing vast authority of various kinds to the analyst. That initial authority, which Freud (1912) approvingly called "the unobjectionable positive transference," is not the authority that the patient will ultimately come to respect as a meaningful feature of analytic change. The latter authority is not brought to the treatment but is a product of the analyst's participation in the treatment.

One important implication of the approach I am suggesting is that any understanding of a mind, one's own or another's, is personal; it is one's own understanding, based on one's own assumptions about human life, one's own dynamics, and so on. So, unlike Freud and Brenner, I do not regard any analyst's understanding of his or her patient's mind as a best guess in any sort of objective, generic sense, but rather as that particular analyst's best guess, embedded in the analyst's experience and in the context of the predominant transference-countertransference configurations. The analyst always participates in and, inevitably, cocreates precisely what she is also collaborating with the patient to try to understand. As Donnel Stern (1997) has put it, "psychoanalysis is not a search for the hidden truth about the patient's life, but the emergence, through curiosity and the acceptance of uncertainty, of constructs that may never have been thought before" (p. 7).

The analyst's expertise lies, most fundamentally, in her understanding of a process--what happens when one begins to express and reflect on one's experience in the presence of a trained listener, in the highly structured context provided by the analytic situation.

Authors@Google: John Medina - "Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child"

This is a cool talk on the current science of how to raise a happy healthy child - some of which is counter-intuitive to modern "helicopter" parents. Media is the author of BRAIN RULES FOR BABY: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five, which is the title of the presentation at Google, as well.
"Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child" by John Medina

Why is leaving your baby alone during the first part of pregnancy so important? Why is face time with Mom so crucial to maximizing your child's potential and screen time so damaging? What can you do to give your child the best chance at being smart and happy? Scientists know.

Following the success of his long-running New York Times bestseller Brain Rules, John Medina, renowned developmental molecular biologist at the University of Washington School of Medicine and director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University, brings us BRAIN RULES FOR BABY: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five.

The book combines all the latest science on how best to develop your baby's brain. Just one of the surprises: The best way to get your children into the college of their choice? Teach them impulse control.

Bridging the gap between what scientists know and what parents practice, each chapter describes brain rules — what scientists know for sure about how the early childhood brain works. The book presents the science behind the rules while offering practical ways for parents to apply the research. Medina, a dedicated father himself, shares his passion for brain science and for raising children, making the book easily accessible with humor, fascinating stories, and enlightening case studies throughout. Each chapter ends with a summary of key points.

The Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi - It Takes Two to Tango: The Human Future and the Future of Buddhism

Via Google TechTalks - enjoy!

Friday, November 05, 2010

David Sloan Wilson - Evolving the City

Cool talk by David Sloan Wilson.
Roughly 50% of Americans don't believe the theory of evolution and nearly 100% worldwide don't appreciate its tremendous relevance to human affairs. In this University of Sydney talk, David Sloan Wilson shows how evolutionary theory can help to solve the problems of everyday life, from the quality of life in our cities to rethinking the fundamentals of economic theory and policy.

David Sloan Wilson is SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University. His books include Darwin’s Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society and Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives. His next book is titled The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve My City, One Block At A Time.

Presented by the Centre for Human Aspects of Science and Technology (CHAST), University of Sydney, September 2010
Part One:

Part Two:

Terry Patten with Robert Augustus Masters and Diane Bardwell Masters – “Transformation Through Intimacy”

Here is the linkage for yesterday's conversation for those who could not attend - like me. If you follow the site link below, there are a LOT of cool podcasts - this one is at the bottom of the page.
Beyond Awakening

November 4, 2010: Robert Augustus Masters and Diane Bardwell Masters – “Transformation Through Intimacy”

Click the play button below to load and listen to the audio:

(To download the audio in mp3 format, right click the link below
and choose Save Target As, or Save Link As)

Download Audio >>

Buddhist Geeks 193: The Lazy Path to Enlightenment (Glenn Mullin)

Passing along another good discussion on Buddhist Geeks.

Buddhist Geeks #193: The Lazy Path to Enlightenment

BG 193: The Lazy Path to Enlightenment

01. Nov, 2010 by Glenn Mullin

Episode Description:

We’re joined this week by author, teacher, and Tibetologist Glenn Mullin. During our conversation with Glenn we focus primarily on a system of teachings in the Tantric tradition called The Six Yogas of Naropa. He speaks about each aspect of the practice—including such practices as sexual yoga, dream yoga, and bardo yoga—and also explains why he thinks the 6 yogas are a perfect compliment for the modern lifestyle.

Episode Links:


io9 - Slavoj Žižek: Wake up and smell the apocalypse

An interview with Slavoj Žižek is always fun - this one comes from io9 (This article originally appeared in New Scientist). Nice quote: "For me, remember, apocalypse means revelation, not catastrophe." His quote/thoughts about Craig Venter are funny and too true.

Slavoj Žižek: Wake up and smell the apocalypse

Slavoj Žižek: Wake up and smell the apocalypse

Is touchy-feely environmentalism a new opiate of the people? Why are we paying rent to Bill Gates? Is reality incomplete? Marxist cultural commentator Slavoj Žižek, the most dangerous philosopher in the west, unravels it all for Liz Else.

Your new book, Living in the End Times, is about the demise of global capitalism. What is science's place in all this?

Science is completely entangled with capital and capitalism. It is simultaneously the source of some threats (such as the ecological consequences of our industries or the uncontrolled use of genetic engineering), and our best hope of understanding those threats and finding a way to cope with them.

Given the book's title, it's no surprise that it also features the four horsemen of the apocalypse, which you identify with four major threats you say we face.

For me, remember, apocalypse means revelation, not catastrophe. Take the threat to our ecology. Until recently, the main reaction to ominous news such as Arctic sea ice melting faster than predicted was, "We are approaching an unthinkable catastrophe, the time to act is running out." Lately, we're hearing more voices telling us to be positive about global warming. True, they say, climate change increases competition for resources, flooding, the stresses on animals and indigenous cultures, ethnic violence and civil disorder. But we must bear in mind that thanks to climate change the Arctic's treasures could be uncovered, resources become more accessible, land fit for habitation and so on.

So it's business as usual?

Yes. But whatever the truth of the predictions about how much oil and gas are locked up in the Arctic, for me an extraordinary social and psychological change is taking place in front of our eyes: the impossible is becoming possible. We know the ecological catastrophe is possible, probable even, yet we do not believe it will really happen. Once the catastrophe occurs, it will be perceived as part of the normal run of things, as always having been possible.

Does that mean the way that we think about such threats is wrong?

Yes. One reason is to do with how certain environmentalists delight in proving that every catastrophe - even natural ones - is man-made, that we are all guilty, we exploited too much, we weren't feminine enough. All this bullshit. Why? Because it makes the situation "safer". If it is us who are the bad guys, all we have to do is change our behaviour. But in fact Mother Nature is not good - it's a crazy bitch.

So what should we do instead?

The fear is that this bad ecology will become a new opiate of the people. And I'm against the ecologists' anti-technology stance, the one that says, "we are alienated by manipulating nature, we should rediscover ourselves as natural beings". I think we should alienate ourselves more from nature so we become aware of the utter contingency, the fragility of our natural being.

We should alienate ourselves more from nature to be aware of our fragility

Another of your "horsemen" is research into biogenetics. What's your problem with that?

Craig Venter may dream of creating the first "trillion-dollar organisms" - patented bugs excreting biofuels, generating clean energy or producing tailor-made food. There are, of course, more sinister possibilities: for example, synthesising new viruses or other pathogens.

But I think the problem runs deeper in many ways. For example, such extreme genetic engineering will create substantially different organisms: we'll find ourselves in a terrain full of unknowns. These dangers are made worse by the absence of public control, so profiteering industrialists can tinker with the building blocks of life without any democratic oversight.

You were in China recently and got a glimpse of what's happening in biogenetics there.

In the west, we have debates about whether we should intervene to prevent disease or use stem cells, while the Chinese just do it on a massive scale. When I was in China, some researchers showed me a document from their Academy of Sciences which says openly that the goal of their biogenetic research is to enable large-scale medical procedures which will "rectify" the physical and physiological weaknesses of the Chinese people.

Do these issues arise from problems about what humans are becoming, and the relationships between the public and the private?

Yes. These are problems of the commons, the resources we collectively own or share. Nature is commons, biogenetics is genetic commons, intellectual property is commons. So how did Bill Gates become the richest man on earth? We are paying him rent. He privatised part of the "general intellect", the social network of communication - it's a new enclosure of the commons. This has given a new boost to capitalism, but in the long term it will not work. It's out of control.

Take a bottle of water: I produce it, you buy it. If I drink it, you cannot. Knowledge is exactly the opposite. If it freely circulates, it doesn't lose value; if anything, it gains value. The problem for companies is how to prevent the free circulation of knowledge. Sometimes they spend more money and time trying to prevent free copying than on developing products.

Despite your critique, you are positive about science?

I have a very naive Enlightenment fascination with it. I have total admiration for science.

Should philosophers be helping scientists?

Yes. For the last few decades, at least in the humanities, big ontological questions - What is reality? What is the nature of the universe? - were considered too naive. It was meaningless to ask for objective truth. This prohibition on asking the big questions partly accounts for the explosion of popular science books. You read Stephen Hawking's books as a way to ask these fundamental, metaphysical questions. I think that era of relativism, where science was just another product of knowledge, is ending. We philosophers should join scientists asking those big metaphysical questions about quantum physics, about reality.

And what is your take on reality?

There is an old philosophical idea about God being stupid and crazy, not finishing his creation. The idea is that God (but the point is to think about this without invoking God), when he created the world, made a crucial mistake by saying, "Humans are too stupid to progress beyond the atom, so I will not specify both the position and the velocity of the atom." What if reality itself is rather like a computer game where what goes on inside houses has not been programmed because it was not needed in the game? What if it is, in some sense, incomplete?

All these complex ideas... how do we come up with them?

I like Stephen Jay Gould here: intelligence, language and so on are exaptations, by-products of something which failed. Say I am using my cellphone - I become fully aware of it only when something goes wrong. We ask the big metaphysical questions even though we cannot solve them, and as a by-product we come up with wonderful, solid knowledge.

P2P Foundation - Q & A with Douglas Rushkoff on taking control of our tech

Rushkoff's new book sounds interesting - this brief question and answer was posted at the P2P Foundation site. Shareable magazine asked editors and advisers to submit questions for Rushkoff, which he answered - this is Michel Bauwens question (the rest can be seen at the link to the magazine).

Q & A with Douglas Rushkoff on taking control of our tech

photo of Michel Bauwens
Michel Bauwens
2nd November 2010

Following last week’s excerpt of Douglas Rushkoff’s new book Program or be Programmed: Ten Commands for the Digital Age, we follow with a Q&A with the author, featuring questions from Shareable’s community of contributors and advisors. On Wednesday, October 13 and Thursday, October 14, we invite our wider community of readers to engage with Rushkoff in the comments, as he responds to your questions and thoughts.

Shareable magazine has asked various members of its board of advisers to ask questions to Douglas Rushkoff, related to his new book.

The full collective interview is also reproduced here.

Here’s my question, and his reply, excerpted:

Michel Bauwens: If we indeed take control of our technology, how do you see the balance between individual control, relationships between peers, and the power of any new collectives that may arise in this networked world? Do you see the balance between individuality and collectivity changing?

Rushkoff: Well, if we take control of our tech, as you put it, then we get to decide how that dynamic changes. I don’t think we get to fully take charge of it, though. I think we get to partner with it, and with our various biological and evolutionary imperatives. I feel like the best we can hope for is conscious participation in all this.

There is almost certainly an evolutionary drive toward increasing complexity in the face of entropy. That’s practically a definition of life. Technology is so powerful and attractive to us because it holds the promise of greater complexity and greater connectedness. Atoms to molecules to cells to organelles to organisms. What’s next? No one knows for sure, but it sure ain’t Facebook.

I have been saying from the beginning—the early ’90s anyway—that we are looking at collective organism. But unlike some kind of fascist Borg, we don’t have to lose our individuality. It is actually enhanced as more people become aware of everyone else. Not a hive, but more of a coral reef.

Some of these rather invasive technologies are really just preparation for a world where everyone will know what you are thinking anyway.”

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Jonah Lehrer - Why Are the Effects of Marijuana So Unpredictable?

This article by Jonah Lehrer for Wired takes a look at the unpredictability of marijuana users' highs - the variations in THC levels, the amount of THC in ration to other cannabinoids (such as cannabidiol), and other factors, all make the newer strains of marijuana more potent and more problematic in users. Some of the effects that are new in this higher potency weed are memory loss and psychosis (especially in teens).

This article presents many of the reasons that I have issues with legalizing marijuana for regular usage. It is a lot safer in general than alcohol (which is more harmful to the individual and the public than heroin or cocaine), but in the specific, especially in heavy users, there are far more serious issues with the new high potency weed.

On the other hand, if marijuana were respected as a powerful entheogen and not abused, it could be useful in some ways. But how many users actually would do this? There are indications that the high levels of THC make weed more addictive than it was in the past, which makes casual use less likely.

Why Are the Effects of Marijuana So Unpredictable?

Alcohol is mostly predictable. When we drink a beer (or three), we usually have a pretty good sense of what it’s going to feel like. We can anticipate the buzz, the slackening of self-control, the impaired motor movements and the increased mind-wandering. In part, this is because alcohol is a tightly regulated psychoactive drug, and the alcohol content is clearly printed on every bottle. We also sense alcohol directly, so that the potency of a hard liquor tastes different than that of weak light beer. When we drink, we generally know how drunk we are going to be.

But not all drugs are so predictable. Consider marijuana, which can trigger dramatically different symptoms depending on the strain and context. It’s long been known that different strains of the drug contain various amounts of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient. When people talk about the effects of the drug – such as giddiness, the munchies, and a sudden desire to watch The Big Lebowski – they’re typically referring to the effects of THC. (Interestingly, the same chemical can also make us paranoid. More on that later.) But THC doesn’t work alone – marijuana also contains cannabidiol, a compound associated with calm and relaxation. The ratio of THC to cannabidiol seems to be the key variable: Skunk-type strains, for instance, contain a higher ratio of THC to cannabidiol than, say, marijuana byproducts like hashish. (According to a paper in Neuropsychopharmacology, “Delta-9-THC and CBD can have opposite effects on regional brain function, which may underlie their different symptomatic and behavioral effects, and CBD’s ability to block the psychotogenic effects of delta-9-THC.”) In general, high levels of THC seem to be desired by marijuana users, which helps explain why levels of THC have increased dramatically in the last few decades.

Now for the bad news: These popular skunk-strains (high in THC, low in cannabidiol) seem to be uniquely associated with memory loss. That, at least, is the lesson of a recent paper in the British Journal of Psychiatry. Here’s Nature News:

Curran and her colleagues traveled to the homes of 134 volunteers, where the subjects got high on their own supply before completing a battery of psychological tests designed to measure anxiety, memory recall and other factors such as verbal fluency when both sober and stoned. The researchers then took a portion of the stash back to their laboratory to test how much THC and cannabidiol it contained.

The subjects were divided into groups of high (samples containing more than 0.75 percent cannabidiol) and low (less than 0.14 percent) cannabidiol exposure, and the data were filtered so that their THC levels were constant. Analysis showed that participants who had smoked cannabis low in cannabidiol were significantly worse at recalling text than they were when not intoxicated. Those who smoked cannabis high in cannabidiol showed no such impairment.

The results suggest that cannabidiol can mitigate THC’s interference with memory formation. This is the first study in human to show such effects. One previous study, led by Aaron Ilan, a cognitive neuroscientist at the San Francisco Brain Research Institute in California, failed to find variations in cognitive effects with varying concentrations of cannabidiol.

lan attributes the positive finding of Curran and her team to their more powerful methodology in analyzing subjects’ own smoking preferences. In the United States, government policy dictates that only marijuana provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse can be used for research — and it “is notorious for being low in THC and of poor quality,” says Ilan.

The larger message is that it’s very difficult to generalize about the effects of most drugs. Just look at marijuana: One of the recurring mysteries of the drug is why the same compound can both relax us and make us paranoid; it sometimes causes uncontrollable laughter and sometimes leads to runaway anxiety. This suggests that the context of use – our mental state when smoking a joint, or eating a pot brownie – can profoundly influence the outcome. While it remains mostly unclear how or why this happens, there’s some interesting new research on endocannabinoids in rough-skinned newts. (Endocannabinoids are a class of neuromodulators widely expressed in the brain. Their name gives away the punchline: THC binds to endocannabinoid receptors with ease.) The basic moral of these studies is that the endocannabinoid system is tightly interwoven with the stress system. For instance, it’s long been recognized that stressing out a male newt leads, not surprisingly, to a rapid surge of corticosterone, a stress hormone. As a result, these poor males have little interest in sex, even when exposed to a lovely female newt. Here’s where the data gets surprising: The effects of the stress hormones seems to be mediated by the endocannabinoid system, so that when these endocannabinoid receptors are blocked stress has no effect. The males keep on having sex, even though they’ve just been through the ringer. Here are the scientists:

Thus, eCBs [endocannabinoids] regulate a variety of stress-related behaviors at distinct locations of the brain: Sex behaviors at the level of the hindbrain, nociceptive-induced behaviors at the level of the midbrain, and anxiety-like behaviors at the level of the forebrain. We hypothesize that eCBs might be involved in coordinating multiple physiological and behavioral functions during acutely stressful events.

What does this have to do with humans and marijuana? (As the researchers note, the stress and EC pathways have been extremely well-conserved in evolution: You get stressed just like a newt.) The reason marijuana has been around for thousands of years (and remains one of the most popular drugs in the world) is that it acts on an incredibly important neural system. EC receptors sit at the intersection of appetite and stress, pain and and anxiety. According to the newt data, EC receptor agonists – compounds that act like THC – induce the same blunting of the sex response as an acute stressor. (In other words, don’t smoke a joint if you hope to perform well in bed.) Is this because the newts are suddenly paranoid? Or is it because they’re too happy to bother with intercourse? The answer is that it depends. As the researchers note, the EC system, like the stress pathway it mediates, is largely context dependent, which is why the same the soup of cortical chemicals can produce a runner’s high and the awful feelings of terror. This has also been demonstrated in newts: The scientists can block the effect of stress on sex if they expose the creatures to sex beforehand, or give them an injection of vasotocin. In other words, priming the males with happy thoughts seems to allow their EC system to shrug off the effects of acute stress. Their previous experience has reversed the symptoms of being poked and prodded by a scientist.

Behavioral biologists have long known that behavioral responses to environmental stress are context-specific. Given that the state of neural a system will vary with the behavioral state of an animal, it follows that synaptic events mediated by eCB retrograde signaling might contribute to context-specific behaviors.

Too often, we forget that drugs work their magic on a brain that’s never the same. Who we are depends on when you ask the question. So it shouldn’t be too surprising that a drug with many different strains (each of which has a slightly different THC/cannabinoid ratio) and that acts on a context-dependent neural pathway would display such a wide variety of symptoms, from carefree euphoria to its emotional opposite.

For more on the cannabinoid/memory story, check out Addiction Inbox.

UPDATE: A scientist who studies the neural effects of alcohol and THC writes in with an illuminating comment:

I would argue that the wide array of subjective effects of marijuana likely arises from the ubiquity of the EC system in most areas of the brain. Consequently, I think the different experiences people have with this drug are probably due to individual differences and the state a person is in immediately preceding and at the time of intoxication (I believe you said something to this effect in your article). However, if one examines the dose-response function of THC and other cannabinoid drugs in lab animals, you’ll find that at high doses these compounds produce sedation (not surprising), but at very low doses they have stimulatory effects (not unlike EtOH). Therefore, I think you probably have something like a three-way interaction (dose x self x state) which would be hard to predict for the average user especially because THC content in illicit cannabis is unregulated.

Image: US Fish and Wildlife Service

Tom Haskins - Evolving into P2P strategies

I stumbled across this post and found it useful - Tom Haskins, the blogger behind growing changing learning creating, offers a brief review of a new book that sounds interesting for those drawn to P2P and the commons but not yet well-versed in the topic - What's Mine is Yours - The Rise of Collaborative Consumption by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers.

Evolving into P2P strategies

Over the weekend, I finished reading a wonderful new book: What's Mine is Yours - The Rise of Collaborative Consumption. Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers show us how we're actively migrating away from our excessively ownership-oriented economy. Michel Bauwens and Massimo Menichinelli raised my curiosity about this book which is deeply aligned with the P2P Foundation's trajectory. This morning I've been visualizing how P2P strategies emerge from the widespread, personal realizations of surpluses which can be shared, swapped, rented or redistributed. As I see it, realized surpluses is a highly evolved condition which results from previous phases of economic development.

Exploitative strategy: When something new becomes available for consumption, there are shortages due to many factors. Production and distribution capacity may initially be small. Access to constituent elements may be limited. Talent or expertise for creating it may be in short supply. Any of these factors create the possibility of exploiting the demand for the offer with higher prices, restricted access, or imposing terms.

Extortive strategy: As more supply gets generated, privatized interests in profiteering seek to create an illusion of ongoing or new scarcities. They may create a window of opportunity to be closed after a short time period. They may create planned obsolescence or undermine backwards compatibility with previous versions. This forces the buyers to ante up for the latest or vanishing offer.

Competitive strategy: As an abundance of supply gets produced, there are rival offers to outwit. There are many ways to be superior or different which necessitates the consumers shopping wisely. This induces a consumer culture where massive amounts of time get spent learning what's available, sorting out conflicting claims, identifying desired attributes and acquiring the latest, greatest thing. This overemphasis on purchasing yields a decline in personal satisfaction, economic sustainability and community vitality.

P2P strategy: Anyone who has over-consumed may eventually realize their own surplus of goods, tools, living space or other resources. With the facilitation of their trust among strangers, awareness of availability and access to convenient outlets, widespread sharing takes hold. Underutilized things get transformed into convenient access, less consumption, supplemental income and vitalized communities. Consumerism erodes and collaborative dynamics takes it's place.

This is very good news for all of us inclined to save the planet, revitalize communities, increase consumer justice and/or reinvent capitalism. Ownership breeds surpluses, sharing and reduced consumption.

Daily Om - Looking at What We Don’t Want to See

This is from a couple of days ago, but it's a nice reminder that no matter how ugly we find our shadow material, we are not alone - all human beings have shadow and we share many of the same issues and fears.

Not Alone in the Dark
Looking at What We Don’t Want to See

The things we don't want to look at in ourselves are the very things we need to look at.

It is one of life's great paradoxes that the things we don't want to look at in ourselves are the very things we need to look at in order to know ourselves better and to become more fully who we are. The feelings that make us want to run away are buried treasure full of energy and inspiration if we are willing to look. These feelings come in many forms, from strange images or snippets of information to recurring dreams and feelings that rise up seemingly without a reason. Whatever shape they come in, and no matter how scary they seem, these messengers bring the information we need in order to grow.

When we are tired of pushing something down, or trying to run away from it, a good first step is to write down what we think we are avoiding. Often this turns out to be only the surface of the issue or a symbol of something else. Expressing ourselves fully on paper is a safe way to begin exploring the murky territory of the unconscious. The coolness of the intellect can give us the distance we need to read what we have written and feel less afraid of it. It helps if we remember that no matter how dark or negative our thoughts or feelings may be, these are energies shared by all humanity. We are not alone in the dark, and all the gurus and teachers we admire had to go through their own unprocessed emotional territory in order to come out the other side brighter and wiser. This can give us the courage we need to open the treasure chest of what we have been avoiding.

Within the parts of ourselves that we don't want to look at, there are emotions that need to be felt. Unfelt emotions are stuck energy, and when we leave emotions unprocessed, we deprive ourselves of access to that energy. When we feel strong enough, we can begin the process of feeling those emotions, on our own or with guidance from a spiritual counselor. It is through this work that the buried treasure of energy and inspiration will pour forth from our hearts, giving us the courage to look at all the parts of ourselves with insight and compassion.

What do you think?
Discuss this article and share your opinion

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Upaya Dharma Podcasts - Awakening Beginner’s Mind

Nice dharma talk from Tias Little.

Awakening Beginner’s Mind

Speaker: Tias Little
Recorded: Wednesday Oct 27, 2010

UPDATE Nov 3rd 3:35 PM: Episode summary notes added.

UPDATE Nov 2nd 2:58 PM MDT: Due to an internal mix-up, this episode (show # 368) was published on Nov 1st with an erroneous title (“The Sword That Splits Into One (2)”). It is being re published on Nov 2nd with the correct title (“Awakening Beginner’s Mind”). The “auto download option (in iTunes, iPods etc.)” subscribers, will see a “second download” of this episode. Please use this updated version (duration: 58:50) and …. please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience.

Tias begins tonight’s talk with a koan, where the teaching lies in the question … What? When we begin to embody the dharma we go back to the freshness of “what?” In the beginning of our practice, there is a structure that eventually is let go of and what is left is a readiness, or a freshness that can’t be choreographed. We begin to realize that our experiences are passing like bubbles. Beginner’s mind is about staying open to whatever arises. “Now” is continuous and ongoing.

Falling in Love Can Reduce Physical Pain

Well, dang, that's pretty cool . . . . From Big Questions Online.

Love Is Pain Relief

Love Is Pain Relief
By intensely activating reward systems in the brain.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

For some time now, psychologist Arthur Aron has known that what scientists see when they look at intense, passionate love in the brain is similar to what they see in the brain when people get other kinds of rewards. But in a new experiment, he teamed up with a group of researchers, including Dr. Sean Mackey, a professor of anesthesia at the Stanford School of Medicine, to see if this kind of love could also change people's experience of pain.

The researchers put a group of students in the early stages of love in an fMRI machine and scanned their brains while they experienced moderate and high pain. They wanted to see what would happen when the students experienced pain at the same time they were looking at photos of either the person they were in love with or an equally attractive acquaintance. The researchers also scanned the students' brains as they performed a distracting word task while experiencing pain. What they found was that both intense love and the distraction task had analgesic effects; they reduced the pain—equally, and much more than looking at the photo of an acquaintance did. But what's really interesting, the researchers note, is that:

Only the partner task was associated with activation of reward systems. Greater analgesia while viewing pictures of a romantic partner was associated with increased activity in several reward-processing regions, including the caudate head, nucleus accumbens, lateral orbitofrontal cortex, amygdala, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex—regions not associated with distraction-induced analgesia. The results suggest that the activation of neural reward systems via non-pharmacologic means can reduce the experience of pain.

So, it appears that the same brain pathways that are activated when we feel intense romantic love are also activated when we take drugs to reduce pain, says Aron. And as Mackey points out, "these are very deep, old systems in our brain that involve dopamine—a primary neurotransmitter that influences mood, reward, and motivation."

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Energy Psychology: Mental Health Experts Say It's Time to End the Ban

I'm skeptical of energy psychology, largely because there does not seem to be any real evidence that it works - or how it works (which is less of issue to me). In this "interview," Dr. David Gruder, a leader in trying to legitimize energy psychology, is questioned by the organization that he leads, the Energy Medicine Institute. So much for objectivity - but it is interesting to read their perspective.

The APA (American Psychological Association) has banned the technique as unproven and has rejected the most recent appeal from the Energy Medicine Institute. The best known variation is call the the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), an approach that I have seen many therapists embrace, despite the lack of empirical support.

Energy Psychology: Mental Health Experts Say It's Time to End the Ban

by: Energy Medicine Institute, t r u t h o u t | Interview

Dr. David Gruder Ph.D., DCEP, a clinical and organizational psychologist and diplomate in comprehensive energy psychology, is a pioneer in applying insight and techniques from time-honored healing traditions for enhancing mental health. In 1999, he co-founded the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology and served as its first president until 2002. Dr. Gruder was recently appointed the mental health coordinator for the nonprofit Energy Medicine Institute. His most recent book about restoring personal, relationship and societal integrity, "The New IQ: How Integrity Intelligence Serves You, Your Relationships and Our World," has won six major awards, including the U.S. Book News Best Social Change book of 2008. His web site is here.

Energy Medicine Institute: You take the position that the ban on the teaching of energy psychology is irrational and unwarranted. Why?

Dr. David Gruder:
PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] is a mental health epidemic that disrupts the lives of more than five million people in the United States, and we are producing new victims of this debilitating condition at an unthinkable rate in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Conventional therapies have not been particularly effective in helping these individuals. Less than one in ten veterans who seek care for PTSD from the Department of Veterans Affairs actually completes the treatment as recommended.(1) Now there is a therapy that appears, in a series of clinical studies, to be more effective than conventional treatments. The APA's [the American Psychological Association] mandate is, at its core, to be a force in improving the country's psychological health. The organization should be shouting from the rooftops about this new clinical development. Instead it has persisted for over a decade in putting up roadblocks to informing its 150,000 members about the approach.

EMI: What exactly is the technique being banned by the APA?

Energy Psychology involves procedures such as tapping on acupuncture points at the same time that a traumatic memory or stressful trigger is brought to mind. The technique appears to send signals in the brain that counteract the stress response. It has been shown to be effective with a range of disorders, from simple phobias to irrational anger to severe PTSD.

A primary way that new innovations are introduced to the mental health profession is through continuing education. Each specialty requires continuing education for license renewal. By putting a ban on Energy Psychology as a continuing education topic available to psychologists, the APA is strongly discouraging psychologists from learning about it and is essentially branding it, to the mental health profession and the general public, as not being a legitimate approach.

EMI: Where did the ban come from?

In fairness, the APA's job is to serve as a gatekeeper. New therapeutic techniques are continually being introduced, and it is the APA's proper role to tell the public which are valid, based on scientific findings. When psychologists started treating mental health conditions by tapping on acupuncture points, the technique seemed very strange. It had no research support. No plausible explanations of how it worked were available. So it is not surprising that the APA sent a memo announcing the ban to its Continuing Education sponsors. This was 1999. Since that time, however, a growing body of solid research and a tremendous amount of clinical experience has been showing that the approach is surprisingly effective. But the APA has not budged on its position and, in fact, seems to have dug in, as if the new evidence threatens established ways of treating mental illness. And, of course, it does.

EMI: Who is asking for the policy to be changed?

The Association for Comprehensive Psychology (ACEP) is an 850-member professional organization comprised primarily of clinicians and researchers. ACEP has been actively trying to get the APA to lift the ban since it was announced more than a decade ago. Within the APA itself, some 75 of its members have started a petition to form a new APA division that is dedicated to the study, practice, and dissemination of the new approach.

EMI: What is the new evidence and what does it show?

Increasing numbers of articles and reports documenting the effectiveness of carefully administered Energy Psychology techniques have been appearing.

This past April, the results from a "randomized controlled trial" - the gold standard in health care research - were presented at the prestigious Society of Behavioral Medicine Conference in Seattle. The data show that PTSD symptoms were dramatically reduced in 49 military veterans. Forty-two of them, an almost unheard of 86 percent, no longer scored within the PTSD range after six sessions. There was only one drop-out. The gains persisted at 6-month follow-up. Compare this with the 9 of 10 drop-out rate in VA programs.(2)

These treatment results, 86 percent no longer in the PTSD range after only six sessions, are also far stronger than the outcomes reported for conventional treatments such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy. In studies of conventional PTSD treatments, a 50 percent success rate with those who complete a twelve-session program is considered a highly favorable response.

EMI: What is the APA saying? What is their position on the treatments?

This is the APA's fourth ruling in just the past two years denying ACEP's requests to provide psychologists continuing education credit for studying the approach. They've rejected two applications, a request for reconsideration, and most recently a formal appeal. The APA's reasoning is difficult to discern from the documents announcing the denials. Their responses fail to address the fact that the preponderance of emerging research evidence shows the approach to be effective. They instead emphasize that the approach is "controversial" while ignoring the published evidence except to take issue with a few fine points on research design. I've reviewed the proceedings, and by any objective evaluation, ACEP has met every one of the APA's published standards for CE credit approval many times over. The APA, meanwhile, has yet to provide a rational explanation of where the ACEP application falls short. But their ruling, of course, stands.

EMI: Why is it important and who could benefit?

By 2006, more than 300,000 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan were already suffering with PTSD and its symptoms, such as flashbacks, insomnia, nightmares, fractured relationships, and inability to concentrate or hold a job. In addition there are untold numbers of PTSD sufferers who have been victims of violent crimes, accidents, or emotional or sexual abuse. Energy Psychology may well be the most important non-drug therapy developed in recent years offering relief to people facing such challenges.

A number of recent studies, such as the Society of Behavioral Medicine report, show that Energy Psychology treatments produce stronger outcomes than those found for other PTSD treatments. In the past few years more than two dozen papers on Energy Psychology have appeared in peer-reviewed mental health journals, most of them showing highly favorable outcomes in systematic studies of the method.

At least three international disaster relief organizations have adopted Energy Psychology as a core modality in treating mental health challenges of disaster survivors.(3)

In short, we're long overdue for strongly encouraging mental health professionals to learn about how to use these techniques in their practices.

EMI: Are you saying there is a willful and intentional denial on the part of the APA professionals who are failing to approve the applications for CE approval?

It appears that there are people within the hierarchy of APA who are defending an outmoded position by denying or not bothering to become informed about data that show these techniques to be unusually effective. Some of their resistance is easy to understand. Energy Psychology uses techniques adapted from Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is a different paradigm from anything in the training or background of most conventional psychologists. It also looks silly to be tapping on the skin while repeating phrases that bring up difficult memories. How could such voodoo help overcome psychological problems? To make matters worse, early claims by the field's proponents ran way ahead of the research support, which is only now coming in.

With the new findings, however, showing that these techniques not only work but that they are quicker and more effective than approved approaches, I believe that continuing the ban is inexcusable. The APA is officially refusing to face the fact that Energy Psychology is providing people with powerful help. I'm sure it is only a narrow group of conventionally-minded bureaucrats and committee members within the organization, but they are controlling what other professionals will read and study.

The policy is not only actively blocking psychologists from learning how to use the tools responsibly. The APA's positions on such matters reverberate throughout the mental health community, so ultimately they're hurting hundreds of thousands of people by interfering in the processes that would lead to them receiving the best treatments available. Beyond that, due to a growing demand for Energy Psychology methods, the APA's blockade is having the unintended effect of causing the public to seek assistance with complicated issues like PTSD from practitioners who are not sufficiently trained in treating serious disorders. It is driving the public away from psychologists and toward people who have learned how to tap on acupuncture points without also having the years of study required for a comprehensive clinical background.

EMI: Are there other supporters for energy psychology in the APA?

Yes. Three highly favorable assessments of Energy Psychology have been published in the APA's own journals. A review of Energy Psychology Interactive, one of the main Energy Psychology texts, appeared in the APA's online book review journal PsychCRITIQUES. It concluded that because Energy Psychology successfully "integrates ancient Eastern practices with Western psychology [it constitutes] a valuable expansion of the traditional biopsychosocial model of psychology to include the dimension of energy." The review, by Dr. Ilene Serlin, a former APA division president, describes Energy Psychology as "a new discipline that has been receiving attention due to its speed and effectiveness with difficult cases." Next September, a fourth article that describes the brain mechanisms that are involved in successful Energy Psychology treatments will appear in the APA's prestigious Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training.

There is also growing acceptance in professional groups outside of the APA. ACEP itself is an approved continuing education provider for social workers, certified mental health counselors, drug & alcohol counselors, and nurses. Numerous health and mental health bodies have long recognized acupuncture, acupressure, and similar practices as valid treatments. The field of integrative medicine, one of the most important developments in health care, is also actively utilizing such methods.

EMI: So, energy psychology fits with techniques like acupuncture?

DG: Yes, absolutely. Energy Psychology combines well-established Western psychological methods - such as having the client mentally revisit a difficult experience or re-evaluate beliefs about a personal problem - with techniques derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine. The techniques involve rubbing or tapping specific acupuncture points - interventions that are accepted in Traditional Chinese Medicine alongside the use of needles. It isn't surprising that the combination is remarkably effective. In 2003, the World Health Organization identified some two dozen conditions where acupuncture is effective, including a number of psychological problems, and several dozen more where the evidence is promising. The American Academy of Medical Acupuncture has more than 1600 physicians and publishes one of several peer-reviewed acupuncture journals in the U.S. What is surprising is that the APA is having so much difficulty embracing techniques that combine standard psychotherapeutic elements with those derived from the well-respected healing traditions of Eastern cultures. Ironically, other Eastern methods such as mindfulness meditation are among the hottest topics in clinical psychology right now. I think acupoint tapping will be next.

EMI: What's the right outcome here? What should the APA do?

Those within the APA who are maintaining the ban need to take their heads out of the sand and recognize the validity of the evidence before them. They are doing tangible harm by defending a policy that closes the door on one of the most promising clinical innovations of recent years. Tapping on acupuncture points is not only non-invasive; it appears to change the brain's chemistry in ways that bring about immediate clinical benefits. To best serve the public, therapists need to keep up with such cutting edge developments and get proper training in them. It is also in the APA's interests to change its position on Energy Psychology. Blocking a promising treatment for our returning veterans gives the appearance, again, that the APA is out of integrity with its commitment to uphold the highest professional standards for promoting the public's welfare.

The nonprofit Energy Medicine Institute has been advancing the responsible use of energy-based healing methods since 1999. Co-founded by Donna Eden, a leading energy medicine expert, and David Feinstein, a renowned licensed psychologist, the Institute provides public education and professional training worldwide. It disseminates knowledge and research information about energy medicine and shows health care professionals, businesses, and educators how to incorporate energy medicine perspectives and methods to improve health care, business, and education. EMI is based in Ashland, Oregon. Its website is:


1. Seal, K. H., Maguen, S., Cohen, B., Gima, K. S., Metzler, T. J., Ren, L., ... Marmar, C. R. (2010). VA mental health services utilization in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in the first year of receiving new mental health diagnoses. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 23, 5- 16.
Church, D., Hawk, C., Brooks, A., Toukolehto, O., Wren, M., Dinter, I., & Stein, P. (2010, April). Psychological trauma in veterans using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques): A randomized controlled trial. Poster session at the 31st Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, Seattle, April 7-10, 2010. Retrieved April 20, 2010.
3. Green Cross, ATFT Foundation, and Mexican Association for Crisis Therapy, as well as ACEP.

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