Saturday, September 01, 2012

Troma Movies Releases 150 Movies on YouTube

Troma Movies has released 150 films from it's nearly 40 year history on YouTube. Troma is known for their low-budget independent movies that play on 1950s horror with tongue firmly implanted in cheek - and even better, many of their films contain social commentary.

A little history from Wikipedia:
Troma films are B-movies known for their surrealistic or automatistic nature, along with their use of shocking imagery; some would categorize them as "shock exploitation films". They typically contain overt sexuality, nudity, and intentionally sadistic, gory, and blatant graphic violence, so much that the term "Troma film" has become synonymous with these characteristics. Troma's slogan is Movies of the Future. Troma reuses the same props, actors, and scenes repeatedly, sometimes to save money. At a certain point, however, this became another hallmark of Troma. Examples include a severed leg, a penis monster, and the flipping and exploding car filmed for the movie Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD, which is used in place of any other car that needs to crash and explode.

Troma produced or acquired early films featuring several rising talents, such as Carmen Electra (The Chosen One), Billy Bob Thornton (Chopper Chicks in Zombietown), Vanna White (Graduation Day), Kevin Costner (Sizzle Beach, U.S.A.), Samuel L. Jackson (Def by Temptation), Marisa Tomei (The Toxic Avenger), Vincent D'Onofrio (The First Turn-On!), David Boreanaz (Macabre Pair of Shorts), Paul Sorvino (Cry Uncle!), James Gunn (Tromeo and Juliet), Trey Parker and Matt Stone (Cannibal! The Musical), before they were discovered. Another Academy Award winning director, Oliver Stone, made his debut as an actor in The Battle of Love's Return.

Their latest production, Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, was released in late 2006.[2]
These are some classic titles from their catalog:

Shrink Rap Radio #319 –On The Frontier of Neurotherapy with Paul Swingle PhD

Dr. David Van Nuys (the host of Shrink Rap Radio) visits with Dr. Paul Swingle about the coming integration of neuroscience and psychotherapy to create a more comprehensive approach to treating mental illness, an approach being called neurotherapy by some - Swingle refers to his own approach as Clinical psychoneurophysiology, which he defines as follows:
Psychoneurophysiology is a natural and holistic approach to the treatment of many conditions. We normalize and optimize brain functioning using various neurotherapeutic techniques including brainwave biofeedback, brain stimulation, cranial sacral therapy and self-regulation procedures. Treatment methods include brainwave biofeedback, brain stimulation and self-regulation to optimize brain functioning and correct inefficiencies in brain activity. Psychoneurophysiology corrects problems where they reside, in your head. The clinic treats numerous disorders such as ADD, ADHD, epilepsy, stroke, learning disorders, traumatic brain injury, depression, fibromyalgia, autistic spectrum disorders, to name but a few without dangerous and largely ineffective drugs.

Cranial Sacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle hands-on therapy which uses a light touch and gentle movements to monitor the rhythm of cerebral-spinal fluid (CSF) throughout the body. CSF surrounds, safeguards and provides nourishment for the brain and spinal cord and membranes. The pumping motion of this fluid creates a subtle pulse (detected through the palpation of bones) similar to that of a heartbeat which can be felt throughout the body. This rhythm is monitored by applying light pressure at specific evaluation points through the length of the body (head, neck, spinal cord, lower back and ankles). With CST, the natural rhythm of the cranial sacral function is restored, blood and oxygen flow are improved, toxins are removed more efficiently and brain cells function more effectively as they are receiving the nutrients they require. With CST individuals generally feel a release from stress and anxiety and begin to enjoy a renewed sense of well-being which facilitates neurotherapeutic treatment.

SomatoEmotional Release (SER), an advanced form of Cranial Sacral Therapy, is a therapeutic process which locates and releases the mind and body from previous trauma and past negative emotional experiences. The body often retains physical and emotional imprints as the result of trauma. These imprints become isolated and dysfunctional and create energy cysts in body tissue. Initially, the body is able to adapt to these energy cysts, however, over time, the body loses its ability to adapt effectively and additional energy is required to carry out the most basic of functions. Suppressed physical and emotional trauma lay the foundation for many ailments. By locating and releasing the energy cysts, internal energy is able to flow freely and can markedly accelerate the neurotherapeutic process.
This sounds a little more integrated than other forms of neurotherapy I have seen - although I would need to know more to fully endorse this model. Still, it's an interesting podcast.

Shrink Rap Radio #319 – On The Frontier of Neurotherapy with Paul Swingle PhD

Paul G. Swingle,PhD was Titular Full Professor of Psychology at the University of Ottawa prior to moving to Vancouver. A Fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association, Dr. Swingle was Lecturer in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, an Attending Psychologist at McLean Hospital (Boston) where he also was Coordinator of the Clinical Psychophysiology Service. Dr. Swingle is a Registered Psychologist in British Columbia, Certified in Biofeedback and Neurotherapy. His latest book “Biofeedback for the Brain” is published by Rutgers University Press.

Check out the following Psychology CE Courses based on listening to Shrink Rap Radio interviews:

A psychology podcast by David Van Nuys, Ph.D.
copyright 2012: David Van Nuys, Ph.D.

Coping With Stress: Cognitive-Behavioral Stress Reduction

Unlike the majority of the counseling world, I do not believe cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an efficacious stand-alone therapeutic modality. However, the individual techniques from CBT can be very useful in treating a variety of issues, including anxiety, depression, phobias, and other situations where mental scripts play a role.

Stress is one of those issues amenable to CBT interventions, as demonstrated in this video from the University of California San Francisco.

Coping With Stress: Cognitive-Behavioral Stress Reduction

Stress is ubiquitous and on the rise. How we learn to manage it can have profound effects on our health and well being. This series explains how our bodies experience stress and demonstrates effective strategies to help you thrive in a fast-paced world. On this edition, Jason Satterfield, Director of Behavioral Medicine at UCSF, explores adjustment to chronic medical and stress-induced illnesses, HIV, and stress-management. Series: "UCSF Osher Mini Medical School for the Public" [3/2008]

Friday, August 31, 2012

Martin Amis - ‘A Clockwork Orange’ at 50

Novelist Martin Amis looks back at Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange, 50 years after it's original publication, in the New York Times Sunday Book Review.

It is unfortunate that Burgess eventually (1985) repudiated his best-known book in a book about D.H. Lawrence, while discussing Lady Chatterley's Lover:
The book I am best known for, or only known for, is a novel I am prepared to repudiate: written a quarter of a century ago, a jeu d'esprit knocked off for money in three weeks, it became known as the raw material for a film which seemed to glorify sex and violence. The film made it easy for readers of the book to misunderstand what it was about, and the misunderstanding will pursue me until I die. I should not have written the book because of this danger of misinterpretation, and the same may be said of Lawrence and Lady Chatterley's Lover.
The novel is brilliant, although the American edition was originally published without the crucial final chapter in which Alex realizes he no longer enjoys violence and sets about living a different life.

The Shock of the New: ‘A Clockwork Orange’ at 50

Published: August 31, 2012

The day-to-day business of writing a novel often seems to consist of nothing but decisions — decisions, decisions, decisions. Should this paragraph go here? Or should it go there? Can that chunk of exposition be diversified by dialogue? At what point does this information need to be revealed? Ought I use a different adjective and a different adverb in that sentence? Or no adverb and no adjective? Comma or semicolon? Colon or dash? And so on.

These decisions are minor, clearly enough, and they are processed more or less rationally by the conscious mind. All the major decisions, by contrast, have been reached before you sit down at your desk; and they involve not a moment’s thought. The major decisions are inherent in the original frisson — in the enabling throb or whisper (a whisper that says, Here is a novel you may be able to write). Very mysteriously, it is the unconscious mind that does the heavy lifting. No one knows how it happens.

When, in 1960, Anthony Burgess sat down to write “A Clockwork Orange,” we may be pretty sure that he had a handful of certainties about what lay ahead of him. He knew the novel would be set in the near future (and that it would take the standard science-fictional route, developing, and fiercely exaggerating, current tendencies). He knew his vicious antihero, Alex, would narrate, and that he would do so in an argot or idiolect the world had never heard before (he eventually settled on a blend of Russian, Romany and rhyming slang). He knew it would have something to do with Good and Bad, and Free Will. And he knew, crucially, that Alex would harbor a highly implausible passion: an ecstatic love of classical music.

We see the wayward brilliance of that last decision when we reacquaint ourselves, after half a century, with Burgess’ leering, sneering, sniggering, sniveling young sociopath (a type unimprovably caught by Malcolm McDowell in Stanley Kubrick’s uneven but justly celebrated film). “It wasn’t me, brother, sir” Alex whines at his social worker, who has hurried to the local jailhouse: “Speak up for me, sir, for I’m not so bad.” But Alex is so bad; and he knows it. The opening chapters of “A Clockwork Orange” still deliver the shock of the new: a red streak of gleeful evil.

On a night on the town Alex and his droogs (partners in crime) waylay a schoolmaster, rip up the books he is carrying, strip off his clothes and stomp on his dentures; they rob and belabor a shopkeeper and his wife (“a fair tap with a crowbar”); they give a drunken bum a kicking (“we cracked into him lovely”); and they have a ruck with a rival gang, using the knife, the chain, the straight razor. Next, they steal a car, cursorily savage a courting couple, break into a cottage owned by “another intelligent type bookman type like that we’d fillied with some hours back,” destroy the typescript of his work in progress and gang rape his wife. And all this has been accomplished by the time we reach Page 20.

In a brief hiatus between storms of “ultra-violence,” Alex goes home to Municipal Flatblock 18A. Here, for a change, he does nothing worse than keep his parents awake by playing the multi-speaker stereo in his room, listening to a new violin concerto, before moving on to Mozart and Bach. Burgess evokes Alex’s sensations in a bravura passage that owes less to nadsat, or teenage pidgin, and more to the modulations of “Ulysses”:

“The trombones crunched redgold under my bed, and behind my gulliver the trumpets three-wise silverflamed, and there by the door the timps rolling through my guts and out again crunched like candy thunder. Oh, it was wonder of wonders.”

Here we feel the power of that enabling throb or whisper — the authorial insistence that the Beast would be susceptible to Beauty. At a stroke, and without sentimentality, Alex is realigned. He has now been equipped with a soul, and even a suspicion of innocence. Burgess airs the sinister but not implausible suggestion that Beethoven and Birkenau didn’t merely coexist. They combined and colluded, inspiring mad dreams of supremacism and omnipotence.

In Part 2, violence comes, not from below, but from above: it is the “clean” and focused violence of the state. Having served two years of his sentence, the entirely incorrigible Alex is selected for a crash course of a Reclamation Treatment, a form of aversion therapy. Each morning he is injected with a strong emetic and wheeled into a screening room, where his head is clamped in a brace and his eyes pinned wide open. Alex is then obliged to watch familiar scenes of recreational mayhem, lingering mutilations, Japanese tortures and finally a newsreel, with eagles and swastikas, firing squads, naked corpses. The soundtrack of the last clip is Beethoven’s Fifth. From now on Alex will feel intense nausea, not only when he contemplates violence, but also when he hears Ludwig van and the other starry masters. His soul, such as it was, has been excised.

We now embark on the curious apologetics of Part 3. “Nothing odd will do long,” said Dr. Johnson — meaning that the reader’s appetite for weirdness is very quickly surfeited. Burgess (unlike, say, Kafka) is sensitive to this near-infallible law; but there’s a case for saying that “A Clockwork Orange” ought to be even shorter than its 141 pages. It was in fact published with two different endings. The American edition omits the final chapter (this is the version used by Kubrick) and closes with Alex recovering from what proves to be a cathartic suicide attempt. He is listening to Beethoven’s Ninth:

“When it came to the Scherzo I could viddy myself very clear running and running on like very light and mysterious nogas, carving the whole litso of the creeching world with my cut-throat britva. And there was the slow movement and the lovely last singing movement still to come. I was cured all right.”

This is the “dark” ending. In the official version, though, Alex is afforded full redemption. He simply — and bathetically — “outgrows” the atavisms of youth, and starts itching to get married and settle down; and he carries around with him a photo of “a baby gurgling goo goo goo.” We are asked to accept that Alex has turned all soft and broody — at the age of 18.

It feels like a startling loss of nerve on Burgess’ part, or a recrudescence (we recall that he was an Augustinian Catholic) of self-punitive guilt. Horrified by its own transgressive energy, the novel submits to a Reclamation Treatment sternly supplied by its author. Burgess knew something was wrong: “a work too didactic to be artistic,” he half-conceded, “pure art dragged into the arena of morality.” And he shouldn’t have worried: Alex may be a teenager, but readers are grown-ups, and are perfectly at peace with the unregenerate. Besides, “A Clockwork Orange” is in essence a black comedy. Confronted by evil, comedy feels no need to punish or correct. It answers with corrosive laughter. 

In his 1973 book on Joyce, “Joysprick,” Burgess made a provocative distinction between what he calls the “A” novelist and the “B” novelist: the A novelist is interested in plot, character and psychological insight, whereas the B novelist is interested, above all, in the play of words. The most famous B novel is “Finnegans Wake,” which Nabokov aptly described as “a cold pudding of a book, a persistent snore in the next room.” The B novel, as a genre, is now utterly defunct; and “A Clockwork Orange” may be its only long-term survivor. It is a book that can still be read with steady pleasure, continuous amusement and — at times — incredulous admiration. Anthony Burgess, then, is not “a minor B novelist,” as he described himself; he is the only B novelist. I think he would have settled for that. 

~ Martin Amis is the author, most recently, of “Lionel Asbo: State of England.” This essay is adapted from his introduction to a new 50th-anniversary edition of “A Clockwork Orange” published in Britain by William Heinemann.

Are Eggs Really as Bad as Cigarettes for Our Health?

The short answer is NO. The question stems from an August 14th article in The Atlantic, Study: Eggs Are Nearly as Bad for Your Arteries as Cigarettes. It wasn't until the 2nd sentence in the article that the author went off the rails with the claim: "Because egg yolks are high in cholesterol, eating whole eggs increases cholesterol, a known risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD) and heart attacks."

Wow, I thought that nonsense had been dispelled years ago, but seems we need to do it again - dietary cholesterol has a very minimal correlation with blood concentrations of cholesterol. Saturated fat in the diet is correlated with blood cholesterol levels. This brief summary of the issue is from Discovery Health:
About 85 percent of your blood cholesterol level is endogenous, which means it is produced by your body. The other 15 percent or so comes from an external source -- your diet. Your dietary cholesterol originates from meat, poultry, fish, seafood and dairy products. It's possible for some people to eat foods high in cholesterol and still have low blood cholesterol levels. Likewise, it's possible to eat foods low in cholesterol and have a high blood cholesterol level.  
At this point, the whole study has been discredited, since all of their conclusions follow from the false premise.

As discussed by Cassandra Willyard at The Last Word on Nothing, the majority of the media did not even bother to check facts or speak with experts about the study. The one exception is Sydney Lupkin at ABC News who, you known, spoke to other doctors and researchers and revealed how deeply flawed the study is, beyond it's flawed premise.
“This is very poor quality research that should not influence patient’s dietary choices,” said Dr. Steven Nissen, who chairs the department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, in an email. “It is extremely important to understand the differences between ‘association’ and ‘causation’.”

Nissen said the researchers relied on patients to recall how many eggs they consumed, but asked them once and assumed it remained constant, which isn’t reliable. He said the way researchers measured patients’ plaque has come under “considerable criticism,” and that researchers failed to adjust for other dietary factors.

Dr. David Frid, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, told he doesn’t think smoking should be equated with eating eggs because eggs have an indirect rather than direct impact on heart disease. The eggs have to first increase cholesterol to create plaque build-up. The impact of smoking on heart disease is direct because smoking causes arteries to become inflamed, which prompts the body to respond with plaque.

He said the study fails to take exercise or other dietary habits into account. Study participants could have consumed more salt, or they could have been on cholesterol-reducing drugs, too.

“It may be that people who consume a lot of eggs also consume a lot of other fatty foods,” Frid said, adding that how the egg is prepared should also be taken into account.
Beyond the failed study itself, the media handled this so badly that it becomes a perfect case example of how poorly the media handles science.

[T]he good headline potential was too tempting for several media outlets to ignore and the story ran widely, and in some cases without any comment from outside experts

Dr. Tom Linden, a medical journalism professor at the University of North Carolina,said journalists should exercise caution when writing about studies like this. He said they should put the studies into context by explaining the caveats and consulting experts.

“The danger here is headline writers who aren’t necessarily science writers may go way overboard in headlining the story,” Linden said.

Linden said his bottom line is that journalists and readers should be cautious when they interpret study results. Studies need to be put in context beyond the snappy headline or lead.
We need more writers like Lupkin, authors who do research and talk to other experts.

Warren Karlenzig - Collective Intelligence: Cities as Global Sustainability Platform - TEDxMission

His delivery is stilted and controlled, but his ideas are important. We are entering a period of amazing and rapid urbanization, a move that dwarfs urbanization at the beginning of the 20th century. Karlenzig argues against low-density urban sprawl in favor of high-density approaches, which increases resilience and reduces resource needs.

I would like to hear Karlenzig in conversation with Marilyn Hamilton, author of Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive.

Karlenzig is founder of Common Current, and author of How Green Is Your City? The SustainLane U.S. City Rankings

Warren Karlenzig - Collective Intelligence: Cities as Global Sustainability Platform

TEDxMission - Social media and collaborative technologies--layered with smart systems combining geo-location data with human experience--will make cities the driving sustainability force in a dawning planetary era. Cities will anticipate new risks with rapid urban systems innovation based upon crowd-sourcing, virtual and physical communities, and transparent markets sensitive to full carbon and resource costs. Creatively leveraging collective intelligence for clean energy, low carbon mobility and sustainable food and water, the new urban grid will enable high local quality of life, lifelong learning and vibrant green economies.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Preview of Shinzen Young's Tricycle Online Retreat "What is Mindfulness?"

Zen Buddhist teacher Shinzen Young will be leading a 30-day online retreat at the Tricycle Magazine website in the month of September. In the video clip below, he is interviewed by Polly Young-Eisendrath (a Jungian psychologist, student of Shinzen's, and one of my favorite authors), about his Vipassana teachings and about understanding the variations in mindfulness practice.

Interview with Shinzen Young

Next week we'll begin Shinzen Young's month-long Tricycle Online Retreat "What is Mindfulness?" Through talks and guided practices, Shinzen will elucidate how mindfulness is defined from numerous points of view and discuss factors that could facilitate or inhibit a global mindfulness revolution. The practice sessions will parallel the talks and offer an experiential point of view. Retreat participants will also be guided in Breath Focus and explore how this practice develops four aspects of mindful awareness: concentration power, sensory clarity, equanimity, and insight.

In this video, Shinzen Young speaks with Polly Young-Eisendrath, a Jungian psychologist and a student of Shinzen's, about the Vipassana he teaches and why it's important for students to understand the commonalities between different forms of mindfulness practice.

Tune in Tuesday, September 4, for the beginning of Shinzen Young's retreat!


The first week of the retreat is free, but the final 3 weeks requires sponsorship as a Supporting or Sustaining Member. Here is a little more about hte retreat:
These days, mindfulness is being hyped as the answer to every problem, from attention deficit disorder to global conflict. But what is mindfulness really? In this retreat we explore mindfulness from all angles. How is it cultivated? Why should we practice? Participants will be guided in Breath Focus from an advanced perspective, seeing how this practice develops four aspects of mindful awareness: concentration, sensory clarity, equanimity, and insight. While the practice of mindfulness has many personal benefits, we will find that, ultimately, we cultivate mindful awareness in the spirit of love and service for others.

This retreat involves both talks and practice. In the talks Shinzen will elucidate how mindfulness is defined from numerous points of view. He will also discuss factors that could facilitate or inhibit a global mindfulness revolution. The practice sessions will parallel the talks but from an experiential point of view. You'll be guided in Breath Focus from an advanced perspective, exploring how this practice develops four aspects of mindful awareness: concentration power, sensory clarity, equanimity, and insight.

Retreat begins September 4th, 2012.

Paul Ryan's Convention Speech - Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

I didn't watch or listen to Paul Ryan's speech last night - I generally try to avoid self-inflicted pain. Fortunately, some people get paid to watch these exercises in absurdity, and the consensus on Ryan's speech (including on op-ed from Fox News, the GOP's media outlet) is that he somehow managed to tell more lies per minute of airtime than any other convention speech ever. Now that is impressive.

Many of these lies are so blatantly false - it makes me wonder to what extent Ryan believes these statements. Is there deep self-deception occurring, is he so blinded by ideology that he is unaware of the lies, or his he simply a dishonest and ethically-deficient person?

These are questions we should be asking about all politicians, left, right, or center.

Sally Kohn of Fox News, who in that extreme right-wing world might be considered left-leaning, wrote:
[T]o anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech. On this measure, while it was Romney who ran the Olympics, Ryan earned the gold.

The good news is that the Romney-Ryan campaign has likely created dozens of new jobs among the legions of additional fact checkers that media outlets are rushing to hire to sift through the mountain of cow dung that flowed from Ryan’s mouth. Said fact checkers have already condemned certain arguments that Ryan still irresponsibly repeated.

Fact: While Ryan tried to pin the downgrade of the United States’ credit rating on spending under President Obama, the credit rating was actually downgraded because Republicans threatened not to raise the debt ceiling.

Fact: While Ryan blamed President Obama for the shut down of a GM plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, the plant was actually closed under President George W. Bush. Ryan actually asked for federal spending to save the plant, while Romney has criticized the auto industry bailout that President Obama ultimately enacted to prevent other plants from closing.

Fact: Though Ryan insisted that President Obama wants to give all the credit for private sector success to government, that isn’t what the president said. Period.

Fact: Though Paul Ryan accused President Obama of taking $716 billion out of Medicare, the fact is that that amount was savings in Medicare reimbursement rates (which, incidentally, save Medicare recipients out-of-pocket costs, too) and Ryan himself embraced these savings in his budget plan.
Sometimes we learn a lot about someone from the things they DON'T talk about - maybe these are lies by omission, or simply positions that are indefensible on a national stage. Again, from Sally Kohn:
And then there’s what Ryan didn’t talk about.

Ryan didn’t mention his extremist stance on banning all abortions with no exception for rape or incest, a stance that is out of touch with 75% of American voters

Ryan didn’t mention his previous plan to hand over Social Security to Wall Street. 

Ryan didn’t mention his numerous votes to raise spending and balloon the deficit when George W. Bush was president

Ryan didn’t mention how his budget would eviscerate programs that help the poor and raise taxes on 95% of Americans in order to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires even further and increase — yes, increasethe deficit.

Here are some links to other coverage of Ryan's speech, courtesy of The New Civil Rights Movement.

David Hutchinson - The Future History of Consciousness

This article appears in the current issue of The Integral Review (July 2012; Vol. 8, No. 1). Hutchinson feels we are the verge of a "momentous shift in knowledge and ability with consciousness." Maybe. To me, it looks like a small percentage of mostly affluent, Caucasian, first-world people of privilege may be moving into a worldcentric perspective.

Meanwhile, our neuroscience of consciousness is beginning to grok that mind is a culturally, temporally, and environmentally embedded body/brain, and that consciousness is an emergent property of mind.

The problem seems to be the disconnect between the science (consciousness as emergent property) and integral spirituality (consciousness as an a priori condition of the universe) - while this is an interesting paper, I'm not sold on his argument for the coming singularity.

The Future History of Consciousness
David Hutchinson 

Abstract: Consciousness is the key fact of life, yet the study of it is in its infancy. Spirituality and science both hold valid truths in this field, and they are bound to meet in a practical sense as science is moving rapidly into the subjective areas such as dreams, thought processes, and awareness. We are on the edge of a momentous shift in knowledge and ability with consciousness, driven by exponential change in theory and technology.

  • “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.” (Clark, 1962, p. 32)

For every one of us, the experience of consciousness is the key fact of life—its highs and lows, agonies and ecstasies, beauties and transcendences, poetry and squalor, fears and loves, the tingle and spark and slap of every moment. Experience happens to the individual, and is filtered through billions of unique bodies and minds. For millennia, the turn and shape of consciousness has been a personal matter, subject only to the influences on an individual: reading, thought, diet, illness, drugs, meditation—but no more. The times are changing, and the twenty first century will see a revolution in the way we understand, work with, and experience consciousness. We can prepare for it, brace ourselves, use it wisely, or let the rising swell sweep us out to a vast and uncharted sea.

The understanding of consciousness and the mind is in its infancy today, especially as it relates to technology. Tools to analyze the brain at the working level of neurons are just emerging, and maps of the brain are about as detailed as Columbus used when sailing out for the New World. But watch out. The future is tapping on the windowpane, asking to come in. Neuroscience, computational models of cognition, and analytical tools are racing ahead, but nobody knows what is around the next turn.

Technology is not a settled field; I suspect it never will be. It is moving too fast, and its knowledge and effects are multiplying at an exponential rate. Nobody knows what will be possible in fifteen years, much less a thousand. A thousand years from now there will be human beings, but will they have the same limbs and organs as today? Will they have new senses, augmented brains? What will they think, dream, imagine? What stories will they tell their children? Will they be as gods, and look back with fondness on their mortal ancestors of the 20th century?

“Two voices speak for the future, the voice of science and the voice of religion. Science and religion are two great human enterprises that endure through the centuries and link us with our descendants” (Dyson, 1998, pp. 6-7).

In my life I have sat around campfires, and dissected corpses; pored over Sanskrit verses, and visualized tesseracts; I have listened intently to the voices of science and the spirit. They both speak with authority, and both have a claim to describing reality. How can that be? For several hundred years, religion and spirituality have railed against the notion of scientific reductionism, seeing it as a kind of blindness to a true understanding, and the depiction of the world as mechanical, inert, dead. William Blake wrote, “May God keep us from single vision & Newton’s sleep" (Blake, W., quoted in Damon, 1965). Science is rejected by theologians east and west as the great Satan.

A hundred years ago Sri Aurobindo described two negations. “Thought comes to deny the one [spirit] as an illusion of the imagination or the other [physical reality] as an illusion of the senses.” (Sri Aurobindo, 1972, p.7). He was addressing the problem of how the mind responds to two radically different experiences (physical sensation versus the inner spirit), and how a strong belief in one leads to an absolute denial of the other. It is more than a difference of opinion or culture. It is a complete denial of the one by the other. He wrote that at the dawn of relativity and quantum theory, but it is still valid. The paths of science and spirituality were never farther apart than they are today.

The divide between singularitarian technodreamers and spiritual savants is as wide as the universe. You will not find chanting or prayer at a transhumanist conference, nor will you find a demonstration of artificial intelligence at a spiritual gathering. They are members of separate clans who speak different languages. Chakras? fMRI? Reincarnation? Neural decoding? Even their gods require interpreters if they want to speak to each other. Language, books, computers and networks have each brought spectacular leaps forward in the development of consciousness.

But we stand on the edge of a shift that will dwarf all the preceding. Imagine: it is a few years in the future, and machine learners will be reading through millions of books and journals, billions of web pages, trillions of pieces of information, to save, categorize, parse, summarize, and synthesize. Then in the blink of an eye, a natural language interface will be marketed, allowing you to have a discussion with this worldwide exocortex, a brain outside your brain holding the world’s knowledge. A year later there is a brain-mind interface available that gives you instantaneous access to the world brain. And then you can talk to anyone, anywhere, through this medium, with the power of thought alone.

Through this series of inevitable, fantastically realistic, and fully practical steps we have entered a new world, where our understanding of knowledge, wisdom, education, and the very nature of humanity has shattered, and must be put back together again, like Humpty Dumpty.
Read the whole paper.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Interview: Patricia Churchland, The Really Nice Guy Materialist

Julian Baggini interviews neurophilosopher Patricia Churchland in The Philosophers' Magazine, Issue 57, 2nd Quarter 2012. I rather enjoyed her low opinion of Sam Harris's faux neuromorality.

Her most recent book is Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality (2011) - the paperback comes out September 1.

Cover Image

Interview: Patricia Churchland, the really nice guy materialist

Julian Baggini


Julian Baggini interviews Patricia Churchland.

Download Media - PDF

* * * * * * *
“Brian McLaughlin wrote the entry on consciousness for the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Consciousness. He said the Churchlands don’t believe in consciousness. And it was so interesting because we had studiously avoided saying any such thing about consciousness. So I phoned Brian after I read this and I said, ‘Well, what the fuck?’”


Interview by Julian Baggini

Read most introductions to contemporary philosophy and you might spot something odd. In amongst the carefully drawn pen-portraits of the discipline’s current leading lights are two little cartoon caricatures, there to demonstrate Cicero’s claim that “There is nothing so absurd that some philosopher has not already said it.” In the best cartoon tradition of the Flintstones and the Simpsons, these characters are known simply by their family name: the Churchlands.

Patricia and Paul Churchland’s comedy double-act is not based around funny one-liners, although as I discovered when I caught up with her in Madrid, Patricia is an often very funny conversationalist. The laughs come from the position for which they have become famous: eliminative materialism. Most people who have heard about it believe this entails the denial that we have any thoughts, feelings, emotions or perceptions at all. Churchland recalled one all-too typical example of how this misconception gets around.

“Brian McLaughlin from Rutgers wrote the entry on consciousness for the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Consciousness. He said the Churchlands don’t believe in consciousness. And it was so interesting because we had (a) studiously avoided saying any such thing about consciousness and (b) had some actual ideas worked out with Rudolph Llinás in NYU, who was a physiologist, about what might actually be involved in the brain. So we were, to use the old vocabulary, identity theorists about consciousness. So why would we deny the existence of one of the relata?

“So I phoned Brian after I read this and I said, ‘Well, what the fuck?’ And he said ‘Well, you’re eliminativists,’ and I said, ‘But Brian, have you ever read anything of ours when we say that?” She pauses. “‘Well no.’ And he was very gracious and said ‘I’ll take it out of the next edition,’ which he did.”

Churchland puts some of this down to the sociological fact that “we were these funny little nobodies in this backwards, nothing place in Canada, and I was working in neuroscience, and people thought that this just made for wonderful combination, where really all you had to do was laugh at it, and it would go away.”

We cleared up these misconceptions later, but given how widespread they are, you can understand the trepidation felt by many at the thought of Patricia tackling the issue of morality head-on. But her recent book, Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality defies such expectations, due largely to the fact that the answer to the question implied by the subtitle is very far from everything. This contrasts starkly with what many see as the scientific hubris of Sam Harris in his recent The Moral Landscape.

“Sam Harris has this vision that once neuroscience is much more developed then neuroscientists will be able to tell us what things are right or wrong, or at least what things are conducive to well-being and not. But even if you cast it in that way, that’s pretty optimistic – or pessimistic, depending on your point of view. Different people even within a culture, even within a family, have different views about what constitutes their own well-being. Some people like to live out in the bush like hermits and dig in the ground and shoot deer for resources, and other people can’t countenance a life that isn’t in the city, in the mix of cultural wonderfulness. So people have fundamentally different ideas about what constitutes well-being.

“I think Sam is just a child when it comes addressing morality. I think he hasn’t got a clue. And I think part of the reason that he kind of ran amuck on all this is that, as you and I well know, trashing religion is like shooting fish in a barrel. If Chris Hitchens can just sort of slap it off in an afternoon then any moderately sensible person can do the same. He wrote that book in a very clear way although there were lots of very disturbing things in it. I think he thought that, heck, it’s not that hard to figure these things out. Morality: how hard can that be? Religion was dead easy. And it’s just many orders of magnitude more difficult.”

What Churchland believes science can do is describe the “neural platform” for ethics. What does she mean by this? It’s perhaps made clearest by looking first at what sits on top of that platform. Moral problems, says Churchland, are essentially “constraint satisfaction problems”.

“For many of the social problems that people have to address, problems of scarcity of resources or what have you, they have to come together, and negotiate, and figure out an amicable solution so that they can carry on. And sometimes those solutions work out fairly well in the short run, and then they have to modify them so they can work out in the longer run. I conceive of that as problem-solving, aka reasoning. And I don’t think neuroscience has anything to say about those things.”

What it does have something to say about is the neural basis which makes such problem solving possible. This “neural platform” is “the basis for sociality, it’s the circuitry in place that makes us want to be with others, that makes us sometimes sacrifice our own interests because we want to be with others, and feel pain when we’re excluded or when we’re ostracized, enjoy the company of others, enjoy the feelings of satisfaction when we co-operate. All those things are the platform. And out of the platform emerges very different social practices, and they’re influenced by many things. History is of course one, but there’s also the ecological conditions. So we can see that certain social practices amongst the Inuit are different from social practices amongst people who are living in Polynesia, and that’s at least partly owing to the fact that life is really, really, really hard in the Arctic.  
Read the whole interview.

Elisha Goldstein - Neuroscience and Compassion Training Predict a Better World

This is a nice article from Elisha Goldstein from his blog at Psych Central, Mindfulness and Psychotherapy. He takes a brief look at the work of neuroscientist Richie Davidson in mindfulness and offers his own 5-minute meditation at the end.

Neuroscience and Compassion Training Predict a Better World


mindfulness and neuroscience

In 2000, Dr. Richie Davidson brought over a number of monks, who practiced a form of compassion meditation, to his lab in Madison, Wisconsin for at least 10,000 hours to find out what was happening in their brains.

He hooked them up to brain imaging machines and found that when exposed to a sound of human pain, their brains weren’t disturbed, but areas of the brain involved with empathy and compassion lit up. That obviously has implications for how we can train our minds to develop compassion and regulate in the face of difficulty, but who is going to practice for 10,000 hours?

The natural question arose, what difference will compassion meditation make for the rest of us?
Here is one thing Richie and his colleagues found:

In a 2009 study, Richie Davidson and Helen Weng did another study that took meditation naïve individuals and split them up into two groups. One group was taught a common compassion practice, the loving-kindness practice, and the other was taught a cognitive reappraisal method meant to help people reframe difficulty in a more positive light.

Both methods were delivered online for 30 minutes a day and they measured participants’ brains prior to the mediation, at two weeks and then again at four weeks.

The researchers then gave participants a series of tests around fairness and giving money away to a charity. The results showed that those who did compassion practice were fairer than those who did not, but that two to four weeks wasn’t enough to make a difference in how much they donated their money earned from the study to a charity. In other words, fairness was affected, but not altruism.

However, the brain imagining piece found that participants in the compassion group showed more activity in a particular area of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, and the brain imaging studies found that the higher the activation in this area of the brain, the more money was donated. So there is some neuroscientific connection between compassion and altruism.

What does all this mean to you and me?

Compassion has been linked to activating areas of the brain that are involved with positive emotion, self-regulation and resiliency. There is a link between compassion and altruism, and altruism has been linked to feeling good in life. But maybe two to four weeks of training in compassion isn’t enough time.

Just think, wouldn’t our lives and the world be enhanced if there was a bit more compassion and altruism?

Why not start practicing today? Do your own experiment; just because it doesn’t show up in a brain imaging machine doesn’t mean it’s not so. At the end of the day let your experience be your teacher.

Here is my gift to you. A five minute meditation version of the meditation they used in the study from The Now Effect to get started. As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Monk photo available from Shutterstock

Paiden Gyal - The Problem of Personal Identity

Paiden Gyal is a new contributor to the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET), a Tibetan (Buddhist?) and a student at Duke University, majoring in philosophy and political science.

The Problem of Personal Identity

Paiden Gyal
Paiden Gyal

Posted: Aug 19, 2012

Is there a “self”? Or not?  A new - Tibetan - IEET contributor examines the notion of “personal identity” via both Western and Eastern philosophies. 

The notion of personal identity invites two major questions: First, what is it to be a person? The most contested notions that the self is simply the mind, the body, and the how they interact. Thus, selfhood can be seen as the mind, the body and how they interact with each other. Second, what is it for a person to be the same person over different times? In other words, what is it that persists the continuity of personal identity over different times?

It is the second question this paper attempts to wrestle with by critically examining and deconstructing different theories of the personal identity while defending the position of no-self theorists like David Hume and Mahayana Buddhists.

The question of what is it for a person to be the ‘same’ person is misleading as nothing remains exactly the same over time. Therefore properties, physical or mental, are qualitatively similar or numerically identical can be considered. Compare a man at adulthood to the early years of his life. Natural growth and the development of a personality mean the grown up man is qualitatively dissimilar and numerically not identical. This leads us back to the question of what exactly it is that constitutes a person? What is it that counts as criteria for judging personal identity? Let’s look at the Lockean view of the self; Locke’s notion of memory is founded on the Cartesian view of the person as distinct from other sentient beings.

Locke argues in his An Essay Concerning Human Understanding: Volume 1, “a person stands for; — which, I think, is a thinking intelligent being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider itself as itself, the same thinking thing in different times and places” (Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding ). He famously puts it being impossible for anyone to perceive without perceiving that he does perceive and therefore it is this consciousness that is inseparable from thinking (Locke). Apparently, Locke’s criterion for judging personal identity is the continuity of consciousness, or memory of a person over different times and places. A person is a rational thinking thing whose identity over time is preserved by the continuity of consciousness as mediated by memory (Locke).

However, there is a serious problem with the notion of consciousness as the defining characteristic of personal identity. Thomas Reid argues how this might lead to some strange consequences. The consciousness of person A can be transferred to person B through brain transplantation. The question, then, is that who is this person who has person B’s memory and vice-versa? This implies that bodily continuity is essential in retain personal identity. A quintessential example of this problem is presented in Franz Kafka’s novel The Metamorphosis, in which the main protagonist, the salesman Mr. Gregor, wakes up one day to find himself transformed into a giant bug. Kafka tries to express the relationship between bodily integrity and personhood, by displaying the deficiency of consciousness as the criterion for personal identity.

If neither the body nor the consciousness is a valid condition for judging the persistence of personal identity, what is there for a person to relate to himself as himself over different times and places? Then, is the notion of self just an illusion? This question brings us to the Scottish philosopher, David Hume’s notion of self from the illusion theory. The illusion theorists of personal identity hold that there is no self that persists through time and space. Our personal identity is in a constant flux. To think that we persist through time is an illusion (Rauhut: 109). Hume argues in his A Treatise on Human Nature; “…when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe anything but the perception. This provides an objection to Locke’s consciousness theory and also refutes all attempts of philosophers to present a fixed self.

Hume’s argument makes the case that there is nothing that exits as a constant or persists through time but a continuous fluctuation of perceptions that we encounter if we immerse ourselves in deep contemplation about the self. To put is more precisely, Hume argues that the “mind is a theatre, where perceptions successively make their appearances; pass, repass, glide away and mingle in an infinite variety of posture and situations (Hume)” and it is those successive perceptions what constitute the mind. Thus, a person is nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which are in a perpetual flux and movement. Hume denies the existence of self by claiming it as a mere illusion.

A possible objection to Hume’s bundle theory is the lack of exposition on the relation of the perceptions and how these are bundled together. This seems to be a major loophole in Hume’s argument for nonexistence of the self. However, Buddhism gets around this problem for it also makes an argument for no-self. Buddha, in the first sermon, dhammacakkappavattana sutta, explains that the individual is nothing beyond a composite of ‘five aggregates’ or ‘five heaps’: form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness. None of these five heaps can be seen as eternally substantial (Rauhut: 144).

However, it is important to note that Buddha’s notion of no-self (anatman) is rooted in the ontological doctrine of the Middle Path which rejects both views of existence and nonexistence by pursuing a mean between the two extremes. The most celebrated paradox in Buddhist philosophy argues that “emptiness is form, form is emptiness (Bigview)”. It means that there is nothing that exists inherently on its own aside from mere mental projections and the forms that we ourselves project. It is a relational phenomenon.

This is same with the notion of self as it is composed of the ‘five heaps’, which are mere forms and the form is emptiness; whatever is a form, that is emptiness, the same is true with feelings, perceptions, impulses and consciousness (Bigview). Along this reductionist argument, the Indian Buddhist philosopher, Nagarjuna illustrates the concept of impermanence with the analogy of fire. This raises the question of self and how it is consistent with the concept of change. He asks about a burning log, where does the wood end and the flame begin? He argues that it is in a constant state of change and this applies to all ‘things’ including the ‘self’ which are in this constant state of flux (Rauhut: 2010, 151).

However, the Prasangika Madhyamaka tradition of Buddhism objects to this reductionism of the Buddhist essentialists who posit the aggregates as the mind or the self. It argues that the reduction of a person into aggregates is tantamount to the denial of a person’s conventional existence (Jinpa, 112). The Tibetan philosopher, Tsongkapa argues that the notion of self-identity cannot be conceived of as an autonomous entity nor can it be considered as the aggregates alone. He postulates the self or the I-consciousness as a mere construct, albeit one based on our conception of the physical and mental constituents that together constitute our existence (Jinpa, 116).

Though the reductionist standpoint is attractive, it is counter-intuitive and the argument is based on the fundamental metaphysical view of the emptiness, which is problematic to see it refuting both existence and nonexistence of all phenomena. The Prasangika Madhyamaka tradition posits self-identity as a ‘mere I’ in the name and form based on the supposition of conventional and ultimate reality of Madhyamaka metaphysis (Jinpa, 117). The conclusion seems similar to what the illusion theorists of personal identity might argue, as it holds self-identity as a mere construct, however the arguments leading to this conclusion differ from the illusion theory.

Works Cited

  • Hume, David (2011). A Treatise of Human Nature, Kindle Locations 1-2). Kindle Edition.
  • Jinpa, Thupten
 (2002). Self, Reality and Reason in Tibetan Philosophy: Tsongkhapa’s Quest for The Middle Way, New York RoutledgeCurzon, Taylor & Francis Group.
  • Locke, John (2004). An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding, Volume 1MDCXC, Based on the 2nd Edition, Books 1 and 2 (Kindle Locations 1-2). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.
  • Kafka, Franz (2008). The Metamorphosis (Kindle Locations 4-8). LeClue 22. Kindle Edition.
  • Rauhut, Nils CH.
2001 Ultimate Questions: Thinking About Philosophy, Library of Congress, Cataloging-in-Publications Date, New Jersey.
  • Rauhut, Nils CH.
 (2010). Readings on the Ultimate Questions, An Introduction to Philosophy, Library of Congress, Cataloging-in-Publications Date, New Jersey.
  • Internet references
The Big View: (accessed: 11/8/2011)
  • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: (accessed 12/28/2011)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Joshua Hammer - Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's Revolutionary Leader

An article in the recent issue of the Smithsonian Magazine looks at how meditation and Buddhist practice helped Aung San Suu Kyi survive house arrest, and how they help her now as a legislator. It's an excellent article, offering a little overview of Buddhism along with the content on Burma and its culture.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's Revolutionary Leader

The Nobel Peace Prize winner talks about the secret weapon in her decades of struggle—the power of Buddhism

  • By Joshua Hammer
  • Smithsonian magazine, September 2012

Here is a little bit of the article:
I ask her whether, as I’ve heard, she is meditating for an hour every morning, following the Buddhist practice that kept her calm during nearly two decades of house arrest. “Not mornings,” she corrects me. “But yes, I’m meditating every day.” Then her security team nudges her away and she mounts the steep staircase leading to the third-floor headquarters.

She and I had first met, only 16 months before, in more tranquil circumstances, before the international frenzy surrounding her escalated exponentially. The setting was the temporary NLD headquarters a few blocks from here, a dilapidated, garage-like structure watched round-the-clock by security agents. In a sparsely furnished lounge on the second floor, she had told me that she took up vipassana, or insight meditation, at Oxford University, where she studied philosophy and politics during the 1960s. The 2,500-year-old technique of self-observation is intended to focus the mind on physical sensation and to liberate the practitioner from impatience, anger and discontent.

Aung San Suu Kyi found meditation difficult at first, she acknowledged. It wasn’t until her first period of house arrest, between 1989 and 1995, she said, that “I gained control of my thoughts” and became an avid practitioner. Meditation helped confer the clarity to make key decisions. “It heightens your awareness,” she told me. “If you’re aware of what you are doing, you become aware of the pros and cons of each act. That helps you to control not just what you do, but what you think and what you say.”

As she evolves from prisoner of conscience into legislator, Buddhist beliefs and practices continue to sustain her. “If you see her diet, you realize that she takes very good care of herself, but in fact it is her mind that keeps her healthy,” I’m told by Tin Myo Win, Aung San Suu Kyi’s personal physician. Indeed, a growing number of neuroscientists believe that regular meditation actually changes the way the brain is wired—shifting brain activity from the stress-prone right frontal cortex to the calmer left frontal cortex. “Only meditation can help her withstand all this physical and mental pressure,” says Tin Myo Win.

It is impossible to understand Aung San Suu Kyi, or Myanmar, without understanding Buddhism. Yet this underlying story has often been eclipsed as the world has focused instead on military brutality, economic sanctions and, in recent months, a raft of political reforms transforming the country.

Buddhists constitute 89 percent of Myanmar’s population, and—along with the ruthless military dictatorship that misruled the country for decades—Buddhism is the most defining aspect of Burmese life.

The golden spires and stupas of Buddhist temples soar above jungle, plains and urbanscapes. Red-robed monks—there are nearly 400,000 of them in Myanmar—are the most revered members of society. Pursuing lives of purity, austerity and self-discipline, they collect alms daily, forging a sacred religious bond with those who dispense charity. Nearly every Burmese adolescent boy dons robes and lives in a monastery for periods of between a few weeks and several years, practicing vipassana. As adults, Burmese return to the monastery to reconnect with Buddhist values and escape from daily pressures. And Buddhism has shaped the politics of Myanmar for generations.

The Problem with Life - Is it Solved by Merging with Machines?

Here are two strangely related collections of links from yesterday's Bookforum Omnivore - one on the challenges of life, and the other on the coming singularity, when we will merge with machines (thus solving many of the problems of biological life).

The problem with life

Aug 27 2012

 And the solution?

Upaya Dharma Podcasts - Laurie Leitch & Loree Sutton: Embodying Risk, Embracing Failure

Nice teaching from the Upaya Zen Center.

Laurie Leitch & Loree Sutton: 8-22-2012: Embodying Risk, Embracing Failure

Speakers: Laurie Leitch & Loree Sutton

Recorded: Wednesday Aug 22, 2012

Special Announcement: Please watch for our upcoming podcast survey … will be launched in the next 7-10 days … exact date will be announced shortly. We would greatly appreciate your participation in this survey.

Episode Description: Laurie Leitch, PhD, reflects on how we know when we’re ready for a risk and what it means to fail or succeed, to live “without anxiety about imperfection.” She invites us to listen to the whole body, rather than just the mind, about how and when to risk. Loree Sutton, MD, then looks at resilience, not merely on the individual but on the social level, and how as a society we can create systems to facilitate wholeness.

Note: Due to technical difficulties; during Loree Sutton’s 10 minute talk, the microphone occasionally cuts out, however the talks is still understandable. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience.

Teacher Biographies:

Laurie Leitch, PhD, cofounder of the Trauma Resource Institute, has been in psychotherapy practice and health consultation for more than 25 years.

Laurie worked with individuals following the September 11th terrorist attacks, was on a team to assist survivors of the tsunami in Thailand, traveled to Louisiana in response to Hurricane Katrina, and recently returned from Rwanda where she introduced the Trauma Resiliency Model to community aid workers. She is also co-project director for the China Earthquake Relief Project, a project sponsored by the World Health Organization to provide aid to Sichuan Province, China following the May 12, 2008 earthquake.

Laurie has conducted clinical trainings at hospitals, social service agencies, conferences, and grassroots agencies. She has extensive experience in cross-cultural research and practice, and conducts training and research internationally on restoring resiliency after trauma.

Retired Army Brigadier General Loree Sutton, MD is a psychiatrist who served as Founding Director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) from 2007 to 2010. Committed to empowering others, Sutton has more than 20 years of leadership experience encompassing a diverse mix of domains: civilian and military; combat and peacekeeping; command and staff; clinical and academic; organizational design and development; transmedia strategic communications; public policy; global health; education, technology and training.
During this past year, Sutton has engaged with numerous community-based organizations to catalyze and accelerate peer-to-peer neurobiologically-based training for veterans, service members, families and caregivers. Organizations include the Trauma Resource Institute, Homeward Bound USA, Coming Home Project, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Center for a New American Security, Paws and Stripes, Equus Medendi, and Soldier’s Heart. Recognized nationally by the American Psychiatric Association, Sutton has been featured on NBC Dateline and an upcoming documentary on military sexual trauma.

Further, the Rockefeller Foundation selected Sutton and Laurie Leitch, PhD, as co-recipients of the Bellagio Fellowship; their proposal is titled “Global Leadership Meets Emerging Neuroscience: Building Resiliency in a Weary World.” Sutton currently serves as an adjunct faculty member at New York University and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Looking ahead, Sutton will continue to focus on community-based approaches to building resiliency, maximizing recovery and fostering reintegration in support of our nation’s veterans, service members and their loved ones. Her interest in resiliency extends from individuals, families and communities to the realm of global leadership and national security. She remains passionately devoted to the public health imperative of leading sustainable cultural change and advocating strength-based and resiliency- informed approaches to leadership, based upon emerging advances in neuroscience.