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  • By Gina Kolata
    Americans aren’t very enthusiastic about using science to enhance the human species. Instead, many find it rather creepy.
    A new survey by the Pew Research Center shows a profound distrust of s […]

    • Religion affected attitudes on these issues.

      You don’t say!

      I would like some artificial kidneys, and soon!

    • After the brexit referendum result, I would councel against asking the public anything much.

    • I love my mental prosthetics. With the internet in my pocket, many memory lapses are fixed in a trice as soon as they are encountered. My brain has acquired totally new habits of searching by a ragbag of terms co-googled, followed if needed, by a re-sort of terms including newly spotted terms. This latter often involves finding the professional terminology I was struggling towards. Typing in and reading is still a bit old fashioned.

      Working on things like the hippocampus though, risk destroying the narrative aesthetics. And stable biographical memories could be a nightmare without their continual re-writing at each access to (mostly) sweeten them and re-interpret.

      Genetic engineering should terminate with the individual and not be released into the wild until we are much wiser.

    • bonnie
      From the article you linked to:

      Third, women tend to be more hesitant than men about wanting the enhancements potentially available from these cutting-edge technologies. They are also more negative than men in their judgments and expectations about what such enhancements would mean for society. Interestingly, although majorities of the public expect these enhancements would lead to increased social inequality, there are, at best, only modest differences in attitudes about these topics by race, ethnicity, educational level, income or age.

      Interesting difference. How to explain it?

      Women have more egalitarian aspirations for society?

      Men can’t resist the possibility of dominating the competition with their physical and cognitive enhancements?

    • Men know they need it to keep up?

    • Ladies,
      Could we get some likes on comment number 6 please? It’s his best one yet.

    • Alan
      From the article that bonnie linked to in comment 4, I get the impression that the public does pretty well with general advances in medical science for the good of all. Not perfect but getting there. What they object to is the idea of enhancements. The improvements that they see as giving unfair advantage to those who can afford it.

      Many in the general public expect continued scientific and technological innovation, broadly speaking, to bring helpful change to society. Yet when people are queried about the potential use of emerging technologies for “human enhancement,” their attitudes are not nearly as affirming.

      From the same article

      Enhancement is different from those attempts at human betterment because it involves biomedical intervention in the body to notch up a person’s capabilities.

      Many also think about human enhancement as distinct from therapeutic interventions. Thus, medical treatments aimed at restoring a person’s ability to see or hear – for example, to regain motor control after a stroke or spinal cord injury – would stand in contrast to enhancing abilities in otherwise healthy and well-functioning people beyond their current capacities (or some typical level).4 The line between therapy and enhancement often is blurry, but this distinction provides a framework for thinking about human enhancement in everyday terms.

      Wouldn’t it be reasonable to encourage synthetic blood for therapeutic treatment but be worried about athletes and common folk using it for personal enhancement?

      Past discussions here about genetic slicing and dicing with CRISPR caused me to pause and consider that we may be moving to fast with that. I’ve taken a more conservative view of that now. I have great hope for this to zap our worst genetic afflictions out of our genome but I was too ambitious in my hopes of broad application. I suspect that those of the minimal science education can’t differentiate between scientists and medical workers zapping this and that genes and the genetic engineering of human enhancement that will produce designer babies.

      They are very fearful of designer babies.

      What was very telling in that article was the highly religious bunch and their claim of “playing God”. Impressions of glorification of suffering. You know how they enjoy punishment and suffering…I mean, if God saw fit to give you a painful degenerative affliction then you should accept this with grace and humility. God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle, right? This is the standard religio-bot response to others’ problems. However, between you and me, I’ve noticed that when it’s their own kids or parents, they’ll do anything to ease their suffering. That’s a different story. This does not apply to the batshit crazy fundies who are willing to watch their own kids die of illness that could’ve been cured with a few pills from the corner pharmacy.

    • LaurieB #10
      Jul 29, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      Enhancement is different from those attempts at human betterment because it involves biomedical intervention in the body to notch up a person’s capabilities.

      Many also think about human enhancement as distinct from therapeutic interventions. Thus, medical treatments aimed at restoring a person’s ability to see or hear – for example, to regain motor control after a stroke or spinal cord injury – would stand in contrast to enhancing abilities in otherwise healthy and well-functioning people beyond their current capacities (or some typical level).4 The line between therapy and enhancement often is blurry, but this distinction provides a framework for thinking about human enhancement in everyday terms.

      As nature does “adequate” rather than the “perfect”, (beloved of god assertions), the boundaries between therapeutic interventions and enhancements, will always be blurry.
      Science constantly uses mechanical and electronic enhancements to increase the scope and range of perceptions. (telescopes, microscopes, Xrays, multispectral scanners, sonar, sniffer-dogs)

      This does indeed give advantages to those competent in the use of such technologies – with knowledge posing a threat to god-myths, exposing the inferior pseudo-knowledge of the ignorant, – and giving military advantage in confrontations.

      There is no reason why biological enhancements should not out-perform the original evolved systems in particular organisms.
      After all, there are frequently other organisms with greatly enhanced capabilities compared to those of related species.

      Human’s have greatly developed mental capabilities when compared to apes and monkeys, but when it comes to gymnastic abilities, humans are very much in the amateur league.

    • I was just thinking again about the finding that women were less enthusiastic about physical enhancements (comment 5) and it occurs to me that women are always reminded of the fact that half of our species is definitely much stronger physically than we are. The possibility of being on the losing end of a physical confrontation with a guy is always in the back of our minds. Maybe the possibility of guys getting even stronger with the help of enhancements is something to really be fearful of. Men on steroids have been in the news for domestic violence and this might be on the minds of women as something to actively avoid. Men with double the muscle mass and a testosterone fueled temper, now add some of that synthetic blood with enhanced endurance – not good!

      This is a female’s perspective but I have to guess that guys would be less than enthusiastic about having a run in with another guy who is physically enhanced and bruising for a fight.

    • LaurieB #14
      Jul 30, 2016 at 9:21 am

      I was just thinking again about the finding that women were less enthusiastic about physical enhancements (comment 5)

      I have my doubts about that claim.

      I think the cosmetics industry, the cosmetic surgery industry, the diet industry, and the fashion industries, would be contra-indications for that claim!

    • No one’s going to operate on my brain, right? Help!

    • Olgun
      Do you mean that an aggressive woman is manipulating a guy to sock another guy? I know this happens. My son had reconstructive surgery to his face over this exact situation.

      I’ve also seen a guy go after another guy just to show that he can when there is a female standing there watching the whole thing, Even if she never wanted to see it and was disgusted by the display.

    • …sock another guy? I know this happens. My son…

      Is that your son? We’ve become friendly since that awful fight and he mentioned something about his mom being on the Dawkins site. Then it is you! I’m really sorry about that, Laurie. I was overwrought.

    • Alan4discussion

      I think the cosmetics industry, the cosmetic surgery industry, the diet industry, and the fashion industries, would be contra-indications for that claim!

      Me #15

      Men with double the muscle mass and a testosterone fueled temper, now add some of that synthetic blood with enhanced endurance – not good!

      Why can’t both be true? From my perspective I want to be as pretty as possible with the least expenditure and the least medical risk and I acknowledge that men are much stronger than I am but let’s not get carried away with that because then my risk of a physically damaging or deadly encounter increases. Everybody just wants their own best deal in this life, right Alan? So yes, I want some gorgeous enhancements but I don’t want you to have any.

      By the way, I’m always interested to try to understand the motivation of women who go in for these substantial plastic surgery (enhancement) procedures. There is more sympathy for some than for others. Nose jobs for example seem to be very acceptable (Oh the poor thing! She got her father’s Mediterranean nose.) while boob jobs are somewhat scorned. (desperate for attention from the leering heavy breathers) Just personal observations on idle chit chat and not worth much of course. I asked a twenty year old woman why she paid seven thousand bucks for a boob job and her mother piped right up and exclaimed that she didn’t do it to please anyone but herself and that she just wanted to look nice in her high fashion clothing. The daughter’s facebook pics make me very skeptical of this claim. The new boobs are often not in clothing whatsoever. Her choice, her money, her medical risk. I told her that men just really aren’t that picky about this stuff. Has there ever been a woman who was thrown out of bed for being moderately endowed? Nope.

      Who are we women trying to impress anyways?

      As I read this through I had a few micro flashbacks to my ape matriarchal ancestors eons ago as they used their status to control the reproductive strategies of the younger females directly subordinate to themselves…oh crap. Vestigial DNA breakthrough?? o_O

    • Dan

      The other guy is in prison. So definitely not you. 🙂

    • Sorry. I shouldn’t have made light of that. Just trying to make you laugh. Btw, do you agree that the spleen is not a subject?

      You brought up a subject that pains me. My late brother had a rhinoplasty years ago. I thought it made him look worse. I think plastic surgery is good, if you have a malformation or something; but in many cases people look worse afterwards. I guess if they think they look better that is all that counts. But it is obvious that there is an underlying pathology in the vast majority of cases. What is it, BDD? Is our culture to blame? The latter, for sure. Why do so many women have a distorted perception of themselves? I think Renee Zellweger was one of the most charming and beautiful women ever to grace the screen. Look at her now! What’s that about? The list goes on. Have there been studies about this? It’s horrible. Not just women and it is not just show biz folks. But look at Mickey Rourke. He had a beautiful face! (And he’s an extremely gifted actor.) Look at him now. What in God’s name is going on? So many people have a distorted self-image these days.

      There was a Twilight Zone episode where everyone was “beautiful” and looked the same. (Bonnie? Remember that one?) One gal rebels. It was a good one.

    • Dan

      The Hollywood bunch are different. They make their living in a cutthroat competitive business based very much on their good looks.

      I won’t say I understand why women feel the need to go through painful expensive surgeries for enhancement purposes. I feel sorry for them mostly. Although if someone offered me free low risk cosmetic enhancement maybe I’d sign up without hesitation. I don’t know. I should get off my high horse because the next time I pass by a mirror…oh shit. It would cost about fifty thousand bucks to put myself back to my former glory.

      I think about you losing your brother sometimes. Your Mom talked about it in her book. How long ago was that? We have a similar situation in my family right now. There are conflicting feelings about it that are disturbing to us. I know you got through that somehow but life can really suck sometimes. You know, speaking of brain chips, the heroin addicts are hoping for a brain chip to come along that will block opiate receptors once and for all. It would save countless lives and get a multitude of victims back to productive lives.

      Re: spleen is or is not a subject. I’m sure you will be disappointed with my response whatever it will be so let’s think about whether or not it’s worth my burning through a handful of neurons over this quandary. I have no neurons left to spare at this point you know. 😉

    • Neural pacemakers will deliver astonishing improvements to all sorts of folks, Parkinson sufferers, epileptics, migraineurs, alzheimer patients, maybe Tourettes, OCD, hearts of course, crural diaphragms, one day peristalsis and sphincter control. Shortly these things will be self adjusting and even powered off blood glucose.

      We want this stuff

      (a different one this time.)

    • Phil,

      I do not mince words with people I like, and perhaps this response is a premature, the response of a semi-hysteric; but I am disappointed in you. If this treatment can help people with Parkinson’s and MS I am all for it. But neural pacemakers for OCD? I’m sorry, but that’s just nuts. OCD is a different animal. It has a large psychological component. You’ve lost your way, Phil, are flooded with neuroscience and have lost touch with psychology. I am appalled. Prominent OCD, for your information, can be treated with SSRIs (with or without an adjunct) and psychotherapy. SSRIs are not a cure-all. And that is good. (Do I sound cured? Well I don’t want to be. I usually do my best thinking when I am worried, and my best writing when I start out mildly anxious or mildly depressed, and I am sure that that is true of many others. And if obsessive-compulsives like Kant and Kafka had had neural pacemakers, they’d be calm and symptom free, and Kafka’s obsession with his father would have melted away and Kant’s obsession with epistemology would have melted away, perhaps; and we would not have Kafka’s stories and there would probably be no Critique of Pure Reason.)

      The approach that you’re advocating is dangerous; if implemented it will be bad for Human Culture, which you care deeply about. Soon (and this is inexorable) all painful symptoms, all mental disorders, including neurosis, will be treated this way. We will become a boring, sterile, flattened, dead society: less creative, less destructive…. Is this the wave of the future? A world without depression, without idiosyncrasy, without anxiety, without psychic pain, without madness, without symptoms that inform us, and which force us to face the cruel yet just law of life that one must either grow or pay more for remaining the same, is not a world that one can look forward to living in, especially if one is an artist. And we need artists.

      A world without psychic peril?

      Neurosis and other mental disorders are symptoms of man’s reaction to a mad world, and to trauma, and to repression, and to despair, and to bad parenting. They serve a function and must not be suppressed altogether. You might try reading Civilization and its Discontents and R.D. Laing and Wilhelm Stekel, and take a break from neuroscience. One must get down to causes and conditions! Your approach is analogous to a psychic bloodletting – only worse; it’s permanent and would produce no growth, only comfort. Hospice-style comfort.

      “There is a great deal of pain in life and perhaps the only pain that can be avoided is the pain that comes from trying to avoid pain.” —R. D. Laing

      “A child born today in the United Kingdom stands a ten times greater chance of being admitted to a mental hospital than to a university…. This can be taken as an indication that we are driving our children mad more effectively than we are genuinely educating them. Perhaps it is our way of educating them that is driving them mad.” —R. D. Laing, The Politics of Experience

      Dan

    • Laurie,

      But the Hollywood bunch looks worse, and so do most people who have “work done.” That was my point. (I do understand that they are pressured int it, however.)

      A similar situation? Is someone using? I am truly sorry to hear that. I’d be happy to discuss this with you. (Is there a drug thread somewhere or some other old thread that we can use?) My mother went through hell. She was in something called FA (Families Anonymous) and was determined to “detach with love”: no “enabling”, no giving of money or even shelter; one must hit bottom. She now regrets what she thinks was rigidity and what Phil (my brother’s name too) would call groupism. But hindsight is always 20 20. I remember when Phil was homeless for a couple of days, and he called me up and begged me to let him come to my place. I had to say no, and I, like my mother, now feel guilty. However, he did get into a rehab shortly after. He died (1959-1996), but it was good that he entered the rehab.

      As for chips, I am, as you know, a strong believer in AA and I know that recovering from an addiction is a beautiful thing. And I know whereof I speak. It saved my late father’s life. He got sober in the 70s and had a great life. He would never, ever have been able to be the husband he was (to my late stepmother), the great father he was and the great friend and colleague he was to so many people, or be able to achieve so much, had he not gotten sober. (And I know other people, countless people, who were also given a second chance and are now living full lives.)

      You gain gratitude and you actually get better, you grow; the program forces you to address the underlying issues that are bound up with the disease of alcoholism. A chip would remove the urge; but there is no recovery; you are just what they call “dry.” Now I do not know the success rate of Narcotics Anonymous as compared to AA, but my feeling is that if someone, a drug addict, has the gift of willingness, really wants to be clean and/or sober, he or she should get the medical help they may need, and then get themselves into a program of recovery. The fellowship is a powerful thing. —And as I said over and over again a while back, these programs are not religious. Am I religious?… Hold on, I forgot to pray!!

      Okay I’m back. (Kidding.) No chips. (My opinion only.) That seems like a last resort to me. To be honest, I have a deep aversion to chips and things of that sort. (Please see my somewhat hysterical comment above.)

      Kind Regards,

      Dan

      P.S. Sorry if I sounded like I was on a soap-box with all that 12 step stuff. I am not even sure what it is you are “conflicted” about (since you haven’t yet told me), and would, as I said, be more than happy to listen.

    • Olgun @ # 13.

      I agree that F1 has become interesting as a spectator sport now that the media technology has so much improved, but in my misspent youth I did some motor racing at club level, and nothing can compare with that.

      Phil @ # 25.

      Thanks for that; I found it cathartic.

    • Dan,

      Neural feedback loops can be broken or hampered by drugs, or much less invasively by delivering specific stimulation.

      Brain-Pacemaker Reduces Symptoms Of OCD

      Your continued ignorance of the neural basis of these things remains troubling.

      I am very familiar with OCD. Modest levels can be virtuous. It can, however be utterly debilitating. I am very very familiar with SSRIs and their many side effects. They are far from ideal, though life saving. A specific loop gain modulation by electrodes offers the dampening effect of drugs…on demand and without the creativity flattening effects, weight gain and libido loss of the drugs.

      Dan, I am the one preaching caution. I have warned where not to go and what not to do further up in this thread. I am acutely aware what “being human” entails and what is precious. Drugs are mind altering in the crudest of ways. Finessed treatments for real sufferers is what is needed. I am the one advocating the acceptance of neural diversity as the first response to these conditions.

    • LaurieB #21

      By the way, I’m always interested to try to understand the motivation of women who go in for these substantial plastic surgery (enhancement) procedures. There is more sympathy for some than for others.

      That is very much so. My mother had a breast reduction operation in middle-age to improve her posture, and reduce aches in her back and shoulders.

      I think it is however, a reflection of the modern media promotion of superficiality, that both women and men seek cosmetic surgery or treatments to meet fashion images, while disparaging real “more sciency” enhancements like eliminating hereditary diseases.

      I think it is a status and body-image thing.
      In the middle-ages when the peasant classes worked in the fields all day, women with a tan were considered less beautiful than those indulged and painted, “pure white”, pale specimens, who dwelt in shady castles and palaces away from the sun.
      This culture was reversed when leisure and jet-set air travel to sunny beaches became the sign of status – with fake tans and sunbeds being popular among hangers on, posers, and copycats.

      This culture is gradually changing as skin cancer statistics increase.

    • Dan

      First off, I think you are being too hard on Phil about the chip thing. There was a thread here a while back on gene editing and it was me who started off all enthusiastic about zapping medical and psych ailments out of existence for the good of the patient and for the good of the family and for the good of society and our future descendants. Based on Phil’s comments, by the end of the thread I had modified my views to a more cautious position. Now I want to take these genetic modifications on a case by case basis.

      Bringing everyone solidly into the state of averageness is not what he wants. I don’t want that either. But I am also trying to balance out how we can eliminate the most misery and suffering in the most minimal way for the best result.

      You’ve been exposed to enough mental illness and addiction to know that there is massive suffering by those afflicted and that extends out to the people closest to them as well. Your mother has suffered terribly from your brother’s illness. You and your sister too. If there is something out there that can eliminate or at least soften the effect of addiction and mental illness, like a brain chip or a medication then please Dan, we must utilize it! You must agree that at this point, it is blatantly unethical to deny this medical/technological advance to these people and their families. The level of suffering is enormous and the victim class is huge and growing daily. You know I use pragmatic ethics to help me decide these things and using that as a framework I can’t see any way to deny these people every advance that can possibly come up with.

      It is definitely not the end all cure. They definitely need intensive psych therapies to bring them up to a level of decent functioning in society. They need behavior mod programs and ways to get insight into their problems and condition. Addiction and mental illness are so catastrophic that we need to throw every tactic that we can possibly come up with at it full force. We just don’t have the luxury of himming and hawing about in a leisurely egghead way.

      Psychotherapy is a drop in the bucket for these people and I don’t believe it’s the right way to go for them. It’s too slow, too expensive and it needs to be aimed at patients that have the time, money and cognitive ability to participate in a meaningful, effective way. Addicts and other sufferers of mental illness are not good candidates for this procedure. I am confident that even Freud would agree with me right now.

      The gift that neuroscience has given to us is to prove in no uncertain terms that our worst devastating mental illnesses are genetic brain based chemical fuck ups that can be moderated, soften or eliminated with a pill (or other medical intervention). Parenting may soften or exacerbate the effect of these unfortunate errors but science will do the most good now and in the future to give these patients and their families the best chance of harm reduction while holding onto the special qualities that I know very well that these long suffering people surely have.

      I feel for you guys about the rigidity of the “no enabling” problem. In the past the advice on this way definitely way too rigid. This is coming around to a more compassionate strategy. It’s a very cruel thing for outsiders to toss the word “enabler” at anyone who is dealing with an addict. Let them walk a mile in the shoes of the family before they pass judgement like that. I’m fuming over this as I write it. The cruelty of it all just sickens me. This is the nature of the conflicting feelings that I mentioned above. The families get totally burned out, kick the addict out, then there’s no real help for them and yet the families get accused of enabling on top of everything else. It’s a no win situation all around. But you already know all of this and I realize it. We need that brain chip Dan. We need it for the good of everyone. It’s the right thing to do.

    • @ Phil, Laurie, Bonnie

      Phil, my good man,

      Neural diversity.

      Confession: I don’t even know what the hell that is. (See how honest I am?)

      Laurie,

      Okay, but I don’t know much about the chip/drug approach. And so obviously I don’t understand it. But answer this question, Laurie: you succeed in blocking the craving for opiates; but you still have a miserable human being facing a void who will replace that blocked craving with another addiction: maybe food, sex, gambling, weed, alcohol, you-name-it. Ever think about that? (I don’t want to discourage anyone; maybe there’s more to it than I know. Maybe it can work in some cases.)

      Phil,

      Some medications (drugs) that are deigned to provide relief for anxiety , depression, OCD, are blunting and have side-effects. I have been on a few myself. But there are some newer ones that are fine. It’s a process of trial and error, and weighing the pros and the cons.

      The neural basis of anxiety? I asked a psychiatrist if OCD is a chemical imbalance. He said he didn’t know. I asked him whether it had a neural basis or whether it is psychological. He answered well: an erroneous distinction.

      You are as ignorant as I am. Read Wilhelm Stekel’s volume of case studies! (Compulsion and Doubt) Order this book now. You will see that there is a psychological basis of OCD —AS WELL.

      Bonnie,

      Close but no cigar. The episode I referred to is called “Number 12 Looks Just like You.”

      Phil and laurie,

      I have to catch a train and didn’t have an opportunity to read your comments carefully. I will read them carefully later.

    • Dan

      Neural diversity.

      Confession: I don’t even know what the hell that is. (See how honest I am?)

      Well thanks for saying that because now I see why you and Phil are talking past each other. This is why he has mentioned at least once that you should read the book Neurotribes. It explains everything about neurodiversity and it’s a real page turner. I couldn’t put it down. No really! Not just that i’m a psych major either. I selected it for my science book discussion group and they all loved it. They are a mixed bag of mostly science majors, not just psych.

      You will love the historical account of how Asperger worked around the Nazis to keep treating his patients. So interesting. If I hadn’t read this book and then participated in the thread on genetic engineering with CRISPR I would be the one strongly advocating zapping genes right and left to get rid of annoying debilitating physical and psychological conditions.

      We have to read and discuss and force ourselves to remain flexible in the face of new scientific evidence if we want to have the best outcomes for people who are suffering. It’s not ok to defend old outdated ideas and practices when new ideas and methods hold so much promise. Aren’t we proud to call ourselves progressives? We are proud of that, right Dan? Since you are currently on a train, I will do the thinking for you; the answer is a definitive yes.

      replace that blocked craving with another addiction

      Yes, we know this is common in recovering addicts. This is where the psych dept comes in. The chip or meds that block the primary addiction can bring the addict into a state of mental clarity where they can then make substantial progress with a therapist and watching out for these side addictions is on the top of the list. They need help on a number of problems. Repairing relationships is another big one that can’t be addressed until the addict is in some decent level of sobriety. So medical interventions that can bring them up to that sobriety more efficiently are so important to the addiction community. If someone says that they can have a brain chip for blocking opiates and then they’re all set, back to normal, they’re living in a dream world. An opiate dream world.

      By the way, this brain chip, as far as I know doesn’t exist yet. I’m just using that as an example. I know they’re working on a blocker chip that will be installed subdermal in the arm but they’re having some clinical problems with it. People have torn it out so they can use. This will be a long road.

      Read that book! What are you waiting for??!! We have to figure this out!

    • Dan

      But there are some newer ones that are fine.

      Oh yes? Which?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obsessive%E2%80%93compulsive_disorder

      What old school psychiatrists like Stekel consider as the causal factors are now properly understood as contributing factors.

    • Dr. Phil. and Ms. B:

      As I mentioned above, there is a new (2011) atypical SSRIs that is a partial agonists and has an affinity for the 5-HT1A receptors. It is very effective and has very few side effects. Please do not send me any bad news about this; someone you know may be on one of them – and it’ll trigger the now slumbering tiger: OCD! (No cure-alls.)

      Phil, read Stekel’s Compulsion and Doubt. It’s a great work! Laurie, I can’t promise you that I will read Neurotribes anytime soon, but I’d like you to order Compulsion and Doubt. You will be astonished. He demonstrates that Classic OCD symptoms are the result of psychic conflict. They cannot possibly be contributing factors.—Not in all cases!

      (The great rift between psychoanalysis and neuroscience continues – on this very site!)

      Wiki, Phil?

    • Waaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!

      :’O

    • And its called…., Dan?

    • Laurie!

      If there is something out there that can eliminate or at least soften the effect of addiction and mental illness, like a brain chip or a medication then please Dan, we must utilize it!

      For the record, I am very pro medication. If one is tortured by depression or anxiety or OCD or is psychotic or schizophrenic, of course they should take medication! But mental illness and addiction are two different things.

      Who am I, Tom Cruise? I am all for treating mental illness with meds. Nor do I think that medication destroys creativity. It can, but doesn’t have to. I am, however, not so sure about treating addiction with meds or with chips. Two different animals.

      Waaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!

      Let me explain. Medication can relieve OCD symptoms and does act upon the neurons (?)— But that does not mean that OCD is not caused, or at least partially caused, by psychic conflict!! Is that a contradiction?

      Now what is this Waaaaaaa?

    • Dan

      Is there not an OCD element to addiction? Think about the rituals involved. There are rituals. There is the build up of repetitive thoughts. “Sacred” items involved in the ritual of using. The sweet agony of the waiting to obtain the substance, whatever it is. The actual administration of the substance and the glorious release when the ritual is over. The ritual is so important in addictions and so tied in with obsessive thinking and compulsive behavior that it’s a big part of why the addiction is so hard to break. Those of us who are not addicted to drugs/alcohol can get a very mild feeling for what it’s like with our much less harmful addictions like coffee, cigarettes etc.

      A very mild example is my addiction to caffein via coffee. One thing that rings true with addicts is when I tell them about how within 15 minutes of waking up my thoughts go straight to that coffee. I get myself out to the kitchen where the first thing I do is set the kettle to boiling. I get out my gorgeous french press that I paid way too much money for – more than fifty bucks, and fill it with my substance and stand there patiently waiting for that kettle to click-done! pour it into the press just so, my own special beautiful mug that no one is allowed to use or I’ll panic, just the right amount of half and half and then to my favorite beat up porch chair that I lovingly restored.

      The anticipation of the fix. The ritual surrounding it. The delivery of the substance and the relief of feeling that drug kick in. I’ll tell you that I NEVER run out of coffee and half and half. Anything else can run out but not those.

      These obsessive-compulsive rituals also exist in sexual behavior. Think about it. Tension -obsessive thoughts build up to the ritual – delivery and physical relief.

      Now do we have drugs that can interfere with this process, whatever the object of the desire is? Yes (as you said) and they are short circuiting brain chemicals. Chemicals acting on chemicals and neurons.

      We cannot separate out addiction from mental illness. They are too tightly interwoven.

    • Point well taken. However, Phil…er, Laurie, there are different kinds of addictions. You don’t go into withdrawal when you give up an OCD ritual, as far as I know. No nervous system excitation.

      OCD has an addictive aspect to it (and I knew you’d say that). I do agree. But to label it as a (physiological) addiction and then disregard the meanings, associated with these behaviors, to disregard the psychological causes, and the unconscious dynamics (repression, guilt, etc.) associated with the rituals and symbolism, is limiting and one-sided.

      We need not separate addiction from obsessive-compulsive behavior; but neither should we mix and stir them together and lose sight of the fact that they are not one and the same thing. They most certainly are not.

      Stekel will set you straight.

    • Dan
      I’m saying that there are ocd elements in addiction not the other way around. I take a hardcore definition of addiction – not including psychological so called addictions. For example I deny that there is such a thing as addiction to pot for example. Like you said, there are no withdrawals.

    • Two anecdotes:
      I thought I was an insomniac for most of my adult life. Falling asleep was so so difficult. I had the jumpy legs (my family calls them Jimi legs — my name is Jimi)… Anyway without too much boring-ness, I got pissed off at some coworkers and stopped making our morning pot O’ joe. That’s right, i quit coffee/caffeine for spite (the strongest of motivators for me)… Anyway, after a week of eyeball headaches and mystery shooting pains in my head…….. I started sleeping! SLEEP! turns out I do not tolerate stimulants at all. I am shot out of a cannon all day, every day and it is a real challenge for my teenaged students to match my energy level. So… even though we classify certain drugs as “mild” and others as “hard, sometimes the mild ones are actually pretty powerful and can impact your quality of life dramatically.

      Second, and really very much to LaurieB’s excellent post, I worked in a prison for 12 1/2 years. I taught inmates 4 days a week, 5 hours a day (2nd job to make ends meets when my kids were small)… Anyway, i had lots of times where I, wide eyed, learned from the guys and girls inside. Here’s something: Some of the needle-using folks (usually heroin) are in a “sub-class” of users. The inmates called them “vampires”. Here’s the thing… they like the heroin, but are not addicted like a traditional addict. They are addicted to the needle ritual and they push the drug in and as the barrel of the syringe empties, they pull back on the plunger until blood comes back into the barrel… they then push again and draw back out…. they are motivated by the fascination of the blood and needle—- the ritual as LaurieB so eloquently put out there.

    • Let me just state my position very succinctly:

      I don’t think drug addiction is OCD per se. One can certainly have both. Although every addict is familiar with the rituals, the planning, etc., they do not necessarily have OCD. No one really knows what OCD is. It is definitely an anxiety disorder, and is the result of psychic conflict to a large extent, in my considered opinion. It is also true that SSRIs can be useful in treating the symptoms

      If there is medicine that can fix a bona fide drug addict or a heavy duty alcoholic then I would be thrilled. But I remain skeptical – in spite of the fact that their addictions, and all addictions, cause obsessive-compulsive behavior.

    • P.S.

      Thanks for confusing me, Laurie. I have been staring into space like a zombie thinking about this for the past half hour. (That’s actually a good thing.). My sister just asked me what the hell was the matter with me. There is an OCD element to addiction, but if you take a pill like Prozac or use the chip will that get rid of the craving or just the OC symptoms associated with the craving? I need to stop. My OCD is acting up!

      I am a coffee addict too. Love it.

      By the way, have you heard of masturbators anonymous? They have slogans on the meeting-room walls: together we can beat this thing. You’re in our hands now….

    • You can handle it, alone…

    • I think we all run the danger of making issues so so dichotomous…. left or right…. republican or democrat…. pro gun or anti gun…. pro abortion or anti abortion…

      When, in fact, all issues have more than two facets.

      My father’s pace maker blue tooth contacted his doctor when he went into an arrhythmia. The OR was waiting for him to get there. Are you kidding me?

      Meanwhile you want bigger tits or a bigger penis? And you think we are talking about the same issue? Yes, it can be distilled down to “technological enhancements of the human”…. but, c’mon, let’s “enlarge” the discussion. There are bullshit reasons: “I’d like to suck the fat out of my ass and inject it into my lips”… and actual human improvements: saving and invigorating human life.

      Here’s the funny thing: I just belittled the need for a thinner ass and plumper lips. But, upon further exam, if that enhancement significantly enhances the human being suffering from (real or perceived) detriment due to “giant ass” or “tiny lips”…. then screw ME for being so myopic.

    • Dan

      will that get rid of the craving

      I don’t know, My caffeine addiction is too weak to relate. There are heroin addicts that get monthly shots of Vivitrol, an opioid blocker. I would like to hear from them about the cravings and their intensity levels as time goes by on the shot.

      have you heard of masturbators anonymous?

      ~snort~

      No but don’t tell me it’s an addiction. Does it interfere with one’s quality of life? Causing torment and anguish to one’s family? Are there ocd type rituals involved?

      uh-oh.

      God grant me the serenity

      to accept the things I cannot change;

      courage to change the things I can;

      and wisdom to know the difference.

    • Laurie

      You will love the historical account of how Asperger worked around the Nazis to keep treating his patients. So interesting. If I hadn’t read this book and then participated in the thread on genetic engineering with CRISPR I would be the one strongly advocating zapping genes right and left to get rid of annoying debilitating physical and psychological conditions.

      So what made you change your mind? (Or do I have to read the book?) That is exactly what I worry about: zapping genes left and right…. Sounds horrid, like eugenics. First the debilitating conditions and then all “problematic” conditions.

      Mailer once said that cancer is an ultimate disease, and all other diseases are deigned to prevent us from getting it. You get rid of one disease and you end up doing more harm than good. I am glad that we have vaccines now, but I am making a larger point. —Here is a better analogy. You wipe out, say, the “annoying” mosquito, and you end up upsetting the eco-system and creating worse problems.

      Here. Read this, if you haven’t already: “A child born today in the United Kingdom stands a ten times greater chance of being admitted to a mental hospital than to a university…. This can be taken as an indication that we are driving our children mad more effectively than we are genuinely educating them. Perhaps it is our way of educating them that is driving them mad.” —R. D. Laing, The Politics of Experience

      We need to get down to causes and conditions. You said that we are progressives, and we are. But genetic engineering (and I admit I know very little about it) sounds like what Trump wants to do with criminals: bury them under concrete! That’s not progressive.

      I am open-minded. I will read Neurotribes – eventually.

    • Laurie,

      I just want to say that how you choose to handle this family issue is up to you and your family. I’m sorry if any of my opinions were intrusive or were discouraging. I hope whatever you do is effective. But remember: it is up to the addict, ultimately. He or she has to want to be clean. But it’s a process. Maybe you’re right. If (s)he can stay off the stuff for a sufficient length of time using drugs or the chip (which I think was approved by the FDA) maybe it’ll get him to do other things. He’ll have the mental clarity….

      It’s weird. I remember writing this or something similar. Did I? Can’t find it here on this thread.

      Time to sleep.

    • The OCD discussion misses the point that a modicum of the behaviour is probably exactly where evolution has put us. The mild feedback loop that establishes a repetitive behaviour may lose its damping that quells the thing or its capacity to accumulating satiation (more likely). There is a genetic component like other behaviours, creating double risk if both parents carry the gene. Managing the disposition depends on early circumstance particularly, but note OCD is also a childhood onset condition (0.6 to 3%). Stressing events or conditions that lift cortisol levels when young may be triggers but also may be simple indicators of a propensity to anxiety.

      Reducing anxiety with atypical (most usual now) SSRIs and SNRIs clearly works well, but the general relief of anxiety may itself be an unwelcome side effect, putting folk at risk in itself and in the specifics of my poet friend and playwright friend rather squashing their creativity.

      Dealing with compulsive behaviours exclusively may prove highly virtuous. The behaviours are themselves sources of stress in social circumstances, unlike the more private obsessions. These behaviours in their extreme form are the probable result of the repeating mechanism breaking through lack of access to biographical memory or the failure of satiation processes or the lack of sufficient error detection of actions. Current thinking mostly has the (double checking) feedback loop as at fault and damping it down with appropriate signals to create a topical reduction in the sensitivity of synapses by increasing the noise in the local environment. Many many mental conditions are related to short or long feedback loops. The brain works often by these means to enhance and filter cognitions. Topical interventions can reduce the most stress creating affects whilst leaving the rest of the cognitive field unaffected. The hope is that these treatments will have very few side effects allowing normal lives to be lived more often.

      My playwright friend wished he had a control for the effect of his SSRIs, wanting to turn it down when creativity is needed. (He attempts to use nicotine as a modulator). Because we can indeed observe ourselves, being able to set such mitigations at the level to suit you at any given instant could be a singular advantage.

    • Can I just further add that addiction should not be conflated with OCD behaviours that need treatment. The loopy (loop-like) ritual that never satisfies even over short periods of time is quite distinct from say substance addiction. There is no actual feeling of satiety, no actual reward that could be supplied by adequate other means.

      http://ocd.stanford.edu/about/understanding.html

      Just to be clear we are (I am) talking about severe propensities here that fit a specific description. There may well be a cluster of mechanisms delivering a cluster of similar behaviours. But note the conditions treated with surgery above. These are the candidates first for pacemaker use.

      The evolutionary theory of the benefit of double checking, means that many folk can go a little awry and a few a lot awry. The result is another spectrum of the capacity in the population. Social acceptance of people as far up on their various behavioural spectra as possible, either from identifying yourself with those with the volume turned up a little or from the simple appreciation of such neural diversity, will make much of the distress of these folk with more florid behaviours disappear. Living with “it” provided your distress is modest, probably benefits everyone more. In serious distress, though, compassion demands the very best treatments science can manage. Neural pacemakers under the control of the subject seem to offer astonishing possibilities, not least because we can have our cake and eat it.

      Permanent genetic modification is for when we acquire the wisdom of minor deities. Non-transmissable genetic tweeks need to be studied cautiously and for a very long time before they are rolled out on a more casual basis. Neural pacemakers are the great opportunity, allowing great refinements in diagnosis also…

    • Dan

      So what made you change your mind? (Or do I have to read the book?)

      What changed my mind was a combination of reading Neurotribes and that thread I mentioned where Phil reminded us of all that might be lost if we are too heavy handed with our CRISPR tool. And yes, you have to read the book.

      You wipe out, say, the “annoying” mosquito, and you end up upsetting the eco-system and creating worse problems.

      I don’t want that either. But after all the disease that mosquitos transfer to us, in the final analysis, they’ve gotta go! I count on the experts in the pertinent fields to do their best analysis of this situation and I hope for the best solution with the minimum of harm. This is my approach to most problems. One person can’t be at the top of all fields.

      You get rid of one disease and you end up doing more harm than good.

      Bah humbug to that.

      I’m sorry if any of my opinions were intrusive or were discouraging. I hope whatever you do is effective. But remember: it is up to the addict, ultimately. He or she has to want to be clean. But it’s a process.

      I don’t think you were intrusive. Don’t worry about that. I agree that it’s up to the addict in the end. It’s a long grueling process from what I can see. A long road that’s for sure.

    • Phil

      a modicum of the behaviour is probably exactly where evolution has put us.

      we are (I am) talking about severe propensities here that fit a specific description.

      Topical interventions can reduce the most stress creating affects whilst leaving the rest of the cognitive field unaffected. The hope is that these treatments will have very few side effects allowing normal lives to be lived more often.

      addiction should not be conflated with OCD behaviours that need treatment.

      All noted. Useful clarification as always Phil.

    • The reason for caution Pinball is hidden genetic pleiotropy.

      Fixing this here may do something weird over there in later life.

      The natural fallacy is very much a fallacy and its application to limiting improving changes is entirely inappropriate. Yet not appreciating the minutiae of what we actually appreciate, memories that fade sweetly, narrative delight in closure of any and every sort, our wacky cognitive heuristics, our creativity that springs from not always having access to our vast repository of semantic answers, may lead us into a depleting humanity or worse (for me) a depleting “mammality”. Making “fixes”turn on and off-able seems safest. Making mental prosthetics more external like books brings great benefit and allows them to be an evolving co-opted adjunct of humanity.

    • PIn

      I think eliminating polio and small pox a no brainer. Its eliminating untoward human attributes I was thinking of. You don’t know what else is attached.

      Fixing genetic defects like trisomy 23 not a great problem for me either with much monitoring of long term child outcomes.

      But simple one to one gene mapping to behaviours is not a thing and unlikely ever to be a thing. It is probably the case that to eliminate religion you might have to unplug all the “make shit up” related genes from the stupid person and the clever psychopath. The loss could be a profound artistic deficit.

      I would rather beat religion by tackling the education of women and stupid men, greater equality, a proper plan to detect and isolate psychopaths. Hmmm? Neural implants, fluffy kittens…hmm…

    • Laurie, Phil

      Just a couple of thoughts – and questions for my esteemed colleague:

      Phil, a lot of your points about OCD are nice points.

      But are you sure you know as much as you think you know about this issue of OCD? Have you tried these medications yourself?

      Bi polar and schizophrenia has a genetic component, for sure. But OCD? I know people that have developed OCD in their thirties. And there are many gradations. The classic symptoms are not the only ones. I know countless people that exhibit obsessive-compulsive behavior but does that mean they have OCD? What does it mean to have it as opposed to not having it? It seems more like a continuum and many so-called disorders are just certain set of behaviors that we attach the word “disorder” to. ADHD kids usually have annoying and stupid parents. Severe OCD may be a bona fide medical illness, as opposed to mild OCD, which is not so uncommon. I know someone who had severe OCD and he just outgrew it. Now he has treatment-resistant depression instead.

      As for your friend, almost all OCD patents complain about blunting and side-effects. In many cases that is a symptom itself of OC thinking. But if he is miserable let him try something else. One atypical SSRIs (Viibryd) is excellent, does not cause affective blunting. But everyone is different.

      I think that OCD, to a large extent, is a defense against anxiety. I know of no better course of treatment than finding the right medication, although I don’t think it is genetic. (I never heard that before.) I don’t know if therapy can do anything, frankly – but that maybe because there are no more great psychoanalysts… like Stekel. Sometimes it gets better over time.

      Cognitive behaviorists are like Republicans : loyalists, group-thinkers, bigots, simpletons. Sorry. I tried that once and it was awful. Maybe it can help some people.

      Laurie! Read Compulsion and Doubt, young lady. Whose side are you on? 😉 I want you to get a different perspective. Please?

      A vaccine for religion. Sounds disgusting, like fundamentalism in reverse, only worse. Such rigidity on this site. We atheists (and atheism is the future) need to be very careful that we don’t help to create a civilization of monsters.

    • Pinball,
      I think that my stance is best described as “you do not know how important __________ is to every single person and, if _____________ holds a high enough importance to outweigh the risk for the given person, then, have at it.”

      This, of course, would be an opinion that relies on pleiotrophic effects, penetrance of genes and even epistatic effects all being ironed out, researched, and known quantities.

      This runs the very real danger of society deciding that _____________ in undesirable and selecting __________ out of the population and then realizing that what had occurred is detrimental.

    • Phil 54

      Not one thing in your Stanford Medicine article about psychic conflict. Of course. not Your approach to OCD is questionable and disturbing. Let me be clear. What worries me is not the medical treatment for OCD that you are proscribing, but that all mental illnesses will eventually be treated medically. We will lose sight of the psychic conflicts that give rise to them. This is not good.

      You’re a great guy. But I don’t like your approach to this issue (of mental illness) – and you’re cut off. (Honesty.)

      I may be confused about OCD and addiction and a lot of things. But confusion is a good thing. So is openness. The best scientists are as humble as they are brilliant.

    • It looks like Clinton is going to win anyway. She (as a career politician) is as dishonest as you would expect any of her ilk to be. But I still think she is far more capable of the presidency than the bumptious red-faced Trump. Mind you the American people voted in Ronald Ray-gun so anything could happen!!!

    • Here is the start of a new wave of implants (well in a decade).

      Glaxo Smith Klein and a Google company to make implants with the new micro electrode biocompatible developments of the last two years.

      Tackling diabetes by cleaning up glucose level signalling etc. etc.

      The new company, Galvani.

      http://www.theverge.com/2016/8/1/12340454/gsk-google-bioelectronic-medicine-company

    • Dan #65

      I think we live on different planets. I live on one with science that progresses and where the great bulk of appropriate scientists support the neural and genetic predisposition view for psychoses with system insults often as a trigger, with neuroses more actively coming from early conflicts and capacity defecits the result of abuse and neglect.

      My view is based not on my personal feelings but the great and increasingly consistent and evidenced research work that constitutes the current paradigm of our best scientists as you might happen to see detailed at Stanford.

      Why you choose to insult me for cleeving to current expertise I don’t know. Finding evidence and opinion from the cutting edge of leading researchers portrayed as a character flaw just leaves me scratching my head.

      Why you should think the old narratives more human and humane than the actual facts of the matter is the most distressing part for me. These old accounts not only presume to know how and what we were supposed to be (religious tosh) but also sought to frame all problems as someone’s fault, cold mother bully father abusive uncle. This latter mindset extrapolated from rather obvious instances of harm into the most ludicrous areas, into creating utterly spurious causal chains and poisoning families to earn its schilling.

      Contrast that with the truly human and humane writings of neuroscientist and neuro psychiatrist Antonio Damasio on the qualities of human experience and Oliver Sacks on the value of his pstchotic clients eking out every last bit of juice from their lives.

      E.S. Stern’s 1950 review of the Stekel confirms all my worst fears, even rolling back Freud’s great piece of science (the existence of the unconscious) to suit his taste in narratives.

      http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/96/405/1097.1

    • The new company, Galvani.

      Got to call my stockbroker. Right NOW . Where is the phone?!!! Where is that damn phone!!!!!

    • I just don’t want that stuff to get out of control, and it will. A review of Stekel? Stekel rolled back what? You insult me too. You can dig up anything. You won’t read him though.
      Implants for psychosis? Fine. I guess. I don’t know.

    • Laurie, you sound overly zealous. Whatever the opposite of “Thou doth protest too much” is, that’s you.

    • Dan

      Whatever the opposite of “Thou doth protest too much” is, that’s you.

      haha. What?!! Because I want to make a little pocket cash on stock investment? There’s nothing wrong with it!

    • M27Holts

      Oh leave Clinton alone. Her ilk? What might that be? Is she really that dishonest, M27? If enemies held your life up to a microscope for forty years how would you do? You’re sipping the cool-aid, like all the others.

      I am going to paste something that I said on another thread:

      Try being held under a microscope for forty years an attached relentlessly by your Republican enemies.

      I’m sick of people on TV, and all these journalists, raising the “trust issue.” She is honest enough, and she is, by far, the best we have.

      Everyone lies when they’re scared. I am not even sure it is morally wrong to do so. If you are continuously being attacked by enemies, a little lying is justified. She is a respectable and honorable woman and all of this crap about the trust issue is just sexism and stupidity, and above all, the product of an effort to derail her career that started years and years ago. One Republican, during the stupid Benghazi hearings, even admitted that that was what it was about. They are threatened by her. And why so many women hate her is beyond me. I suspect it’s envy to some extent. Whenever someone says they hate someone, you have to question that.

      And she’s still here and has survived the attacks, so nyaa nyaa nyaa.

    • Phil,

      Okay. Sorry. I am not discounting everything.

      But soon (and I know it) there will be a chip or a neural pacemaker, for neurosis, for everything. Mark my words.

      “I think we live on different planets. I live on one with science that progresses and where the great bulk of appropriate scientists support the neural and genetic predisposition view for psychoses with system insults often as a trigger, with neuroses more actively coming from early conflicts and capacity defecits the result of abuse and neglect.”

      Second sentence unclear. What are you saying? Say it.

    • Phil 68

      Now I know what you meant. I found the sentence. In that review the author says that Stekel rejected the unconscious. Great job. Good research, Phil.

      That comes from a quote by an embittered Stekel, who had longed for a reconciliation with his beloved Freud. He said: “After thirty years [experience of analysis] I no longer believe in the overwhelming significance of the unconscious (in the Freudian sense of that word).”

      A little different than what that author said.

    • Fellow Dawkins site members:

      Why are you all so excited about this new technology? It has to be used very carefully. It sounds like it could be misused. And knowing humans, I am sure it will be. You can’t just treat symptoms. This is one of the reasons why I rage against neuroscience. They can only think in terms of causes in the brain. They don’t see that even psychosis – genetic or not – is a symptom. If you remove all the symptoms we will never become better as a species or as a a culture. Symptoms inform us. They tell us that there is something wrong with civilization, with the way our parents treat us, are schools, inform us about many aspects of our environment. Take away the symptoms and we will not have any idea what needs to be corrected, and we will become blind, will stagnate, and get sicker and sicker. Our bodies will be healthy but we will have forgotten how to live, have no way of judging anything. How can we be so sure that every form of mental illness (and this will happen) should be corrected through these new procedures? Is that wise?
      Psychic trauma and the world we live in are causes of emotional and mental disorders. Not all, but quite a few. Left to their own devices, the money-makers will be marketing this stuff wholesale and indiscriminately (as well as discriminately) and prescribing it for everything from a cold to the displeasure of a bad date. Every unpleasant feeling will be removed. And if we ever become a dictatorship, don’t kid yourselves: the ugly and the infirm and the “mentally incompetent”, after compulsory IQ tests, will be altered or put to death – for the good of the state. Eugenics. Remember eugenics. A master race.
      Someone here already mentioned zapping religious people. Why not? Delusions are bad for people!
      This is the dawn of a world without symptoms or oddity or deviance or madness or pain. And it will be the ruin of us all, if we are not careful.

      Dan the “madman”

    • Dan,

      Psychic trauma is not the root of most psychoses. Your quoting of this sentence shows you must have at least read this-

      …. the great bulk of appropriate scientists support the neural and genetic predisposition view for psychoses with system insults often as a trigger, with neuroses more actively coming from early conflicts and capacity defecits the result of abuse and neglect.”

      It is a fantasy of yours that these techniques will ever be used to treat the result of psychic trauma only. These devices are exceptionally topical, they don’t have the global effect of drugs, often, incidentally, prescribed for psyhic trauma….happy pills for unhappy people.

      Some people want to take control of others’ minds and not for the benefit of those people. Folk who do indeed know better often do, in despair, wish for a pill to cure humanity of this or that ailment, like Arthur Koestler after WWII with the madness of fascism. I have no such fear of misuse in the UK at present, not least because these new “pills” are even narrower in their application than other mind altering techniques. Indeed they are even less damaging than so much of fifties and sixties psychiatric treatment, poisoning families with blame and drug based conditioning of people back to God’s intended sexual psyche for humans.

      Your conspiracy confabulations are your own and miss the single greatest safeguard that such specific devices can have, an off switch.

      Worry about your instituions not a restorative technology with the greatest finesse and least collateral damage so far achieved.

    • @dan

      Every unpleasant feeling will be removed.

      Aldous Huxley, Brave New World. If you’ve not read it, you really should. You’ll see reflections of your own words writ large.

    • Dan,

      If you remove all the symptoms we will never become better as a species or as a a culture. Symptoms inform us. They tell us that there is something wrong with civilization

      This is the naturalistic fallacy. Made the way we are shit happens occasionally.

      Suffering is good for us, huh?

      Well I agree to a degree. I think otherwise we flatten our lives and start to suffer disproportionately over the lack of a suitable choice of chorizo in Waitrose. (I’m still bitter…) This is why I encourage an acceptance of neural diversity. I think it a great stength to society, conferring a genetic and cultural resilience and creativity. I believe our greatest trick as a species comes from our acceptance of variety in cultures and our occasional downfalls from seeking a brittle narrowness.

      But you rail against the wrong thing here. This is about a far bigger picture than a clever treatment that has the capacity of lifting individuals out of great debilitating misery.

      Besides, if this technique can stop us resorting to the folly of heritable gene editing to treat schizophrenia, say, it will save us from potential disaster. You need to complain about the real dangers here.

    • I am more worried about neurosis. It must be allowed to keep manifesting itself. It is useful, essential. I already said that psychosis most definitely has a genetic component. (I don’t know what I said, frankly.) But even psychosis is a symptom of environmental factors. Read the Scottish Psychiatrist RD Laing. That guy was considered insane. (Some quotes below.)

      There’s another thread on “childhood trauma and the origins of the religious myth. What’s that? It’s all genetic. Everything is genetic. We need to zap the religion gene.

      Sarcasm.

      By the way, I read a couple of glowing reviews of Neurotribes. Asperger was probably enamored of Hitler, a Nazi sympathizer. Come on.—He assisted them, the SOB – and of course people love Silberman’s claim that autism is not caused by bad parenting. Who wants to admit that their parents are bad parents? That’s not something most people are even conscious of: not the parents and not their kids.

      Why is it that almost every autistic kid I have ever met (and I have met quite a few, have a few in my family) has awful parents who control them, don’t listen to them, suppress them, undermine them? And ADHD is a joke. In those cases there is never a strong male role model. These are kids that have shit parents. Maybe there’s a genetic component too. So zap them and let’s let the parents continue to perpetrate their acts of psychic barbarism: say thank you, do this, do that, don’t do that, good, bad, stop that, shut up, stop whining….

      The Politics of Experience (1967)

      Society highly values its normal man. It educates children to lose themselves and to become absurd, and thus to be normal. Normal men have killed perhaps 100,000,000 of their fellow normal men in the last fifty years.

      Long before a thermonuclear war can come about, we have had to lay waste our own sanity. We begin with the children. It is imperative to catch them in time. Without the most thorough and rapid brainwashing their dirty minds would see through our dirty tricks. Children are not yet fools, but we shall turn them into imbeciles like ourselves, with high I.Q.s if possible.

      From the moment of birth, when the Stone Age baby confronts the twentieth-century mother, the baby is subjected to these forces of violence, called love, as its mother and father, and their parents and their parents before them, have been. These forces are mainly concerned with destroying most of its potentialities, and on the whole this enterprise is successful.

      Insanity – a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world.

    • Dan,

      Much of the treatment for autism is about treating parents to change their attitudes and help them understand the most often irretrievable and organic root of their child’s problems.

      Your capacity to demonise and blame people is chilling. Parents often have no idea about how to manage behaviours as difficult as autism. Exactly blamed in the past for causing the problem, no progress was made in the treatment of it until parents were properly trained and co-opted into the front line of treatment.

      Old school psychiatry of the obvious…it must be the parents, with coincidence of behaviours getting the causal direction back to front… is mostly dead and buried on this topic at least.

    • Dan

      Finally, because this explains your concerns to me.

      I am more worried about neurosis.

      (A Woody Allen line if ever there was one.) Neurosis generally isn’t an area suitable for topical interventions like neural pacemakers. It is not the lower slopes of anxiety disorders that neural pacemakers are targeting (there is nothing for them to target) but rather the specific peaks of OCD that are rooted in a quite specific neural malfunction. This level (when folk reduce their hands to bleeding prunes by un-end-able washing) is better understood as a psychosis and like psychosis is never achieved by the stresses and strains of life alone.

    • The vaccination against religion was more a theoretical concept Dan.

      Not being brainwashed in-between the ages of 3-10 usually does the trick!
      Mosquitoes. eh? Would eradication of them lead to a catastrophic eco-collapse or would some other species (that might be even more dangerous to humans) just fill their evolutionary niche?

    • Hi Dan [#76],

      Why are you all so excited about this new technology?

      I am excited by these technologies as much as I am about any technology – for its potential.

      It sounds like it could be misused.

      Show me a technology that hasn’t.

      You can’t just treat symptoms.

      Your use of the word symptom appears to assume that all phenomena can and are treated as indications of faults – and that, therefore, multitudes of faults in human forms exist?

      As I understand it, you next define psychosis as a set of symptoms, and then claim that those symptoms are studied only as neurological phenomena when they may be psycho-social or psycho-bio-social in origin?

      If you remove all the symptoms we will never become better as a species or as a a culture. Symptoms inform us. They tell us that there is something wrong with civilization, with the way our parents treat us, are schools, inform us about many aspects of our environment.

      If it is true that psychological symptoms are being studied as purely neurological in origin then, yes, it’s going to take researchers a long time to get to the point where they say: ‘What about external environmental factors?’

      But is that true? If neurologists are trained in evolution then it seems to me that environmental factors will be part of their thinking from the get-go.

      Take away the symptoms [without addressing true underlying causes?] and we will not have any idea what needs to be corrected, and we will become blind, will stagnate, and get sicker and sicker.

      I can see how, if we assume your premises are correct, there is this trap waiting. Also Phil seems to have covered this so I won’t labor the point.

      
> Left to their own devices, the money-makers will be marketing this stuff wholesale and indiscriminately (as well as discriminately) and prescribing it for everything from a cold to the displeasure of a bad date.

      Will they be left to their own devices? This assumption is at the heart of your comment. It depends on the political foundation on which we sit. I have no crystal ball.

      Whatever interventions emerge from gene editing and cyborg tech they will need to be promoted.

      Every unpleasant feeling will be removed.

      Even assuming such a nightmare could occur I’ll be dead by then, so I won’t be feeling any pain anyway. Okay, that was gratuitous. Most of us, most of the time, look at people in bliss and know that they’re lives are less than they could be – though putting what’s missing into words that resonate is a tough task.

      Someone here already mentioned zapping religious people. Why not? Delusions are bad for people!

      The costs associated with ‘zapping’ large swathes of the population would give even the most energetic sociopath (a.k.a. politician) pause for thought. Besides, there are lots of people, like you and me, who would protest even though we’re not religious.

      
> This is the dawn of a world without symptoms or oddity or deviance or madness or pain.

      On the face of it that’s a megalomaniac-style claim. I know you’re not that way inclined Dan so: Deep breathes – in through the nose, hold it for a moment, and out through the mouth … nice and slow … now let’s close our eyes and think of birds twittering in a Summer garden as we breathe … in … and out …

      On a more serious note: All technologies require that we consider the potential outcomes. Did my generation fail to see, for example, the NSA’s misuse of the computer revolution coming – or the emergence of Spam? Yes. Is it likely that we will all fail to see, again, some seemingly unconnected actor in the wings who will misuse human progress? Yes.

      Do I think this means we should all be technophobes? No.

      By and large the advances that come from technology generally outweigh the misuses.

      And it will be the ruin of us all, if we are not careful.

      That seems highly unlikely for tech that has to be applied person by person, and which requires that scientists have large, collective, blind spots and that assumes all politicians are idiots and motivated by a desire to make the proles into an unthinking mass … okay, I’ll give you one out of three.

      But you also appear to assume that the World doesn’t know how to self-regulate, never mind regulate. As all those doctors who would, we must surely assume, become involved in the interventions being described here will say: First, do no harm.

      Peace.

    • Some of the “stupid men and women” in the UK who think it’s a good idea to mutilate their female off spring’s genitals at a certain age had to told this was wrong via the law.

      Nobody in the UK has been convicted of FGM (or allowing their girls to be cut in such a way), according to the law – since the parents don’t think that it’s wrong – they can’t be prosecuted…. I would put all parents of cut girls in Jail tomorrow – but since that number would probably number in the ten’s of thousands, it may present a bit of a problem with overcrowding!

    • Stephen #88, Phil, others:

      “I can see how, if we assume your premises are correct, there is this trap waiting. Also Phil seems to have covered this so I won’t labor the point.”

      Thanks, SoW, for that reply, and for your time. I have a “non-rational”, i.e., intuitive and really somewhat deep aversion to genetic engineering as a concept, which, I admit, is somewhat foolish. Could you tell me, if you happen to see this note, where Phil addresses my concern, quoted above? Thanks. Or perhaps Phil, ever-patient as he is, can reiterate it.

      Me: This is the dawn of a world without symptoms or oddity or deviance or madness or pain.

      Stephen: On the face of it that’s a megalomaniac-style claim.

      There might be an hysterical aspect to it. But I do tend to think in grand terms. I like to consider the ultimate direction of things. But it is I who fear the megalomaniacs, who will or could get their hands on these new techniques. God Knows what a dictator could do? But I am reminded of what deGrasse Tyson said: Humans create technology, and that progress in the area of research and development must not be thwarted. Technological achievements can lead to destruction or enhancement of our lives. The technology is neither good nor bad in itself. Yes, I see the point. But this issue is complex. For example, if a drug that made us live to be a thousand years were created, should it be available, and if not, how can we prevent it from being disseminated? That would, presumably, create a multitude of problems (overpopulation for one) – although I and others would do everything we could to get our hands on one of those pills or chips. And many would feel the irresistible lure of profit. But just think of the havoc that would cause.

      And, yes, I have neither faith nor trust in the Self-Regulation of the World There is some evidence to support my doubts. Look at the climate crisis, and look at Hiroshima, at nuclear weaponry. Look at overpopulation and the history of man’s need to dominate and exploit….

      Thanks.

    • Pin #89

      I mis-spoke. I intended the education of girls and the education of the children of stupid parents. Properly taking education into state control is the must do. Quality control at least some input into kids. Their stupid parents are a lost cause.

    • M27H

      I know that you yourself were being “theoretical.” But it made me think. — Here’s a good example of the infallible logic employed by totalitarian dictators: “religion is bad so let’s get rid of it. We have the technology….”

    • Dan

      perhaps Phil…. can reiterate it…

      Its in #79, Dan.

      Look at the climate crisis, and look at Hiroshima, at nuclear weaponry. Look at overpopulation and the history of man’s need to dominate and exploit….

      I see astonishingly rapid change in cultural awareness of the very sudden appearance of these problems.

      We suddenly find ourselves with super-powers. Its like we’re the Iron Giant just woken up and stumbling into things. China is achieving astonishingly rapid change in CO2 emissions and the move to energy self sufficiency. This is the Titanic doing a handbrake turn. So far only the two first atom bombs have been used against people. How the hell do you learn how not to be a gun? Birthrates with the exception of the two poorest parts of the world are already below replacement rate. The only reason we see population rising like it does is because of the huge increase in health and lifespan. Once this has worked through the system (it will take two generations) we’ll be shrinking like crazy. This will go much faster when we sort out African and Indian sub continent poverty.

      The exploiting psychopaths are what need dealing with now and that at the moment go unchecked.

    • Hi Dan [#92],

      Could you tell me, if you happen to see this note, where Phil addresses my concern, quoted above?

      Hmm, I seem to be missing it now. Oops.

      Take away the symptoms [without addressing true underlying causes?] and we will not have any idea what needs to be corrected, and we will become blind, will stagnate, and get sicker and sicker

      Is it true the neurologists are simply addressing symptoms and missing the opportunity to address underlying problems, or that geneticists can even make genetic interventions that target only outward signs?

      In both cases this is surely more complicated than simply addressing the real problem?

      The history of medicine could, almost, be written as generations that started by addressing symptoms and, generation by generation, swam in ever-deeper waters of knowledge. At each step or stroke a new generation of doctors, dentists, surgeons (later joined by radiologists and many other specialists) gained new knowledge, new confidence.

      In that scenario it is inconceivable to me that the complex and time consuming nature of the latest research will result in a better ‘aspirin’ – the researchers themselves would surely be bitterly disappointed.

      God Knows what a dictator could do?

      No, a god really doesn’t. We, on the other hand, have no excuse. History may be all revisionism, but it still holds lessons for those willing to look.

      The technology is neither good nor bad in itself. Yes, I see the point. But this issue is complex

      I’m currently reading I Think You’ll Find It’s a Bit More Complicated Than That by Ben Goldacre. You should try it Dan, it’s right up your street.

      In essence you, Ben and I have one tune: Please can we have political policies based on the rational and the empirical.

      Peace.

    • Phil,

      Don’t be appalled. I am not black and white and know little about all this, as I always admit (and that may make me more objective). Let me just say what I want to say and you can either think about it or dismiss it as stupid and course.

      This level (when folk reduce their hands to bleeding prunes by un-end-able washing) is better understood as a psychosis and like psychosis is never achieved by the stresses and strains of life alone.

      Phil, I am into blaming You’re right. But to use more precise language I would say that I am into identifying causes other than the genetic ones. Is there no interplay? Are you sure that some of these obnoxious kids with autism that chase me around the house spray lysol in my face… (Sorry, a personal –and true – anecdote) …aren’t just asshole kids with incompetent parents who are unfit to be parents? I know I sound dumb, but I am just making a point. Who said that “blaming the parents” and seeing that and other environmental factors as significant is now dead and buried? You like to bury that which you don’t like.

      OCD is never psychosis. The difference is this: the OCD patient says: I have to wash my hands; I know it’s OCD but I have to do it.”

      The psychotic says: I have to wash my hands or bad things will surely happen to me and there is no doubt in my mind that I am right.”

      Go ahead and zap the OCD patient, but get your diagnoses straight first.

      We don’t seem to be getting along on this thread. I am not appalling. I find some of this this neuro crap appalling. This has been going on for decades. Schnook psychiatrists can only think in terms of medication and they are just wrong, buddy. I know. They give meds (which can be life-saving) to everyone and for everything. And this will happen again with this new technology. No fine distinctions between psychosis and eccentricity or neurosis will be made: “you are her to see me? Okay, here’s what you do… Done. My fee is five hundred dollars.” It is so dismissive and repulsive to me. Genetically engineer Alzheimer patients. Fine. Or zap asthmatics. But where, I ask you, will it end and how can you be sure that genetic predispositions aren’t caused by the environment? Chicken egg. No. It’s not a riddle; it’s a question….

    • Hello Dan , Phil, and all.
      I have missed you all. Got out of the Hospital after eight days. Almost left for good.

      What’s new?

    • In essence you, Ben and I have one tune: Please can we have political policies based on the rational and the empirical.

      …policies based on the rational and the empirical.

      It is rational to want to exterminate the “mentally incompetent” or sterilize criminals and others. The arguments in favor of such policies would be based on solid empirical evidence.

      I trust you and Goldacre. I neither trust nor distrust scientists. Each one is different and it doesn’t matter whether they are trustworthy; it matters that they are good scientists. And the good ones deserve to be praised.

      Nothing that I or anyone says about the future or about what society will be like or how new technologies will or will not be used really matters, does it? Things will be what they will be. We can only address the here and now. And even that is out of the hands of any one individual—but it is not the absence of reason that I fear; it is reason without compassion, that is, without simple human feeling.

    • Stephen, Phil, Alf

      In essence you, Ben and I have one tune: Please can we have political policies based on the rational and the empirical.…policies based on the rational and the empirical.

      It is rational to want to exterminate the “mentally incompetent” or sterilize criminals and others. The arguments in favor of such policies would be based on solid empirical evidence.

      I trust you and Goldacre, Stephen. I neither trust nor distrust scientists. Each one is different and it doesn’t matter whether they are trustworthy; it matters that they are good scientists. And the good ones deserve to be praised.

      Nothing that I or anyone says about the future or about what society will be like or how new technologies will or will not be used really matters, does it? Things will be what they will be. We can only address the here and now. And even that is out of the hands of any one individual—but it is not the absence of reason that I fear; it is reason without compassion, that is, without simple human feeling.

      Alf: Hi! I was wondering where you had been. I am glad to see you. I am glad you’re back. We’re having a discussion about genetic engineering, which I know very little about but have a lot to say about. Trump, that prick, is going to lose. I am sure. But there are no guarantees.

    • It is rational to want to exterminate the “mentally incompetent” or sterilize criminals and others.

      I would absolutely support the sterilization of men convicted of murdering children not-their-own. Specifically, the “evil stepfathers” who kill their partner’s children-by-another-father.

      This appears to be normal behavior among big cat predators. If we would like to extinguish this behavior amongst humans, denying breeding rights to those who act out this behavior would seem prudent.

      Similarly, to extinguish rape-as-procreation-strategy, I would support mandatory abortion for impregnated victims, with a very high bar for court injunctions to prevent.

    • OHooligan 101

      ?

    • @dan #102

      Nice concise response. Maybe a bit too concise – I’ve no idea what it means.

    • That’s an excellent point Dan. I’m afraid that many people believe reason is enough, that having reached a conclusion through sound reasoning the conclusion must necessarily be true, and where morality is involved, also good! Why I even heard Sam Harris recently ask something like: if people had really followed the reasoning how could they still fail to see the truth!

      -confession, I’ve thought that way before too. I lack the confidence now though, cause I’m so smart ‘n all.

      I doubt Phil ‘n company think like that though, they’ve got too much Philosophy of Science under their belts. 🙂

    • Thanks Sean_W. I appreciate your feedback a lot. (But Phil is hard to pin down. He is a very complex man, and essentially a man of compassion; of that I am sure.)

      OHooligan, I was confused by this:

      “I absolutely support the sterilization of men convicted of murdering children not-their-own.”

      Is that worse than murdering one’s own children? Maybe I missed something. Please explain. And thanks for the book recommendation! (Brave New World.)

    • Dan,”
      But mental illness and addiction are two different things.”

      I’m not sure anymore. Self medication is a byproduct of mental illness?

    • Alf 106, Phil, others—

      Did I say that? Mental illness and addiction are two different things? Yes, of course – and no. Depends. Obviously not all addicts are mentally ill, and obviously not all mentally ill people are addicts. Many addicts are mentally ill and many mentally ill people are addicts. But mental illness and addiction are two entirely different concepts.

      I think alcoholism is a mental illness, but an unconventional one. It is, literally, an illness.

      Here is a question for our mutual friend, the Dickens-hating Phil (Kidding.) Phil, how can we be sure that genetic predispositions are not symptoms themselves, of environmental influences? There could be a cause behind the cause! That’s what I have been arguing.

    • Hi Dan [#100],

      It is rational to want to exterminate the “mentally incompetent” or sterilize criminals and others. The arguments in favor of such policies would be based on solid empirical evidence.

      To be rational means only to be in a state of mind based on facts or reason. Rationality implies the conformity of one’s beliefs with one’s reasons to believe. This does not deny the validity of one’s creativity or, to put that another way; it is rational to follow one’s internal dialogue even to the extent that it is delusional fantasy. It is, therefore, perfectly rational to believe in a god or gods. Rationality does not imply logic or empirical evidence, as Descartes demonstrated.

      On that basis, yes it is indeed rational to base policies for medical intervention on whatever the people find persuasive when asked to rationalise in a certain way. But the evidence is in and, to borrow Sam’s phrase, rational policy does not – on its own – lead to the optimum in human flourishing. it is blindingly obvious that we can do better.

      I trust you and Goldacre, Stephen

      Considering we’ve never met that’s a kind thought. Thank you.

      Ben Goldacre and I – and I suspect you too – see rational policies every day that are not supported by evidence. This harks back to Sam Harris’s argument on whather or not science has anything to say about morals. We can say that rational thinking can lead us to moral values, and therefore actions. But we can also say that rational thinking can lead us to immoral values, and therefore immoral actions.

      If we add the rational and the empirical, and insist that both are used logically to consider policy we may not wholly eliminate eugenics-style thinking – but we should come close.

      Ben Goldacre’s thing is that even when the empirical is included the quality of the empirical evidence and the logic applied is, still, often overridden by dogmatic rationales. Sometimes those rationales are applied blindly by politicians, and sometimes mischievously – but always by pulling the wool over the eyes of the public.

      I neither trust nor distrust scientists.

      A little skepticism is always healthy. Scientists are human. Another of Ben’s projects is to rail against PR, the press and funding models for science. Between the misreporting of science and the questionable ethics of some funding organisations it’s surprising we get much in the way of true science.

      Nothing that I or anyone says about the future or about what society will be like or how new technologies will or will not be used really matters, does it?

      Ah, the Counsel of Despair, how I’ve missed you – not!

      You and I live in democracies. That means we get the future we deserve.

      “It won’t be easy, our brand of democracy is hard …”
      B. Obama

      … it is not the absence of reason that I fear; it is reason without compassion, that is, without simple human feeling

      Then fight: Campaign, join groups, write e-mails (letters are still better), demonstrate and be shouted at by policemen and counter-protesters with bullhorns, talk to people and lose friends for months as they go off in a huff, dip into your meagre savings – again – to help get that billboard up, stand on street corners in the rain without an umbrella, or burning Sun without UV protection, to hand out leaflets, arrive at work exhausted by an all-night problem with the campaign website, sit in unseated public rooms in winter and listen to others arguing the toss about something completely beside the point. Learn to suffer defeat after defeat and wonder if anyone will ever listen, or ever care. Welcome, to the politics that works.

      Democracy is not a free ride.

      Peace.

    • Hi, Stephen,

      I must say that last paragraph packed a wallop, really got to me. Thanks for your comment.

      And to borrow your own valediction:

      Peace!

      P.S. I trust you more than anyone alive. (Kidding.) I just meant you have good judgment and good ideas, and I wanted to acknowledge that, as opposed to coming across as Mr. Contrarian and a know-it-all all the time.

    • Hi Dan [#109],

      I extend the hand of friendship to you too. It may be a bad idea to encourage me, I might go on a bit.

      Everyone remembers: Edmund Burke’s remark:

      The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing

      It is a sad fact, a tragedy even, that too few remember another:

      Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little

      I think I would prefer an updated version that’s more personal (and just a tad less sexist) – though the original thought remains Burke’s. Something like:

      None of us makes a greater mistake than when we do nothing, because we think we can only do a little.

      I wish that every person who visits this Site could read that, take it to heart, and act.

      Imagine what might happen if every single one made some contribution of their time, commitment and energy to a cause – secular, humanist, education, street epistemology even … we could make so much happen.

      I’m glad you like my valediction. I chose it mostly to remind myself that arguing angry persuades no-one. At the end of the day this movement is about changing minds and we do that, as Peter B. teaches us, by going out into the World and engaging with others as equals. Also, I hoped it would make people think about my motivation – text often (always?) seems more combative and that often draws us unintentionally into strident-sounding positions. It doesn’t always work, I sometimes still lose it.

      This story (about public rejection of proposed, potential, interventions into human beings’ physical makeup) has turned into an interesting discussion about what to do if you don’t agree with such technologies. But if we stray any further the Mods might, with some justification, call a halt on the basis that we have taken a tangent too far.

      I’m calling it a day. There will be other stories and other avenues to explore together.

      Don’t forget Dan, strike now while the iron is hot.

      Peace.

    • Sean W, Dan

      I’ve never liked the Moral Samscape. Its hugely incomplete. “Flourishing” seems like a good test and yet I think metrics of flourishing (and non flourishing) for every group in every possible parameter need to be prepared and offered to all, for all to see and know to feed the democratic process and conversation. They are not fit for use directly. This needs to be got out from under our (for profit) fourth estate and will allow proper conversations and democratic processes to evolve. Unless morals enfold both some attempt at objective accounts for harms and boons and our expressed feelings on the same, we can never know if our chosen metrics gel with people’s feelings. Denmark is flourishing more than most countries. Its moral priorities are all in favour of eliminating inequalities. I am hugely in favour of reducing inequality BUT there may be a limit. Denmark is dreadfully dull and seems to have quite a cultural deficit, possibly being flattened and homogenised along the way.

      We recently learned of curling parents and the risk of offspring with totally skewed views of real harms. Heaven is of course hell and curing everything simply rescales the merely inconvenient now to a future catastrophe.

      Science (epidemiology particularly) can give us the tools to have better traditional moral negotiations.

      Dan, You are flat out wrong on the extreme end of OCD. For them its not their OCD playing up its bugs fucking everywhere! The post hoc narrator is exactly how we justify our unconscious actions. Very clever OCD sufferers will have better control and understanding of the post hoc narrator.

      I’m not complex. I’m simple. As a default strategy I trust science. (I may distrust some science decisions that have passed through a political or commercial filter.) I think unsupported opinion on science presented as good science here must always be countered. This is a moral issue.

      Alf….Yay!

      Sorry. Working 18 hour days atm so brief and overly terse stuff.

    • @dan #105

      Is that worse than murdering one’s own children?

      Yes, in that it’s using murder to advantage one’s own genes, as tigers do. So a genetic solution seems appropriate, specifically make sure they don’t breed (independently of any other legal sanction). I was trying to present a narrow focus on a rational response to a kind of behavior that we may wish to extinguish among humans. If it’s an inherited trait, only those who act on it will be affected, their gene line will be terminated. If it’s not, well, who cares, it might provide a bit more disincentive to potential evil stepfathers.

      More broadly, the death penalty for all murder would achieve more or less the same goal, but that’s a different debate, one I don’t want to re-ignite here. The topic of “building a better human” includes — I suppose — selective breeding of some kind. I’m in favor of that to the extent it eliminates obviously extremely undesirable heritable traits, and I raise this as a readily identifiable example.

    • Good timing from Quillette. An article on genetic enhancement.

      Home

    • Phil, (Laurie):

      I have a headache.

      All I am saying is that OCD has a psychological component. And severe OCD mimics psychosis. You say it has a neurobiological basis. I say it has a psychological component. Well, to say that it is one or the other (and I do not say that) is an erroneous distinction. What is a basis? Neuroimaging can find a correlate in the brain. Well everything has a correlate in the brain. I am contending that the so-called neurobiological basis is, in part, an effect of a more primary cause, in addition to being a cause itself. I have nothing to base this on other than logic: if there is a psychological component, then it cannot possibly be caused solely by abnormalities in the neurotransmitters.

      To be honest, I know of no other effective treatment for prominent to severe OCD than SSRI medication – and for very severe OCD an atypical neuroleptic as an adjunct is often required. (Those have rather bad side-effects, unfortunately.) But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a psychological component; it just means that pharmacological treatments work, and that deficient serotonin function is (or may be) a key element in the pathophysiology of OCD. But psychic trauma is also a key element! Now stop being so rigid, my erudite friend. And let’s try to get along.

      I read a scholarly article on treating OCD with potato chips. I don’t yet know enough about it. The author contends that if an OCD patient is engaging in obsessive rumination he should stuff his face with chips. Then he’ll forget about what he was obsessing about.

      (Laurie, Phil, I have a rather nice, creative post on the Childhood Trauma thread.)

      The post hoc narrator is exactly how we justify our unconscious actions. Very clever OCD sufferers will have better control and understanding of the post hoc narrator.

      I am a very clever OCD patient (and doing extremely well). Why don’t I understand this statement?

    • P.S. “To be honest, I know of no other effective treatment for prominent to severe OCD than SSRI medication – and for very severe OCD an atypical neuroleptic as an adjunct is often required.” —Me

      Okay, this sounds like a contradiction. Maybe so. What can I say? I don’t have all the answers. But I know that OCD has a psychological component, and to deny that is short sighted. Therapy should work, but it just doesn’t. Why? I just don’t know.

      Dan the therapist: Laurie, what does genetic enhancement represent to you? What comes to mind?

    • @dan #115

      if there is a psychological component, then it cannot possibly be caused solely by abnormalities in the neurotransmitters.

      Unfounded assertion. And not just “cannot”, but “cannot possibly”, like the very idea is preposterous. My immediate reaction is “why not?”, but I don’t expect you to be able to answer this, other than with some variant of the Argument from Incredulity, which I’m sure you’re familiar with, it’s been dissected on this site numerous times, or some quote from someone who was long dead before neurotransmitters were discovered, who can therefore have no bearing on the question.

      My less immediate reaction is to note that the thing you say “cannot possibly” be true is somehow disturbing to you, as if it is some kind of threat. Well, disliking something doesn’t make it false. Having an intuitive feeling about something doesn’t make it true. We’re (mostly) beyond that, here. Or at least trying to be. Aren’t we?

      ps my low-grade dyslexia makes me need to look closely to distinguish the words psychological from physiological. I wish the words were as different as their meanings. But they’re not, so I just have to adapt to it.

    • Well then maybe everything is caused solely and exclusively by abnormalities in the neurotransmitters. That’s the root of everything. I can’t say absolutely that that isn’t the case, but it seems rather preposterous. I am incredulous. As for my “cannot possibly”: I like to say what I say with conviction – even if I am not entirely sure of myself.

      OCD does have roots in trauma. To argue that it doesn’t is just an unreasonable rejection of evidence – all of the case studies that have been presented throughout the history of psychoanalysis. Whether or not all of these analysts were familiar with neurotransmitters doesn’t take anything away from what they discovered.

      You’re saying that OCD and other mental illnesses are caused solely by abnormalities in the neurotransmitters and psychic trauma is irrelevant? Sounds like neuroreligion.

    • Last comment cont.

      OHooligan, Phil

      Sorry, I don’t mean to be antagonistic. By “neuroreligion” I just meant this: attributing something to a first cause in the brain and disregarding the possibility, at the very least, of a reciprocal relationship, an interplay, between environmental influences (causes) and neurobiological factors or causes.

      For all we know, deficient serotonin function could be an effect – of psychic trauma. Does everything we think and feel and do have an exclusively neurobiological basis? (No straw-man, Phil.)

    • Dan, I’ve offered you all the while a non polarised view that properly reflects the actual science. I’m fed up with your ludicrous and polarised statements. Elsewhere I have noted how early abuse (Romanian orphanage kids) leads effectively to brain damage. Read up on epigenetics to see how early stress appears not only to cause such changes but may express themselves through the next generation or so before fading away.

      These damages are not talked away. They are a for life deficit. In terms of treatments pacemakers are like super effective drugs with far less collateral damage.

      Neurons wired like thus and so carry our memories and mediate and construct our feelings. Physical brain configurations are everything mental. Like illness damage is a social construct.

      Back to work for me.

    • Phil, I am not trying to be polarizing, and I am sorry if I have, once again, failed to appreciate the fine points you have made. I am both concerned and ignorant, have no medical degree, and yet I have instincts, and questions; some are foolish, some are not. I am not as educated in these areas as you are, and am contending with an avalanche of strong opinions advocating what sounds to me like an either-or approach.

      So what is the best course of treatment for those who are afflicted with various forms of mental illness? I would argue, and have argued, that some maladies, such as schizophrenia and severe bi polar, and severe OCD, can only be treated with medication (although I could be wrong). There is no cure. What I object to is handing out drugs to treat everything: mild depression (which is the human condition) and anxiety (which is a healthy emotion, is the touchstone of growth). (These are not your views; it is not about your views: I am thinking about the future.) These have no cures either, but it is not good to bury symptoms in all cases. That will have disastrous consequences.

      But each case is different. If you can’t function and are tortured and medical treatment (whatever it may be) gives you relief and gets you to live your life what’s wrong with that? It’s not a crutch; nor is it objectionable. There are people far worse than me, who think that treating mental illness is weakness; I see it as a bridge back to a more productive life. (Addiction to meds doesn’t concern me, will happen, as some meds are addicting. If you have diabetes you have to take what you take, etc. Why the stigma with mental illness?) it’s only a crutch when you are willfully, out of cowardice, avoiding trauma, seeking to bury it, or if you are looking for an excuse not to confront your fears. This can and will continue to happen.

      But what concerns me now is that every form of so-called illness will, over time, be treated with the assumption that it has a predominantly neurobiological basis. So the will of the patient to make changes in his life be undermined. (This happens frequently in psychotherapy as well.); and he will be treated like a mass of abnormal neurotransmitters.

      I have mixed feelings about all this, and am confused, as I said. Genetic engineering has a ring to it that produces mild shock and horror, and yes, skepticism, intuitive skepticism, if you will.

      The other extreme (and I do tend to conjure up nightmarish scenarios) is equally problematic: a lot of people out there, like Trump and countless others, should be on something, should be receiving medical care. They use their denial like a crutch, refuse to take responsibility for their repulsive and inappropriate behaviors. They see psychiatry as weakness, and so they waste their lives, reveling in their own pathology…

    • “Like illness damage is a social construct.”

      What does that mean?

      “Physical brain configurations are everything mental.”

      “…are everything…” What does that mean?

      Oh yes, A=A: Physical brain configurations are physical brain configurations. Af-firm-a-tive.

    • Last one on this thread for the day

      “I’m fed up with your ludicrous and polarised statements.”

      Now what part of the brain is causing you to feel this vexation? Point to it.

    • Dan

      am contending with an avalanche of strong opinions advocating what sounds to me like an either-or approach.

      WTF?

      Now what part of the brain is causing you to feel this vexation? Point to it.

      If you come over here I will…

    • Phil (124)

      “WTF”

      Sorry. I have been all over the place on this thread, Phil.

      Okay, here’s a good one: PTSD. Now that is clearly what it says it is: post traumatic stress disorder. Now that doesn’t have neurobiological basis. So why can’t other disorders, such as OCD and other so-called medical conditions, be, in addition to the symptom of genetic predisposition, a reaction to post traumatic stress – only trauma that was created in early childhood – from, say, an unresolved Oedipus complex? PTSD usually follows a recent event. The term psychic trauma usually implies unconscious dynamics, and experiences in early childhood.

      (R u mad at me?)

    • Dan,

      We have already discussed PTSD. Lets go back to the case study with lots of detail.

      The trauma suffered by neglected Romanian orphans was entirely palpable to them, yet the response to that stress was quite variable in the strength and nature of its affects (though none were good). Some are more robust in their responses. There are differing predispositions. Genetic inheritance and short-term “Lamarckian” epigenetic adaption variously brings these to bear. Reared in persistently stressful environments we tend to adapt to the stress. The stress is physically experienced as a rise in cortisol levels and we know that sustained high levels especially when expressed during brain growth periods inflict changes in brain growth.

      http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/02/20/280237833/orphans-lonely-beginnings-reveal-how-parents-shape-a-childs-brain

      Everything mental has a physical neural correlate. Memories (everything learned) reside in synaptic connection existence and strength.

      Evolution co-opts. Poorly insulated circuitry (low myelin fatty sheathing as in grey matter) is exploited by evolution for its ability to spill signals to neighbour cells. This Ephaptic coupling is used eg in chickens to combine signals and achieve stereophonic analysis, knowing the direction of sounds instinctively. (It may well be the mechanism for all stereophony could we conduct the experiments.) This neural cross talk is also exploited in other sensing processes creating local feedback to amplify our ability to sense. Someone calculated that without positive feedback our ears would lose 99% of their sensitivity. Its down side is my migraine attacks (in my case an expanding ring doughnut of spurious noisy feedback on my visual cortex or the much more extensive loops caused in epileptic seizure. Kids with epilepsy have a delayed or impared white matter growth (myelin sheathed neurons) from genetic disposition or restricted diet. All the myriad other neural feedback loops we have discussed are at risk from myelin defecit, f’r instance. The stress of neglect and a family history of neglect, poor diet, can have global cognitive consequences.

      Nature, nurture, its a mix. The result that counts here is written in the brain.

      Oedipal complex trauma is a social trauma. Matriphilia is only stressfull in the context of a dissapproving society (Souffle au Coeur, Louis Malle). Psychic abuse is the unwanted and socially disapproved theft of autonomy. The fine detail of these things rest on an underlying stress. But it is stress mediates the wiring of the memories rendering them toxic going forwards.

    • Dan

      So why can’t other disorders, such as OCD and other so-called medical conditions, be, in addition to the symptom of genetic predisposition, a reaction to post traumatic stress

      But we have discussed this! They often are, but in extreme cases the wiring is permanently screwed and the damage irretrievable.

    • Phil, OLgun,

      I suppose if this treatment can turn a perpetually suffering person into someone that can function and have some happiness without it doing harm it’s okay. But I am only just reading about this for the first time. Sorry. It still sounds creepy to my conservative and timorous mind.

      Perhaps I am permanently damaged! I don’t remember “discussing this”. What were you wearing? What day was it?

      Seriously, I am not sure whether a brain chip (genetic engineering) is altogether a good idea. In the distant (or maybe not too distant) future, parents will want their kids to be little Einsteins with blue eyes and blonde hair and with no defiance in them. And if they can pay, what rational argument will there be to prevent their decision? My assumption is that it will be deleterious. Nature creates nothing in vain. And that includes what it doesn’t create. Homogeneity is death to the soul and body of the species. And what good is anything, like intellect or beauty or genius, if everyone has an equal amount of it?

    • Phil,

      I think you are presenting a case prematurely and hastily, in spite of what you say you know, and with insufficient consideration of the many ramifications of these treatments, with insufficient vision and understanding. What is this about Romanian orphans? There are situations like that all over the world. I looked at the article, expecting to be enlightened. Decreased brain activity. Big surprise. Bad conditions. Trauma, illness—the whole nine yards. Okay. Like a Nazi concentration camp but without ovens and all the other infinite horrors. In the camps babies were heaped in piles and then smashed against the wall, if not tortured and experimented on. Why not perform some engineering on the sadists that do all of these bad things or do something to prevent the conditions that give rise to the formation of these institutions from forming in the first place? I don’t think we should rush to rescue everyone who has been permanently altered by neglect and abuse by putting chips in their brains That sounds iffy.

      Anneka Rice is a conservative, a performer, a money maker.

      “Everything mental has a physical neural correlate. Memories (everything learned) reside in synaptic connection existence and strength.”

      This may be your mistakes and may mislead as we seek to establish an approach to the problem of pain. “Everything”, yes. If you cry or laugh or if you don’t do anything but stare into space a neural correlate can be found. There are physical trauma and “mental” trauma. All symptoms of either can be presented as having a physical correlate.

      The rest is too technical for me. I am not able to assimilate all of your information at the present time. My apologies.

    • And an unresolved Oedipus Complex can cause life-long difficulties with self-esteem and forming relationships. In short, this “social” trauma can cause terrible suffering. Matrophilia is not a word, and suggests to me a simplistic understanding of something complex, universal; and suggests an inadequate appreciation of the potentially devastating psychic set of experiences that are associated with this situation – a situation which coincides with the phallic stage of our psychological development.

    • Genetic enhancement.

      Where will it take us?

    • Dan

      I don’t think we should rush to rescue everyone who has been permanently altered by neglect and abuse by putting chips in their brains That sounds iffy.

      Strawman in an endless string of them. The argument here was only that stress produces physical neural alterations (and that we can detect!), not that this specific produces extreme OCD symptoms and never have I suggested that the symptoms produced are candidates for pacemakers. There may be a useful topical opportunity for such treatment in a few specific with specific genetic or epigenetic problems but no one has ever suggested it. The Romanian orphange disaster is a major moment of learning in psychology and psychiatry. It is the first time a large scale abuse of human infants and its various outcomes had been examined with the aid of tools like fMRI scanners. Picking on the politics of a TV presenter from when the scandal broke has nothing to do with the research. This is shameful and desperate and, frankly, weird.

      OCD went in my initial list of treatments because of its loopy neural nature. My prediction turned out to be a real prospect and I posted a link to the research that supports that possibility. But there is a long way to go before any such treatments can be attempted. This is all new.

      Why this is deeply exciting is because it is so specific, so potentially efficacious and so reduced in side effects. The Parkinson treatment is spectacular, way beyond the L-Dopa effects. To argue against this but still for drugs in other areas and then add in that we shouldn’t remove too much suffering is a fatuous argument. I have completely agreed that we should not seek to fix every wrinkle and dissatisfaction in our lives. I write about this often. But we are talking about of the possibility lifting a few more unfortunates out of a life of chronic physical misery. What in, all humanity, is not to like?

    • Dan,

      I am not sure whether a brain chip (genetic engineering) is altogether a good idea.

      I am arguing for neural pacemakers. I have two or three times now argued for the risks to her humanity of a person given an artificial hippocampus, say, (being considered even now). I have warned of the great risks of heritable genetic engineering many times and here too. I dearly wish you would retain these things…

    • Pin,

      Good intro to Epigenetics from Nessa Carey. I hope she maintains it if it reprints. The topic is moving so fast… and she is the right kind of generalist to keep pulling it all together.

    • We don’t read each other. I’d probably be for it in the case of Parkinsons. I’d commit suicide if I ever got diagnosed with parkinsons. I am just commenting with broad strokes about genetic engineering. Knowing humans this will be a mixed bag at first and get worse and worse, will be mishandled and pretty soon we will all have blond babies with no defiance and high IQs. A bunch of well behaved little brats.
      I mentioned the politics of the lady because I felt like it, don’t like TV reporters very much; they are in a little bubble; and this is largely about money, and will turn into a nightmare. Fortunately, I will be long dead.
      Stop saying straw man.
      I don’t want to read about epigenetics. It reminds me of eugenics.

    • I thought we were discussing specific things, Dan.

      This is a hopeless broad brush muddle.

      Stop saying straw man.

      So, so often I clip it out of my response. But it is endlessly the problem for me. You seem to be saying things out loud that others would keep until better formed or evidenced or cancelled by reviewing what the other had earlier said.

      It reminds me of eugenics.

      I am somewhat aspie. I focus on the detail rather. If it is me, I apologise, but enough of this,

      I give up…

    • Sorry, Phil. I put no effort into this thread, was turned off from the get-go, was emotional and unfocused. I too demand detail; lack of precision and appreciation of fine points is boring and fruitless, in many instances. I understand your vexation and your desire to move on. I am finished with this thread, I think – and will read about epigenetics, which is not eugenics.

      I don’t know. I guess anything new creates new problems or recasts old ones. I suppose there is a certain inevitability at work here… And, presumably, much to be excited about. I am not excited, and that too, presumably, is because I chose to remain stubborn and defiant….

      Assuming we meet on another thread you can say “straw-man” all you want. No need to feel constrained.

    • Dan

      you can say “straw-man” all you want.

      🙂

    • Phil,

      I saw my psychiatrist today. He knows a lot, has written numerous scholarly articles on neuropsychiatry and other subjects pertaining to his field. I mentioned the chip. He called it… something electro…. Can’t remember. Anyway, he told me that he has one patient who had the chip implanted, and that he’s “doing very well.” (He also said that they would never use this on someone like me.)

      I guess if it’s done responsibly and with discrimination, and it provides relief for people who are tortured and whose conditions are not amenable to other treatments, it could (conceivably) be a good thing.