Thursday, January 28, 2016

Fake it until you make it

Educators and scholars may have a special interest in the mind.  I certainly do.  I am not very interested in carburetors or furnaces even though they are very important in my life and I know it.  I am interested in the powers and foibles of the mind, which, under the right circumstances can invent and design carburetors and many other important and useful things.

Bessel van der Kolk and acting as a tool - Dr. van der Kolk's book "The Body Keeps the Score" is about trauma, deep and damaging fright and negative experiences had by some in battle, sexual abuse and marital violence.  The first part is about understanding how people dealing with trauma feel and act.  The second part is about treatments that tend to quiet fears and return the mind to normal.  One of the treatments can be acting: a traumatized veteran plays a part in a real play with real actors where he needs to act out what he wants to feel his traumatic experience.  Doing so gives him back his normal feelings and dissolves the trauma.

UW- Whitewater math exam and male or female names

Dr. Shen Zhang at Univ. of Wisconsin - Whitewater and her associates gave math exams to both male and female college students.  The exams for the females already had names on them, some male names and some female names.  The women with male names on their exams did better than those working under female aliases.

Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body by Dr. Jo Marchant - This recent book by a microbiologist is a fine-toothed examination of advanced research into different aspects of placebos.  I have not read very much of the book yet but I will.  I am impressed by how much can be done to tease out more knowledge about placebos and imitation treatments. Imaginative and far-reaching research with modern tools and ideas is just beginning.

No consideration of mind power should omit hypnosis, another subject about which more is known these days.  I recommend books and pamphlets by Mary Elizabeth Raines, an experienced hypnotist who has hypnotized me twice.

The downside of the mind over the body game is that too many people can play, people with no knowledge or worse, people with nasty motives.  I can tell you anything, require anything of you, hear any sort of complaint or difficulty you have and then simply tell you to focus on what I say and forget about your own interests, pain or needs.  In other words, mind over body is an area that attracts charlatans, dictators and bullies like meat attracts cats.

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