Field: “Brain Optimization” for the Wealthy and Gullible

An article in New Beauty magazine alerted me to the latest brain wellness scam NYC’s Hottest Club Is Selling ‘Designer Brains’:

Imagine the best moments of your life. … Then imagine you could wake up and feel that way every morning. According to the founders of Field, a center devoted to “brain optimization” that will open in New York City this winter, it only takes 19 electrodes and some neurological tweaks to get there.

With a combination of neurotechnology and new age philosophy, Field’s founders describe brain optimization as the new frontier of wellness. Devon White, a performance consultant, expert in human behavior and one of the team’s four founding partners, compares neurological treatments to acupuncture.  …  “Most of us don’t have control over our brains—until now,” says White.

[NOTE: complete and utter BS]

Field has been described as a gym for the brain, a clinic/spa/laboratory hybrid and a luxury cognition center. But instead of deadlifts or massages, the space will offer transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

This procedure involves placing an electromagnetic coil against the scalp to deliver magnetic pulses that alter electrical current flow. TMS is a valid brain modulation technique approved for specific medical uses, but there’s absolutely no evidence that it can make you relive the best moments of your life or improve your day-to-day cognitive function.

 

But actually, the illustration in the New Beauty article appears to be a cap for transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a cheaper and easier to administer type of neuromodulation that works in a different  manner.

The Field website is a masterclass in neurogibberish…

Your experience at Field is entirely personalized. We begin by creating a comprehensive model of you at your best as well as a deep understanding of your desired goals from the Field experience. This multi-dimensional assessment of who you are is complete with psychodynamic history, autonomic data, psychometrics, performance analysis, hormone and gene panels, and a qEEG reading of your brain.

…and elitism:

Field is a private membership club dedicated to transforming the way our clients use themselves and their brains. Our innovative and personalized application of cutting edge neurotechnology will revolutionize everything you know about personal development and high performance.

. . .

Membership during our first year of operation in Manhattan is limited.

As the world leaders in this technology-augmented approach to consciousness enhancement, we are intent on ensuring all-around excellence in the culture at Field, both for our team and our members.

During our charter year, we are working exclusively with superlative individuals interested in creating positive personal and global impact. The intention of Field is to vault these already remarkable clients into new domains of power, satisfaction, performance, and Flow.

…and from New Beauty:

…Field is open to “superlative individuals” who can afford the entrance fee. In addition to the upcoming physical location in NYC, the company is planning a 10-day intensive that combines neurological treatments with networking, body work and meditation. The experience costs $25,000 and participants are vetted for more than just money. The spots will be reserved for those with generally good mental health (not bipolar, schizophrenic or suffering from major psychiatric disorders), and, as Devon describes it, “good people.” The New York space also has a membership application process, making Field feel like a SoHo House for wealthy wellness junkies.

More like wealthy wellness monkeys, willing to pay for the privilege of being experimental socialites in a beauty spa of unproven neuromod technologies.

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YOUR BLOG IS FUTILE

Douglas Coupland, Slogans for the 21st Century (2011-2014)

 

Like much of life, I’m afraid…

THIS is the true meaning of Negative Psychology, my friends. Melancholia and Futility.

Don’t be fooled by false idols claiming that followers of “Negative Psychology” are all bullies out to destroy others’ reputations, with public shaming as their primary motivation.

I am here to take back the term “Negative Psychology” as an outlook (or mood or stance) in opposition to Positive Psychology, which is mainly for rich white people.

And in fact, sometimes it’s positive to be negative — as Dr. Margaret Nichols, a clinical psychologist, explains:

I acknowledge that for many endeavors, having a positive and confident attitude increases the odds of your success. But as a total life strategy – it’s got some major flaws.  For starters,  unless you’re unusually lucky, as you go through life you will encounter numerous situations where good is NOT rewarded, evil goes unpunished, and bad shit happens to you that you can’t control,  and it happens for no particular reason, let alone a good one.

And positive thinking can get you in trouble here.  For the entire ‘positive thinking’ philosophy rests on two flawed assumptions:  That most of our life is under our control, if only we approach it correctly;  and that things that we can’t control are at least governed by laws  that are fair and just.  In short, the principles of “visualize and you will attain it” and “what goes around comes around.”

…and when bad things happen, it’s all your fault!

Of course, this has nothing to do with academic psychology research or the social psychology replication movement. It’s simply that I didn’t agree with the co-opting of the term for use in the current “replication debate“.  But I’m not a psychologist, and I’m operating outside this debate. I was actively trying to avoid the acrimony, in fact, because I found it depressing.

Finally, “public shaming” has never been my goal (assuming I was included among “a handful of other blogs devoted to exposing bad science”). For the record, I think shame is corrosive, which is laid bare in The Destructive Power of Shame.

But in the end, this blog post is futile, much like everything else I write.

 

Coupland wall

Images: Douglas Coupland, Slogans for the 21st Century (2011-2014) at the Vancouver Art Gallery. NOTE: the artist encouraged photography and tagging of his work

 

And a She-Wolf After the Misogynistic Rant

Bared_Teeth__Grey_Wolf

Beware of Misogynistic Psychologists

There’s a truly horrible 2,398 word screed about dangerous emasculating women at PsychCentral. It’s filled with stereotypes and self-contradictions, and the author freely admits that it’s anecdotal and non-scientific.

Why write such a piece?

Not getting enough retribution or decent incentives to keep me at it
I’m starting to feel just a little abused
Like a coffee machine in an office (aaa)

She Wolf
   ——Shakira

She Wolf (Shakira)

Oh, and you should know in advance that anyone (excuse me, any woman) who objects to the author’s position is “overreacting based on their own mistreatment and traumas.”

Beware of She-Wolves

By

A woman becomes a she-wolf out of necessity to survive in the relational jungle of life. She feels that there is no other way to make it through life successfully. These women are not born that way and may have once been among the kindest of women. It took one or more major wounds to make her vicious. Anyone who has dealt with a wounded, bitter, and angry woman knows quite well how much harm she can inflict, especially to men. This is a she-wolf. She is a woman who has become a reactionary predator, just like the animal itself. Women who have become she-wolves need to be understood and have compassion towards them, yet that does not mean they stop being dangerous. Just like a wolf in the wild, they will destroy their prey and devour them should the opportunity arise. They should be considered from a distance, but not ignored, and with minimal exposure, as you would in the presence of a real animal predator. There are similar abusive predatory men but that would be a topic of another article.

I can’t read www.DrSam.tv‘s essay without a number of different songs coming to mind… perhaps he could have one of them autoplay on his website.

(Oh-oh, here she comes)
Watch out boy
She’ll chew you up
(Oh-oh, here she comes)
She’s a maneater

Maneater
   ——Hall & Oates

Dr. Sam continues, in a most extraordinary vein. Makes you wonder why he is projecting all this venom onto this dangerous “creature”.  Oh wait, Mommy issues… [NOTE: emphasis below is mine.]

I have endeavored to uncover, in a non-scientific way, what I consider typical traits of she-wolves. I have based these traits on anecdotal experiences (mine, as a therapist, and other’s) encountering these and watching them from a distance. They can be found in families as a mother, aunt, sister, daughter, and even a grandmother. They can be married, single, divorced, or widowed, heterosexual, or homosexual. They are in the corporate world and in the creative arts. If one is married to one or works for one, there is much pain received and often unnecessary abuse received from them. They typically go after men… but especially after strong confident men. Their attacks on these men come in the form of disrespect, talking down at, mistreatment, downgrading of position, leaving these men feeling castrated socially and emotionally. They tend to attract only weak and soft men whom they can totally control yet disdain. They wonder why they cannot attract men that will courageously protect and defend them. Emasculated men who have them as mothers or are married to them, can easily and secretly hate and resent them. Experienced strong men will see these dangerous “creatures” from afar and will avoid them, seeing them as dangerous. They will conclude that the relationship is simply not worth the trouble. God have mercy if she has a son. She will end up emasculating him. If he is an emotionally sensitive boy, he might learn that her mistreatment is reduced if he simply surrenders his manhood and conforms. If he chooses to save his masculine spirit, he may have to choose to metaphorically “kick her in the face” [NOTE: never physically, eh?] to get away from her and protect himself. She, no doubt, wonders why he spurns her love. Her version of love can be asphyxiating, controlling, enmeshed, and an impediment to becoming a self-assured man. Many strong men can work interdependently with women but it is impossible to do so with a she-wolf since she is highly insecure and cannot share power. I have endeavored to come up with some characteristics that will help identify and understand this kind of troubled woman. Surely some women reading this might be tempted to brand me as a patriarchal and “Machista” male, but they would be misinterpreting my position and possibly overreacting based on their own mistreatment and traumas. In some women’s minds, it is totally impossible to be a strong and confident male and still be a mature, loving, kind, and interdependent mate/lover/friend. They would be blindly projecting their own anger and their own absence of positive experiences instead of understanding this phenomena that proliferates in society and promoted in the media about women.

He then goes on to list 17 (seventeen!) characteristics of the She-Wolf.  Key words here are wounded, emasculating, angry, and narcissistic. Each of these appears at least five times. What we never explicitly learn is the type of “mortal wound” or “boundary violation” that results in such vicious behavior. I wonder.

There’s a she wolf in your closet,
Open up and set it free [wolf sound]
There’s a she wolf in your closet,
Let it out so it can breathe (inhales, exhales)

She Wolf
   ——Shakira

The She-Wolf goes after and degrades strong confident men… disrespecting them, mistreating them, leaving them feeling castrated. Yet strong confident men can tell these “creatures” are dangerous and will avoid them at all costs. Which is it?

I’ll leave you with one last song about She-Wolves, this one very enigmatic. But it makes more sense to me than Dr. Sam’s long-winded post.

And a She-Wolf After the War
   ——Throwing Muses

so it’s cowboys in flying colors riding home

leave my tears alone it’s too funny

it’s me and she spilling jewels and collarbones gray
(waste of time now I don’t want cold, lonely)

side by side … down the road
and a she-wolf (my face one more square)
don’t be afraid, it’s my road once more alone

I can see them riding over the hills
cowboy hats are back in,
this is the future (and this is your future) after the war
and I don’t eat anymore

it’s me and she spilling jewels and collarbones gray
(Frank Lloyd Wright, try to sleep under a dome under the sky)

side by side down the road
it’s my road, once more alone

as a warm gun
thanking her (she makes me dangerous)
blood on our teeth

ready?

Top ten social-science questions…

as named by a bunch of old Harvard professors

   (and a few others)…

1. How can we induce people to look after their health?

2. How do societies create effective and resilient institutions, such as governments?

3. How can humanity increase its collective wisdom?

4. How do we reduce the ‘skill gap’ between black and white people in America?

5. How can we aggregate information possessed by individuals to make the best decisions?

6. How can we understand the human capacity to create and articulate knowledge?

7. Why do so many female workers still earn less than male workers?

8. How and why does the ‘social’ become ‘biological’?

9. How can we be robust against ‘black swans’ — rare events that have extreme consequences?

10. Why do social processes, in particular civil violence, either persist over time or suddenly change?