Sunday, November 30, 2008

Today I will be going on and on about Dr.Daniel G.Amen Change Your Brain Change Your Life and PSYCHOLOGY TODAY Living In The Now.

Let's start with the centre of our universe which is the 3 pound glob of jello holding your ears apart, the Brain.

The average Human Brain makes up 2% of your body weight, receives 15% of the cardiac output, 20% of total body oxygen consumption, and 25% of total body glucose utilization.

"From a philosophical point of view, it might be said that the most important function of the Brain is to serve as the physical structure underlying the mind. From a biological point of view, though, the most important function is to generate behaviors that promote the welfare of an animal."

seeks to understand the nervous system, including the brain, from a biological
Psychology seeks to understand behavior and the brain.
Neurology refers to the medical applications of neuroscience.
Psychiatry the branch of medicine that works to study, prevent, and treat mental disorders.
Cognitive Science seeks to unify neuroscience and psychology with other fields that concern themselves with the brain, such as artificial intelligence and the mind body quandry is one of the central issues of Philosophy.

The correlation between the physical brain and the Human mind is the ultimate wonderment. Personally I think that we are our Brain but how are the Mind and Brain connected? There are three ways to look at it:

Dualism holds that the mind exists independently of the brain, hmmm.
Materialism holds that mental phenomena are identical to neuronal phenomena, HELLO!and Idealism holds that only mental substances and phenomena exist..
doo doo doo, doo doo doo.

In any event let's agree on two things;
one, that clinically, death is defined as an absence of brain activity and two, a lot of people who lose their mind say that they have never felt more alive!

Ok enough background..the other night I was watching Dr. Daniel_G._Amen, the author of 22 books, promoting his Change Your Brain, Change Your Life infomercial on PBS. A quick Googlkipedia check and I discovered that he received his MD degree from the now-closed medical program at Oral Roberts University. Amen from ORU? Up goes my God-dar.

Amen calls the Brain The Hardware To The Soul and his homespun approach combined with imoprtant sounding-scientificky lingo had me going for about 12 minutes...Humans have huge frontal lobes, which are involved in self-control, planning, reasoning, and abstract thought..then he started talking about his Pets, he has a Cat and a Dog. Amen goes on to say that Dogs have teeny frontal lobes but Cats not-so-much, so that's why Cats don't worry about the past and don't think about the future.

When was the last time a Cat looked and acted guilty for doing something naughty while you were away and you found them hiding behind the Sofa?

Amen said Cats live in the NOW.

Which is cool..and ironically that is what most Psychologists want modern Humans to do.
The cover on my new issue of Psychology Today is HOW TO LIVE IN THE NOW..the link to the article is up at the's quite interesting.

In the main article a Buddhist scholar states that "We're living in a world that contributes in a major way to mental fragmentation, disintegration, decoherence." The article goes on to say that when we are at work we fantasize about vacation and on vacation we worry about work piling up. The paradox of living in the moment is that when we think about a future reward, our brain kicks into future mindset and then mindfulness is thwarted..we hoist our own petards.

Author Jay Dixit writes that MINDFULNESS or Living in the moment, is when you realise that you are an observer of your thoughts from moment to moment without judging stop doing and focus on just being.

So basically we just need to be more like Cats?

Anyway, Dr Amen went on with his infomercial saying that many adults have ADHD and actually when he rattles off the list of traits and almost everyone in the studio audience nodded their heads in acknowledgement.

If you get overwhelmed by mental ANTs, Automatic Negative Thoughts, you need to learn how to question their validity...don't just accept your defeatism. Since all of us have the symptoms at one time or another...I agree that we do need to fix our 'stinkin' thinkin' and please note that I do not mean to make light of genuine psycho-physical challenges that many of us inherited.

Amen suggests using esreveR psychology on dealing with drama queens because hey, it works on 2 year olds! Attentionally challenged Adults need to feel like everything is their idea because their brains are stuck. Amen suggests that they have a sticky thought shifter thingamabob part of the brain and so we need to ingest Fish Oil to lubricate it, ooh omega fatty whatchamacallits.
Guess what the most effective remedy aside from reading his book or a visit to his clinic is? STOP THE PRESSES! exercise.

Personally I found it hard to concentrate on his infomercial (HELLO!) and I could not get past the idea that Cats are stuck in the NOW because of their tiny selfish brains.

Now I know why Humans love Dogs, because Dog brains are hardwired for robo-slave pack mentality which forces them to seek our approval at all costs. The domestication of the Wolf had a huge influence on our road to Civilization. They helped us hunt, protected us, ate our garbage, pulled heavy crap.

Cats? Well, they were different alright but we must have liked them for other reasons..they prolly killed mice so we let hang around the cave.

Some Cat lovers will be furiously defending their pussies in the comment section and claim that their Cat is super smart and even occasionally affectionate. OK they might be smart I have seen Cats learn to flush a toilet on Youtube.
What about Lions? Don't they exhibit planning, self control, and reasoning when they are hunting Gnus or out killing competitors like Hyenas, Humans, and Cheetahs? Oh sure Lions sleep about 22 hours a day but maybe that's because they are so efficient at killing things in the NOW?

Anyway Dr. Amen got written up on QUACKWATCH.ORG*, a nonprofit that investigates health-related frauds, myths, fads and fallacies by Dr. Harriet Hall, a retired family physician, who wrote "Amen's recommendations defy science, common sense and logic. He's selling vitamin supplements and he's selling his own line of products. He's turned into big business."

According to its Web site, Amen Clinics charges $3,250 for a "comprehensive evaluation, which includes the patient's history, two SPECT scans, a physician consultation, and a 30-minute treatment follow-up appointment. Follow-up scans after treatment are $795 each".

But wait a second, isn't it the American Way to oversimplify complex obstacles, repackage and brand them with your catchphrase and sell it to the great unwashed? Millions will beat a path to the doorstep of your franchise if you can offer a simple solution to changing your Brain but I don't BUY IT.

We can change our behavior and live healthier lifestyles that promote greater bloodflow to the Brain...but would it not be simpler to live in the NOW and just be more like Cats.

btw: To be fair, Amen's attorneys replied, unsuccessfuly I might add, to the criticisms here .


  1. Do I have to start living in the now right now or can it wait till later? :)

  2. "Some Cat lovers will be furiously defending their pussies."

    That's the most hilarious part of the post.

    Actually, I'm just teasing. It's a fascinating bit of speculation and analysis of life.

    I think it's important that you included the part from And I'd say any group or company that runs infomercials is highly suspect.

    Having said all that, anything anyone REALLY needs to know about brains can be found in my exhaustive studies on the differences between the male and female brains.

    Meow. And bow-wow. I think we need both cats and dogs in our lives for karmic balance.

  3. I'll read this later.

    Just want to say that I'm glad you're back!

  4. Lube with Fish Oil? Snake Oil has more of the omegatbles stuff.

    I'm thinking of where I'd position the 'Profitable Pop Psychologists' of Amen's ilk on my new 'P-Harmony Personality Paradigm' chart.

    Just a bit to the right of 'Profiteers',perhaps?

  5. Yay! You're back!

    Well, cats are often quite affectionate, as I have one veritable snuggle bunny in my house (aka That Damn Cat!) but as far as planning stuff.... hell no! But they certainly live stress-free lives, now don't they? There's food, water, a bathroom, windows to look out, toys to play with, some even go outside to play and hunt.... sounds pretty ideal to me.

    Then again, I am a dog person too - but mine is a wimpy clingon who often drives me crazy with her insecurities and worries. But I love her too as she is very affectionate. She doesn't plan a damn thing either, though.

  6. i hate cats.

    and now you can tell i did not read this post completely.

    im stuck with a mountain of work.

    and ur back.

    hugs B, wazzup, watcha got cookin in the hood.

    peace out.

  7. To pick up on a couple points:

    "When was the last time a Cat looked and acted guilty for doing something naughty while you were away and you found them hiding behind the Sofa?"

    When I was a kid, no kidding, we had a cat that had this hilarious way of jumping on an empty seat after dinner, hiding her head below the edge of the table, then extending her paw to bat around for food. So she was pretty human - just needed to work out the details of the camouflage concept...

    I don't see how people get around the idea that any form of mentation, at least in the universe that we know and love, depends on brain activity. Humans have always studiously tried to avoid having heavy things bash in their protective skulls because they noticed a very immediate "body-mind connection."

    That said, mentation, experience, consciousness, whatever you want to call the ongoing stream of consciousness thing, while it depends on a functional brain's activity, isn't identical to it - however much it depends on it. I mean, experience is... experience. You can't touch it, hold it, see it... It has to be... experienced...

  8. Anonymous7:39 p.m.

    Many adults have ADD. Oh, please. My big gripe about Psychology Today is that they are filled with ridiculously oversimplified versions of psychological research

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Donn dearest,

    We are human. Laid back individuals who think nothing is broken until someone says, "Do you feel this way ... Hey! I have a cure." Then we are all in. We reach into our wallets pull out the money that we should be saving and buy the first line of BS that we hear.

    Instead, what we should be doing is taking a long look in the mirror. If we are so ridiculous to think we need some bone-head to tell us we are thinking too much or too negatively, then perhaps we should face the fact that we cannot THINK for ourselves and if that is the case, well, no amount of vitamins or supplements is going to fix what ails us.

    Ahh, isn't life sweet?

    Soft love,

  11. Welcome back. Your absence was beginning to irritate me....yes, ME, the reason for your blogging existence! Haven't we discussed this already?


    I think we would be much more balanced and relevant to our existence if we were back hunting and gathering and spending alot more time in intimate contact with the land rather than apart from it finding new ways to either A: dominate it, or B: destroying it.

    That's what we were psychologically designed to do and we would be much more psychologically healthy doing it. That simple.

    Gestalt THAT!

  12. ANDREA
    No you can wait until the last minute when the present becomes past tense and scene!

    Cat people are very defensive and I am fully prepared for the repercussions of my folly.

    I said that Awl be beck and I here I am...sort of.

    Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door..or you can order by mail COD.

    Cats do seem to enjoy themselves and they only really get stressed out when you move furniture around or bring home another Cat!

    Ooh don't say hate out loud..what you mean to say is that you do not prefer felids. Get out from under your work and get back here.

    HAHAHA! Too deep for this schmuck to expand upon. The problem is that experience can be manipulated and very selective. Our brains start believing things that we repeat over and over.

    Whatever the mind-brain connection is we are just starting to understand it...I won;t be around when they figure out how to reset it.

    I agree that PT has a lot of Pap Psycholgy fluf for the great unwashed but what other mag is atleast trying to get people interested in their noodles.

    All the New Age ads make me very nervous but it speaks volumes about who they are writing their articles for.

    I still like gets me thinking.

    Oh TARA
    You're right we should learn tosee ourselves in a positive light and feel simultaneously empowered by the knowledge that we are just like everybody else but totally unique.

    Everybody is trying to sell you something..stay vigilant.

    If we go feral all those nutjobs with the huge stockpiles of automatic weapons will wipe out all the freethinkers in about half an hour.

    We definitely haven't had time to adjust to living in Cities..towns maybe..villages OK...clans is about as far as we had made it before that damn Agricultural Revolution ruined everything.

  13. crazy sister in law just leant me his book to try and help my husband with seasonal winter blues...I sort of came to the same conclusion flipping thru it - exercise seems to work pretty well...and the fact that he was on quackblog made me leery. Sis-in-law likes the whackadoos, so I'm always leery of any "advice" from her "library".
    Glad to know someone else agrees with me...we'll stick with healthy and exercise...the whole cat thing by you made more sense than his book.
    Not a good sign...:)

  14. Amen reminds me of L. Ron Hubbard.

    I'm pretty content being a puppygirl... but I guess in my case its a totally different context. ;)

  15. Well, the live in the now is an interesting way to experience life, but it's such a limited view, a small part of the big picture.

    I think that focusing on the future--subconsciously or by intent--is a winning evolutionary strategy. Being able to plan for future has helped man climb the food chain to become a top predator--most of the time.

    Living in the now is great for taking stock of where we are. But I think you can do both--live in the now, but be mindful of the future. After all, our actions now often affects our tomorrow.

    And how does anyone really know what goes on in the minds of dogs or cats? Both are exceptionally skilled hunters and can survive on their own when left in the wild. Can modern humans say the same?


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