If someone you loved was experiencing unremitting suffering (related to a constellation of multi-dimensional factors and processes, those of which include anomalous states of consciousness and an iatrogenic mental health system), what would you think and what would you do? 2020-07-03T21:02:34.930Z


Comment by sara-c on If someone you loved was experiencing unremitting suffering (related to a constellation of multi-dimensional factors and processes, those of which include anomalous states of consciousness and an iatrogenic mental health system), what would you think and what would you do? · 2020-07-07T17:15:25.676Z · LW · GW

Hi Christian,

Thank you for these pointers. I had not heard of the Feldenkrais Method, and I definitely feel like integrating intentional physical movement and breathing would be necessary to becoming aware of the somatic context within which mental self-identification emerges...when reflecting on my own habits with respect to this, I am realizing how critical my own habit of going running is, to my ability to function...

I was reading Nassim Taleb recently, and the idea of biophysical fitness (or fitness in general) seems to me to relate to this idea of"becoming anti-fragile". I think, when faced with health issues or the potential for health issues, mainstream epistemic narratives imply that we should seek to create predictive models that focus on antecedents of said health issues, with the teleology being that 'knowing the etiology' could help one to reverse or avoid the initial events that lead to harm. Taleb's view on this (from what I may understand) is that this idea of etiology is not necessarily something that is comprehensible given the way that non-linear dynamic systems function. According to him, rather than focusing on factors that one cannot predict, it is more useful to engage in actions that increase resilience/fitness so that if unpredictable exposures that are potentially harmful, do interact with some entity, the impact on that entity does not reach a tipping point where it functions such that net, chronic harm, is emergent. See the section titled "148 The Central Idea: the conflation of event and exposure, or difference between f(x) and x" for a mathematical framing of this idea

Comment by sara-c on If someone you loved was experiencing unremitting suffering (related to a constellation of multi-dimensional factors and processes, those of which include anomalous states of consciousness and an iatrogenic mental health system), what would you think and what would you do? · 2020-07-07T16:22:57.201Z · LW · GW

Hi remizidae,

Thanks very much for your response. It is really helpful for me to have action items/relevant questions laid out, so again thanks very much. In answer to your points and questions:

1. My perception is that my other family members (other brother, mom, and dad) acknowledge that going through the same cycle of crises and downstream coercion that functions such that the outcomes then feed into the re-emergence of more crises, etc, is unhelpful (at best). I think though, that my family feels "at a loss" for how to move forward, given that a) my family is slightly fragmented and there are some persistent communication/power/ego issues, b) family lacks access to structural resources ($$ and time) c) some family members have personal demons of their own (not that this is different from fundamental human issues that we all face from time to time, but some of the problems can be pretty pervasive and it gets in the way of being able to support others in the family).

My brother is on the same page in terms of the general idea of a) not seeking to solve his problems via direct antagonization of neural processing networks in his brain. In the past, he regularly talks about not eradicating voices, but rather needing to re-relate to them..etc) b) achieving problem mitigation indirectly vis-a-vis increasing biophysical and cognitive "fitness". He's always been very pro-cognitive enhancement/cognitive liberty, and I'm right there with him. Also, right now, his individual issues are arising from more than just malevolent voices. There's a big de-centralization/cognitive fragmentation aspect to it that I think it making it difficult to experinece any volition at all (which then makes dealing with commanding voices that much more complicated) I think that issues typically tend to arise during interactions with doctors who are uncomfortable with this and who may impose their own values and judgments onto a decision-making encounter...which then renders the whole interaction totally asymmetrical which is not productive

Over the years, many variables and iatrogenic interactions seem to have gotten us to a place where my brother regularly experiences the sort of cognitive disorganization that makes it really hard to coherently analyze and synthesize ideas, and to then verbally represent and communicate things to others...he also seems pretty primed to perceive incoming communications as antagonistic and hostile (understandably so, given his history), so it's been difficult at times to overcome the hostility/aggression factor, but I think we have a connection where it's possible to do that in the 9.5/10 cases when it comes up in a big way.

2. Yes--getting him out of the hospital right now, is, I think the limiting reactant..I'm trying to work with his doctor/social worker to start prescribing a low dose stimulant because I think that would really help with a)combatting the cognitive deficits that anti-psychotics give rise to for him and b) helping him to be more conceptually agile and to remember things that we discuss (strategies moving forward, etc).

He can live with me, but depending on where he's at he'll sometimes prefer to be at my Dad's. Between the two of us, we can make it work, I think we just have to plan ahead more strategically in terms of having the time and resources that we need in order to de-escalate crises should they come up...Lately, I have observed that my brother seems to be explicitly more hostile toward women...not sure exactly if it's a thing or not, but I get the sense that he's s agitated by the threat of potential coercion because he's experienced it so much, that maybe he thinks you either have "to overpower" or "be overpowered". It doesn't bother me because I honestly think the risk is low, and even if it's higher than I think, I don't particularly care. Neither my Dad nor myself have pushed guardianship out of the sense that it would be felt as offensive or infantilizing on my brother's end, but I think that you're right for legal reasons it could be in his best interest. I wonder if it were framed as "guardianship of personal freedom" if my brother would be more inclined to feel good about it. With respect to the legal implications of using psychopharmacological substances without a doctor's prescription: ideally one would be able to find a licensed practitioner to collaborate with, but having tried to find this for a long time, I think it's time to cut our losses and get things done. In my view, doctors are only relevant to this insofar as legality goes. In theory, they are not necessary or essential to acquiring, responsibly testing &carefully using high quality tools/methods. Yes, it might technically be 'not legal' at this time, but the legal system is far from ideal and at the end of the day, I would have more issues answering to myself if I failed to take the risk

3. I have some peripheral involvement with Hearing Voices communities in the area which I had moved towards in years prior because I thought it was/would be really relevant and useful--thank you for bringing it up. I think the ideas that underlie and are produced by the HV community are applicable to a lot of the existential issues that we all face. My brother has sort of engaged with the values and ideas of that community....I think in terms of engaging with people, he's been wanting to re-connect with himself and old friends, so maybe it has something to do with his de-prioritization of this community? Regardless, I really agree with you that it can be really useful.

Thank you again for your input and sorry for the mini-novel. I really appreciate your ideas and your time and thank you for getting me to think.


Comment by sara-c on What are some Civilizational Sanity Interventions? · 2020-07-02T22:28:54.737Z · LW · GW

I think a lot about this difficult, ill-defined (in the sense that people conceptualize the relative importance of the conditions that perpetuate senselessness, differently) problem, and I often times find myself coming back to ideas/hypotheses related to a) individual desire for power/authority (of various forms) that is appealing expressly because it can is higher than and can be imposed upon the 'lower' power of others, and/or b) individual desire for closure, certainty, cognitive fluency, and a reduction of cognitive dissonance. See This Article Won't Change Your Mind

With respect to the power piece, I think the dominant incentive structures of the times (and by this I don't just mean money/authority--incentives ranging from "feeling good about oneself" to "being seen as morally good by others" to "feeling epistemically superior", etc), as well as the normalization of self-absorption via social media, have been really counter-productive to intellectual honesty, intellectual humility, and co-productive discourse&deliberation...

It seems ironic that these power structures may have come about (initially) such that actual 'good work' was rewarded appropriately: those agents who were the means of production of that work probably never cared about receiving credit for it in the first place-- that rewarding recognition was merely a byproduct of an initial goal to do good work for the sake of good work itself and for the sake of one another. Over time, we see a system that conditions people and groups such that they can no longer distinguish between 'socioeconomic credits' and 'good work'. As a result, we see agents who avoid the production of 'good work' entirely, by creating the perception that they do 'good work' by signaling and amplifying their existing social/economic credit. This is then reinforced (the system can no longer distinguish between what is good work and what is being made to look like it is good work) leading to agents accruing more socioeconomic credits without a corresponding production of 'good work'. This mutually reinforcing dynamic, particularly in academic settings, may undermine the honest pursuit of knowledge. This is not conducive to individual/collective progress. Under circumstances where convergence with powerful others, status, money, security, etc become the primary drivers and outcomes of participation, rather than the process of honest work itself, it becomes hard to not engage in the rat race. If we take the claim that these incentives are reciprocal to self-absorption (you want to 'feel good about yourself', you want more money than other people, you want to feel like 'you help people', you want others to approve of you based on the public perception that 'you help people', you want a job title that society has deemed 'more valuable' than others in some way, etc) it follows then, that organizations that refrain from reifying individual reward could make space for the individual-individual attraction toward enacting power with one another in equal partnership. Hopefully, this would lead to the honest co-production of progress, inclusion, and harm reduction. For those who do not find the power-based incentive structure of the system to be especially appealing, or for those who feel uncomfortable with implicitly being 'given' more power than others, or for those who are attracted to the integrity of the process of work itself, it may be important to break from the feedback loop by generating autonomous cooperative interactions from which the co-creation of shared value (i.e systems reorganization and re-coupling) emerges (See Autopoeisis Wiki Reference for an analogue within the systems science framework. For more breadth and depth that is dense but worthwhile, see "From autopoiesis to neurophenomenology: Francisco Varela’s exploration of the biophysics of being") This emergence functions such that the meta-structure and meta-function of the entire system changes...and with any luck, it changes such that we see less suffering, less insanity, more connection, results.

Maybe pushing UBI could be one way to create that cushion that would be needed to allow people to voluntarily commit time and mental energy to strategic ideation and implementation. I also think that it would make it more likely that people remain principled, analytical, and honest in their jobs (being rational and ethical confers individual risk these days apparently) if working within a larger organization. Losing their job due to office politics wouldn't render them homeless/completely incapacitated, and it at least slightly lessens the intense dependence on (and therefore compliance with) one's potentially insane organizational ecosystem of employment.