Elon Musk’s Neuralink Wants To Put Chips In Our Brains — How It Works And Who Else Is Doing It. Source: Forbes. Personal comment: TBI mental illness…Is there Hope now?

Robert Hart


Elon Musk’s Neuralink Wants To Put Chips In Our Brains — How It Works And Who Else Is Doing It

Robert Hart

Forbes Staff

I cover breaking news.

Jun 5, 2023,05:26am EDT


Neuralink, Elon Musk’s brain implant company, has won approval from the Food and Drug Administration to start testing its device in humans, one of a growing cadre of neurotech pioneers with goals of merging humans with machines to treat a range of medical conditions such as paralysis, blindness and depression—and enhance existing abilities like memory or allow us to interact with computers by thought alone.

Elon Musk’s Neuralink is one of several companies pursuing brain implant tech that would allow us to … [+]AFP via Getty Images

Key Facts

Neuralink was founded quietly in 2016 and flew mostly under the radar until showcasing its technology in 2019.

It is building a device that can directly interface with the human brain—called the “Link,” a sort of brain chip Musk has described as a “Fitbit in your skull”—and a robot that can automatically implant it like a kind of neural sewing machine.

Its device makes use of “ultra-flexible, tiny electrodes implanted directly into the brain tissue to ‘listen’ to the communication between neurons,” Cristin Welle, a neurophysiologist at the University of Colorado, told Forbes, which could allow users to control a computer or other devices or communicate by simply thinking.

Neuralink is not the only company doing this or even the most advanced—brain implants for conditions like Parkinson’s disease are already in widespread use and similar firms like Blackrock Neurotech and Synchron have already started human tests, the former decades ago—but receives more media attention because it is well-funded and has a connection to Musk rather than having a novel or technically astounding device, Columbia neurobiologist Rafael Yuste told Forbes.

By allowing the human brain to directly interface with computers and other devices, neurotech companies hope they can help people regain abilities lost through things like injury or disease, for example a camera could be used to stimulate areas of the brain associated with vision to restore sight or a robot limb could be connected to an area of the brain that controls movement.

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Bradley Greger, a neuroscientist and neural engineer at Arizona State University, told Forbes there are many different ways this can be achieved, meaning “there is a lot of space for multiple companies” to make a mark.

News Peg

In late May, Neuralink announced it had secured FDA approval to launch its first “in-human clinical study.” The decision “represents an important first step that will one day allow our technology to help many people,” the firm said, adding that it was the result of “incredible work” by the Neuralink team. The news comes after Musk, who sets notoriously optimistic timelines and has a history of prematurely celebrating success with regulators, predicted trials were six months away in November. It was not the first time Musk had predicted human trials were around the corner and the FDA reportedly rejected an application from Neuralink over safety concerns earlier this year. The FDA took the unusual step of confirming its assent for Neuralink to begin human tests in a statement to media outlets, though beyond noting it had greenlit human trials with the company’s brain implant and surgical robot it did not provide details.https://embedly.forbes.com/widgets/media.html?type=text%2Fhtml&key=3ce26dc7e3454db5820ba084d28b4935&schema=twitter&url=https%3A//twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1661897511337082880&image=https%3A//i.embed.ly/1/image%3Furl%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fabs.twimg.com%252Ferrors%252Flogo46x38.png%26key%3D3ce26dc7e3454db5820ba084d28b4935


Neuralink has come under intense scrutiny over its animal research practices and is reportedly being investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for potential animal welfare violations, which the company denies. It is also reportedly the subject of a federal probe from the Department of Transport for allegedly transporting contaminated devices removed from monkeys in an unsafe manner.

What To Watch For

Musk’s vision for Neuralink goes beyond what many in the field seem to be aiming for and he is open about wanting to not only restore human performance where it is lost but to enhance or add new functionality as well. Experts say using neurotechnology for enhancing human abilities raises more profound ethical questions than restoration, particularly as it would be used on otherwise healthy individuals. Greger said such goals are “very speculative” and are likely a long way away. Welle, who is also on the scientific advisory board of neurotech firm NeuroOne, concurred and said many limitations to current technology still need to be overcome, such as electrode breakage and the need to recalibrate algorithms regularly. Data gathering from people’s brains will become a key issue and there is a “dire need” for better regulation and discussion in this area, Welle said, particularly regarding large for-profit companies like Neuralink that stand to “make huge amounts of money off this type of data.”

Crucial Quote

Yuste also believes there is an urgent need for regulation and ethical discussion for neurotech. The threat largely comes from the companies developing non-implantable devices or brain-computer interfaces that are treated more like consumer electronics, Yuste said, rather than implantable devices from the likes of Neuralink, which are treated as medical devices and are governed by strict medical ethics and robust regulations. Chile is the first country to enshrine protection for brain activity and its information and should serve as an example for the rest of the world, Yuste said. “The brain is not just another organ,” he explained, adding that neuroscientists “are increasingly able to decode brain activity and use that information” for research and in the clinic. “Mental privacy is the sanctuary of our minds, and should be protected at the global level.”

What We Don’t Know

It’s not clear when Neuralink’s trial will begin or if and when it will ultimately launch a product. The firm said it has not started recruiting participants yet and will “announce more information” on recruitment soon. A patient registry on the company’s website suggests Neuralink may be looking to recruit patients with certain types of paralysis, vision loss, hearing loss or the inability to speak. Greger told Forbes starting human trials is a “significant milestone to receiving FDA approval,” which he said is “mission critical” for Neuralink. It is, however, the first step of many on a long road that has no guarantee of success. “These are really early trials, often called early feasibility studies, that typically enroll less than 10 patients” and generally last between six and 12 months, Welle, who is also a former FDA official, told Forbes. Positive results would then allow Neuralink to start the larger trials needed to demonstrate safety and efficacy for whatever condition they are treating, which could last years. “Rollout is years, if not decades, away,” Welle said. Once approved, however, it “becomes a readily available treatment option similar to a heart pacemaker,” Greger said.

Forbes Valuation

$206.7 billion. That’s Musk’s estimated net worth, according to Forbes’ real time tracker. He is the second richest person in the world, trailing only French luxury goods magnate Bernard Arnault. In addition to Neuralink, Musk cofounded electric carmaker Tesla, the source of much of his wealth, as well as rocket firm SpaceX and tunneling firm Boring Company. He also holds a sizable stake in social media platform Twitter, which he controversially bought for $44 billion last year and has since implemented a series of drastic and divisive changes.

Further Reading

Abandoned: The human cost of neurotechnology failure (Nature)

Move Over, Elon: This Under 30 CEO Just Raised $8 Million To Build A Next-Generation Brain Implant (Forbes )

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Robert Hart

I am a senior reporter for the Forbes breaking news team, covering health and science from the London office. Previously I…

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Stop Being So Hard on Yourself. Source: Harvard Business Review

Stop Being So Hard on Yourself

Being hard on yourself is not only ineffective, but it is also a hard pattern to break. How can you take a more balanced, emotionally equanimous approach to your performance?

Harvard Business Review

  • Melody Wilding

Read when you’ve got time to spare.

Harvard Business Review

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One of my clients, Ben, a research and development director at a pharmaceutical company, arrived at our coaching session feeling distraught. “A situation happened at work today that I can’t get out of my head,” he said. It turned out that Ben had spent hours preparing for an all-hands meeting with colleagues across the globe. He reviewed the agenda, drafted his talking points, and logged on to the conference software ready to contribute.

Then, things went askew. Ben struggled to be heard above more dominant colleagues, and when he did get an opportunity to speak, he felt flustered and flubbed his words. Afterwards, Ben was preoccupied by the incident. He couldn’t quit beating himself up. Why hadn’t he spoken up earlier or been more assertive? Why did he over explain and blabber on instead of sticking to his talking points?

Ben is what I call a sensitive striver — a high-achiever who is also highly sensitive. He is driven and demands excellence from himself at all times. But when he falls short of those impossibly high expectations, his innate sensitivity and thoughtfulness cause him to spiral into self-recrimination. If you can relate to Ben’s reaction, then you also may be too hard on yourself. This can take the form of harsh, punitive judgements, overanalyzing your shortcomings, rumination over minor missteps, worry, and assuming fault.

Perhaps you have thought that self-criticism is what keeps you sharp. Sensitive strivers like Ben often use it as a form of motivation, hoping that if they’re tough enough on themselves, they’ll be compelled to perform. But research shows that self-criticism is a poor strategy. When used excessively, it is consistently associated with less motivation, worse self-control, and greater procrastination. In fact, self-criticism shifts the brain into a state of inhibition, which prevents you from taking action to reach your goals.

Being hard on yourself may be ineffective, but it is also a hard pattern to break. It requires consistent attention and practice. Here are a few strategies I shared with Ben that can set you on the path to taking a more balanced, emotionally equanimous approach to your performance.

Name your inner critic.

Create psychological distance from self-criticism by personifying it. For example, choose a silly name or a character from a movie or a book. Mine is called Bozo, but you might name yours “the little monster” or “gremlin.” I once had a client who called his Darth Vader (of Star Wars fame). He purchased a small Darth Vader action figure for his desk, which reminded him to keep the critical voice in check.

Naming your inner critic leverages cognitive defusion — a process by which you separate yourself from your thoughts. Defusion is shown to reduce discomfort, believability, and the stress of negative thoughts. It also promotes psychological flexibility, or the capacity to steady your mind, manage your emotions, and be aware, open, and adaptive to changing demands.

Avoid generalization.

When I pressed Ben for details about the all-hands meeting, it became clear that no one noticed he was flustered. In fact, the COO later told Ben she thought his comments were the only moment of clarity in the conversation. This shocked Ben since it did not match his impression. It was a clear example of the spotlight effect — a tendency in which you misjudge and overestimate how much attention others pay to your behavior.

To combat the spotlight effect, consider your performance on aggregate versus zeroing in on a singular negative event. Think of a bell curve: you’ll likely perform average or higher than average most days. Some days will be below average, and that’s normal. Keep an eye on the bigger picture. Ben realized that while the all-hands wasn’t his best showing, he was only paralyzing himself further by taking this one unfavorable meeting and generalizing it to an ongoing pattern. Specifically, I coached him to avoid using extreme statements like “I always mess up,” “I’ll never get my voice heard,” and “This happens every time.”

Flip the “what if” narrative.

The human mind is wired to make meaning and answer questions. The sensitive brain, in particular, is adept at making connections and anticipating eventualities. Studies have shown that sensitive people have more active mental circuitry and neurochemicals in areas related to attention, action-planning, decision-making, and having strong internal experiences.

This means that as a sensitive striver you have the power to channel your thinking with greater precision. Make better use of your brain power by posing more constructive questions. Specifically, consider what could go right in equal measure with what could go wrong. For example:

  • What if the senior leadership team loves my presentation?
  • What if this idea isn’t stupid, but is the breakthrough that moves the project forward?
  • What if this proposal revolutionizes how we work as a team?

Set a timer and a goal.

Being hard on yourself can ruin your mood, focus, and productivity if you let it. Luckily, shame and humiliation – two emotions that are common with self-criticism — are shown to only last between 30 to 50 minutes. Take advantage of this fact by time-boxing your feelings: set a timer and allow yourself to fully experience and process your emotions during that period. One helpful practice is release writing, in which you free write for three to five minutes to let go of pent up frustrations.

Once the timer goes off, make a conscious choice about how to move forward. Define how you want to feel and what actions gets you closer to that feeling state. Ben decided he wanted to feel peaceful. We determined several steps that could help him achieve peacefulness, including a short meditation and taking a break to walk his dog.

Expand your definition of success.

As a sensitive striver, you likely have a tendency to define achievement in a hyper-specific way, that is, complete and total excellence at all times. You don’t need to lower your bar, but you do need to broaden your scope of what qualifies as a “win.” Achieving the desired outcome isn’t always in your control, so broaden your definition of success to include:

  • Overcoming resistance or fear
  • Pushing back and standing up for what you think is right
  • Approaching a situation with a different mindset or attitude
  • Taking a small step toward a goal

Take a few moments at the end of your workday to reflect not only on your professional highlights (praise, recognition, positive reviews, etc.), but also to consider moments where you made yourself proud. Acting in integrity with your values is the true definition of success.

As a sensitive striver, your desire to be the best is an asset when managed correctly. Once you tamp down the tendency to be hard on yourself, you’ll be able to more fully leverage your sensitivity and ambition as the gifts they are.

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This post originally appeared on Harvard Business Review and was published May 31, 2021. This article is republished here with permission.

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“My biggest weakness is my perfectionism”. Explore. Thomas Curran has just published a book examining perfectionism, its links to depression, anxiety, bulimia, anorexia, suicide ideation.

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Avoiding the Pitfalls of False Assumptions in Parental Alienation Cases – Psychiatric Times


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Avoiding the Pitfalls of False Assumptions in Parental Alienation Cases

Dec 10, 2021

Alan D. Blotcky, PhD
William Bernet, MD

Here’s how to avoid false assumptions in cases of parental alienation to ensure better outcomes for children.

LittleFamily_divorce_tigra62/Adobe Stock

LittleFamily_divorce_tigra62/Adobe Stock


Parental alienation is a mental state in which a child—usually one whose parents are engaged in a high-conflict separation or divorce—allies strongly with 1 parent (the offending, but favored parent) and rejects a relationship with the other parent (the alienated parent) without legitimate reason.1 This condition occurs in the context of a maladaptive family dynamic involving at least 3 individuals: the alienating parent, who intentionally and purposefully manipulates the child to reject the other parent; the child, who experiences parental alienation; and the rejected, alienated parent. A variety of tactics and maneuvers are used by alienating parents to achieve their goal, ranging from bad-mouthing and disruption of visitation time to false allegations of abuse and criminal charges.

Research indicates that parental alienation is present in 11% to 15% of divorce cases. It has also been found that 20% to 25% of parents engage in alienating behavior as long as 6 years after divorce. Alienating parents can be either mothers or fathers.

Parental alienation is poorly understood by many mental health professionals, not to mention attorneys, guardians ad litem, and judges. It is a confusing and vexing problem because many of its features and dynamics are hidden behind the scenes, ferociously denied, and counterintuitive from what one would expect.

Because of its counterintuitive nature, many false assumptions are made by professionals who are involved in cases of parental alienation. Much can be learned from recognizing and understanding these false assumptions, both in terms of diagnosis and treatment. This is especially important since early diagnosis and intervention are predictive of better outcomes for the child.

False Assumptions Can Lead to Mistakes

What follows is a description of many false assumptions that are made routinely in alienation cases. Richard Warshak, PhD,2 and Steve Miller, MD,3 have written about fallacies and fundamental attribution error in these cases, and 1 of us has written about misinformation in alienation theory.4 The following concepts serve as the foundation for our fuller understanding of the role of false assumptions in parental alienation cases.

Intuition is king. When we think intuitively, our decisions tend to feel “right,” regardless of whether they are or not. To accurately understand parental alienation, a clinician must have an advanced understanding of the typical dynamics in these cases. Relying on intuition can lead to major mistakes right from the get-go. For example, just because a parent seems healthy or believable, does not make it so.

Both parents are equally responsible. It is a common fallacy that both parents are equally responsible for high conflict during a separation or divorce. It is always important to consider the possibility that 1 parent may be the aggressor, while the other parent is the victim. In most cases, both parents are not equally responsible for the ongoing conflict. It can be a major blunder to assume so.

Outward demeanors are indicative of truth. Alienating parents typically present as calm, verbal, and convincing. In contrast, alienated or rejected parents usually present as agitated, angry, and afraid; they are victims.3 In many cases, the alienating parent appears to be healthier and more believable—but that is a manipulation and a distraction from their intentionally alienating behavior. The rejected parent appears more psychologically disturbed, and so it is assumed that he or she is the one engaging in problematic behavior. Outward demeanors can be quite deceiving and must be considered cautiously in diagnostic decision-making.

Ignoring projection possibility. The intrapsychic defense of projection is often seen in cases of alienation. In essence, the alienating parent accuses the rejected parent of being the aggressor. If you fall for the offending parent’s distortion and misperception, poor diagnostic decisions will be made, and the case can quickly go haywire. Projection can lead to the wrong person being identified as the alienating parent.

Children’s denials and “truths” are gospel. Simply believing a child’s denial of alienation by a parent can be a recipe for disaster. Children are not usually aware of the maneuvers employed by the offending parent to turn them against the rejected parent. Plus, such children are frequently enmeshed with the offending parent and will defend that parent to the bitter end. Independent thinker phenomenon is often seen, whereby alienated children assert that their rejection of a parent is solely their idea and decision—not due to the offending parent’s influence. So just listening to a child’s denials can be a serious error that will undermine good decision-making in a case. There is a body of literature that tells us that children and teenagers do not know what is in their own best interest.5 This is especially true when they are the unwitting participants in alienation by a parent.

Alienation does not involve total rejection. Children naturally want to love both of their parents without interruption or impediment. A child does not totally reject a parent unless there is an alienating influence in the mix. This is true even for abusive parents. Indeed, children who have been verbally, physically, or sexually abused by a parent experience profound ambivalence because they still love the parent. They are upset and in turmoil by the fact that they cannot have a continued relationship despite the well-established abuse.6 As such, total rejection by a child is much more indicative of alienation. And to use a child’s rejection of a parent as corroboration or validation of the rejected parent’s badness can be flat-out wrong.

Estrangement and alienation are the same thing. When children resist contact with a parent for legitimate reasons, this is called estrangement, not alienation. Estrangement is very different than alienation; it is important not to confuse them. For example, it would make sense for a child to be estranged from a parent if that parent engages in substance abuse during the child’s visits. Estrangement can be corrected if the parent is willing to make the necessary changes. Alienation, in contrast, tends to be camouflaged, insidious, and recalcitrant.

Alienating behavior is relatively harmless and will not impact the child’s long-term mental health. Engaging persistently in alienating behavior is child psychological abuse. It is a mistake to deny it or rationalize it away. According to DSM-5, child psychological abuse is nonaccidental verbal or symbolic acts by a child’s parent or caregiver that result, or have reasonable potential to result, in significant psychological harm to the child. In light of this, parental alienation is considered a psychiatric emergency, especially in moderate to severe cases. Minimizing the severity of the problem does a terrible disservice to the child. Unfortunately, it enables the abusive behavior to continue unchecked.

Since persistent alienating behavior constitutes child psychological abuse, the top priority should be to protect the child from further abuse. Until this is accomplished, no form of psychotherapy will be effective. In other words, protecting the child from further abuse must be the first step before psychotherapy of any kind is started. This mistake is common. In many court cases, it is erroneously assumed that psychotherapy can fix the problem when, in fact, little or nothing can be accomplished because the alienating behavior is ongoing.

Removing the child from the home is harmful. There is no credible evidence that removing an alienated child from the home of the offending parent causes a significant risk of psychological harm. The opposite is true. In almost all severe and some moderate cases of parental alienation, the risks of not protecting the child are far greater than the risks of protecting the child. Removal of the child from the offending parent’s care may be necessary, at least temporarily. Children and teenagers may fuss about it, but they will comply with, and benefit from, such an intervention.7

Reunification therapy can start at any time and is easy. Reunification therapy cannot be successful unless the alienating behavior by the offending parent is stopped. Otherwise, progress will be impeded by the continued alienation, and everyone will be perplexed as to why significant gains are not being made. The reunification therapy itself may not be the issue at all. Its progress may be stalled by the omnipresence of alienating behavior by the 1 parent.

Reunification therapy is difficult and complex. It requires a knowledgeable and seasoned therapist. The therapist must be directive and assertive, not passive, lethargic, or naïve. An inexperienced or unknowledgeable therapist can make things worse. Such therapists can begin to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and disappointed. A negative expectation for improvement can take over and become a complicating and limiting factor.

There are no interventions for alienation situations. Active interventions for parental alienation are available and they do work. The interventions must be aimed at (1) stopping the alienation by the offending parent, (2) clarifying and resolving the alienation in the child, and (3) repairing the child-rejected parent relationship. More traditional psychotherapies that do not target these specific areas are doomed to fail. The right therapy at the right time is critical.

Children’s school performance is the best guide. Just because a child is doing well in school or other activities does not mean they are doing well psychologically or emotionally. This is a common misconception. Focusing on school grades can miss the larger issues at hand.

The truly guilty party will confess eventually. No matter how much pressure is applied, the severely alienating parent will never admit to their intentionally harmful behavior. There is never a Perry Mason moment. Do not be misguided or misled by this parent’s persistent denials, as they are disingenuous and untruthful.

Alienating behavior always results in alienation. Not all children who have an alienating parent become alienated. However, even if the child is not alienated does not mean the parent’s alienating behavior is harmless. The negative consequences of alienating behavior tend to be cumulative over time. In addition, the child might become alienated if the damaging behavior does not cease.

Concluding Thoughts

All cases of parental alienation are fraught with complexities and difficulties. None are easy or straightforward. False assumptions are pitfalls to be understood and avoided in these cases. Missteps anywhere along the way can result in misdiagnosis, miscalculations, and ill-fated interventions.

Early diagnosis and intervention are important in alienation cases. The offending parent’s behavior must be stopped as soon as possible. All professionals—from mental health experts to attorneys to judges—must understand this principle. It is unacceptable to turn a blind eye. By doing so, complicity with the offending parent will be established and the child’s mental health will be rendered unimportant.

Professionals want to help children and their parents when they are embroiled in high conflict and escalating acrimony. But falling for any of these false assumptions can take a case down a dangerous path. And, in every instance, a child’s psychological wellbeing and mental health are at stake.

Dr Blotcky is a clinical and forensic psychologist in private practice in Birmingham, Alabama. He is also a clinical associate professor in the Department of Psychology, University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is a member of the Parental Alienation Study Group. Dr Bernet is professor emeritus, Department of Psychiatry, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. He was the founder and first president of the Parental Alienation Study Group.


1. Lorandos D, Bernet W (eds). Parental Alienation—Science and Law. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C Thomas Publisher Ltd. 2020.

2. Warshak RA. Current controversies regarding parental alienation syndrome. Am J Forensic Psychol. 2001:19(3);29-59.

3. Miller SG. Clinical reasoning and decision-making in cases of child alignment: diagnostic and therapeutic issues. In Baker AJL, Sauber, SR, eds., Working with Alienated Children and Families: A Clinical Guidebook. New York, New York: Routledge. 2013:8-46.

4. Bernet W. Recurrent misinformation regarding parental alienation theory. Am J Fam Ther. September 24, 2021.

5. Warshak, RA (2003). Payoffs and pitfalls of listening to children. Fam Relat. 2003:52(4);373-384.

6. Baker AJL, Creegan A, Quinones A, et al. Foster children’s views of their birth parents: a review of the literature. Child Youth Serv Rev. 2016:67(C);177-183.

7. Warshak RA. Ten parental alienation fallacies that compromise decisions in court and in therapy. Prof Psychol Res Pr. 2015:46(4), 235-249.

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We Got Social Media Wrong. Can We Get AI Right? JSTOR. Personal note: TBI amnesia impact; constantly I am thankful that it was the time of the computer, the internet, youtube, social media. For a number of years I have used Twitter as a means of augmenting my memory and creating a narrative for what I basically call my groundhog day existence which means rigid routine. I have written about it in my book “Fortune Favours the Brave” by Michelle Marcella Clarke (Amazon) which was written in 2017 when I got breast cancer. I have virtually no recall of the breast cancer.

We Got Social Media Wrong. Can We Get AI Right?

How to be agents who use new AI tools, rather than subjects manipulated by them.

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By: Alexandra Samuel 

May 25, 2023

 8 minutes

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Interactions that dehumanize us.

Disinformation that misleads us.

Algorithms that manipulate us.

These are the risks posed by the explosion in generative artificial intelligence—AI that uses massive amounts of pre-existing content (also known as “large language models”)—to generate text, images, and code as well as to provide information and answers to an ever-growing range of questions.

They’re also the risks that made many people worry about social media.

What We Missed about Social Media

I wish I had worried about social media more. In 2005, my partner and I launched what would now be called a social media agency, at a time when few had even heard the term “social media.” Like a lot of people working on the nascent social web at that time, we were a lot more attuned to its potential than to its risks.

If you buy attention with ads, celebrity spokespeople, and an endless array of contests and prizes, you can absolutely pry attention away from social advocacy and creativity.

Before the advent of YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, social media was decentralized, not very corporate, and pretty small: It felt more like a club of people exploring the way user-created content could fuel activism, community, and creativity than the next gold rush. I was so confident that this new medium was intrinsically biased towards social engagement that I used to tell companies that they would have a hard time competing with the grassroots causes and callings that drove most online participation at that time.

But I forgot about this little thing called money. It turns out that if you’re prepared to buy attention with ads and celebrity spokespeople and an endless array of contests and prizes, you can absolutely pry attention away from social advocacy and creativity and direct it towards buying stuff and reviewing stuff and even unboxing stuff on camera.

Money and Media

Once people figured out that there was money to be made with social media—and a lot of it—the dynamics changed quickly. “With digital ad revenues as their primary source of profit,” Douglas Guilbeault writes in “Digital Marketing in the Disinformation Age,” “social-media companies have designed their platforms to influence users on behalf of marketers and politicians, both foreign and domestic.”

Advertising became more sophisticated, to recover the eyeballs and attention that TV and newspapers were losing to social networks and web browsing. In turn, “digital platforms driven by ad revenue models were designed for addiction in order to perpetuate the stream of data collected from users,” as L. M. Sacasas puts it in “The Tech Backlash We Really Need.”

And content became more sensational and more polarizing and more hateful, because sensational and polarizing is what attracted the traffic and engagement that advertisers were looking for; an explosion in hate speech was the result. As Bharath Ganesh notes in “The Ungovernability of Digital Hate Culture,” “[i]n a new media culture in which anonymous entrepreneurs can reach massive audiences with little quality control, the possibilities for those vying to become digital celebrities to spread hateful, even violent, judgements with little evidence, experience, or knowledge are nearly endless.”

Most of the terrible, destructive impacts of social media stem from this core dynamic. The bite-sized velocity of social media has made it endlessly distracting and disruptive to our families, communities, relationships, and mental health. As an ad-driven, data-rich, and sensational medium, it’s ideally suited to the dissemination of misinformation and the explosion of anti-democratic manipulation. And as a space where users create most content for free, while companies control the platforms and the algorithms that determine what gets seen, it has put creators at the mercy of corporate interests and made art subservient to profits.

Where We Went Wrong

Now we’re getting ready to do it all again, only faster and with far more wide-reaching implications. As Allen and Thadani note in “Advancing Cooperative AI Governance at the 2023 G7 Summit,” “the transition to an AI future, if managed poorly, can…displace entire industries and increase socioeconomic disparity.”

We’re embracing technologies that create content so rapidly and so cheaply that even if that content is not yet quite as good as what humans might create, it will be more and more difficult for human creators to compete with machines.

We’re accepting opaque algorithms that deliver answers and “information”—in quotes, because AIs often present wholly invented “hallucinations” as facts—without much transparency about where this information came from or how the AI decided to construct its answers.

We’re sidestepping crucial questions about bias in they ways these AIs think and respond, and we’re sidestepping crucial decisions about how we deploy these AIs in ways that mitigate rather than compound existing inequalities.

How To Do AI Better

If all this makes me sound like a terrible pessimist, it’s only because I have to fight so hard against my innate fascination with emergent tech. I’m falling hard for the magic and power of AI, just like I fell hard for social media and like I fell hard for my first experiences of the web, of the internet, of the personal computer.

Those of us who are truly inspired and enchanted by the advent of new technologies are the ones who most need to rein in our enthusiasm; to anticipate the risks and to learn from our past mistakes.

And there’s a lot we can learn from, because we know what we were warned about last time, what we disregarded, and how we missed the opportunities to avert the worse excesses of social media.

That begins with the companies driving this transformation. Instead of fighting regulation, AI companies could advocate for effective regulation so that they’re less tempted to sideline ethical and safety issues in order to race ahead of the competition. Some AI leaders are already signaling their support for regulation, as we saw when OpenAI’s Sam Altman appeared at a recent Senate hearing.

But we’ll still be in a dangerous position if regulators depend on the technical advice of AI executives in order to set appropriate rules, because even well-intentioned execs are going to be less than objective about regulations that constrain their potential for profit. AI is also a much more complicated, much faster moving area to regulate; legislators who were hard-pressed to comprehend and regulate social media are unlikely to do better with AI.

That’s why, as King and Shull argue in “How Can Policy Makers Predict the Unpredictable,” “policy makers must prioritize developing a multidisciplinary network of trusted experts on whom to call regularly to identify and discuss new developments in AI technologies, many of which may not be intuitive or even yet imagined.”

It’s going to take international coordination and investment to develop an independent source of regulatory advice that is genuinely independent and capable of offering meaningful advice: Think of an AI equivalent of the World Health Organization, with the expertise and resources to guide AI policy and response at a global level.

Becoming a Smarter User of AI

It’s just as crucial for ordinary folks to improve their own AI literacy and comprehension. We need to be alert to both the risks and opportunities AI poses for our own lives, and we need to be informed and effective citizens when it comes to pressing for government regulation.

Here, again, the example of social media is instructive. Social networks made massive investments in understanding how to capture, sustain, and monetize our attention. We only questioned this effort once we saw the impact it had on our mental health, our kids’ wellbeing, and the integrity of our democracies. By then, these networks were so embedded in our personal and professional lives that extracting oneself from social media imposed very real social and professional costs.

This time, let’s figure out how to be the agents who use the tools, rather than the subjects who get manipulated. We won’t get there by avoiding ChatGPT, DALL-E and the like. Avoidance only makes us more vulnerable to manipulation by artificially generated content or to replacement by AI “workers.”

Instead, we human workers and tech users need to become quickly and deeply literate in the tools and technologies that are about to transform our work, our daily lives, and our societies—so that we can meaningfully shape that path. In a delightful paradox, the AIs themselves can help us achieve that rapid path to AI literacy by acting as our self-documenting guides to what’s newly possible.

How AI Helps Build Mastery

If you have yet to delve deep into the potential of generative AI, here’s one place you can start: ask an AI for some examples of how it can transform your own work.

For example, you might prompt ChatGPT with something like:

You are a productivity consultant who has been hired to support the productivity and well-being of a team of policy analysts. You have been asked to identify ten ways these policy analysts can use ChatGPT to facilitate or support their work, which includes reading news stories and academic articles, attending conferences, booking briefings, drafting briefing notes and recommendations, and writing reports. Please provide a list of ten ideas for how to use ChatGPT to support these functions.

Once ChatGPT provides you with a list of options, pick one that you’d like to try out. Then ask ChatGPT to give you step-by-step instructions on how to use it for that particular task. You can even follow up your request for step-by-step instructions with a prompt like,

You are an automation researcher. Review the previous conversation and note five risks or considerations when automating these tasks or adopting this approach.

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Henry Molaison: the amnesiac we’ll never forget, Tina Adams, The Observer Memory Interview. 5/05/2013. Imagine the significance of last 30 years and technology, social media provides for people with amnesia, now the selective use of AI has so much to offer. See Cleveland Clinic link anterograde amnesia…

SNAPSHOT: before reading the following:


Observer newspaper 2013

Henry Molaison: the amnesiac we’ll never forget

Tim Adams

When an operation left Henry Molaison unable to form new memories, he became the most important patient in the history of brain science. Neurologist Suzanne Corkin reveals what it was like to work with ‘HM’ for 46 years

Tim Adams


Sun 5 May 2013 00.05 BST

In 1953, a young man named Henry Gustav Molaison, of Hartford, Connecticut, lost his memory and helped to invent neuroscience. Henry Molaison’s amnesia was the result of a highly risky “psychosurgical” procedure, an operation designed to cure the debilitating epilepsy he had suffered since childhood. In an attempt to remove the part of the brain that was causing Henry’s fits, two holes were drilled in the front of his skull and a portion of his brain, the front half of the hippocampus on both sides, and most of the almond-shaped amygdala, was sucked out. The procedure, hopeful at best, went badly wrong and Henry, then aged 27, was left with no ability to store or retrieve new experiences. He lived the subsequent 55 years of his life, until his death in 2008, in the permanent present moment.

Henry Molaison’s tragedy was, however, perhaps also the single most significant advance in understanding the function of memory made in the past century. Until his operation, it had been believed that memory was a property of the whole brain. The accident of his surgery proved a large part of its capacity to be localised in this one area. The “cleanness” of Henry’s amnesia made his brain the perfect subject for study of cognitive function in many other ways, too. After his operation, living first with his parents and later with carers, he became known to science as “HM” to protect his identity. It was through these initials that a young postgraduate researcher called Suzanne Corkin, now professor of behavioural neuroscience and head of the Corkin Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, got to know him.

Their relationship seemed a little bit like fate. When Corkin came across Henry’s case in medical journals from the late 1950s, she discovered that their lives had already overlapped in curious ways. She had grown up a couple of miles from him, in Connecticut, and as a child had lived over the road from the surgeon who had operated on Henry’s brain; the surgeon’s daughter had been her childhood friend. In 1962, as part of her research, Corkin interviewed Henry. Over the next 46 years they spent many days in each other’s company, though for Henry, of course, it was always the first time. Corkin has now written a compelling memoir of that bond between scientist and subject, Permanent Present Tense, a relationship which Henry once described neatly: “It’s a funny thing – you just live and learn. I’m living and you’re learning.”

Corkin’s book is both a case study and a biography, partly written with the mission to show that HM was much more than a filing cabinet of test scores and brain images; he was Henry, “an engaging, docile man, with a keen sense of humour, who knew he had a poor memory and accepted his fate … and hoped that research into his condition would help others live better lives.” The striking thing about Henry’s memory loss was how specific it was. He forgot all of his experiences after the operation within 30 seconds, but he retained a good deal of the texture of life he knew up until the age of 27. His personality remained intact, he still had above average IQ and language skills, though for more than 50 years he was able to acquire only the tiniest fragments of self-knowledge.

Speaking to Corkin by phone at her lab in Boston, I ask if she has missed Henry since his death. She laughs a little. “I feel that in a way he is not gone,” she says. “Partly because I have been writing this book but also because when he died he donated his brain to MIT. So we continue to study him. He has gone but is still very present for us every day.”

There is an estranging moment at the end of Corkin’s book, where in the hours after his death Henry’s brain is removed from his skull and Corkin gets to look at the physical object she has been probing with her questions for most of her adult life. She describes that moment with a mixture of high scientific excitement and human loss. When she looked at the “tofu-like” mass of that organ, did the neuroscientist have a sense of it being the man she had known?

“Well,” she says, “he will always be a real person for me. I tried to understand his brain when he was alive and now he is dead it is just another way of getting to know him better.” After being preserved in formaldehyde, Henry’s brain was sent to a lab in San Diego, where it has been sliced into 2,401 fine sections, on slides, as a permanent neurological research resource, soon to be available online. “Some people say Henry has been translated into 2,401 objects,” Corkin says, “but I don’t see him like that.”

One of the fascinating, unsettling impulses in reading Henry’s life is that sense of identity being a bundle of all of the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. Henry loved to relate the few clear memories of his childhood, over and over, though he lacked a context for them and the face he surprised himself with in the mirror each morning did not quite connect with them. Corkin heard those stories many times over the years; every time she left the room for a minute and returned to Henry he introduced himself as if they had never met before, and told the stories again. Some were the family lore of how his father had moved north from Louisiana; others involved going roller skating as a child in the park, taking banjo lessons, driving with his parents along the Mohawk Trail.

“The interesting and important thing scientifically about these stories was that he would give you the gist of them, but they were never linked to a specific time and place,” Corkin says. “You and I can say what we did on our last birthday. But Henry could never remember what else happened. There were no connections, no associations for him in that way.”

In talking to Henry and testing his recall over all those years, Corkin discovered only two exceptions to that rule. One was a plane ride that Henry took as a teenager, as a present for graduation from junior high school. The other was an occasion he stole a cigarette from his father and smoking it made him sick, and he got into trouble with his parents. Both of these stories Henry could describe in quite obsessive emotional detail distinct from anything else he talked about. Again, this offered insights into the way memory functioned. In the case of the plane ride there was the anticipation of it, the buying of the tickets, all of the detail of the flight itself, sights and sounds, and then the telling of it to others once it was over.

“It was clear that he had encoded all that information and stored it across many parts of his brain,” Corkin says. “All memories are not stored in one specific spot. Strong memory is a creative process that takes in sights and sounds and textures and emotions, so a really important memory will link with all of these areas of the brain. And when we recall it there is a creative process of putting it all together. Similarly with the smoking incident, that appears to have been very emotional also. So: a very negative experience and a very positive one.”

It was out of these things, on a daily basis, that Henry seemed to work out who he was. The metaphor of well-trodden neural pathways and formative experiences which have been laid down seems particularly physically expressive here.

Henry was not capable of learning new information, though his knowledge of past events, the Wall Street Crash, Pearl Harbor and so on, was clear. Only a very few tiny details of TV programmes he watched repetitively ever stuck. He could, however, learn and retain new motor skills, which led to important understanding of the difference between conscious memory and unconscious. The latter category would include learning how to play tennis or ride a bicycle, or even play the piano – things that the brain encodes and transmits to the muscles through conditioning, memories which we come to think of as intuitive.

Memory tests

Two memory tests given by Suzanne Corkin to Henry Molaison.
Left) Mooney face perception test: scores the subject’s ability to form mental pictures from minimal visual information. Henry did very well.
Right) Visual stepping stone maze: Henry had to discover and remember a prescribed ‘correct’ route across the dots – wrong moves elicited a click noise. In 215 tests, Henry failed to reduce his errors, indicating a declarative memory deficiency.

In all of this revelation, Henry opened up as many questions of the mystery of memory as he answered. MRI scans have helped unpick some of this, but shouldn’t be relied on too heavily, Corkin says. She places more faith in the new science of optogenetics, which has begun to understand memory processes at the level of “a specific circuit and the neurotransmitters and brain chemicals that modulate long-term memory. The future of memory research will focus on being able to activate or deactivate these circuits in the hippocampus,” Corkin says, “and see how they promote or impair memory function.”

Partly through the physical example of Henry, she has no truck with any more esoteric ideas of mind. “The mind is the brain in my view. Your mind is not in your big toe. The brain is a very physical structure, it is like your arm, but it has grey matter and white matter and a huge number of cells we are just beginning to understand called glia. All your mind is contained in there.”

As we talk, I wonder if Henry was able to feel things like guilt or regret, emotions with a temporal component. She suggests not, though “he knew that he’d had a brain operation. He knew not many people had had the operation before him. He never used the word ‘experiment’, but I think he had the sense of himself as that word. Of the original operation, he once said: ‘I think they possibly did not make the right movement at the right time.'”

She did not remind Henry of this too often, however, in the same way that it was too painful, after his parents passed away, to have to let him know, as if for the first time, that they were dead. The amnesia was both a prison and a liberation in this sense. His operation had given Henry by default the kind of concentration on the present to which Buddhist meditation might aspire. “He was never sad or depressed,” Corkin says, “though I don’t think any of us would want to change places with Henry. He had a tragic life and he made the best of it. He showed the world you could be saddled with a tremendous handicap and still make an enormous contribution to life. I found his resilience inspirational.”

In all their meetings Henry betrayed only the most fleeting traces of recognition of Corkin. For all of her objective rigour, it seems she clung to those intimations of connection. “If I said my name was ‘Suzanne’, he would say ‘Corkin’,” she explains, “but he didn’t really know who I was. If I said: ‘What do I do?’, he would say ‘doctoress’, which was a name he used only for me, so that was heartwarming.” It helped that they had grown up in the same places. Corkin did one test with him where she intermingled his family photos with her own. In one of Corkin’s pictures of her mother holding her sister, Henry recognised the park in which they stood.

It is gratifying to Corkin to know that the public memory of Henry Molaison will long outlive them both. His unique brain will continue to be studied for years to come. Of all the hundreds of things she learned from Henry, I wonder, what are the images of him that come first to the top of her own mind in that curious process of remembering?

She offers three, all pointedly emotional. In the first, during an interview, Henry had gone to the bathroom with a nurse and when he returned she gave him her usual question: have we spoken before, Henry? On this occasion, for whatever reason, he said: “Yes, we were speaking just now.” Her second memory is of the last time she saw him, when he was demented and uncomprehending; she stood by him and said who she was, and she had a sense that he turned toward her with a trace of a smile.

The final memory is the oddest of all. “It is when we put his brain on a plane to San Diego,” she says. “It was strapped into a seat of its own. I watched the plane take off on its trip across the country and I had this swelling of emotion, remembering Henry and his plane ride. It was the perfect goodbye.”

This article was amended on 16 July 2013. The original referred to Molaison’s brain having been sliced into 4,201 fine sections. That should have been 2,401 sections, and has been corrected.

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Quotations: Originally period 2015-2019 reviewed May 2023. Theme Detente by Michelle Clarke. Nobody envisaged that Russia Federation would invade Ukraine 24th February 2022 or that Erdogan would be re-elected for the third time in Turkey 29th May 2023. There is a complex underbelly of dissent, geographies, massacres, genocides, disputes going back centuries. You may find this history mainly in the form of quotes interesting. It was originally posted in 2018

1st August 2019

Every year I collect together quotations that I find interesting.  In 2018 I focused on Arab Christian history of conflict – Theme Detente.

I have no idea why I chose to focus on the Arab Christian history of conflict involving the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey).  However, I did.  Imagine how fascinating it is for me to discover the article about the family of Prime Minister Boris Johnson Conservative Party at a time when the UK under his auspices has nominated 31st October 2019 for the UK exit from the EU bearing in mind that Northern Ireland and Scotland both voted to remain within the EU.  100 years on from the collapse of Ottoman Empire and the end of World War 1 when Ireland gained its independence perhaps it is time to review this history again and where better than to start with quotations and history.  I am reading Robert Fisk The Great War for Civilisation – The Conquest of the Middle East.  Prime Minister Boris Johnson family history from Ottoman Empire to Turkey is detailed in this link, and from an Irish perspective, makes very interesting reading:-


Yet another connection a film about Ireland and Turkey: time of the Great Hunger  https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/generous-turkish-aid-irish-great-hunger


Annual selection of quotes by Michelle Clarke
Happy New Year 2017 2018 and now 2019

Theme Detente


3 Quotes from last year 2016:

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones”.
Albert Einstein

Tomas Young veteran of Iraq Afghanistan wars; his dying letter to George Bush and

Dick Cheney.

The content of this letter should never be forgotten.

Detente is a readiness to resolve difference and conflicts not by force, not by threats and sabre-rattling, but by peaceful means, at the conference table.”As quoted in Brezhnev Reconsidered (2002)by Edwin Bacon, Mark Sandle, p. 99

Our World at war…Russia, Iran, Turkey stand apart from the US.  Will Syria return to Peace?

A century; maybe it is appropriate to replay the geopolitics and how it impacts on the world today.  Each year I put together a selection of quotations which form a theme.  Detente as defined above is in the hands of Russia, Turkey, Iran according to the news we receive presently.

George Santayana ‘Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it’

Origins:  The Balfour Declaration 1917:

1840 Shaftesbury takes an advert in the Times RESTORATION OF THE JEWS… A memorandum has been addressed to the Protestant monarchs of Europe on the subject of the restoration of the Jewish people to the land of Palestine.

1865 ……This country of Palestine belongs to you and to me, it is essentially ours. It was given to the Father of Israel in the words: ‘ Walk through the land in the length of it, and in the breadth of it, for I will give it unto thee.’

“We mean to walk through Palestine in the length and in the breadth of it, because that land has been given unto us. It is the land from which comes the news of our Redemption. It is the land towards which we turn, as the fountain of all our hopes; it is the land to which we may look with as true a patriotism as we do to this dear old England, which we love so much…… “The Archbishop of York’s introduction to the first meeting of the Palestine Exploration Fund P4 http://www.pef.org.uk/

“Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in a word – which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly – it would be this: At Basel I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today l would be greeted by universal laughter. In five years perhaps, and certainly in fifty years, everyone will perceive it.”.  Theodor Herzl wrote in his diary (September 3, 1897)

1897 First International Zionist Congress in Basel https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Zionist_Congress.Two Rabbis were sent to Palestine. They report: ‘The bride is beautiful but she is married to another man‘ Shlaim, The Iron Wall.  Hechler Chaplain to British Embassy in Vienna

“On the second day of its deliberations (August 30), the version submitted to the Congress by a committee under the chair of Max Nordau, it was stated: “Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Palestine secured under public law.” This gave clear expression to n,Herzl’s political Zionist vision in contrast with the settlement orientated activities of the more loosely organized Hovevei Zion. To meet halfway the request of numerous delegates, the most prominent of whom was Leo Motzkin, who sought the inclusion of the phrase “by international law,” a compromise formula proposed by Herzl was eventually adopted.   Hechler Chaplain to British Embassy in Vienna


Sykes-Picot Agreement, also called Asia Minor Agreement, (May 1916), secret convention made during World War 1 between Great Britain and France, with the assent of imperial Russia, for the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire. The agreement led to the division of Turkish-held Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine into various French- and British-administered areas. Negotiations were begun in November 1915, and the final agreement took its name from its negotiators, Sir Mark Sykes of Britain and François Georges-Picot of France.

Sykes-Picot intended to divide the Levant on a sectarian basis:

  • Lebanon was envisioned as a haven for Christians (especially Maronites) and Druze
  • Palestine with a sizable Jewish community
  • the Bekaa valley, on the border between the two countries, effectively left to Shia Muslims
  • Syria with the region’s largest sectarian demographic, Sunni Muslims

World War 1 exacerbated the Arabs’ failure to address the crucial dilemma they have faced over the past century and half – the identity struggle between, on one hand nationalism and secularism, and on the other, Islamism (and in some cases Christianism). The map that the two men drew divided the land that had been under Ottoman rule since the early 16th Century into new countries and relegated these political entities to two spheres of influence:

  • Iraq, Transjordan, and Palestine under British influence
  • Syria and Lebanon under French influence

Sykes-Picot were not mandated to redraw the borders of the Arab countries in North Africa, but the division of influence existed there as well, with Egypt under British rule, and France controlling the Maghreb.

1918 Sir Mark Sykes, insisted: “If Arab nationality be recognised in Syria and Mesopotamia as a matter of Justice it will be equally necessary to devise some form of control or administration for Palestine” that recognizes “the various religious and racial nationalities in the country . . . according equal privileges to all such nationalities.”

1919 Curzon, to Balfour warns: “Weizmann contemplates a Jewish state, a Jewish nation, a subordinate population of Arabs, [and that Weizmann was]…trying to effect this behind the screen and under the shelter of British trusteeship.” Ingram p58

‘The Declaration (The Balfour Declaration 1917) was the product of neither military nor diplomatic interests but of prejudice, faith and sleight of hand. The men who sired it were Christian and Zionist and, in many cases, anti-Semitic.  Tom Segev, One Palestine Complete, p33

Michelle comment:  ‘The linear mind misses its gift’ (Socrates) hence time to explore with two decades of traumatic brain injury and how the brain creates its own remedies.  Disorder creates like disruption and technology does.  Disruption provides people with memory deficits engagement:-  Twitter provides ‘augmented memory’.  Essential to be able to engage in a virtual world.


Ottoman Empire 1259-1924 A.D. (Turkey)  https://www.thelatinlibrary.com/imperialism/notes/ottomanchron.html

The Ottoman Empire…The rulers in Turkey were fortunately so corrupt that they left people alone pretty much – they were mostly interested in robbing them – and they left them alone to run their own affairs … with a lot of local self determination.”
Noam Chomsky

“In the Ottoman times, there were itinerant storytellers called “meddah. ” They would go to coffee houses, where they would tell a story in front of an audience, often improvising. With each new person in the story, the meddah would change his voice, impersonating that character. Everybody could go and listen, you know ordinary people, even the sultan, Muslims and non-Muslims. Stories cut across all boundaries. Like “The Tales of Nasreddin Hodja,” which were very popular throughout the Middle East, North Africa, the Balkans and Asia. Today, stories continue to transcend borders”

Elif Safak

Enter Turkey

“By ridding themselves of the Armenians, Greeks, or any other group that stood in their way, Turkish nationalists were attempting to prove how they could clarify, purify, and ultimately unify a polity and society so that it could succeed on its own, albeit Western-orientated terms. This, of course, was the ultimate paradox: the Committee of Union and Progress committed genocide in order to transform the residual empire into a streamlined, homogeneous nation-state on the European model. Once the Committee of Union and Progress had started the process, the Kemalists, freed from any direct European pressure by the 1918 defeat and capitulation of Germany, went on to complete it, achieving what nobody believed possible: the reassertion of independence and sovereignty via an exterminatory war of national liberation.”  Historian Dr. Mark Levene, in his journal titled “Creating a modern ‘zone of genocide’: The impact of nation- and state-formation on Eastern Anatolia, 1878-1923

“It is believed that in Turkey between 1913 and 1922, under the successive regimes of the Young Turks and of Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk), more than 3.5 million Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Christians were massacred in a state-organized and state-sponsored campaign of destruction and genocide, aiming at wiping out, from the emerging Turkish Republic, its native Christian populations. This Christian Holocaust is viewed as the precursor to the Jewish Holocaust in WWII. To this day, the Turkish government ostensibly denies having committed this genocide.”  Prof. Israel W. Charny of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, former president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars; Executive Director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide, Jerusalem; and Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopedia of Genocide:

(Speaking on the Armenian Genocide in a 2008 interview, Charny affirmed that:

“… the victims of the Turks’ genocide were not only Armenians but also Assyrians and Greeks.”)

“The anti-Greek and the anti-Armenian persecution are two phases of one and the same program, the extermination of the Christian element in Turkey.

Johannes Lepsius (1858-1926), a Germany Protestant missionary and president and founder of Deutsch Orient Mission, stated on 31 July 1915

“I was informed by reliable sources that the entire Greek population of Sinope and the coastal region of the district of Kastamoni has been exiled. Exile and annihilation have the same meaning in Turkish, for whoever is not killed, dies on the most part from illnesses and hunger.”Kückhoff, the German Vice-Consul at Samsoun, reported to the German Ministry of the Interior in Berlin on 16 July 1916

According to an Austro-Hungarian agent, on 31 January 1917 Talaat Bey  (1874-1921) , the Minister of the Interior, declared:

“… I  see that time has come for Turkey to have it out with the Greeks the way it had it out with the Armenians in 1915.”  http://www.armenian-genocide.org/talaat.html

In his memoirs Winston Churchill (1874-1965) wrote:

“Not only has the Turkish Government failed to protect its subjects of other races from pillage, outrage and murder, but there is abundant evidence that it has been responsible for directing and organizing savagery against people to whom it owed protection.”

David Lloyd George later wrote in his memoirs:

“The Greeks of Asia Minor had also suffered heavily from the brutalities of the Turks during the Great War. Hundreds of thousands were massacred in cold blood during the War and many more driven from their homes to find refuge in Greece and the Greek islands.”

United States President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924):

“I am in hearty sympathy with every just effort being made by the people of the United States to alleviate the terrible sufferings of the Greeks of Asia Minor. None have suffered more or more unjustly than they. (Sir John Bagot Glubb)”.


History of the Arabs:-

“From India to Spain, the brilliant civilization of Islam flourished. What was lost to Christendom https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christendom at this time was not lost to civilization, but quite the contrary…

“To us it seems that West-European civilization is civilization,

but this is a narrow view.” 

Bertrand Russell

Suleiman the Magnificent
(6 November 1494 – 6 September 1566)

I, the sultan of sultans, and the strongest ruler; the loftiest king who defeats the kingdoms around the world, and the shadow of Allah in the Earth, am the son of Sultan Selim who is the son of Sultan Beyazid, Sultan Suleiman, Caesar of Rome, the sultan of Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea, and Thrace, and Anatolia, and Karaman and the City of Dulkadir and Diyarbakir and Kurdistan, and Iran and Damascus and Aleppo and Egypt and Mecca and Medinah and Jerusalem and the whole Arab land and Yemen and many more lands that our lofty ancestors conquered with their crushing powers and In conquered with my fire-scattering sword….

“My soldiers rally under the crescent banner.  We march”.

Marcel Clerget in ‘La Turquie, Passe et Present, Paris’, 1938:-

‘Many proofs of high cultural level of the Ottoman Empire during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent are to be found in the development of science and law; in the flowering of literary works in Arabic, Persian and Turkish; in the contemporary monuments in Istanbul, Bursa, and Edirne; in the boom in luxury industries; in the sumptuous life of the court and high dignitaries, and last but not least in its religious tolerance. All the various influences – notably Turkish, Byzantine and Italian mingle together and help to make this the most brilliant epoch of the Ottomans.”

Phillip Hitti in ‘Short History of the Arabs’:-

During all the first part of the Middle Ages, no other people made as important a contribution to human progress as did the Arabs, if we take this term to mean all those whose mother-tongue was Arabic, and not merely those living in the Arabian peninsula. For centuries, Arabic was the language of learning, culture and intellectual progress for the whole of the civilized world with the exception of the Far East. From the IXth to the XIIth century there were more philosophical, medical, historical, religious, astronomical and geographical works written in Arabic than in any other human tongue.”

Michelle: Extremism needs to be identified for what it is.  ISIS are extremists perpetrating wars on a global basis in search of a Caliphate.  They compromise what they perceive as their history – they use swords and decapitate people they call ‘infidels’ but social media is also their most effective tool to recruit.  There is such an ancient culture of Islam and we have an obligation to try to understand that the terrorists stand apart from this history.

Khalif (Caliph) Al-Ma’mun’s period of rule (813 – 833 C.E.) may be considered the ‘golden age’ of science and learning. He had always been devoted to books and to learned pursuits. His brilliant mind was interested in every form of intellectual activity. Not only poetry but also philosophy, theology, astronomy, medicine and law all occupied his time.”

By Mamun’s time medical schools were extremely active in Baghdad. The first free public hospital was opened in Baghdad during the Caliphate of Haroon-ar-Rashid. As the system developed, physicians and surgeons were appointed who gave lectures to medical students and issued diplomas to those who were considered qualified to practice. The first hospital in Egypt was opened in 872 AD and thereafter public hospitals sprang up all over the empire from Spain and the Maghrib to Persia.”


Christmas 2016 into the New Year 2017.  Russia, Iran, Turkey align. 

History is relevant. 

“In April, 1915, the Ottoman Government began to put into execution throughout Turkey a systematic and carefully prepared plan to exterminate the Armenian race.  In six months nearly a million Armenians have been killed.  The number of victims and the manner of their destruction are without parallel in modern history”.  Herbert Adams Gibbons

“The hopelessness of the Turkish Government should make me witness with delight its being swept out of the countries which it tortures.  Next to the Ottoman Government nothing can be more deplorable and blameworthy than jealousies between Greek and Slav, and plans by the States already existing, for appropriating other territory.  Why not Macedonia for the Macedonians as well as Bulgaria for the Bulgarians and Serbia for the Serbians”.  William E. Gladstone.

“Part of Syke’s motive was rooted in religiosity.  A devout Catholic, he regarded a return of the ancient tribe of Israel to the Holy Land as a way to correct a nearly two thousand year old wrong.  That view had taken on new passion and urgency with the massacres of the Armenians.  To Sykes, in that ongoing atrocity, the Ottoman Empire had proven it could never again be trusted to protect its religious minority populations.  At war’s end, the Christian and Jewish Holy Land of Palestine would be taken from it, and the failure of the Crusades made right”.  Scott Anderson

Michelle:  What a Mosaic of History: the World awaits.  Will President Elect Mr Donald Trump extend the hand of Detente to President of Russia Mr Vladmir Putin who has aligned with Turkey Iran and Syria?  History tells us of irrational borders dividing tribes by European Empire driven elites (France, Britain).  Empires rise and fall.  An example of Empire driven credo as stated by Cecil Rhodes:- ‘They don’t change the names of countries, do they” hence Rhodesia now re-named Zimbabwe

 “Why should we not form a secret society with but one object, the furtherance of the British Empire and the bringing of the whole world under British rule, for the recovery of the United States, for making the Anglo Saxon race but one Empire? What a dream, but yet it is probable; it is possible.”


To the US Empire

Michelle:  Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Sudan and so many countries at war yet if we review our history and look at those Peace or Anti-War advocate quotes, Detente would be in preference to the slaughter of innocents by use of superior technology and crude weaponry ie cluster and barrel bombs.

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children… Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”  Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953


Soviet Union

“Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you.”  Nikita Khrushchev to Western diplomats, 1956

“Berlin is the testicles of the West. When I want the West to scream, I squeeze on Berlin.” Nikita Khrushchev, 1963

“With what moral authority can [the US] speak of human rights… the rulers of a nation in which the millionaire and beggar coexist; where the Indian is exterminated; the black man is discriminated against; the woman is prostituted; and the great masses of Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, and Latin Americans are scorned, exploited, and humiliated… where the CIA organizes plans of global subversion and espionage, and the Pentagon creates neutron bombs capable of preserving material assets and wiping out human beings.”  Fidel Castro, 1978
“The Soviet people want full-blooded and unconditional democracy.” Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet leader, 1988

“The West will not contain communism; it will transcend communism. We will not bother to renounce it, we’ll dismiss it as a bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are even now being written.”  US president Ronald Reagan, 1981

“Anyone who doesn’t regret the passing of the Soviet Union has no heart. Anyone who wants it restored has no brains.”  Vladimir Putin, Russian political leader
“Israel is the American watchdog in the Middle East, and that’s why the Palestinians remain victims of one of the longest military occupations.  They don’t have oil.  If they were the Saudis, they wouldn’t be in the position they are now.  But they have the power of being able to upset the imperial order in the Middle East.”  John Pilger
“Kissinger celebrants inevitably point to two things to justify their admiration: an opening to China – ‘rapprochement’ – and improved relations with the Soviet Union – detente – which included SALT, a historic arms-limitation treaty.” Greg Grandin


New Year 2017 selection of quotations updated

It is now 2019 and I have reviewed the 2017 selection of quotations.  It is a cetenary year yet we have learned little from history and are so far away from Detente; people have lost sight of this historical landscape)

Michelle:  Conflicts abound in the Middle East.  Children are dying, people are migrating.  There must be another answer to wars especially in Syria where barrel bombs, chlorine and crude implements of war are intermingled with the best of military expertise and technology in the form of fighter pilots and jets, drones and software to exterminate the vulnerable while the banks hoard the wealth of despotic leaders.  I include a selection of anti-war quotes which I suggest you include in your Twitter accounts as a means of saying, we are aware and we care for the people in the war torn countries and war must give way to Detente.


“The next war … may well bury Western civilization forever.” ~Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“War is not an adventure. It is a disease. It is like typhus.” ~Antoine De Saint-Exupery

“The terrorist is the one with the small bomb.” ~Brendan Behan

“Politics is the womb in which war develops.” ~Carl P. G. von Clausewitz

“From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.” ~Denis Diderot

“We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.” ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Societies can be sunk by the weight of buried ugliness.” ~Daniel Goleman

“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.” ~Edward Abbey

“No war by any nation in any age has ever been declared by the people.” ~Eugene V Debs

“Wars are the hobbies of half-informed children who have somehow come into possession of the levers of power.” ~Fred Reed

“It is part of the general pattern of misguided policy that our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear.” ~General Douglas MacArthur

“I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.” ~George McGovern

“Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.” ~George Orwell

“The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous.” ~George Orwell

“We know that dictators are quick to choose aggression, while free nations strive to resolve differences in peace.” ~George W. Bush

“There is nothing more frightening than active ignorance.” ~Goethe

“Every government has as much of a duty to avoid war as a ship’s captain has to avoid a shipwreck”. ~Guy de Maupassant

“The responsibility of the great states is to serve, and not to dominate, the world.” ~Harry S. Truman

“Old men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die.” ~Herbert C. Hoover

“It is the youth who must inherit the tribulation, the sorrow…that are the aftermath of war”. ~Herbert C. Hoover

“Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule – and both commonly succeed, and are right.” ~H.L. Mencken

“One certain effect of war is to diminish freedom of expression.” ~Howard Zinn

“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.” ~Howard Zinn

“We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.” ~Jimmy Carter

“War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement.” ~James Madison

“A merely fallen enemy may rise again, but the reconciled one is truly vanquished.” ~Johan Christoph Schiller

“Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind.” ~John F. Kennedy

“War remains the decisive human failure.” ~John Kenneth Galbraith

“The hardest thing for me in Vietnam wasn’t seeing the wounded and dead. It was watching the big transport jets come in, bringing loads of fresh new boys for the war.” ~Johnny Cash

“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” ~Jose Narosky

“We shall never be able to effect physical disarmament until we have succeeded in effecting moral disarmament.” ~J. Ramsay MacDonald

“We have to show the American People that war is not patriotic.” ~Justin Raimondo

“Where is the justice of political power if it executes the murderer and jails the plunderer?” ~Kahlil Gibran

“War is the continuation of politics by other means.” ~Karl Von Clausewitz

“The war on terrorism is akin to the war on drugs…un-winable, unless you kill everyone…or address the root causes.” ~K. W. Ibrahim

“People who talk of outlawing the atomic bomb are mistaken — what needs to be outlawed is war.” ~Leslie Richard Groves

“The greatest protection against war is a well educated populace.” ~L.L. Castetter

“Where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control.”  ~Lord Acton

“The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the party that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.” ~Lord Acton

“Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice.” ~Lord Acton

“Don’t talk to me about atrocities; all war is an atrocity.”  ~Lord Kitchener

“Society has arisen out of the works of peace; the essence of society is peacemaking. Peace and not war is the father of all things.”  ~Ludwig von Mises

“Whoever wishes peace among peoples must fight statism.  ~Ludwig von Mises

The guns and the bombs, the rockets and the warships, are all symbols of human failure.” ~Lyndon B. Johnson

“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?” ~Mahatma Gandhi

“Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future, too.”  ~Marcus Aurelius

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  ~Margaret Mead

“The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same.”  ~Marie Beyle

“Why, the Government is merely…a temporary servant…Its function is to obey orders, not originate them.”  ~Marquis de Sade

“Let not your zeal to share your principles entice you beyond your borders.”  ~Marquis de Sade

What is more immoral than war?  ~Marquis de Sade

“War is the greatest plague that can affect humanity; it destroys religion, it destroys states, it destroys families. Any scourge is preferable to it.”  ~Martin Luther

“There are only two powers in the world: the sword and the mind. In the long run, the sword is always defeated by the mind.”  ~Napoleon Bonaparte

“War is the business of barbarians.”  ~Napoleon Bonaparte

“War grows out of the desire of the individual to gain advantage at the expense of his fellow man.” ~Napoleon Bonaparte

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”  ~Nelson Mandela

“You never need an argument against the use of violence, you need an argument for it.”  ~Noam Chomsky


Media and the best use of social media and newspaper print


Discernment not ignorant consumption must be the way forward so that we can determine what is propaganda and not be influenced by same.

“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.” ~Joseph Goebbels

“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.” ~George Orwell

“Official truths are often powerful illusions” ~John Pilger

“Many journalists are now no more than channelers and echoers of what George Orwell called the ‘official truth’  They simply cipher and transmit lies.  It really grieves me that so many of my fellow journalists can be so manipulated that they become really what the French describe as ‘functionaires’, functionaries, not journalists.” ……. It’s only when journalists understand the role they play in this propaganda, it’s only when they realise they can’t be both independent, honest journalists and agents of power, that things will begin to change. ~John Pilger

“In the sublime days before 11 September 2001, when the powerful were routinely attacking and terrorising the weak, and those dying were black or brown-skinned non people living in faraway places such as Zaire and Guatemala, there was no terrorism.  When the weak attacked the powerful, spectacularly on 9/11, there was terrorism.” ~John Pilger

[The Gulf War in 1991:] Strikingly, no concern was voiced over the glaringly obvious fact that no official reason was ever offered for going to war — no reason, that is, that could not be instantly refuted by a literate teenager. [Noam Chomsky 11]

Michelle comment:-

April. 2018: My Mum died at the end of December 2017 and I have been diagnosed with breast cancer and am undergoing treatment (Lumpectomy, Chemotherapy and Radiation).  You read this and you realise so little changes other than in pursuit of the Military Industrial Complex.  This year I do not have the capacity to gather together a selection of quotations with a theme.  But nothing much has changed really.

February 2019

Reviewed this.  I do not have to attend Professor Crown until next year, January 2020.  I have written a book about the journey with cancer which was further complicated by amnesia and traumatic brain injury.

Fortune Favours the Brave eBook: Michelle Clarke, John Crown – Amazon UK

… the Brave eBook: Michelle Clarke, John Crown: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

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The Ancient Roots of Psychotherapy: Redfield Jamison is the author of many books, including The Unquiet Mind, and is a professor of mood disorders and psychiatry at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Her new book is Fires in the Dark: Healing the Unquiet Mind. Source: Time magazine

The Ancient Roots of Psychotherapy

In a small valley of the Peloponnese the archaeological site of Epidaurus extends to different levels. The worship of Asclepius began there for the first time in the 6th century BC. but the main monuments, especially the Theater, which is considered as one of the most pure masterpieces of Greek architecture, date back to the 4th century. The wide archaeological site is a tribute to the healing cults of the Greek and Roman ages with temples and hospital buildings devoted to their gods. (Getty Images)

In a small valley of the Peloponnese the archaeological site of Epidaurus extends to different levels. The worship of Asclepius began there for the first time in the 6th century BC. but the main monuments, especially the Theater, which is considered as one of the most pure masterpieces of Greek architecture, date back to the 4th century. The wide archaeological site is a tribute to the healing cults of the Greek and Roman ages with temples and hospital buildings devoted to their gods.

Getty Images


By Kay Redfield Jamison

May 25, 2023 7:30 AM EDT

Redfield Jamison is the author of many books, including The Unquiet Mind, and is a professor of mood disorders and psychiatry at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Her new book is Fires in the Dark: Healing the Unquiet Mind

Our medical ancestors sought to heal the mind long before they could treat diseases of the brain. Magicians and priests tended the sick through suggestion, therapeutic bond, and tincture of time, not by science. This has changed. During the last century and a half, our progress in understanding and treating mental suffering has been remarkable by any standard, drawing importantly upon lessons from the asylum, advances in psychology and the science of the brain, and what had been learned by doctors and nurses who treated shell shock during the First World War.

Psychotherapy has been described as the oldest branch of medicine, with roots in religion and magic that can be seen in the healing rituals practiced in Greek temples, on the Homeric battlefields, and in the consulting room of Freud. In earliest times, as in our own, the priests and doctors of antiquity drew upon potions, listening and words of consolation, suggestive power, and pragmatic counsel.

More than four thousand years ago, Egyptians built sleep temples that served as sanctuaries for worship and for the relief of suffering. Temple priests and doctors induced trancelike states in their supplicants, interpreted their dreams, and advised the most auspicious paths through life. Music, painting, and walking in nature were prescribed to calm the anxious and console the grieving. Egyptian doctors, and after them the Greeks, studied their patients as well as healing them. They detailed the symptoms and course of brain fevers, mania, melancholy, and other mental disorders. Against a background of myth and magic, they laid down rudimentary elements of medical psychology and psychiatry.

Centuries later, similar techniques were practiced by the followers of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. They too healed the sick with herbs and words, suggestion, and dream analysis; as they did, they practiced a recognizable form of psychotherapy. Suggestion and place were critical to their work. The Sanctuary of Asclepius at Epidaurus, built in the fourth century B.C., was in every way designed for healing. It was set among the hills and trees, away from the interferences of the world. It defined arcadia. It was beautiful and restful; the air was pure, the diet simple; there were fresh springs in which to bathe, and a theater and library for arts and learning. Pilgrims sailed to Epidaurus from ports across the world to worship Asclepius and to be healed by magic, suggestion, herbs, and the arts. They came to a world perfectly cast for mending minds.

The priests in the Asclepian temples were tutored in suffering and were learned in the prescription of calming or enlivening herbs that had been used for tens of thousands of years. They knew and taught the rituals of remedy: Before starting treatment, supplicants purified themselves. They bathed in healing waters—mineral springs, the river, the sea—meditated in the sanctuary’s sacred grove, fed on a cleansing diet, and prayed. They offered sacrifices to Asclepius and proffered figs and honey cakes to the temple serpents. Hymns were sung, sacred lights were lit. The priests laid on hands and applied ash. Supplicants slept in special areas within the sanctuary where, lulled by suggestion, and perhaps by drugs, they waited for the priest to analyze their dreams and prescribe cures.

Thousands of years later, doctors and nurses who treated shell-shocked patients in World War one confronted terrible psychological suffering and brought to its easing as much as they could usefully glean from both ancient remedy and modern medical knowledge. Many of the war doctors who treated the traumatic damage caused by combat were influenced by recently published writings of Freud, Jung, and other European psychiatrists. Like the doctors of antiquity and the psychoanalysts, some put importance on the analysis of dreams. And like the psychoanalysts, they knew that memory must be grappled with: patients had to discover what was best to remember, what best to forget, and ways to reconstrue traumatic experience.

War, as Henry Adams said about the Civil War, sets the circumstances for advances in medicine and science. In the twentieth century, the hundreds of thousands of soldiers, wounded in body and devastated in mind, commanded not only urgency but improvisation. Science from the battlefield brought rapid change to psychiatry, as well as to general medicine and surgery. British psychiatrist and anthropologist W.H.R. Rivers observed that the Great War produced disturbances of the mind on a scale that could not be imagined. War, he said, was a “vast crucible,” an extreme trial that could rearrange or destroy the mind. Therapeutic pragmatism was imperative. Psychiatrists had to figure ways to help their patients reconstruct their shattered minds and how to reconjure their futures. Doctors needed to infuse hope and nerve and a semblance of calm. The war taught about the unconscious mind in a way that nothing else could. It also taught that psychotherapy saved lives. After the war, psychotherapy became a part of what doctors had to offer patients.

Psychoanalysis and electroconvulsive therapy came into their own in the early twentieth century; in the years following the Second World War, lithium, antidepressant, antipsychotic, and anticonvulsant medications were found to be effective for many individuals with previously untreatable mental illnesses. New treatments continue to be discovered—mood stabilizers and antidepressants for mood disorders, medications for anxiety disorders and schizophrenia, structured psychotherapies, brain stimulation techniques, ketamine, psilocybin, virtual reality therapies, and others—remedies that have helped millions. Less beneficial, however, has been the concurrent decrease in the time given over to psychotherapy. This in part is due to the presumption that medication alone is necessary; to the expense of psychotherapy and relative lack of reimbursibility by insurance companies; and to the time and effort involved.

Certainly, medication and other non‒psychotherapeutic treatments have profoundly changed the lives of those with mental illness. They have ameliorated suffering, made meaningful work possible, and allowed damaged relationships to mend and grow. For many, medication does these things more quickly, better, and less expensively than psychotherapy. Medication often falls short of actually healing the mind, however. Many patients, their suffering improved by medical treatment, remain raw and fragile. They cling close to shore, avoid risk, and fear returning to the fray of life. They do not expand the territory of their beliefs or curiosities, nor do they learn as much as they might from what they have been through. But for those who receive it, psychotherapy is an irreplaceable part of a greater renewal; it marks the channel home. Psychotherapy is an ancient and deeply human part of healing; for cause, it has been called the oldest branch of medicine.

Adapted from Fires in the Dark: Healing the Unquiet Mind

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Jonathan Haidt…a man after my own belief system. He recommends the “ancients” and their quotations. Wisdom is so important. Social psychology is his forte and he has written many books. 2nd video shorter: GenZ starts 1995. Note fragility. Recommends CBT

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Does marijuana cause depression in teenagers? Source: DW

Does marijuana cause depression in teenagers?

Esteban Pardo

05/24/2023May 24, 2023

Increasing evidence is linking cannabis use in teens with depression, but whether one causes the other is still unclear.




The global attitude towards cannabis has been changing, drifting more towards exploring its potential medicinal uses and legalizing it.

Eight countries, including CanadaUruguay, Mexico and Thailand, and 22 states in the US have legalized recreational marijuana, and around 50 countries have legalized it for medicinal use. Many other countries are currently pushing their laws in that direction.


But just like with tobacco and alcohol, legalization doesn’t mean the drug is not harmful.

Marijuana is also one of the most used substances among teenagers around the world. In the US, more 2.5 million teens casually use cannabis, according to researchers from Columbia University in New York, and cannabis usage among youth has increased over the last decades.

That’s why the trend towards legalization and medicinal use has raised alarms, particularly about the potential health risks in adolescents.

A developing brain

Although it can be tricky to tell when adolescence stops, it’s clear that it is a period that comes with many biological changes, including changes in the brain.  

Those changes make it even harder to understand how cannabis can affect teenagers’ minds

During adolescence, the brain is in development up to about the mid-20s, according to the US’ National Institute of Mental Health.

During this time, there’s major development and fine-tuning in areas of the brain related to handling emotions, coping with stress, rewards and motivation, decision-making, thinking before acting, controlling impulses and reasoning, just to name a few. There’s also an increase in white matter and a decrease in gray matter during adolescence, which makes different brain regions communicate faster and more efficiently. 

It’s a hard knock, life for teenagers. Not only do their bodies go through drastic changes, but they often struggle with issues like identity, social pressure, getting good grades, family dynamics and many other things.  

All these changes and pressures can make teens more likely to have mental health issues, like anxiety and depression, and they can lead to their using substances like marijuana to cope, according to the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The problem is that using marijuana can also make those mental health conditions worse in the long run. 

Because the brain is developing in this stage, it is also particularly vulnerable to substances like alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs acting on it. These substances have been shown to change or delay some of the developments usually taking place during adolescence, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

In the case of cannabis, there’s increasing evidence that it modifies the brain of teenagers. 

The evidence regarding cannabis and depression 

Marijuana usage has been linked to difficulties with thinking and solving problems, memory and learning, and with reduced coordination and concentration, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It’s still not clear if these problems persist after stopping cannabis use. 

Research has also shown associations between cannabis use and mental health problems like anxiety and depression. It’s also more likely for people that use cannabis to have psychotic episodes. 

 Flower buds of a Cannabis indica plant
Female cannabis flower buds have the highest content of THC, the major psychoactive component of cannabis.Image: picture alliance/NurPhoto

A study, published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, earlier this month, looked into teens who occasionally used cannabis in the last 12 months. The study analyzed the responses of almost 70,000 teenagers to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.  

The study found that, compared to non-users, those that did use marijuana but didn’t meet the criteria for addiction reported two to four times more mental health problems like depression, suicidal thoughts, slower thinking and difficulty concentrating.  

This could suggest there’s an association between marijuana use and mental health issues, but it’s still unclear whether one directly causes the other. 

Another recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that marijuana use in teens was also associated with an increased risk of developing depression and suicidal thoughts later in life. 

However, a 2022 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology showed that teenagers that used cannabis weren’t more likely to develop mental health problems like depression or anxiety compared to adults that used cannabis. Only teenagers with cannabis addiction had worse mental health.



Is cannabis the cause?

Correlation does not equal causation and as in the case of the chicken and the egg, it’s hard to tell whether the use of cannabis in adolescents is the cause of the higher association with depression and other mental health issues, or whether teens with these issues are more likely to use cannabis.

A 2020 study published in Frontiers of Psychology reviewed the evidence on cannabis and the teenage brain and concluded that because of the way many of the available studies, so-called cross-sectional studies, were designed, we don’t know much about the nature of the relationship between cannabis use and mental health.

Cross-sectional studies look at different groups of people at a specific point in time. The aim is to gather information about a particular topic by collecting data from a diverse group of individuals all at once. Then researchers analyze the data and try to find patterns or relationships, but they cannot establish what causes what.

The Frontiers of Psychology study also stressed that it’s possible that both cannabis use and mental health problems may be caused by something else, like teens’ susceptibility to stress and anxiety mentioned earlier.

To figure out whether cannabis causes mental health issues in teenagers, more research is neede

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