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MOMUS
12-02-2013, 11:19
Is it possible to train your brain against its wishes?
Now before you think I've gone godzooky in the brain, let me remind you this is random musings and now ill give you an example.

Say you had a very strong idea in your head, the strongest notion you can think of, one that has maybe had its foundations built in childhood and tested throughout your life. Is it possible to deny it? Is it possible to train your brain not to want it or need it?

Can you make your mind not want, what it wants? Either by distraction, displacement or by finding a new obsession?

Godzooky
12-02-2013, 11:21
I'm currently denying the powerful urge to hunt you down, Neeson-style.

So, I'd say it's possible... :shifty:

AsleepByDay
12-02-2013, 11:39
In theory, yes you can. Your brain is a fluid construct and can change its self.

In practice little good tends to come from self denial such as attempting to force people to live in a straight relationship when that isn't what they want or (less seriously) concluding that you only need four hours sleep a night.

So, I guess it depends if you think whatever you are trying to avoid is a fundamental part of who you are in which case you are probably better off embracing it or if it is something that you have picked up and can unlearn through practice.

I'd recommend seeing a good councilor and if you try to give it up that you don't get to upset if you slip as that will be counter productive.

theunwantedbeing
12-02-2013, 11:59
Yes, it is possible but not for everything.

What exactly are you trying to convince yourself of?

Easy E
12-02-2013, 12:23
Yes it is possible. The question is how deep does the belief go, and how long have you had it? Of course, doing so is not always healthy.

If you are into potentially bunk science, I recommend you look into Nuero-linguistic programming. :)

Sotek
12-02-2013, 12:36
http://i.imgur.com/BqSbV.gif

EffCee
12-02-2013, 12:44
...concluding that you only need four hours sleep a night.

A friend of mine tried to convince himself that he didn't need sleep at all. It didn't work.

blackcherry
12-02-2013, 19:55
Its possible, to an extent. Its why people get addicts to channel their energy into other things when they are trying to give up their addiction. In effect, you are trying to displace the persons addiction to something that is harmful for them, with an addiction to something else (less harmful for them) they can focus their energies on.

From there on, its trying to get that single minded focus into multiple things so they person doesn't end up in the same wreak they were before, only over something stupid like pottery. Or Warhams :shifty:

The stuff about not sleeping, living off nothing but air-sure, you can do that for a while. Then your body dies.

theunwantedbeing
13-02-2013, 10:16
The stuff about not sleeping, living off nothing but air-sure, you can do that for a while. Then your body dies.

Not if nobody see's you cheat :P

El_Machinae
21-02-2013, 10:34
Can you train your want to your meta-want?

It sometimes blows my mind. We've got two scales of want.

Hellebore
21-02-2013, 11:16
One of the best examples of this is disconnecting sex from reproduction and at the extremes, removing sex altogether. We are afaik the only species to ever deliberately refuse to reproduce, placing social and memetic selection above biological selection.

Hellebore

El_Machinae
22-02-2013, 09:43
The one I find funny is depression (or, feeling low, anyway).

We're told that smiling will improve our mood, because our mind responds to the signals from our body. So, if you're low, you should smile!
And we don't enjoy being low, but we often (with introspection) feel like we should be low, and so we refuse to take part in activities that would cheer us up. Even our 'meta-want' is low, even though our meta-meta-want is to not feel this way.

alexh
25-02-2013, 23:54
Look up both Operant and Classical Conditioning. Both make use of stimuli to produce a response in the brain.

Hrw-Amen
28-02-2013, 06:19
I suppose it depends how deep rooted those feelings are.

For example, my parents generation lived through WWII. My father right up to his death in 2006 really did not like German or Japanese people. Once I brought home a girlfriend (In about 1998.) who happened to be German, my father refused to be in the house when she was there and threatened to write me out of his will if I ever brought her to his house again or even continued to go out with her. This in spite of the fact that she was of my generation and had nothing to do with WWII, or her parents before as they were only toddlers when it happened.

Similarly with the Japanese, when I first took up with my wife who is Indonesian, my father was very angry as he knew that during the war they were occupied and that just after the war there was bit of trouble when the Dutch wanted the colony back and they wanted independence. He knew that some British Troops were sent in the try and quell the trouble. His automatic default was that it was unacceptable for me to have a relationship with her. However on finding out that her parents and by default she herself really, really did not like the Japanese as they had killed her grandparents in the initial invasion of Java he changed his tune and promoted her as good spouse material as her family had shared inbred dislike of the common enemy. That fact that like me she was born well after WWII and had no more to do with it than me, or my previous German girlfriend was irrelevant.

I guess from my perspective, (Growing up then.) I really do not like Argentina as I perceive them as the enemy. In spite of this, I know full well that not every person from that country is bad no more than every British person is bad, most of them are perfectly nice ordinary people who don't want a war any more than I do. Yet I cannot get it out of my head, every time I see something in the news or somewhere else those feeling surface. I know they are wrong and can go through the thought process in my mind which is telling me this person is an ordinary every day human, no better or worse than me. But in spite of that in the end I can not get over that underlying feeling that they are the enemy

Totally irrational I know and I wish I did not have this (What I call.) gut instinct. My reasoning tells me it is not so, but my brain annoyingly will not let me change that base feeling.

El_Machinae
28-02-2013, 10:21
In the book trilogy The Golden Age, there was a technology to change your feelings and your motivation. So, if you wanted to want something, you could choose to do so.

We have similar techniques today. I can resist ice cream at the grocery store, but not in the freezer. So, I try not to buy it. I avoid situations where I lack willpower, or I cultivate willpower if I'm going to need it (by not draining it resisting other things)

RobC
05-03-2013, 09:51
We have similar techniques today. I can resist ice cream at the grocery store, but not in the freezer. So, I try not to buy it. I avoid situations where I lack willpower, or I cultivate willpower if I'm going to need it (by not draining it resisting other things)This is discussed in Willpower by Roy Baumeister. The most effective way to strengthen your resolve is to make it more difficult to get the thing you desire. So, you're less likely to give in to ice cream cravings if you know you have to go to the shop to buy the ice cream, rather than just raid the fridge.

El_Machinae
05-03-2013, 10:32
There're also exogenous ways of changing your cognition, but they're some ways away. Transcranial magnetic stimulation can be used to change the nature of thoughts; transcranial direct current stimulation has been used to successfully treat symptoms from depression to numbers dyslexia. It's going to require a bit more science before we'll be able to use it, but it's a "someday" kind of thing.

Hellebore
06-03-2013, 04:11
I do the same but I'm not sure it strengthens your resolve, it merely puts your reward beyond the level of difficulty/expense you're willing to spend in order to get it.

A psychologist might say you're not dealing with your problem, you're avoiding it. It seems a little correlation/causation-y to me - just because I'm not consuming ice cream because it's not at home doesn't necessarily mean I've got anti ice cream will power. There are more states than 'need ice cream at all costs' and 'don't need ice cream at all costs'.

Currently we have fund raising chocolates sitting on the shelf at work. However although I like chocoloate, the cost involved is generally more than my need for it. However some days I really want chocolate so the cost is no longer a barrier. On the other hand we have cans of soft drink in the work fridge for individual purchase and I'll generally get one a day because the cost is not more than my need. Yesterday I drank 3 colas and 3 (free) coffees because I wanted it. It's very hard for me not to drink one can day as the cost is not high enough to counter my desire.

Hellebore

MOMUS
06-03-2013, 07:49
So what youre saying is......im really thirsty?

blackcherry
06-03-2013, 09:10
Actually, more often than not thirst is mistaken for hunger. Drink more in your daily routine (of healthy drinks of course, sugary drinks or those high in caffeine will dehydrate you over time) and you will probably see your hunger levels drop unless you are doing something very strenuous.

RobC
07-03-2013, 10:25
I do the same but I'm not sure it strengthens your resolve, it merely puts your reward beyond the level of difficulty/expense you're willing to spend in order to get it.You're right. By making it more difficult to do something, you're making it easier to dismiss the desire, rather than depleting your willpower by resisting.

Incidentally, BBC Radio 4 has a new series called The Human Zoo which discusses 'ego depletion' (among other things) in its first episode (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01r0gj4/The_Human_Zoo_Episode_1/). Worth a listen.

El_Machinae
07-03-2013, 17:20
There're also exogenous ways of changing your cognition, but they're some ways away. Transcranial magnetic stimulation can be used to change the nature of thoughts; transcranial direct current stimulation has been used to successfully treat symptoms from depression to numbers dyslexia. It's going to require a bit more science before we'll be able to use it, but it's a "someday" kind of thing.

Or ... a later this week kind of thing. The Journal of Neuroscience published an article using transcranial direct current stimulation to selectively activate or inhibit certain regions. This would then augment or inhibit certain types of skills.

http://www.jneurosci.org/content/33/10/4482.full


Critically, research so far has primarily focused on optimizing protocols for effective stimulation, or assessing potential physical side effects of TES while neglecting the possibility of cognitive side effects. We assessed this possibility by targeting the high-level cognitive abilities of learning and automaticity in the mathematical domain.
...
Stimulation to the the posterior parietal cortex facilitated numerical learning, whereas automaticity for the learned material was impaired. In contrast, stimulation to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex impaired the learning process, whereas automaticity for the learned material was enhanced.
...
The observed double dissociation indicates that cognitive enhancement through TES can occur at the expense of other cognitive functions.

:D

Disposable Hero
01-04-2013, 06:39
Google Rene Descartes....

fgsfds-
01-04-2013, 08:47
Whether or not it is possible to control one's wants depends on which psychological aspects we're approaching the matter from. There isn't one absolute truth but many theories that have been proved to hold true (at least partially). And many of them seem to belive that ones wants and desires can be controlled (even the personality of one can be changed completely - it's all in the brain chemistry).

El_Machinae
01-04-2013, 09:23
Google Rene Descartes....

Why? I mean, he's an important philosophical figure, but which of his contributions are you thinking of?

fgsfds-
01-04-2013, 10:20
Why? I mean, he's an important philosophical figure, but which of his contributions are you thinking of?
The mind-body-problem perhaps?

//Descartes had many, many ideas considering this topic and he aslo had an effect on the birth of cognitive science, so I agree with Disposable Hero that reading about his work might be worthwhile.

Sojourner
01-04-2013, 17:53
There's a book I started reading at my friend's about gender roles (friend is a bit of a fair-weather feminist, in a sort of scientific and rational way, rather than in a sensationalist, loony way). The part I read talked about how a person tends to conceptualise themselves into a number of roles - the more developed your personality becomes as you i) age and ii) try new things, the more roles (or hats, I suppose) you have. It turns out - and this is supported by experiment - it's pretty easy to influence people into adopting one of these roles (or putting on a particular 'hat') and this in turn influences their behaviour and feelings.

This book quite had quite a strong theme concerning the suppression of the natural talents of women and girls by societal pressure, and looked into how it happened. It turns out that, for example, saying something to college-age women that reminds them that they are elite college students of whom high standards are expected, without reference to gender, correlates with a significant improvement in test scores, particularly in appropriately-targeted mathematics tests. Conversely, reminding them of gender roles concerning attainment in mathematics, even if the reference is positive e.g. "women tend to score just as well on this test as men" - tends to prompt the adoption of a different role - that is, the one society's prejudice against women's ability in mathematics and sciences - has given them, in contrary to what might have been intended.

So the point is, there could be something to this, and manipulation of how a person adopts the roles they identify with could be a good place to look. Take a simple example: "I am a well-educated, courteous and thoughtful man in my twenties" might be no help at all to someone with an emerging alcohol problem if they tend to associate men in their twenties with binge drinking, but "I am a wargamer" might, since wargamers tend to need their brains in gear to play wargames - at least, in that person's perception.

Disposable Hero
01-04-2013, 18:46
From the top of my head, without any footnotes to relevant links, but Descates experienced a doubt to everything he knew. He introduced an evil genius who planted false ideas in his head. The only way to free himself of this is to declare all knowledge that he could not validate for himself to be false.

There was one thing he could be certain of...he knew he had thoughts, so he clearly had to be alive. Cognito, ergo sum..
He developed a set of rules to live by while he exterminated the false thoughts, which ties in to the OP.

So basically he evaluated and scrutinezed all knowledge he had (trained as a Jesuit, I believe), and if he could not validate it for himself, he rejected it and replaced it with his own findings.
Very heavy thoughts for the 17th century, because he also questioned the existence of a soul etc.
That's where he ran into problems, because where does the soul reside in the body, after all?

There are some scholars who say that Descartes might have been a spy for the Jesuits, as he followed the trail of the wars and courts of his age. No proof for that, as far as I know.

So, basically, if you want ti get rid if a train of thought, follow good old Rene D and you might end up in the loving embrace of Kant and the Enlightenment.

Quoted from the Interwebz:


Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another. Sapere Aude! [dare to know] "Have courage to use your own understanding!"--that is the motto of enlightenment.