Psychology is still discussed in the mainstream press almost entirely without reference to the brain. Pop Neuroscience, alternately, tends to be driven by research findings published in top academic journals; pop neuroscience writers then try to explain to readers how the findings apply to them.
Neuroself.com gives readers a new take on the week’s news, by highlighting some of the neuroscience that underlies current events. We try to give the ‘inside story’ of what is going on in the personality of the day.
Over time, reading neuroself.com should function to give you a graduate-school level understanding of ‘how the brain works.’
Each post on neuroself.com follows a simple formula:
1) We introduce and link to a published article, video or image from a reputable source about a celebrity, political figure, or other public persona. We don’t talk about patients – only published anecdotes or events from people whose behavior is already in the public sphere courtesy of the mainstream press.
2) We then explore some of the neuroscience that is likely to underly the events. Crucially, we use the individual event to explore species-typical neuroscience, and therefore are never talking about – or diagnosing – the individual(s) involved.
3) We connect the specific examples to the Neuroself Framework, which is a clinically relevant framework for thinking about subjective experience and human behavior.
Why does psychology need neuroself.com?
First, the mainstream media continues in overwhelming numbers to use mainstream psychological models to analyze the shenanigans of celebrities and politicians. Explanations are given in terms of what is called ‘folk psychology’: beliefs, intentions, emotions, thoughts, choices, and so forth. These models were developed before we understood anything about the brain – which is why, naturally, the brain rarely comes up in these articles. he brain does not exist – or at least, doesn’t need to be mentioned when trying to understand someone’s experience and behavior.
Second, a small but growing number of popular neuroscience writers have started talk about the brain. And not just in a “huh, that’s interesting!” way, but in a way that gives us real traction in understanding old problems in a new and more efficient way. The problem is that most of these writers are not clinicians – they don’t do psychotherapy or prescribe medications to patients. And as a result these blogs and books ‘chop the brain to bits’ – which is what mainstream neuroscience does as well.
- Neuroself.com is ‘the third way.’ We’re working on a new way of talking about people: by talking about the neuroscience behind real people, in today’s news. Please join in!
Neuroself.com is written and edited by Peter Freed, M.D. However if you have an article you’d like to submit, please contact him, and if it’s in the right vein, we’ll put it up!