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Friday, April 9, 2010

Environment... Or when boundaries can put the squeeze on

... Today's post takes a line from every emergency physician's handbook: "life in a fishbowl".

Now imagine you are a fish swimming in that same fish bowl when the boundaries of your system suddenly implode (see below). What would happen?

... Or in a nod to JP, perhaps your fish tank manifold or boundary or "world" is a Calabi-Yau fractal (image below)?

Anyway, keep this (or these) images in your head as we shift aspect or viewpoint or frame of reference to New Age "holistic" thinking momentarily and see how our little fish- itself the sum of all its individual little fractal building blocks nested within further fractal building blocks- rests within a larger environment or world or manifold or boundary (chose your term).

PS- I can't but add how pleased I was to find an image of a fish in a matryoshka doll fish bowl. This is truly how my own mind tends to see this issue. For our little fish rests within a near infinite number of boundaries or manifolds, etc... many it simply cannot "see". Yet the boundaries of these larger systems or manifolds which the fish resides within are very real to our fish. And they are absolutely necessary for the formation of the fish's B-E condensate we call consciousness.

That's all before work today

Be well


Thai said...

For comments

Thai said...

Funny, I just realized how my post today kind of reminds me of this post.

Be well

Thai said...

By the way Deb, Dink and Dr John, while trying to balance your frustration with DSM with my relative's need to have a label on their child's behavioral issues, I told my relative yesterday their child had "boundary blindness disorder". ;-)

JP said...

Thai says:

"Yet the boundaries of these larger systems or manifolds which the fish resides within are very real to our fish. And they are absolutely necessary for the formation of the fish's B-E condensate we call consciousness."

I'm going to take issue with one of Thai's points. The boundary conditions are necessary for the formation of a specific personality.

The "field of consiousness" is everywhere, so to speak.

Working with Thai's thought, wouldn't it be better if you said that the B-E condensate as we are creating in the laboratory them are a special class of "artifical" consiousness"?

From your theory, wouldn't it be as though we are manipulating the field of consiousness to produce a blob of condensated consiouness?

Thai said...

Oops, yes, I mis-spoke. I absolutely agree.

What are your thoughts on this issue by the way?

PS- I keep thinking this must be testable but am wondering how?

After all, researchers were able to see the signature of a B-E condensate created by an environmental boundary condition of low temperatures. I just keep wondering how one would do this in the context of consciousness...


JP said...

Thai says:

"Now imagine you are a fish swimming in that same fish bowl when the boundaries of your system suddenly implode (see below). What would happen?"

Something catastrophic.

Which is why I suppose you can also consider human consiousnesses to be traveling catastrophies (in terms of the catastrophe theroy of mathematics) in hyperspace.

Thai said...

It is the cooperation of all these personalities that is consciousness.

Each matryoshka doll boundary creates each BE condensate for each personality and the combination of personalities condenses to higher level structures which eventually gives us consciousness.

Thai said...

So a B-E condensate fractal as it were ;-)

Thai said...

I should say cooperation and competition to be more precise. ;-)

Thai said...

"Which is why I suppose you can also consider human consiousnesses to be traveling catastrophies (in terms of the catastrophe theroy of mathematics) in hyperspace."


And hence we have a psychiatrist and psychologist on this blog. ;-)

JP said...

Thai says:

"What are your thoughts on this issue by the way?"

Well, the problem is that the B-E condensate is static, right? An artifical consiouness has to be internally dynanmic based on an external electrical imports.

Here's a thought.

The problem with the yahoos playing in the area of "Artifical Intelligence" are missing the point.

They can't really create an "Artifical Intelligence" without an underlying "Artificial Personality".

Thai said...

Fair enough. My model is a painting as it were. This is always the problem when mapping motion pictures to a single photo.

Still, I think the ability to see a B-E condensate signature in the brain would still be "helpful" to those who work in the field and go a long way to help reduce the amplitude of some of the debates we have in medicine that are completely unproductive and waste a tremendous amount of energy.

At least my 2 cents

JP said...

Yes, I accept the fact that I am a specific B-E condensate Calabi-Yau fractal.

I also assume that there is only one of me.

Thai says: "I told my relative yesterday their child had "boundary blindness disorder". ;-)"

Mabye it would be better if you added "Post-Traumatic Embitterment" to it, so that you got Post-Traumatic Embitterment Boundary Blindness Disorder.

That's when your son experiences severe trauma when you stop feeding him chocolates, becomes bitter at you, and runs into Wal-Mart and engorges himself with whatever chocolate he can find there until the employees have him taken away.

JP said...

That was external electrical "inputs", by the way

"Still, I think the ability to see a B-E condensate signature in the brain would still be "helpful" to those who work in the field and go a long way to help reduce the amplitude of some of the debates we have in medicine that are completely unproductive and waste a tremendous amount of energy."

The B-E condensate is directly electricaly connected to the neural network. You can see the results from brain scans, with the so-called "mind-reading" brain scans, right? For example, when you tell a person to choose what to think about and then they decide what to think about, there is involvement of the B-E condensate fractal.

Thai said...

The problem I have with that approach is it is like the nest analog signals in a larger signal.

You can tell others the underlying signal is right in front of you, but sometimes that actually need to see the actual signal you are talking about before they get it.

This kind of... Metaphysical Pointillism? is not intuitively obvious to all. ;-)

Thai said...

typo I meant to say "nested" analog signal and "they" need to see the nested signal before they get it

Dink said...

Truly great posts lately, Thai. And links. AZ triggered some sort of fractal fever exacerbation ;)

But as I am slow I'll comment on something three posts back:

"So cheer up. There are lots of people who will sync and cooperate with you, honest. They and you often just don't know how."

A small group will emerge with an innovation (ie ESS). The rest of the population will adopt the adaptation. This is what I believe in moments of exuberant optimism anyway.

"They can't really create an "Artifical Intelligence" without an underlying "Artificial Personality"."

Interesting insight, JP! Hopefully it'll be a little more Wall-E than Skynet.

"Metaphysical Pointillism"

Fits in nicely with the Virginia Wolff link.

Administrative issue: Why haven't JP and Edwardo sent me e-mails to be added as authors? Jump in the pool, you bastards!

Debra said...

I have told dink that I agree to not write on anybody's posts here.
I would like to write my own posts.
And if you want to come visit, and comment that is fine with me.
Be well.

Dr John said...

I have asked but I must ask again. How is it that this concept of consciousness being at its core a B-E condensate possible if these only occur at or around absolute zero. This idea of personality being fractal and levels of B-E condensate frankly is interesting but strikes me as abstract metaphysics at best. Can you provide me an example of fractal architecture that is dynamic and fluid? One that responds to the world in the way "personality" does?

Dr John said...

When I ask for an example I do mean an organic material. John

Thai said...

Re: "How is it that this concept of consciousness being at its core a B-E condensate possible if these only occur at or around absolute zero?"

Temperature was how it these condensates were originally intellectually conceived. However if you shift your viewpoint and think of temperature differently, as a kind of boundary constraint or field on a system, you can postulate other views where something else creates a similar boundary or field.

When people started studying this in scale free networks (remember the links I left?), what they found was:

"a perfect analogy could be drawn between the mathematics of the network and the mathematics of a Bose gas if each node in the network were thought of as an energy level, and each link as a particle."

You are stuck on temperature as the environmental condition necessary to create a B-E condensate since that is how we first conceived of the form of matter, but in fact there are a lot of external conditions which can create B-E condensates. Temperature is only one.

Thai said...

Re: "Can you provide me an example of fractal architecture that is dynamic and fluid? One that responds to the world in the way "personality" does?"

What do you think the whole field of complex science and chaos theory (or complex chaotic systems) is all about?

What areas of science is this not used today? I honestly don't think there are any.

Think of fractals as static or motionless part of the architecture you are referring to while chaos is the dynamic part.

... If that helps?

How do you think we create weather forecasting models?

I' m sure you have heard of the popularized term "the butterfly effect" which came directly from weather forecasting models using chaos theory?

Type into Google "chaos theory", "complex systems", "synchronization in/of chaotic systems", "complex chaotic systems", "dynamic systems", etc...

You will simply be unable to read all the stuff you find it will so overwhelm you.

And re: "... but strikes me as abstract metaphysics at best."

I only slightly take this personally and I'm kind of used to it by now and you will obviously decide for yourself. Though I think you may be on a bit shakier ground with this comment than at first it might appear. I certainly think just about every physics and math department in every major university in the world might take exception to this view.

This website is a random one I pulled up that seems created to take you to many university websites which were created to discuss these topics.

Re: "When I ask for an example I do mean an organic material"

Again, there are whole departments in most universities that do just this (simply one example).

A random example of "fractal architecture that is dynamic and fluid (and) responds to the world in the way "personality" does" might be almost all modeling CDC uses today to look at the spread and control of infectious diseases like SARS or HIV or Influenza in populations.

Or almost all modeling of organic compounds as they undergo phase transitions, etc...

Does this help?

JP, you want to share examples?

If you are interested in its relevance to investing, I highly recommend the following book.

Thai said...

Or better yet, I recommend the following as one of my all time favorite books on this sort of stuff as it relates to wealth, money and economics.

Dink read it so you can ask his thoughts if you like.

Dr John said...

Ok Thai. I see after reading those links why theoretically B-E condensates would be an attractive model for looking at this issue. For me however it begins to break down when I ask for a concrete example of this in the biological world and I am not sure I have one that is not a phase compound but an intact fully functional biological system within a living organism. "all modeling CDC uses today to look at the spread and control of infectious diseases like SARS or HIV or Influenza in populations." I see how this applies and in particular what you have taught me about network theory but I am still wrestling with it in the world we are talking about as far as this topic. Is there any direct evidence that this is what is actually taking place in the brain or at this point is it the most compelling model we have, but one that lacks direct empiric proof?

Thai said...

There are two issues

Second first: I guess if you want something even more concert, to be quite frank, walk over and look in the mirror.

Your own body is made of an enormous number of systems which display astonishing fractal architecture.

First second: phase compound

I think this has been the hardest one for all of us to get around until a more general understand of why this must be so has emerged.

Fractal architecture can only exit as phase compounds by definition- e.g. it is very unstable. This is what K. Wilson won his Nobel Prize for in 1982 with his theory of renormalization.

Think for a moment about how fragile life is compared to other compounds, etc... How fragile consciousness is, etc... They are not stable under a wide variety of conditions like most "normal" compounds like steel or stone, etc...

Thai said...

I really do not mean to get into one of these discussions with you, honest.

Fractal compounds occur by definition boundary conditions as symmetry breaks. They are the architecture of inflection points, critical masses, phase transitions, etc...

They cannot occur any other place

Think about it

Be well

Thai said...

Oh, and please understand I do not in any way mean to sound like I am absolutely correct that consciousness is a B-E condensate. It is just a theory after all.

My point with JP has been that it is one that might actually be testable/verifiable and this is what makes it particularly attractive.

I have just been trying to conceptualize how...

I'm the first to admit the theory may be way off; It simply fits nicely with a lot of other theories but how many times have we heard this in our careers? ;-)

Thai said...

This may sound crazy but you and I are phase compounds/inflection points.

Life can only exist in places of phase transition- say at the transition zone adjacent to thermal vents under the ocean, or in the narrow band between a short distance into our earth's crust and the upper reaches of its atmosphere, etc...

For in these transition zones, symmetry is breaking and releasing energy, and the energy released briefly forms stable fractal structures. And these fractal structures cooperate or sync with each other until they create still larger fractal structures which eventually form fractal architectural structures we call "life".

FWIW- I think this is why we have a hard time really defining what life is in the first place- e.g. should we call prions or virus' life, etc...?

Anyhoo, these fractal architectural structures we call life are still all interconnected with each other in kind of energy plasma released from symmetry breaking at these phase transitions zones that I think is a B-E condensate. And this B-E condensate is interconnected to a still larger B-E condensate we call our earth's ecosystem, etc...

To the best of my knowledge, except for the B-E condensate aspect of this energy cloud,this is really not controversial at all in scientific circles... Unless there is something new I am unaware of, admittedly quite possible.

It is a very odd thing to consider, I freely admit, but I think you and I are inflection or phase compounds as it were. And it is why we will probably one day have trouble defining the difference between organic life as we know it now and artificial inorganic life forms we are likely to create in the future in test tubes or with computers/machines/nano-technology.

... And of course whole dogmas will one day develop around these issues and none of them will agree with each other. ;-)

And it explains why sadly you and I can go to war with each other but rocks never will.

... And oddly enough for Dink, it postulates a potential mechanism where other "life forms" might be discovered if we decided to go looking for them- e.g. in regions where phase transitions have continued uninterrupted for long periods of time, etc...

Sometimes "truth" can be stranger than fiction. ;-)

Thai said...

Anyway, that's my theory.

And I would be most curious to know if you thought it would be received well in the neuro-psych literature?

I am pretty sure it is testable and the truth is if someone did verify it it experimentally- either through fMRI or some other method- I'm pretty sure it would fast track them to tenure at a minimum and likely quite a bit more.

It would answer an enormous number of questions we have had since the beginning of time and are heavily researched today in neuroscience, etc...

It would obviously create profoundly interesting challenges for legal concepts like brain death, etc... as I'm sure you would be aware.

The legal minds would have a stroke trying to deal with it (even though nothing would be really different than it is today) as I'm sure JP can attest.

And don't even get me going on its religious implications... ;-)

Dink said...

"And don't even get me going on its religious implications... ;-)"

Yes, implications indeed. Its fascinating the the Fingerpost book how the old scholars are so against Descartes' methods because they're worried it will lead to atheism. Implications of the scientific method ;) Also kind of weird that they adhere to the Greeks even though they were pagan. Oh well.

B-E condensates. Geebus! I start to think heretical thoughts about spending my retirement going back to school to study physics or system theory.

Dr John: "The Origin of Wealth" was nicely written. Really the first 3/4th was a primer on a lot of this fractal stuff. The last fourth was about money, but by that time I was already convinced by Sudden Debt that capitalism was impossible ;)

Thai said...

I'm not a mathematician, nor do I have even a fraction of the geometric dexterity that JP clearly has but I hope the theory is internally consistent and makes sense to everyone.

I'm sure I am missing something major but I have thought it over for quite some time before I shared it with you.

As SS once said however, it is a form of nihilism

Dr John said...

I am going to take a bit before I craft my answer Thai as far as a paper. There is always so much in your posts it is hard to know where to start. To back track a bit, when I used the term "speculative metaphysics" I was again stealing from a physicist who I heard speak who used that term to describe compelling ideas often with elaborate and elegant mathematical descriptions but as yet, unproven in the laboratory. Relativity once fit this description. These models are compelling but do not as of yet translate into accurate predictive models. Weather/climate is a wonderful example. Interesting models but with limited predictive ability. Anybody who lives in northeast Ohio recognizes this! Perhaps I ask too much. I am glad I have been invited to this land but have much to learn.

Thai said...

John, without going down another rabbit hole, a branch of the same science behind this theory says predictions as you are defining them are impossible.

Again, with what I just said in mind, and ignoring her mysticism, re-watch the following video

The evidence supporting this theory is all around us. I'm really not making this stuff up, honest.

JP clearly "sees" it.

If I'm reading you correctly, the thing you are having the hardest time accepting is the idea that you are not exactly the same as every other compound on this planet. Instead of being a compound that is regular and ordered and follows Gaussian probabilities, you are a compound that at its phase transition and follows Cauchy or Lorentz probabilities and are fractal, much like the fleeting images of horses or castles in clouds in the sky children see in when they look up and play games on a sunny cloudy days.

If it helps, this is probably the easiest thing to dispel. For the architecture of your body is clearly fractal and fractal architecture ONLY exists in phase transitions states. The 1982 Nobel Prize in physics was given for just this discovery as I stated earlier.

It is the reason or city size is fractal or languages follow Zipf's Power laws, etc...

On a philosophical note, it is why the shells of marine organisms (which are not phase transitions but retain the signature of their former owner's phase transition nature in the fractal architecture of their shells) remain as limestone many millions of years later when I walk in Sedona Arizona but the organisms themselves are long gone, like the shapes in the clouds.

The harder part is how a B-E condensate might be consciousness.

But as I said before, the most interesting thing about the theory (at least to me) is it should be verifiable. If we can see B-E signatures at ultra low temperatures, we should be able to see them at room temperature as well.

... At least I hope

Thai said...

Oops I meant to say, it is the reason war is fractal

Thai said...

Oh, but re: predictions

We can predict things which display Gaussian probabilities quite well. But these are systems which are not in non-phase states.

This is why we can predict how steel will break when a certain force load is applied but we can't predict love's wims and never will be able to.

... And I sense you are coming to enjoy Gaussian risk over Cauchy risk more and more from the comment you made to Dink about love. ;-)

Thai said...

Oops, Gaussian IS NOT in a phase transition

Cauchy is

Dr John said...

I watched that video of the lady describing both the left and right brain and hemorrhage. I do not find her description of her stroke at all consistent with the reports of the countless stroke victims I have seen in practice. She alone knows what she experienced but it seems to be a good example of the limits of the generalizabity of experience. Her descriptions of left-right hemispheric organization although not "incorrect" I found to be very simplistic to the point of distorted.Maybe she was doing that for the audience. Anyway Thai, I am doing my best to read and understand the implications of your theory(much of the reading in regards to physics is a bit of a stretch for me and my horrid math skills) and that it seems in part a portion of a "theory of everything". Do you see this explanation of consciousness providing for both aspects in consciousness being both informational and experiential? You said this could be measured. Please expand. John

Thai said...

Re: "theory of everything"

Isn't one version of Godel's incompleteness theorem that is any theory which professes to explain everything else cannot explain itself.

So if I understand you correctly, you are wondering if the conservation of energy does not apply to everything?

Does the conservation of energy apply to love?

A totally reasonable postulate I have wondered myself many times. Alas, so far I know of no example to the contrary, or as Richard Feynman once said:

"There is a fact, or if you wish, a law, governing natural phenomena that are known to date. There is no known exception to this law; it is exact, so far we know. The law is called conservation of energy; it states that there is a certain quantity, which we call energy, that does not change in manifold changes which nature undergoes. That is a most abstract idea, because it is a mathematical principle; it says that there is a numerical quantity, which does not change when something happens. It is not a description of a mechanism, or anything concrete; it is just a strange fact that we can calculate some number, and when we finish watching nature go through her tricks and calculate the number again, it is the same."

... Of course it is equally fair to respond with John Stuart Mill's famous paraphrase of David Hume:

"No amount of observations of white swans can allow the inference that all swans are white, but the observation of a single black swan is sufficient to refute that conclusion."

I suspect that I am as much at a lost as you on this issue.

re: testable

I honestly do not know enough of the details of how engineers determine when a particular gaseous compound has changed phase at low temperature to a B-E condensate. But if you are think the neuro-psych literature will accept the theory reasonably well, I will look into the details.

Perhaps I should have said I suspect engineers can do the same at detecting B-E condensates at room temperatures if they know what they are looking for. I may be way off mark but I think most people are having the same aspect confusion you are and confusing temperature as the only external boundary when there can potentially be many other external boundary that will also precipitate a B-E condensate.

Does this answer your question?

Thai said...

John, sorry about the video, I realize now you are not still with me

Agreed, I've never seen a stroke like hers either. Nor am I in my head.

The point I was trying to make was she was describing the fractal architecture of the brain without even realizing it. One hemisphere being at some level a fundamental building block which is different yet cooperates or syncs with the other hemisphere, etc...

Please accept my apology if I assume this is as "clear" to others as it is to me who has been seeing these for most of my life (I just kind of see fractals everywhere even before I knew what fractals were, it is just something about me I can't explain... Like some people say they can smell ketones in DKA patients while others say they can't (I usually can't by the way unless they are very very strong).

Thai said...

Oops, nor am I in her head

Dr John said...

Sure you could use the law of CoE to and apply it to love as a brain state. I am not sure if that helps or explains much yet. Energy is dissipated into a closed system right. Is it any different than a heart beating or respiration or am I being too concrete? I am sorry if I am getting stuck on this as regards to B-E condensates and temperature. Are you able to give me another example of a B-E condensate that is detectable and measurable anywhere outside the issue of temperature where this can be seen but it is not at or around absolute zero? Maybe you have and I am missing your point. I now understand the point of the video with that lady and it makes much more sense. This is very interesting and now I understand the reading you have directed me to on scale free networks. Do you have a theory on how this transmission takes place?

Dr John said...

Or maybe this condensate needs no route of "distribution" but spreads out like a "gas" for lack of a better descriptive term?

Thai said...

I can't say for sure but I think it is kind of like a gas as it were (or a condensate) of brain signals

I am writing a post on teams now and I hate to spoil my post but think about a basketball team.

It is something real, or tangible as it were. You will pay money to go see "it"... Money must be real, right? ;-)

You will run around the room jumping up and down and screaming for joy or slump in sadness because of "it".

Yet is "it" really as real as the players who are actually on the team? Or is it a kind of condensate of the individual players.

The sum of the parts is equal to the whole and yet the whole becomes something more as it exists within a new boundary conditions that no individual player within the team could ever exist in on their own.

I strongly suspect consciousness is not a fermionic condensate as it were, I think it is Bosonic... though I could definitely be wrong.

I'm thinking the condensate is of the electric signals themselves but my reasoning does get fuzzy and breaks down here.

Any thoughts you have would be most appreciated.

But if there is a B-E condensate of the composite all the electric signals, we should be able to detect it.

Have other forms of B-E condensates been detected?

Great question which I really don't know. I have asked myself this but haven't done exhaustive webs searches.

The B-E implications of network theory are pretty new (look at the date on the Wiki link, e.g. within the last decade) so I'd be surprised if they filtered that far into many other scientific disciplines but it is certainly possible... I don't stay that up to date on most scientific questions- I am a practicing EM physician after all. A grunt in the trenches as it were.

Consciousness is simply a particular fascination of mine for what should be obvious reasons and I have therefore been doing my own reading on the web on the subject as I have been unhappy with what I am told in general by my colleagues/medical texts vs. what I see in front of me working in medicine every day.

I have been trying to come up with a theory that melds what I do know I see daily literally in front of me with what I read from sources I trust, etc...

PS- I should think fractals make an attractive template by which to think of the socially defined issues of mental illness and all the DSM attempts at clumping. I mentioned this on Carlat but it got no traction so I let it go... Though I'm often unsure if it is the way I'm communicating or the message I'm trying to convey or the ability of others to understand what I'm saying or some fractal combination of all of the above building blocks. ;-)

... It's tough being a creature of chaos in a world of chaotic communication but it is what it is. ;-)

Dr John said...

I found this paper. It seems to be what you are talking about. I get the basketball analogy and quantum vs classical physics. I will need to study it very carefully.

I would not be expecting to generate much interest from psychiatrists in regards to looking at the world outside of the cage their education has created for them Thai. I think the way you see fractals in the world is quite special and hard to generalize to others. I was riding my bike home from the gym today just looking at trees and bushes and for the first time looking at the self similarity of the parts as you describe. It is hard for me to envision the beauty of fractal architecture being applied to the disaster that is the DSM or psychiatry. I do not think I know enough to offer thoughts about the validity or usefulness of this as it applies to consciousness but it certainly provides a model that is not at all existing in contemporary psychiatry/clinical neurology. Psychiatry as a body is just not interested in this mystery. I guess it has no cash value. I do not recall even one article in any clinical journal I have come across. This is sadly just not what psychiatrists think about. You need to talk to a particle physicist. I would like to listen. John

Thai said...

Particle physicists already talk this way. It would be like talking to the choir.

I don't know JP's educational background (he is an attorney now) but I'd bet the fact he too sees this comes from his own educational background and you can clearly read he can both comment in this way thinking, and agree with it at the same time.

I have actually learned there are really an awful lot of people who see things this way on the internet, it is just not the way we communicate in day to day life with most others... to some degree for good reason.

Talking to physicists would be like talking about Jesus at born again conference, everyone would say "duh"

It is the medical community who is not talking with the physics community (but we love their tools like MRIs and EEGs, etc...).

... But I have faith in the emergency medicine community. They/we are as interested in cash as anyone else and we tend to call a spade a spade at the same time.

The problem is this in not in its area of interest all that much

Thai said...

Oh, it very definitely has cash value but more to drug companies/device manufacturers. An enterprising researcher will see this immediately.

Oh well.

Thanks for thinking about the paper. If you do ever think a forum it will work in, please share.

Thai said...

Thanks for the link, I looked at it.

There are a great many websites devoted to just this kind of thinking if you go looking (it is actually an undercurrent on Sudden Debt if you read between the lines).

Dr John said...

As far as physicists go Thai I am not so sure. I see no huge body of literature floating around on the net coming from physicists about this specifically when I look. Sure it looks like some comment or speculate but it does not appear that within the world of physics or biology there is a ton of active research in this area. I have an interest in this stuff. I admit all I have read has been philosophy. Thank you for opening this door which has required I learn a great deal and has most certainly offered me a way of now thinking about a possible answer to this problem. I am sad to have to say I do not think this is an issue psychiatrists day to day are asking themselves questions about. If you could demonstrate this, beyond the life/death issue what clinical utility would you see it having?

Thai said...

The modular/lego 'plug and play" aspect of the brain has been understood for a long time but I think to the degree clinicians get a better handle on the duality of the module and the whole, they will have much better opportunity to both change and somewhat predict the consequences of that change.

This endless attempt to mess with the whole through drugs which mimic or block the effect of neurotransmitters is a classic example.

It is kind of often like thinking you can fix an argument between your children if you either give them more words to use or tell each that certain word are not allowed.

Dr John said...

I agree. Wonderful insight. Thanks again Thai for taking me down this path. John

Thai said...

One might be able to come up with better 80-20 models on mental illness.

We know we can't predict why we see certain outputs and therefore what truly causes certain behaviors, but certain combinations of building blocks (and there are probably an infinite number of combinations that can produce the same output like 9+1=8+2=12-2=44.7-34.7=10, etc...) might be mapped to a kind of 80/20 predictive model where we can say 80% of the time a given behavioral output can be explained with the following 20% of explanations and the others might explanations would likely follow fat tale probabilities, etc... and with this current imaging/testing (Pet scans, etc...) would have much greater utility to psychiatrists as they try to adjust software for a particular output, etc...

Please realize this is exactly the same problem software developers have to deal with. We have been using a new EMR documenatation system at a couple of my group's facilities that a friend of mine developed. There are endless bugs, crashes, etc... and fixes seem to endlessly fix one set of problems but cause entire new ones, etc... and you just keep adjusting until you get it to a tolerable level.

Thai said...

Trust me from first hand experience, when it comes to improving computer software, there is a great deal of time spent getting things in snyc ;-)

Thai said...

it really is a shame others do not see fractals better, as this is such an obvious statement when you do.

Dr John said...

I do not believe science has or will ever have much to say of a predictive nature for psychiatry or the things psychiatry chooses to claim as "disease". Brain states do not constitute disease. I will always fall back on the philosophy of Heidegger and his concept of "Dasein". Man and his brain exist within the world. They can no more be separated than space from time. Psychiatry's inherent flaw is that it attempts to do this because it cannot account for the endless and unknowable variables that alter perception, response and behavior. There are a few very limited symptom clusters that that may not be the case for but that is not most of what psychiatry is dealing with day to day. I am mostly a cynic about my field. The good thing about it is I am almost always right but when I am wrong I am glad. I hope you are right and I am wrong.

Thai said...

Think of it like predicting your wife, 80% of the tmine you can and forever 20% of the time you can't

Dr John said...

But predicting what exactly Thai? Potential for murder? Specific behaviors? Future emotional states? The predictions I can make about my wife are banal and based on nothing more than past patterns. The really important stuff is unpredictable.

Thai said...

I hear you and really do agree, and by the way this would confirm that, but I think you are over dismissing the desire of both patients and society got you to assist rach other in a kind of general sync with each other.

And to the extent you can show that it is absolutely impossible for you to predict the assymetric risk issues such as suicide and murder, I think you go a long way to also being relieved of the responsibility and self reinforcing anger that comes with being held responsible for that which is not your fault.

I do think society will change. The market will force this if nothing else.

Thai said...

But I sense (perhaps incorrectly) that the problems with prediction in psychiatry are worse than say cardiology and I think this untrue if you do. Studies show that if I see a patient with chest pain which started today, the results of a stress test done yesterday are useless in predicting today's chest pain outcome.

These problems with prediction are universal in medicine much to the delight of plantif's attorneys.

Dr John said...

Thai if we invented such a machine we would rule the world as you are indeed correct that anything that would allow us to improve behavioral predictability in my field would be valued. The problem is I am not sure what we would do with any of it
.Such a test would be just like the example you give in cardiology. That is real joke behind psychiatry that no one will admit to. I can run off say a list of things that increase suicide risk. Substance use, lack of job, male very young or very old,psychosis with insight, insomnia, prior hx of such acts ect. ect. This allows me to make about a 5% statistical chance over 5 yrs. That means 5 out of 100 in that group will do themselves in within a 5 year period.

Now the important part. Obviously I am horrible at predicting. Let's say I get better at predicting. My God who wants to here that they have a good chance of killing themselves soon? You know why none of this matters to anyone other than lawyers? Because even if I identify them there is no specific intervention for them that they would get that everyone else is not getting . There is no intervention in psychiatry(with MAYBE the limited exception of Li/Clozaril in a few small groups over a long period) that has ever been shown to reduce suicide or homicide.All those admissions you send up have never been shown to produce shit but big hospital bills.I with all my training have the predictive ability of an 8th grader with common sense. Actually that may be an insult to an 8th grader. Still people would pay huge dollars for such a test regardless if I can do anything good with it. That is for sure.

One last point. There was a study out a few years ago from the Royal Collage Of Psychiatry that found that for every act of violence correctly predicted there were 3300 that were wrong. Lets say we cut that to 1 in 500. Do we incarcerate that many people on a hunch? For how long? To what end? Such a prediction machine to me would be used to a horrible end. John

Thai said...

Fair enough. I did say this was nihilism, remember?

Thai said...

... Which also means it's just as valid as not looking into it. ;-)

Glass 1/2 full, glass 1/2 empty

As far as I see the world, there is really only cooperation (or sync if you want to be more technical) or chaos and this really applies to everything. I do not think it unique to psychiatry in any way.

Dr John said...

I am sure you are right and my pissing and moaning about psych is not unique. We need more optimists like you but folks in my field who are less sure of themselves perhaps. I must work harder to reduce the chaos and improve cooperation.

Thanks Thai

Thai said...

There is a whole element of "it is what it is" in life.

From my perspective, the fact people like you see that the establishment 2+2 is not adding to 4 is a good thing. There may not be a better way but I'd personally prefer hearing from people I'm cooperating with "I just don't know" when they really think they don't as it helps me trust them when they say "I think so".

This may not be rational, but it is the way my mind works.

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