A Response to Kahn and Hobson

The following is a critique of the article Self-organization and the Dreaming Brain by David Kahn and J. Allan Hobson that appeared in The Harvard Mental Health Letter of May, 1994 (Volume 10, Number 11).

Short idea (120): If you think brain activities underlie all our thoughts, our feelings, our actions, and so on, here is a paradox: I can influence your brain (say through my words to you), and you can influence mine, but it seems impossible for me to influence my own brain or for you to influence yours. Why? Because if you think you are doing something to influence your own brain (maybe telling yourself happy words to make your brain have a different chemistry), it is your brain making you want to do the thing in the first place, it is your brain that lies behind your actually doing it, and it is your brain that causes you to be aware you are doing it. Similarly, if a man is strong enough and big enough, maybe he could lift any human being on earth, but he could never lift himself.

(Psychological Paradox & Puzzles — 2)

The Paradox of Changing Yourself

Two Opposite Perspectives on Negative Feelings and Negative Emotions

One view of our Negative Feelings and Negative Emotions that is current in psychology is found in many of the classes psychologist take for what we call our “Continuing Education.” It can be stated as follows:

(Psychological Paradoxes & Puzzles — 7)

Still more "In-Out" Paradoxes

What if Brains have Minds of their Own?

The study of the brain is, from the point of view of an old-time psychologist, the latest in a line of psychological crazes. Many of the crazes have produced fruit, but none have solved our deepest problems. Unquestionably, neuroscientists have made many interesting, important, and useful discoveries, and there are many more to come. Our children and our children's children will, almost certainly, benefit from these discoveries. At the same time we must remember it is a new field and that, as with all new fields, the imagination dresses it up as a cure all. I would never disparage where neuroscience has been, where it is, and where it is going, but I do want to offer five cautionary notes to those following the developments in the field.