This is no science fiction. The Harvard-trained neurobiologist was taking advantage of one of his own inventions, a device called Thync, which promises to help users activate their body’s “natural state of energy or calm” — for a retail price of a mere $199. (Washington Post)
What does this wonder-gadget using electroshock or magnetisms to produce “happiness” have to do with Caitlyn Jenner, Obamacare, and Hippies?
Much – if you think about it.
The “natural” state of the body is that – when you push it too far – it fatigues – when you stress it out too much – you discover there are things you are doing , or that are being done to you, that are not in your best interest. Pain, stress, fatigue, and “negative” outcomes of stimulation are not in themselves – bad. They are indicators.
The “body’s natural state of energy or calm” is an advertising slogan to norm a product and a behavior.
Let Science take away your pain. It can do miracles today.
Can’t afford it? Let the government help you out. Happiness is guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence, isn’t it?
If an unwanted pregnancy gets in your way, if the astronomical cost of maintaining your mental health is preventing you from getting an abortion, if your psychologist or school teacher helps you understand you were born in the wrong body, let Science produce your salvation, and get your insurance company to pay for it, or all tax payers.
What can be wrong with Mind over Matter if it produces – Happiness? There can never be too much of a good thing, right?
The Counter-Culture in the 60s and 70s thought so.
It was the first big push to combine Sex with Pharmaceuticals and Profit. All three produced psychological and physical dependence attacking the pleasure centers of the brain for a price. That sounds nice until you remember the toll it unleashed on countless individuals and society itself.
Discoveries made in the 1950s initially suggested that rodents could not stop electrically stimulating parts of their brain, mainly the nucleus accumbens, which was theorized to produce great pleasure. Further investigations revealed that the septum pellucidium and the hypothalamus can also be targets for self-stimulation. More recent research has shown that the so-called pleasure electrodes lead only a form of wanting or motivation to obtain the stimulation, rather than pleasure. (Wikipedia on what we learned about “pleasure” from the Skinner Box)
There are always hidden consequences when the reality of nature is warped too much at the hands of mankind – Science-driven or not.
THYNC and Muse are two wearable headbands that use electrical nerve stimulation and an EEG respectively to read your mind. THYNC looks to alters your mood, while Muse reads your thoughts to help in meditation.
There’s real, peer-reviewed science behind the theory driving these devices. It involves stimulating key regions of the brain — with currents or magnetic fields — to affect emotions and physical well-being. It isn’t too different from how electroshock therapy works to counter certain mental illnesses and how deep-brain stimulation smooths motion disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. Indeed, recent studies have looked at the technique as a possible treatment for stroke, autism and anorexia.
If grandma is getting on your nerves, or you made the mistake of not aborting your autistic child, hook her up to the jumper cables and let Science “cure” her… We’ve been doing it to “normalize” mental patients for over a century. What could be wrong with that…?
You aren’t against the Pursuit of Happiness, are you?
Lots of people and companies are making investments, too, from Silicon Valley venture capitalists to large pharmaceutical companies and even the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. And according to the start-ups selling the products, their technology appears to be safe and effective based on certain, very controlled tests.
Rampant drug addiction, a “spike” in violent crime becoming the new “normal”, and an equal spike in STDs – deadly and otherwise – came along with the benefits of the Hippie Culture of Peace, Drugs, and Rock n Roll.
“Turn on, tune in, drop out” is a counterculture-era phrase popularized by Timothy Leary in 1966. In 1967 Leary spoke at the Human Be-In, a gathering of 30,000 hippies in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and phrased the famous words, “Turn on, tune in, drop out” (Wikipedia)
Maybe if the gurus of Well-Being back then had had the technology of today, everyone would be as happy as they promised when they sought to cure all social ills via narcotics, entertainment, and the eradication of moral norms deemed no longer acceptable in a more Enlightened Age?
Or, maybe the consequences of ignoring natural limitations and signals your body is trying to communicate from inside our thick skulls could turn out to be just as drastic and devastating as physical and psychological dependence on drugs, rapid spread of disease, and break down of the family have been since the 60s?
One thing is clear — a handful of individuals are going to get fabulously rich – no matter what happens…