I am David Lewis-Hodgson, photojournalist turned clinical psychologist, neuroscientist, and author. AMA
Hi. I am David Lewis-Hodgson. Throughout the 60s I was working as photojournalist, documenting the lives of Britons. My journey put me in interesting crazy situations. After being asked to talk about my experiences as photojournalist, I went through my extensive archive of negatives and pictures, which resulted in me self-publing "The Way It was".
In 1978 I went back to the University of Westminster to study clinic psychology & neuroscience with a focus on anxiety, stress, and phobias. After that I went to the university of Sussex to undertake research for my doctorate.
After I received my doctorate in 1984, I started lecturing at the University of Sussex and got a post doctorate-qualification in neuroscience. In the meantime I I've set up two charities to combat anxiety and phobias.
Parallel to lecturing, I was researching on how the brain responds to various stimuli, which lead me to dive into marketing in order to collect data how people respond to 30 seconds commercials. One thing led to the other and I ended up starting Mindlab which was the first Neuromarketing agency of its kind.
This is my humble journey. Ask me anything.
EDIT: We are not doing a livestream asking the questions below and expanding on some of the answers given here. https://www.facebook.com/TheWayITWasUK/videos/355038671647591/
I experienced it first hand and covered the coal strikes in the North East of England. And I saw first hand the devastation of mining communities where there was literally no food in many cases that mothers and fathers could put on the table for their children. The police were more like a state agency, administering rough justice to anyone who was opposing the closure policies. The brutality was in many cases appalling and certainly of the same brutality which I had witnessed in Ireland and in other civil wars and riots around the world. I photographed the effects of the strike of both individuals and communities and I saw the levels of poverty into which people were forced. I also witnessed how communities have been divided, between those who worked and those who were forced to go back to work.
The labour class responded with a great deal of resistance on all levels across England. Particularly students were outraged by Thatchers policies and I think even her supporters were sometimes appalled by the consequences of her strategies and her determination to crush the working classes and defeat any opposition to her policies.
Why are phobias prevalent now more than ever?
That's an interesting question. What is clear that we are now much more aware of phobias and that they are not just a flight of the imagination, but a real and life inhibiting problem for a great many people. Let me give you one example:
In the mid-19th century, when a German psychologist named Carl Westphal named "agoraphobia" which is not a fear as many people think of being in open spaces, but of being among other people - it comes from the Greek "agora" which means market place - he reported that he was unable to describe any cases of female agoraphobics, as all his patients were men. What he failed to appreciate, that even those with severe agoraphobia are able to leave their homes quite easily, when in the company of a trusted adult or child. This could be their son, their brother, their parents, and so forth. In the 19th century, the middle class women who formed his patient base never went out unaccompanied, they always had companion. And so they didn't display any of the fear symptoms of agoraphobia. Today, many more people experience new things to which they can become phobic and social structures mean they are always less likely to be accompanied. I think these two factors account for both the greater public awareness of phobias and possibly the increase in phobias to experiences, activities, and situations that did not exist even 30 years ago.
Is there any advice you would like to give to somebody aspiring to be a photojournalist?
Hi and thanks your very interesting question. When I started out as a photojournalist in the 1960s the world very different place, both photographically and in every other sense, than it is today. However although the techniques have changed significantly at the technology firstly improved, there are still some basic guidelines for those wishing to start on this career. When I left photographic college I was sure the national newspapers would be only too happy to employ the as a staff photographer – at that time the Daily Express, for example, had 64 full-time staff photographers. How wrong I was! After about 60 turn downs I got a job working for a small news agency in the North West of the UK. After a few weeks I realised I could do the same job of selling pictures for myself so came back down south and worked as a freelance for by local newspapers. After a while I became known to Fleet Street editors who began to commission me to cover local jobs. I then moved to Fleet Street and worked from there and from Paris for major magazines such as Life, Paris Match, et cetera. These days I am by no means sure that such a path exists but you could start by seeing whether it does. Develop a good news sense when it comes to pictures which editors will want to buy. Read lots of local newspapers and local websites, listen to local radio immerse yourself in the community as much as possible and cultivate special groups within communities that are most likely to feel affinity with you. For example if you are young then mixing with younger people will probably be easier than older ones. Listen out for any ideas that you could turn into a picture, or better yet, a series of pictures as this will bring in more money. Learn to write so that you can provide illustrated articles or at least well captured photographs which will be far more likely to attract and enters interest than those with little or no text where she or he has to commission a journalist to write the copy for you. You can also try following a specialist route as there are still a number of markets for people with a niche interest, whether this is dogs or horses, classic cars or garden furniture! If you yourself have an interest in any of these you might well find a ready market in the smaller specialist magazines. Once you have gutted with the editor and she/he knows you can be relied upon to provide reliable copy and pictures to deadline you are likely to find yourself with regular commissions. Use this as the basis for expanding your range of interests and contacts. Learn how to speak to people on the phone to set up assignments and persuade those reluctant to be photographed to let you take pictures of them. The more exclusive the images you could provide the more likely they are to sell at the higher the price you could get from them, but don't expect to become a millionaire! If you go to my website www.thewayitwas.com and look at the photographs there this may provide you with some help in identifying what a newsworthy all magazine worthy picture looks like and how it should be shot. If I had to give you just two pieces of advice then getting close – viewers like to feel part of the picture rather than distant observers – and make the key part of the picture stand out from the background clutter as far as possible, for instance by using a long lens to blur the surroundings. Hope this helps and the best of luck for your future. David
Just FYI the link you provided leads to a dead page.
Thanks your emailI am sorry that you had some problems but the link does work and even access the site using the URL you sent me. Possibly you could try again.
Do you see any way in which neuromarketing is used unethically?
The techniques we were using when I first invented Neuromarketing involved attaching electrodes to the scalps of volunteers to read the electrical activity in their brain while they were being exposed to a particular stimulus, such as a new packaging design all TV commercial. The problems here are that the sample size must inevitably be small which makes the data somewhat unreliable. Second games work in such unique individual fashions that while there are, obviously, commonalities there are also very great differences making the data sets hard to compare. We studied the results intensively for the year before deciding a new approach was needed. My company Mindlab International - www.themindlab.co.uk now employs not only neuroscientists and psychologists but a great number of physicists and mathematicians as well as computer scientists who design increasingly refined algorithms by which to analyse brain responses over the Internet. This means that operating from the Science Park at the University of Sussex we can operate in any country in the world (with a few obvious limitations) and with a large subject set at a four lower cost than in the days of flying EEG equipment around the world.
Re my response above. While our results are far more accurate and insightful than those gathered through traditional surveys and focus groups, I'm not sure this makes them any more or less ethical than the latter. How you view advertising, PR, marketing et cetera as ethical enterprises is very much a personal thing. My concern is the way in which the information gathered is used and here I think there can be considerable causes for concern. If you would like to know more about my views on this please see my book The Brain Sell- When Science Meets Shopping in which I discussed the vast numbers of ways in which the consumers actions and thoughts about the product – whether something you buy of the supermarket shelf or vote for in a poling booth - are being covertly influenced and directed by some of the best academic brains around, with millions to spend and an ever-increasing number of high-tech ways in which to subvert the minds of shoppers.
Best books to read on psychopaths, narcissists, and brain washing?
Just so people don't troll me. I am fascinated by the subject. Not trying to be one.
Hi good question. lots of good books on the subject and I suggest you search for them on Amazon or Google. I have conducted the research into the subject of mind control and have even made a short video on the topic which had a post on the www.thewayitwas.uk Facebook. I have one book which could be a special interest to your studies based on the appalling work done on mental patients by a Canadian psychiatrist in the last decades of the last millennium. I will dig out the title and getting across to you in a subsequent email. Good luck with your searches it's a fascinating area. David
I have a better question than the rest. Do you like puppies?
I love both puppies and dogs of which I have five, all rescues. Nellie and Marlow are both collies, working dogs and very affectionate, Nellie is 10 and Marlow is 3. Then there is Alfie A three legged ex-army dog from Egypt's who lost a leg sticking out IEDs in the desert, Henry a little stuffy who is going to be put down some 10 years ago - he is now just 11 - because his owners had to go into a flat where dogs were not allowed. Finally there is Barney, a big soft as butter German Shepherd cross Rottweiler who was dumped in a rescue centre when he became too big for the owner to cope with.
You know the world has straight up descended into madness when an academic owning more dogs than cats holds an AMA.
I assure you I don't dislike cats and I have even written a book about them called Incredible Cats. It is now out of print but you can properly find some very low-cost copies available through Amazon. It talks about the remarkable powers which cats posses. When I was working as a therapist and making home calls I could very often tell how their owners were behaving by looking at their dogs behaviour. A hysterical dog owner nearly always had an equally hysterical dog - I am delighted to tell you all my dogs are calm and collected! However a cat owned by a hysterical owner never showed any signs of distress as the poet said "the cat walks alone" and remains called, collected no matter how bizarre the behaviour of the owner.
My two kitty cat fur babies give me the purpose I need to to hang in there and bring love into my life. They are truly amazing because when I was really sick, my Persian Jasmine, would sleep on the pillow right on the side of me and my Main Coon Fiona, would sleep on the other side of me. They usually didn’t do this. All day long one of them would always take turns laying right next to me. Most of the time they always have their own napping places but it was unusual to have them lay pretty much on me. Come to find out, I had both my lungs full of blood clots and my doctor said I should have been dead let alone walking. My kitties definitely know when something is going on with me. It was so funny that when either Fiona or Jasmine would lay next to me I was thinking “Oh crap! Am I going to die?” They definitely are wonderful creatures.
I agree cats are incredibly sensitive and, like dogs, have a wonderfulsense of smell. I became interested in both cats and dogs from a clinical point of view when examining their benefits as "animal therapists". As you may know ,they are increasingly being used to bring comfort to people with psychological and age-related problems. Their great benefit is that unlike dogs they cannot become infected by the owners fears and anxieties in the same way as dogs. Both cats and dogs offer unconditional positive regard – they never judge us they only want to be loved and love us in return. I am so pleased they were helpful, and indeed life-saving, in your case. They offered you hope your darkest hour. The one thing I would so like to give my patients is hope. If you want to read Incredible Cats try Amazon where I'm sure you can pick it up very cheaply.
Thank you! I’ll definitely check out your book!
Great – let me know if you have any difficulties. Best wishes, David
As a psychologist, what do you think causes the political polarisation?
I think political polarisation isn't a new thing. People have always taken opposing views to a new position, thinking that they have the answer to solve a problem. The difference today is that you have wider reach to find new audiences through social media.
When I was working in Northern Ireland, the polarisation of views between the catholic and protestant communities were obvious and violent, and in some cases lethal. As a photojournalist I have friends on both sides of the sectarian line. I have met charming, charismatic and eloquent men and women on both sides as well as many criminals who were simple out to feather their own nests. But each of these groups had red lines which they were not prepared to cross or for years even negotiate. Once polarisation sets in, wether between individuals or communities, it can proof extremely difficult to restore the situation, to one in which each one feels confident in discussing their own and the other individuals point of view.
I am currently studying psychology but I have a huge passion for photography and documenting the realities of life. I've had a really difficult time trying to find a career that I can be all-in because I have a need to create and to inform. As someone who is looking to do the reverse of your career trajectory:
- What were your biggest struggles as a photojournalist?
- Is there any way that you're aware of to combine the fields of psychology and photojournalism into a career?
Thanks your email and good luck with your career whichever one you choose. What year of your psychology course are you attending at the moment and you have any specialisations within psychology that particularly interest you? If you could let me know this I will be able to provide – hopefully – a more detailed response. I started out in medicine but had always an interest in photography. About a year into my course I came across a book entitled People I Have Shot by one of Fleet Street's earliest photographers. I was captivated and then there'd had in my notice as a medical student and became a photography student at what was then called the Regent Street School of Photography. In my book The Way It Was (www.thewayitwas.uk) I describe the training I received my early struggles to obtain work as a photojournalist. My immediate suggestion, and I may be able to refine this once I have more information about your training, is to use photography as an aid to research within one of the fields of psychology with an eye to future publication. One of the first studies I undertook as a psychologist involved body language among the under fives, that is during the period children are developing a spoken language and one in which non-verbal communication is a main form of social interaction. I used a very early form of video recording to capture their movements in nursery school and then analysed several miles of tape and extracted black-and-white photographs (this was before the age of colour videography) for my research project. I later published this study in a book entitled The Secret Language of Your Child: how children talk before they can speak. This enjoyed world wide sales success and he still in print today. There may be some areas of research that interest you especially for which this approach would be appropriate.
Wow, thank you so much for the thorough reply!
I am specifically focused on understanding human development through biological and evolutionary lenses. I will be graduating with a B.S. this June. Graduate school is not in my immediate plan, although it has not been ruled out but rather simply postponed until I have a better idea of what to study.
I find it interesting and innovative that you have used photography to support your research by exemplifying your findings and perhaps reach a wider audience. I feel that photography in itself is a language that many understand but not all speak, and I'm always amazed to see people manipulate the practice in novel ways. I will certainly check out both The Way It Was and the People I Have Shot.
Again, I appreciate your time and such a thorough reply.
Glad you found my reply of interest. I think it could be a very interesting study to examine the psychology of different types of photography, perhaps including selfies and those which go viral on the Internet. It would be also interesting to see whether the same subject shot in different ways makes any difference – as I'm sure you would to the impact the image has as the Association's it evokes. Probably there is a student working for her or his PhD in exactly this area but I have not read any papers in the academic literature as yet. If you decide to explore this further. I would be terribly interested in hearing what results you come up with. You can find details of my book, which can be purchased via Amazon, at www.thewayitwas.uk add the book People I Have Shot was written in the early 1920's I would guess by a man called James Jarche.
The domain is https://thewayitwas.uk/david-lewis-hodgson-sixties-photojournalist/
First off: you seem like a genuine bad-ass-mtherfcker. Do you miss those days or are you grateful for having survived?
I recently began entertaining the possibility of pursuing photojournalism and fashion photography; my inner cynic is telling me that the future for journalism looks bleak - in a sense. Journalists are receiving less compensation, less protection, and so on... Any thoughts?
What are your thoughts on the current vs the past state of journalism & photo-journalism? What are your opinions about people such as Sebastian Junger, Tim Hetherington, Don McCullin, Marie Colvin & Paul Conroy, etc.?
I'm left with the impression that the state of today's journalism is completely different than what it was yesterday. It all seems quite romanticized -- in hindsight.
Sorry for all of the questions, but it's not every day that we have the opportunity to pick the brains of people such as yourself.
I entirely agree with you regarding the state of journalism in terms of financial renumeration. More and more major news outlets now expect to receive free of charge copy from public relations organisations – in the UK there are now more PR's than journalists! Ditto with pictures which they get free of charge from readers. I've heard it said that when the Twin Towers were destroyed by terrorists there were 11 cameras focusing on the terrible events. Today there would be 11 million. One area where there may be some scope is providing pictures and stories to magazines targeting groups of specialist readers – classic car enthusiasts, hiking, biking, shooting, fishing et cetera. For this one would need a degree of knowledge of and interest in the activity concerned of course. Fashion could a good source of income if you can get into the top levels of the business. However I imagine fashion is even more rat race – albeit a far better paid one - than photojournalism. I had a good friend from my student days called Bob Carlos Clarke who became very famous in the UK as a fashion photographer and was incredibly good. Sadly the pressures finally got him and he killed himself at a young age.
I have huge admiration for technical ability l and – in many cases – raw courage of todays' photojournalists. The world is a far more dangerous and difficult place in which to practice photography than it was in my day. I have huge admiration for war photographers such as McCullin and Capa who was killed in Vietnam along with many other great American photojournalists
Regarding your last question I think I had the best of times because I started my work as the "golden age" of photojournalism was coming to an end. There were still great picture magazines whose editors truly understood how to use and how to commission great spreads. I am hugely grateful for having been able to work with many of the. They also had the money to spend to get the truly great pictures. On one assignment to cover the inauguration of a Pope, for example, they stripped out a large part of a commercial jet to provide darkroom and editing facilities on board then took a dozen or so of us photographers out to Rome to cover the occasion and, as we flew home had the magazine laid out and the images processed so that on landing the magazine could be printed and distributed within a couple of hours. I remember another story told me by a Life magazine photographer commissioned to photograph Hadrian's Wall between England and Scotland. He flew out from the States but didn't like the weather conditions he found – too sunny. So he paid the landlord of a local inn to telegraph him when there was snow on the ground. He then flew back to the States. Some weeks later when he was on assignment in Africa he received the awaited cable. He immediately flew back to Scotland and hired a helicopter (all on expenses) to shoot the pictures he required. The images looked wonderful and the cost of obtaining would far exceed the annual photo budget of most of today's newspapers.
So do I miss it all? Not really I think the whole trade has changed to such an extent that I would neither understand it, nor like it, nor probably succeed in it to the same extent. The quality of work being shot today, especially in the fields of natural history, sport and hard news at their best are far better than anything I could have obtained in the days of silver halide technology. As the old Country and Western song says "you gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold em know when to walk away, know when to run!" Thanks for evoking such a lot of happy memories for me with your enquiry.
Thanks so much for taking the time to respond -- especially to such lengths. I recently watched a documentary about David Bailey - did your paths ever intersect?
I love how life is such a mystery-filled journey filled with unexpected twists and turns - you began as a photographer, and now you're rocking a PhD, have given numerous lectures, and launched a startup.
You're -- quite literally -- an academic bad ass.
I've done some similar work and research, and dabbed in similar fields -- I'm really shocked at the lack (based on personal experiences and observations) of active demand for this type of work. On the flip side of that -- the world has graced us with the likes of MIT and Microsoft Research. Sorry, this is total stream of thought: If you don't mind I'd like to ask you a follow-up question related to your current field of work: any specific areas of research, individual researchers, or research initiatives which you think are either under-rated, less-known, or simply ground-breaking?
Myself, I'm a huge fan of Alex Pentland @ the MIT Media Lab. Highly recommend his book Social Physics. That's all. Thanks again!
As a follow, to my follow-up: what's your opinion on wireless EEG readers and sensors such as the Emotiv and people such as Ariel Garten (founder of Interaxon).
Hi, I agree with your comments regarding lack of personal experience and observations in research. Scientists are trained, as was I, to remove from any papers they publish such "irrelevant" information and right strictly in the third person so as to appear as possible. This is of course a complete myth we are all handicapped and straight jacketed by our prejudices and experiences. Einstein had a good remark about this when, during the Nazi era a large number of their physicists wrote a letter claiming his theory of relativity was a Jewish conspiracy and completely wrong. He replied that if you was wrong it would only take one physicist to show him where he was wrong and that the opinions of even a million other physicists was completely irrelevant. We should all be evidence rather than prejudice led and this is true in every other aspect of life as well as science.
I to am hugely impressed by media lab animal follow-up your suggestion by getting hold of his book on Social Physics. Thanks for the direction.
I am very suspicious of these so-called EEG readers. Not on the basis of deep research into their validity but from my general practical experience and understanding of the problems of obtaining good clean EEG data under anything but laboratory conditions. There are so many artefacts which contaminate the reading of very small electrical signals which, to be read must first penetrate both the protective layers surrounding the brain, the skull and the scalp which offer both resistance and far more powerful (in relative terms) electrical signals from the muscles. Artefacts are also being generated by the eyes, which have polarity, and signals from the surroundings. These are quite capable of overwhelming any signals from the brain itself and wild algorithms can detect and clean up any of these artefacts I think in the rather casual way electrodes are attached they are far more likely to be reading muscle signals than brain signals.
Thanks again for taking the time to respond!
That's interesting to hear - my blissfully ignorant self thought these EEG signals yielded more of a binary reaction; I never considered the impacts (or presence) of noise in the results. That said, I'm a casual observer in the field -- at best; however, I always had a gnawing suspicion that there was a consumer/marketing push behind potentially borderline pseudo-science. I don't think I even know more than 2-3 people who could potentially even contest the validity of the research. Also, wasn't it Einstein who said something about the pursuit elegant solutions to complex problems? One recurring theme I've come across in both mathematics, social sciences, design, and even politics/governance is that complex problems very rarely yield elegant solutions which are sustainable and/or valid.
But I'm equally impressed by the results (I never thought to google the failures!) of consumer-grade EEG readers/BCI (brain computer interface) devices, such as the experiments which were carried out in Berlin, whereby an Emotiv BCI was used to control a vehicle (possibly a VW Touareg ). Should you manage to get some time away from your animal kingdom, here's a link: http://dcis.inf.fu-berlin.de/rojas/brain-computer-interfaces/
Thanks again and I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.
BCI It is very interesting and valid field of research. I don't quite a few techniques using this approach when developing ways to treat anxiety. For example I built a train that was controlled either by skin resistance or brain function, the more relaxed one became the faster the train moved round the track the more anxious a person the train remained stationary. I could post your video clip of one of my training sessions using this approach should you be interested. I can also send you, at no cost, a paper I wrote on neuromarketing which discusses the artefact problem. Einstein, I believe, said that everything should be as simple as possible but no simpler. Good advice but one rarely followed by the mass media who like things not just to be simple but super simple even when this renders the research their reporting on meaningless. Let me know how I can contact you if you wish to see the paper and the video clip. Best wishes and thanks your kind thoughts which are much appreciated.
How can you reduce anxiety and stress
Any practical tips?
There are a number of techniques which you can use to control anxiety and reduce stress. If you go to my website www.themindchangers.co.uk you will be able to download, free of charge, a number of files that can help you relax and unwind. Our effective approach is to learn how to breathe correctly, there is a section on breathing techniques on the site You could and also develop the art of "mindfulness"- many find the highly effective. Read the notes under Sensualisation on the site. You might also explore the possibility of using biofeedback equipment – I give a demonstration of this on the website – and you will find plenty of low-cost equipment if you Google it.
Here's a quick technique you may find helpful for reducing stress in situations where you are among people and therefore wish to unwind discreetly.
When we become anxious the temperature of our body, measured from the surface of the skin, decreases. This is part of the "fight or flight response" and is perfectly normal. When aroused, blood is drained from the surface and sent to the muscles. By returning the blood to the surface you will become more relaxed. Three ways of doing this and you should try the one that works best for you. Some people can relax and warm their hands simply by focusing on the hand – it is best to use your dominant hand – and imagining becoming warmer and warmer. Second, imagine holding your hand in front of a blazing log fire and imagine the heat coming off the fire to warm your hand. The third way is to hold the palm of your hand just above the surface of your cheek which is a hotspot. Feel the heat coming off the cheek and flowing into your hand and so really it. I have posted a video blog on the Mind changers website which shows this procedure at work. Go mastering anxiety control it can change your life for the better in a wide range of work and pleasure situations.
If you like to take a look at a not-for-profit website I have run with a clinical hypnotherapist - www.themindchangers.co.uk - you will find lots of free advice and downloads specifically aimed at helping people with excessive anxiety and/or stress. If you would like to come back to me after doing so with further questions I will do my very best to answer them for you.
As a clinical psychologist, what are your views on the categorical diagnostic approach of the DSM? Have you heard of NIMH’s Research Domain Criteria, and what do you think of shifting from a categorical diagnostic approach to a dimensional one?
A very interesting question and one, I think of great relevance and importance at this present time. I can appreciate the need for a classification system such as the DSM or the Research Domain Criteria. I was trained to use the former, which as you will know has changed in many ways over the years. For example homosexuality was "in" as a mental disorder until it was 'out' by a small majority vote some years later.
I can appreciate its value when applying for research grants, or I imagine especially in the US in medical insurance forms! In terms of helping the patient I believe it is often unhelpful and possibly even dangerous. By adopting a "tick box" approach to treatment one risks not seen the patient for the diagnosis. Doctors and clinical psychologists should always treat their clients as unique human being with unique experiences and world views. Many thanks for turning my thoughts to this.
I have been reading a lot about the “chemical imbalance” theory is not based on any scientific proof as to explain mental illnesses. What are your thoughts?
Thanks for your interesting question. My personal view is that mental dysfunction is due to chemical changes in the brain. The fact that these are not be identified at present is, I believe, more due to our ignorance of brain function than to the absence of evidence. A neuroscientist friend of mine once remarked that all the light we have shed on the brain in the past decade merely serves to illustrate how much darkness remains. That said I do not believe the job of the clinical psychologist or therapist is to wait around until the biochemist has sorted out the chemical contribution of any mental disorder. They can are positive steps which can be taken to help people overcome such problems. These may be partly chemically based, such as antidepressants or anxiolytics. But I believe drug treatments should in most cases be regarded as lifebelts to help people stay afloat while they are taught how to swim.
As a therapist I take a holistic view of the conditions presented. The brain does not operate in isolation but in conjunction with all the other systems in the body. I believe the therapist who, if not overtly, tells her or his client "this is the solution now what is the problem" as I used to find – though less so now – with both radical behaviourists and dedicated psychoanalysts - Is doing a grave disservice to the client. Consider everything about the way of life of the person you are helping, from their social situation to their presenting condition. As the poet Alexander Pope said:" the proper study of mankind is man." If particular therapy seems to work well for a client and does not produce any equally unpleasant effects, then I'm happy that he or she should go along with it.
Thank you for your reply. That helps clear a few things up for me. I hope you won’t mind if I can ask you some more questions if that’s okay. First of all I want to say I’ve be diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder about 6 years ago. I’m a 43 year old female and have been misdiagnosed as bipolar for about 15 years but I really didn’t get any help as to seeing a psychiatrist and therapists until 9 years ago. I pretty much have a stack of diagnoses like eating disorders, depression, anxiety, insomnia, Complex PTSD, etc. I definitely understand how hard it is to be able to pin down the “main” problem. The problem for me is that I have been high functioning for all those years as to being an “actress” for whatever situation presents itself. Of course I had no idea what was happening but I have had so much trauma keep getting packed on since I was a child and dissociation got me through life but it all came crumbling down and have been on disability for 7 years and what a crazy ride I have been and continue to be on. I live in a small city now and have been through about 7 therapists that don’t know how to treat dissociative disorders and have actually done me more harm than good. I know that I’m a difficult case but I don’t see me being able to go to a therapist in the near future because of the lack of training the therapists around me have about trauma and dissociation. My question is have you treated people with DID or dissociative disorders and if you have, what has been a successful therapy treatment plan for them?
I have studied a lot since I started on disability because I wanted to understand what was happening to me. I’ve been doing my own sort of research on all the amazing advances on child development, trauma and what it does to the brain, pretty much everything that has to do with why we are the way we are and how much emotional pain most of us endure to one degree to another. I love the brain.
Since it’s still not as well understood about chemical imbalances, what trauma does to change different parts of the brain is able to be more clear and understood better? Things like how the fight/flight/freeze/fawn survival instinct, if chronic, can be stuck on which causes a lot of problems in itself. And these painful experiences are stored in the body and can cause physical pain if a person isn’t connected consciously to the emotional pain. Is that a somewhat correct assumption to make? Definitely the temperament of the child, nurturing, environmental factors and what the person has been through in their life is the key to understanding how to treat that person more than anything. In my experience with many therapists I have seen through my life, many do not take the approach of understanding the person as a whole. For instance, if I’m going through the anorexic stage then that’s what is going to try to be treated (unsuccessfully) because then that would all of a sudden go away then I would be extremely manic or extremely depressed. But, I’m always changing all of the time. I have no idea who or what I’m going to be from moment to moment, day to day or month to month. Talk about difficult!
I have so many questions and frustrations about how trauma is often ignored and how so many “specialists” or doctors, psychiatrists, etc. writes books and then do their tour through different media outlets to sell their book. They come up with good theories but it is so simplistic and everyone with, lets say depression, is once again put into a huge box as to the answer of what is to be done with someone with depression. Once again, they don’t take into account all the variables that each person is individual and usually has experienced some sort of trauma through their childhood that creates depression later in life. The actual physical changes in the brains wiring and the nervous system that goes haywire totally gets ignored when that is what needs to be treated to have a more successful outcome to better healing. Am I wrong about these thoughts in your opinion?
I know I just laid so much information on you and I understand if I’m asking too much to be able to just answer in a simplistic way because of complicated matter all of this is. I’m not able to bounce my questions off of someone who has an understanding of these things as I seldom leave my home but there isn’t anyone in my community that has answers. Anyway, thank you for your time and I hope you have a wonderful day today:)
Thank you for sending me more details on your medical history. You certainly have been through, and are still going through, a sea of troubles. A therapist friend of mine once said that we all have alligators to wrestle in life and some of us are better at wrestling alligators than others, but there will come a time when however good we are at wrestling alligators we can become overwhelmed by them. The fact you are able to rationalise your problems and are undertaking positive steps to inform yourself about them is a very good sign. So many less able and less determined people would give up and surrender to what they, wrongly in my opinion, regard as their inevitable fate.
I no longer see patients as I retired from full-time practice a few years ago and now offer advice via my not-for-profit website www.themindchangers.co.uk. My much younger colleague who runs the site with me, Dan Jones a clinical hypnotherapist, may have wider experience than have I. With your permission I could send your email to him to see if he can suggest some practical steps you might take. My own advice, based on partial understanding of your problems, would be to seek some practical techniques – possibly using hypnotherapy – to resolving some of the issues you face. Rather than trying to resolve everything at once, select the easiest – if there is an easiest one - problem facing you and develop some strategies for coping with this. What ideas occurs to me is an on the website you will find a program based on breathing that might help with the stress and anxiety side of your difficulties. Take a look at this and see what you think. I am about to digitise it which means it can be downloaded instantly anywhere in the world. David
I'm interested in majoring in cognitive science or neuroscience when I start college next year. Are there any real career options outside of medicine and research? What major/minor would you recommend pairing neuro or cogsci witih for good job opportunities?
Hi, You have chosen a fascinating, complex and I believe increasingly important specialisation. My own pairing was with clinical psychology as I was interested in helping people with stress, anxiety and similar difficulties. My early studies also involved developing cognitive strategies by which children could more fully and effectively develop their mental powers in the early years of life. You might consider pairing with some aspects of psychology, such as educational, social or as in my case clinical. I guess you are in the States but if you are in the UK I would happily invite you to visit our laboratory and talk to some of our neuroscientists who work with us in a more commercial field of brain studies. I think the whole field is opening up considerably so you could find employment with marketing companies, advertising companies and so on. Do let me know which pathway you select and whether I can be of any further assistance – assuming I have been of some assistance! – once you embark upon your studies. The best of luck in this very challenging yet hugely rewarding field,
What piece of journalism were you most proud of?
Regarding your research, what results have you found that you genuinely weren't expecting?
In the late 80s I was researching the use of biofeedback, especially brain biofeedback, in the treatment of anxiety, stress and phobias. This involved reading electrical activity in the brain using one of the world's first portable EEG machines. I needed a stimulus which was sufficiently long to produce enough data but not so long that the amount of data gathered exceeded the capacity of that then the fairly primitive desktop computers to analyse. I hit on the idea of using 30 seconds TV commercials that had only been shown in the north of England. As I was working from the University of Sussex in the south none of my subjects were likely to have seen these commercials. There was also obtained were interesting and the advertising companies who had sent them to me were also interested in the results and what they told about the effectiveness of their campaign. I began to get commercial requests for a similar analysis. Not afterwards I was approached by two top marketing professionals who want to set up a company to exploit this find. The result was the creation of what is now known as "the marketing" which has become $1 billion business in many parts of the world. Sadly I am not paid any royalties! You can find out more on my personal website drdavidlewis.com where you can also download a film made by the BBC on this discovery.
My work was so varied and covered so many aspects of human life that is quite hard to specify any particular topic. Some involve greater technical complexity and risk, such as setting up remote, radio controlled, Nikon cameras when shooting aircraft and car stunts. Others involved a great deal of planning and rehearsal. For example the covert picture I took of a public schoolboy in the UK being caned took 1/15th of a second to shoot and some six months to arrange – so I was mightily relieved when the negative turned out okay in terms of exposure and focus. The miniature camera was hidden up my sleeve and in those days you got one chance to get the picture. But I suppose the area of work where I was most pleased with the results was in 1969 when I spent a lot of time in northern Ireland where the "troubles" had just erupted. I was commissioned by a French magazine to create a reportage of how the violence was affecting the children of both the Catholic and Protestant areas of the city. I stayed with strong families and became very friendly with people on both sides of the sectarian divide. On one occasion I was kidnapped and marched through the streets blindfolded before being taken into a back bedroom for "questioning". Fortunately I had made friends with a wonderful doctor, Jim Ryan, who served both communities for decades and had good friends on both sides of the religious divide. They called him and he vouched for me. At once everyone was a friend again and the lad who had blindfolded me and threatened me with a pickaxe handle beating, even let me photograph the top of his head where you could see the stitching of a wound delivered he said by a member of the hated B Force police squad. I was pleased with the way the pictures brought home to people in both France and the UK how the children were suffering even at this early stage of the conflict. One final set of pictures which caused me great pride with those secretly taken in a Turkish juvenile prison where a British lad, Timothy Davey, was serving a long sentence for drug possession. He was jailed for many years at the age of 14 and sent to an adult male prison! My pictures appears in eight leading UK Sunday newspaper and he freed a few weeks later.
I did a photojournalist project in an undergraduate photography course as an elective although the project was more storytelling than journalism. Surprisingly there is a lot more to it than people realize it rule of thirds, leading lines, etc. In fact I might get back into it, may I ask you what textbook you would refer for a graduate level course?
I too am interested in researching anxiety and phobias research perhaps even in a biological computational program (I have interests in neuroscience and genetics). I would like use theoretical computational approaches to medicine. Any suggestions to where and what I should look into?
What is your current thoughts on the current academic research topics on anxiety and phobias? I'm finding [inhibitory control theory very interesting]() as it can explain why fears can resurface even though habituation or extinction was thought to have happened during therapy. Best part is it doesn't change anything in current practice yet seems to fall in line with the current neuroscience understanding of learning (ex: plasticity).
What about economics do you enjoy the the most? What is the most fascinating thing about behavioral economics you find interesting (or mind blowing)?
Hi, some fascinating questions which I would like to answer and some depth. I will do so tomorrow (Tuesday) so that I can do your enquiries justice. You seem to have very similar interests to my own.
How did you experience Thatcher's politics? As a photojournalist living and documenting back then you must have witnessed a lot e.g. her cuts in welfare and the falklands war. How did the labour class respond?
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