Jim Doty seems like an interesting guy.
Epidemic of depression and isolation in the developed world. Our species was never meant to live in this modern world. Inundated with information far beyond what we were ever able to accept, this has become part of the problem. Cities only began 5000 years ago. Until 10000 YA we lived in hunter gather tribes of ten people. It was like that for 2 million years. But our DNA hast significantly changed in 200000 years.
Ultimately the fact our DNA hasn’t changed has implications for the idea of ingroup. Why is child and parental bonding even necessary? Humans evolve capacity for abstract memory, language, theory of mind, cost has been long gestation and small litter size and years of interaction with mother to survive. But little reward to mother for this. Because of is, to ensure survival of species, developed comes mechanisms to bond mother with child to ensure child survives. One mechanism is oxytocin, the nurturing or bonding hormone. Extended species beyond small family, bonding important to small tribes to have individuals cooperate and survive in hostile environment. Bonding also activates reward parts of brain.
Quoting Darwin on group selection for kindness. Evolved to care, this is our default mode to care for others. Neuro anatomy and brain function discussion, amygdala, associated with fear response or fight or flight response. Takes over in situation where threatened.
But many people are constantly in hyper vigilant state. This also results I many deleterious health effects: depression, sleep disorders, cardiac, pain conditions. But there is hope
OK, so he is starting by summarizing standard Sapolsky zebras don’t get ulcers.
Now he is talking about the eight-week course in compassion meditation from Stanford’s CCARE. This is really promising stuff. Sona was talking about mindfulness for depression, but I turned to the monk next to me (Dr. Barry) and confirmed that the tradition would say you should do compassion for depression, not mindfulness. Of course the limitation has been that there is a out of the box clinically recognized program in mindfulness, but not compassion. So we have been looking for our keys under the lamppost. But thanks to CCARE’s work maybe it will become a lot easier for the field to do well accepted research on compassion.