Message Boards Message Boards

DhO Lab

DhO Phenomenology Research Project

Threads [ Previous | Next ]
DhO Phenomenology Research Project
arising and passing away equanimity depression dark night research
Answer
8/31/19 4:52 AM
I am spending the summer here in Cambridge in the UK at the invitation of Dr Julieta Galante doing some research regarding the stages of insight and using the Dharma Overground as a truly massive and amazing public database on the various effects that meditation and other sorts of life experiences can create. What an incredible resource this community has created over its 11+ years of existence!

As I comb through the over 115,000 DhO posts we have created from the beginning to July 22, 2019, I am profoundly thankful to all who have authored parts of this evolving masterwork. There is true gold here. As I cruise back through the early posts, there  are a lot of memories that come back about this community and what we have gone through, both good and bad. It is also heartening to see so many people over the years expressing thanks for the resources and support this remarkable site has provided.

For those who like the details, to trim down the posts to a reasonable number for review, I am using a somewhat elaborate set of post-scoring systems I home-brewed using the 8-core MP version of Stata 16, then bringing selected posts that score high or in specific ways into Nvivo 12 for the Mac, which is a qualitative data coding package.

The plan is relatively simple, but there a lot of details worth knowing about. The first major thing I am working on is trying to figure out how to make awareness of the various wild experiences we here are used to reading about and experiencing ourselves into the mainstream medical literature, particularly the literature of emergency medicine and emergency psychiatry. I wish to help insure that when people having traditional meditation experiences run into healthcare systems that those systems have the advantage of the sorts of helpful, normalizing concepts, frameworks, and practice advice that literally thousands of posters have expressed gratitude for here so that outcomes are as optimal as they can be. There are diseases so rare that only a few people in the world have them that have gotten more scientific attention than the powerful, challenging, and transformative experiences thousands of us here have had, and I aim to change that.

This windmill has had some remarkable minds tilt with it before, including remarkable people such as, and in particular, the mighty Christina and Stanislav Grof, but their efforts have not reached as far into mainstream literature and medical and psychological consciousness as I would have hoped, so I find myself picking up the torch and will try to further this quixotic cause.

I also continue to be very appreciative of the works of the likes of Jack Kornfield with his paper in 1979 regarding meditaiton experiences on retreat, as well as the details he spells out in works such as A Path with Heart. He and Trudy Goodman have actually agreed to give a bit of help to the project, and I am grateful for their thoughts and mature wisdom.

My initial targets are the mainstream emergency medicine and psych journals, as well as having grander ambitions with targets such as the DSM-X and UpToDate (a resource used by medical clinicians to keep up to date on current medical conditions), as well as ICD-10 (list of medical billing codes). Those will take serious work, so this project will likely go on for many years, Norns permitting. That literature is free from most of the traditional concerns that make publishing on the topic of meditation stages somewhat difficult, such as ontology, impractical aspects of epistemology, neurotic concern with aspects of the traditional Pali and Sanskrit literature, and the like. Emergency medicine physicians are more likely to just need a good box to put something in that gets a patient off a bed in a good direction and as safely as they can be, and I think I can help provide that, as, being one, I know how they think and work.

I might write another book on the topic, something much more based on cases and supporting the phenomenology with real-world reports. I will probably attempt to publish some sub-topics, such as enhancing the literature on exploding head syndrome, in more topic-specific journals.

I have reviewed about 8 articles so far on the contemporary ethics of using online data and have come up with the following: anyone I wish to quote directly rather than in aggregate will be properly attributed as an author if they wish, as this website is public data and so different criteria apply from, say, anonymous patient data. No posts will be less anonymous than they appear here on the DhO, meaning no back-end data from the DhO that can't be seen on the web will be associated with them, and so the degree of anonymity that people have chosen as they post here will be preserved. I will try reach out to anyone whose direct quotes I wish to use to make sure they are ok with them being used in whatever I publish, though I can't be sure that the emails I have will all work still, as some quotes of possible value are up to 11 years old. If people want quotes rephrased or quoted more anonymously, I am happy to do that, as well as if people want a level of precise, name-using attribution for quotes that they authored more anonymously and are justly proud of, I am happy to go that way also, as people prefer. This ethics strategy will try to give as full control as possible to those who are the original post authors.

Currently, I am searching for some of the most classic 3C/A&P/DN/EQ descriptions, with an emphasis on topics relevant to emergency medicine and emergency psychiatry/psychology, meaning when things went too far off the rails and caused significant dysfunction. If you are aware of any particularly good threads or posts that further this goal, or just show the cycle in its more classic forms, please feel free to link them below.

Curiously, the hardest part of this project may be figuring out what to call what we here call things such as the POI, as well as what we here would often call the 3C, A&P, DN, and EQ stages. I need a secular name for the whole thing and each of those parts that will accomplish the following goals:
1. Be acceptable to mainstream medical journals and textbooks.
2. Be acceptable on an ICD-10 code.
3. Be acceptable in the DSM-X.
4. Be non-limiting, meaning that it doesn’t artificially constrain what goes in that box.
5. Be non-tradition specific yet not be like Esperanto, a language that makes great linguistic sense but few speak. Said another way, I want this to be a term that doctors are comfortable using.

While I typically loathe eponymous medical terms (Alzheimer’s disease), curiously I am tempted to it in this case, as putting a name on it would avoid a lot of problems. As I am currently staying as a guest at Wolfson College, I  was thinking of calling the POI the Wolfson Cycle, as it is a neutral term that yet has some sense of respectability to it, and, as it is the name of a college rather than a person, it avoids the apparent narcissism that comes with people naming things after themselves. Any thoughts welcome. I have pondered calling the A&P the Ecstatic Phase and the Dark Night the Challenging Phase, but those are just sketches. I see that Vince Horn is trying to do something similar in his work.

There are also some plans for some neurophenomenology work using EEG and fMRI, with more details to come if and when those plans get more solidified and funded.

Any thoughts, ideas, insights, and dreams welcome. Wish those fine researchers I am collaborating with and me luck on this ambitious set of projects.

Daniel

RE: DhO Phenomenology Research Project
Answer
8/12/19 8:09 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
This sounds like a huge undertaking and a very long journey - you have my best wishes on obtaining what you are seeking and success, Daniel.

RE: DhO Phenomenology Research Project
Answer
8/12/19 10:47 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Very glad to hear that Jack Kornfield and Trudy Goodman may contribute to your project.
A few months ago I heard Jack in one of his recent talks that he mentioned he is reading your book, and I wasn't very pleased by how he mentioned that (Although he didn't say anything negative about that), and now it's great to see that they are open to work with you on such projects.

RE: DhO Phenomenology Research Project
Answer
8/12/19 8:33 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I think you are on a very brave mission and I wish you and the other team members the best of luck. I look forward to seeing the fruits of this endeavor.

RE: DhO Phenomenology Research Project
Answer
8/12/19 9:38 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
thumbs down to 'The Challenging Phase'!
Dark Night is perfect and packs a hefty memetic punch.  it would be PR suicide to drop it.

RE: DhO Phenomenology Research Project
Answer
8/12/19 6:01 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel,

I have taken psychiatric meds during most of my tenure as a Dharma practitioner. The one systematic difference between how I was when I started taking medication and how I am now is anger reduction. The dark night is an anger reorganization protocol. No other emotions are determinably changed. You have given me a skillful outlet for sharing and learning about myself.

Dietrich

Edit. When I say "no other emotions are determinably changed," I mean that they have been channeled into my music. I play piano. Anger doesn't translate into music.

Edit 2x The mental health system is more geared towards visual artists rather than musicians, just a little fact I have come to recognize. A nice leap of faith for the medical sciences over, say, some other field to give credence.

Edit 3x. While on the subject of the Academy, I remember while in my University days there were some in my honors college circle who wished they could apply the fluid grading systems, open participation, and journal based reading assignments to a wider audience. I think that a Dharma reassessment campaign has a better shot than such a reorganization of our scholastic institution s.

RE: DhO Phenomenology Research Project
Answer
8/12/19 11:18 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Best of luck Daniel, this sounds like a greatly important project. It's tough to not draw parallels between the path of insight and reading people's accounts of challenging mental phenomena.

I would love to become involved in this sort of work, if there are any inroads available for others to pitch in (donations, volunteer work, data processing, institutions or people doing similar work) let it be known!

RE: DhO Phenomenology Research Project
Answer
8/13/19 4:46 AM as a reply to rik.
Dear rik,

Thanks for your kind offers. As to volunteering, that would depend on your specific skill sets, as might data processing, though data processing also depends, in this case, on two software packages that are unusually expensive (Nvivo cost $1400, Stata 16 MP 8-core cost about $3700, both paid out of my pocket). What skill sets do you bring to the table in these regards?

As to donations, there isn't yet an obvious structure or mechanism to take such things, and it also might depend on the scale of the donation. If, on the off chance that you are offering something substantial, like fund a position substantial, then definitely PM me and we can talk about how that might be utilized. As to smaller donations, probably should consider trying to set something up and have defined goals and the like in place to be sure that donations were supporting exactly what they were intended to support, and we aren't to that level yet, but perhaps we should be moving that way, so thanks for the encouragement.

What specifically did you have in mind?

As to easier things, if there are particulary good posts that you know of that demonstrate well the phenomenology of the POI cycles we know here, as well as the value of normalization, as well as what happens when people run into the healthcare and mental health systems, please link to those below. My algorithms may find them also, but they are imperfect, and the amount of data to sort through is huge, weighing in at 63MB for the text file of the posts, which, at roughtly 500 pages per MB, means that I have about 31,500 pages of data to sort through.

RE: DhO Phenomenology Research Project
Answer
8/14/19 2:53 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I admire the ambitious goals. Good luck!

Some stuff isn't clear to me. Is this your ideal situation: for each stage of the POI you have a corpus of well-written, phenomenological posts describing it (from your POV). If so, where do you go from there? How do you get from there to in-the-DSM? There are obvious problems with DhO as a dataset: selection bias, scripting experiences, etc. Also you're obviously using your own interpretation of the POI to guide the research (confirmation bias).

Also from my POV these two are distinct:
  1. Good-enough quick-and-dirty categorization of the "POI" to help people in emergency situations. ASAP.
  2. Full scientific validation and/or explanation of the "POI"
It's not clear to me that there's much overlap. If your goal is 1, it seems to me that just the "Ecstatic" and "Challenging" phase are sufficient. Any more would be pushing people's credulity/patience. How clinically relevant are the rest?

Unfortunate you're working with such expensive closed-source software. A real tragedy for open science. I wonder how much of what you're doing can't be accomplished reasonably with R + RQDA + qdap + Python + etc for free. There's also Dedoose which is closed source but only $15/month. Can you go in a bit more detail about which features of NVivo/Stata you're using?

EDIT:

On the issue of rebranding, I brought this up to you years back about MCTB2. I asked whether using purely secular terminology was worthwhile. On specifically rebranding the POI, this thread might be interesting:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5750948

RE: DhO Phenomenology Research Project
Answer
8/15/19 1:07 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Here is an infographic that I'd consider to start with. 
https://informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/being-defensive/
But rework it into the dn expressions on one axis, then internal vs external projection on the other axis. This explains most of the problems of sensitivity to the different Nana's. It's not explaining all psychology problems but a whole heck of a lot of standard light weight ones.
Great luck to you capturing this stuff, I've read many years of posts in the entirety from the beginning of dho, signal to noise is extream, but do is planning for gold.
~D

RE: DhO Phenomenology Research Project
Answer
8/15/19 6:56 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
DW, I remember years ago in a thread talking about an "ideal dharma book" you mentioned the importance of graphics... That's a great one, thanks for sharing!

RE: DhO Phenomenology Research Project
Answer
8/15/19 2:51 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
My first thought with the "Ecstatic Phase" and "Challenging Phase" is that that is going to sound a lot like bipolar to most doctors.  I think a key element in creating a secular framing for the PoI is coming up with a framing for it that differentiates the diagnosis and treatment from standard bipolar treatment.  It might also be helpful to name it something like "meditation-induced variant bipolar".   This discussion also has me thinking of this old thread on bipolar: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/105357 .

RE: DhO Phenomenology Research Project
Answer
8/15/19 3:11 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Hi,

First of all, very interesting project, and ambitious!

I'm a qualitative researcher (ph student), work in medical psychology and I'm very interested in details emoticon when it comes to strategy and methods. I have just submitted a paper (it's under review) with the aim of describing a phenomenon which is unknown in the literature, so the people who fit the description can receive adequate help from health care practitioners. 

Most medical journals mainly publish quantitative research, and then they don't really care about ontology and epistemological issues, but when you want to publish qualitative research it becomes important, becasue you have to prove that there is merit to your findings. Qualitative research is still not considered as real science by the mainstream medical audience.

Nvivo is a tool, not a method, but it is very useful for handling a lot of text and collaborations.

What is your ontological and epistemological approach? What method are you planning on using?

Best wishes for you and your fellow researchers!

/Mattias

RE: DhO Phenomenology Research Project
Answer
8/16/19 12:28 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Fantastic project.  Here are some more ideas to throw in for consideration.

1. Initial investigation
2. Experience of perceptual flux
3. Phase of emotional dissonance
4. Phase of clarity 
5. Crescendo of effort 
6. Weltanschauung reversal

*Edit:  And seeing you are looking at an Emergency Medicine context, maybe:
7: Risk of dissociation  (more about depersonalistion, derealisation, falling in to the pit of the void.)

RE: DhO Phenomenology Research Project
Answer
8/16/19 8:15 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Love this idea. I spit balled this idea with my partner. I thought it would be cool if, after full awakening, I did a thesis on the neurobiology of the POI. In any case, thanks for doing this. I know you probably aren’t doing it for the appreciation you’d get from us, but  The fact that you’re doing it rather than somebody else who is less detail-oriented makes me very excited. Good luck!

RE: DhO Phenomenology Research Project
Answer
8/30/19 2:43 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
As far as donations go I'm nowhere near the realm of wealth required to fund work directly, I was moreso wondering about what sorts of one-off contributions I could make to this group (or others) as I do make enough money to live comfortably and would like to contribute to this sort of thing in some way/shape/form.

I'm currently a professional software developer although I don't deal directly with data analysis these days. I had a brief stint of that back in college to support the work of a lab on campus but my minimal knowledge pertains to open-source methods like R. I am pretty comfortable with picking up new skills in the tech world so if there is any need for additional man-power that can be our-sourced I would be willing to contribute.

In general though I would love if I could somehow move my career in a direction that would somehow assist in this field. Whether it be going back to school and studying medical psychology, or finding a job doing IT support for a group like the one that you are working with. It's tough for me to see the way forward to determine what first steps would lead me that way, and I understand that you and the other members on this board are not career counselors  emoticon

RE: DhO Phenomenology Research Project
Answer
8/30/19 2:49 PM as a reply to rik.
rik:
As far as donations go I'm nowhere near the realm of wealth required to fund work directly, I was moreso wondering about what sorts of one-off contributions I could make to this group (or others) as I do make enough money to live comfortably and would like to contribute to this sort of thing in some way/shape/form.

I'm currently a professional software developer although I don't deal directly with data analysis these days. I had a brief stint of that back in college to support the work of a lab on campus but my minimal knowledge pertains to open-source methods like R. I am pretty comfortable with picking up new skills in the tech world so if there is any need for additional man-power that can be our-sourced I would be willing to contribute.

In general though I would love if I could somehow move my career in a direction that would somehow assist in this field. Whether it be going back to school and studying medical psychology, or finding a job doing IT support for a group like the one that you are working with. It's tough for me to see the way forward to determine what first steps would lead me that way, and I understand that you and the other members on this board are not career counselors  emoticon


Yeah for this kind of thing to have wheels, it needs a foundation.

RE: DhO Phenomenology Research Project
Answer
8/30/19 2:56 PM as a reply to rik.
rik:
In general though I would love if I could somehow move my career in a direction that would somehow assist in this field. Whether it be going back to school and studying medical psychology, or finding a job doing IT support for a group like the one that you are working with. It's tough for me to see the way forward to determine what first steps would lead me that way, and I understand that you and the other members on this board are not career counselors  emoticon


Based on my experience with such tendencies, I wouldn't do them unless they are my main/highest priority in life currently, otherwise it would probably lead to suffering and conflict of interests. I write this because I've done it before, and the result was unnecessary suffering, without any notable practical output.

RE: DhO Phenomenology Research Project
Answer
8/30/19 3:23 PM as a reply to Siavash Mahmoudpour.
Siavash Mahmoudpou:


Based on my experience with such tendencies, I wouldn't do them unless they are my main/highest priority in life currently, otherwise it would probably lead to suffering and conflict of interests. I write this because I've done it before, and the result was unnecessary suffering, without any notable practical output.

Thanks! I appreciate the concern. Would you be comfortable sharing what you did and what went wrong?

Just to be clear, I'm not considering suddenly up and dropping my current life for one devoted to dharma or anything like that. I'm just interested in donating, volunteering, contributing, and if the opportunity presents itself shifting my focus in life in ways that can be beneficial to projects like this. Basically just checking to see if there's any ways in which I can be useful, and to be honest I don't expect there to be many options at this point in time.

RE: DhO Phenomenology Research Project
Answer
8/30/19 3:47 PM as a reply to rik.
Basically just checking to see if there's any ways in which I can be useful, and to be honest I don't expect there to be many options at this point in time.


Exactly one of the points is this: We don't expect there to be many options, so it doesn't seem to be any risk or conflict with our current responsibilities, so we say we are ready, then a big task comes that we weren't ready for it, that we had understimated it, and conflicts arise.
Would you be comfortable sharing what you did and what went wrong?

In my early 20s that I was religious, I volunteered to move to another country to help some people there, and they accepted, but then I realized how much conflict it would create with my studies, with my family and etc. It caused suffering for some weeks and paralyzed my life in that period. Thanks God they canceled the whole thing later.

And last year I volunteered to develop the android version of Brightmind app, Shinzen's app, I started the project and did some work on it, but later I realized it requires at least half of my time that I wasn't able to do by any means.

There were worst cases that don't need to be mentioned here.

It needs to be done very carefully.