יום שבת, 22 באוקטובר 2011

Facebook Clinical Research

This post is a summary of pubmed abstracts:
My conclusion: if I'm going to research OCD on FB, then I should compare to narcissism and extrovert characers, which currently explain the variance of FB usage.

Of course, clinical research is scarce.. I'll see what professional SMM magazines have to say in the future..\


See more silly ideas on psycho meme

Facebook & OCD - Research Proposal

The following proposal refers to the hypothesis that people with OCD rely on external cues and proxies to compensate for a deficiency in subjective conviction (according to Dar and Liberman's ISF proposal from 2007, available by request). This is to suggest that obsessive-compulsive individuals develop proxies – external indicators of internal states – to compensate for the attenuation of direct experience. 

Virtual Experience
A common incidence of people using external indicators of internal states in order to compensate for the attenuation of direct experience could be seen in virtual experiences. These experiences are the lot of those who interact with computer games and social networks, as they would interact with real people in real life.
For example, on the social network Facebook, a person can befriend others. The subjective experience of friendship, with all its timid sensitivity, search for mutual signs, the low commitment joint lunch or unnecessary phone calls on mundane issues, and later trust and mutual good times that might constitute friendships in real life, are substituted with an algorithm based suggestion of possible friends, a profile picture, a friendship suggestion message, a confirmation and a mutual news feed of mundane online activities. Diffused experiences are emulated by concrete virtual events.
In such a virtual realm, people exchange subjective opinion by pressing a "Like" button, they visit places by checking in to them with a GPS based application, or by tagging their pictures. These actions are compiled into their profile, which represents their virtual self. Virtual profiles become the proxies by which people constitute their subjectivity – they represent what they like, what they wish for, and who they are.
The virtual experience as an emulator of real experience is not the opposite of real experience. Virtual is not false, it is unreal – it takes over the real in a way that makes us question what is real. This is exactly the playing field in which proxies replace direct experience.

It would be my suggested hypothesis, that people who have more OC characteristics, would also rely more on virtual experiences to replace direct experiences. Specifically, that people who score high on OCI-R would also be more active on Facebook.

Participants will be sent a link to subscribe for a Facebook personality quiz application. In order to subscribe the users will give permission to access their Facebook profile information. The participants will fill out the OCD quiz (actually OCI-R). The participants will approve the terms of conditions and submit the quiz. After submitting the participants will receive feedback on their OCI scores.

100 participants should be recruited online, via link to the Facebook application page. The participants will be motivated to fill the forms by promise of OCI score feedback. Participants may be familiar with the experimenter as Facebook friends. In the terms and conditions, the participants will be guaranteed that their name, contact details and any indentifying data will not be used in any public forum, and that quiz is sponsored by the Tel Aviv University for research purposes, and sanctioned by the Helsinki committee.

A Facebook application will be created to administer OCI-r to participants, and receive data on their Facebook activity. The application will be advertised by banner, and a caption that call participants to fill out a personality quiz. Alternatively the application could also be reached via link which will be passed to possible participants via Facebook messages and posts.
See an illustration of a banner that would lead a user to the application:

See an illustration of the participant consent to provide the application with profile details:

See an illustration of the web format of the OCI-R test:

See an illustration of participant feedback:

Results are expected to show that high OCI is in correlation with the number of parameters the user specifies in the profile, and the frequency in which these parameters are updated. Specific parameter values will also be tested to see correlations with OCI scores and provide insight for future studies.

If the results show that indeed high OCI is in correlation with high elaboration level and frequent updates of Facebook profile, it would allow suggesting that virtual experiences serve people with OC tendencies more than they serve the easygoing characters.
As Facebook applications are not commonly used in academic research, Facebook profile parameters are not yet researched as valid constructs of human psychology.  This point is the major weakness of this proposal, but also the greatest prospect of it, as the first voyage to uncharted territory is a significant one because it is plotted with uncertainty.

יום שני, 17 באוקטובר 2011

Matrioshka Matrioshka Matrioshka Ay-ay

Mr Keuner came across two wise men arguing about the contents of the ultimate matrioshka doll. It is infinitely small like a black hole, said one. It is a finite point of subjectivity like god, argued the other. Mr Keuner saw nothing. He was ashamed, cried and felt worthless. Well don't cry, said the first, and the other added: it's just a matrioshka...

יום שבת, 15 באוקטובר 2011

How It All Should Be: Prelude to Psychoanalytics

In 3 days I will be 30 years old. I still have no children that I know of, I have not written a great book, and nor have I launched a successful app. 

Still, I believe I am about to write here, the stuff that will change the world. In a sunny October afternoon, just before seeking a hefty student loan, I will post all my secrets and hope for them to return to me with a bounty.

Here goes:

I see mental health as a personal experience that is influenced by  a lot of aspects. Psychotherapy helps, so it seems, but a lot of factors determine how much it helps, and a lot of other stuff like Yoga can help just as well. 

I was at my first year of literature studies, when we compared self psychology and Lacanian psychoanalysis. My teacher of psychoanalytic reading said how the same warmth of the self psychology approach could sometimes be experienced as poisoning and undermining independence. About Lacanian psychoanalysis, she commented that in certain situations it could be experienced as unsettling and brutal, while in others it is liberating and much more alive than its cuddly competitors.

Well maybe competition is the point. There is no need for competition. Sure there is, if we're looking at psychotherapy as a product where you want to create market value. But there isn't, if you look at psychotherapy as something that really helps and you want to find a way to pass it around.

I have the fortune of studying clinical psychology in Tel Aviv University. My teachers, as one would imagine the pantheon gods maybe, are not perfect, and do not contend to be right. Each of them comes from a different school of psychotherapy, and together they make up a respectable bunch of skilled and knowledgeable researchers practitioners. Although I may offend 1-4 of them right now, I feel they lack an impartial Zeus to manage their faculties by specific context. The same I feel about psychotherapy itself.

How do you know when to use CBT, when Yoga, and when to call your mom more often. There is empirical research you say, CBT for phobias, psychoanalysis for Oedipus. As a thumbs rule, this is very helpful. But how do you know, after spending 30% of your income on therapy for a period of 3 months, that your therapist is not undermining your dependence, but actually abusing your trust? "It's a process" is a dangerous hideout for contra productive efforts. Even if you have Oedipus, you might also be anemic, with bad karma, and ADD. You personally, unlike other Oedipal category members, might be helped more by a female therapist, good sleep and a student loan. How would you know this?

Psychology should exactly be about that, the human sensitivity that translates a categorical array of thumb rules into an idiosyncratic, personal disarray. That's a psychotherapist's job. Assuming you need a therapist and not an acupuncturist. 

Usually, articles I read have a good handle of what's wrong, and then spin off in a very bad direction when they start suggesting a better replacement. I am considering whether I should stop here. I think instead I will do it as Jesus did, and then logoff and let you pray for the next post.

There is an urban myth about the Dalai Lama actually being a robot. Once, as he was oiling his hinges, a disciple came into his quarters and was surprised to learn that his master was a robot. The Dalai Lama paused his hinge oiling and said, "and to learn that I am human would make you less at awkwardness?"

I will post about the way technology could help us improve human wellbeing after I conquer my fears of greatness. If I die today you can find enough hints in my past posts.

All the best,