As a Psychotherapist and Life Hacker I am interested in how Therapy and Mental Health will change. I put my reputation at risk in writing this, so write this for those like Elon Musk, who do not have restrictive thought processes. I ambitiously predicted that the justice system could change as a result of the human brain merging with technology. Musk has kicked this off with Neuralink and I think this is just the beginning. He recently put an advert out for a range of technical employees (not Psychotherapists shockingly) to take Neuralink forward, aiming for results in just four years.
A New Kind of Connection
If after four years, Neuralink achieves a symbiosis between human and machine, this could enable super human ability. Just imagine yourself linking with a high band-width interface (digital intelligence), this could bring about a new kind of connection that will be both ‘Immediate and Organic’. It is this potential ‘New Connection’ that catches my attention as a psychotherapist. This new connection could change therapy dramatically. If we can link with a computer, achieving positive results with brain damaged patients, this is bound to create a shift in the patient’s mindset opening up new psychological treatments. Taking this further, we may even be able to add to the equation of human + computer, another human, so that we have person to person connection with added technology. This would be another potential breakthrough in the world of mental health.
Musk says that we (as humans) need to link with artificial intelligence, this will improve on our biological limitations. We need to link with that which is beyond us in order to evolve. Musk says this expansion could keep us relevant or ‘useful’ with the disruptive threat of AI.
Neuralink Affecting Psychotherapy
I like to think out of the box. Imagine you are a therapist going on a journey with your client, a journey within their mind. Memories are seen ‘together’ in real time, physical reactions are addressed together in ‘real time’. You would be able to talk through these immediate experiences thus providing immediate understanding, integration and healing. Now what if the client’s physical reactions could also be addressed in that same moment. Missing brain chemicals such as serotonin or dopamine could be released at opportune moments, or dormant endorphins or oxytocin activated as and when needed.
This idea is even more ambitious than Neuralink, but it is Neuralink that brings about this possibility, these ideas could simply be the next steps.
‘The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do’ Steve Jobs
The idea of a ‘Therapeutic Walk Through’ could emerge as a result of two people connected by brain and computer, using augmented reality for internal vision (such as Hololens), and the inclusion of medicine to attend to the biological and mental ‘Affect’ arising during such a therapeutic connection.
If this works, we might be able to treat ‘attachment disorders’ in the brain and internal world of clients. Maybe we can treat (or even repair) the damaged neocortex of a person with relational disorders by this method on a repeated basis. I am no scientist, all I know is that therapy has to change in line with technology, somehow.
I’m not one to be constrained by my own profession, but those who are, might attack me for saying ‘therapy today is a dinosaur’. It hasn’t changed in the 25+yrs I’ve been in it. It’s a dinosaur because we are still attempting to get to the ‘truth inside’ in the most uneconomical way: ‘talking over time’. Whilst I pride myself as an expert who does this faster than most, the idea of getting inside a client’s head for real, yields the possibility of deeper and faster results.
Neuralink Affecting Governance
Creating a digital version of ourselves could be so advanced that it could affect other industries as well as therapy and mental health. Consider the justice system. Imagine that part of the court process involves getting into the mind of the accused in order to seek the real truth. Bypassing the need to find or build evidence, bypassing the need to create reasonable doubt, bypassing the need to have twelve jurors physically present (unless linked by a version of Neuralink). The whole concept of time changes as everything speeds up. Optimisation becomes an ethical debate.
Another ethical debate would emerge around the issue of ‘confidentiality’. As greater access to the internal workings of the brain and later the mind leads to greater transparency and less personal privacy, the issue of censorship and confidentiality will come to the fore as an ethical debate needing redefining and refiguring.
A Higher Human
The following might be criticised as mere mental masturbation, but hear me out! We have looked at how mental health could change in terms of treatment and approach, but I suspect there will also be a change in humans as a result of the brain-computer interface.
The brain damaged recipients of the micron sized devices are going to be affected on a psychological level as well as a physical level. Their mental states are bound to be affected, and I suspect some new unexplainable material will emerge regarding the unknown powers of the mind. When the body is altered in a way that was formerly beyond human comprehension, there is a move from the incomprehensible to the unbelievable or unimaginable. This is like a miracle to the human system. The human system needs to make sense of this in some way. The whole human system, biological, psychological and energetic is changed as a result, moving into a state of ‘all is possible’. This frees up the human system into a state (projection or not) of limitless possibility. The human system no longer holds ‘limitation’ in its system, leading to possibilities beyond our comprehension at our current level of humanness.
I can’t be the only UK psychotherapist interested in the Neuralink findings. It will be interesting to see if the final result is ‘intelligence lead’ or ‘human lead’ – how much control the human will have: organic versus intelligence. I would assume the latter is crucial in opposing the threat of the deep AI. Or perhaps a total merge is unavoidable in developmental terms. There still needs to be caution regarding the Strange Situation (Musk) where AI may perfect the human condition.
One day though, Alzheimer’s or Dementia could be a thing of the past. We may not need to rely on memory because it could be downloaded, never lost. And when we experience or read something new, we have the option to download it or is automatically downloaded. Input and output changes!
Share with those who don’t have restricted thought processes
‘Don’t be intimidated by your own imagination’