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C O U R S E 
Buddhism and Modern Psychology
Robert Wright, Princeton University
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Mind Modularity, Cravings, and Self Control
Notes taken on January 10, 2017 by Edward Tanguay
push back against the modular view of the mind
sometimes these frames of mind set in
I'm not really aware of them happening
they are sometimes triggered by feelings
I could see a movie that could affect my subsequent behavior
but there are sometimes when I, the Chief Executive Self, make a decision
I may be tempted to eat a powdered doughnut, but I say no, it's not in my long-term interest to do it
rebuttal to this view
from a lay standpoint its fine to talk like this
e.g. if you are talking to your family at the dinner table, it's fine
eventually psychology as a scientific enterprise is going to have to move on from sentences that have pronouns like that
those sentences, to be more accurate of what happens in the world, are going to be more along the lines of
there are certain systems in your brain that are designed to be motivated to eat high calorie foods
there are other systems in your brain which have motives associated with long-term health
so the latter modules inhibited the behavior that was being facilitated by the short-term modules
in that description there's no were "I" in there
there are no pronouns pointing to non-scientifically identifiable entities in the world, but rather nouns that are more likely to correspond to brain states that can actually be detected
conscious decision making
which car should I buy
which college should I go to
which job offers should I accept
self control
how many drinks should I have at a party
should I smoke this cigarette
should I cheat on my spouse
can this thing that feels like the reasonable me make decisions
is there some sense that reason can enter the equation
creating reasons
extramarital affair
one module that wants short-term sexual gratification
one module is concerned about your reputation
one module is worried about retaliation
the overall reason one has to have needs to be more complex than e.g. the reason that the sex-seeking module gives
so we come up with other reasons
if you knew how emotionally distant my spouse was you would understand
we rehearse these reasons consciously
the conscious mind is doing this since it is this part of the mind that communicates with other people
like a company with two CEOs that are different
the PR director does not declare one a winner but wants to hear the reasons so that they are prepared to share these reasons pub
one CEO might be giving a reason that won't work in public
use of reason
the brain pays attention when it is not in one's long-term interest to do something
if you realize that reasons are not going to be accepted, then the conscious mind will cut this out
with addictions, reason tends to play less and less a role
e.g. becoming an alcoholic, you eventually stop producing reasons why you are drinking, you just drink
modules gain more power with victory
be careful to succumbing to temptation that first time since it gets harder to resist
it could have been that they just take turns
but that's not the way it works
the way for natural selection selected them
the modules are stacked from basic to more complex
one rule is that modules that achieve in gaining gratification
if the short-term sex module suggest you have quick sex with someone, and another module warns against it, and you partake in the sex, and it is pleasure and no consequences come of it, then is is success and will be encourages in the future
this can be explained in evolutionary terms such that when you see trees in the distance and a mind module that is responsible for identifying food suggest that the trees do have fruit, and they do, then this module will be given preference in the future
the chemical reward system was not so easy during our evolution
the default mode network gets quieter during meditation
mindfulness meditation to overcome smoking
get them to view the craving differently
RAIN acronym
Recognize what craving feels like
Allow it to be there
we often push away unpleasant things but you have to allow it to be in your body in order to investigate it
get curious, ask what does the craving feel like in my body right now
when you are really curious about something, it flips the valence from unpleasant to pleasant
use of a noting process: take note of tension, clenching, burning, and other feelings in the body as the craving comes and goes away
the RAIN approach enables those dealing with cravings to ride the wave of craving instead of getting sucked into it
we often think that when a craving comes, we have to either succumb to it or push it away
RAIN allows you to observe, or ride the wave
it's important to be with the craving, notice its physical sensations in their body, the mental restlessness, and if they don't act on it, they don't fuel it
mindfulness as operant conditioning
when you feel rage
when you pound your desk and yell at someone
if nothing bad happens, is that defined as success in natural selection terms
if you feel hatred
you go around saying unfavorable things about them
it feels good
especially if they hate them too, or if they are persuaded
modules can be thought of metaphorically as organism which operate on conditional thinking
each vy for your attention