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the-neorodharmaLUMPENPROLETARIAT—If you’re a long-time free speech radio KPFA listener, you may have heard of the neurodharma of love, discussed in an interesting lecture series by Dr. Rick Hanson, the New York Times bestselling author of Hardwired for Happiness, which was presented on this week’s edition of About Health with, guest host, registered nurse Rona Renner.  Even if you have, presentations this rich always reveal something new.  Listen (and/or download) here. [1]



[Working draft transcript of actual radio broadcast by Messina for Lumpenproletariat and About Health.]

ABOUT HEALTH—[19 SEP 2016]  [station I.D. by Erica Bridgeman(sp?):  “And this is a re-broadcast of About Health.”]

“Good afternoon and welcome to About Health.  Today’s special, fundraising, show is about The Neurodharma  of Love.

“Most of our greatest joys and sorrows happen in our relationships with others.  What if you could guide your mind to forgive, heal, and find happiness in your relationships?

“Today, we’ll hear from Dr. Rick Hanson, as he tells us how we can do this.  But, before we listen, I wanna ask you to please donate this hour what you can.  You can call us at 1.800.439-5732.  Or go the website at KPFA.org and donate there.  It’s easy.  It’s fast.  And this generous act will help to ensure that KPFA stays on the air.  So, the website, KPFA.org, is a great place to go.  It will also give you a sense of wellbeing, knowing that, through your generosity, this station can continue to bring information and inspiration to people in your community.

“You can even reach people throughout Berkeley, throughout California, throughout the country.  And we reach people throughout the world—KPFA.org.  No amount of money is too small.  But, if you can afford it, please stretch to give a generous amount to KPFA.

“This is a real crucial time.  Bills have to be paid.  And staff need to know that their hard work and dedication will continue.

“You know; I volunteer my time as the host of About Health twice a month, in part because I know the power of radio.  I’m Rona Renner, also known as Nurse Rona.  I’ve been a registered nurse for 50 years now.  And, for over 30 years, I’ve been working with children and their families.  I’ve been a pediatric nurse, temperament specialist, parenting coach, a radio show host, and author.  I used to have a show for ten years called Childhood Matters on another station.  Back in the ’90s, I was also here on KPFA as the parenting editor.

“You can learn more about me at NurseRona.com.

“Today, I’m part of the KPFA community, asking you to please go online and pledge your support.

“So, now, I’ll tell you a little bit about what you’ll be listening to today.  It’s The Neurodharma of Love with Rick Hanson.   And, by the way, it’s available to you with a donation for $150 dollars today.  So, you can go online and put in your donation.  And, then, ask for this CD.  It’s a six-and-a-half-hour CD set.  And you can do that by calling, as well, at 1.800.439-5732.  (c. 3:16)

“So, in this CD, Rick Hanson discusses how to strengthen your underlying neural circuits of empathy, compassion, kindness, and love, really, at the deepest levels.  This can really help you heal childhood wounds and shift out of that fight-or-flight reactivity.  Rick Hanson explains how to create a healthy balance of intimacy and independence.  How to resolve conflicts with others and lay the neuropsychological foundation for lasting love.  It’s something we know.  Research shows us it really adds to your health and wellbeing.  If you could have those good relationships.

“Dr. Rick Hanson shows us how brain science, practical psychology, and Buddhist meditation practices are all, now, converging to help us experience greater empathy and fulfillment.  And this is with our close relationships, with spouse, partners, loved ones, boyfriends, girlfriends, with family and friends, and also in our larger circles of work relationships and in the community.

“Rick Hanson is a psychologist.  He’s a senior fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley and a New York Times Bestselling author.  His books  include Hardwiring Happiness, Buddhist Brain, Just One Thing, and Mother Nurture.  He’s the founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom.  And he’s taught at meditation centers worldwide. (c. 4:50)

“Let’s take a listen, now, to a clip of The Neurodharma of Love.”

DR. RICK HANSON:  “The brain doesn’t look like much.  To me, it’s kind of like rotten cauliflower.  Yet, it’s sometimes considered the most complex physical object known to science.  It contains about 1.1 trillion cells, roughly 10% of which, a hundred billion or so are neurons, little on-off switches, like transistors, nested amidst a trillion or so support cells.

“A typical neuron connects to about 5,000 other neurons, giving us an extraordinary network inside our own head of approximately a 500 trillion synapses.  A typical neuron fires five to 50 times a second, consequently the brain is very active.  Even though it’s just 2- to 3% of body weight, it uses 20- to 25% of the oxygen and glucose circulating in the blood.  What’s the function of all this activity?  Why has nature evolved such a metabolically-expensive organ?

“The purpose of the nervous system, headquartered in the brain, is to store, communicate, and transform information.  Information-processing is, essentially, what scientists mean by terms, like mind or mental activity, or related words, like cognition or perception or memory or learning.  (c. 6:12)

“In effect, within the framework of neuroscience or neuropsychology, mental activity entails underlying neural activity.  For an animal with a nervous system, including a really complicated animal, like us, for any animal to see sights, hear sounds, feel feelings, or learn anything new, there must be related, underlying neural structures and processes.

“While the exact way, in which immaterial, conscious experience is related to material, neurological processes is still a mystery, sometimes called the heart problem in neuroscience.  Still, in thousands of ways, large and small, research on humans and other animals has shown that mental activity, including the ebbs and flows of conscious experience, co-arises with, co-relates with, depends upon neural activity.

“This means that, as the brain changes, the mind changes.  And, as the mind changes, so must the brain, both, temporarily and in lasting ways.  (c. 7:20)

“As an example of that, I’d like to tell you about a study, that was done on college students, the great guinea pigs, of course, of the social sciences, who were entering an elite university.  This study was done in two phases.

“In the first study, students were put into an FMRI brain-scanner and, while in the scanner, they were told about another classmate, that they had not yet met, who was much smarter than they were, much more skillful, much more brilliant, much more accomplished, and, definitely, destined to a much higher level of success. [2]

“The students were asked, in the scanner: So, how do you feel about this other person?  And their brains were scanned, as they reported their experiences.  What they reported is that they felt bad.  They felt less than the other person.  They had envy for that person.  They felt inadequate, in comparison to that other person.  And, simultaneously, in their brain, there were activations of neural circuitry, that has to do with physical pain.  Literally, if you stub your toe, or you bang your thumb with a hammer, various circuitry lights up.  That same circuitry lit up when these students were experiencing social pain, feeling less than, feeling inadequate, feeling ashamed of themselves.

“So, that was phase one of the study.  And, then, in phase two, a few weeks later, the students were brought back, put inside the scanner.  And they were told, now, with great authority, as if it were certainly true.  Although, of course, all of this was totally made up.  They were told with great authority that this particular student, their dreaded rival, someone vastly superior to them, had actually experienced a shaming downfall.  This person was revealed to have cheated on various tests, to be completely bogus.

“And the students were asked, in the moment—How do you feel about this?—while their brains were being scanned as well.  What they said they felt was—Great!  Yay!  I’m no longer inadequate!—feelings of Schadenfreude, you know, pleasure in the misfortune of others.

“And, in their brains, circuitry, that has to do with physical pleasure also activated as well.  In other words, as they were experiencing social pleasures, like feeling better about themselves, more adequate, more worthy, even superior to other people, as that was happening, circuitry, that has to do with the pleasures of things, a delicious cupcake or having your back scratched when your itchy.  Those circuits lit up as well.  (c. 9:55)

“So, besides pointing out the importance of the power of envy, which I think is underestimated in human relationships, this study speaks to a deeper, farther-reaching point, which is that (first) as your mind changes, your brain changes and (second), more recent psychological capabilities or tendencies, such as toward social emotions, like envy or inadequacy on the one hand or self-worth and being valuable on the other, these more recent emotions are built on upon more ancient capabilities and tendencies in the human brain.

“And, then, to go to the deeper level, it’s not just that temporary mental activity produces temporary changes in neural structure and function, actually, repeated patterns of mental activity, which entail repeated patterns of neural activity, lead to lasting changes in neural structure and function because repeated patterns of neural activity, themselves, lead to lasting changes in neural structure and function.

“This is called experience-dependent neural plasticity.  (c. 11:06)  [SNIP]


[SNIP]  (c. 59:59)

Learn more at ABOUT HEALTH.

[This transcript will be expanded as time constraints, and/or demand or resources, allow.]


[1]  Terrestrial radio transmission, 94.1 FM (KPFA, Berkeley, CA) with online simulcast and digital archiving:  Special Programming: About Health (re-broadcast), this one-hour re-broadcast hosted by Nurse Rhoda (with Kris Welch), Monday, 19 SEP 2016, 14:00 PDT.

This brilliant series featured priorly.  For example:

  • About Health – September 12, 2016; 12 SEP 2016.  [This broadcast was re-broadcast the following week and listed in the archives as Special Programming]
  • Fund Drive Special – February 18, 2014; 18 FEB 2016.
  • Fund Drive Special – December 11, 2013; 11 DEC 2013.
  • [pending]
  • Living Room, 11 OCT 2007.

Also see:

  • Thích Nhất Hạnh, Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, and peace activist on Being Peace; 8 JUN 2015.

[2]  We may be reminded of Morrissey’s classic song:

We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful” by Morrissey


[22 SEP 2019]

[Last modified 12:42 PDT  24 SEP 2016]