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Home Library Methods & Technology Methods & Technology Intro - Part I: Methods - Investigative and Diagnostic Techniques
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Neurohacking - Methods & Technology
Written by NHA   
Sunday, 28 February 2010 03:15
Article Index
Methods & Technology Intro - Part I: Methods
Investigative and Diagnostic Techniques
Repair and Prevention
Intelligence Augmentation and Exploration
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Investigative & Diagnostic Techniques


Physical & Sensorimotor Methods

Physical and sensorimotor methods are very helpful if you have nonuse in network 1 or weak rear networks in general. They are not usually helpful if network 1 is in wronguse or if you have uncontrolled overt synesthesia or suffer from sensory overload (as in some types of autism) -see tutorials.

The most widely used method of studying the brain is to present natural stimuli of one sort or another to the sensory organs, and record the resultant behavior. This is often done with very little technology, and obvious examples are sight and hearing stimuli. The performance of our senses reflects the state of the underlying neural networks we process information with, and sometimes sensory problems can be early warnings of network imbalance.

If any sense is less than optimal, the corresponding processing network will find itself short of input, and will rewire itself to glean more input from other sources (not necessarily other senses). Most of those leading a 'western' lifestyle will 'normally' have poor tactile senses and mediocre awareness of odor and taste, as our society relies almost exclusively on the long-range senses of sight and sound for exchanging information., and all networks decline with nonuse. Too much of any particular input too soon isn't good either and results in both sensory and perceptual problems (the outward symptoms being myopia or hearing problems). These 'normal' problems limit the usefulness of sensory testing for diagnosis.


Fitness Tests

Suffer from similar limitations; 'normal' metabolism for your average burger-and-fries sedentary loafer is not optimal for health. Guides to 'ideal' weight and 'ideal' calorie intake are also not reliable in diagnosis (see nutrition section).

BMI (Body Mass Index) is a good indicator of condition in populations (eg among groups) but still not sufficiently accurate for individual diagnosis. Body mass index is defined as the individual's body weight divided by the square of their height. BMI below 17.5 indicates the person is underweight and may have an eating-related disorder; a number above 30 suggests the person is obese (over 40, morbidly obese).

Here is a simple fitness test for those over the age of 21 that you can do yourself (it doesn't work if your cardiovascular system is still growing, as is usual before this age, as pulse rate is highly variable):

You will need: a box or low bench or step about 20cm high that will take your weight (the bottom step of a flight of stairs is good), and a stopwatch or clock with second hand.


Do not do this test after eating or drinking beer.


  1. Sit quietly and take your pulse in beats per minute, recording the result.
  2. Step on and off the step with both feet twice every 5 seconds for 3 minutes.
  3. Sit down and rest for exactly one minute
  4. Take your pulse and record the result.


  • If your second reading is below 81 you are very fit.
  • If your second reading is 81-90 you are fit.
  • If your second reading is 91-100 you are unfit.
  • If your second reading is 100 plus you are very unfit.


It is sensible to do this test before beginning any form of physical exercise or therapy. If you are very unfit, you may need to make changes to your diet and lifestyle in order to get the optimal benefit from such practices.


General Medical

When a neurological disorder is suspected, doctors usually evaluate all of the body systems during a physical examination, but they focus on the nervous system. They do a neurologic examination, which includes evaluation of mental status, cranial nerves, motor and sensory nerves, reflexes, coordination, balance, walking (gait), regulation of internal body processes (by the autonomic nervous system), and blood flow to the brain. Some areas may be evaluated more thoroughly than others depending on what type of disorder is suspected.

Many of these tests can be done at home and lots of examples can be found online. Most such testing exercises the abilities being tested, so if you do a lot of these you should expect your performance to improve over time, regardless of whether you do other exercises for them. This is one of those fortunate situations where the very act of testing something improves it!


Dietary Analysis

Relationships between dietary patterns, food group intakes, health and behavior are now well established.

Higher total withdrawn/depressed and delinquent/aggressive scores are significantly associated with the Western dietary pattern, with increased intakes of high GI carbohydrates, takeaway foods, sugar, corn products, additives and processed red meat. Improved behavioral scores are significantly associated with higher intakes of low GI carbohydrates, leafy green vegetables and fresh fruit. These findings implicate a Western dietary pattern in poorer mental health and behavioral outcomes Better behavioral outcomes are associated with a higher intake of low GI carbs (see nutrition section).

Analyzing the diet can help to predict possible problems and prevent them as well as furnishing possible diagnoses for current problems. Food cravings can give clues about possible vitamin or mineral deficiencies, addictions, or adjusting requirements due to lifestyle changes.


Blood Tests

Blood testing for physical disorders as well as for the body's drug content is well known, but blood testing for mental disorders is a field in its infancy, and has only become recently possible due to advances in molecular biology, neurochemistry and gene transcription.

Biomarkers have now been discovered that correlate with high and low moods in bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, alzheimers and chronic anxiety, and this is a promising field for future diagnostics although currently (2010) methods use gene expression detection and only have 75-80% accuracy. In 2008, researchers published blood biomarkers for mood disorders.


Testing Neurotransmitters

As more was discovered about neurotransmitters, we began to identify which neurotransmitters correlated with certain bodily functions or which were correlated with certain emotional/psychiatric difficulties. Serotonin, for example, was found to be correlated to body temperature and the onset of sleep. Research also identified Serotonin as affected during depression and later during a variety of mental health conditions such as anorexia and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Studies between neurotransmitters and mental conditions revealed a strong correlation between amounts of certain neurotransmitters in the brain and the presence of specific psychiatric conditions. Some confusion about cause and effect later, they were discovered to be different symptoms rather than causes of imbalance, which remain multiple.

There has been extensive experimentation with the application of the DEX/CRH (dexamethasone /corticotrophin-releasing-hormone)test to assess hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-system (HPA) alteration in persons with psychiatric disorders. The application of this combined dexamethasone suppression/CRH-challenge (DEX/CRH) test requires individuals to take 1.5 mg dexamethasone (DEX) at 23:00 h orally the previous night. On the day of the test, 100 micrograms human CRH are administered to the subjects under study at 15:00 h intravenously as a bolus, and blood samples for the determination of plasma cortisol and ACTH are drawn every 15 min from 14:00 h to 18:00 h.

Psychiatric patients, regardless of diagnostic classification, release significantly more cortisol and ACTH after DEX and additional CRH in comparison with age-matched controls.

To learn more about cortisol and neurotransmitters, see tutorials.


Behavioral Methods

Behavioral methods are a good choice if you have nonuse in network 2 or weak rear nets in general. They are not a good choice for those with wronguse in rear networks (see tutorials).


Freeze Framing

The method: we fit ourselves with a beeper that randomly goes off several times a day. When the beeper sounds, we stop what we’re doing and briefly record everything in our awareness. In later sessions, we reconstruct these moments, often under rigorous self- or cross-examination.

The resulting mental freeze-frames are remarkably diverse. The basic makeup of inner life varies substantially from person to person. Many people are deficient in imagination and cannot form clear images, while others effortlessly form high-fidelity, technicolor, moving images. Some people have inner lives restricted to or dominated by speech, body sensations or emotions, and others by unsymbolized thinking that can take the form of wordless questions like, “Should I have the egg sandwich or the cheese?”

These differences are based on processing capabilities and linked to personality and behavior. Differences in thinking style also help reveal and explain some aspects of mental illness.

After-the-moment sessions done on oneself or with others should be treated with caution: one cannot assume the subjects will be honest, or that they are not twisting their answers to conform with their own biases, or telling the assessor what they think s/he wants to hear, or confabulating details they forgot.

Ideally you would note down as much as possible immediately on having your ‘beep’; but not everyone has a lifestyle compatible with doing so. We can improve accuracy with training to get past our preconceptions and report accurately on our experience.

In the meantime we should always bear in mind the limitations of memory; the very act of self-observation can seemingly add detail that was not there before, or we could have a very rich experience that we forget as soon as we hear the beep. These problems have always been an issue in self-observation or after-the-fact reports.


Lifestyle & Input Control

Reviewing your lifestyle and seeing how different kinds of input control affect you (see tutorials) are powerful ways of assessing your condition. Often what seemed like a serious problem turns out to have a simple cause; such as lack of quality sleep or lack of effective relaxation, wrong input, poor nutrition, tedious activities, poor decision making skill or bad planning. All these factors can be adjusted by various means.

A good lifestyle analysis should reveal your likes and dislikes in relation to your usual activities as well as your habits. If you wish to do one there is an example in tutorial 2. Diagnosing a problem becomes easier if we can predict causal factors from lifestyle & behavior.

For more information about lifestyle and input control, see “Anxiety and input control” in the basics section of the library, and tutorials.


Behavioral Observations

Recent advances in neurology and research have simplified the way psychiatrists and others diagnosis and treat mental health problems. But in over one hundred years of mental health studies, the symptoms and behaviors associated with certain mental health conditions have remained the same. Psychotic disorders, where the individual often can’t distinguish between inner and outer input, still have auditory hallucinations. Depressed individuals still can’t sleep and remain preoccupied with the past. Histrionic personality disorder still presents melodramatic sentiments. Paranoid people look downwards, arrogant people look upwards, Autistics cannot look you in the eye, Hyperactive people (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD) still exhibit uncontrollable restlessness.

It later became clear that many mental health problems also had a physical component that involved changes in concentration, sleep, appetite, speech pattern, energy level, perceptions (hallucinations), and motivation. Studies began to determine the connection between the condition of the person and the physical signs/symptoms that were also present.

Because of this, problems often show up in behavior and moods before they show up in physical or mental symptoms or clinical tests. Noticing changes in mood and/or behavior is an important part of 'knowing yourself', as important for charting your improvements as for spotting and preventing any problems. Keeping a diary is one method of doing this, as is 'freeze framing' (see above).


Psychological Methods

Questionnaires & Surveys

There are two basic ways of gathering information; qualitative and quantitative.

Qualitative: You talk to a lot of people or you talk to one person a lot, or you study yourself, collecting as much information as possible. Then you look for patterns in the information [for example “Every time I felt awful in the morning, a great deal of coffee had been drunk the night before.” Or: “Those of us who had sudden migraines that summer owned a particular kind of pet.”] This is how researchers discover new directions to explore and new theories; by looking for patterns in data.

You can also do remote surveying via questionnaires, although they are more difficult to get qualitative information with.

For quantitative surveys, see below (cognitive methods).


Functional Analysis

We have been able to test for brain functions for much longer than we have known much about the nature of neural nets, because functions can be assessed rather easily from behavior, which is why IQ tests are pretty good for assessing intellect [they are not good, unfortunately, for assessing how sensible people are].

All functions can be tested like this. It is blatantly obvious that if you wake up in bed with someone you don’t recognize, that there has been some loss of memory, for example, but we only used to find this sort of thing out after an accident because patients failed memory function tests; not because we saw or knew in any way which brain networks were malfunctioning.

The brain was still very much a ‘black box’ when functional analysis [FA] came into play, and we really had no idea whether brain function testing was testing the performance of individual networks, particular mixtures of networks [modules], groups of neurons, or the whole brain!

But FA was still pretty useful. If a person suffered an accident, or reported any sudden loss of mental ability, we tested for the different functions, and from the results we could still be reasonably sure that there was no damage to the brain [now we would say, ‘that all major networks of the brain are functional’] before considering the patient healthy and ready to go home. [It is no use a person having an undamaged IQ, for example, if they feel too traumatized to leave the building, or cannot remember where they live or recognize their wife.] Mental performance in this sort of testing remained until recently one of the best ways to assess mental health.

If a specific problem is known or suspected, specific functional analysis may focus on particular areas. Here are some examples of different areas that can be focused on and the kinds of questions that can be used: 

  • Time, date, location and direction
  • The place where you live, type of building you are in, city and country you are in
  • Your name, age, and interests



Your ability to complete a thought. This may be evident through conversation, or you may be asked to follow a series of directions in order to base conclusions on your performance.


The memory of people, places, and events that have recently been involved in your life. You may be asked questions related to recent events in your life or the world around you.

REMOTE (long term) MEMORY

The memory of people, places, and events that occurred earlier in your life. You may be asked about your childhood or events that occurred earlier in your life.


Assessments documenting memory loss in detail may include the following:

* Type

  • o Can the person remember recent events (is there impaired short-term memory)?
  • o Can the person remember events from further in the past (is there impaired long-term memory)?
  • o Is there a loss of memory about events that occurred prior to a specific experience (retrograde amnesia)?
  • o Is there a loss of memory about events that occurred soon after a specific experience (anterograde amnesia)?
  • o Is there only a minimal loss of memory?
  • o Does the person unknowingly make up stories to cover gaps in memory (confabulation)?
  • o Is the person suffering from low moods that impair concentration?


* Time Pattern

  • o Has the memory loss been getting worse over years?
  • o Has the memory loss been developing over weeks or months?
  • o Is the memory loss present all the time or are there distinct episodes of amnesia?
  • o If there are amnesia episodes, how long do they last?


* Aggravating or Triggering Factors

  • o Has there been a head injury in the recent past?
  • o Has the person experienced an event that was emotionally traumatic?
  • o Has there been a surgery or procedure requiring a general anesthetic?
  • o Does the person use drugs, including medications or alcohol? What type? How much?


* Other Symptoms

  • o What other symptoms are present?
  • o Is the person confused or disoriented?
  • o Can they independently eat, dress, and perform similar self-care activities?
  • o Have they had seizures?

Word comprehension tests your knowledge of common items. Your tester will point to everyday items in the room and have you name them.


To test your judgment and ability to exercise alternative solutions to a given problem or situation, your tester might ask, "What would you do if a police officer approached from behind in a car with lights flashing?" or "If you found a snake on the ground, what would you do?"


No preparation is necessary for these tests. All responses should be natural, spontaneous, and honest. Preparation, especially by a highly intelligent person, could distort the results of the test by making it appear that cognitive function has not diminished when, in fact, it actually has.


What 'Abnormal' Results Mean

Each test can identify different possible problems, as described below.


Typically, orientation to time is first to be lost, then orientation to place, then to person. There are many possible causes for disorientation:

  • * Alcohol intoxication
  • * Low blood sugar
  • * Head trauma or concussion
  • * Fluid and electrolyte imbalance
  • * Nutritional deficiencies -- particularly lack of niacin, thiamine, vitamin C, or vitamin B-12
  • * Hyperthermia (fever)
  • * Hypothermia -- a drop in body temperature can cause sudden confusion
  • * Hypoxemia -- chronic pulmonary disorders can produce persistent confusion
  • * Environmental (such as heat stroke, heavy metal poisoning, hypothermia, or methanol intoxication)
  • * Drugs (such as atropine, chloroquine, cimetidine, CNS depressants in large doses, cycloserine, oral digitalis
  • medicines, indomethacin, lidocaine, withdrawal from narcotics and barbiturates)
  • * Organic brain disease



If you are unable to complete a thought, or are easily distracted by other stimuli, you may have an abnormal attention span. This may have a number of causes. A few examples are:

  • * Attention deficit disorder (ADD)
  • * Confusion
  • * Manic depressive illness
  • * Histrionic personality disorder
  • * Schizophrenia



Organic syndromes are indicated if there is a loss of recent memory, but remote memory remains intact. Remote memory is lost when there is damage to the upper part of the brain as occurs in Alzheimer's disease. See also memory loss.


These tests screen for aphasia. Some causes for aphasia include:

  • * Head trauma
  • * Senile dementia (Alzheimer's type)
  • * Stroke
  • * Transient ischemic attack



We exercise judgment in all of our daily activities, and the ability to determine an appropriate course of action is vital to survival in many situations. The following are some causes of impaired judgment:

  • * Mental retardation
  • * Emotional dysfunction
  • * Schizophrenia
  • * Organic brain disease



Intelligence Assessment Where There Are No Clear Problems

The mental functions that we normally test for in FA are: memory, intellect and computational ability, an ability to concentrate and pay attention [alertness and orientation], clear perception and healthy senses, imaginative ability, association and strategy, creative problem solving, and emotional stability.

These are all considered essential in a healthy mind.

Nowadays, by performing them in sync with fMRI, we have been able to determine that there certainly are various individual networks in the brain whose functions correlate with high intelligence. We have also gotten a much clearer idea of how a reasonably healthy mind will be functioning overall, and which networks are essentially necessary for that to take place. Essentially, fMRI together with functional analysis has brought neuronal nets out of the black box closet and into the light.

Functional analysis is used in our neurohacking tutorials for self-assessment.


Older Tests

(most of these are only partially useful and many are now too out of date with new discovery to be of use).

  • The Rorschach consists of a set of ten card with an inkblot on each card. It was developed in 1910 The test is considered "projective" because the patient is supposed to project his or her real personality into the inkblot via the interpretation. [Update 1942] The reliability and validity of the Rorschach is highly controversial - especially with subjects who are resistant. Most professionals agree that using the Rorschach alone is probably pointless. The Rorschach can be rendered useless or invalid if a subject provides less than 10 responses or describes only one area per card. Some professionals consider the Rorschach to be unscientific.
  • The MMPI 1942 (see MMPI-2) is a true false questionnaire that has 556 questions
  • The DAS or dysfunctional attitude scale from Weissman (1980) is a questionnaire with 40 items with answers from "I totally agree" to "I totally disagree"
  • The MCMI / MCMI-II or Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory is a true false questionnaire that has 175 questions. First version was developed in the 1970's and was constructed with scales that represented personality disorders contained in DSM III. The original MCMI was highly controversial. The new version was released in 1987 and was based on DSM III-R but does not represent the current DSM-IV personality disorders. The attitude of the person taking the MCMI or MCMI-2 and context/circumstance in which the questionnaires are given can have a significant impact on the validity of the results.
  • The SAS or sociotropy autonomy scale from BECK is a questionnaire with 60 items with answers from "I totally agree" to "I totally disagree" (in %)
  • The MMPI-2 or Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. (60-90 minutes) Specialized study is recommended before using these questionnaires. Use of the MMPI or MMPI-2 and interpretation without training or without proper consideration is probably pointless. The attitude of the person taking the MMPI-2 and circumstance in which the questionnaires are given can have a significant impact on the results. The minimult is a summarized version of the MMPI with 172 questions.
  • The PDQ / PDQ-R / PDQ IV or personality diagnostic questionnaire from Dr. Steven Hyler is a true false questionnaire that has 163 questions (99 question for pdq4) (1994) It was constructed with scales that represented personality disorders. It takes approximately 10-20 minutes to complete.
  • The IPDE - International Personality Disorder Examination from Loranger and the WHO organization (1994)(french adaptation Dr Pull) is a semistructured clinical interview compatible with the ICD-10 and the DMS-IV (semi-strutured means that questions are completed by evaluator)(The IPDE exists in 2 versions, one 94 questions screening "yes / no" allowing to quickly have some idea about personality disorders and the full version with 100 questions allowing to make diagnosis but also to have dimensional score for each disorder). The IPDE is available in computer software.
  • The SIDP / SIDP IV or Structured Interview for DSM Personality Disorders from Bruce Pfohl, M.D (SIDP IV 1997) (semi-structured means that questions are completed by evaluator).


Interactional Analysis

An Interactional analysis is like a Functional analysis except it is aimed at situations, not people. We are analysing behavior to determine who is, and who is not, interacting, and what may be getting in the way of that. This enables us to see patterns of interaction that succeed, and patterns of action/reaction that don’t, and how much we or others are using of each.

The value of Interactional Analysis is this application of critical thought to our own behavior and that of others in social situations, and the unveiling of any hidden (or not so hidden) intentions within social as well as all other contexts (interpretations of assumptions, belief systems, etc.). Interactional Analysis can be applied to any person, problem or situation.

“Interaction” is the practice of certain core conditions in communication, relationships and behavior that result in a high degree of “changes for the better”.

The ‘core conditions’ are a guide for both practising and analysing attitude, communication and behavior. They were elucidated by psychologist Carl Rogers, whose work in implementing them in healthcare, education and international relations led to his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. (If you want to know more in-depth info about the background psychology , read the article “Biological psychology & personality theory: the basics” in the Basics section of the library.)

The core conditions are Empathy, Genuineness and Unconditional regard; skills that we aim to develop in ourselves to improve our ability to interact.

Rogers’ achievement was to state in clear definitive and measurable terms the psychological conditions which are necessary to bring about constructive (beneficial) personality change. By ‘beneficial personality change’ we mean “Change in the personality structure and behavior of people, at both conscious and unconscious levels, in a direction which produces greater integration, less internal and external conflict, more energy utilizable for effective living, and a change in behavior away from behaviors generally regarded as immature and towards behaviors generally regarded as mature.”

The purpose of Interactional Analysis is not to provide definite answers, but to expand our personal horizons and make us realize our own shortcomings and unacknowledged agendas/motivations - as well as those of others. In short, determining who is and who is not interacting as opposed to action/reaction reveals what is going on behind our backs and those of others and what is determining our own and other people's behaviors.


For more about Interactional Analysis and how to do it, read:

(Basics section):

Interaction and core conditions; the basics

Biological psychology & personality theory: the basics

Interactional analysis practice

Anxiety & input control: the basics


Introduction to Homeworld



Cognitive Methods

Particularly useful for 'front loaders' with weak rear networks, but should be avoided if you have wronguse in networks 1 & 5 (see tutorials).

Questionairres & Surveys

You start out with an hypothesis and you want some proof or disproof. For example, “I wonder if my diet could be responsible for my mood swings”. So you go look for evidence that this is possible. You might just look it up on the internet, or ask people, and you collect the evidence, but it’s about that one particular subject alone; not anything else. If a lot of people say your hypothesis is likely, you’re more likely to test it further. World mortality figures are another example of quantitative surveys.

Discourse Analysis

Discourse analysis (DA) is a method for analyzing written, spoken or signed language use, developed in the 1990's by Jonathon Potter and Derek Edwards. Language and discourse are not transparent or neutral means for describing or analysing things. Rather they effectively construct, regulate and control access to knowledge, the power of institutions, and interpersonal relationships. Discourse is studied as interactive, focusing on what people DO, attempt or achieve with words.

Analysing discourse as output enables us to see the underlying ontology (theory of being), behavior and attitudes a person is using. We use this skill in everyday awareness; for example if someone says, “I hate chinese people” we may fairly conclude that the person speaking is racist.

As a psychological technique, we can use the same method to determine any unhealthy habits of thought based on an underlying ontology and/or ideology that may indicate dysfunction.

Three main areas are analysed: power relations (inequalities including gender relations, social class, age prejudice, authoritarianism, victimization and racism); subject positioning (ways of understanding and experiencing the world, accounting for it and being positioned in it by self and others); and interpretative repertoires (how things become 'taken for granted', come to be considered 'common sense' regardless of their founding in (or refutation by) fact) and used as discursive resources).

Most importantly, discourse analysis reveals incongruity (see tutorials) via exposing ideological dilemmas, attribution errors and underlying false assumptions, and can also indicate our progress towards congruity over time.

The words we write or speak are an expression of our inner thoughts and personalities. Beyond the meaningful content of language, a wealth of unique insights into the speaker’s mind are hidden in the style of discourse —in such elements as how often certain words and word categories are used, regardless of context.

It is how a person expresses his or her thoughts that reveals the processes beneath. When people try to present themselves a certain way, they tend to select what they think are appropriate nouns and verbs, but they are unlikely to control their use of articles and pronouns. These small words create the style of a text, which is less subject to conscious manipulation.

Discourse analyses have shown that these small words may hint at the healing progress of patients and give us insight into the personalities and changing ideals of ourselves and others.

Discourse analysis is relatively new and even many psychologists have not yet realized that low-level words can give clues to large-scale behaviors, but there has been some progress; there is now a computer program that analyzes text, called Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC, pronounced “Luke”). The software has been used to examine other speech characteristics as well, tallying up nouns and verbs in hundreds of categories to expose buried patterns.

The software counts how many times a speaker or author uses words in specific categories, such as emotion or perception, and words that indicate complex cognitive processes. It also tallies up so-called function words such as pronouns, articles, numerals and conjunctions. Within each of these major categories are subsets: Are there more mentions of emotions or sentiments? Does the speaker prefer “I” and “me” to “us” and “we”? LIWC answers these quantitative questions; psychologists must then figure out what the numbers mean. Before LIWC was developed in the mid-1990s, years of psychological research in which people counted words by hand established robust connections between word usage and psychological states or underlying attitudes and beliefs behind overt behaviors.

Researchers are currently investigating many other patient groups, including those with cancer, mental illness and suicidal tendencies, using LIWC to uncover clues about their emotional well-being and their mental state.

Although it takes study to learn how to do an effective analysis, by enabling us to make our assumption explicit, Discourse Analysis aims at allowing us to view the "problem" from a higher stance and to gain a comprehensive view of the "problem" and ourselves in relation to that "problem". Discourse Analysis is meant to provide a higher awareness of the hidden motivations in others and ourselves and, therefore, enable us to solve concrete problems - not by providing unequivocal answers, but by making us ask ontological and epistemological questions.


Here is a sampling of the many variables that can be detected in discourse analysis: 

·        Higher rates of words related to sentiment correspond with feelings of insecurity, threat and defensive or aggressive behaviors.

·        Words that are used to express balance or nuance (“except,” “but,” and so on) are associated with higher cognitive complexity, better problem-solving skills and even the truthfulness with which facts are reported.

·        The factor that is most clearly associated with recovery is the use of pronouns. Patients whose writings change perspective from day to day are less likely to need further treatment during the follow-up period.

·        In general, rearloaders (see tutorials) tend to use more pronouns and references to other people. Frontloaders are more likely to use articles, prepositions and big words.

·        As people mature, they typically refer to themselves less, use more positive-emotion words and fewer negative-emotion words, and use more future-tense verbs and fewer past-tense verbs. In cognitive decline the opposite is true.

·        When telling the truth, people are more likely to use first-person singular pronouns such as “I.” They also use exclusive words such as “except” and “but.” These words may indicate that a person is making a distinction between what they did do and what they did not do—liars often do not deal well with such complex constructions.

·        People use a lot more first-person singular pronouns when they are depressed or suicidal, possibly indicating excessive self-absorption and social isolation.

·        In the days and weeks after a cultural upheaval, people use “I” less and “we” more, suggesting a social bonding effect.


Self Analysis, Reflexivity, Observation

Almost any method of analysis is applicable to the self. Self-observation and self analysis are of limited use to those with wronguse in networks 1, 3 & 5 (see tutorials). Those who are unhealthily obsessed by the self do not benefit from self-analysis, and those who are emotionally unstable cannot rely on their results (they tend to answer questionnaires dishonestly by accident; aiming for the 'ideal' responses they think others would most approve of).

For those with healthy frontal networks and good emotional stability self analysis can be an extremely useful tool. We do have to bear in mind the fallibility of memory in some methods. Studying interaction and the core conditions is an important first step.



Reflexivity is the deliberate exercise of the mental ability of considering ourselves and our behavior in relation to our cultural, social and environmental contexts, with the aim of spotting problematic areas that may encourage bad mental/cognitive habits.

Understanding how other people, contexts and events as well as beliefs and assumptions affect our cognition and behavior is a valuable skill because once aware of our current limitations, we can take steps to reduce them. If we KNOW that we cannot make good decisions when under the influence of anything, we can not only avoid making decisions when under its influence but also avoid it deliberately when decisions need to be made, or change the effect it has on us by various means.

A good analogy is finding out what our allergies are so that we can avoid substances that adversely affect us or take steps to prevent bad responses (for example antihistamine).

Reflexivity is also useful in written accounts of events or ideas. A good example of reflexivity used in research is the comment: “My interpretation of the data on the prevalence of racism in our community may be biased as I was frequently subjected to racial abuse as a child”. This researcher is aware of her own personal possibilities for prejudiced judgment.



Spiritual Methods


Some would count reflexivity as a spiritual method of diagnosis; allied to the tenet: “know thyself”, but a spiritually-induced sense of calm and centeredness that meditation can bring will be an advantage in any assessment of brain function or mind performance. Almost always as awareness increases, the feedback from meditation becomes a diagnostic instrument that allows us to understand exactly at which point of development or problem solving we are. So it is a good starting point.

There is more information about meditation in sections below.



Mindfulness meditation can teach us a lot about how we are functioning unconsciously as well as our conscious behavior. It is especially useful for those with nonuse in networks 1 or 5 (see tutorials).

As an exception, self-concentrative practices should be avoided by individuals whose reality-testing function is poor, who are strongly paranoid, suffer hallucinations, or who are likely to develop delusions of grandeur from the altered states of consciousness that these practices tend to produce. People with overwhelming anxiety should practice meditation for relaxation only and avoid insight meditations, in which the anxiety level could increase. If you have wronguse in networks 1 or 5, avoid mindfulness practices for the time being (see tutorials).

If you wish to learn basic meditation, consult the tutorials.



Can focus the mind, reduce anxiety and make it easier to see problems and make decisions. These are all of benefit in making a diagnosis.

Speaking about issue aloud will have this effect even if you are not religious as long as you can concentrate and try really hard to explain the problem. Some people use a diary for this or talk to an imaginary friend, but the deeper concentration that comes with prayer gives better results. If you have bad associations with the idea of praying, try imagining that you can ask the wisest, most intelligent wizard on earth about your problem. How would you explain it to them? Adopt the core conditions (an attitude of deep respect , genuineness and empathy) and go ahead -this will be just as effective as prayer at clarifying a problem.


Martial Arts, Yoga

Practices such as a martial art or yoga increase our awareness of our own bodies and sensitivity to changes as well as improving many functions.

If yoga is part of your lifestyle you may want to investigate Ayurvedic diagnosis. Diagnosis according to Ayurveda is to find out the root cause of a disease (Nidan) rather than the symptoms. It is not always necessary that the root cause is internal. Many times the cause may be external. To give permanent relief the root cause has to be removed. Ayurveda hypothesizes that all causative factors of disease internal or external, directly or indirectly create an imbalance (increase or decrease) in these doshas first, and only then do the symptoms of the disease manifest. The causative factors can be the food, lifestyle or other activities.

In Ayurveda, the diagnosis and treatment of disease is always individual to each patient. As Ayurveda treats according to the constitution of an individual, it is known as a highly accurate and personalized method of analyzing problems. 




Last Updated on Friday, 14 December 2012 11:50