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Mind/brain science in words and pictures

“Our minds are a playground far more compelling and engaging than the most expensive toys and computer games.” J Barth, 1998

The physical sciences provides us with the tools to explain the properties of all sorts of material like glass, metals, concrete, cement, wood, plastics. It is possible to understand why some materials are flexible, or strong, or transparent or hard, or super thin based on infrastructures like how atoms line up or crystal structures.

Similarly, mind/brain science provides us with some of the tools that allow us to explore and explain who we are, how we have evolved, our capabilities and limitations our responses to the world around us, the complex interplay of our genetics and life experiences. This website provides snapshots, stories, research reports, ideas, notes,  and musings about our brains in action. Also included in this personal science journal and diary are ongoing projects and collaborations with mind/brain scientists. While mind/brain science is of interest to many of us the application of what we have learned about how we function can be useful as applied to facets of our lives and is also the subject of many of the postings on this site.

No story or project is ever complete. New research knowledge will be added to existing posts. 

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The life and death of the artist Günther Barth

The life and death of the artist Günther Barth

A preliminary collaborative script


Ian Burston & William B. West


William B. West (web manager for mindsinplay.com)

Ian Burston (Lives Lived Project)


I know it is true. I say to myself, and to you, the reader, and to Ian, my collaborator and instigator, that I am overwhelmed trying to help script a biography of Günther Barth. I also know that Ian Burston is similarly over his head and responds by becoming a committed drunk. What has happened to us? No one has forced us to work on this project but here we are chained to what we started while not being able to see a picture of a conclusion. Is it some of the funding that the Barth foundation provided us engaged. So, once again they asked for a progress report, plans to move forward and a copy of what we have completed to date. Not sure how they will respond to what we have put together so far. I did tell them they Ian and I see the work on the script rather like panels in an impressionist mural in which we depict facets of the Günther Barth story through sketches and vignettes rather than as a linear tale. One of the foundation board members reacted to this idea by pointing out that I was bullshitting and didn’t know what I was doing and that Burston was too drunk to care neither which is true, maybe. What is also true is that some of the material we need to work with is in the hands of the New York City cops and part of their investigation of the possibility that Barth was murdered. Oh well, it is only the beginning and maybe there might also be an end.


It was a long time ago when as a student I sat at the head of the stairs in Mrs. Bard’s rooming house. There were 5 other students who had rented rooms. We could walk to the campus in less than 10 minutes when we wanted to be on time. What I remember most clearly is staying hidden, in my room or looking down the curved staircase as life went in and out of the front door. While my courses sometimes excited me my life was empty and lonely. My ‘minds’ eye is fuzzier now but nevertheless I can still see some of my ‘fellow’ students tip toeing past the front door, late at night, with their arms around a coed. Sometimes I saw them embrace at the foot of the stairs, and in the dim light I could see a hand reach under her blouse and could still hear her gasp, softly, but loud enough to which I were there with her rather than my fellow roomer. I made sure that I had enough time to sneak back into my room, alone. I had read Hesse’s novel Steppenwolf and imagined that I was the hero in the story who also used to sit at top of stairs looking down at the life below. That fixture in my imagination provided little comfort and I, by now well accustomed to my place in the universe, and would fall asleep alone in my bed.


That was then, a long time ago and I have made peace with the fact that I am the same person, the same student in a grown up body. Although I have learned a great deal about all sorts of things, science, driving, how to shop for clothes that would make me look stylish, and have even become modestly accomplished in the study of mind/brain science, but the fundamental features of my liver, spleen, kidneys, and mind, have not changed much. Remarkable how much we can learn and still be so naïve and ignorant of the secrets of how to live.


My collaborator, Ian Burston, and I have led very different professional lives and life styles. Nevertheless we share in common an identical way is which we cope and adapt to the world around us…especially people. He too is a loner, someone who is an observer of others. After ‘choosing not to be an active researcher I write illustrated enhanced stories about the mind/brain science of others. As to Ian, he dabbled and failed as an actor and then film maker and now interviews others in attempts to capture the essence of their lives.


For now, enough about us. You will get more of a sense of who we Burston and I are and by then surely you will be sick of us.


But be forewarned. I agreed to work on a first draft of what Ian Burston thinks might become the script for a TV documentary and/or a biography. I think his alcoholism has tampered with his ability to consider reality. What follows are my attempts to put together a huge amount of material that Ian has gathered dealing with Günther Barth and I said that I would take a crack at trying to organize it and to add some hocus pocus science as a backdrop to events in Barth’s life and art. If Ian can stay sober he would take what I have written, edit the content and use silver polish to give it a nice patina.


DefeatSelf portrait (circa 2004)

Introduction and synopsis with an outline to follow

This is not a simple tale either neither in the life of Günther Barth nor in the telling of his life’s journey ….so be forewarned. Also, what follows is not for everyone especially since it takes so many turns often down blind alleys. On the other hand it has many of the ‘right ingredients to keep a reader and an art lover engaged. I too sometimes find myself finding it hard to follow the action behind the scenes of this Lives Lived Project (and more details appear below). Maybe I am too close to all of the material that makes up this project to be objective but on the other hand I have gotten so involved that I don’t know my way out.


Maybe it helps to sketch out what this entire story is about. At the core of this story is the life and death of a celebrated 20-21st century painter. The story (maybe I should label it a saga) begins with plans for a video production based on the life of the artist Günther Barth. Ian Burston, of the Lives Lived Project had planned to interview Barth after first gathering a good deal of materials about his life and art. The idea to develop the Barth video product was Ian’s boss the producer director Michael Philips. While Ian was gathering much of the background material needed to complete his interview, Barth suddenly died and this began the mystery part of this story. What was the cause of death? There was certainly no shortage of unusual, curious, circumstances that surrounded Barth’s demise. Did he die of natural causes (and I guess all deaths have some natural occurring events that can move us from a breathing state to a stone cold place in a coffin)? Did he commit suicide (a real possibility)? Another distinct possibility was ‘foul play. There were several people in Barth’s life that might have been highly pleased to see him dead and these were a red or maybe orange flags that triggered the intense interest of the cops. No doubt several of the detectives of the New York City Police Department considered the strong possibility that the artist was murdered? If he was killed then of course the question is who done the deed. The list of possible suspects included Barth’s third wife who and numerous social public occasions would get into shouting matches with Barth and meant it when she would yell “Drop dead you eternal fucker”. Then there is Liz Mann, who wanted to fuck Barth rather than have him drop dead. Yes, Liz Mann is the art critic whose name you easily recognize and who was rejected, dumped humiliated at the end of a maybe but not quite affair with Barth. After being rejected she hated him with a passion, the kind of intense hate that never gives out. She spent a good deal of her time writing articles and appearing on TV blasting Barth’s most recent art work as being the product of a damaged brain. Much earlier she was his most important champion calling him the most important artist to come along during the last many decades. The police also considered some of the rumors that some of the most recent Barth art was not his at all but that of a forger, who may have realized that he had been discovered and would end up in a jail cell. There may be yet more convoluted ins and outs to this story but that must wait all though you might not want to stick around to find out about what happens or who did what. You may have already heard enough to say ‘no thanks’ but then there is Barth’s art that might draw you in. After all you might enjoy looking at the astounding 50 years of artistic development that is his contribution to our art world.


While I love art I am also very interested in understanding the creative process in all of its forms, in both the sciences as well as in the arts. I am intrigued both when the creative process works, is alive and thriving but also what makes it suddenly fail, run out of steam and fall off the cliff. Understanding something about the mechanisms that drive the creative process from a mind/brain science point of view is just one of the themes that have interested me (William West) for some time. This passion has propelled me to develop a website called mindsinplay.com which is used to cover a wide range of topics that deal with scientific perspective or vehicle for understanding the workings of the mind.

While I really love science especially the kind that tries to understand how heads work I also have a love of art and good stories. It is the combination science, art, and storytelling that fuel the content of my website mindsinplay.com. I get my ideas for stories (postings) based on news items that appear on daily science newsletters that I receive each and every day. This posting, this story, not sure I really know what to call it, does not fit the mold of my typical postings for writing about mind/brain science.


Outline of a collaborative script of the Günther Barth biography

  1. Preview, overview and under view and synopsis of the Günther Barth story including a sketch of the players in this twisted drama
  2. Description and goals of the Lives Lived Project (which you might get you to conclude, ‘so what’). The Günther Barth was initially to be an interview sponsored by the Lives Lived Project.
  3. Time line of the life and accomplishments of Günther Barth along with some details surrounding his death
  4. Mind/brain science themes that might be useful in describing and accounting for changes in the art, life style and death of Günther Barth. Note. What is provided in this script is a brief mention of mind/brain science perspectives while a fuller account appears on the website mindsinplay.com. and is also reprinted as an appendix to this script.
  5. Notes, observations of Ian Burston of the Lives Lived Project in preparation for interviewing Günther Barth. Here we also provide some additional materials such as provocative correspondence and snippets from audio recordings of chats that Ian Burston had with Günther Barth before his death.
  6. Time line and selected samples of the artists exhibited work from 1970 to the spring of 2014.
  7. Gaps, holes, questions that remain to be answered, maybe.
  8. Appendix

Catalogue of Günther Barth’s (1970-2014)

April 08 15 old

Early painting exhibited as part of a group show (New York, about 1970, shortly after the affair with BW came to an end)

Abstract period , Maeght foundation 1977


Additional abstract paintings 1977 Maeght Foundation



pic 14 6-20

pic 19 6-20

Barth’s abstract expressionist period after living in Africa (early 1980’s


the bird cries

fig 1

A brief period Barth labeled (in the military play ground)


dec 09 3

Period of art career in which Barth took control of art galleries and art institutes throughout Europe and North America

The following institutions were part of his empire which he saw as a form of universal ‘Bau Haus’

Kunst-Institut von München

Paris Art Conservatoire

Art des Galeries Monde

Design Institutes

Les Instituts Amalgameted Arts (Paris)

Die Amalgameted Arts Institute (Berlin)

The Amalgameted Arts Institutes (NY)

אמנויות Amalgameted המכונים (Tel Aviv)


Die Amalgameted Arts Institute (Berlin)

Barth art during the last 15 years including his ‘primitive period’


He called this painting ‘verzweiflung’ (fear, dread)





Paradigm shifts in thinking and action

The history of mankind is marbled with extraordinary leaps forward, changes in how we see our world. I think of these changes as paradigm shifts in thinking. An ancestors ‘suddenly’ learned to make flaked stone tools 2.6 million years ago, and to make and harness fire 1 million years ago, and 500,000 years later they had figured out how to fix stone points to wood shafts, and then only 70,000 years ago humans had learned to develop projectile points, bedding materials the chemistry know how to make glues, and then discoveries speeded up so that by 40,000 years ago humans had mastered how to make a musical instrument, paint on the wall of a cave, make sewing needles. This also was the beginnings of the mental jump, discovery, and recognition of the value of symbols and language. These seemed to all be collective paradigm shifts in thinking. Individual pioneer contributions from such as the likes of DaVinci, Mozart, Einstein, and others followed later.

Paradigm shifts in thinking occur in all of us, individually and we of course can also appreciate the extraordinary discoveries of others that result in abrupt changes in how we think about things we thought were always true until proven not to be true.

For example, when thinking about the influences that shaped the life of Günther Barth, or any of us, we have been taught to think of the role of nature (heredity, genes) and nurture (our experiences in living). Not so. In a series of very recent experiments it turns out that the experiences can be transmitted to new generations by directly altering the activity of genes, gene expression. The fixed boundary between the effects of nature and nurture has been erased (see one example of the published works on this subject by Dias & Ressler, in Nature Neuroscience, Vol. 17, 1, 2014). Isn’t that an extraordinary change in how we see our genetic heritage? An experience that we have had can be passed on to our future generations through changes in gene activity. Wow! And I would add Pow!

So here we are, or where I am at trying to take a peek at what we know about paradigm shifts in thinking? Might what we know about shifting states of mind help clarify the changes in Barth’s art or even whether his most recent work is even his but rather that of a forger. In addition was Barth’s brain damaged, particularly in the area of language functioning and might that sort of damage have accounted for the dramatic changes in his most recent art. How might disruptions or changes in language functioning influence how we see and interpret our visual world?

Throughout our lives we stumble onto mini epiphanies that provide us with some new insights about some small facet of our experienced universe of people, phenomena, things that fill our lives. What we suddenly grasp and see in a new light is not some old picture or mural seen anew but a morsel of our experience that fills a little crevice in our mind. However sometimes we, as individuals, discover an extraordinary new truth that changes the path we take into the future. This can also be the case for a discovery, a paradigm shift in thinking that is shared with many of our fellows contained in the social and cultural context in which we move and breathe.

What makes it possible for one person or group of individuals to construct a bridge from their well established knowledge and to then leap into the into space with a completely new way of thinking about things and doing things

What might account for sudden changes in how we think, solve problems, respond to our world? What might be some of the conditions that might allow someone (or group) to suddenly shift how they think about phenomena in their lives, art, cookery. Arguing with Burston isn’t worth it and especially when he is so animated and drunk and despite it reasons that what I might have to say might be helpful in understanding the dramatic shift in the style and focus of the artist Günther Barth during the last decade of his life. I have learned that Ian Burston can be demanding and easily discounts that what I have to say will valueless. Oh well.

Some experiences suddenly change our world forever. An experience, a scientific discovery, someone new in our life, induces a mind shift, or a mind quake. Often our changed minds are narrow, limited in scope, like changes in how we see someone who has been part of our lives, or rediscovering and reevaluating some films, art, music, political events. A more dramatic change in how we think can be reflected in how we see ourselves.

These are all examples of mind shifts in how we think as individuals but there are also many examples where a large group of people or a society of individuals suddenly thinks about their world differently. We can all think of lots of examples of both individual and group paradigm shifts in thinking now and throughout history.

How do these mind shifts or what I would call paradigm shifts in thinking take place? What are the ingredients that stir and spur a creative spirit to suddenly conjure up a totally new way of looking at a problem or a complex phenomenon? What happens in our brains that take our thought and knowledge into a new place that can then create reconfigured knowledge that provides a vision of a totally new and useful application, which can change how we live? I and likely you have asked questions like, “How did someone come up with that idea, that experiment, that view of the havens, that view of how lyrics can be set to music or that melody, that…..What conditions allow our fellow humans to make the kind of thought leap that makes our jaw drop and then we might step back with wonderment and admiration. What are the ingredients in that creative mental pie that is responsible for imagining and then expressing something totally new that then can influence how the rest of us see what we have never seen or imagined before. What are the mental roots of dramatic paradigmatic shifts in how we think about our world?

Of course these are questions that have been raised and studied by many, even those who are well trained in something or other or think they have valuable keys to doors with locks that don’t work. But that is my opinion except of course all sorts of perspectives are worth considering and also discarding. Certainly cognitive scientists have explored this topic in all sorts of ways, as have historians, sociologists, theologians, business managers, and linguists. Most of my colleagues would agree that the study of paradigm shifts in thinking is so complex that it is still out of the reach of mind/brain science methods and theory.

This is quite a long-winded wind up so what got me started in this track that has left me out of breath. How the hell can you look at a history of thinking, or art, or music, or science and say, “Wait a minute this last bit doesn’t follow all the shenanigans that proceed the now.

So as starters you might classify (and always nice to put things in boxes) the types of changes in mind state that can suddenly result in paradigm shifts in thinking, seeing, listening, interpreting, almost anything.

My list of favorite ingredients needed for paradigm shifts in thinking that results in a product that makes us exclaim, “Wow. That is amazing. How did you get there.”? Obviously much more should and could be said about these ingredients and how they might be put together to make and excellent creative pie.

  1. You have to be smart and know a great deal about all sorts of things which includes knowledge that may seem totally irrelevant to the problem you are trying to solve and then, maybe, just maybe you can leap forward to a place that none has ever been and can show them to the way to the truth, the music, the picture, the discovery, you have somehow uncovered. To be smart you need a well-tuned prefrontal cortex that can orchestrate and manage the bridge between thought and action.
  2. Learning to let the mind wander around the networks of associations and knowledge nestled in brain circuitry.
  3. Many of us are so controlled that we might appear in a video of a minor crook handcuffed by the cops. Somehow, sometimes, we must be able to uncouple the prefrontal and frontal brain lobes from the rest of our brain hardware. If we can manage that kind of inhibition we might go to a place that is new to us and then we just might think of all sorts of ideas in trying to solve a problem that eluded us till now. That is just the time that we have to reengage the brain inhibitory circuitry so that we can challenge all of the creative stuff that bubbled up while we were floating in space. I guess I would call it an inhibition-cerebral release dance of brain cells in action.
  4. Think outside the box. What is that about? I suppose it applies to being stuck in a trolley track which has always gotten us somewhere we wanted to go but then we want to consider going to another part of the forest and so how do we risk crossing the tracks and going by foot to a place that we have never visited before? How many of us are adventurers that might be encouraged to link ourselves to a wire and slide over a cliff?
  5. This brings us full face to the courage ingredient, which is often, intimately linked to a centered sense of confidence that you are ok have been and will be ok and that you are neither fragile nor easily defeated. Courage without self-confidence is different and the sort that in many ways raises courage to a new level with elements of stupidity that may be charming but in the long run is ridiculous.
  6. How do we move around the circuitry the associative networks in our brain that allows for new vistas and new connectivity? Moving about our brains associative networks, the basis of our knowledge, is generally repetitive, familiar and devoid of new interpretations of what we already know, Some of us, and just sometimes we can move about our knowledge terminals in novel ways that reveal what we have always known in a new light.
  7. How can we do without this most unromantic of ingredients No doubt it is boring but without discipline, hard work, dedication, plugging away you have nothing to say but “Do I have a fairy tale story to tell you and can you imagine and elephant walking into this room, or wouldn’t it be fun to play pin the tail on the donkey. Coming up with a new scheme for looking at some facet of the universe requires the kind of hard work that is so often dismissed as pedestrian bullshit….which it is not.
  8. Being able to generalize smoothly, easily but also to move from the general to the specific example even if distantly related. What doesn’t help in paradigm shifts in thinking is oversimplified generalizations like “have discovered that all people are really pretty much the same because almost all have 2 arms.
  9. Frustration tolerance
  10. Gatekeepers that provide a pushback for paradigm shifts in thinking about all sorts of phenomena.
  11. Fluctuating states of mind (state-dependent cognition). We think differently in different mood states, differing states of arousal, drug altered brain states.


Magic moments as opportunities for one trial learning.


We all have ah ha experiences. Perhaps the evolution and development of man’s adaptive capacity, such as harnessing fire, started with a scene, or multiple scenes, in which one of our, or perhaps your, ancestors exclaimed in a grunt, holy shit, when a spontaneous fire erupted and then was controlled and then used for various purposes. We all have ah ha experiences, or ‘holy shit’ moments.

Ian had recorded such a moment in the recollections of Barth.


He told Ian about an unforgettable moment in his adolescence that he thought transformed him. He was having a relationship with BW. He was ambivalent about his powerful attachment but he had never experienced such unbridled sexuality, eroticism, seduction, ever. In the past his sexual experiences were restrained controlled. BW was no one like anyone he had been with before, a sultry star of a pornographic flick that arrived in his life. He was both exuberant but also scared although he was not sure of what. She was the older woman and he her young pupil. She knew how to seduce, tease, excite arouse, and he was her willing partner in training and training she did. Did he love her? The emotions of the moment were so intense, but also so frightening that he couldn’t commit himself to this relationship but instead would obsessive at the edges of their relationship while she wanted him to be her lover, to be a couple. He was content, no; the enthusiastic fuck partner excited by each new adventure but at the same time insisted in maintaining his freedom. BW was no doubt unhappy with that part of their relationship but at the same time was trilled to be the master of this young emotionally reluctant man-child. BW understood that and actually found his naïveté attractive. So each had to consider what to do in managing their somewhat limited relationship. Young Barth insisted that they have and open relationship and that meant that she like he should also be able to be with others in romantic or not so romantic liaisons. He had no idea of what he was asking for, what that meant, the consequences and the feelings that could bubble up in the wake of his smug pronouncement. BW did understand and Barth would also come to appreciate the implications of his wishes in one overpowering magic moment of an experience resulting in sudden learning.

One weekend an ex-boyfriend arrived. BW was excited to see him. Of course the fact that BW and Barth had agreed to an open relationship made the liaison with her ex reasonable and, in fact she was excited to spend a few days with him which included becoming reacquainted in each other’s arms.

That same reunion weekend Barth walked into BW’s bedroom and there they were, her ex’s winged tipped shoes neatly nestled at the edge of the not so exclusive Barth’s bed. He had a vivid image with a dramatic soundtrack of his BW screwing, screaming, gasping for air whispering all over her partner over and over, encouraging her ex, her now partner to keep going, not to stop, not to come just like the trysts that were meant for BW and Barth.


Throughout the next few hours Barth learned about the power of jealousy and a pain that he had never experienced before. He had a vivid image of his ex inside BW, she on top and then turned around so that he can enter her from the rear and he could hear her gasps, screams, and it was not Barth that was fucking BW but someone else and the pain of imagining that, that very scene that he had helped engineer, provided an insight, a new sense, of what a relationship can hold for him. Freedom in a relationship which is what he wanted was riddled with so many other totally foreign features that he had never imagined would be there, until that moment, as he stared down at those wing tipped shoes and muttered to himself, “What have I done and what have I wished for and what do I now know that I will never forget as long as I live”. And Barth didn’t forget and what he learned from that single experience (one trial learning) was reflected in his relationships (and the lack of intimacy) with women from that day forward.


We all have experiences that are just like this. All you have to do is to think back.

The notion of a magic moment was what the pioneer of 20th century photography, Cartier Bresson, called a magic moment, that moment when he could capture a life in sudden transition. Those transitions were often simple, commonplace such as a man jumping across a puddle.



Uses and misuses



Some preliminary thoughts, which could also be afterthoughts 

Kids imagine that they know there stuff and will ace a test and then go on to imagine that they did very well only to find out that they fell on their nose.

I know that this time I will be able to stop drinking and sniffing crack. I feel that I am in just the right place to stop, tomorrow.

Barth thought that, when it came to the world of art, he knew it all, more than any of his contemporaries. He imagined creating a world wide Bauhaus linking all the arts and all the art institutions, and schools that taught crafts, dance, music. He could feel it in his bones that he was destined to be the world leader in the arts. That is an imagination that is full blown and with magical legs.


Imagination can often trump reality. That is, we can imagine accomplishing all sorts of feats that feel almost real and realized. Then we enter the world of action and our imagination falls flat, lifeless. Imagination is a sort of simulation that is never a real substitute for the real thing.

However, our imagination can bring us to places that are beyond the possible and by imagining we can model and simulate scenarios that can provide us with insights and possibilities that can then be applied to our view of realities of life. Imagined perspectives are then a springboard for new views of our world.


We are then left with the puzzle, “How does our brain manage to conjure up imaginings based on actions and knowledge that are generated with…..with what…..which brain circuits, knowledge networks, balanced dances between inhibition and disinhibition, transformations of previous experiences.

Can you teach how to imagine a whole range of scenarios? Can children imagine more effectively than adults and if so how did we lose that skill?



Can an elephant imagine what it would feel like to take a cool bath on a hot day, or better yet, that this bull can successfully take on the head of the herd?

Can you imagine being an elephant without having a history of walking around with a huge trunk and tusks?

Is the content of our imagination another form of our brains generating and using symbols or language as cognitive tool chest for generating thinking?  Our imaginings may be still images, videos, scripts, a dialogue in the mind, but all manufactured products of brain activity based on acquired knowledge, experience.

As humans our imaginings can take us to all sorts of places. Those imaginings can be based on random dribble or ‘real’ past experiences. No doubt that the products of our imagination can have a powerful influence on what we do, how we think and feel about ourselves and others in our world. Our imagination can also form the basis of our irrational attitudes towards people, events, our predictions of what is likely to be. Our imagination serves as powerful key determinants of how we live our lives.

Most people when asked whether it is a good thing to have a rich imagination would say ‘of course’. Of course you can come back to that question, “Really, all good?”.  No doubt imagination is very useful in many situations but on the other hand when imagination is a substitute for reality it can have crippling consequences.


We add our own touch to everything we remember, what we see, hear, feel. In our minds eye, we scan the world beyond our nose but, at the same time, we embellish that experience with the self-generated content on the screen inside our head. Our imagination along with big servings of acquired knowledge can make what is real a much richer experience than the one based solely on a conventional copy of reality. It can also serve as the basis for our distortions of the world outside our skin as well as generating a reality substitute, through our own imaginings.


While our imagination can be a powerful motivator in our lives, it can also run amok leaving us crippled, stuck in neutral. Think of the thought processes, the imaginings of the alcoholic who can picture staying off booze tomorrow but not today. They might imagine that this time it will be much easier to stop drinking, that they finally have a handle on the closed bottle of alcohol. It makes for a comforting video that serves as a substitute for the difficult reality of not drinking…..or not overeating….or dieting…or. No doubt that one of the shortcomings of the use of our imagination is that we paint a picture of smiling faces, of making it look easy when in fact it is super hard to diet, stop drinking and so on.

Perhaps imagining that we are someone else can help us stick with a diet that would ordinarily be difficult to follow (see the posting on this site entitled,

Similarly, school kid often imagine they aced an exam, or are well prepared for a test that they barely studied for, or that they know all about a topic that is, at best barely familiar to them. Imagination fills in the gap between reality and what they wish were true.


Some uses of imaginings, of imagination, can, like a placebo, drive someone into actions that might ordinarily seem beyond them. For example one can imagine being slim instead of fat, thinking of oneself as not having an eating disorder. With that imaginary picture of self in mind they might find themselves motivated and energized to diet effectively (see the posting on this website called mindsinplay.com




Consider working with imagination in a context that includes others.

Well for Günther Barth (Lives Lived Project) there are no others and listening to others is not considered worth the ride. In addition teamwork is not what he considers worthwhile unless it consists of him telling others what he wants them to do and they asking for help in complying with his wishes.

  1. Listening to what others have to say. Doesn’t matter how smart you are or think you are you can never think of everything that can impact a valued product of your imagination? Another perspective, someone else’s expertise and knowledge can never hurt and can temper, strengthen the product of our imagination.
  2. Incubation. Over time, the product of your imagination won’t grow either stale or become overripe and rotten. Second, third, fourth looks of what your imaginings have produced will enhance the product of your mind.
  3. Most complex problems are best accomplished as a ‘team sport’. If you feel that your ideas are only shared when it reflects on you and who you are then don’t bother sharing your thoughts, ideas with others. But if you think the ideas you come up with have value aside from being the product of you head then give others a chance to work with you to enhance the product of your mind.
  4. Don’t be too stubborn and filled with your self-worth. The brilliant Alfred Wallace, the co-discoverer with Darwin of natural selection, stuck to his guns in his commitment to his beliefs about the value (and scientific foundations) of psychic phenomena, spiritualism and phrenology. All the evidence around him suggested that those ideas were nuts but, as you know, strong beliefs are there forever especially if they make no sense.