investment in a particular norm or standard of reality.
JEANNE:: What about in the field of psychobiology and psychopharmacology?
OSCAR: In psychobiology the situation is a little different. I think a lot of the research in psychobiology is relatively free of the psychological bias than the clinical work, and in that respect, more progressive. Psychopharmacology is where the action is. The medicines have been remarkable. Even so, there’s been no remarkable new anti-depressants. There’s been a span of about twenty years between the last ones, which were the tricyclics, to the new ones of Prozac and Zoloft, which came out recently. All in all, the psychologists have stolen a great march on the psychiatrists. They’re more accessible and they speak a language which the public finds easier to understand, and they pander to the public’s fear of medicines and pills.
DJB: Why do you think that there’s such a fear and resistance against using chemicals to heal the mind?
OSCAR: We’re a drug-phobic culture. It’s a contradiction in terms because we consume more drugs than in any other country. We make a strange distinction between various kinds of pills. Somebody ought to do a research paper on that, on why certain pills are acceptable and others are not. You see people who take handfuls of vitamins in the morning, and they go to a herbalist and take herbs which they know nothing about. But many have great reservations about “drugs”.
DJB: I was talking to a friend about anti-depressants. He said, “I think people should be able to do it by themselves and not rely on drugs.” But then at the end of the phone call, he starts telling me about this herbalist that recommended something for his allergies that he felt had an amazing effect. (laughter)
OSCAR: Yes. We have this funny schizophrenia about pills.
JEANNE:: What is your view on bridging alternative medical modalities, such as acupuncture and herbalism, with modern methods?
OSCAR: For ten years I was Research Director on the board of an organization call the Homes Center. We gave sums of money to scientifically validate unconventional and unorthodox treatment methods. So you can see where I’m at. The Homes Center was the first and for a long time, the only organization to be doin that. One of the grants was for Stephen LaBerge’s work in lucid dreaming. Some of the other work we funded was in support of energy healing, biofeedback and acupuncture. So I’m very much in favor of the scientific exploration of alternative methods, but not just accepting them unreservedly without discrimination.
DJB: You told me about the theory of an emoting machine that embodied the complex array of emotions. Could you explain this concept to us?
OSCAR: It was an extension of things I had seen and read, but I put it in a new form, which hypothesized that emotions have a kind of quantitative nexus. That means that they are composed of particles, just like photons in a beam of light. In the final analysis emotions are a form of energy that have a pulse or quanta like the electrons in an electrical field. Once you assume that emotions can be quantified and measured then they no longer need to be seen as this vague, amorphous thing that just pours over you, that seems to arise in some strange, spontaneous way, and has no form or substance. We know something of that part of the brain that specifically regulates emotions — it’s called the limbic system. Here, emotions are engendered, and in some way made appropriate for the occasion. I see emotions as relating to cognitive experience in the same way a music score relates to a movie. The musical score is not discersive, it doesn’t tell you anything about the specific action, but it lends a kind of overtone, a richness to the experience that fleshes it all out. For example, it’s hard to imagine seeing Chariots of Fire without the musical score. I think emotions act in very much the same way. I believe that emotions can be traced and channeled. Some day we may have a way of regulating emotions, and devise a system of emotions just like we have a grammer of logic or cognitive effects. In theory, it is possible that a machine could be made that could emote, but we’re a long way off from that. In order to do this, emotions would have to be reduced to some formula, using the analogy of color. They are like the three primary colors. Out of red, blue and yellow, every other nuance of color is created. I think somebody once said that it runs into the thousands, the discernible hues we can see. Thousands, can you imagine that? So I figured you can get a vast array of emotions from three primary emotions. Fear, anger and love would seem to be the most basic and reasonable choices. Out of fear, love and anger, mixed in the proper tinctures and proportions, you might get such complicated emotions as