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am 29. Januar 2000
Flow is an ecstatic state that occurs when according to Dr. C. you are really, really paying attention to some creative or demanding act. And all credit to Dr. C. for brining our attention to flow and how it influences peoples lives. But there is a teensy little problem. Dr. C. tell us what other people tell him 'flow' feels like, but in 300 pages, he never tells us what flow is. This is sort of like reading a book on headaches by Dostoevsky or some existentialist philosopher. You may get the feel of what headaches are like, but to know the physiology of headaches, a better choice would be to rely on DrKoop. Same thing unfortunately with Dr. C. Instead of a scientific analysis of flow that brings in the latest research on cognitive science or neuroscience, Dr. C. ladles on the metaphors like a never ending fountain of curdled verbal gravy. Thus flow "transports one into a new reality", represents an "ordering of consciousness", or represents some "undreamed of state of consciousness". Hmm, may I have some psychic fries with all this psychic goodness?
So Dr. C's book gets two stars for literature, but flunks out as science. Indeed, the latest research in neuroscience has demonstrated that the brain releases the neuromodulator dopamine whenever attention shifts from one salient precept to another. Whenever attention shifts a lot, as when we encounter something challenging, creative, or very interesting, a lot of dopamine is produced. Since dopamine is the pleasure chemical in the brain, as well as is responsible for drug induced highs, it stands to reason that flow is no more than a natural drug high that keeps us riveted on important thoughts. So flow is important, but is hardly best understood by the half baked Jungian analysis that Dr. C. cooks up.
For a better insight on how you too can make 300+ page books by weaving together meaningless metaphors, I would refer the reader to George Lakoff's superb book "Philosophy in the Flesh". For a better understanding about the emotions that may underlie flow, I also recommend Antonio Damasio's book "Descartes Error..."; and for those of you who would like to get a better idea about how flow like processes may arise from the brain, Donahoe and Palmer's book "Learning and Complex Behavior" is heartily recommended.
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