How Mocking Silicon Valley Trumps Sharing Science

In August 2019, I popularized dopamine fasting 2.0, when my evidence-based guide got over 100,000 views in <24 hours. Since then, the media has made it go viral worldwide, including news coverage on ABC TV and prominent papers in the US, UK, Australia, France, Japan, India, Turkey, & The Middle East. This has been a wonderful opportunity to teach people a behavioral therapy technique to manage impulsive behaviors (like excessive internet/gaming) by purposefully withdrawing from them for periods of time at the end of each day, week, quarter, and year. …

Dopamine Fasting 2.0 has gone viral worldwide! This article has 140K+ views, and the international media from the ABC, The New York Times, BBC, and other prominent media have covered it across the US, UK, Australia, Finland, France, Japan, India, Russia, Turkey, and the Middle East. So what is all the rage about? Dopamine Fasting 2.0 is an evidence-based technique to manage addictive behaviors, by restricting them to specific periods of time, and practicing fasting from impulsively engaging in them, in order to regain behavioral flexibility. …

As an executive psychologist, I am privileged to work with CEOs & VCs on optimizing their health & performance. However, as a general rule of thumb, I try to stay away from giving advice, since my stance is to not tell people how to run their lives and businesses (in fact, I’m trying to foster independence).

As a former startup CEO/executive myself, of course I’ll give advice if I think someone’s making a clear mistake or if directly asked. But most of time, my job is to give people evidence-informed frameworks for making better decisions, which they can internalize and…

Continued from: The Cure for Obesity and Diabetes is Processed Food (Part 2): Incentives, Influence, and Innovation. Original article published on Actualize.

“Diabetes can be reversed!”

…read international headlines today, based on a randomized controlled trial published in the prestigious journal, The Lancet. Study participants were first taken off their medications for diabetes and hypertension, replaced their usual food with ~850-calorie per day liquid meal replacement shakes for 3–5 months, reintroduced regular foods back into their diets over 2–8 weeks, and also received structured support for long-term weight loss maintenance. The average participant lost an impressive 22lb and a quarter lost 33lb or more!

Continued from: The Cure for Obesity is Processed Food (Part 1): When the Poison is the Antidote. Original article appeared on Actualize.

‘Big Food’ is the New ‘Big Tobacco’: Using Economic and Social Deterrents

In 1994, the CEOs of the seven largest big tobacco companies testified under oath to Congress, shamelessly claiming “nicotine is not addictive”, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. Like obesity, smoking seemed like an unwinnable war at the time. But major successful lawsuits against ‘Big Tobacco’ paved the way for successful public health efforts. Progressive state governments like California delivered a one-two punch that helped many people kick the habit. …

Credit: Cody Davis

Original article debuted on Actualize.

“We have a war between two food systems, a traditional diet of real food and ultra-processed food”

tweeted Dr. Robert Lustig, a fellow Professor at UCSF School of Medicine. He’s right. But I replied with the inconvenient truth few are willing to admit: “processed foods have won the war.” That isn’t to say we should be hopeless about the obesity epidemic, but we must soberingly admit our current strategy for curbing it is doomed. But there is another way. When other strategies fail, clinicians sometimes use “paradoxical interventions” where the problem is prescribed as the cure. So this is a…

Three Stories of How Ordinary People Became Machiavellian

All I do is win, win, win, no matter what
Got money on my mind, I can never get enough.

DJ Khaled, All I Do Is Win

Previously, I explained that assholes exhibit what psychologists call the “Dark Triad” of personality traits: psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism. While one is generally born a psychopath, and develops narcissism from early childhood, almost anyone can become Machiavellian given the right circumstances. Thus, I argue that Machiavellianism is the most dangerous trait of all, and is flourishing due to the Silicon Valley culture that promotes winning no matter what.

Credit: MythBusters
“You know I, need to choose the correct path, change the aftermath, 
Before she sings my song, ‘cause it may not be long:
Karma’s a double-edged sword. Karma’s a double-edged sword.”
- Cunninlynguists, Karma

In 2015, I published the phrase “digital therapeutics” in a research paper, and defined this new field as: “evidence-based behavioral treatments delivered online that can increase accessibility and effectiveness of health care.” It’s amazing to see there are now dozens of startups and investors that continue to create digital therapeutics to treat chronic pain, depression, anxiety, asthma, and other conditions. …

Photo Credit: MondoBrain

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is the most promising and overhyped technology of our times. AI techniques such as deep learning have allowed computers to match or even beat world experts at games like chess and Go, and even board-certified doctors at diagnosing diabetic retinopathy and skin cancer.

While AI is great for recognizing patterns in puzzles and pictures, it is much harder for AI to change the behavior of people, in all their fascinating and frustrating complexity. In an earlier post on the Keystone Habit, I introduced the concept of using goals and habit change loops for personal development. …

How the “Dark Triad” of Personality Traits Drives Bad Behavior

In “The Performance-Values Matrix,” I argued that the biggest reason company culture degrades is that companies hire, retain, and promote “assholes” (mercenary employees whose lack of empathy causes interpersonal issues). I also introduced the Performance-Values Matrix as a reinforcement system to assess and address this very problem. Let’s now dive deeper into a clinical understanding of “asshole” behavior and how it can be carefully managed in a corporation.

Part I: Anatomy of an Asshole (The Dark Triad)

“Asshole” is not a term I use clinically or scientifically, but rather commonly because it provides a shared understanding of something you “know when you see it.” …

Dr. Cameron Sepah

CEO, Maximus. Med School Professor. Executive Psychologist to CEOs & VCs.

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