art · Artificial Intelligence · bias · digital art · Feminism · psychology · Uncategorized

AI Image Generators and Bias

Text to image AI generators are a rabbit hole of wonder and bias. As a test I entered, “enlightenment arising from the prefrontal cortex”. Below are images produced by Dall-E 2 Open AI. All male, though the second from left might be viewed as female or androgynous.

Then I typed, “enlightenment arising from a female prefrontal cortex”. Below are the images Dall-E 2 Open AI generated.

I was taken aback by the cultural male-female stereotyping this AI generator was so clearly mirroring.

In the first grouping:

  1. A cerebral, serious emotive tone pervades images 1, 3, and 4; the most male-like and Caucasian
  2. Image 2 (the most female-like) has a softer more contemplative feel.
    And though the skin is brown, the face is European.

In the second grouping:

  1. Image 1 looks dazed and entranced, not awakened
  2. Images 2 and 4 are joyful, elated, with no contemplative feel at all
  3. Image 3 is a feminized rehash of a traditional Buddha image
  4. All four are Caucasian.

AI generators are supposedly trained on massive quantities of information regarding image types and features that human minds associate with specific concepts and/or words. Therefore, one could expect an AI generator to consume a wide swath of information, gather that into the most common associations, and deliver an image reflective of that process.

I suspect what may have been delivered in this case is a mash up of existing stereotyped male favoritism found in two necessary sources: medical illustration and religious iconography. Images are a vehicle to plainly see societal assumptions, especially wholly incorrect ones.

Group 1 delivers a very specific message: enlightenment occurs only in Caucasian male brains. Most surprising for me is the vast majority of depictions of enlightened states come from thousands of years of Asian Art: Upanishadic, Buddhist, and Taoist religious images. Though the vast majority of those images are male, none are Caucasian. Add into the mix medical illustration, which until very recently only depicted male anatomy of the head. Now the scale tips so radically and completely toward Caucasian male. The Asian origins of the framework of enlightenment is utterly wiped out! Could this also be helped along by the more recent Western image bias for depicting meditators as Caucasian males?  Maybe.

Group 2 delivers another sort of specific message: when enlightenment occurs in a female brain, happiness is all a woman will experience. No awakening, no clarity, no shift in understanding. And frankly, as someone who been a female meditation practitioner for many decades, until very recently, my scholarship of textual material and dedication to practice was largely minimized by male teachers in both Yogic and Buddhist training contexts. So, the AI generator is merely following suit. One can almost forgive an AI generator for its Caucasian female bias. It is clearly feeding from the trough of blond Caucasian blissful females gracing mindfulness and meditation magazine covers and Instagram posts. The assumptive biases of Group 2 make my stomach turn even more than those depicted in Group 1.

What is to be done about this quagmire of bias and lack of accuracy in AI image generation? I don’t have an answer. I do have an unsettling concern that the AI world care little about historical inaccuracies and doing their part to discontinue millennia of imagistic injustices and biases.

awakened mind · change · clinical mindfulness · health · integrative psychotherapy · mental health · mindfulness · mindfulness psychotherapy · psychology · psychotherapy · somatic psychotherapy · Uncategorized · wellness

Graduating Psychotherapy

“I’ve graduated!” Most mental health professionals would not expect a patient to utter this proclamation at the end of therapy. Yet I have heard it more than once. The first time I was a bit taken aback as even I was lacking appropriate context for this framing. At the time I remember inquiring, “What about your accomplishment feels like graduating?” Their answer was so simple. “I have learned so much and radically changed because I have embraced this knowledge and use the skills in my daily life. I am still me, and yet, I am a me I could not have imagined being before I started this work. Therapy was not school but it feels like I have earned a degree!”

Though I don’t agree, psychoeducation is often considered separate from the therapy itself. I have always been a big fan of educating patients as part of the therapeutic process. Getting them excited about knowledge I have worked so hard to gain. Wisdom from biology, neuroscience, social science, psychology, and contemplative science is often as much of an ‘ah-ha!’ moment producer as directly perceiving mind, or landing firmly in embodied presence, or experiencing how goodness, kindness, openheartedness melt away anxiety, depression, loneliness and meaninglessness. It is all part of delivering an integrated package of resources for symptom alleviation and awakening.

Completing therapy fully equipped to meet life’s challenges with intelligence, humility, flexibility and inner strength is the aim. If accomplishment of that goal that feels like graduation I am all for it!

integrative psychotherapy · mental health · social media · Uncategorized

The Creatrix and

My first 24 hours on and wow… the artist in me has reignited. The angst and grief of the last few weeks of Twitter dissolution has given way to the fascination of interacting in a cauldron of intelligence, realness (weirdly enough), and a chance to diversify to other communities and voices I rarely had access to because of the ever-present social-media-generated algorithms dictating who I am and forcing me to stay in that box. So far relatively bot-free! And no ads! And a virtuous intent I can get behind.

The two decades I spent in the visual art world were years of me as rebel, technical fiend, technology envelope pusher (when online visual creation tools sucked!) and advocator for every human awakening—not in today’s woke way—in the ancient wisdom tradition way. Yes art, particularly interactional installation art can do that. And the raw nature of and its UX has a similar feeling of engaging with a newborn that is learning about itself and the world simultaneously.

Slowly I am finding other mental health professionals as more people get invited and sign up. Building community will take time but Twitter feels so horrible when I visit the site that I am convinced this is the way to go. uses a points system instead of ads, which feels a little like what Clubhouse tried to do a year ago and it pretty much failed over there. We’ll see if it works here. I get that this is way to keep ads away and reward “creatives”. That label was attached to a lot of crappy content at Clubhouse which is why I didn’t stay on it.

In other news, Youtube has granted my channel a new name. You can now find it at

awakening · Buddhist philosophy · Buddhist practice · Buddhist psychology · Buddhist Teachings · cessation of suffering · clinical mindfulness · emotional suffering · integrative psychotherapy · interdependence · meditation · meditators · mental suffering · mindfulness · mindfulness interventions · mindfulness meditation · mindfulness psychotherapy · not-self · psychology · psychotherapy · secular mindfulness · Tibetan Buddhism · Uncategorized

Meditation is not an antidote.

If you think meditation alone will ‘cure’ the deleterious characteristics of humanness, like anger, violence, greed, hatred, fear and bias… think again. These qualities arise from an experientially shared, all-pervasive perceptual feeling of separateness—I am inside, everyone else is outside.

Cutting through that misapprehension requires both conceptual training and contemplative practices for cultivating cognitive-affective quiescence and profound insights into what is known in Buddhist philosophy as the Three Marks of Existence—impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and not-self.  Most clinical and non-clinical applications of mindfulness teach meditation devoid of information about the way in which humans misapprehend the Three Marks of Existence, and how this mistaken perception becomes the proximate cause of all forms of human suffering.

Let me be absolutely clear. Noticing 1) how thoughts come and go; 2) how much time we mentally spend in the past and future; 3) cultivating compassion; 4) and that basic physical pain is worsened by mental anguish about painful stimuli—all these insights will decrease cognitive-affective symptoms, which makes them appropriate Western psychological interventions. However, when ‘Buddhist-derived’ mindfulness meditation practices are offered as a means to attain happiness and/or reduce distress, those meditators remain largely unaware of the root causes of their suffering.

The main reason Buddhist psychology does not view symptom relief as an end goal is because non-suffering is ultimately an outcome of the fearless pursuit of non-delusion. That pursuit includes the recognition of and liberation from two basic causes of human suffering—our deluded belief in a substantive, separate self; and our deluded belief that happiness is conditioned upon comfort, certainty and security.

In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition that perceptual distortion is called, innate reification, which is viewed as largely unconscious; functioning at a very basic level of cognitive processing. The pervasive and assumptive nature of innate reification is a primary obstacle to direct realization of how all perceptual phenomena (including the self) interdependently co-arise moment-to-moment. Separate self-existence is illusory. But that illusion makes harming doable—particularly the false perception that harming another does not simultaneously also harm the harmer. Imagine how different the world would be if all human beings recognized how intimately connected they are to all other beings through their thoughts, words and deeds.

Because this profound insight into reality is not a predetermined outcome of meditative practice, it must be pointed out directly. Clear conceptual understanding proceeds and fortifies accurate perception of reality. Experiencing the Three Marks of Existence and cutting through the perceptual distortion of innate reification requires both concentration meditation and analytical meditation practices. Just practicing mindfulness and compassion is not enough. Concentration meditation alone is not enough. Conceptual understanding is not enough. Going beyond antidotes requires all of these together.

Buddhist psychology · health · integrative medicine · integrative psychotherapy · mental health · psychology · Uncategorized

Contemplating the Work

I’ve had three blogs over the last twenty years, which no longer exist on the web. Mindful Psyche charted my first decade of psychotherapeutic practice. Dharma Moment offered a daily randomly selected teaching from the Pāli Suttas, accompanied by something I can only describe as minimal musings. The old Effortless Mindfulness blog was a complementary, commentary vehicle for my textbook on Buddhist psychology.

Integrative Psychotherapy blog will chronicle revelatory experiences and surprising outcomes which regularly occur in the sacred space my patients call “Lisa’s office”. Identifying personal information or topical content will not be shared. I will externalize my internal processes and flesh-out the rich intersubjectivity that makes the integrative psychotherapeutic container such a powerful force for change.

Each new post will be featured on my clinical website and on this WordPress blog so you can easily subscribe and comment. Here’s to another new blogging endeavor!