Neurodharma Self-Help: Personalized Science Communication as Brain Management
Over the past ten to fifteen years, medical interventions, therapeutic approaches and scientific studies involving mindfulness meditation have gained traction in areas such as clinical psychology, psychotherapy, and neuroscience. Simultaneously, mindfulness has had a very strong public appeal. This article examines some of the ways in which the medical and scientific meaning of mindfulness is communicated in public and to the public. In particular, it shows how experts in the field of mindfulness neuroscience seek to communicate to the public at large the imperative of brain fitness for the promotion of health, wellbeing and happiness. The study identifies claims being made in popular outlets that, by and large, bypass traditional mass media, such as self-help books, websites and online videos. By treating this material as a form of personalized science communication, this article contributes to the body of literature that understands science communication as a continuum and the boundary between science and popularized science as the outcome of human negotiations. The study finds that processes of personalization help to build bridges between scientific findings and their supposed application, that they infuse science with subjective meaning, and turn expert communication with the public into a moral vocation.