Can Banihal work for married couples?

Posted by Ishdeep Sawhney


Banihal is a startup and our objective is to find the best match for individuals looking to find the right partner to enjoy and build their family with. However, we have been asked by every married couple that has interacted with us if we could use our technology to give insights for them.

In 2008 there was a global financial crisis and the US economic system could have completely collapsed after the failure of Lehman Brothers. Most people think of this as unfathomable but those close to the system understood this as a real possibility with odds increasing. The reason for this is that the financial system is a tightly coupled complex system and severe shock can spread through the system and take it down. If an extraordinary step was not taken by the Treasury Department and the US Federal Reserve then putting the system back after the collapse is a problem which has not been solved successfully and hence these agencies act as “Lender of Last Resort” to stabilize the system and prevent it from collapsing. The actors within the system in such a crisis are helpless to stabilize the system. However the system is strong enough that if an external agency can help them transition through this tough spot, it would have the strength to continue working for many decades or centuries in the future. For extreme scenarios, marriages need a lender of last resort.

A look at a neurological disorder Capgras Syndrome to understand the parts of the brain in forming a perception.

David was a student in one my classes before he was involved in a car crash that left him comatose for two weeks. After he woke up from the coma, he made a remarkable recovery within a few months. He could think clearly, was alert and attentive, and could understand what was said to him. Yet he had one profound delusion. Whenever he saw his mother, he would say, “Doctor, this woman looks exactly like my mother but she isn’t – she’s an imposter pretending to be my mother.”

He had a similar delusion about his father but not about anyone else. David had what we now call the Capgras syndrome (or delusion), named after the physician who first described it. What could be causing such a bizarre delusion? The correct explanation, it turns out, is anatomical. Visual information is initially sent to the fusiform gyrus in the brain, where objects, including faces, are first discriminated. The output from the fusiform is relayed via pathway 3 to the amygdala, which performs an emotional surveillance of the object or face and generates the appropriate emotional response. In David’s case, the car accident might have selectively damaged the fibers in pathway 3 that connect his fusiform gyrus, partly via the STS, to his amygdala while leaving both those structures , as well as pathway 2, completely intact. Because pathway 2 (meaning and language) is unaffected, he still knows his mother’s face by sighting remembers everything about her. And because his amygdala and rest of his limbic system are unaffected, he can still feel laughter and loss like any normal person. But the link between perception and emotion has been severed, so his mother’s face doesn’t evoke the expected feelings of warmth. In other words there is recognition but without the expected emotional jolt. Perhaps the only way David’s brain can cope with this dilemma is to rationalize it away by concluding that she is an imposter. This seems an extreme rationalization, but as we shall see the brain abhors discrepancies of any kind and an absurdly far-fetched delusion is sometimes the only way out.
Excerpt from “The Tell-Tale Brain” by V.S. Ramachandran

Capgras Delusion shows how the language and emotion centers impact our perception. Every human spins stories effortlessly to rationalize things observed and since these views are not objectively correct and have no cost of production they will fill up our thoughts. To correct them takes energy. We end up spinning the wrong rationalizations about our partner without spending the energy to keep ourselves objective. I have been married for more than 5 years and my wife is not fond of driving. When it’s time to go drop our son to school, sometimes she would make an excuse like I am getting late so can you drop him and I would have a very positive emotion while dropping him. One day when she said to drop our son when she was supposed to drop him and the reason I knew was false, I had a thought that she did not value my time. This was because a day before we had disagreed on something else but that emotion had generated a thought that was extreme assessment from the facts. I discarded the thought as baseless before it could take hold and it is accumulation of these thoughts that causes the narrative to drift further from the reality. Neuroscience research in the past few years shows how thoughts are stored, accessed, rewritten and can be fixed. Prevention here as well is better than correcting later.

Many diabetic patients can be free from diabetes through lifestyle changes. However this assessment and the course of action is different for each individual. Every married couple has a unique chemistry and solutions need to be tailored. We understand various complex systems like the economy, human biology, society, ant colonies and marriage is just another complex system. We need to empower individuals with better tools to navigate and manage the system. Just like the knowledge of swimming does not make you a swimmer, that needs practice.

Banihal asks if a person enjoys walking, cycling or swimming and then creates an environment where that skill can be enjoyed. At Banihal our focus is to proactively create strong systems so that they can weather the harsh realities of the environment and where they will flourish with little effort. This is a far cheaper and simpler solution for individuals getting married.

For already married couples, keep a “lender of last resort” for extreme scenarios and keep the small stories in check. This takes real effort to get right just like learning yoga, meditation or swimming and not a skill built overnight.

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