Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Stigmatizing the Human Mind

In the last 100 years of Psychiatric and Neurological Medicine, an amazing amount of discoveries and theories have been made, and a greater understanding of how the brain works has been achieved. More specifically we have learned a great deal about mental illness, how and why certain things go wrong in the brain, and what happens when they do. However, as many people might say, we have moved to the Age of Prozac. As we move away from basing the reason behind the cause of psychological disorders on purely psychological reasons or, in the case of nature vs. nurture, the nurture side of reasoning, we begin to see and over-reliance on medication and the myth that merely taking drugs will cure your "disease." In the field of Psychiatry, the age-old practice of talk-therapy is seeing a drastic decline in favor of psychiatric drugs. With the advent of the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition), what were once simple, normal behaviors, now are serious, psychological disorders, treatable by drugs. While we have made much progress in the world of neurological sciences, to say we have enough evidence to support the idea that the behaviors are actually disorders, and to say that they need be treated, to even say that full-blown, well established disorders such as schizophrenia need be treated, and be treated by drugs at that, is ridiculous. We do not yet have substantial evidence to fortify the idea that these so called mental illnesses are truly detrimental to the society. If anything, we just do not have enough knowledge of what is truly going on, because for every negative there is a positive. The brain is an extremely complex organ and even with everything we know, we still have only scratched the surface of what is truly going on. What are the ethics behind changing a psyche we deem inferior or undesirable through drugs, however messed up we may think it is, and what right do we have to label one behavior as a disorder and one as normal? 

Now, I don't know what your opinions are, but I feel as though everyone at some point in their life has wondered if the behaviors or personalities they exhibit are "normal". I know I have, as well as most of my friends. Even through just my observation, with the help of the knowledge of mental disorders that I contain, most people I am in contact with for extended amounts of time seem to exhibit at least a few traits which could be described as less that desirable or even within the realms of a mild mental disorder. There is a little bit of narcissism, maybe some hyperactivity, over-aggressiveness, or antisocial, and a little bit of paranoia. Of course all the behaviors they exhibit are very low key, in comparison to the full blown   exhibits that would be considered a mental disorder. The point is, though, that there is such a wide spectrum of behaviors and personalities that humans exhibit, that it even as we may deem them undesirable, it would be hard to say that they are not normal. So if they are normal behaviors, even when scaled to be considered a disorder, as professionals would diagnosis, behaviors where "there is personal distress, or adverse impact on the social environment, or both, clearly attributable to the behavior," why do we deem them unsatisfactory? What goal could possibly be achieved by feeding the populations we deem detrimental to society drugs in which to neutralize these characteristics, only to create a mass of emotionless, blank zombies. Or at least a society of perfect look- and act- a-likes. Of course that seems a bit absurd, but thinking logically, it is a pretty well established law that for every negative, there is a positive. And so?

So, it is important to remember that some of the most influential people in our history, some of the most amazing minds of the day, were and are people with some sort of mental disability or disorder. Artists such as John Denver and Vincent Van Gogh, both of whom dealt with depression, or great scientific minds such as Albert Einstein, who was believed to have had Aspergers Syndrome, and John Nash, who was believed to have schizophrenia. And we can't forget the stories we hear of autistic children and adults who, though they have deficits in their ability to interact socially and communicate, often times show superior skills in perception and attention, and sometimes show unusual abilities ranging from splinter skills to the extraordinarily rare, sometimes prodigious talents that would classify them as autistic savants. There is reason to believe, as many do, that it is because of their deficits in one part of their brain, that they are gifted in another. And it would make sense that this applies to the lesser contrasting parts of life as well. We are obviously not 100% percent perfect in everything we do. Just think personally, and you would agree that you have your strengths as well as your weaknesses, yes? This contrast of skills and weakness, of behaviors and personalities is the reason we have such diversity in the mentality of humans. And because it is the strengths that influence the weaknesses and vice-versa, it is hard to believe that if you were to neutralize the weakness, the strength would not as well be neutralized. In the realm of mental disorder, we focus too much on the negative aspects of the condition. We don't focus on trying to utilize and maximize and discover what possible potential could be aroused from these people with high contrasting minds. Instead, we become so focused on the differences of these people to us, so we decide that we need to "cure" them of the horrible disease. We focus on only the negative, we end up making the people who have these "disorders" even worse off. We convince them that they are in fact messed up, and that they do need treatment. We label them and often times become attached to the diagnosis, defining who they are by it. We have created a culture of sickness, were anyone of us could be cursed with these awful, debilitating, mental diseases. Instead of embracing the diversity of the human mind we have stigmatized the very differences that are so characteristic of humans. The DSM declared war on the introverts, and the educationally challenged among others and has attempted to define what a normal human should be, an extroverted individual who works well with people, progresses well in conventional schooling, and will succeed in a conventional job. 

What right does any group of people have to deem one type inferior to another? And not only to label them as less than, but then to convince them that they are in fact diseased and need treatment through drugs to cure their illness. Yes I do agree that in many cases it is the person own decision to get treatment, and this understandable. No one really wants to be depressed or in disarray because of their restless mind. But there is better ways to deal with it then to diagnose them diseased and medicate them. Not as a standard anyways. If someone truly wanted medication, then they should not be denied them, however medication should not be the first choice for each and every patient. Talk therapy and helping the persons through whatever is troubling them and looking for connections in their life that may have caused their problem, in cases of depression and anxiety, as well as helping them understand what positives could possibly have come out of it all. What the strengths that counter their weaknesses are. The psychiatry field and practitioners need to be reminded of the classic bio-psycho-social model, and through talk therapy, come to understand the patient and understand what other factors could be contributing to their troubles. Use this instead of the bio-bio-bio method, where everything revolves around the chemicals of the brain and where medications are the instant answer to resolve these chemical problems, as many in the psychiatry field do in this day and age. 

Of course with all this, I'm not trying to say that once afflicted with a mental disease or disorder, be it behavioral or social or personality-wise, that they should just be stuck with it. In cases such as depression and anxiety, where there could be outside influences and factors (such as a rough childhood, trauma, socio-enviromental factors, etc) it is probably best for the person to seek some sort of help. We just shouldn't treat it like some horrible, hopeless disease. We shouldn't diagnose them, because then they will just obsess over their diagnosis and use it as their self-defining trait. And if it is something more naturally occurring by means of chemicals or neurological make up, like schizophrenia, then instead of trying to mess with the brain, we need to try to learn to best utilize this special mental makeup, as I have said before. We also shouldn't make prescribing drugs the first choice cure for certain things that might truly be caused social or pychological reasons. We still have a lot to learn in the world of neurology and psychiatry, and to mess with the delicate world of the brain is a risky thing. What we think is the cure one day, can suddenly be the source of new problems the next. The human race is amazingly diverse, and our psyches are party the source of so much of this diversity. So have we crossed the line of trying to help someone, to destroying the fabrics of emotion, personality, and behavior? And at that, where do we even draw the line? These are the questions that we will be asking and answering in the years to follow in the fields of psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience. We have made 100 years of positive progress in these fields, and with all the great minds in the world presently, and all the great thinkers question the way the systems revolving around the study of the human brain and mind, I can only imagine what progress has yet to come.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Problems With Human and Society: Precursor to How the Universal Machine Will Help Humanity

The system we have now is not nesecccarily bad. It works decently well but the problem is that we are not self sustaining. We cannot, as humans, continue to live like this. If we do, eventually the world, the Earth will break. We will drain it of life and it will no longer be able to provide for us. Right now we are at a standstill, a flat motionless plane, going neither backwards nor forwards. But we have to start moving fowards. As a species, we most come together and become a mesh of combined intellectual to move towards and provide for the commmon good and for survival. In some ways indepence must be taken away. But that does not mean we will lose our individuality. We must start connecting, we must start utilizing the technologies at hand to create a mesh of shared ideas. We have to start forming a more unified and autonomous society. Borders and walls must be broken down and humanity must no longer be seen as a billion individuals doing different random things for their own benefit, but as one whole individual made up of a billion co-dependent cells all working and providing for one another in order to sustain ourselves and continue to prosper and grow into the new era.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Deep Practice

I think this is the first time I really experienced true deep practice in awhile. I was practicing the song "Le Festin d'Esope" on the piano, for one a hour, but it all seems condensed into just a few minutes. I was so absolved in it the entire time, and eventually I just had to stop because my head was going into overload. Part of this may be because it's a decently hard song and I haven't played piano in awhile, or not very passionate practice. But this felt good, it sort of relaxed me I suppose. It has refueled my passion for piano.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Observing, Thinking, and a Brief Explanation of the Universal Machine

Take a look at the world around you. I can assure you you will notice certain things, mundane, everyday normal things. Blue skies, trees, clouds, rain from clouds, houses humans, animals. Many of us look at this and easily pass it off as ordinary, and non-special. But now, some day, I want you to look closer, and notice. And question. Realize. That these simple, mundane tasks and functions are all part of a giant mesh, a giant cycle, and giant machine. Yes, sometimes it is good to look at all the small details, but you also have to zoom at and take a look at the big picture to understand why the small, simple things are so important, were the fit in the giant puzzle. The more we take the time to notice things and not rush so quickly through life, the more we will get a sense of how significant each and every little thing has a very important role in not only the human machine, but the universal machine.
noticed something while observing nature, and studying the ways many grouping of animals and such works. An I noticed that it all seems very orderly, very connected, and... sort of transparent perhaps? I suppose the best way to describe would be to say that all these thing work, it appears, to be striving towards the greater good of the species, or working towards an orderly and regimented system. Let's take bees for an example. Now while perhaps they may not be as intelligent as humans, not as noticing, or as questioning, or as independent. Now this is not a bad thing. Nor is our tendency to act so either, however it definitely does make things difficult. Now, while bees may not do these higher level thinking processes as we do, the possess a much greater level of efficiency. They all work together to provide for the common good of their species, colony, and survival. Now, perhaps this is all due to instinct. But the point is, they do exactly what we need to do. They all work towards a common goal. A common point. They're are a majority of workers bees, who feed the larvae, create honey comb and wax, tend the eggs, and eventually go out to forage. Then there is also the queen bee, who's main duty is to provide more worker and drone bees. Now I'm no expert on bees, but by making simple observations and by researching the basics, I think it's easy that at least some species of bees are very communal. So what does this have anything to do with humans? Well you see, bees are a perfect example of the universal machine, and since the human machine, in theory, is a direct copy of the universal machine only applied more specifically to humans, they give us somewhat of an idea of what this universal machine is and how we can follow it to start striving forward.
What exactly is the universal machine? I suppose you might probably be asking this. Well it is something of my own design in my never-ending daydreams, thinking, and conceptualizing. While my idea of it is not perfect, and may very well never be, I believe it is on the right track. The universal machine is highly theoretical, and in my opinion it's that it's obvious that it exists, but you can't really ever entirely understand how or why it works. But it's there it's the natural order of the universe, and basically everything follows it or is a part of it somehow. But let's scale down for a second, and just focus on Earth for a second. Now let's think, what exactly keeps Earth orderly and self-sustaining? Well for one, there is the obvious natural occurrence of gravity. There is a soup of gases in our atmosphere that make life possible in multiple ways, from blocking some of the Sun's radiation, to creating a suitable mixture to inhale and gain necessary components to life. But to truly understand, we have to zoom in even more. What exactly does the Earth do to self sustain itself? Well, there are forest fires, which while seem bad, are in fact very important to the self sufficient nature of Earth. They help revitalize failing and dying ecosystems, and help create new life. In fact, it is because of us trying to prevent forest fires that we had the pine beetle infestation in Colorado. There is an extremely obvious example too. Food chains. There are plants, which are self-sustaining, oxygen making things. These are food for the herbivores, which are food for the carnivores. And by being the prey of each species, the prey species is controlled, and kept from overgrowth. However, the human species has sort of messed this up, but this is alright, there is still time to move forward. But back to Earth. There at least use to be, before human influence, a sustaining number of each species, controlling and providing for each other. Weather is part to. Rain helps hydrate regions, evaporation helps naturally recycle the water sources, and, well, there probably tons more, but I'm no weather man. If you really want to understand the universal machine though, just go outside, maybe the mountains, go out and just observe nature. If you see as I see, you'll see the order, you'll notice the very delicate balance. And after you observe, just think, think about what you have observed, and if you do this, i think you'll start to understand the universal machine. And if you don't, then... well i guess you'll just have to wait for my next post for me to explain  it more thoroughly.