Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Simple act

The simple act of believing that physiologic processes are deterministic in cases of anxiety, depression, phobias, and personality disorders has a destabilizing effect.

I am not saying that there are not cases where physiology is the sole cause of such disturbances.

I am not saying that there are not cases where physiology is a major contributor.

But I have really come to believe that a combination of socialization and a general faith about a better future can alleviate these problems.

The fundamental nature of reality plays an important role in what kind of stance one might take on this issue. If one is an atheist or believes in a "hands-off" sort-of G-d/god then determinism is the only logical conclusion, and the rest of what I have to say would not be worth reading. Because I would be mistaken.

I should also try to represent the well intentioned person with conflicting beliefs that is perhaps unaware of any such contradiction. It would not be plausible to suppose that we have free will, and that there is no G-d/god. That belief always involves trying to redefine free will as something less than most people perceive it to be.

If we do not have free will, then we do not have souls or anything beyond our mortal bodies. The universe is deterministic. Our bodies are physical objects which dwell in and make up part of the universe. Therefore our bodies are determistic. If we do not have souls and we are our bodies, then we have all been determined. If this were actually true, it would not mean that one should not try to improve themselves. It would just mean that if they did and succeeded, it was all part of a determistic process. The very act of deliberating about whether one should self-improve would itself be a process which is governed by cause and effect, and therefore governed by determinism. If I faithfully represent this view, it does not exclude self-change. But it does limit the scope of that self-change. Even if a determistic world-view, strictly-speaking, did not narrow the scope of self-change through cognitive processes, that is the view which is passed on by people who claim to have some understanding of the mental processes which are governed by just such a universe.

At any rate, I'm not out to prove anything regarding religion right now. I just hope the point that I can get across is that people who believe in free-will(however they get there) should be highly suspect of a diagnosis which marginalizes it.

The very act of believing that one can do little to change their psychological disposition has a devastating effect. Doubt is a negative-placebo. If you believe that you can't control yourself, you won't. Not because you don't want to, and usually not because you want to feel less responsible for your actions, but because you simply believe that you can't. This helplessness has a cumulative effect. The longer you believe it the more integrated it becomes into the way one views the world. It fundamentally changes the way one thinks about reality.

Which is not to say that one can just hope their way to sanity. Not in a day, and maybe not ever. But most people are capable of slow, steady change provided they are willing to try and that they believe slow, steady change is possible.

One must believe that they choose all of their emotions, whether or not they are consciously aware. This shouldn't involve guilt. 99 in 100 moods are chosen, and are not inflicted on an individual by physiology.

The world is happening to you, but you are also happening to the world.

Unfortunately, seeking help for psychological distress can often involve dealing with people who are very confident in believing the opposite of what I have stated. If you aren't depressed when you visit the doctor, you may be by the time you leave. I think its a good idea to ask a doctor about their beliefs regarding the cause and treatment of illness, as it can greatly affect one's rehabilitation.

Sometimes we need to be coddled, because that is where we are at. Sometimes we need a boot in the derrier, a fire in our heart, and a little bit of anger and determination. A season for everything..

Sunday, April 3, 2011


I've given some thought to the concept of the Limitless movie. One the one hand, some people are very smart and it seems that there is a physical basis for that, regardless of nurture. But the idea of being able to tap the subconscious has complications. The subconscious is "sub" for a reason. There are psychological and physical constraints that limit our subconscious' ability to just dump all over our ego.

Completely ignoring the physical necessity of blocking memories, one must be psychologically equipped to handle that kind of access. Any such pill would have to include some psychedelic element. Not hallucinations necessarily, but it would have to force a person to think in a radically new way. A person of the right constitution could just choose to think in this way, and perhaps gain some benefit. Memories become inactive in part because they are uncomfortable. A pill which granted unlimited access to such a repository of discomfort would most certainly be overwhelming, in a manner not unlike an lsd trip. If one is supposing that "extra control" over such recall might be possible so as to avoid negative experiences, then we are back to where we started. It is precisely because the ego has such control that memories are suppressed.

If you empower the mind, you empower it to do what it already does. If you suppress it(suppress the act of suppressing), then that person better have exceptional coping skills(other than suppression). It stands to reason that if a person could just increase their emotional coping skills that the lack of need for suppressing memories would lead to greater creativity and naturally better recall.

I think that there is a psychedelic way of thinking, where one strengthens the connection between ego and subconscious and is emotionally prepared to not have negative feelings about any thought that comes to mind. I think just being open minded does this. Many people who are open minded are very close minded about being open minded. That sort of judgemental non-judgemental-ness is yet another incarnation of pride. Pride is opposed to knowledge because it is necessarily narrow. It is this and not that. One should be open minded and not pride oneself on being so. Nor be too harsh on other people's lack of open mindedness.

I had the thought that it might be possible to create subconscious puzzles. The way a name is on the tip of the tongue and then comes to mind at last, or the way you can look at an acronym you have never seen and guess with a spontaneous certainty that you are probably correct.... It may be possible to develop puzzles in which people take a moment to consciously appreciate the "problem" and then endeavor not to consciously solve it. Only to be aware of the problem. Food for thought.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


I'd really enjoy pining about philosophy-n-stuff but I thought evaluating supplements might be a more practical use for this blog.

Phosphatidylserine is touted as a brain-booster by a lot of online vendors. Granted, I've only taken 300mg as a maximum dose, but I've yet to feel any cognitive benefit. What I have noticed is that it does decrease mental fatigue associated with sleep deprivation. That horrible borderline anxiety sensation that builds up as the night wears on is diminished by supplementation. I got the idea to combine this supplement with raw egg yolk and found that the effects are potentiated. I suspect there isn't much PS in egg yolk, but it is a source of lecithin and I would assume there must be some. At any rate it has a calming effect without any euphoria. My head just feels less taxed.

When combined with some melatonin and a couple of valerian caps it makes for a good night's rest. PS is supposed to suppress cortisol. I have no way of knowing whether it is effective in this regard but it does negate stress when taken at a dose of 200mg with a few raw egg yolks. I've treated some irritability via this method with good results.