Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 16

Thread: Brain Categories

  1. #1
    Merry Christmas Blorg's Avatar
    Type
    INFP
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    near a castle
    Posts
    3,477

    Brain Categories

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/18/op...l-illness.html

    The report says that there is no strict dividing line between psychosis and normal experience: “Some people find it useful to think of themselves as having an illness. Others prefer to think of their problems as, for example, an aspect of their personality which sometimes gets them into trouble but which they would not want to be without"...In 2013, the institute’s director, Thomas R. Insel, announced that psychiatric science had failed to find unique biological mechanisms associated with specific diagnoses. What genetic underpinnings or neural circuits they had identified were mostly common across diagnostic groups. Diagnoses were neither particularly useful nor accurate for understanding the brain, and would no longer be used to guide research...Our current diagnostic system — the main achievement of the biomedical revolution in psychiatry — drew a sharp , clear line between those who were sick and those who were well, and that line was determined by science. The system started with the behavior of persons, and sorted them into types. That approach sank deep roots into our culture, possibly because sorting ourselves into different kinds of people comes naturally to us...The implications are that social experience plays a significant role in who becomes mentally ill, when they fall ill and how their illness unfolds. We should view illness as caused not only by brain deficits but also by abuse, deprivation and inequality, which alter the way brains behave. Illness thus requires social interventions, not just pharmacological ones.
    The article raises points that seem obvious to me, but they seem to go against the grain of conventional viewpoints on the way our brains work. I noticed a similar proclivity for obsessively categorizing types of intelligence and creativity-- a resistance to the idea that both the arbitrary categories themselves and the abilities within those categories are fluid.

    It might be interesting to think about those quotes in terms of this essay:

    They accepted that one could be both guilty and mad; less guilty the madder one was; guilty certainly, but someone to be put away and treated rather than punished; not only a guilty man, but also dangerous, since
    quite obviously sick, etc. From the point of view of the penal code, the result was a mass of juridical absurdities. But this was the starting point of an evolution that jurisprudence and legislation itself was to precipitate in the course of the next 150 years: already the reform of 1832, introducing attenuating circumstances, made it possible to modify the sentence according to the supposed degrees of an illness or the forms of a semi-insanity. And the practice of calling on psychiatric expertise, which is widespread in the assize courts and sometimes extended to courts of summary jurisdiction, means that the sentence, even if it is always formulated in terms of legal punishment, implies, more or less obscurely, judgements of normality, attributions of causality, assessments of possible changes, anticipations as to the offender's future. It would be wrong to say that all these operations give substance to a judgement from the outside they are directly integrated in the process of forming the sentence. Instead of insanity eliminating the crime according to the original meaning of article 64, every crime and even every offence now carries within it, as a legitimate suspicion, but also as a right that may be claimed, the hypothesis of insanity, in any case of anomaly. And the sentence that condemns or acquits is not simply a judgement of guilt, a legal decision that lays down punishment; it bears within it The body of the condemned an assessment of normality and a technical prescription for a possible normalization.
    (I chose that quote kind of arbitrarily, you should read the whole thing if you haven't.)

    It seems like conventional wisdom still says that brains look like this:



    instead of this:



    which imo has terrible implications for the way we treat and see each other, especially in terms of crime/punishment.

    Anyway, I'm not sure that I have anything controversial or debatable to say, but I figured I start the thread because I find the subject interesting and maybe people will take the topic in unexpected directions, post articles, or whatever. I thought the above article was worth sharing.
    "Better not to feel too much until the crisis ends—and if it never ends, at least we’ll have suffered a little less, developed a useful dullness...The constant—and very real—fear of being hurt, the fear of death, of intolerable loss, or even of “mere” humiliation, leads each of us, the citizens and prisoners of the conflict, to dampen our own vitality, our emotional and intellectual range, and to cloak ourselves in more and more protective layers until we suffocate." - Toni Morrison

  2. #2
    Mens bona regnum possidet ferrus's Avatar
    Type
    INTP
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Barcelona, Catalonia
    Posts
    5,669
    On a different but related note - many neurological disorders - in which I'd place say aspergers, autism, tourettes, depression, dyspraxia and so on are often very difficult to divide or understand fully, and they often display a wide variety of issues and pathologies. Creating simple conceptual models I guess is in our nature - it is what makes understanding the outside world we interact with in that sort of Heideggerian way so natural, or when we step back and analyse it scientifically so comprehensible. It is the assumption of substances in the world, which seems to be part of our mental process of putting it together, that makes us even think there are objects out there. And given the patterns in the world around us it is useful and proper way for our brains to function. It works in traditional medicine with infections of the body because our body, or rather our organs are kind of objects that can be understood as sort of self-contained substances that undergo malfunctions, or pathogenic invasion, or they are systems which are amenable to a kind of flow char of analysis. But mapping that kind of static, object model of the world to the way the brain functions and works is misguided I think, as much as object-like thinking misleads one in say, understanding particle-wave duality in quantum mechanics. The brain is a complex, interconnected neural network. A variety of pathologies can be seen in a variety of ways, and we have yet to understand the ways in which it can be affected. Whilst it is segmented it is not so heavily segmented, like say a pancreas, that one can isolate problems in one particular area. It's sort of like complex code. A well decoupled object-orientated program can be seen to be buggy in one area, but deeply coupled code will break in many and complex ways all over the system. As these complex symptoms keep getting larger they sort of merge into a continuous spectrum of problems in different dimensions.
    Die Logik ist keine Lehre, sondern ein Spiegelbild der Welt. Die Logik ist transcendental. - Wittgenstein

  3. #3
    a cantori Perdix's Avatar
    Type
    INTj
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    the deep end
    Posts
    2,436
    Very good article, excellent points.

  4. #4
    Aporia Dysphoria Dirac's Avatar
    Type
    INTP
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Posts
    835
    I have been told off for saying things like this in public. People always seem to think I mean that people with mental illness are making it up. I dunno why.

  5. #5
    Sysop Ptah's Avatar
    Type
    INTP
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    4,033
    Yup. Personal responsibility: get some.

  6. #6
    Member Ruby_Bookrose's Avatar
    Type
    INTP
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    weird place...
    Posts
    216
    Thank you for sharing this - i saw it too. It seems like the field is still in its infancy in many ways. I believe they still screen out southpaws in many fMRI studies so that the complexity of different morphologies don't have to be dealt with. Please correct me if I'm wrong as i want to learn. It's fabulous to see the intertwining of culture and biology and how the brain has its own trajectory of development depending this dance. One thing they do know, however, is that the plasticity of the brain lessens with age so implications (in the here and now) for taking a restructuring approach to adult disease are challenging to say the least. But I want to KNOW MORE!

  7. #7
    igKnight Hephaestus's Avatar
    Type
    INTP
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Ceti Alpha V
    Posts
    9,142
    Quote Originally Posted by Ruby_Bookrose View Post
    One thing they do know, however, is that the plasticity of the brain lessens with age so implications (in the here and now) for taking a restructuring approach to adult disease are challenging to say the least. But I want to KNOW MORE!
    Actually it doesn't decrease--or at least, not to the degree people used to believe. There are other factors at work that produce the effect decreased neuroplasticity is being named the cause of--at least, according to some book on the subject I read a couple years ago.

    I'll see if I can dig it up and cite the source. No promises. It's somewhere.
    --Mention of these things is so taboo, they aren't even allowed a name for the prohibition. It is just not done.

  8. #8
    Now we know... Asteroids Champion ACow's Avatar
    Type
    INTP
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    2,267
    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    Actually it doesn't decrease--or at least, not to the degree people used to believe. There are other factors at work that produce the effect decreased neuroplasticity is being named the cause of--at least, according to some book on the subject I read a couple years ago.

    I'll see if I can dig it up and cite the source. No promises. It's somewhere.
    Without committing one way or another (which is the best kind of committing), i'd always been struck by talks about brains and the like which showed the field's lack of anthropological view: which is basically a way of saying many "studies" could be reframed as commenting on the status of subjects in well-to-do western societies (or indeed the majority of the time, in american college educated subjects).

    With respect to brain elasticity, I've heard many views which reinforce our own cultural narrative: children learn languages easier, can't teach an old dog new tricks: which through experience seems like relative bollocks. Which is not to say that it isn't what you'd find if you did an empirical study on the population. Presumably if you did a study looking at the brains of population who started off with nothing and played in multiple classes for a period of time before choosing a speciality/job where they only do one thing all the time before being told they're basically old and useless, then surely you'd empirically see a brain that becomes less plasticised relative to age.

    But is that because a brain loses its inherent plasticity (and obviously from a statistical sense it must to some degree as you go from living to dead), or is that because we just put a plastic tool into an increasingly uniform environment as we age...

  9. #9
    igKnight Hephaestus's Avatar
    Type
    INTP
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Ceti Alpha V
    Posts
    9,142
    @ACow: that's in line with the book I read. As we get older, there is less value to learning new things, and more invested in what we've already learned. There's an argument to be made for how deeply we've carved ruts in our minds through repetition too, but I think the observation that an 8 year old presented with a new technology that's become or is becoming widespread has more value to gain than someone who is in their 60's. Similarly, there will be less resistance because the 8 year old hasn't had to learn several waves of technology, has never had to 'keep up', and thus never 'fallen behind'. Meanwhile, the older you are, the more you've seen such cycles, and therefore the less enthusiasm and motivation you will have to learn the 'new' thing.

    I use scare quotes on 'new' because of how often new tech is just a new interface to do an old thing--though in an incrementally better way. For example, recordings. From spools and platters, to reel to reel, then reel to reel in enclosures (8-tracks, then cassetes) competing with cheaper double sided platters, then smaller digital platters (CD's), and now flash drives... and for a while there, magnetic platters (when mp3 players contained platter hard drives). Now we have devices with no discrete moving parts (though I think electricity counts as a moving part, but I'm... particular* like that.)

    Though, I imagine I'm preaching to choir on that point given the number of programmer types we have on here.


    *Don't groan. It's an accurate pun!
    --Mention of these things is so taboo, they aren't even allowed a name for the prohibition. It is just not done.

  10. #10
    Member Ruby_Bookrose's Avatar
    Type
    INTP
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    weird place...
    Posts
    216
    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    [MENTION=47] I think electricity counts as a moving part, but I'm... particular* like that.) *Don't groan. It's an accurate pun!
    love this - electrons are tools... so is the air as it passes your lips in the form of words - ephemera

Similar Threads

  1. I am the brain washer or Television rules the nation
    By mhc in forum Psychology & Sociology
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 06-30-2014, 07:02 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •