The Explanatory Power of the Christian Worldview in Mental Illness

Essentially we don’t know how the brain works. We can’t cure neurological diseases. We can’t cure all depression. We can’t really improve intelligence.

But what if a worldview has an untapped resource of explanation? Christian theism offers just that. Although it seems farfetched, and it is slightly terrifying.

Anyways, in Christianity humans are the battlefield. Constantly encountering spirits. And in this spiritual world, we are introduced to the explanatory power of the Christian worldview in the area of psychology.

We know that the chemical imbalance theory is likely false. What if depression is caused by a spirit of some sort? More importantly, what if Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are explained by the spirit world?

What’s more important is that in subscribing to this model, we no longer need explanations about miracle healings of Alzheimer’s, because we know that if the presence of a spirit is causing the malady, the absence of it would lead to a miracle healing.

Not to mention, probably the scariest part: schizophrenia. If there is a spirit world, people that hear voices are actually hearing spirits. And we know that spirits can be cast out. Thus, schizophrenia is curable. But not by any pill or treatment, by the sovereign grace of God. Thus, the unexpected mitigation of this disease becomes less farfetched and more realistic.

So everywhere we look at the world, Christianity has answers, including the human mind. Perhaps the best answer to some of the biggest questions of medicine and science have been right under our nose this whole time. Maybe our biggest problem was trying to reconcile the complete with the incomplete, trying to merge modern psychology and psychiatry with the Christian narrative.

Justifying the Justification

In our exploration of counterfactuals, we explored regrets and the principle of explosion, and how I think they could effect human behavior. In this post, we’re going to explore knowledge, and how its requirement for justification may alter human psyche.

Overlooking for a moment the complications posed by Gettier problems, philosophy has essentially continued to operate on the principle that knowledge is justified true belief. The obvious question that this definition entails is how one can know whether one’s justification is sound. One must therefore provide a justification for the justification. That justification itself requires justification, and the questioning continues interminably.

The conclusion is that no one can truly have knowledge of anything, since it is, due to this infinite regression, impossible to satisfy the justification element. In practice, this has caused little concern to philosophers, since the demarcation between a reasonably exhaustive investigation and superfluous investigation is usually clear.

How does this effect human behavior? In what areas do we seek justification? Performance, looks, or any number of other things.

If you were obsessed with looking good, you may seek the opinion of others. You may stare in the mirror. Even if you think you look good and others say you look good, they could be wrong. You could be wrong. So if you seek knowledge of your good looks, you may never be satisfied with your justification. And if you’re never satisfied with the justification, you may never be satisfied with your looks.

There is undoubtedly always room for skepticism. If there is an infinite regress in the justification, where do you draw the line? When do you accept the justification?

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemology

 

The Karate Kid Phenomenon

I recently saw a portion of the Karate Kid on TV, and I couldn’t help but think: I don’t remember all of these people being so young. Last time I saw this, I looked up to the main character. Now he seems like a child. 

Obviously, it has probably been at least a decade since I’ve seen the movie. But what phenomenon is this? Why would I perceive characters so differently? How could my age factor into my perception of others? 

Subconsciously, we must know our age relative to those we see. Because while we change, college kids stay the same age. What changes is us, and the people that are in college, but the age of the people in college stays the same. Therefore the change is not them, it’s us. In our perception of ourselves.

Perhaps, we always compare others to ourselves. Looking for those subtle and not-so-subtle signs of aging. And as we age, we see less of those signs in those younger than us. So as we accept the slow progression of these negative attributes of our own beauty, we cannot help but notice the lack of these attributes in those younger than us. As we accept those as part of our reality, we notice that these attributes are not part of those realities of those younger than us.

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A simplified sketch of comparing flaws. Normalization is the adaptation. And the numbers at the bottom are the perceived difference in age.

Our perception of ourselves is the zero point. Every time we look in the mirror, we are different. We change slowly over the course of our lives. We age. And we adapt to each new perception of ourselves.

You’ve heard the story of the frog being boiled alive. By slowly increasing the temperature, the frog never notices the change.  I think this story closely parallels this psychological mechanism. We are not aware of the change in us, because our aging is the combination of many small changes over a long period of time.

Rethinking the Bachelor

Preliminary Reading: Defining Love

Every week, my wife sits down to watch the Bachelor. Sometimes I can convince myself to watch with her. Sometimes it takes alcohol. Regardless, I have watched more of the Bachelor than I care to admit.

You probably know the drill: there is one guy courting over twenty women. Basically, the future for the bachelor is completely uncertain. He has no idea going in which of these women he is going to pick. So when he looks forward to the finale of the show, it could be anyone. Or any of the group at least.

the bachelor

The girls, on the other hand, have one guy in mind, presumably. Each of them eventually imagines a future with the bachelor. But, of course, only one wins. Everyone else goes home angry and confused.

So while they all hope for a future with the bachelor, realistically, their chances are small. But more importantly they are living with conflicts. If one sees the bachelor as her future partner, the next girl probably does as well. But both of these futures cannot be true at the same time. True love is impossible.

The only way for a potential future with one girl to be real is for other potential futures to be false. So any true love between the bachelor and anyone else must be false. Essentially, if one girl has found true love, all the others have not.

If everyone was realistic, the bachelor and contestants would all be uncertain. Uncertain about their chances, their love, and the bachelor’s love of them. The only certainty comes when people are eliminated. So that the maximal confidence in any relationship is fifty percent, when we expect to see proposals. The only thing that is certain is heartbreak. 

Why don’t you wear glasses in your dreams?

Here’s a fun question to ask yourself. What is the nature of dreams? Why do we dream?

You’re obviously not wearing glasses in your dreams. Duh. So what does that tell us. Here’s what I think it means: your dreams are a simulation of the ideal you. A world where you’re not worrying about expectations or filters or fears or anxiety or any of the other things that plague you day to day. It’s an ideal you.

You don’t wear glasses in your dreams, because you don’t need them. The ideal you is at your ground state, and your dreams are a simulation of the ideal you. If you read my first post about sleep, or know anything about it, the REM cycle brain activity looks a lot like your brain when awake. The non-REM portion of the night helps us to recover with the slowest brain activity of our days. Why is the brain so active for half the night?

Do animals dream? Yes. Less some reptiles and insects. What does that say about their souls?

The people from Atlantis didn’t dream. Do what? That’s what this article says. What does that mean? They were a civilization way ahead of their time. What does their ability to dream say about their nature?

There was a show that aired a while back on NBC called Awake. It got cancelled after a season or two, but my wife and I liked it. Essentially a cop was losing his mind and losing touch with the difference between dreams and reality. The show swapped back and forth between two different realities, and they effected each other, without ever really knowing which was a dream and which was reality.

What types of disorders come from not dreaming? It’s hard to tell is someone is not dreaming or not able to recall their dreams, but we’re pretty sure that it’s not necessary for physical or mental health.

What is happening in lucid dreaming? It’s an awareness while you’re dreaming. It’s apparently a acquirable skill with some benefits. Jack Nicholas tweaked his golf game while asleep. The periodic table of elements was designed in a dream. They literally have tricks for lucid dreamers to figure out if they’re awake. Does lucid dreaming undermine the success of those people from Atlantis?

In summary, dreams are an important and widely unsolved riddle of humanity. I think the fact that most people with glasses see clearly in their dreams, tells us a lot about the nature of dreams as well as the nature of reality. To fully understand the mind, we need to fully understand dreams, and it’s a puzzle where we have only begun to skim the surface.

 

How’s your memory?

What do we know about memory? We have practically unlimited memory, but seem to have trouble accessing it. If we use the same brain model, we have to assume that the brain is doing nothing wrong. Our recall or imprint ability may be hindered by some outside forces at play.

There’s a correlation between vision and cognitive function in the elderly. Here’s a study that compares vision to cognitive function in the elderly. Think about how this applies to Alzheimer’s. Refractive errors cloud memories.

If we improve eyesight, does memory improve as well? My memory is getting better with my vision. I can tell you that. Although I have know way of quantifying it at this point. So just count me in for another theory. Think about it though: if the brain is really just a perfect computer, and eyesight is a symptom of mental strain, would it be so unreasonable to suggested that it effected our memory recall as well?

Emotional intensity can help prioritize memories. Think about that bad break up or the funeral of a loved one. Think about where you were during the 911 attacks. Some events can be “buried” in your memory just the same.

Clarity of memories does not depend on the time since the event was experienced. Think about your clearest memories. It’s not just yesterday. There’s also that time when you were twenty-one, and your birthday…way back when.

What is the nature of memory? If there is no such thing as time, how does memory work? We can recall large amounts of information from all over our lives with relative ease. What’s the difference between long-term and short-term memory? Can you have one and not the other?

Short term memory is really just recall after 15-30 seconds. Long term memory is really what we call memory. Here’s another big simplification: there’s no short term memory. If we’re ignoring time [and I am] then they are the same anyways. 

False confessions have figured into 24% of the 289 cases overturned by DNA evidence. We know that memory is infamously unreliable in court cases. Witnesses just don’t always seem to get it right. False confessions may have other variables at play, but memory plays a role. If you clearly remember not committing a crime, why would you ever confess to doing it? This article says that people who are mentally ill are more susceptible to these false confessions.

Not all memory fades with age. This article basically says that there are different types of memory, and older people still have access to some of them. For instance, they can remember a name and a not a face or vice versa. I’d like to challenge this approach with the theory that memory is absolute. Recalling all you know about a given event or person would be your baseline. Anything less than that would be distortion.

So what are my takeaways here? Your memory can be improved, just like your eyesight. We know now why the elderly have problems seeing, and it effects their memory as well. So take back your sight, and take back your mind, and take back your memory.

 

Getting off Zoloft

Day 4

This has been a wild ride. I finally decided I had to take my own advice. We have a baby on the way, and I needed to be whole by the time she gets here. I was taking two different medicines (Zoloft and Lamictal) so we halved and eliminated the Lamictal first.

I honestly didn’t think the 12.5 mg of Zoloft was playing any role in my life. Man, I was wrong. It’s not completely out of my system yet, but I’m sleeping better, seeing better, and easily living in the moment. My senses are heightened. I feel more athletic. I know it was the right thing.

Always remember that there was a reason you started taking pills in the first place. Obviously, if you don’t address the fears that were plaguing you before you started your meds, you’re not going to be whole when you stop.

Weaning off is not fun or easy. I was legitimately having anxiety attacks the past couple days, but I’ve learned other ways to cope.

Zoloft effected how I felt emotion. I don’t know exactly how, but I felt a surge of emotions the past couple days. Fear, shame, guilt, and love. It masked all these for me and masked my moral compass.

I was my own god on Zoloft. There was never any ever true getting lost in the moment. I was filtering every word I said and everything I did through my own set of standards. It was exhausting, and caused a delay in my brain’s processing.

I haven’t felt as happy as I do now since I was a teenager. It’s just great. Like for the first time in years, I’m doing streaks of the right things. And for the right reasons

I’m sure there’s more to go through, but now I have the tools to cope.

Depending on the psychiatrist that saw me, I think you realistically could’ve diagnosed me with any of these conditions over different times in the past decade: bipolarism, depression, schizophrenia, ADD, ADHD, OCD, and probably others. My psychiatrist didn’t even want me to get off everything, but I knew it was what I had to do. I had to be purely me-no brain altering drugs-and be happy when the baby gets here. I knew I didn’t need another variable thrown in the mix before I started the weaning process.

So if you’re starting to think about weaning off, here’s what you need to know:

  • You’ll know when and if you’re ready. My process involved eliminating caffeine from my diet and improving my vision.
  • It’s going to be unpleasant.
  • Have coping mechanisms prepared. Prayer, meditation, whatever, you’re going to need it.
  • Lean on your friends and family. You cannot do this alone.
  • Be honest about the way you feel but make no big decisions.
  • You’re going to feel an irrational surge of emotion. Be ready.

It’s all worth it. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Asperger’s is Autism is curable

Yeah I know. Just bear with me a moment.

Symptoms:

  • Behavioral: inappropriate social interaction, poor eye contact, compulsive behavior, impulsivity, repetitive movements, self harm, or persistent repetition of words or actions
  • Developmental: learning disability or speech delay in a child
  • Cognitive: intense interest in a limited number of things or problem paying attention
  • Psychological: unaware of other’s emotions or depression
  • Also common: anxiety, change in voice, sensitivity to sound, or tic
  • Treatment: therapy and antipsychotics
  • Onset age: 3-60

Today, I want to take a look at Autism. It has a surprising amount of similarities to schizophrenia, including filling in the gap in our onset age timeline. Last time we proved that Alzheimer’s was curable by first proving it was schizophrenia, then showing that it was curable.

Well here’s your next simplification. Autism and Asperger’s are the same disease. In this article, the main differences are IQ, speech, and age of onset.

We say that people with Asperger’s have higher IQ’s than those with Autism. Wait…what? Isn’t that something we most people measure differently anyways? I’m not going to numb your mind with proof that IQ varies from person to person.

Speech is a real, distinguishable difference. People with Autism do not develop normal speaking patterns. People with Asperger’s typically do. The loops that effect these kids are different, but they need to all be approached the same way. Obviously If the nature of their loop involves self perception, you can imagine why they may have strange or delayed speech patterns.

The brain does not perceive time. We do. So now is the same for your brain as when you were fifteen. You and your brain are completely independent. What in the world does this mean for Autism? It means that it’s the same as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s.

  • They have the same symptoms.
  • They are treated the same.
  • The major difference is time. But we know that the mind does not process time.

This disease needs to be lumped in with the others. I know what you’re going to say: that’s an oversimplification. Maybe so. I’m not saying it’s not a very real disease with serious symptoms. What I’m saying is we need to take an entirely different approach to the human brain to start making progress.

There are major disparities in these diseases among different racesThis is no coincidence. In other research, we’ve seen disparities, in aging, eyesight, and athleticism.

The brain is a perfect, complex computer that we do not fully understand. Some people don’t know how to operate it properly, and some have logical errors in their syntax. The only way out of our loops is reprogramming. Otherwise we are just treating symptoms.

Autism is curable. Find your own case studies. People have made full recoveries. And if you believe my basic assumptionsAll cases are curable. We were all given the same opportunity.

So how do we cure it exactly? I wish I could give you an answer to that. I’m still working on it. So far, here’s what I’ve got. Identify the loop. Identify the fear causing the loop. Identify the logic causing the fear. Rework the logic so it aligns with the proper order of things. These don’t just apply to people with these disorders. They are simple but very powerful tools that can change your life.