When someone's brain is not working properly others describe them as
"mentally ill." Mental health and mental illness are poorly chosen terms that
obscure the medical and social issues that arise whenever human dysfunction is
examined. The hospital in my community has a separate building described on a
sign as Mental Health and Addiction Services.I suspect that the staff
and the patients that use this building do not understand what "mental health"
means. I am certain that the juxtaposition of the words health and addiction
is a mistake.
Kurt Vonnegut described the cause of mental illness as bad chemicals. Humans
are unrealistic about what substances they can safely ingest, inhale and inject
into their bodies. Humans are most unrealistic about how easily and how
profoundly small amounts of external chemicals can affect their mind. They
believe that they are tougher than they are. Modern psychiatric theory imagines
bad chemicals or good chemicals in the wrong amounts manufactured by mistake
inside the brain of each victim. Physicians often view the brain as a black box
with no chemical input except the drugs they prescribe. A neurobiologist will
recognize that numerous chemicals arrive from the outside to interact with brain
chemistry. Bad chemicals in the air and food supply can disturb brain function
in entire populations with endemic brain dysfunction as the result.
The World Health Organization claimed that one-fourth of the worlds
population is affected at any time by depression, other mental disorders or
substance abuse problems. According to the WHO report: "Women are more often
affected then men. The higher prevalence of mood disorders in women may include
the frustration of relying on the role of housewife for identity and
self-esteem and lack of personal income. Most women work at low pay doing labor-intensive jobs
in poor, chemically contaminated environments. Violence against women has been
recognized as a worldwide problem. Some studies show that half of all
women living on planet earth have been physically and sexually abused at some time in their
lives Their abusers are mostly men and most of those men are boy friends,
spouses, family members or close friends."
Kessel et al suggested that half of all Americans will have a mental illness
during their lifetime, with symptoms beginning in the teen years for many. They
favored diagnoses such as mood disorders, anxiety, impulse control and substance
disorders rather than realizing that "mental illness" refers to a variety of
interacting maladaptations caused by bad genes, bad chemicals, bad food,
infections, malnutrition, poverty, oppression and abuse. Mental disturbances are
the first symptoms of bad environments that substitute disease-causing
conditions for healthy conditions. Mental illness is often self-inflicted by
overeating the wrong foods, drinking alcohol to excess, using and abusing drugs
obtained from both legal and illegal sources.
Common effects of erratic brain function are conflict and chaos. Two people
living together with erratic brain function increase chaos by more than a factor
of two. More people interacting erratically increase chaos exponentially until
family structures, community structures, and national structures become
dysfunctional. Bad chemicals entering human brains from polluted air and water,
wrong foods, alcoholic beverages, legal and illegal drugs is a recipe for a
society's dysphoric disintegration. We might better appreciate the folly of
"fighting a drug war" when we realize that most chemical demons live at home.
Unfortunately, in terms of substances that can impair brain function, drug
sellers include every corner store, fast food outlet, pop vendor, pharmacy and
supermarket. Local bars and liquor outlets generate a continuous stream of
social and health problems at an enormous cost to society.
We must be smart enough to see the connections among food materials which
influence brain function: alcoholic beverages, nicotine in tobacco, teas,
coffee, chocolate, spices, food additives, sugar excess, wheat, milk, eggs,
prescription drugs and street drugs. We should be very concerned about the
prescription drug problem with drug addiction and dependency that is supported
by all our institutions. Unfortunately, the practice of medicine has become a
drug-pushing affair. An addicted society will better tolerate the social
pathology and diseases caused by tobacco smoke, alcoholic beverages, air
pollution, bad food, sedatives, antidepressants, tranquilizers, and sleeping
pills but displaces its dysphoric energy in a "drug war" against cocaine, heroin
and a few other "drugs of abuse".
Humans are seldom consistent in setting goals and priorities so that societal
confusion about the use and abuse of food, chemicals and drugs is more or less
predictable. Smart policy makers will, however, understand that most citizens
are under the influence of one mid-altering drug or another. The daily use and
abuse of several brain chemicals produces mentally disabled people who are
neither reasonable nor correct in their thinking and conduct. When physicians
intervene and prescribe more chemicals, they add to the chaotic mix, not
realizing there is there is little hope of benefit. To my way of thinking, this
drug psychotherapy has become a perverse enterprise with no happy endings
Listen to the Three Truths of Body Brain and Mind
You are viewing the Brain Mind Center at Alpha Online.
Understanding the human brain is essential to become a well-informed, modern
citizen. Stephen Gislason MD, the author of
the Human Brain, is a physician-writer who is good at making complex subjects more
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