The basic principle for the development of human personality is the very same as for Darwinian evolution. The issue at hand is not the origin of the species, but the creation of individual personality. We humans are purely biological creatures, like all other creatures. There is only a 4 percent difference in the DNA of a human and a chimpanzee, which accounts for our species uniqueness. We even have a 60 percent overlap of our DNA with that of a fruit fly. A cheetah has its exquisite muscular physicality. An eagle has its feathered predatory arrogance. The unique and distinguishing feature of our biological adaptation is the human theater of consciousness. Our entire consciousness evolved to serve the functioning of the organism. Human consciousness is our medium through which we engage and live the human life. We survive, live, and propagate through the characterological world, integrated with the rest of the brain-body.
In our quest to understand human biology, we have lost our way. We are looking in all the wrong places. The human organism from the beginning adapts to its salient environment. We can trace our adaptations from a zygote, to an embryo, to a fetus, to a newborn, a baby, a toddler, a child, an adolescent, all the way to adulthood. This also tells us how psychiatric problems arise, and informs us of the appropriate and effective treatment. All of the issues of psychiatry operate on this level of adaptation.
You and I began with our parents. Out of the sixty million sperm that entered and swam through Mother’s vagina, cervix, uterus and fallopian tube, your particular sperm won the great race. It penetrated the membrane of your-egg and injected its DNA. And so the DNA of those two meiotic cells hooked up, and we got you – a one-celled living organism—a zygote. At implantation, we turn into an embryo. As such we began morphing furiously. At one point, the embryo is without a heart, and then one appeared and it was beating. In conjunction with a heart, we morphed some of our cells into a circulatory system and blood cells. And so on and so forth. Even though an embryo doesn’t really go through every stage of evolutionary history, in a rough sense we do recapitulate phylogeny. After beginning as an ameba, we morph into an invertebrate. Then we grow a spine and become a fish. Our gill arches will later morph into facial and throat muscles that would be used for talking in a few years. Then we turn into an amphibian. Once we had a tail, and then it was gone. But we did get arms and legs. Primitive organ systems came and went and changed and migrated and got supplanted and re-used. Brain tissues and nerves appeared and developed.
The most active locus of fetal morphogenesis is the brain. Throughout the entire seven-month fetal period, we produce, on average, three million brain cells per minute. At peak times, neural cell replication takes just an hour and a half. By adulthood, our brain is composed of a trillion cells, a hundred billion of which would be neurons. Not surprisingly, half of our DNA is devoted to the development of the brain. Our brain is body. Our brain morphogenesis is body. Our salient environment in utero is our mother’s womb. Once we attain consciousness at about six weeks old, our germane environment is responsiveness, emotional deprivation, and abuse. Each of us fields and digests our experience through the unique constellation of our temperament. The four elements of temperament are Internalization/Externalization, Introversion/Extroversion, Active/Passive, and Participant/Observer. (See “The Nature-Nurture question – Nature. The role of nature comes from our genetic temperament.”) Each one of us is absolutely unique. I may process by being an Internalizer, Extrovert, Active, and Participant. You may be an Externalizer, Introvert, Passive, and Observer. We are all somewhere on an axis of those dynamics. With each dynamic we can range from 90-10, 60-40, or be balanced. And one temperamental element may be stronger or weaker in its influence.
Each of us then fields the unique actualities of responsiveness, deprivation, or abuse in our emotional environment through our temperament. By six weeks old we begin to write a play in consciousness. Initially consciousness is too immature to create representational form. At that point we only have the ‘feeling of our being’. By age three we mature into representational consciousness where we create a three dimensional drama with personas, feeling relationships between them, scenarios, plots, set designs, and landscapes. Once our play consolidates, the rest of our experience is always filtered through the existent play in consciousness, which influences our ongoing experience. As the twig is bent, so grows the tree. When we reach adulthood, we consolidate our character. Our characters are as unique as our fingerprints. No two snowflakes are alike, but we are all snowflakes.
Contemporary psychiatry has focused on the molecular level of the brain, on hormones, or neurotransmitters, on genetic abnormalities, nucleic acids, on epigenetics, on false theories of brain diseases, etc. We have missed the forest for the trees. Psychiatric researchers don’t even see the trees anymore, nor the wood, but our search is on the level of its fiber properties – the chemical composition of cellulose, lignin, and other chemicals. And then they conclude that drugs are the appropriate treatment, as if pharmaceuticals can treat what ails us. This is an insult to the complexity of the human condition.
All the issues of psychiatry operate purely on the human and social level, not the molecular level. And it’s appropriate treatments do as well. Don’t get me wrong. I love neuroscience and the study of the brain. They teach us the mechanics as to how the whole thing operates. I am in awe of Sebastian Seung’s Connectome project. And Matt Faw’s brilliant paper –which illuminates the centrality of the hippocampus in consciousness. (See – “Full Subjective Experience is a Hippocampal Simulation.”) These teach us the mechanics as to how the unbelievably complicated brain operates. However, biological psychiatry, neurology, and neuroscience in general, have pre-empted a claim on what is biological. They have defined biology as the domain of physical brain structure; brain organization, brain anatomy, and functional brain centers; neurotransmitters; hormones; information learned from studying brain lesions; and activated patterns of neurons that can be seen in brain scans associated with certain localized functions. There is a great deal of knowledge to be appreciated from these approaches. Unfortunately, their orientation has mistaken the parts for the whole. They have ignored the brain’s most important biological manifestation of all – the culmination of our adaptations results in the organization of our personality as the ‘play of consciousness’.
We should not confuse the operational mechanics of the brain with how people actually function in the living of a life. The component parts of brain functioning all work together in concert in the service of the central biological creation of the human genome – the play of consciousness. This specific production of the human brain is the unique adaptational feature of our Darwinian evolution—the defining characteristic of what it is to be human. It is the central organizing function of our biological lives and the fulfilled manifestation of our biology.
When we consider the evolution of the human species, what makes us human is not defined by the unique human functions, such as opposable thumbs, abstract thinking, reasoning, or computational abilities—those are good. The defining feature of our species is the synthetic ‘play’ of human consciousness. The evolution of the structure and function of the limbic-cortical brain is at one with the creation of the play. The morphology, organized structures, and pathways of complex neuronal webs throughout its architecture create the patterns of patterns of patterns that enable the characterological drama. This is the cortical processing that allows for the meaning and coherence of our moment-to-moment functioning in life. The creation of images of personas, their emotional relatedness, and life plots—the full range of tragedy and comedy—is the drama. It constitutes the top-down processing of our individual selves and our emotional and relationship life. The coherence of human consciousness is the highest level of order of the human genome. We walk around all day long, each of us, in this brain-body synthetic bubble of consciousness, our genetic endowment.
The characterological drama of human consciousness is our adaptation to and is consonant with living the human life—the life of the individual and relatedness to others. It encompasses our surviving, our child rearing, our imagination, and our culture. It allows us to function as the individual and social animals we are. It creates the meaning landscape of human experience. This landscape encompasses the symbolic representations of human experience—self, others, relationship, and drama—in myths, narratives, literature, art, nursery rhymes, songs, movies, hieroglyphics, plays, belief systems, dance, journalism, cave paintings, fashion, religious incantations, and theologies.
All psychiatric issues reflect problems in our play of consciousness. They have nothing to do with neurotransmitters or molecular psychiatry. They are to be addressed on the human level with good psychotherapy. In the context of therapy we can mourn the pain of our problematic ‘plays’ which allows us to write new ones. This alleviates psychiatric symptoms and fosters our capacity for authenticity and love. (See – “Psychotherapy is the real deal. It is the effective treatment.”)
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.
“This is an insult to the complexity of the human condition.”
Great line – much of psychiatry and psychiatric “diagnosis” can be summarized in this way.
I think the entire paragraph is excellent:
“Contemporary psychiatry has focused on the molecular level of the brain, on hormones, or neurotransmitters, on genetic abnormalities, nucleic acids, on epigenetics, on false theories of brain diseases, etc. We have missed the forest for the trees. Psychiatric researchers don’t even see the trees anymore, nor the wood, but our search is on the level of its fiber properties – the chemical composition of cellulose, lignin, and other chemicals. And then they conclude that drugs are the appropriate treatment, as if pharmaceuticals can treat what ails us. This is an insult to the complexity of the human condition.”
I must confess, my experience with the psychiatric industry left me feeling, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
I do appreciate your blogs also, Dr. Berezin. And have a question for an honest psychiatrist, if you don’t mind. How do we know most schizophrenia is not actually misdiagnoses of the central symptoms of neuroleptic induced anticholinergic intoxication syndrome as schizophrenia, given the similarity in the symptoms of schizophrenia and this neuroleptic induced syndrome? From drugs.com:
“neuroleptics … may result in … the anticholinergic intoxication syndrome … Central symptoms may include memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, hallucinations, psychosis, delirium, hyperactivity, twitching or jerking movements, stereotypy, and seizures.”
I have a theory such misdiagnoses may actually be the most common cause of schizophrenia. And this means the doctors are trying to cure a neuroleptic induced syndrome, with more neuroleptics. Which is, of course, not beneficial for the patients.
Hi Someone Else,
I don’t know how to exactly describe it, because there are different characteristics involved – but the ‘antipsychotics’ definitely turn people into longterm psychiatric patients.
Thanks, Fiachra, I agree. And I’m concerned that doctors who cover up child abuse by drugging the victims of such, with the neuroleptics, seem to be creating more schizophrenics than anyone else. Especially given John Read’s research, and the fact the neuroleptics actually do cause the schizophrenia symptoms, but of course the psychiatrists don’t confess to this reality. I really hope to see this end, we need to help these poor children, not tranquilize them.
Taking your look at the overdiagnosis, misdiagnosis, and diagnosis problem in this direction, Someone Else, gets all of my attention on what you’re saying, too. Did you see the latest Dr. Tim Carey blogpost? He cites an article in which researchers found over a thousand unique profiles within about three thousand cases just for major depression. Meanwhile, “our” recommended resource Dr. Nardo rests comfortably with the understanding that psychiatrists get this diagnosis right 40% of the time. Which is it do you think? Is there something getting diagnosed or someone upset and down on life?
Do you have a link to the blog post?
But in general, I don’t believe “depression” is a disease, I think all people just feel down or disgusted by things occasionally, and that’s a normal and often times justified human emotion. I don’t believe behaviors or emotions are diseases, and logically speaking, I think it’s quite ludicrous to even claim such.
And I guess I’m to the point I believe psychiatry is just a pyramid scheme to sell pharmaceutical drugs. And seemingly our current paternalistic society’s newest ‘witch hunters’ – a form of social control for the child abusers, incompetent doctors, and unethical religions. At least that was my personal experience, and the more I research, the more common my family’s situation appears to be. Here’s a link to one of John Read’s brief articles:
But I will confess, I’ve never personally suffered from depression, just disgust at real life issues, which is not the same thing as depression. So I’m not your expert in that field.
As to the get the ‘right diagnosis’ mantra in the ‘mental health’ field, I don’t know that it matters, given the ineffectiveness and / or toxic nature of the psychiatric drugs, and the limited ways in which the psychiatrists prescribe. I think it’s all an enormous fraud.
I’m quite certain a kind person, honestly listening to another, providing empathic advise and support, and love is the best way for any person to heal from traumatic experiences. Too much of the ‘mental health’ field is doing the exact opposite, no doubt out of apathy, ignorance or misinformation, lack of ethics, and / or greed. It’s a shame.
Someone Else – Yes, exactly on that subject matter. Here’s the link from about a week ago–
I think I knew about where you were with your main track of investigation, your beliefs and ideas, and the clarification is also good to have from you. When you take it on–psychiatric oppression–as the impossible to look away from because of the social injustice and the public letting the wool get pulled over its eyes, your ruminations become most compelling for me. I’m glad you “don’t know from depression”, too, and neither is that my big bother, thankfully. However, I am afraid that you probably have lots more energy than me. My better talent is following other people’s communications, and when putting my own together, some infrequently but happily appear like a flash of “my dormant self”, but most of the time it’s blank upstairs for me except for the outside input.
My intention in complimenting you, at the first, included adding “my two cents” about what ‘s wrong in the wider context of the issue at hand, which is diagnosis of medical conditions with no supporting evidence taken into account about the person and why you (some doctor) is diagnosing your patient. At least, I think Dr. Beregin hopes to encounter such a reader (some Joel Hassman type of guy, for instance), and writes with them in mind as well as us survivors. You yourself were going into the heart of the needlessly alienating aspects of the multiple processes that diagnosing sets in action, beginning from the talking point of the standard omission from consideration of the harm that psych drugs do. My point in referring to Dr. Carey (Australian psychologist) was to indicate how unlikely it is that anything like one unique disorder is ever getting identified and studied and understood for therapeutic purposes in the medical model system of things. So, that was intended by me as backing you up, if you felt interested. But the article Dr. Carey cites is immensely technical, and it’s his excerpt from it that counted to me, and this might have been in the thread as well…not terribly long, though. In addition, you may see the relevance of all that which I see for myself to the issues we two have very close views on, strictly speaking, by looking at something like this Austrian phenomenology professor’s article on becoming hopeless. Page down to the Papers section–
While at it, I might as well link something besides that I just linked again, too, which relates very nicely to the whole thought process involving labelling, mislabelling, self-labelling, and choosing to understand yourself through better insights. Fiachra first put this up, and it is nice–
Maybe it’s time for me to read all of his online work, too. Have a nice day, S. E.
“But I will confess, I’ve never personally suffered from depression, just disgust at real life issues, which is not the same thing as depression.” – I did (have, do?) and agree with you 100%. It’s also known as human condition.
I agree that ‘depression’ is not a disease; All the diagnosing is a tool for psychiatric drugs; you have just desribed the way psychotherapy should be.
Thank you for the compliment and links, travailler-vous. I’m just trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, so to speak. I’ve always enjoyed puzzles. I’m just searching for the wisdom and logic.
I’m glad you agree, B.
And, thank you again, Dr. Berezin, for speaking the truth. Claiming emotions or concerns or signs of abuse, are diseases of the brain requiring drugs with zero proof, is truly a betrayal of our society by doctors, the psycho / pharmaceutical industries, and the corporations and governments advocating belief in the DSM.
How so many could believe a book of stigmatizations, describing the adverse and withdrawal effects of the psychotropic drugs, is a “bible” staggers my mind. And the psycho / pharmaceutical industries’ intentional targeting of innocent, harmed, and / or helpless children, particularly, is simply appalling to me as a mother. Thank you for being a voice of wisdom within the psychiatric industry.
I can tell you my opinion. I do not think that neuroleptics cause schizophrenia. I have seen only two episodes of anticholinergic intoxication syndrome. Despite the similarities of the description, the differences are obvious. It truly is a toxic state. If you’ve ever seen it, it is clear. Schizophrenia has been present to the same degree since recorded time. Neuroleptics have been around for only the past sixty-five years. In my opinion the best treatment for schizophrenia is caring, responsiveness, and respect, with an understanding society. In my experience, good psychotherapy has been enormously helpful in my patient’s lives. In working with some patients neuroleptics can help people contain unbearable terror. In those cases I give the control to my patients. This is NOT the treatment. Much of the time the drugs annihilate the spirit and make people zombified. They can generate all kinds of horrible long term side effects. The real issues to deal with are purely human ones.
I think that’s where the mistakes are – in using psychotropics as medicine instead of seeing them as tranquillisers.
The long term effects of chronic use, really are “schizophrenia” magnified. Nobody can deny this.
Thank you for the response, Dr. Berezin. But as I pointed out above the neuroleptics can indeed cause the symptoms of schizophrenia. I do not claim they cause all psychosis, however. And the only difference between the schizophrenia symptoms and the central symptoms of neuroleptic induced anticholinergic intoxication syndrome are “inactivity” vs “hyper-activity.”
And I personally dealt with many psychiatric workers and mainstream doctors who actually called me “hyper,” or didn’t believe how active I was, that couldn’t comprehend, or intentionally denied, that it was the neuroleptics that were causing my psychosis. Thankfully, I finally found an oral surgeon who understood that “antipsychotics don’t cure concerns of child abuse.”
I have concern this denial by all the psychiatric practitioners I dealt with, that the neuroleptics can actually cause psychosis, may be a much larger societal problem. Especially since John Read’s research is pointing out that adverse childhood experiences are the most common trait of all schizophrenics. And as a grown adult I was literally made psychotic initially on a child’s dose, .5mg, of Risperdal.
How do we know the primary cause of schizophrenia is not doctors choosing to profit off of covering up child abuse, rather than properly dealing with all the unwanted legal ramifications of such an issue? The psychiatric industry has historically been in the business of covering up child abuse, think Fraud, oops, I mean Freud.
Given Read’s research and the fact the antipsychotics can cause the symptoms of schizophrenia. It strikes me that it’s highly likely misdiagnoses of adverse childhood experiences as psychosis, then further misdiagnoses of the central symptoms of neuroleptic induced anticholinergic intoxication syndrome as schizophrenia may actually be the primary cause of schizophrenia.
Especially since I had an ethical pastor confess to me that covering up child abuse in this manner was the historic “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions.”
You are obviously a highly intelligent person. It shows.
But more than your intellect, I deeply appreciate the *respect* you have for the *uniqueness* of the *individual.*
This kind of appreciation transcends genetics, and moves the discussion about what it means to be fully human into a spiritual dynamic.
In short, I’m grateful for the *many* times you’ve pointed these things out in your blog articles.
Typo – Dr. Berezin
(My apologies; typing on a mobile device)
To clarify: I believe in creation, with an appreciation of the intelligent design behind it; so we likely disagree on the subject of Darwinian theory. However, I do appreciate your insights about how individuals “evolve.”
Not being able to see the wood from the trees is a big problem. But these chemical psychiatrists are doing it on purpose to make money for themselves and they’re using medicine as a front. Its as simple as that.
Someone has to consume the chemicals, and this involves taking people prisoner and slowly poisoning them to death.
Great article with wonderful imagery!
“The unique and distinguishing feature of our biological adaptation is the human theater of consciousness. Our entire consciousness evolved to serve the functioning of the organism. Human consciousness is our medium through which we engage and live the human life…”
Yes, so it’s way beyond ironic how psychiatric “medications” and ECT “work” by diminishing and destroying consciousness, the most vital aspect to our being human!
Horrifying, I couldn’t agree more.
This is so interesting and rings true on many levels. I found this paragraph to be particularly clear and poignant:
“By six weeks old we begin to write a play in consciousness. Initially consciousness is too immature to create representational form. At that point we only have the ‘feeling of our being’. By age three we mature into representational consciousness where we create a three dimensional drama with personas, feeling relationships between them, scenarios, plots, set designs, and landscapes. Once our play consolidates, the rest of our experience is always filtered through the existent play in consciousness, which influences our ongoing experience. As the twig is bent, so grows the tree. When we reach adulthood, we consolidate our character. Our characters are as unique as our fingerprints. No two snowflakes are alike, but we are all snowflakes.”
That speaks of heart consciousness to me, in our ability to accept, respect, and embrace ourselves for who we are, and for whomever we are becoming. This would, in turn, increase our capacity to extend these outward to others. I’m sure that would lead to a lot of relief, clarity, and resolution for individuals as well as profound change and healing for society, if we were able to make this make this a goal in order to achieve it. To me, that’s the billion dollar question at present.
Thank you, and I couldn’t agree more with what you have said.
Only one thing that I’d like to say: “When we reach adulthood, we consolidate our character.”. This is pervasive thinking and it may be true to some extent that the older we grow, the less likely we are to change but I don’t think that it’s entirely true. Certain aspects of our personality can change and emotional crisis are often moments when we change and they can happen at any age.
Of course what you say is true. Crises certainly can be opportunities. In fact the Chinese pictogram of the word ‘crisis’ is the intersection of danger and opportunity.
Dr. Berezin – What works wonders for me is that you characterize the imminent despoiling of the new “responsive” growth environment of the emerging consciousness as inevitably imbued with threats of “emotional deprivation and abuse” that are guaranteed to be realized. But, of course, just like with evolutionary retentions of character traits, we only fail to see this chain reaction extending into the distant beginnings of civilization if we wilfully disregard what exists right in front of us wherever we look. We plainly and simply know that we are creating the impress of psychosocial dysfunctions over and over again. Meanwhile, the biological model invites all manner of looking away from the effective causes in the transmission of emotional suffering. For any attempt at all to regard the mainstream messages of behavioral healthcare skeptically, the idea continually appears that the only answer the bio-psychiatrists have is to baptize some scientific jargon and envision a quick fix that supports laboratory work aimed at supplying the same. When will the media and the wider academic community come out of their trance state about this modern scientistic hoax?
In other words: we can decipher down to every nerve cell and every molecule the pain pathway of a rat but the only way we will even come close to knowing what it feels when it’s put on a hot plate is when we recall our own pain at getting burnt. There is no other way than empathy.
B – Yeah, I like this work-up of yours on reductionism and its limitations…, and there’s something nerve cell-y in figuring what you said, too, so what are the researchers waiting for, but better human science? And, then, why don’t they create some? They don’t see the basics very well of what’s not right and what’s never going to be…. Their role functions and they fit in enough.
I think the main issue is that people misconstrue the role of neuroscience. We are very far (if that is even ever possible) from understanding the mind (even if we all agree that mind is generated by the brain). Neuroscience can be a great tool for discovery and for understanding human nature as well as for possibly finding ways to prevent/treat certain illnesses (like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or neurodevelopmental illnesses) but it’s not in a way that psychiatry is trying to use it. In fact many neuroscientists (and I count myself in that category, at least partially based on my expertise) are disenchanted with the framework psychiatry has pushed as driving the whole field into a dead end.
Finding out how brain is developed and functions on a cellular and molecular level and how the information is processes is not the same as understanding the subjective experience. It also won’t tell you how to define madness and saneness or what moral choices to make. Science is agnostic about god, morality and many other things and trying to use it to push one’s political and social agenda, as psychiatry does, is nothing else than corruption of it.
I think you are spot on.
B – Have you gotten involved in criticism at the level of the philosophical debate at all? Namely, “the Neuron Doctrine” by Gold and Stoljar, not too very old, published in Behavior and Brain Science? Most of the false understanding of neuroscience you are meaning to indicate occurs internal to the field, right? In the responses to the taking to task of the Churchlands et al., by that article, those who want the neurosciences to do what you say they can’t and/or appear imminently equipped to do so are insiders to a large degree, and so that certainly seems the place to put your emphasis–at least, for us who know only what we get to hear. What difference will it make to the field except for the insiders getting put to their paces, after all….
Well, let’s start with the problem of how you define “the field”. My experience is primarily with basic science, whatever experience I had with medical side of biological sciences was limited to my time as a student and was concerned with cancer and not neuroscience. There is a great difference between people who study neural development in mice, circuit formation in invertebrates or work on the information processing theories and people who simply test drugs, be it on animals or humans. So there is a great divide right here between the basic science, which by definition seeks understanding for it’s own sake and seeing the eventual benefits only as a by product, and applied science which is simply what the name implies. I am probably biased but I hold the former one in much higher regard, because it’s the only one that can truly lead to breakthrough discoveries.
That being said, there’s also an enormous problem with the way science is being practice today and the creeping neoliberal agenda that seems to corrupt every aspect of human endevour. I have no illusions that in the past science was a gentlemen’s club (unless you mean “gentleman” in a rather ironic way) but at least people had more freedom to of thought. Today you have to “sell” your science in order to “stay in business” which in basic science is exemplified by the famous “publish or perish”. So scientists are forced to at the very least overhype their findings and promise a fast road to cures for whatever disorder they can even remotely linked to what they’re doing and so on. Me, a young scientists if you like, and many of my friends are extremely disillusioned with the whole system which exploits talented and devoted people (if you want to understand the plight of a PhD student or postdoc – this comic is extremely funny and 100% accurate description of what we go through):
but also corrupts the very pursuit of truth and understanding that we hold so dear. I’ve become very cynical about the whole “business” and while trying to do my job in the most ethical and responsible way possible I know that this won’t get me recognition and possibly even will end up with me having to quit. It’s not even only the PhDs and postdocs who express these feelings – I’ve just talked today to my ex-supervisor who herself has enough dealing with “a**holes” and having to play diplomacy games and what not, which have nothing to do with what science is supposed to be and all with the fun and games of the old white men’s club (talking figuratively – it’s a state of mind not gender or age but you get my point). She also said she believes that’s why so many women decide not to stay in science -they simply think their mental well-being is not worth it even if they love what they do. I agree wholeheartedly with that since this is exactly the dilemma I’m struggling with now.
I’m not sure if I have answered your question in my long and frustrated rant but I think that the shortest answer is: these discussions don’t even take place anymore. Everyone concentrates on tehir next paper to publish and grant to get and is so drowned in meaningless tasks that has no time to think about the big picture. Thoughtful and smart people who “sacrifice” their time and actually think about it end up with fewer papers and no job at the end of the day (as my friend who’s now basically stuck in a basement somewhere sticking electrodes into worms in a job he doesn’t want and he is one of the best deep thinking scientists I know).
There has to be a revolution and not only in science, or in medicine but in the whole human society. We are destroying the planet, we are destroying ourselves and it’s business as usual. The whole system has to go or there’s no hope.
B – OK, I’ll get right on it. Meaning, I’ll get informed best you can tell me how and try to apply the understanding so that it relates in parallel to how survivor concerns intersect with the ones you mention. The intellectual history and, concomitantly, the current academic phantasm of “competitive effort” among our tenured elites are my chief focus, but not my main pursuit in terms of time devoted and conversations had…. I care plenty about what you’re seeing and saying about it, at any rate, and although heading over the hill (in terms of readiness for tackling your line of work), promise to look harder at the perspective you evince as the right critical one, and to do so from now on. I hope you keep taking heart, as you seem right for the fight to me, and very important for ours, too. What would you say are your main theses, or if a better qualifying angle, your usual pathways for acquiring the information and framework for digesting the ins and outs of this bureaucratized and globular decrepitude your “field” now faces? You’ve sparked my honest interest about the topic, according to your speedy rundown. Thank you–
B – I checked out the offbeat comic strip, which I get as for the differences between the earnest and the entitled, pretty much. That’s how it’s comic relief, I take it. Beyond that, for your situation, my notion is that if it’s hopelessness that worries you, or if it’s the dubiousness of the stressful career, what you want besides conversation in the round, is to have someone or lots of things specifically coming your way that prompt your excursus about your work-life, but without tying you down to any one, certain take or to any further abstraction than what seems natural in light of the situation at hand. You want out of your rut and the effect of some feeling like you know you are past your duties in terms of it, sans frustration, san worry, sans doubt. You want out of your assigned role and fully into your chosen one, mentally. That’s what I would want to know from you to be able to say anything intelligent about science as you know it: to wit, Where do you go in basic research to ground your professional concerns, that would count to you if there were endless hope on the horizon? You seem like the optimistic type, in that you’d like to behave optimistically, and seem intent on finding reasons for believing imminent global disaster is hard enough to miss that we can get it attended to, and then all have that optimism that is working for us make sense. No problem in motivating yourself to believe that risks are worth it like that–not that I can see. For myself, pessimism works just fine and doubt is a worthy enterprise, although it can get foolish very suddenly, if you know what I mean. So you have your basic feel of the problem expressed here, but I wouldn’t know how to offer meaningful feedback or act in the proverbial manner of the sounding board. That seems the sort of thing that might answer to pass beyond the logical conclusion that you graphically have stated: Doom. Well, David Quammen thinks we’ll make it, but also got himself very gloomy understanding what our priorities are, again. We want no lasting dilemmae about our material security in the foreseeable future and no forced surrender of our favorite ways of killing time with shop-talk and complaints about our petty grievances–for instance. W e want this very much more than we want pristine wilderness and unambiguous declarations of our egocentric aims made public. As far as my own aims, I just took Dr. Berezins’ recommendation for the NYT article on the connectome project, later will perhaps survive something like this
So, if you want to push the idea of any reading or empirical discoveries, please go ahead anytime… Good luck.
This is expressed so well. Thank you. Y0u’ve put into words the doubts, questions, worries, etc. about what’s going on in all areas of life today that I’ve been struggling with over the past few years.
Where are the truly great people, the great thinkers, the great doers in areas like medicine, philosophy, economics, etc.? It seems like everyone is plodding along in lockstep, moving to the same drumbeat, with no one willing to break free and dance to their own music that they hear within themselves. And in fact, it feels like everything is being done on higher levels to make sure that no one even hears their own music let alone dances to it. Where is the originality and creativity? And it seems like psychiatry is being used to further this herd-like, sheeple mentality. Everyone must bow to the mediocre, the mundane, the “normal”; don’t dare and don’t challenge and play the political game at all costs.
I agree. That’s the here and now of it, just what you perceive to exist as the stagnation of ideas and visions. So what happens next, Stephen? Our reponsibility indicates what need and what direction?
I believe that many of us need to begin dancing our own dance to the individual music that each of us produces by the lives that we lead, regardless of what is thought by society or the government or psychiatry, or the “normal” people. Every person’s life concerto is unique and every person’s dance that is danced to this unique music is beautiful and valuable and important. This is probably too philosophical of an answer.
Having been a high school teacher and a former chaplain in medical and psychiatric hospitals, I can tell you that people are not encouraged to hear their own beautiful music and to dance their own dance played out in it’s own unique beat and rhythm. Society does everything that it can to force people to hear only one song and to dance to that song in stilted and uniform and “acceptable” ways.
I witnessed creativity being squashed in high school students and realized that what goes on under the guise of “education” has nothing to do with teaching people to think for themselves. Our society and country really don’t want people thinking for themselves, this is feared above all things in education.
The same thing goes on a lot of times in religious communities. The people sitting in the pews on Sundays should not question anything the pastor says and should submit and cede their spiritual growth over into the hands of the few religious leaders. People should always be growing in their spiritual lives but all too often they sit in those pews on Sunday as second graders in their spiritual development and understanding.
To create the change we must begin valuing difference, individuality, creativity, and by supporting a questioning attitude about all things in life. I must show young people that it’s okay to be “different” and that, in fact, this should be celebrated rather than stamped out. I can begin creating this change by allowing the people around me to simply be who they are supposed to be and not who I want them to be.
I don’t know; maybe I’ve become too philosophical in my old age……………..
Nicely put, Stephen. Our differences are our gifts to humanity. When they are shunned and devalued, we are shunning and devaluing ourselves, and keeping us apart from our own nature.
That which repels us about others is our own issue to address within ourselves. That’s how we grow, when we own our feeling of repulsiveness, rather than project it onto others. It’s a matter of expanding our awareness and growing our perspective.