3.0 Mental “Illness” Or Mental “Injury”

The physical pain of a hand on a hot stove brings about a very natural response. The pain is a signal to “get the hand off” and usually results in a quick and automatic reflex.  If the pain is ignored, usurped, or sedated and the hand remains on the hot stove, the chemistry of the skin would develop the biochemical abnormal signature of a burnt hand.  If the hand is quickly taken off, there’s a chance that no medical attention will be needed and the body will heal itself.  If the natural response of the body is usurped and overpowered in some fashion and the hand burns a little, maybe a little salve would aid the healing process.  But the longer the natural signals are ignored or unperceived, the greater the damage and the more extensive the healing process; skin grafts might be required – or worse – physical healing might not be possible at all.  The crux of the problem is the unresponsiveness to, or ignorance of, the body’s signals to get the hand off the hot stove.  It would be absurd to pharmaceutically ‘normalize’ the hand’s biochemical signature without removing the hand from the hot stove.

From the perspective of an emotional guidance system, the biology of a biochemical “abnormality” associated with emotional pain is analogous to the biochemical “abnormality” associated with the hand’s physical pain on a hot stove.  Putting the hand on the hot stove brings about the very natural response of quickly removing the hand from the damaging heat. Similarly, the emotional pain within the activated emotional negative neural circuit is a feedback signal to get the mind off a potentially damaging mental stream of consciousness.  Within a healthy individual, this is a natural, quick response, which has developed into an automatic behavior.  However, the more (1) the emotional pain is suppressed or usurped because of some traumatic experience or (2) it is biochemically blocked or sedated or (3) it is blocked by neurological damage due to heredity, illness, or disease, or (4) it is blocked for any other reason such that the individual’s thoughts and the activities of his or her mind remain on the ‘hot stove’, the more the associated biochemical signature will differ from that of a ‘normal’ healthy person.

Where well-being and a natural emotional responsiveness exist, no medical attention is needed.  But if the mind ‘burns’ a little, maybe some simple medication accompanied by supportive psychotherapy would promote healing and a return to a naturally functioning neural network of a healthy cognitive/emotional relationship.  However, in acute cases where such a natural emotional response, awareness, or behavior is lacking, and where healing is not occurring, supportive medication and hospitalization may need to be more invasive.   Extensive rehabilitation therapy will be needed to take advantage of the brain’s neuroplasticity abilities to create a new neurology of healthy mental responsiveness to its emotional guidance system.  The crux of the problem for those suffering to this degree is their disregard or ignorance of, or in some cases, physiological damage to, a wondrous and highly evolved emotional and cognitive neural circuit.

One observation within people with mental illness is a biochemical abnormality from the “mentally healthy.” But there is, by evolutionary design, a biochemical anomaly when a person’s mental activities are mentally unhealthy and are dwelling upon unwanted, unhealthful, or negative aspects of life.  When a “hand” remains on the hot stove, he or she is activating a completely different neurological network.  There should be a different biochemical signature.  The fallacy is in the attempt to pharmaceutically “normalize” a patient’s mental and emotional state without removing that person’s “mind” from the hot stove and reestablishing “normal” neural network activities between cognition and emotions.

Responding to a neurological emotional guidance network

There is great power within the activation of the emotional negative neural network and the conception of an emotional recognition of that which is not wanted nor desired.  But this power is only actuated if the opposite end – the positive, pleasurable end of the spectrum can be recognized, conceived, and then reasoned.

People who are healthy, happy and successful in life have an ability to pivot off the emotionally negative aspect of a scenario and into a more emotionally positive re-framed scenario.  They have learned and developed the necessary skills that are essential in our society to manage their focus of attention in response to their own emotional feedback: a kind of ‘cognitive dexterity’.  This dexterity results in only a temporary activation of the emotionally negative neural network.  They have the motivation, drive and, most importantly, the proficiency to create a scenario of that which is wanted and desired – which activates the emotional positive neural network.

The development of the extreme biochemical signature of mental illness that requires psychiatric drugs is the result of a chasm that developed between the cognitive activities within the brain and the individual’s responsiveness to the emotional guidance system. Severe mental “injury” or “illness” that may never fully heal may result from neurological damage, disease, drug abuse, prolonged and extensive use of medications, trauma, birth defect, or some other inherited condition.  On the other hand, some very treatable conditions may have developed through life from a person’s inability to process the indoctrinating effects of life’s significant characters –  i.e., as parents, religious figures, teachers, peer groups – or from the constant barrage of ‘information’ in this new age of technical wizardry.  Less dramatically, such conditions may be caused by the many interactions life presents while growing up – where others’ emotional guidance systems have usurped, instead of enhanced, a person’s natural emotional development.