http://www.pbs.org/ride-the-tiger/home/ RIDE THE TIGER Genetics plays a pivotal role in diagnosing mental illnesses. Scientists now believe many …
RIDE THE TIGER | The Genetics of Mental Illness | PBS
and my Comment.
When it comes to mental illnesses, we are scared. I don’t think there’s anything more generally frightening than having a mental disorder. At least if you get cancer, or some sort of terminal illness, you know what the fear is: It’s that you’re going to die, actually cease body functioning dead.
When it comes to mental issues, the fear really is that we don’t know what the hell is going on. Not only the person who might have mental issues, but the empirical scientists who are studying it and trying to treat it, really have no clue what’s going on. Despite any of the arguments, this is a fact that can’t be denied — or, it can only be denied through repetitive assertion of progress pressed against hope.
I gotta say, whenever I hear things about how medicine or science might be progressing in the understanding of mental issues, I get kind of excited.
Even treatment options, some of them seem really exciting and helpful. when a treatment makes sense to me I get excited about learning it and helping someone with it, for sure.
Yet, there’s always the sour with the sweet in mental health. This is to say that however excited I might be about whatever new thing that someone is telling us about having to do with mental illness, knowledge of it, treatment of it, once I begin to explore what these people have to say, I inevitably realize that they’re 80% bewildered.
This kind of snake oil approach to mental health, where the placebo effect is functioning on such a grand scale, using statistics and headlines and basically driving good news off of the fear that just exists everywhere around mental health, really drives my philosophical work, but as well really, drives me to want to be there for people that are reaching out for help.
Part of what I feel makes me genuine and effective as a mental health practitioner, if I say so myself —
— as I am saying so myself, but colleagues and instructors and mentors have said things very similar so I’m not basing this off of my own ego — that is, not entirely!!! —
￼￼￼– is that I understand the need to believe, but I also try to filter out the bullshit. But not only this; I feel one of the significant things to helping people with mental issues is involved with the attempt to realize that there is no clear reconciliation between mere belief and bullshit, which is to say, there is no sorting it out except in the way that someone actually sorts it out. There is no “pure belief”, and then the truth that lay behind the “pure bullshit”, when we’re approaching it in a certain light.
And I’m speaking to those who would be offended by me talking about the truth of the situation being that the scientists in this video, indeed the video makers, are trying to give us a certain amount of hope. The short video is really kind of saying like, hey, this terrible mental disorder has some sort of foundation in genes, and we’re working out to sort out just how that might be the case so people in the future, future generations may not have to deal with it.
However, what they’re really saying is that they don’t know what the hell is going on.
I know that mental health relies heavily on a person’s belief, not only about themselves, but about the world, and about whether or not someone might be able to help them.
The reason why these scientists will not be able to find a gene that has to do with bipolar, or really any sort of mental disorder, is because of the history of mental disorders, which is to say, the way that “scientist/psychiatrist” came up with the idea that there must be something similar to mental disease as there is physical disease.
If I break a bone in my body we can point to the bone and we can say, there it is, and this is how we fix it.
Mental health, and mental disorder, is more like a person sitting in a room coughing. What is the cause of their coughing? ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼ is it the smoke in the room? Is it the vapors coming off of the oil freshly painted walls with no windows? Is it the cilia in the lining of the lungs? Is it that they just took a bong hit and they’ve never smoked weed in their life? Is it because they smoke too much weed throughout their life? Did a fly just fly down their throat?
Now, this is a loose analogy, but it goes to the point of the difference between a physical disease and a mental health disease: ￼
There is nothing that is bipolar that we can truly find. It’s just a name that we give to a bunch of people that say certain things about their experience.
If you had 100 people called bipolar from whatever objective kind of disorder name that we wanna give them, and you go to talk to each of these hundred people about what is happening with them, you’ll find that there’s 100 different types of bipolar, and at one end, the person’s description will look nothing like the person at the other end￼. ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼
In mental issues, the thing that drives them together to cause scientists to look for a gene behind the mental illness is utterly one of faith. And not in the bad way you are thinking, by the way.
As we go down this route, because for sure science will continue going down this route, what will happen is you’ll have a whole group, perhaps a whole generation of people, that are calling themselves bipolar, that is are understood as bipolar, or any other mental issue, all going towards this science of curing the problem, and what will happen is a lifetime of just as much problem as they had before. It might be a different set of problem, it might appear a little bit differently than 20 years ago or whatever, but it’ll just be another set of problems.
The perfect example is what happens to people with the more acute mental disorders who take the antipsychotic medicines for their schizophrenia or their bipolar or whatever. After a time their body starts to react in certain ways. In general, they call this problem tardive dyskinesia. In fact, it is so prevailing now that we have advertisements on the TV on cable on the Internet marketing more medication to help people with their tardive dyskinesia that they’ve gotten from taking medicines for their “bipolar”.
In an ironic twist, it is actually the scientists who are the naysayers. They are saying “no” there is a thing an actual disease of the human body called xyz mental illness. ￼￼ Their faith, leads them to solve one problem, and then another problem opens up. But of course, it may be easier to deal with the second problem, but one has to wonder just what does bipolar, or any name of mental disease, is, if it just leads one down a long chain of more problems. ￼
I think some of the problem that maybe some of my readers might have is that I sound like I’m naysaying all the science and all the stuff that goes into helping people with these mental issues. I am not.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼What I’m saying is that I’m a realist. The fact of the matter is that no matter what initial mental illness may present itself, it is just something that the person is gonna have to deal with in whatever way that they’re dealing with it, or whatever way they don’t deal with it. There is not gonna be any magic pill for the people who suffer. There may be a magic pill that gets them 70% of the way, but anyone who suffers from mental issues will tell you that medicines never cure the disease. They only help with getting the person to a place where they’re able to decide that they need to deal with it themselves. And that is good ! Like I said: I am not a hater.
But what does that say about the genetic basis of mental disorder? ￼
Drugs and Reality
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with doing drugs. I think the question is personal. And I think the question is just, for our modern day, what drugs do I take.
I’m not being sarcastic or ironic, I’m not being pessimistic or cynical. In my blog I try to deal with things as they actually are￼￼￼￼.
Just as in my practice I try to deal with people as they actually are.
And often, the way things actually are do not match up with the way people actually are.
Maybe that’s the true problem.