Stress and Anti-depressants

Quite an interesting article on stress and depression. Or more to the point, stress and anti-depressants.

The experiment was performed on mice, so may or may not translate to humans. The summary is this:
– Stress can cause some symptoms of depression, but not all
– Some anti-depressants, when applied to stressed mice, helped reduce the symptoms
– When the suspect genes that allowed this pathway were removed from mice, the anti-depressant didn’t work.

Thoughts I have: Stress seems to prompt neurogenesis (the making of new brain cells and pathways), as do antidepressants. The two together make lots of neurogenesis.

So perhaps depression is a side effect of coping with change? Chronic depression may be the condition of being stuck in a “shut down” cycle as you adjust to change?


Accepting and denying comfort

Everybody hurts. Sometimes.

And when we are emotionally hurt, we need to reposition ourselves such that the world makes sense again and we know that everything is going to be okay. This usually involves some level of external validation to help us humans reassess ourselves in terms of others. Mainly because we can no longer trust our inner senses.

Comfort given by another can help us know when our hurt is legitimate, versus our being over sensitive. When someone else comforts us, we feel justified in our experience. If another denies giving us comfort, we can feel either unworthy, or that we are making too much of nothing.

Feeling unworthy means that our inner sense is fairly firm and is now contradictory to our outer validation mechanism. Repairing this schism can be quite complex as our inner sense of things is generally shored up on many complex thoughts and values, which all need to be adjusted to accept the external structure.

Realising that we have been over sensitive, based on out external checking, allows us to adjust our non-firm inner senses. However there is danger in that too as if we have not much internal structure, we constantly need external validation, and external validation can be quite arbitrary and variable. It is hard for us to know when the external source is right and wrong and also leads us to over use our friends comfort, burning them out and pushing them away.

There is another path we can go down. When we feel that we are wrong and that our hurt is in response to our actions or being, then we can deny comfort and deny the opportunity to reorient ourselves. Depression, suicidal ideation and ontological insecurity are generally the downward spiral we find ourselves on taking this path.

It is also quite frustrating for those who wish to comfort us, to reassure us that we are mistaken and that if we could only reorient to their way of thinking, we would be all right. The denial of this can push friends away, or numb them to the times when we do need help.

Punishing ourselves does not prompt solutions. Instead it keeps us in problems, implying that our very existence is a mistake. It is important to our own survival to avoid doing this. Punishment is not a good teacher. Instead we must look for solutions and implement them.

We must find people who are trustworthy for our external validation. We need to use these people sparingly so that on one hand we do not burn them out, and on the other hand we don’t rely on them too much. We should accept comfort when we feel we need it, and avoid punishing ourselves when we feel we don’t.

Good Grief?

Grief is a normal part of adjusting to change. The scale of grief changes depending on the emotional importance of the change to the self. Mostly the grief is mourning loss, whether the loss of an object, a person or an opportunity.

Grief allows the self to change from what was to what is. Without it we are stuck in limbo. Sometimes, though, we become stuck in this adjustment. Instead of a process, we are mired in the pits of grief driven depression. At this point one may need professional help to get the grief process going again.

If we nip this problem in the bud too early, we interrupt the process in another way, not allowing us to adjust to change.

The new version of the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual Five (DSM V), published by the American Psychology Association, seems to defining regular grief as a clinical disorder. If this is so I believe that new professionals may over prescribe medication on yet another common element of life.

Wisdom and Intelligence

There is a large difference between wisdom and intelligence, yet they are also related.

The first difficult task is understanding what intelligence is. It is poorly defined. People generally have different specific definitions or a general definition that is next to useless.

For example, Intelligence can be specifically defined as General Intelligence Quotient, which seems to be an amalgamation of various fields of capability, all designed to test the speed response in a breadth of knowledge. It is easy to game with culture, education and some rehearsal and dry runs. This definition is often countered with multiple intelligences, where intelligence is made up of several different fields of capability, allowing for a more histogram approach to intelligence. Rather stating that this one number is your intelligence, you get more of a graphical representation about what kind of intelligence you have, which is supposed to be self referential instead of across peoples.

Another generalised version of intelligence is what you know and how quickly you can solve problems. I have met some people who know nothing, but once they have the rules of a game understood they can create ingenious solutions that win, while other people knew much about many things, yet could not solve basic problems that they had not studied. Is intelligence knowing things or solving problems? Or a combination of both?

Contrast this to wisdom. Wisdom is often thought to be solving social problems or knowing when to act.

You know those times when you pour your heart out to someone and they say that thing that makes it all so clear? Is that wisdom?

Perhaps wisdom is more about knowing when to and when not to act? I could burn the house down for heat but should I? I could see this woman behind my partners back, but should I? It is the separation of “can” and “will”. I can do many things, but I won’t do them. There is a separation of “right and wrong” versus “considering and doing”. This definition of wisdom is not as simple as defining an action as right or wrong, or the outcome as right or wrong, but rather looking at the actions and outcomes and deciding whether or not to do it regardless of right and wrong.

Of course it could also be argued that without intelligence you can no understand the meaning of right or wrong, or be able to predict the potential outcomes.

This brings us into a third version of wisdom. Instead of being concerned with external measures, you become more concerned with internal measures. Who am I being while I do this thing? If I am being true to myself, then then my actions are pure and I realise that the outcome is beyond my control. Yet if I can predict that my being true to myself will have horrid consequences on others, should I not seriously consider not being true to myself in order to save a majority of people?

Perhaps wisdom is more about balancing dilemmas than it is about knowing right, wrong and your true self. Yet without a level of intelligent insight, being wise is not really possible. Surely it is not possible to “know” the best course of action if you can not understand the best course of action? This leaves people who are fortuitously or instinctively “doing” the best course of action not actually “choosing” to do the best course of action. If you do not choose, does it count?

I believe that you can be intelligent without being at all wise, but you cannot be wise without being at all intelligent.