Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Part III: Off to the Asylum - Rational Anti-psychiatry

This visual narrative is based on the works of Professor Richard Benthall, particularly his book Doctoring the Mind.

The difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist is that a psychiatrist treats diseases of the brain (which can produce mental disease) and the latter treat diseases of the mind. Psychiatrist's first line of choice for treatment is drugs. The psychologist's first line of choice for treatment is thought processes, the mind, emotion and behaviours.

In the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s psychiatrists experimented with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT - commonly known as electric shock treatment), prefrontal leucotomy (the lobotomy) and insulin coma therapy on their patients in asylums.

ECT convulsions could break the patient's bones, so they introduced muscle-relaxant drugs. The closest man was getting to perceiving mental illness was spiritual and of the mind, is by the use of ECT which was using electricity as a force, to quell the emotionally charged (spirit) mind. The ECT was traumatizing and could cause brain damage.

Insanity has a continuum starting from sanity to thought disorder – apathy – antiedonia (inability to experience pleasure) – emotional flatness – personality disorders – psychotic behaviours (bipolar disorder: manic depressant), unipolar depression and then schizophrenia.

Psychological problems fall under the term psychosis. Psychosis includes bipolar and schizophrenia. Schizophrenia people have psychotic disorders during which hallucinations and delusions can occur.

Hallucinations can be auditory, visual and tactile. Delusions are bizarre beliefs.

Psychiatrists often use heritability as a statistical measure. This is somewhat true in the extent that in Christian psychology, curses through the generations are often affected in families. Christians use family constellations and check generational curses that may be apparent. These are removed by the curse being broken through the name of and by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The New Testament gives us such examples of Jesus exorcising demons from insane people e.g. the man who had a 'legion' of demons in him, and they were cast out by Jesus and then sent into a swine of pigs who then went crazy and drove themselves into the sea to die.

The ancients were also clued up in that the origins of mental instability was spiritual but they perceived it differently. In The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of Bicameral Mind, Julian Jaynes' book present a startling thesis, based on an analysis of the language of the Iliad, that the ancient Greeks were not conscious in the same way that modern humans are. Because the ancient Greeks had no sense of "I" (also Victorian England would sometimes speak in the third person rather than say I, because the eternal God - YHWH was known as the great "I AM") with which to locate their mental processes. To them their inner thoughts were perceived as coming from the gods, which is why the characters in the Iliad find themselves in frequent communication with supernatural entities. Jayne's theory (which is not taken seriously by modern classicists), therefore, implies there was a time that hearing voices was once a normal and 'natural' experience.

The process of the mind works as thus: a thought enters the mind (this could be from a bad spirit or a good spirit), that thought for a Christian is then taken for discernment. A Christian is obliged to be obedient to Christ with their thoughts, pulling down any vain imagination that would exalt itself against God. It is within this split second that the thought can charge the emotions, which will cause the action (or resultant behaviour happening). If one is under the influence of drugs or alcohol this is tampered with.

If that thought produces anger, jealousy, resentment, bitterness or whatever emotion it then leads onto a behaviour being acted out. e.g. anger may lead to murder, resentment may lead to some gossip. This is why it is important for the Christian to take every thought to the captivity of Christ, so we do not allow our emotions to control us or make us sin.

Psychologists use CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) in an attempt to help patients achieve emotional stability by finding more rational and adaptive ways of thinking.

Thought enters the mind --- in a split second it converts into emotion of some sort (it may be a strong emotion or weak emotion, e.g. anger, jealousy, hate or mild - contemplation, serenity etc) --- then it produces the behaviour --- the bodily action (speech/words, physicality/expressions).

One common functioning of the psychotic mind is premature evaluations and jumping to conclusions. Patients with psychotic disorders, especially those with delusions, tend to guess prematurely.

There are three major problems:

  1. Self esteem
  2. Jumping to conclusions; and
  3. Theory of mind problems.

Self-esteem is on a continuum belonging to the EGO. To the far left is a low self esteem, middle - healthy self esteem and far right - arrogance. What affects this for the individual is the emotion of pride. People who are very proud will either fall at arrogance, but ALSO at low self-esteem. It is still a problem of pride, but inverted so. Self consciousness and excessive shyness is about using pride to protect oneself from rejection or being hurt; it is still extreme behaviour dominated by the emotion of pride. A humble spirit will fit safely in the middle of this continuum.

Jumping to conclusions is when the thought has entered the mind (and it may just be a vain imagination) then the emotions are charged and acted on straight away without waiting and checking first.

Theory of mind problems is centered around dysfunctional assumptions about the world around a person. For example depressed patients are prone to such thought because of their pessimistic reasoning style and often lack of hope (more on this later).

Two jars are filled with beads, one with mostly white beads and a few that were coloured red, and one with mostly red beads and a few that were coloured white.

The jars are then hidden away and the participants are shown a single bead and told that they could either guess which jar it had been taken from or ask to see another bead from the same jar. Most people taking this test wait ask to see another few beads before reaching a decision.

The research (R. E. J. Dudley and D. E. Over, 2003, People with delusions jump to conclusions: a theoretical account of research findings on the reasoning of people with delusions in Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 10: 263 - 74) shows in this exercise that those with psychotic disorders, tend to guess prematurely, in fact many guess after seeing just one bead.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fact File: Series 2: Chess

  1. Chess was primarily played by the upper classes of society and royalty, and thus became known as the game of kings.
  2. The rook is named from an Arabic word rukh, meaning chariot. During the Middle Ages when chariots were no longer in use, the rook was gradually modified to look more like the turret of a castle.
  3. Researchers think chess may have originated in India as a war game, chatarung, dating to as early as A.D. 600. Chess originated in India in the 6th century. It was called "chaturanga", which means literary "four divisions of the military". Another theory is that is started in China around the 2nd century BC. Chess reached Europe and Russia around the 10th century.
  4. The piece that is now the queen originally was the king's adviser. Europeans changed it to a queen, and it became the strongest piece on the board in the 1400s.
  5. The word “checkmate” came from the Persian phrase “shad mat.”, which means the king is defeated.
  6. Lewis Carrol’s novel “Through the looking Glass” was based on a chess game, just like Alice in Wonderland was based on playing cards.
  7. The Arabic world, the Chinese, and later the Europeans used the chessboard as a tool for calculating and a means for expressing mathematical concepts. In medieval England, financial accounts were settled on tables resembling chessboards. When the Normans created the royal office of collection for the crown, they called it the Exchequer, and its minister the “Chancellor of the Exchequer”, because the court originally used a checkered cloth to cover the table where judgments were made. Exchequer comes from Old French, where eschequier meant counting table, and eschec meant chess. This makes the "Chancellor of the Exchequer" literally the "Chancellor of the Chessboard!"

Friday, December 10, 2010

Part II: Meet the Mad Hatter - the Psychology of Insanity

The latest visual narrative in the series Knight Move Thinking. This one is about the psychology of insanity.

Everywhere, in all times, among all classes of humanity insanity is denoted by an enormous expansion of egotism. The expansion is so great that for the time being it constitutes a state of mind in which the sense of self in the victim is exaggerated to the point of supreme superiority to any and all others. Whoever, or whatever seems to question this superiority, is at once an anathema, is a fit subject for discipline, for being "put in their proper place." A corollary manifestation is an immense acceleration of pride, of conceit, of vanity, of determination to demand respect and obedience.

There is no room for Love but self-love, any sympathy but self pity, any charity but pardon and forgiveness to rebels who surrender, to converts who render obeisance, to supporters who accept without question the Authority.

Drawings from Sir John Tenniel.
Cards from : The Unemployed Philosopher's Guild

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Part I: Knight Move Thinking

More images by John Tenniel can be found here:

Knight's move thinking: a knight moves 1 square orthogonally or 1 square diagonally.
In psychological terms a person can follow an individual's train of thought as there is a link of sorts – a progression of ideas – but it veers off. The problem is that the ideas are linked in ways which make very little overall sense to anyone but the sufferer. This is often a feature of psychosis related to mania or dementing disorder.

It is a disturbance of speech, communication, or content of thought – e.g. delusions, ideas of reference, poverty of thought, flight of ideas, perseveration, loosening of associations.

What is thought disorder?
Our thoughts are revealed in our speech. Thus, observation of patterns of thought naturally involves close observation of the speech of the individual being considered. A psychologist will observe degree, frequency, and the resulting functional impairment. However, it is not to be confused with petit mal seizures, hesitation brought on my anxiety or excessive self consciousness, or slow thought processes.

There are numerous categorised thought disorders, here I have compiled a brief list with simple definitions.

Clanging: a rambling stream-of-conscious-train with a pitty, poetic phrase (can be seen in hip hop lyrics with those under drug induced psychosis). Rhyming or alliteration may lead to the appearance of logical connections where none in fact exists. This disorder is also associated with the irregular thinking apparent in psychotic mental illnesses (e.g. schizophrenia). Sentences are usually patently absurd. Most clang associations are usually non-sense. A manic bi-polar could say "he raged at the hypocrisy of the aristocracy democracy."

Blocking: Interruption of train of speech before completion. This is commonly seen when a joke is being told and the speaker forgets the punchline. True blocking, however, is when the speaker does not recall the topic he/she was discussing. True blocking is a common sign of schizophrenia.

Circumferential speech: speech that is delayed at reaching its goal. Excessive long-windedness. Speaking about many concepts related to the point of the conversation before eventually returning to the point and concluding the thought.

Derailment: (Knight move thinking): ideas slip off the topic's track on to another which is obliquely related or unrelated. "I decided to take control of my life and went outside, err waxed my nails in the thunderstorm".

Distractible speech: during mid speech, the subject is changed in response to a stimulus.

Evasive interaction: attempts to annunciate ideas and/or feelings about another individual comes out as evasive or in a diluted form.

Flight of ideas: (Knight move thinking): a sequence of loose associations or extreme tangentiality where the speaker goes quickly from one idea to another seemingly unrelated ideas. To the listener, the ideas seem unrelated and do not seem to repeat. Often pressured speech is also present.

Illogicality: conclusions are reached that do not follow logically (non-sequiturs or faulty inferences), e.g. Do you think this will fit in the box? draw a rely like "well duh, it's red isn't it."

Incoherence (word salad): speech that is unintelligible because, though the individual words are real words, the manner in which they are strung together results in incoherent gibberish e.g. the question "Why do people smoke a pipe?" elicits a response like "because it makes a twirl in my life my cup is broken help me white elephant. Isn't the goldfish brave?"

Loss of goal: failure to show a train of thought to a natural conclusion e.g. "Why does my computer keep crashing?" "Well you drive a truck, so the tweezers need to be in another drawer".

Phoenemic paraphasia: mispronunciation; syllables out of sequence: e.g. I slipped on the lice and broke my arm."

Pressure of speech: an increase in the amount of spontaneous speech compared to what is considered customary. Difficult to interrupt the speaker; the speaker may continue speaking even when a direct question is asked.

Semantic paraphasia: substitution of inappropriate word e.g. "I slipped on the coat, on the ice I mean, and broke my book."

Stilted speech: speech excessively stilted and formal e.g. "his attorney comported himself indecorously."

Thought insertion: this is the experience of one's thoughts not being one's own but that they have been 'inserted' into one's head by a third party. People experiencing this symptom find it extremely difficult to organise or control their thoughts, partly because they see little point in trying to control the thoughts which belong to someone else. These 'inserted' thoughts are often demanding or controlling and can lead the sufferer to behave in ways they normally wouldn't. In the Christian context this is demonic possession.

"God has not given to us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a SOUND MIND."

To moralize if I can, young people (teenagers and young adults) are particularly vulnerable to psychosis brought on by the use of drugs and excessive consumption of alcohol to drunkenness.

Psychotic disorders: schizophrenia, drug-induced psychosis, psychotic depression, bi-polar disorder, Alzheimer's disease, multi-infarct dementia, delirium tremens, Korsakoffs' syndrome (alcohol related dementia).

Two main psychotic symptions: hallucinations (the more serious) and thought disorder.

Below some of the images used for the visual narrative and collage.

Alma Tadema

Knight's Templar playing chess

Enxadrismo Gravura

Napoleon Chess Set

Rick Ross Blade Runner Chess Set

All Strung Up: Temptation ... Frustration you know how bad it gets!