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.

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