Monday, May 24, 2010

a proposition of a model of High seeking behaviour

One can presume that the phenomenon of creatures altering their state with drugs is primarily due to the way drugs capitilize on endogenous reward systems (like the opioid system) It is important also to note that the cange in state isn't all about feeling pleasure. Though certainly one's opioid system is manipulated when one takes heroin, there is also an equally important change in state and cognition. The feeling of being high, I'll argue, is equally as important as the change in cognition and perception.

Thinking creatures (of whatever degree) are fascinated with modifications in cognition and perception. Some times those changes in perception and cognition are beneficial, Such as the way someone can take shrooms as a way to look at a problem from another angle. Much like dreams, intoxicated experiences often re-imagine and re-frame current problems. When one is at a dead end sometimes dreams and high experiences will find a way out. The use of this is huge.

It is possible that creatures which sought "high" experiences survived more or were more productive sexually because of the removal of inhibitions and the a re-framing of a problem. If someone has an Idea while high about how to more efficiently hunt then his tribe will survive better and the next generation has more "High seekers".

This also leads to another interesting question. If High seeking behaviour is intellectually beneficial, do people with high IQs use drugs more? or use drugs for this purpose more. This could provide some support for the idea of whether high experiences do reframe problems, Though a supperior (and much harder to perform) experiment would be to give a representative sample a serious problem to solve which requires a reframing of the problem (there would have to be a way to still test people who had no difficulty with solving the problem.) and when they cannot solve the problem have them take some sort of drug (marijuana, shrooms) and instruct them to think about the problem, and talk about it while high, then see the percentage who find a solution to the problem.
(this clearly isn't a fully developed study, I have the idea now, I haven't really fleshed it out, I realise there are clear problems with it, but I feel like proposing the rough version of the study and seeing where people go with it.)

If this seems ridiculous then next time you're high (be it on drugs or alcohol, or nicotine) pay attention to how much of the enjoyment and importance of the experience was related to changing ones state of cognition, perception and therefore action

more simply put, Next time you're high ask yourself if you're doing this because it feels good, or because it gives you different ideas and solves problems, and makes you think in a way you normally wouldn't.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

some thoughts

it's dreary outside and I just finished watching a fantastically depressing episode of Skins. The specifics aren't important. All that matters for the moment is that it reminded me of a time when I was going crazy, and the world seemed to fall apart around me. To feel that alone, and that tired, to see such horrid things transpire in your minds eye, it's painful, but in such a pervasive soul filling way.

While watching the episode I kept wanting to write a letter or an email appologising to my then girlfriend for going crazy. I wasn't fully stable by the end of our relationship, and I was entirely mad for good chunks of it. once again deatils aren't that important.

I don't think those feelings ever really leave you. The obsessive thoughts, the wild moods, the lengthy depressions, those go away when the meds are right, and the therapy is right, and the time is right, but that feeling in the pit of your chest that reminds you of how terrible the world really is; that stays. Pesimism was never one of my inate qualities. Somehow it's snuck in under the door.

Of course joy still raises it's head. I still find great beauty in this world that's slowly killing us all, but I can't shake the fear of death, and the realisation that so many people have worse lives than mine, and that means that the whole world is fucked.

I don't do things in sixes anymore. I don't think about crashing my car into the median or the oncoming traffic everytime I drive (I do still have that thought sometimes) and I think I'm past those deep depressions in which I melded with my mattress and pictured my hands bloodied and broken by harsh impact with the walls that held me inside. Now I just have periodic frightful realisations of my imminent death, and the creeping suspicion lying in the back of my head that even the music and writing that seem to make this life worth it may not be enough.

I'm not currently depressed, I feel pretty happy as of late, but still that little fire burns deep within me reminding me that things are finite, and that the chance that the rest of my life is good is on equal footing with the possibility that it turns out terribly.

I'm sorry that this is how I think, and would change it if I could, but I've already done so much changing, and put so much work into getting rid of the OCD and the Mania and the Depression. I wish I could change things.
Honestly I need a research lab. There are too many good questions, with reasonably testable hypothesis that come into my mind. it could be the question of whether there is a tendency for mentally ill people (or severely mentally ill people ) to be night owls or any of the many other testable hypotheses I think of. Every couple of days I have a research Idea that I truly want to test. Sadly I haven't the means to test these hypothesis. I am rather tired of undergraduate education, I'm tired of regurgitating information. Analysing, and coming up with new ways to test an idea, or synthesising old ideas to come up with some cogent model of how something works; that's the sort of stuff that excites me. That I haven't the resources to pursue these ideas sort of infuriates me. Of course It's all a mater of time, and once I'm off to grad school I'm sure the frustration that comes from not being able to start on research immediately will leave me. Of course the realities of research may also give me pause. I just feel that I am in a unique position to find out new things. Not all of my ideas are good, but until I am given the opportunity to really test them, how do I know. I feel that research will be the best way to fulfil this curiosity that so heavily defines my actions. Creation and curiosity.

Given this post is all musing and little content, tomorrows post will fix that. I simply feel that I'm up against a wall. Right now I am read to find out things no one knows, but I don't have the means. It's an unpleasant place to be.

Monday, May 17, 2010

a few things.

First I'd like to direct you to a nice visual study guide on Cognitive Biases.
according to the guide itself "Cognitive biases are psychological tendencies
that cause the human brain to draw incorrect
conclusions." So read away.

Secondly I'd like to talk about two ideas that have been bouncing around in my head for quite some time.

My eventual research goals involve the way that we relate to stories, and the way our brain processes them. I think that there are elements of story which are universal but can't be explained just as a recounting of memory, or as something similar to a lie. I think there are non temporal (not related to the time line of events in the story) things about all stories. The best example I've been able to come up with thus far is foreshadowing. It is something that occurs only in stories. Foreshadowing requires knowledge of the end of the story. I also think that foreshadowing happens unconsciously. I do need to figure out how universal or common foreshadowing is though.

the last think I want to talk about is the usage of cigarettes as indicators of passing time. Be it the picture of a cigarette that has burned itself to the butt, where the cigarette looks whole except for where the tobacco was there is now ash. It's a pretty poingiant way of showing time transition, and the sorts of people who smoke tend to have stories. There's also the suggestion of progression towards death.


those are my musings for the day.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

One problem (of many) in modern mental health.

Im sort of tired of people, but that's not the topic for tonight's rumination, just an observation that seems particularly salient. Today I want to talk about a particular problem in modern psychology. If you have some sort of anxiety disorder your insurance will cover medications, likely standard anti anxiety drugs like attivan and klonopin, and if you have some particular subsets of anxiety disorder, or depression along with your anxiety (which nearly everyone who is anxious all the time does, obviously) also some sort of anti depressant, usually an ssri. What your insurance won't pay for, or won't pay for as much of, is a particular kind of therapy, called cognitive behavioural therapy.

CBT is one of the most effective methods of dealing with anxiety disorders like OCD genralised anxiety and panic disorder, as well as one of the most effective for depression. When done in concert with antidepressants the rates go even higher. However, if you want this sort of therapy and you don't have money (likely because you can't work because you're spending all your time being anxious) no therapy for you.

This hits at the root of a serious problem with modern psychology. Though the tools are there, the systems to provide services aren't. With budget cuts and the general problems associated with the current financial climate most county mental health systems don't have psychologists on staff. They have psychiatrists, as they must, so drugs can be prescribed, but psychologists period (much less those from the subset of CBT specialists) are not paid for.

Some of this is due to the view of therapy as pointless (spurred on by the low effectiveness of nearly every other sort of therapy) and some of this is simply due to lack of money, but the ultimate result is alonger course of illness and greater rates of disability and hospitilisation for people with anxiety disorders and depression. There are many great CBT specialists who work privately, but if a patient doesn't have money, (and even if you have insurance the co pay is likely to be rather large) the they're shit out of luck.

This is a general problem in mondern mental health care. It's something I probably see more of because the facility in which I work has many clients who are on medi- cal or who don't have any insurance. People lucky enough to have money don't usually come through our facility, and usually can afford to pay for therapy. That's not to say that the problem isn't still valid.

I could explain further, cite sources, and give a personal speil on parts of it, as my OCD is currently in remision because of CBT along with SSRI's (though other problems did arise after this period) but right now I don't feel like putting the time in. Look for the numbers yourself, or if you're interested leave a comment and I'll make an essay with citations and evidence that's a bit more objective.

Friday, May 14, 2010

alone time.

sometimes I feel like I am losing myself. I need a certain amount of time alone in order to really seek out who I am and to remind myself of that. I haven't been having that time. That's not to say that I don't love being with my girlfriend all the time, It's only to say that Sometimes I just need a bit of a break from people. People are tiring, and draining, and no matter how much you love them, over exposure is going to lead to some sort of resentment over time no mater what. I want to avoid that resentment.

It's hard to explain the need for alone time to extroverts. I just get different things from people than extroverts do. I love people and quite enjoy some of the wonderful interactions I have with them, and the conversations I have, but I can only take so much of them. It's nothing personal, it's just something in me that needs time to rest.

The lack of time on my own has also sapped some of my creativity. I have been writing less, and playing music less, and creating less in general. There are fits and starts, but the longer bits of the process don't really seem to come through.

I need more of my own time. getting that without offending someone or creating another problem is going to be hard. I hadn't insisted on alone time in the past, and I'm guessing that's a problem now. It's such a necessity though, that I may go ahead and confront the situation anyway.