Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bad Brain Chemistry

Maybe I should not say "bad brain chemistry". Perhaps it's malfunctioning brain chemistry. What ever it is, it can be in the driver's seat of our lives if we allow it to rule. Notice that I said allow. That would imply some measure of control over the chemistry of our brains.

I should back up here a bit and explain. There are many shades of the human personality. The extremes tend to be those of us that live by our feelings and emotions and those of us that live through knowledge and intellect; as logically as possible. If you know Star Trek, it's the difference between a Klingon and a Vulcan; a human being would fall somewhere in between. I would suggest that humans have that full range of these types of personalities.

So where does that come from? Is it genetic? Is it environmental? Or is it something else that might actually be related to the other two? I think, as many others do, that it comes down to brain chemistry. There is much evidence to support this. It's the reason why there are so many different kinds of anti-depressants, ADHD drugs and tranquilizer type medicines being produced by the pharmaceutical companies. Brain chemistry can be manipulated. Some have called it personality in a bottle. If you are shy, take a pill. If you are too aggressive, the doctor has just the thing. If you are depressed, take these. If you can't concentrate, take these. That is the world we live in. We can fix our moods with the doctor's approval and prescription. I think, in some respects, this has been a good thing. Lives have been saved. Life paths have been changed. In other instances, it has not been so good. I will not elaborate except to say lives have been lost due to pills that were supposed to make you feel better. Treating the human brain for disease or malfunction is still not an exact science. It's like hacking a computer; you may get the result you are seeking, but other things may cease to work or work properly.

As humans, we have our own wills and we can take control of our lives and our environments. However, if our brains are malfunctioning due to improper chemistry, can we really make appropriate decisions with our free will? Is our will actually free if it is encumbered with low serotonin or dopamine levels?

What is serotonin and dopamine you ask? These are neurotransmitters produced in your brain and they regulate mood and emotion and motion. Things like impulsiveness, clarity, physical movement, concentration, happiness and sadness, even depression and suicidal thoughts are effected by the levels of these neurotransmitters in you body. Procrastination is directly linked to these two chemicals. Physically, we are just a bunch of chemical reactions. Taking control of those reactions can be hard and it's even harder when the brain chemistry muddles the thought process. This is evidenced by my rambling here :^)).

So how do you manipulate the levels of these neurotransmitters in your brain to optimize who you are? Well, pharmaceuticals is one way. It is possible to go natural though. In his blog, The Utopian Life, Thai Nguyen elaborates.

He talks about the effects that four neurotransmitters have on our personalities and on our lives and he also offers advice on creating them through natural processes rather than medication. Besides Serotonin and dopamine, he discusses oxytocin and endorphines as mood enhancers.

He calls oxytocin the 'cuddle hormone'. I obviously have none of this. I am repelled by the notion of  being in close enough proximity to another human to actually cuddle for any amount of time or even waste time doing it. This is where I lose my will to bad brain chemistry. Cuddling is a very human, natural and normal thing...or so I am told. So what do I do? Thai quotes Dr Paul Zak:

" Dr. Paul Zak explains that inter-personal touch not only raises oxytocin, but reduces cardiovascular stress and improves the immune system. Rather than just a hand-shake, go in for the hug. Dr. Zak recommends eight hugs each day."


I have trouble getting through one hug. It's intimacy on a level that I was not cut out for....or is it just bad brain chemistry? What if it is? The prescription is too much. Maybe I should go for the pills on this one. If I start hugging people, they will think something is wrong with me. It is not who I am.  Do I want to change their perception of that? I have this fear of becoming awash in emotion and not being able to think because of it. And that scares me...probably a cure for that too.

Go read the article. I am still mulling it over and I may write more. I still can't get my mind wrapped around 8 hugs a day. Sort of cheapens a hug doesn't it? Takes the meaning out of it. I can't imagine getting used to that.  

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