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Decriminalize suicide - Clinical Psychologist

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Comment: The Human Brain is Enormously Complex

Author:
Tekonline.org
Date:
2017-03-23 20:35:58
Comment to:
Re: Dopamine, the Pleasure Molecule

I would say the phenomenon is quite complex and doesn't even fit into the standard theory of evolution: we are programmed for SELF-PRESERVATION rather than SELF-DESTRUCTION.

We do have powerful hormones (like adrenaline) that energize us to flee from danger. So why would we "acquire" a mechanism for destroying ourselves?

Like many biological phenomena that don't seem to make sense (in terms of the forces of evolution and the survival of the species), the simplest explanation would be: BIOLOGICAL ANOMALY.

An example of such an anomaly is an episode of a severe asthma attack. The body senses there is a foreign object in the airways, so mechanisms get triggered to constrict the windpipes so much that the patient can no longer breathe and dies.

Another case is viral hepatitis. The body senses an invasion by viruses in the liver. Powerful chemical are released ("inflammation") destroying the entire liver and killing the patient unintentionally.


The enormous complexity of the human brain makes such anomalies even harder to understand.

In most cases, severe CLINICAL depression is to blame for suicidal thoughts. I emphasized "clinical" because that is quite different from "normal" depression --the type we all experience following a job loss, the death of a loved one, failure to gain admission into a great school, missing an important flight, or losing a presidential election.

One could also get depressed because of CHEMICAL IMBALANCE in the brain, either inherited, or through random gene mutation, or due to presence of toxins, from malnutrition, or whatever changes the balance of certain chemicals responsible for mood, emotion, and drive.

Behind all the emotional states we experience in life are REAL chemicals (neurotransmitters and neuromodulators). But the levels of these chemicals are tightly controlled. Some are destroyed by the brain as soon as they are released. Others are released then quickly reabsorbed ("reuptake process").

Almost all the recreational and narcotic drugs work by interfering with the control of the levels of normal brain chemicals, either by preventing their reabsorption or by blocking their destruction, so that these brain chemicals now tend to hang around much longer thereby overstimulating and making one "high".

Many other narcotic drugs work by imitation, or fooling the brain that they are the real thing, because chemically they resemble the real thing.

So, our minds are in a way at the mercy of these brain chemicals called neurotransmitters and neuromodulators.

There are also natural processes that can affect the balance of mood chemicals in the brain. Sleep deprivation is one. Stay up all night and most likely you would experience the state of depression (among other symptoms) the following afternoon.

And since the brain chemicals are made from building blocks we ingest as food, malnutrition might also affect certain moods, although nothing as troubling as severe depression.

So indeed, we are wired (through certain brain chemicals) for self-preservation but if for one reason or another those chemicals are severely in short supply, strange thoughts can result, including the feeling of worthlessness.

Nurturing also affects the make up of our brains. A newborn that never experiences tender loving care can develop abnormal chemical levels as well as structures in the brain.

Childhood trauma is also know to cause brain abnormalities.

(There is a lot I haven't had time to cover, but I hope at least I've provided the basic concepts without getting into any hardcore theories of psychiatry. Needless to say, this is a rather complex issue and the science is still evolving).

This article is closed for comments.

. ..AGBESI KWESI on Mar 23, 2017 16:46
Tekonline.org on Mar 23, 2017 20:35
The Human Brain is Enormously Complex
JOHNSON AGYEKUM on Mar 23, 2017 21:32