Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A suggestion for Mental Illness

Various theories are being used to help us in understanding problems related to emotional and behavioral adjustment, and to explore different approaches to mental health and treatment options. 

As a result, we continue to have a plethora of views or theories regarding mental health, giving rise to many specializations or paths. Like, Analytical/ Developmental approach, Behavioral psychology, Cognitive theories, and Social influences. Essentially, all these theories present the problem with two sides, a biological, self-serving side, and, a non biological, predominantly social side (e.g. intellectual, spiritual, philosophic, or aggressive influences), each needing our attention. Of late there is much discussions about how clinicians differentially weigh symptoms of mental disorders in diagnosis and cure.

A review of the broad models of mental health and illness that have been in use can show us how we think about the concept of mental illness.   The first and oldest explanatory system for mental illness is spiritual.  This was followed by the dictum that mental illness is moral in character.  As humans progressed, biological and neuro-physiologic reasons came to be the culprit.  Along with which, we also attributed mental illness to learning and developmental issues and other psychological reasons.  The final explanatory system is sociological, where we are willing to blame ourselves, at least partly.

But one thing is there common with all the above. Unlike other problems of our body, the central philosophical debate over mental illness is not about its existence or cure, but rather over how to define it. And we are constantly busy with questions of such nature. Whether it can be given a scientific or objective definition, or whether normative and subjective elements are essential to our concept of mental illness. Are we are on right track?

I think we need to attack mental issues with a holistic outlook. One can easily see, all our inventions and discoveries owe a lot to the desire some of us felt, for lessening their burden, or for adding to their comfort. In fact our constant effort, like that of other forms of life, is to make one's life more and more comfortable. Accordingly, all the developments in science and technology, which we celebrate as the principal proof of human accomplishment, can be seen as nothing but the result of such a path, that is, the desire to add comfort or oppose discomfort. In fact we actively pursued this thought when we attacked the issue of physical illness and found its cause lying in entities external to diseases, namely germs. Ever since, we are following this path successfully in the realm of physical health. What is causing discomfort to us, as far as the mind is concerned?

Why can't we think about germs of mind? Perhaps some entity external to us, or present in our life, that can initiate mental disorders at will?  Aren't the exhortations we constantly receive from our leaders, be it of spiritual domain, political arena, or cultural playground, a fit candidate here? Or things that can make us too uncomfortable, as well as those that can take us to a state of bliss?

This can definitely make classification and control of mental illnesses, more orderly and structured, like all other branches of medicine. Quite pointed, selective measures can then arise both for prevention and for treatment of mental disorders. I think, as a result, rather than feeling intimidated by a plethora of symptoms, medical practitioners in this area too shall be able to handle health issues objectively.
Isn't this the right track?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

More Proof for my Theory

A nurse inject cardiovascular drugs like ajmaline, sotalol, lidocaine, amiodarone and calcium chloride, orchestrate medical emergencies, and then step in and resuscitate them. Why?
Another proof that we are in the age of the irrational?

Monday, August 28, 2017

What separates human from other forms of life?

What separates human from other forms of life?
There are many views, like: 
1. We Make Tools
2. We’re Killers
3. We Share Food
4. We Trade Food for Sex
5. We Cook Food
6. We Walk on Two Feet
7. We Adapt
8. We Unite and Conquer
So what’s wrong with all these theories?
Many of these ideas have merit, but all are at a loss, when it comes to the question, what caused its adaptation by humans. Why did humans resort to such deviations from the norm, that too choosing activities that are not only not essential, but also dangerous for life and longevity? 
I am of the opinion that there has to be a driving force behind everything. Just as there is something to promote whatever happens in life, whether among plants or animals, in case of humans too, there has to be an agent. For example, hunger promotes eating, or, fear promotes shelter, and there in nothing in nature, which is not widely advertised and rigorously promoted. We therefore need to look for a driving force, one that is responsible for making us behave the way we behave. 
Let us see. How did we acquire humanness? I mean erect posture and bipedal locomotion; manual dexterity and increased tool use compared to other animals; and a general trend toward larger, more complex brains and societies.  What enabled our ancestor species to, create complex social structures composed of many cooperating and competing groups, like families, kinship networks, and political states? And start social interactions between themselves, establish an extremely wide variety of values, social norms, and rituals, which together form the basis of human society?
I think there is an easy answer. Walking on two feet is certainly more time taking compared to movement on all fours. Both for the one learning, and for the other who is in charge. So is the case with eating. It takes more time to fetch, prepare and have food in the manner we do presently, than the pattern followed by rest of the animal kingdom. Further habits in this regard, like maintaining access to food surplus, domestication of animals, and the use of metal tools, might have triggered the formation of permanent human settlements. Complex brain and a multi faceted society have opened up a plethora of things to keep ourselves busy in activities other than those necessary for metabolism. 
Basis of this idea is my book, The Unsure Male. As I explain in that book, rather than the influence from an external force, what made us willingly choose the path of acquiring distinctive marks is the advantage we derived from those. In that process, we happened to be enamored by the irrational (since it served us better), and therefore are constantly in its search. Many of our escapades turn out to be rational later, which routinely lead to big celebrations, great names, and extraordinary ideas. A few of those ideas from our distant past still remain, causing consternation at will, especially when the original environment where such ideas would have been of help, is no more present. 
What caused us to choose this path, and for what gain? Yes. It is the ability of humans to substitute at will, one’s needs, desires, and fulfillments, with real or unreal things. Perhaps this is what we see today as the power of abstraction. We mastered the art of using this talent to suit to one’s convenience, unlike all other species of life. Which I think, is what can be called the distinctive human quality, the one that separates us from the rest of life.
(Now also we are behind the irrational; some of it helps us in maintaining peace and harmony, some of it leads to great inventions, and some others to alarming situations, rivalries, or wars, quite regularly)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Book Review: Physics of the future

'Physics of the future: how science will shape human destiny and our daily lives by the year 2100' by Michio Kaku is a scientist's peep at the days to come.

The book begins with the observation that almost all of the old predictions regarding future, like paperless office, or the prediction that the Internet would wipe out TV and radio, did not actually take place. "This", the author says, is thus because "we probably still think like our caveman ancestors." 
Thinking thus, author starts his predictions, dividing the future into three parts. The first part is our immediate future, upto the year 2030, where, I think the current state of the art in respect of the scientific world and its progress, takes precedence. For example, "A visit to the doctor’s office will be completely changed". For a routine checkup, when you talk to the “doctor,” it will probably be a robotic software program that appears on your wall screen and that can correctly diagnose up to 95 percent of all common ailments. Your “doctor” may look like a person, but it will actually be an animated image programmed to ask certain simple questions. Your “doctor” will also have a complete record of your genes, and will recommend a course of medical treatments that takes into account all your genetic risk factors.Or a fairy tale life. "Because computers will be able to locate many of the genes that control the aging process, we might be forever young like Peter Pan."
Next part examines mid centuries, years 2030 to 2070. Here, the author begins with reminiscenses of a previous visit to microsoft where he happened to predict the collapse of computer industry owing to Moore's law, and how it didn't happen. Predictions like a successor to silicon power, an altered computer growth rate,  fully functioning cyberworld that merges the real world, etc., abound this part. Vivid descriptions like the one of a future tourist where, "a tourist walking in a museum can go from exhibit to exhibit as one's contact lens gives a description of each object; a virtual guide will give a cybertour," kept taxing my imagination.
Thereafter comes the far future, 2070 to 2100. "By the end of this century, we will control computers directly with our minds', author begins. The ideas of controlling machines by mind and mind by machines might fructify. Recording dreams, controlling motion by thought, adding consciousness to machines, possibilities of genomic medicine, and a load of amazing scenarios follows thereafter. Then comes the idea of a designer life, where each of us can plan our present or future path at will, and the book concludes with the description of a day in the life in 2100. " drag yourself out of bed and reluctantly head off to the bathroom. While washing your face, hundreds of hidden DNA and protein sensors in the mirror, toilet, and sink silently spring into action, analyzing the molecules you emit in your breath and bodily fluids, checking for the slightest hint of any disease at the molecular level."
I greatly enjoyed this book, which is a scientific look at the romantic future in store for us. The dreaming part of my brain (if there be one) went into an overdrive right from the start of this book to its finish. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Book Review: Think: A compelling introduction to philosophy

'Think: A compelling introduction to philosophy' by Simon Blackburn
"This book", author says, "resulted from years of wrestling with the problems of trying to interest people in ideas". It is about the big themes: knowledge, reason, truth, mind, freedom, destiny, iden¬tity, God, goodness, justice. Though these belong to the hidden preserve of specialists, through questions like, Why is there some¬thing and not nothing?, What is the difference between past and future?, Why does causation run always from past to future, or does it make sense to think that the future might influence the past?, Why does nature keep on in a regular way? Does the world presup¬pose a Creator?, etc., Simon familiarizes us with ideas and concepts that can be compared with the lenses through which we see the world. 
After such an introduction, the book goes on to discuss an unsettling thought many of us must have had since childhood, that the whole world might be a dream, or what is reality. After Descartes and the ideas of knowledge, we are shown the next big concept, mind, and it's function in making us with the know of things. How the range of our thoughts affect our own freedom, and how it controls our own identity is dealt by next chapter, namely, free  will. What is the self inside us?, is the next esoteric question to follow. Which is followed by the most mystic mytery of all, the concept of God. Does that concept exist only in understanding? Also in reality?
Next chapter takes a very brief glance at formal logic, and the problems of inductive reasoning, as well as some of the elements of scientific reasoning. After examining thoughts about our own existence, thoughts about mind and body, thoughts about freedom and fate, thoughts about the self, thoughts about God, and thoughts about the order of nature, the next chapter deals with the nature of thoughts itself - that is, the very structure of our thoughts, or the way to think properly. What changes we need to make to the premise we made in earlier chapters, for seamless integration of reality with our thoughts.
The last chapter studies the issue of putting all that we learned to use, so far as meeting all that matters to us. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Book Review: Theory of Everything

'Theory of Everything' by Stephen Hawking contains seven lectures. In the first one, 'Ideas about Universe', past ideas in this regard are examined, indicating how, those continue to lead us to newer ideas. Further concepts, principles and thoughts are examined in the following chapters titled 'Expanding Universe', and 'Black Holes'.
In the next chapter, 'Black Holes aren't so Black', author explains how, the principles of quantum mechanics permit leakage of energy from black holes and how, that can affect the origin of universe. Next chapter is quite an abstract discussion. It tries to reason why the past is different from the future. The final lecture is a commentary of our efforts towards unification of quantum mechanics, gravity, and all other known interactions.
All the lectures give equal importance to abstract concepts, historical missives, and entertaining discussions. The book talks of the need to discover a complete theory, one understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all be able to take part in the discussion of why the universe exists. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Is this the reigning thought?

What is matter. It is nothing but space. 
How? The local non-uniformities of space reach conditions of survival, which can be called as equilibrium. Everything is nothing but a transformation of equilibrium. Like, when the transformation is rapid, we call it electricity, heat, light, etc. Or, when the changes of equilibrium happens at a very low rate, we assign the name, matter. And when there is no equilibrium, we see space.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

New Hub

While overall good feeling is associated with lower levels of corruption, there is very little evidence that corruption leads to slower economic growth. Published a hub:

Is Turbulence Inevitable?

Why should human society be turbulent!
I think every pack behaves as the leader does, which is clearly observable, when we watch other beings like birds. And they live in harmony. What about humans?
We can be as we want. Or, as far as we are concerned, the choice is unlimited. Or, is it?
Actually human choice is not of things, but of an abstract property associated with things, which we define as it's attribute.
Everything is a mixture of attributes, some of which makes us like a thing, and some others, cause us to dislike. When we compare things, we actually match the good attributes of things we like, with the bad attributes of things we dislike. Obviously, things we like, always will be coming out in brighter colors. Also, since one man's comparison can never be right for anyone else, all things will get it's turn to be assessed as desirable, sometime. And all members of the human society will be living in total harmony. This is how we should have been.
But what is actually happening with human society is something different. We have, some of us constantly engaged in such comparisons and making various decrees. And the remaining many of us quietly following those guidelines or limits. Now there is always a possibility of some of these limits being unacceptable to some of us. But, we cannot make a change, since those limits are very much acceptable to a reckon-able few. As long as all people does not fancy the same thing, our society will not be at ease.
But both are happy. The ones who make, can find fault with others for not following those decrees. And others can blame, for making decrees that can't be followed.
I think this is how, human society happens to be turbulent!

Sunday, August 6, 2017


'INDIA: WHAT CAN IT TEACH US?' A Course of Lectures by MAX M√úLLER, is a concise commentary about ancient India, of its rich literature, and, more particularly, of its religion. The object noted here is, not only to place names and facts before the readers, but also to make one see and feel the general state of affairs persisted in some of the oldest chapters of the history of the human race. Accordingly, the Veda and its religion and philosophy is discussed in planes more than mere curiosity. Attention is also paid adequately to link those things with the general concerns of people at large. 
As the author mentions at many places in the book, everyone can learn lessons from the Veda, quite as important as the lessons, one learn at school from Homer and Virgil. With suitable examples, the lessons from the Vedanta can be cited to be as instructive as the systems of Plato or Spinoza.
There are many aspects of our life or society that needs more study, the author mentions. Learning Sanskrit, and further study of Vedic Sanskrit is certainly beneficial. "I do believe that not to know what a study of Sanskrit, and particularly a study of the Veda, has already done for illuminating the darkest passages in the history of the human mind, of that mind on which we ourselves are feeding and living, is a misfortune, or, at all events, a loss, just as I should count it a loss to have passed through life without knowing something, however little, of the geological formation of the earth, or of the sun, and the moon, and the stars--and of the thought, or the will, or the law, that govern their movements".
In seven chapters marked LECTURE I to LECTURE VII, author discusses the complete range of knowledge hidden in ancient Indian writing. Veda, organization of vedic deities, and discussions about the abstract tenets hiding among those, proliferate these pages. Quite tough to read, given the archaic style of writing. However, there is much to learn new.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Is There a Superior Will?

Is there a superior will? How did the idea of a superior will enter into human thought? I think our proclivity in abstracting fresh ideas from the similarity of patterns, experiences, and other things is well known. In such instances what really happens is that we derive information from things that are independent of the things itself. I think the idea about a greater will too, originated in such way, that is, out of our interactions with fellow beings, both living and nonliving.
Humans, by closely observing natural events of births and deaths of living things would have acquired greater insights into life. They would have been struck by the fact that almost all things happen in sequence with some other thing. Which could have laid the foundation for a vast area of spiritual search, probably because, the instances where an obvious connection could be found with something real might have been few and far. Remember, people only had certain rudimentary ideas of the material world and it's composition, the prime one being the preponderance of cause and effect. And they would not have been successful in identifying a material cause for every effect, which could have better responded by the spiritual.
Now that the recent progress in science, notably those related to quantum theory, is suggesting a change to our, rather solid ideas of cause and effect, shouldn't we rethink the notions of a superior will?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Book Review: Conscious Body Language

'Conscious body language: Your most sensational soft skill' by Kurt Larsson, as the book mention, is a little primer of conscious body language and soft skills. This book invites us to taste how much more of life is there for actual experience. It also explains how rich, one can make one's professional life too. The book begins with a discussion about Peak hard skills, observing the way people are moving towards soft skills in their effort to conjoin one's success, health and peace of mind. How the fast progressing digital world has altered the old habitual behavioral patterns people were used to.
Next chapter is devoted to learning and practical application of soft skills in a way that one can actually feel the transformation of one's message from “business as usual” into something sensational. This is followed by a talk on inspiration. As can be expected, the discussion veers around certain unseen aspects. "Inspire comes from Latin and means to “breathe in Spirit”. Breathing in Spirit is actually the advanced version as just the process of inhaling more air can make a very inspiring difference." How, getting permission beforehand prevents intrusion into listener’s personal space, how to get one's thoughts, words and body language in line and aimed towards a common goal, and how, resonating with enjoyment makes one's message more contagious, and thereby more effective, are some of the deep meaning topics elaborated here.
The book looks at many practical issues. "Will you still have the capability to respond if you are mad, have a tight deadline or an irate boss standing over you?"  Instead of merely answering questions as and when they arise, the book speaks of the need to ask oneself "What impression my answer will lead to, and to what effect?"
What one picks up from this book will be of instant use. The author has provided a variety of cases as examples, showing one the correct response. 
I enjoyed this book. It looks at the gamut of body language, rather than as an academic discussion, as a dynamic component of social transactions. Over and above the illuminating, intelligent descriptions, an 'author's mark' is visible throughout the book. For example, while exhorting the need to be decisive, the book mentions, "decide originates from the same family of words like homicide, genocide, or suicide. It means, to kill all alternatives". 
A brilliant effort indeed.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Book Review: Rationalism

The word rationalism have been used in so many senses that they cannot be said to stand quite definitely for a particular sense. Empiricist (going by “facts”),  Sensationalist,  Materialistic,  Pessimistic, Irreligious,  Fatalistic,  Pluralistic, and, Skeptical, are some of connotations this word can carry to the general mind, says J. M. Robertson, author of 'Rationalism'.  Rationalism, which broadly, implies the habitual resort to reason, to reflection, and to judgment, should feel uncomfortable with the professed religious beliefs, even of the more educated, he continues. Also, how a rationalist is continuously assailed by cooler attempts to demonstrate that his method will lead to moral harm, with religions becoming the prime opponent in this. 
Further chapters discuss the philosophical questions in this regard. Like, how the defenders of faith, appeal to reason both for arguments against and for supporting rationalism. The special position of 'reason' is then examined. That "no belief whatever concerning life and death and morality and the process of nature can be justified by ‘reason’; and that accordingly no religious belief whatever can be discredited on the score of being opposed to reason".

I liked the views expressed, which are quite logical and thought provoking. Is there a great difference between the rationalist and the religious, the book asks, and so will the reader too. For, "every religion sets aside every other: the rationalist only sets aside one more. Every theist has negated a million Gods save one: the rationalist does but negate the millionth as well." An interesting book, it gave me a lot to think.