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In Brief: Muscles and the 'myalgia' in ME/CFS
In the first in a new series of 'In Brief' articles, Andrew Gladman provides a helpful insight into the science behind fairly common topics and explores how they relate to ME/CFS. This time he looks at the muscles, exploring how our reported symptoms might be associated with our...
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Mind/Body

Discussion in 'Spirituality and ME/CFS' started by Hip, Jun 24, 2013.

  1. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    It is called psychoneuroimmunological because it refers to the science of psychoneuroimmunology, which studies the interaction between mind, central nervous system, and the immune system.

    So for example, when you talk about the effect that a cytokine from the immune system has on the brain, and the mental symptoms (like say depression) that the cytokine may cause, then that is psychoneuroimmunology.
    VanElzakker is in fact talking about sickness behavior. Sickness behavior involves a lot of symptoms, including fatigue and sleepiness, depression, anxiety, concentration problems, and pain sensitivity.
    This comment is a little inappropriate, because VanElzakker is doing a sterling job. He is a psychologist who is searching for physical causes of the mental and cognitive symptoms of ME/CFS.

    It is great to see psychologists like VanElzakker who are also very knowledgeable about immune system and the nervous system, and who thus are able to examine how physical abnormalities in the body might lead to the mental and cognitive symptoms of ME/CFS.

    The ME/CFS community certainly had a legitimate complaint against Wessely School psychologists and psychiatrists, who trivialized ME/CFS by saying it was a psychogenic disease (ie, a disease having a psychological origin rather than a physical origin). But when it comes to psychologists like VanElzakker who believe that ME/CFS has a physical cause, and who is working to find this cause, then we should sing their praises.

    We need psychologists who also have expertise in the immune and nervous systems to study ME/CFS.

    VanElzakker's hypothesis that vagus nerve infection may cause ME/CFS is very interesting.
    leela, Sparrow, Firestormm and 2 others like this.
  2. Ecoclimber

    Ecoclimber Senior Member

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    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com...chiatry-prejudice-a-response-to-dr-lieberman/

    ...Dr. Ablow, in Be Wary of the APA, said of the new criteria, “But those labels aren’t driven just by science, but by political, economic and commercial forces within the American Psychiatric Association that may have nothing to do with the wellbeing of patients – or with reality....

    http://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/director/2013/transforming-diagnosis.shtml

    For the good news, the NIMH will be will be re-orienting its research away from DSM categories.
    But it is critical to realize that we cannot succeed if we use DSM categories as the “gold standard.”
    They identified a new approach beginning with several assumptions:
    1. A diagnostic approach based on the biology as well as the symptoms must not be constrained by the current DSM categories,
    2. Mental disorders are biological disorders involving brain circuits that implicate specific domains of cognition, emotion, or behavior,
    3. Each level of analysis needs to be understood across a dimension of function,
    4. Mapping the cognitive, circuit, and genetic aspects of mental disorders will yield new and better targets for treatment.

    But still suffer under no illusion, the Psych and pharmaceutical industry are formidable foes with hundreds of millions of dollars spent for lobbying Congress.

    Although I do have to give them credit, The American Psychiatric Association cured Ego-Dystonic Homosexuality urges between DSM-IV and DSM-V by removing the label because...well...now that action is normal behavior. ;)

    Eco
  3. Tito

    Tito Senior Member

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    What I meant was: why is there a need to add the concept of "mind" into the equation whereas we are already talking about the brain? What does it bring to the debate? Nothing, except that the study will quickly be put aside as 'another psycho babble thing'. In my view, the use of this word is counter-productive.

    Still, according to your link, fever is not a behavior. Which was the point raised above.

    Interesting, yes. New, certainly not.
    I do not think psychologists are the best equipped to research this disease (ie. they are out of their depth). In a world with VERY limited resources dedicated to this illness, I'd like better to see biochemists, neurologists and immunologists get the funds, rather than psychologists even with the best intentions in the world.
    AbbyDear likes this.
  4. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    When we feel say anxiety or depression, we feel that in our mind, so you have to include mind in psycho–neuro–immunology. If you take away mind, you take away all the subjective mental symptoms we feel and can describe to others.

    Of course, the anxiety or depression may well be caused by dysfunctions in the brain, and this is exactly the sort of thing that psychoneuroimmunology studies.

    Excluding mind from the equation was actually the basis of a disastrous approach to psychology called Behaviorism. The Behaviorist approach has been very much maligned.

    Sickness behavior is a theory stating that the way we feel and act (our behavior) when we are sick is deliberately put their by nature in order for us to withdraw from our community and spend time recovering. In others words, nature makes us deliberately behave in this way, for our own good. This is no different to nature making us behave in a certain way when we see an attractive person of the opposite sex (mating behavior). Withdrawing from the community may also be a good strategy to avoid spreading the pathogens during the fever period, when you are the most contagious, so it makes sense for us to have evolved such a behavior — it helps community survival.

    I think there may be something to this sickness behavior theory, although I suspect that many of the mental symptoms we feel (and behaviors we adopt) during fever and sickness are just accidental or coincidental.

    Do you know anyone else who has published a theory that ME/CFS is due to vagus nerve infection?

    I actually wrote thread that hypothesized that many ME/CFS symptom might be due to autoantibodies attacking the parasympathetic nervous system (the vagus forms the main part of the parasympathetic nervous system). That thread is here:

    Could autoantibodies to muscarinic acetylcholine receptors underpin ME/CFS?

    This is along the same lines as the vagus infection theory (that is, both speculate that an impediment to the vagus/parasympathetic nerves may underpins ME/CFS symptoms).

    It is certainly a debatable point, but the academic world these days has become far more interdisciplinary, with more and more academics either crossing the boundaries of two or more disciplines themselves, in terms of their own knowledge base, or at least closely working with others from surrounding disciplines. It is increasingly recognized that many new discoveries and advances actually occur at the boundaries of disciplines, and this is why the interdisciplinary approach often yields results.

    There is no reason why a talented researcher could not master both psychology as well as neurology and immunology. Freud himself was originally a neurologist, and then only later switched to (or rather invented) psychoanalysis.

    I very much support the field of psychology taking a greater interest in neurology and immunology: in effect, it means psychologists are becoming more interested in the idea that mental symptom may have physical causes.

    If you look at the history of psychology, for too long they have been working under the psychogenic paradigm, which assumes that mental symptoms have psychological causes. For example, if you have anxiety, then the psychogenic paradigm might say this comes from the way your mother or father treated you as an infant, or something along those lines. Freud was full of theories like that.

    It is high time for a shift away from that psychogenic paradigm, and I think psychologists are indeed now realizing that many mental symptoms — especially in abnormal psychology — are due to physiological dysfunction of the body and brain, rather than psychological in origin. I think the psychogenic paradigm is more applicable to normal psychology, and works well there; but looking for physiological dysfunctions as causes of mental symptoms is more appropriate in abnormal psychology.

    So once psychologists start to look at the mental and cognitive symptom of ME/CFS in terms of manifestations of an underlying physiological dysfunction, they are going to make progress.
    vli, Firestormm, MeSci and 3 others like this.
  5. biophile

    biophile Places I'd rather be.

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    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com...chiatry-prejudice-a-response-to-dr-lieberman/

    Sounds like a very familiar and similar tactic i.e. those critical of the cognitive behavioural model of CFS or related research are often branded as anti-psychiatry extremists, naive dualists who do not want patients to get better lest they admit to psychological problems or get over their irrational fear for the stigma of mental illness; while proponents instead of course present themselves as unbiased people who just want to move on with science and evidence and caring for patients, meanwhile the critical discussion of the "science" and "evidence" is stonewalled with dismissals and weak excuses.
    Valentijn likes this.
  6. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Hip , actually removing the notion of mind does not cause ANY problems except making the language more clumsy. Behaviourism failed because they only looked at observable behaviour, but it didn't really fail but was found to have severe limitations. Mind is convenient, but if you simply change the definition of mind to fit with neuroscience the problems go away. Mind is either a convenient description of dynamic brain states, or the self-observable aspect of brain function. Its the brain looking at itself and responding to the world.

    However as we move to a non-dualist view I think we will find that mind will become synomymous as a function of brain. The mind does not really exist, its just a convenient label.

    In case there is any doubt on theory of mind I am a monist, but I do understand that dualist descriptions of brain function can simplify things.

    The psychogenic paradigm is the primary target of the book I am writing, Embracing Uncertainty. Psychogenic psychiatry should have died a long time ago, its a dodo trying to live in the modern world by massive self promotion and entrenched bias. I could say so much more on this, but I will refrain from that for now.
    peggy-sue, A.B. and Valentijn like this.
  7. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Sounds familiar? Try this:

    I use emotion for the many and reserve reason for the few.

    If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.

    Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.

    How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don't think.

    http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/adolf_hitler.html

    Its not just governments that use this strategy.
    Tito likes this.
  8. A.B.

    A.B. Senior Member

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    The purpose of ascribing symptoms to the mind is to promote the idea of psychogenic illness. There is no other reason to create this distinction between body and mind.

    The body-mind duality is deeply rooted in psychology and psychiatry. The term "mental illness" makes this very clear. They say they are trying to bridge the gap between mind and body, but who created the gap in the first place?

    If one takes away the "mind", one only takes away preconceived ideas about the symptoms, not the symptoms themselves. Rejecting psychology doesn't mean that one is denying that depression etc. exist - it just means rejecting the notion and theories that say this depression is caused by this mysterious and invisible entity called the mind (or psyche, but that's out of fashion now, and before the psyche it was some other mysterious invisible force).

    Since psychology and psychiatry are built on the idea of "mental illness", they of course need to uphold this idea, and hence we can see them adding the "psycho" prefix everywhere to reassure themselves and others that their concept of "mind" still matters.
  9. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    I know exactly what you mean A.B. I also used to love philosophy, psychology, Buddhism, spirituality and mysticism, Zen meditation, etc, and thought that all these wonderful subjects would give me perspective and poise in life, throughout my life.

    But when ME/CFS hit, these subjects all became meaningless and mostly useless. I find ME/CFS somehow distorts your mind in such a way that you no longer can relate to or find use from these subjects. And I realized, like you, that now only physical interventions will save us.

    I think that in most illnesses, other than ME/CFS, these subjects would still be of great value and still hold meaning, and would help you cope with your illness. But there is something about ME/CFS that turns even the most wonderful subjects into mush in your mind. These subjects just get lost in the brain fog. It's very, very sad.

    The stuff you found is generally about how the vagus/parasympathetic nervous system is involved in ME/CFS, and how it is dysfunctional in ME/CFS, and how a dysfunctional vagus may lead to they symptom of ME/CFS. Yes, all that was known.

    But none of that is not the hypothesis of VanElzakker. Rather, his hypothesis is that infection of the vagus causes the vagus dysfunction, when then leads to ME/CFS.

    Come to think of it, I cannot remember any study that specifically posits that ME/CFS is an infection of the brain, though I always assume that brain is the cause of ME/CFS.

    You are right, we will have to agree to disagree, in order not to clog this thread up with a long, convoluted philosophy of mind discussion!
    vli and Firestormm like this.
  10. MeSci

    MeSci Activity level: 6

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    I agree to some extent, but would go further, as there seems to be evidence that what is called the mind exists in other parts of the body, not just the brain. For example, some transplant patients have reported experiences that suggest that the transplanted organ carried something of the donor's persona. I don't have any links handy, but it seems credible. There is more science that we don't yet know than what we do know. The gut is also widely considered to have its own brain, maybe with even greater influence on who/how we are than the head-brain.

    Of course, the nervous system has connections throughout the body, both transmitting and receiving signals continuously. So I am with you on the need to avoid dualist thinking.
  11. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Anyone who looks at artificial life, or studies systems theory, recognizes the phenomenon called emergence. Emergent properties are properties that arise due to interaction of a number of components that are not easy to predict by looking at just the components. Bees and other insects have a collective intelligence that does not resemble ours that arises from how they interact with each other. The tissues of the body, especially during growth, also show emergent properties. So does the brain. Yes the brain is just energetic matter, but its the organization of that matter that defines what emergent properties result.

    Matter, plus energy, plus organization, plus interaction over time give rise to the complexity of life, of brain, and of the universe. It also allows for evolution.

    I think all well founded hypotheses about ME need to be examined. I am well aware that many (most?) findings are not followed up or adequately researched. This is what I am most unhappy about. This current hypothesis is no exception. We need to know! Until we have answers I think we should look under every rock, and in every crevice, until we find those answers.
    peggy-sue likes this.
  12. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    alex3619 An emergent property is certainly one view of how a consciousness mind arises.

    However, if you look at the brain as an object that evolved to essentially perform a computational function —ie, it's our own built in computer — then you might assume that the brain would employ quantum computation, which is enormously faster than classical computation.

    Virtually all the digital computers we use today are classical computers, but research into quantum computer development is underway, and perhaps in 10 years quantum computers will be available. There are already some quantum computers available to buy today (Google just bought one for $15 million), but they have restricted capabilities.

    To me it makes sense that evolution would have employed super fast quantum computation to drive some aspects of our brain's computational architecture, as well as using ordinary classical computation for others (the firing of neurons is just the classical computation side of out brain). I think the human brain may be part classical digital computer, and part quantum computer.

    If our brains do contain a super fast quantum computer, this then implies a whole lot of interesting things. It indicates that although part of our brain is just a non-conscious classical computer (like the PC on your desk), another part of our brain — the quantum computer side — may be where our conscious mind lies.

    And if our brains contain a quantum computer, it also suggests we may indeed have something like an immortal souls. Why? Because quantum information can never be destroyed, so any information that goes through a quantum computer in your brain will exist eternally (although that information may later be incorporated elsewhere).
    Sparrowhawk likes this.
  13. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    That is indeed an intriguing phenomenon. One might initially discount it by saying that the endocrine glands on the transplanted organs will introduce a variation in hormone level, and hormone control personality to an extent (for example, high testosterone men and women have different behavioral profiles; high testosterone makes people become more go getting, but reduces their empathy).

    But then when you read stories of how for example transplant organ receivers started taking up the same hobbies as their organ donor, it makes you want to question it further.
  14. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    The brain is not like a digital computer at all. I will be spending some time in my book debunking that. Its an analogy that went out of date before IBM released the Peanut, but somehow it propagates through psychological literature. Maybe thats all they can understand, or they like overly simplistic analogies? In any case they have indoctrinated many of us to think of the brain as a digital computer.

    We don't have a CPU, we don't have multiple parallel CPUs, we don't have a memory storage device, we don't have typical computer issues with I/O functions. The brain, and the nervous system, are different. We don't run software either.

    Our brains have multiple streams of feature detectors, a capacity to break things down into pieces. These get reassembled to form images, ideas etc. Memory is stored piecemeal and distributed as modification to the hardware. Any changes from therapy occur only if they create yet more changes to the hardware. Hardware and software and data cannot be separated, though data is stored in different regions from a lot of the feature detectors.This is high level structure (compared to molecular architecture anyway), and quite independent of any debate about quantum effects.

    My background, which explains in part my take on this view, is in composite neural networks. I also have training in philosophy of science and mind, several kinds of systems analysis, and basic cognitive science. The neuroscience I mostly picked up on my own. I wanted to do more at uni on neuroscience, maybe pick up a double major (with biochemistry), but I ran out of money and was exhausted - I needed a break. I say this because it will help people understand where I am coming from - part of my systems training is to emphasize context (not in the linguistic sense though).

    I regard consciousness as a loop: an ability of the brain to see some of its own function. I think its has purpose, and we evolved to develop it due to its advantages. We do that better than any animal (from current understanding) yet its still limited. Most brain processing of almost everything, even reading this post, is outside of conscious awareness. I see consciousness as a high level integrative function of the brain, and important for planning and maintaining focus.

    Thinking about the brain as a computer is OK as a simple analogy, but trying to think about brain function, do research, or treat patients makes this analogy highly problematic.

    Back on topic, I recall reading years ago that severing the vagus nerve can sometimes induce remission in type ONE diabetes, though I think that was only in animal models. Nerves do effect peripheral systems, and the vagus nerve is critical for autonomic function.
    Sparrowhawk, peggy-sue and Firestormm like this.
  15. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    alex3619. You have avery interesting background.

    I also studied cognitive science as a postgrad. Cognitive science, as you know, is an interdisciplinary area which includes, philosophy of mind, psychology, artificial intelligence, neural network design, linguistics, neuroscience, with all these field focused on the task of understanding the brain and mind. But my first degree was in mathematical physics, so this why I have some background in quantum mechanics, and it is why I like the quantum theories of consciousness.

    By a digital computer, we really mean a Turing machine. Alan Turing argued that a Turing machine could do whatever the brain can do. You need to offer me some convincing arguments to support the view that the brain is not a Turing machine.
  16. ukxmrv

    ukxmrv Senior Member

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    The older I get living with this disease the less interested I become in theories.

    I think it was HIV/AIDS that taught a generation that an interest in eastern medicine, meditation and psychology wasn't going to save them from every disease. The HIV/AIDS patients I knew went through an enormous upheaval in attitude and thinking before they died. They ones who lived through this and survived because of medical advances were for ever changed.

    Remember one patient telling me how wrong he had been and how angry he was at the "worried well" who can develop and keep a belief in things that would not help him to live. I feel the same way now. I want to live and I don't want to hear about all these philosophies that have no basis in reality and have done so little for us up to now.

    Thank you AB and Hip for saying this so well

    Hip, I don't think that ME and CFS distort the mind. I think that our desire to survive focuses the mind. All the other things become a luxury and an irrelevance if they do not help us. They lose their attractiveness when exposed.
    Sparrowhawk, vli, A.B. and 5 others like this.
  17. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    The argument that the brain is a Turing machine (a hypothetical computational device), should that be what you are making. is a fundamental category mistake. I will address this argument, but if its not what you are saying then please be more explicit.

    Also I think we should move this argument to another thread. It does not belong here. If you agree then one of us can open a new thread.

    The argument that a the brain is a Turing machine is fallacious, the brain does not fit the characteristics of a Turing machine, starting with it does not process instructions, a critical criteria for a Turing machine. I would like to see a human brain process a program with 100,000,000 lines of code, accurately (even given no time constraint). A Turing machine could.

    Arguing that a Turing machine can simulate a brain and do the same things as a brain is an entirely different argument. A Turing machine could, in theory, be indistinguisable from a brain in terms of input/output, that does not make it the same as a brain. However to make a Turing machine simulate a brain, or enact a brain, would be very hard to do, very clumsy, and very probably inefficient.

    If A is a superset of the set B, that does not mean that B is necessarily an equivalent set to set A. Its a subset. The set of all programs that can be enacted by a Turing machine (again, an hypothetical machine) would include all possible brains. No human brain can do what a Turing machine can do though, we enact a miniscule subset of what a Turing machine can do.

    I can say more but as I said this needs another thread. Maybe one titled: Is the brain a computer? Discuss.
  18. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    I have heard people say things like positive thinking can prevent AIDS! I have seen things like The Secret and other postive thinking cults claim all sorts of things. I am very sceptical of all such claims: where is the evidence?

    I think some of us do benefit from Buddhism, meditation etc., but its not miraculous, and its not everyone. I had an interest in both Buddhism and mindfulness (and other issues like embodiment), and used to practice breath meditation. I used to be able to hold my breath for way over five minutes without discomfort, but never tested my full capacity. As my ME went from mild to moderate my ability to meditate disappeared. I could no longer do so.

    I do agree that as we get sicker and sicker, everything but immediate need for survival and the focus on that simply goes away. Its only as I improved somewhat that other things became possible again.
    rosie26 and merylg like this.
  19. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    alex3619
    You can move this stuff to a new thread if you like.

    When I talk about the digital computer side of brain being a Turing machine, I mean that in the sense of Turing equivalence.
    Firestormm likes this.
  20. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    I know it would be understandable for us to feel a little bitter towards the now meaningless subjects and activities that were previously so meaningful in our lives. But I don't actually think that these subjects and activities have been "exposed" or have failed. They are still great cultural gems for humanity, that work well for those with a normal, healthy mind. It's just that we now don't have normal, healthy minds. Therefore this "cultural software" no longer runs on the dysfunctional "cerebral hardware" we have.

    For example, I know that the spiritual faculty in my mind was a very strong force in me, and so whenever I read any spiritual or mystical texts, it would ignite this "spiritual spot" in my brain. But now, with the spiritual part of my brain pretty dead, the same spiritual texts do next to nothing for me. Very sad.

    I am not bitter at the mystical and spiritual texts themselves; but I am bitter that I have a this disease of ME/CFS that has ruined my appreciation of so many things that were once very meaningful for me.

    I no longer seem to be able to appreciate all the music I once loved either. When I listen to it now, it no longer moves me (or even worse, often just seems like noise to my ears).

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