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Mind/Body

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

  1. Enid

    Enid Senior Member

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    @ A.B. - much appreciate your comments - there seems to be confusion in definitions/being used variously and at the moment loosely (stress) - some confusion of levels to bring metaphysics into the picture. The "world" of the psychos has been so much misused by some in the past (still is) - little wonder real science has to replace.....biology. Did the Greeks know their biology Hip. And I must say the word "psycho" used in this illness needs correction.

    Psychiatric Neuroscience - strange - my brother - Prof Neurology and ME sufferer knows nothing to do with it. He in a family of Docs had to bring their medical understanding together to treat pathogens and pathologies. Ah want to know their findings - collapse of the immune system (maybe genetic weakness involved), expression of latent viruses during this period. That holds the key. This involves cognitive problems ONLY. The affect of (whatever - viral or otherwise) well known.
    GaryK likes this.
  2. Enid

    Enid Senior Member

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    NO ROOM FOR EGOS IN ME.- If you want to help - help. My psychiatrist (and pathetic junior Docs once said "all in your mind) " - why anyone supports this c... defeats me.
    GaryK likes this.
  3. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Well we could try the whole gamut of treatments to find out. Lets see, drilling a hole in the skull was pre-psychiatry, but we could remove all their teeth, or remove their colon. If those didn't work, we could try insulin therapy - put 'em in a coma and see if they wake up better. Then there is shock therapy. Of course the tried and true psychiatric therapy, after which they will not be promoting babble very much, is a prefrontal lobotomy. All of these things were psychiatric therapies that have been dismissed, just like the evidence shows the current babble should be dismissed. Surely if they think old and discredited psychiatric therapies are still valid they shouldn't object to a few of those therapies being used on them?
  4. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Have you seen my old blog: http://forums.phoenixrising.me/index.php?entries/evil-spirit-therapy-for-cfs-a-satirical-chant.732/

    The Inquisition had similar doctrine, only they blamed it all on witches, curses and the Devil. The origin of hysteria is that its due to a wandering womb - thats why women who feel this way get a choking sensation. Then there is the idea that bacteria cause it - all bacteria. Bacteria hide in the mouth, so remove the teeth. The colon is full of bacteria, so remove that too. Then they found people could lose their train of thought from electric shocks, so shock therapy was tried - I mean if thoughts cause the illness, and you electrotrash the thoughts, surely they get better? A similar logic follows from insulin therapy. This was all babble of course.

    Freud deserves special mention. It always comes down to secret subconscious and deviant sexual desires. Freud said so, it must be true? Yet it was Freud who was the cocaine addict, and though I forget the details I think he had a few deviant sexual notions of his own.
  5. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    There is lots on this, most of it is pre-computer or disguised as something else. The most recent in-depth treatise on this was Angela Kennedy's "Authors of our own misfortune?".

    Sykes wrote a series of interesting papers on this, though I think he actually believes in somatoform disorders but just is aware of how often illnesses are misdiagnosed as somatoform. I wrote a blog on that too: http://forums.phoenixrising.me/index.php?entries/the-witch-the-python-the-siren-and-the-bunny.1149/

    My book is also looking at this, and indeed I think the whole concept of somatoform disorders closely fit almost any definition of pseudoscience. In addition older criticisms from various philosophers of science abound, including Popper naming this stuff nonscience as its not scientifically testable. This stuff has been debunked since before I was born, but still it persists. I will be writing some of this up in the intro section to my book.

    I would never call PTSD a manifestation of a perturbed mind. I think that is a serious miscategorization. There are probably serious physical changes to the brain arising as a response to super-intense negative stimuli.

    However, since so little of the criticism has made much of a dent, I think two things can be said. First, it will be ignored for the most part. Second, why not do it anyway? Accumulated evidence and argument against them might have an impact in time, if not on the older generation, then on the new generation of doctors in training. There is a reason why fewer doctors go into psychosomatic medicine, and I think its because they don't want to be associated with such nonscience.
    ahimsa, Hip, A.B. and 1 other person like this.
  6. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    One of the classic anti-hysteria papers is:

    http://eliotslater.org/index.php/ps...a/180-diagnosis-of-hysteria-1964?limitstart=0

    Slightly abridged Shorvon Memorial Lecture delivered at the National Hospital, Queen Square, London, on 30 November, 1964.
    British Medical Journal, May 1965, 1, 1395-1399


    However we have the counter-responses too:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1299341/

    J R Soc Med. 2005 December; 98(12): 547–548.
    PMCID: PMC1299341

    Eliot Slater's myth of the non-existence of hysteria
    Jon Stone,1 Charles Warlow,2 Alan Carson,3 and Michael Sharpe4


    http://jrs.sagepub.com/content/99/2/53.1.full

    Hysteria Stephen W Brown
  7. A.B.

    A.B. Senior Member

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    These psychiatrists fail at basic logic. Absence of evidence for an organic problem is not evidence for a psychological problem, but merely absence of evidence for an organic problem. Trying to read anything else into it is speculation.
    alex3619, Sidereal and Valentijn like this.
  8. MeSci

    MeSci ME/CFS since 1995; activity level 6

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    Interesting illustration that the same few people appear repeatedly in defence of hysteria/functional somatic/etc. explanations. I recognised Sharpe's name straight away and thought that Jon Stone rang a bell - sure enough, he runs a weird site called neurosymptoms.org, which is behaving rather strangely today so be careful checking it out in case it is carrying malware.

    I was alerted to that site by someone on another ME forum who had been taken in by it after being referred to it by her GP! She was convinced it was right in its explanations because it listed all her symptoms...

    Stone also featured on a BBC radio health programme for which the transcript is here:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01n65zl?oo=0

    I emailed to complain about the programme as it presented Stone's claims with no supporting evidence for, or proper questioning of them, and the patient had the type of condition that commonly resolves without treatment, which is what almost certainly happened here - recovery was nothing to do with the 'therapy'.

    Oh look - Alan Carson was on it too. A proper little cabal, eh?

    I tried to counter the misconceptions of the person on the other site, but sometimes it's impossible to argue successfully against ideas implanted by those in authority. :(
  9. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Hi MeSci , these authors have written at least one other paper together, and of course Sharpe's name is easily recognized by anyone who reads a lot of this, just as White's or Wessely's is. The logical structure of their arguments are empty, at least to casual analysis. I will be looking at logical analysis in more detail next year. Alex.
  10. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Which is Syke's psychogenic fallacy in a nutshell.

    A huge number of cases of supposed psychogenic disease have been found to be undiagnosed neurological disease, and quite often other disorders that are not even neurological, but can induce some neurological symptoms. This includes cancers that because they were not diagnosed early became fatal, whereas early diagnosis might have led to more successful treatment.

    Neurological hypotheses, such as the one presented in this thread, are testable (falsifiable). They pass Popper's nonscience test. Most psychogenic claims, and perhaps all of them, do not pass Popper's basic test. So the neurological hypotheses might be wrong, or right, but either way its still science.
    A.B. and Valentijn like this.
  11. PhoenixDown

    PhoenixDown Senior Member

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    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b036djd0/Dont_Call_Me_Crazy_Episode_2/
    @04:00 implies psychological aetiology without positive proof, absence of explanation = psychological?

    If you can't access the video, it's about a mental health unit that deals with adolescents with anorexia, self harming, and other disorders that are considered to have a "mental" aetiology. To me they are simply health problems not "mental health problems", and yes they are very severe, sometimes life threatening.

    I realise the mental prefix doesn't effect people with those kind of disorders on a day to day basis compared to people with moderate/severe pain, fatigue, and exercise intolerance disorders (people on this forum), however I do think that research and general social attitudes would be far better today, if "mental" and "psychological" aetiological were never used in the first place.

    Such labels hold too many misconceptions, which ultimately harm patients or make their lives even more difficult, and if it were up to me they would have been buried in the 20th century.
  12. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    What I mean specifically is that PTSD arises from a perturbed mind.

    There are indeed abnormal physical changes the brain in PTSD, but the fact is that PTSD is triggered by extreme stressful experiences. So PTSD in essence is simply triggered by data coming in from the senses. Since this sensory data is the software (mind) side of things, not the hardware (brain) side of things, it is indeed the case that extreme perturbations of the mind give rise to PTSD.

    In the computer hardware/software analogy of the brain (in which we view the physical brain as the hardware, and what we learn and experience as the software/information of the brain), PTSD is a situation where data/information at the software level can cause abnormal physical changes to the hardware level.

    In your normal desktop computer, you rarely, if ever, get a situation where a software operations lead to hardware damage. But in PTSD, this is what appears to happen: due to extreme emotional and stressful experiences, the very information flowing through our brain leads to abnormal changes in brain hardware.

    (Though interestingly, having ADHD is thought to be a predisposing factor to developing PTSD when exposed to extreme emotional and stressful experiences. Given that ADHD is itself likely due to some hardware problems in the brain, it may be that there was a hardware fault in the brain in the first place, even before the individual faced the extreme experiences that triggered their PTSD. So the extreme experiences just brought out the pre-existing brain fault.)
  13. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    Completely agree. The older generation of psychosomatic professionals will ignore all the criticisms leveled against this field, but those at the beginning of their careers will listen.
  14. PhoenixDown

    PhoenixDown Senior Member

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    Do you think that software changes fix the disease?
  15. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    I don't really know much about effective treatments for PTSD, and the relative benefits of "software changes" (like psychotherapy) or "hardware changes" (like pharmacological interventions). I have heard that the street drug MDMA seems to help PTSD, and more so if combined with psychotherapy.
  16. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    I couldn't disagree more. Intense stimuli cause physical changes to the brain, possibly including the amygdala. Any perturbations of "mind" therefore arise from that.

    Your conclusions arise from the fallacy that brains process software. Brains do process data, but data is not synonymous with software, and it occurs at the hardware level if you really have to use a computer analogy. Stimuli are not software, nor processed by software, but data processed by brain architecture. Prior changes due to stimuli, which are physically in the brain, may give rise to further "mental" issues due to new stimuli, including internally generated stimuli (thought, but also other internal signals). This is not processing software, though a data theoretic interpretation is possible once you allow for structural brain changes at the sub-neuronal and inter-neuronal levels.

    You seem to half agree with my position on this, and half violate your own reasoning. Once you separate mind and brain as discrete entities you run into these problems. Severe negative stimuli, which includes internal as well as external signals, lead to changes in brain architecture in PTSD, but there is no software level, nor any credible evidence of such. Its hardware all the way. Even thought is probably just hardware (and dynamic microchanges in hardware), but it can be described in data theoretic or even symbolic terms. Such descriptions are a model, not reality.

    I am almost sure PTSD also involves the serious impact of ongoing hormones including adrenaline. Again, thats physical, though it can have an emotional impact. Yet how do you separate the effect of emotions (which apparently cause physical changes) and direct action by hormones and other physical processes? Such physical changes are the reason PTSD is so hard to treat. Science has yet to learn how to rewire the brain. Psychological talk therapies, including CBT, are just dabbling at the edges of the problem, though may help people learn better coping strategies if used appropriately.

    PS and the evidence is that over 99% of brain processing is non-symbolic.
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  17. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    It is very easy to separate the hardware and software level in the brain.

    The software level lies in the connection strength weights of the neural network of the brain, weights which change under conditions of learning in order to encode the learned experiences onto the hardware which is the brain's neural network itself.
  18. lansbergen

    lansbergen Senior Member

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    Do you mean the connections in the neural network are not hardware?
  19. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Hip

    Connection level weights in a simulation are software data, and the instantiated algorithms used to process them are software. In the brain they are neuronal connections and underlying biochemistry. Neural networks are not the brain. The brain can be described in terms of software, but the description is not reality.

    First, much of the physical function in brain architecture is defined by unmodifiable neural structure. Its not random. It has evolved to operate in very specific conditions, and to do very specific things. The brain is not an undifferentiated single hidden layer neural network, its a highly adapted complex architecture that in neural networks terms includes many specialist neural modules, with specialized function, that interact in complex ways that includes feedback loops. Much of that specialized function is unmodifiable.

    Specific subsections and regions appear to have a high degree of plasticity, where such connections can be modified. If our entire brain suddenly did that though we would be suddenly dead. Much of the architecture, especially deep body functions (hormones, metabolism, etc) cannot work this way. The visual cortex may have some limited localized plasticity, but it cannot work this way. Higher brain functions are highly plastic though, and it appears that a large part of motor function has high plasticity. I suspect this has a lot to do with memory and consciousness, though that does not explain plasticity in motor function. That is a behaviour and stimuli driven adaptive mechanism that I do not understand, despite that I studied computer models of such things.

    Modelling such architecture is what my Ph.D. was aimed at. I designed a neural network simulator that would run complex architectures, including feedback loops, and used biological simulation equations not the standard comp sci ones. However my math brain died at that time, and the huge volumes of numbers coming up on my UNIX terminal became squiggles. A friend of mine who was working on a similar project helped me build that software, and as my brain went from bad to worse I did less and less, but I still understand the principles behind it.

    The assertion that the brain runs software is, as I have explained before, a category mistake. Describing the software level as data is a system theoretic abstraction, or a symbolic abstraction. Its actually physical structure with elecrochemical activity.

    You can describe a car in terms of the theoretical principles of the internal combustion engine, but asking a computer modeller who has never even held a spanner to fix it is a bad idea.

    The notion that the brain is equivalent to a Turing machine is debunked, as I have said before. Its a fundamental error in reasoning. An hypothetical Turing machine could in principle simulate a brain, but it does not work the other way around. That is not equivalence.

    When someone talks about separating the hardware and software level, they are making exactly the kind of mistake I am arguing against. There is a sense in which the physical function of the brain can be described in terms of software, or symbolic processing or whatever. That is just a model though, an artificial abstraction. It also hides what is happening according to modern neuroscience.

    The brain does not process software. In order to describe it in such terms you have to drastically modify the definitions of what is being discussed. The brain has a deep architecture, and has evolved to process the environment in very specific ways. During development some of the brain architecture is modified by the environment, both internal and external, and this operates in two phases. First it determines some of the connectivity in the brain, and then it determines what connectivity is lost during early childhood. The brain adapts in part by losing connections that are not used. Learning and adapting over a lifetime could be considered a third phase, though in practice this occurs all the time from even before birth.

    In modern neuroscience its generally agreed (currently, but things change) that most brain processing is automatic and not conscious. It does not use rules.

    I might describe a tree in terms of fractal rules or other rules I can simulate on a computer. That doesn't make my model equivalent to a tree though. Its a model of an abstraction derived from studying a tree. That simulation would have data used by software. That data would be physically or representationally equivalent to aspects of the tree physical structure and architecture. That doesn't make the tree a Turing machine, or mean the tree processes data using software or software equivalents.

    As soon as people start thinking of the brain as a computer, running software, they start making mistakes. The model is wrong.
    Valentijn likes this.
  20. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    The software on your computer's hard drive is represented by tiny magnetized spots, which of course are themselves physical; but we still class its as software, even though it is physically represented.

    What differentiates software from hardware is changeability. The hardware of a computer cannot be changed or modified (unless you use a soldering iron); but what we class as the software part of a computer can change in a microsecond.

    Equally, the numerical connection strength weights in the neural connections of the brain are represented physically, but we can class this as software, because these weights can change from moment to moment.

    Software is always represented in some physical form or other; but it is classed as software because of its changeability.

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