Monday, 9 April 2007

YesBut it’s all in the Mind

This week's Horizon program on BBC2 was about Nick van Bloss who suffers from the neurological disorder Tourette’s syndrome. The illness causes uncontrolled body movements- twitching, blinking and hand movements -and obsessive-compulsive disorder - the uncontrollable need to perform actions in specific ways repeatedly. Experts believe the syndrome is caused by over production of the brain chemical dopamine. As a child Nick was told by his teachers to stop blinking and twitching - as if his behaviour resulted from a lack of self-control.

I am fascinated by the brain, its workings and the associated mind. “Normal” dopamine production results in “normal” behaviour. But how much control has a “normal” person over their behaviour, given it depends upon the amount of dopamine production. Increased dopamine stimulates sensory awareness which causes sensory overload, which in turn alters the way the sensory world is perceived. This altered state can be a boon in artistic activity. If the increased production rate was the “normal” rate, then we would have a different prospective on the World.

The brain is fascinating; the most complex human organ, with one hundred billion neurons interlinked by a chemical and electrical communication network. This network is the source of the cognitive mind, with its function of: cognition, perception, volition, memory and language. Physically alter the brain and the way the mind functions is changed. Similarly experience a traumatic occurrence and the mind can be dramatically influenced. We perceive the mind as us, and us as our mind - this is my body and my mind. But who is the observer who claims ownership of the body and mind? Is the observer separate or integral to the mind and body? Stimulate the production of dopamine and the mind’s perspective is modified, does that mean the “observer” is replaced by a new “observer”.

Buddhism gives the answer, there never was an observer, and there is only the ever changing conjoined mind and body.


B.T.Bear Esq. said...

Your tree is growing sideways, and has a pair of shoes in it. I've got a crick in my neck now. I'm going to sue.


YesBut said...

I thought bears would know, all shoe-trees grow sideways!