Hugh Miller

Psycho comes from the Greek word psykho, which means mental. The Greek root word path can mean either “feeling” or “disease.” So psychopath is a word meaning “mental illness”. “Sociopath” is not a clinical term and it is a no-no for mental health professionals to use it. However, I am NOT a mental health professional, and the name is rather on point about the issue: Sick towards society, towards people. In the 1830’s this disorder was called “moral insanity.” By 1900 it was changed to “psychopathic personality.” More recently it has been termed “antisocial personality disorder” in the DSM-III and DSM-IV.

DSM-IV Definition: Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a lack of regard for the moral or legal standards in the local culture. There is a marked inability to get along with others or abide by societal rules.

It’s easy to take the DSM on faith at face value as sufficient authority to settle the issue of who is or isn’t thoroughly, but the needs of the mental health community and others who have to deal with psychopaths don’t line up perfectly. The DSM criteria depend heavily on observed behaviors while law enforcement and criminal justice must often predict behavior based on personality characteristics. Continue reading

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What you are made of?

This very accessible, kid-friendly video is about understanding the Human Microbiome.

Your body is made of trillions of cells, specifically, human cells. Around the beginning of the 21st century, scientists learned that the human body contains many trillions more microbial cells. This is the microbiome: the collection of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and other microbes) living in and on the human body. It has been part of us, evolving, interacting, and helping to determine our fate as organisms, since before the emergence of the human species itself. Scientists have known about the presence of microorganisms on and in the human body since the discovery of E. coli, but recognizing the importance of the microbiome is very recent.

There are 10 times more cells from microorganisms like bacteria and fungi in and on our bodies than there are human cells. Scientists increasingly recognize that these microorganisms have a huge influence on our health. An imbalance of unhealthy and healthy microbes in the intestines may contribute to weight gain, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and other disorders. We now know that gut microbiota also affects our mood, anxiety levels, stress resilience, and depression.

Besides general interest, this is about understanding your dual existence as 1. A singular person in the world, and 2. As a gigantic mobile colony made of millions of cooperating cells many of which are “guest workers” here to make a living, but not really part of you.

You are an ecosystem.

Credit to artist Ben Arthur by way of NPR

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(Not my writing, preserving author anonymity)

I have ADHD. My dad has ADHD.

I know that it’s hard for NT folks to understand what it’s like to have ADHD, but you HAVE to stop connecting moral judgment to our ability or inability to do things.

We would not be on time if we just loved you more. We would not remember our appointments of we just tried harder. Our brains are not a good fit for this neurotypical world.

Assistive methods and devices are not there to train us to have a habit when they’re gone. Assistive methods are what allow us to maintain these habits.

If we grow out of one method it’s just because we’ve replaced it with another. Ideally, the method would be housed in our brain (yay medicine! or meditation! or positive self-talk! or any sorts of other internal practices!) but it’s still there. Continue reading

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I just tried to catalog the running programs in my mental background, the ones that hover just below conscious attention. I can become aware of each process by thinking of it but like most healthy patterns you aren’t really supposed to bother yourself with anything that’s running properly. Conscious attention is a costly resource and your living system respects that. Most of these app-like status monitors will send you a little “throat-clearing” style please notice me signal when discomfort in that area requires your attention, – when it literally requires your conscious attention – even it that is just shifting your butt because your legs are tired.

Basically, they stand politely in the background like a row of servants on Downton Abbey until they are sufficiently pressed to interrupt us as we read our very important memes.

“Ahem.”

“Damn it all, Pennyworth? What is it now, I’m a busy man!”

“Pardon me, M’lud, I believe you have a rather pressing poop to attend to.”


These are some of the conditions being monitored unconsciously by my mind:

  • Safety/Danger (no active threats, scanning)
  • Sleepy/Awake (tiny bit sleepy but well slept, mid-morning)
  • Hungry/Full (recently eaten, comfortable)
  • Pain/discomfort/comfort (tiny headache, sitting too long)
  • Muscle fatigue/readiness (feel able to move, respond…expend consistent energy over time, restless)
  • Mouth, teeth, tongue  (clean? comfortable?)
  • Need to poop? – need to pee? (some fullness, not ready yet)
  • Balance, equilibrium (maintaining)
  • Ambient noise – and exceptions (normal sounds, fridge, shower, distant cars)
  • Hormonal regulation ( I feel male, somewhat interested in sex, prefer dominance…not stressed)
  • Time of day (day underway, not far advanced)
  • Time of year (Spring ending – Summer beginning)
  • Recent memory clips (yesterday driving, sleep, breakfast)
  • Anticipation scenarios – the future imagined – disparate upcoming events (What to do today, next week: Love, friendship, family, work)
  • “Don’t forget” (Occasional anxiety reminders)
  • Happy/Sad (calm and mildly happy, wistful traces)
  • Long term memory flickers (old girlfriend, my family, teaching, random places and moments)
  • Ambient smells (Due to being home the smells are too familiar to notice, only hot spots stand out)

Each of these is the organized synthesis of several mental and physiological subroutines. They cooperate and appear as a discrete process.

“Oh man, I’m starving” requires the cooperation of multiple “moving parts” of our neurophysiology and organs functioning smoothly and silently until some silent version of our executive function gives the order to inform the conscious mind to get off its ass and eat.

 

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To love somebody

who doesn’t love you

is like going to a temple

and worshipping the behind

of a wooden statue

of a hungry devil.

 

– Lady Kasa

 

 

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Joris Hoefnagel (1542, in Antwerp – 24 July 1601, in Vienna) was a Flemish painter, printmaker, miniaturist, draftsman, and merchant. He is noted for his illustrations of natural history subjects, topographical views, illuminations, and mythological works. He was one of the last manuscript illuminators.

 

Hoefnagel was a very versatile artist. He is known for his landscapes, emblems, miniatures, grotesques, topographical drawings, genre scenes, and mythological and allegorical drawings, and paintings.

His works exercised an important influence on the development of Dutch still life and naturalist art.

 

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“Through all ages men have tried to fathom the meaning of life. They have realized that if some direction or meaning could be given to our actions, great human forces would be unleashed. So, very many answers must have been given to the question of the meaning of it all. But they have been of all different sorts, and the proponents of one answer have looked with horror at the actions of the believers in another. Horror, because from a disagreeing point of view all the great potentialities of the race were being channeled into a false and confining blind alley. In fact, it is from the history of the enormous monstrosities created by false belief that philosophers have realized the apparently infinite and wondrous capacities of human beings. The dream is to find the open channel.
What, then, is the meaning of it all? What can we say to dispel the mystery of existence?
If we take everything into account, not only what the ancients knew, but all of what we know today that they didn’t know, then I think that we must frankly admit that we do not know.
But, in admitting this, we have probably found the open channel.”

Richard Feynman

 

 

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