Thursday, July 2, 2009

Yer genez haz a Bermuda Tryangle!!!

Dear Triangulists, Complicators, and Complexifiers,

Life is complicated. The universe and its events are complicated. The world and how it works is complicated. The body and its integrated systems is/are complicated. The brain. Is. Complicated.

There's a group of people out there who believe that mental illness is "caused," "solved" and "resolved" by what I like to call singularities.

Let me give you an example:
Schizophrenia is caused by early childhood abuse. Or a cold mother. Or drug use.

These are examples of singularities... exceptionally uncomplicated causes for a very complicated condition of the body/brain.

Another example of singularity:
Recovering from schizophrenia means "finding" the "root" cause of your schizophrenia.

So the cause is blamed on a single event. And if we simply find the single event that caused a person's break, one could begin to recover... a singular approach to identify a singularity.

Another example of singularity:
If you solve the "bigger problem" (of childhood abuse, let's say) your smaller problem of schizophrenia will be gone.

More with the singularities, as in, all one has to do is fix the initial problem! Then the balance of the world (and one's interpretation of reality) will be restored. Wow. Miracle of all miracles! Problem solved!

If only it were that simple... If. Only.

If you missed the central point, I'll make it clear: I'm not one for singularities. I think that singularities as causes of mental illness, and the belief in singularities as solutions to mental health issues, is a crutch for our tiny human minds, which basically cower in the face of complexity. Shrieking like banshees, confused by too much information, our brains retreat into the darkness of feeble excuses, illogical rationalizations, and cooler places of simple comfort... all to avoid that horrific creature; triangulation... complication... complexity.

Indeed the world is complicated.

While astronomers and physicists try to account for much of the mass of the universe, which is currently unaccounted for, by the way, neuroscientists are searching for the causes of schizophrenia.

The astronomers and physicists have uncovered our newest sub-atomic bits, called neutrinos - invisible bits of energy, impossibly fast, and difficult to capture. An exciting discovery, these neutrinos are. They are bursts of energy that exist beyond what is materially visible, which pass through our bodies undetected. Things we cannot see. Things which may have an effect that we can never know.

Their addition to our textbooks fills in another section of the sketch we humans are creating about the scale and scope of universal events. Although the astronomers and physicists were hugely optimistc about the contributions of neutrinos in their accounting for that missing matter; their mass is too light. Simply put, there is another particle out there, so heavy, presently unknowable, which comprises much of our universe's mass. And so they search, for this matter that has no name except for Dark Matter. Dark Matter, the unseen, currently unknowable mass of the universe.

At the same time, in another field of research, neuroscientists are picking apart man's universe that is his brain, and they have found that genetics accounts for only 40 to 50% of the "cause" of schizophrenia. Coincidentally, most of these genes related to schizophrenia - mutations, duplications, and junky bits of genomic code - sit in the "Bermuda Triangle" of our genetic geography; on some godforsaken space of a single chromosome where a number of immune illnesses lie. Thus the genetic vulnerabilty for schizophrenia sits alongside a predisposition to an illness like Type 1 diabetes, for example.

(See this article for more information.)

Like the astronomers and physicists, the neuroscientists are still trying to find the "Dark Matter" of schizophrenia. What is that unaccounted for 50 to 60% "cause" of the condition? What is it? Where is it? How can we find it? If we ever find it, will we be be able to "save" people from it?

If we were incurious creatures, we would accept that the world we see is the only thing that exists. Our world would be simple, it seems, if we were unconcerned about way lay beyond our immediate perception and intuition. And yet our curiosity has led us to understand that there is a world of the impossibly small, and a world, apparently, of the possibly unknowable. Our world is, apparently, very complicated. How ever, then, could one believe in singularities as an explanation for anything?

It's complicated, but that might be okay,

1 comment:

The Thrifty Stylist said...

beautifully written! so nice to see a blog from you after some time.