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I was waiting for this :D

Have you read Novella's article michael? ( http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/the-brain-is-not-a-receiver/ ) now it seems to me that he is being very narrow-minded. But he sounds very convincing at the same time...
He argues that the brain-as-receiver hypothesis is "dependent upon a gross misunderstanding of the state of our knowledge about brain function, and the intimate connection that has been documented in countless ways between brain function and mental function."

It could be that psychological or neurological problems might be seen as evidence of paranormal states of consciousness---not the other way around. I have often thought that some mental states labeled as pathological may really be a bleeding through of higher states of consciousness or another dimension. The problem with those states in modern culture is that they usually generate fear and anxiety in the people who experience them because mainstream medicine has designated them as 'abnormal' mental states which require medication. These 'abnormal' states of consciousness often interfere with normal living to the extent that those who experience them may not be able to work, socialize or maintain positive relationships with others and considering those negative effects they probably are abnormal and medication might be warranted.

Your last two paragraphs are very insightful when you say that there may be a legitimate purpose for taboos against delving too deeply into the paranormal and that mystical adepts have warned casual enthusiasts not to get caught up in things beyond their ken. Excellent post! Thanks for getting us back on track and away from the semantic philosophical arguments of the previous thread. - AOD

Interesting post, Michael. I'm reminded of what Arthur Janov, my therapist and long-time sole authority in all matters existential used to say: to the extent that you believe in God, you're still crazy. But I suppose most atheists feel that way.

I'm delighted that you're reading Bernardo Kastrup. He and I have a lot in common -- we're both idealists whose perspectives have been formed, in no small part, by our experiences in deeply altered states. (I know that you yourself haven't yet made the leap to idealism.)

I haven't read his latest book, but I greatly enjoyed Dreamed Up Reality, especially the first half. (It got a bit abstract for me after that.) Like Grof, he stresses the similarity of holotropic states whatever their trigger. But it's pretty clear that his own journeys -- which he describes in detail -- were reached via entheogens.

Great post, Michael!

Great post -- I have been thinking something very similar to this. I recently read R.D. Laing's "Politics of Experience" where he argues that schizophrenia (or what Western medicine loosely labels "madness") is in fact often a sane response to an insane, dehumanized world where one's inner experiences of transcendence, the imaginal, contact with non-human entities, visions, etc. are so alien to the West that they become unreal--the most possibly subjective of all things.

This inversion of the Real on its head is of course what Mircea Eliade spoke of as the most complete "camouflage of the Sacred," i.e. the Sacred/the Real has become profane/unreal. And this means that it is the Western world that often is "mad."

One does not wish to romanticize mental illness, but one also should not seek to medicate transcendental experiences--our world continues to do so at its own risk.


Michael

What an interesting coincidence this post is for me. My mother is 90 years old and in ill health. She was recently hospitalized with delerium. The hospital called me in one night to help calm her down. During her lucid moments she told us that my Dad and older brother ( both deceased) had been around her. I discounted it completely and told her that she must have been dreaming. My wife and I decided to stay the night at her bedside. We slept on the floor. In the middle of the night, as I lay on my side on the floor, facing away from my mother, she cried out my brother’s childhood nickname three times and said “Oh I am so glad that you are here!” She then fell back to sleep. As God as my witness, I then felt a strong tap on my back. I said in my mind “ If that is really you, do that again.” Instantly another strong tap on my back. Chills swept my body and I slowly turned around, fully expecting to see an apparition, but nothing was there, except my peacefully sleeping mother, who was, by the way well out of arms reach from me. This is not a ghost story, just one of those strange things that really happen.
My mother did not die that night, but is still struggling to get healthy. I had filed this incident somewhere in the back of my mind between belief and skepticism. Your post made me wonder. Perhaps the disfunctioning brain allows more than just one person to perceive a greater reality. Maybe it also allows those in that reality a small window into ours. I now like to think that my brother did pay my mom a visit, and tapped me on the back to let me know it was really him.

GregL

Amos wrote,

||The problem with those states in modern culture is that they usually generate fear and anxiety in the people who experience them because mainstream medicine has designated them as 'abnormal' mental states which require medication.||

||I recently read R.D. Laing's "Politics of Experience" where he argues that schizophrenia (or what Western medicine loosely labels "madness") is in fact often a sane response to an insane, dehumanized world where one's inner experiences of transcendence, the imaginal, contact with non-human entities, visions, etc. are so alien to the West that they become unreal--the most possibly subjective of all things.||

Unfortunately, schizophrenics are not otherwise normal people who happen to have cool albeit uncontrollable experiences. They are not happy campers. Their thought processes are chaotic and overwhelmingly negative. For example, some hear voices threatening and criticizing them all day long.

My opinion is that mentally ill people are indeed experiencing filter leakage. I think depressed people channel dark energy to the point that it's overwhelming, and schizophrenics channel the ambient (basically junk) consciousness of the etheric or Astral. Just because one is channeling something doesn't mean it's good, beneficial, or in some way "cool."

Oh, and I meant to say "John wrote" for the second quote above...

The oldest man in the world died today. CNN says:

"Despite a doctorate in zoology, Imich's passion was investigating paranormal activity, Mannion said. He detailed his encounters with the supernatural in "Incredible Tales of the Paranormal," a journal that was published when he was 92."

Finally -- absolute proof of survival. To 111 years, anyway. :)

At the very least, thinking about this stuff may be good for your health and longevity.

Thanks for that moving story, GregL. I hope your mom is getting better.

I agree with Matt that mental illness ain't cool. The disordered thinking that characterizes many mental patients is severely incapacitating. Most of these people are living a hellish existence - basically trapped in the prison of their own mind. The classic movie "The Snakepit" presents mental illness pretty realistically. From what I've observed, I would say that severe, chronic mental illness is just about the worst fate that can befall someone - worse than terminal cancer.

Thinking about it now, I should have included an obsession with devils and demons as another common feature of delirium and schizophrenia. I should also have pointed out that the "grand pattern" seen by mental patients is not always interpreted as beautiful; it can be seen as terrifying - for instance, in cases of paranoid schizophrenia. These features also have parallels in mediumship and NDEs; mediums worry about channeling low-level entities, and some NDEs involve nightmarish environments, demonic creatures, and apocalyptic forecasts.

As someone that was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 17 I can tell you that in my experience there is definitely overlap with spiritual phenomena. I never heard voices in my head. Rather, my anxiety created negative thinking patterns that sometimes were hard to cope with. Another way of looking at this is that it could be symptoms of kundalini.

A lot of my experiences involve coincidences which some could argue are synchronicities. The propensity to see patterns in nature seems to have increased, there could be elements of deja vu and psychic precognition all mixed together in various ways to produce an overall state of mind bordering on paranoid.

So the interpretation of coincidences in a self referential way, ego based that is, with a propensity for paranoia, no doubt connected with the anxiety resulting from being labelled insane.

Some people with mental illness probably are having a spiritual crisis mixed with a little bit of madness. Others are obviously so insane their behaviour shows it.

I remember meeting a woman at the outpatient clinic who told me that she was put on all kinds of drugs because people thought she was going mad at church. She looked around 60 years of age so obviously she must have been given a lot of the old style medications which probably mucked her up more than anything else. Church, of all places, it would seem obvious to me that she was having a spiritual crisis.

I must mention that my illness was precipitated by cannabis. They call it cannabis psychosis now I think.

Great story, GregL.

"Perhaps the disfunctioning brain allows more than just one person to perceive a greater reality. Maybe it also allows those in that reality a small window into ours."

Do you know of Raymond Moody's "Glimpses of Eternity"? It's about what he calls "shared NDE's," which are somewhat similar to what you described.

Bruce

Thank you. I'll look into it.

GregL

Matt,

That's exactly why I said it's important not to romanticize mental/spiritual illness -- it's not a walk in the park! And I certainly didn't mean to insinuate that these states are "cool" (as you put it); what I mean is that because our modern world has no understanding of the Sacred (or of anything demonic, spiritually negative, or just plain dangerous) that we continue to treat these states the wrong way (i.e. with medications created to disrupt the capacity for such inner experiences, whatever those experiences are).

As someone who has entered into some high-level psychedelic states on more than one occasion, I am actually in agreement with Michael's sentiments about the DANGER of playing with the reducing valve of consciousness. I don't think there is anything inherently beneficial or moral about transcendence, which is why it is all the more important to try to assist those suffering from what I would generally refer to as more "demonic" (I use this term loosely--I don't know what beings are or aren't "our there" in the universe) forms of schizophrenia, e.g. when people hear horrible voices, feel abused by voices, or feel like they're being watched constantly, etc.

It might sound conservative, but I think it is fascinating, e.g., when people report horrifying inter-dimensional experiences on DMT and swear off all psychedelics for life and say, "I didn't need to go to that part of existence. It didn't help me. I bit off more than I can chew."

So no, there is nothing "cool" about altered states, which is actually why I think many of the world's religions are repressive of the expression of paranormal phenomena, i.e. there is often the intuition that these states are extremely dangerous and disruptive when approached in the wrong way (or when unasked for as is the case with schizophrenics who can't help but being given over to inner experience, which must be terrifying).

Anyway, my main point is that to subjectivize these experiences and medicate them doesn't help these people at all; and that many of the problems people face who undergo schizophrenic/spiritual states are created by the societal discourse around madness; so what I'm arguing is that in order to help people deal with these often terrible inner experiences, we have to take them seriously ontologically and not rubber stamp those who battle these realities as fodder for the insane asylum.

I understand that we all want to move beyond the discussion of Dr Sudduth’s views.

I once again apologize for the length of my last comment on the last thread – hope it wasn’t too tedious to read.

There is one thing though which I agree with Dr Sudduth on, and I believe it is something that is very useful to this discussion.

Dr Sudduth has a prospectus on his upcoming book Survival and the Empirical world.
http://michaelsudduth.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Survival-and-the-Empirical-World-November-2013-Outline.pdf

In describing chapter 9 of his book he is basically saying that we should move beyond simply an empirical case for survival to a holistic case for survival; a case that includes the experiential aspects but also supported with any philosophical and religious argument.

With the tragic cases being discussed here I believe a holistic approach-which combines the scientific and spiritual aspects would be of great benefit.

A greater understanding of the workings of the brain would be of great help in treating people with mental illness.

But as David R has pointed out some people with mental illness may well be having a spiritual crisis too – that too needs treatment.

We are used to an intellectual tradition that tries to separate science and spirit.

May be it’s time to move beyond that tradition of compartmentalization to a more holistic approach.

“as I lay on my side on the floor, facing away from my mother, she cried out my brother’s childhood nickname three times and said “Oh I am so glad that you are here!” She then fell back to sleep. As God as my witness, I then felt a strong tap on my back. I said in my mind “ If that is really you, do that again.” Instantly another strong tap on my back”

GregL, thanks for sharing this story. Yes I believe you, no need to have God as your witness. :-)

Bedside visitations are common. I know of a case where “things” in the room moved all on their own witnessed by several people each time they asked if their brother saw their dad who had passed ten years to the day earlier. To state that it shook them up is an understatement.

Yes indeed there is more to the world than appearances. If one looks deeply into appearances with even a hint of an open mind, they will discover that both science and most religions judge by appearances and this causes them to confuse an effect for a cause.

If one watches the TV series Wormhole they can discover how those that have a system of beliefs that treats materialism as an absolute not to be questioned is as blinding to the human mind as any religious system of beliefs.

The world has yet to discover the difference between intellectual aptitude measured by an IQ test and intelligence, maybe divine intelligence is a better term to describe those that are able to comprehend the underlying reality of appearances.

Judge not by appearances is lost on both the scientific and religious communities. Exceptions of course.

A.rios: Bernardo Kastrup has just posted a reply to Novella's 'brain not a receiver' article on his own blog. It's well worth checking out.

I don’t agree that people who are depressed are channeling dark energy. Usually their thoughts and self-talk are keeping them sick; change their thoughts and their depression will usually lift. I can't imagine going to a psychiatrist for treatment of depression and being told that I was channeling dark energy.

John,

||Anyway, my main point is that to subjectivize these experiences and medicate them doesn't help these people at all; and that many of the problems people face who undergo schizophrenic/spiritual states are created by the societal discourse around madness;||

I totally agree with you. I apologize: I templated your comments incorrectly.

Amos,

||I don’t agree that people who are depressed are channeling dark energy. Usually their thoughts and self-talk are keeping them sick; change their thoughts and their depression will usually lift. I can't imagine going to a psychiatrist for treatment of depression and being told that I was channeling dark energy.||

Do you say this based on your experiences with depressed people and your own inner states?

I ask because that's what I'm basing my comments on. I had a horribly depressed father who was really nasty, and if that wasn't dark energy at work, then I'm not sure what dark energy would be. I've also had about three pretty severe depressive episodes in my life, and I would describe it that way. I remember the worst time it felt as though every cell in my body were vibrating with dark energy. I've also had depressed girlfriends, etc.

I don't agree that medicating schizophrenics is not helpful. I think many schizophrenics can be substantially helped by medication. The problem is that they tend not to take their meds, because of the unpleasant side effects, and because of the patients' own paranoia.

Schizophrenics who faithfully take their meds usually can function well enough to live on their own. Those who won't voluntarily take their meds end up either institutionalized or homeless.

I had a bout of clinical depression a few years ago. It seemed to me more like an existential crisis than 'dark energy'. I simply felt that life seemed no longer worthwhile and, for want of a better description, I found myself losing the will to live. I was, I suppose, disillusioned with the human race.

I believe it was/is a reasonable and rational perspective; just not a very helpful one. I now try to keep my attention focused on the stars rather than the abyss. That certainly helps. :)

Matt Rouge:
If I knew what 'dark energy' is then perhaps I could provide a better response. I am not aware of any evidence from controlled studies of 'dark energy' being related to depressed states. I do believe that every intelligent person probably at some time in their life experiences symptoms which could be diagnosed as depression. Saying that nasty behaviors are dark energy at work is like saying 'The devil made me do it."

Depression is a normal emotional state of humans caused by reaction to outside events or inner turmoil kept alive by recurring negative thoughts. Since you asked, I myself have experienced what could be categorized as dysthymia, on and off for most of my adult life and have known many seriously depressed people some of whom either threatened or attempted suicide or actually succeeded. If they were channeling dark energy then it is of great interest that in some of them the dark energy was eradicated by medications and/or cognitive behavioral therapies. These therapies stopped negative obsessive thought habits. Exercise, prayer, meditation, chanting, mantras, and anything else that stops repetitive negative thoughts can also relieve depression. - AOD

Got a call from my sister Linda (age 63) a little while ago. She told me she got a call from one of our great nieces up in Kankakee, Illinois that our oldest sister Valerie died in her sleep last night. She was 73 ½ years old. She was born in December, 1940.

She lived to be almost exactly the same age as her husband Vernon who passed away about 7 years ago. Valerie had a heart murmur and had open heart surgery a number of years ago but I guess her heart finally gave out? Dying in your sleep isn't a bad way to go though? She has four grown children, 3 girls and a boy, 10 grandchildren, and one great grandson.

I still have 2 sisters and a brother that live in Georgia. I am #5 out of six. My two oldest sisters are on the other side now with my grandparents, both parents, all my aunts and uncles, couple of brothers-in-law, and a nephew.

Michael,

Two things: (1) The fact that these homeless people are "institutionalized or homeless" is not always indicative that these people need medicine--I think it can equally be understood as manifestation of the fact that our historically specific culture allocates only very negative social capital to those who undergo these states; so rather than trying to find a way to help schizophrenics understand and come to terms with deeply meaningful (if often horrifying or nightmarish) experiences, our culture robs them of their own experiences and subjectivize their whole sense of reality, telling them they need medications that will bring them back to public, empirical reality.

(2) Yes, it is hyperbolic to say that antipsychotic drugs don't help "at all," but the question is WHY they help. It seems to me that they help more because many of these antipsychotic drugs make a shell out of people anyway so that they can't really feel much of anything (much less states of paranoia) rather than "cure" a brain abnormality. Indeed, the model of schizophrenia as a reducible to chemical imbalances seems to be precisely what is in question (I'd recommend Robert Whitaker's 2002 book "Mad in America" for a critique and history of the treatment of schizophrenia in the West if you haven't seen it already).

It is also my best guess that drugs such as Olamzapine and Prozac often work because of a placebo effect--the sufferer of schizophrenia thinks that these drugs are helping them come to terms with what I believe are primarily spiritual problems, rather than chemical ones. Of course, in a reducing valve theory of mind, there might functionally be no difference between consciousness of a spiritual state and its chemical "corollary," or what have you; but I don't think antipsychotics are simply "repairs" to the "TV antenna" of the brain.

John said ||It might sound conservative, but I think it is fascinating, e.g., when people report horrifying inter-dimensional experiences on DMT and swear off all psychedelics for life and say, "I didn't need to go to that part of existence. It didn't help me. I bit off more than I can chew."||
I find it interesting that this kind of experience happens, yet now there is research indicating psilocybin helps to lift people out of depression as well. Maybe it's just a matter of dosage.
Another view is that maybe there are dark things that need to be confronted out there or in there as it may be.

Thank you very much Douglas! I don't know why but I find Novella's article very intriguing... I have mixed feelings about it, and I just can't make my own idea of it. I have to admit I know very little about how the brain works, (VERY little :P)that's why I'm excited to see what Michael Prescott is going to say about it! And also everyone who wants to comment on it :) I'm going to read Kastrup's reply.

John
Check out Dr. Daniel Amen's web site http://www.amenclinics.com. Dr. Amen is perhaps the foremost authority on SPECT brain scans as related to mental illness and other brain abnormalities. He can provide ample evidence showing how medications and other substances can improve brain function. While he may not claim to 'cure' mental illness he does demonstrate that in some cases, positive effects on the brain can be seen when comparing the before and after SPECT brain scans of people taking medications. He has even shown that some people show a more normal SPECT brain scan after taking alcohol. On the other hand, he can also demonstrate the very negative effects on the brain of substances such as marijuana, excessive alcohol, cocaine and other drugs.- AOD

"It seems to me that they help more because many of these antipsychotic drugs make a shell out of people anyway so that they can't really feel much of anything"

Thanks for making this important point, John. Often, people choose not to take their medications because they prefer to remain emotionally open to the ups and downs of a challenging existence, rather than simply medicating away *all* feelings. What's the point in being alive if you can't feel?

"Another view is that maybe there are dark things that need to be confronted out there or in there as it may be." - Steven Smith

My sentiments exactly.

There's a genetic component to schizophrenia. My late sister married a man whose brother was schizophrenic and who committed suicide before they married. Two of my sister's three children became schizophrenic in their early twenties. How might that scenario incorporate a spiritual hypothesis?

As an aside, the strain of trying to cope with the family situation was at least partially responsible for my sister's early demise. The elder of the two schizophrenic siblings committed suicide at the age of twenty-two-years; the younger is regularly institutionalised. The third, schizophrenia-free, sibling has decided never to have children because of the risk of perpetuating the condition. All three children proved to be highly intelligent and were very successful academically.

a.Rios,

Bernardo rightly highlights the rhetorical tricks that Novella uses, such as the false comparison ruse (comparing the receiver/filter theory of the brain with a belief in faires), and also the false assumptions which underlie the whole of novella's argument i.e. we don't need additional theories of mind, as consciousness is already adequately explained.

Actually consciousness is NOT adequately explained. In fact, there is no single coherent hypothesis, not even in principle, as to exactly how certain combinations of chemicals result in subjective, conscious experience. Novella simply pretends the 'Hard Problem' of consciousness doesn't exist.

The only way out for materialists, including Novella, is to adopt Daniel Dennet's ultimate materialist absurdity: that we are simply illusions generated by the brain - this is the ludicrous depth of the hole in which materialists have dug themselves. My answer to that is to ask who exactly is experiencing the illusion?


Amos,

||If I knew what 'dark energy' is then perhaps I could provide a better response. I am not aware of any evidence from controlled studies of 'dark energy' being related to depressed states.||

Sure. And I think psychologists'/psychiatrists' of cognition, consciousness, and mental illness in 2014 is about as sophisticated as our understanding of chemistry was in 1614.

I think the brain as filter analogy is basically correct, and I think mental illness occurs when that filter mechanism breaks down. Personally, I don't see depression as people getting hung up on negative thinking. In fact, depression to me doesn't seem primarily about thought content but mood. Depression to me seems to be about opening the filter too wide for bad energy, bad vibes, the Dark Side of the Force--call it what you will. I see it more as the negative external coming in than the internal thought processes going bad.

I could be wrong. We are truly in the infancy of understanding this stuff, pace the docs who think they already understand.

||I do believe that every intelligent person probably at some time in their life experiences symptoms which could be diagnosed as depression.||

I agree.

||Saying that nasty behaviors are dark energy at work is like saying 'The devil made me do it."||

It's not totally off the mark! My father's depression made him seem very Satanic indeed. It was very much like seeing someone seething with, sometimes reveling in, the Dark Side of the Force a la Star Wars.

And I think psychopaths also channel that dark energy, albeit in a different fashion than depressed people.

||Depression is a normal emotional state of humans caused by reaction to outside events or inner turmoil kept alive by recurring negative thoughts.||

Thomas Merton has some very good thoughts on depression in his book "Care of the Soul": he has a chapter called "Gifts of Depression" IIRC. I agree that depression and melancholy are normal emotions and valuable ones at that. Bad things are a part of this world, and seeing and feeling them on a deep level is something the filter/brain does right. Sometimes that camera aperture gets too big or stays stuck, however. At that point, we can't handle what's coming in, and it's hurting us instead of helping or enlightening us, IMO.


||If they were channeling dark energy then it is of great interest that in some of them the dark energy was eradicated by medications and/or cognitive behavioral therapies.||

Your implication seems to be that my dark energy theory (not that it's "mine") is incompatible with the observed efficacy of medication and therapies. On the contrary, the brain/filter follows physical, mental, and spiritual rules, and I would expect physical, mental, and spiritual interventions to have an effect.

John,

By way of background, I worked in the drug industry and at one point had to do an analysis of then-current (1999) antipsychotic drugs, so I've looked at the drugs and their effects and side-effects to some degree. Also, at that time, I met a guy on the street (who wasn't homeless but still not in a good situation) who clearly had schizophrenia or some disease on the spectrum and was able to observe to some extent how their mental processes work.

||Two things: (1) The fact that these homeless people are "institutionalized or homeless" is not always indicative that these people need medicine--I think it can equally be understood as manifestation of the fact that our historically specific culture allocates only very negative social capital to those who undergo these states;||

The sad fact is that anyone schizophrenic enough to be diagnosed is most likely going to need medicine to function. Whereas depression for the most part seems like an overlay of something bad on a normal mind, schizophrenic spectrum diseases take away normalcy. Sufferers have disordered thinking 24/7. People are very lucky when medicine works enough to allow them to live on their own.

||so rather than trying to find a way to help schizophrenics understand and come to terms with deeply meaningful (if often horrifying or nightmarish) experiences, our culture robs them of their own experiences and subjectivize their whole sense of reality, telling them they need medications that will bring them back to public, empirical reality.||

I think the description here of "experiences" indicates an inaccurate model of what they are undergoing. They are not like normal people who, from time to time, have bad "experiences." They are, for example, hallucinating berating voices or seeing black shapes in their vision all day long. People with severe paranoia can feel in danger from everyone they meet. Cognition is scrambled. They are not functional.


||Yes, it is hyperbolic to say that antipsychotic drugs don't help "at all," but the question is WHY they help. It seems to me that they help more because many of these antipsychotic drugs make a shell out of people anyway so that they can't really feel much of anything (much less states of paranoia) rather than "cure" a brain abnormality.||

Yes, science and drugs are quite primitive. If someone is lucky and with relatively mild symptoms, the drugs can make them pretty close to normal. For most people, however, they are big sledge hammer on the "filter" that does have a numbing effect. Plus lots of unpleasant side-effects.


||Indeed, the model of schizophrenia as a reducible to chemical imbalances seems to be precisely what is in question (I'd recommend Robert Whitaker's 2002 book "Mad in America" for a critique and history of the treatment of schizophrenia in the West if you haven't seen it already).||

I agree in part. Certainly what's going on in the brain is primitively understood at best. The idea, however, that schizophrenics might not really be sick, however, won't fly IMO. It would be one thing if they were people who acted a little weird or weren't socially astute, such as people with Asperger's Syndrome. But the vast majority of these people simply are not functional.


||It is also my best guess that drugs such as Olamzapine and Prozac often work because of a placebo effect--the sufferer of schizophrenia thinks that these drugs are helping them come to terms with what I believe are primarily spiritual problems, rather than chemical ones.||

Prozac (fluoxetine) is not an antipsychotic drug, though it could be prescribed for concurrent depression (docs will try a lot of drugs in combination until they find something that "works"). Zyprexa (olanzapine) is, of course (though not everyone to whom it is prescribed is psychotic. I had a girlfriend once who was on an antipsychotic for severe anxiety and nausea; the drugs do beat up on the "filter" pretty well...).

I really don't think the placebo effect is going to come into play with a schizophrenic. These symptoms are so severe, it would be like talking about the placebo effect working on gangrene or something.

I also don't think schizophrenics have "spiritual problems." Schizophrenia hits a lot of people in their 20s who seemed otherwise normal. They just start hearing voices one day, etc., and gradually or quickly go stark raving mad. It's really not their fault.

||Of course, in a reducing valve theory of mind, there might functionally be no difference between consciousness of a spiritual state and its chemical "corollary," or what have you; but I don't think antipsychotics are simply "repairs" to the "TV antenna" of the brain.||

They are not very *good* repairs. But they do allow some people to function who otherwise would be unable to do so.

"Bad things are a part of this world, and seeing and feeling them on a deep level is something the filter/brain does right. Sometimes that camera aperture gets too big or stays stuck, however. At that point, we can't handle what's coming in, and it's hurting us instead of helping or enlightening us, IMO."
- Matt Rouge

Yes, that's exactly my feeling about depression too. "The Outsider sees too far and too deep." - Colin Wilson in 'The Outsider'

I think that much of the bad rap that medications get as related to treatment of mental illness is because the physicians who prescribe them are not knowledgeable about how to dose them. Most people would want a cardiologist to develop a treatment plan for their heart problem but they often rely on a general practitioner or internist to prescribe psychotropic medications for them rather than a psychiatrist. Medications often fail to relieve symptoms or may exacerbate symptoms because they are either prescribed at too low or too high of a dose or the medication may not be appropriate for the disorder the patient has. Often people complain that their medications don't work or cause side effects when they don't or won't take them as prescribed by their physician (who should be a specialist in treating symptoms of mental illness).

Routinely people with mental health issues don't want to take medications and will thwart the physician's efforts to help them either by not taking them, taking them sporadically or taking them at self-prescribed increased or decreased doses. They don't want to take medications but they also won't make the effort to change their thoughts, relationships, their sleep habits, the amount or exercise they get, work or play habits or change their diet, all efforts that would improve their mental health and often will blatantly dismiss the physician's suggestion that any of those other things would help. Mental health patients often come to a psychiatrist wanting a magic-wand solution to their problems and are disappointed when there is no such cure. Psychiatry has come along way since the 1600s and to suggest otherwise is revealing a lack of knowledge of current psychiatric research. - AOD

For clarity, Bernardo Kastrup says drugs, like all apparent physical phenomena, are just the image of a process localisation, not the process itself (just as flames are the image of combustion, or lightning is the image of an electrical discharge). In this sense, they correlate with an effect but do not actually cause it.

A thought (one process in consciousness) can influence an emotion (another process in consciousness). But most consciousness is not under the control of our egoic volition, eg the external world. Our egos are merely little whirlpools in the water, but the water is a whole ocean of consciousness.

I like Bernardo’s ideas.

Douglas

I guess that the brain as receiver hypothesis wouldn't be necessary without NDEs, mediumship and other evidence that contradicts the materialist concept of consciousness. But this evidence exists nevermind skeptics trying to dismiss it as irrational nonsense...

I'm having a hard time seeing mental illness as leakage of consciousness. It seems to many illnesses like schizophrenia are often genetic abnormalities. I don't see depression as dark energy either. If you dig hard enough into most depressed people, there's either something going on that would depress anyone, or they were mistreated in childhood, and that's never been addressed. This will linger with you for the rest of your life - beautifully illustrated, in my opinion, in the drama "Mad Men." For a good start, see Alice Miller's "The Drama of the Gifted Child."

Hi Douglas

I was on neurologica on that very long thread post and I pointed that out to them that if the mind is somehow produced by the brain then you would have to assume that mind is illusion by the brain. The problem with this is that consciousness is real and self evident. You are right your digging a very huge hole there.

Kathleen wrote, "I'm having a hard time seeing mental illness as leakage of consciousness. It seems to many illnesses like schizophrenia are often genetic abnormalities."

It doesn't have to be either-or. The genetic abnormalities impair brain function. The brain's function is to serve as a tuner or filter. If its function is impaired, it doesn't tune or filter as well as it should.

"The genetic abnormalities impair brain function. The brain's function is to serve as a tuner or filter. If its function is impaired, it doesn't tune or filter as well as it should."

That's an excellent point, Michael!

This is another magnificent head post of yours, MP. You need to continue. (If you ever feel burnt out again, just take a breather for a few months.)

Cool thread. My two cents is that someone experiencing schizophrenia should ALWAYS take anti-psychotic medication, regardless of side effects; which can be ameliorated by adjusting medication and dosage. This for the reasons Matt has expressed.

A mystic is someone that has learned (or is learning) to float or swim on the infinite ocean of perceptual possibilities, whereas the schizophrenic is drowning. The former is achieving the ability activate controlled shifts of the receiver's dial through disciplined practice and, usually, formal guidance of someone who knows the process and dangers. The latter just sort of accidently had the dial begin shifting due to organic brain issues or perhaps some emotional drive. He doesn't understand what is happening and has no control over it.

Of course there will be some overlap between what the mystic experiences and what some mentally ill people experience. There is some overlap of territory, but the mentally ill gets there by accident and isn't able to focus and develop the positive aspects because he's not in control.

"To change the analogy slightly, let’s look at the brain not as a filter but as a receiver"

I think the brain is both. It is a receiver that also filters what is received. That said, I also think that other organs of the body might perform the same function to some extent (e.g. a "gut reaction"). It's just since the eyes and ears - our main every day perceptual tools - are located on the head, which houses the brain, we are used to sort of feeling as if it's all happening in the head. I know that I have been able to "feel" input from the world through what the Chinese call the "dan tien" (located just below the navel). Developing this ability is important in Chinese martial arts advanced practice.

"The genetic abnormalities impair brain function. The brain's function is to serve as a tuner or filter. If its function is impaired, it doesn't tune or filter as well as it should."

I tend to lean to the brain-as-filter of consciousness, but I'm not quite convinced. It seems with people who are mentally ill, their reasoning is impaired, and/or they're delusional. For instance, someone I know experienced dementia and believed she was back living 40 years ago in her lifetime. How could this be attributed to an expansion of consciousness?

Also, what exactly is this "dark matter" that's escaping and being allowed through to produce depression? (I realize I'm sort of playing devil's advocate here; it is a great discussion.)

Kathleen,

||I tend to lean to the brain-as-filter of consciousness, but I'm not quite convinced. It seems with people who are mentally ill, their reasoning is impaired, and/or they're delusional. For instance, someone I know experienced dementia and believed she was back living 40 years ago in her lifetime. How could this be attributed to an expansion of consciousness?||

I personally think that brain as filter/receiver is a bit of an oversimplification. In that view, the "soul" or "real you" is Out There, and the brain is downloading that and other "content." In my opinion, the brain does filter and download external content, including memories (which are not stored *in* the brain), but it is also processing content (remembering, thinking, etc.).

When the brain is damaged or limited (as by Autism, Down's Syndrome, etc.), then it doesn't process things in the same way that it used to or the same as a person not so limited. The brain of the person you mentioned was damaged, so bad processing was going on. That is not due to an expansion of consciousness. Not all mental illnesses are due to the broken filter function, but some seem to be, as the sufferer seems to be afflicted by things coming from outside them.

||Also, what exactly is this "dark matter" that's escaping and being allowed through to produce depression? (I realize I'm sort of playing devil's advocate here; it is a great discussion.)||

I said "dark energy." To me, it seems as though people with depression are downloading bad vibes or whatever you want to call it. Their level of emotional pain does not really seem congruent with the bad things in their life, etc. There are a lot of people with depression who don't have any other problems in their lives... other than depression. That's my speculation, however.

For instance, someone I know experienced dementia and believed she was back living 40 years ago in her lifetime. How could this be attributed to an expansion of consciousness?

A filter can be altered in two ways: by extending u obstructing. If the former happens in the nervous system, people have experiences outside the ordinary spectrum, ie, psi, which may be somewhat more or less controlled or overwhelming for the subject. Ii the latter case, there are fewer experiences of ordinary spectrum, which can range from dementia to coma.

"How could this be attributed to an expansion of consciousness?"

Kathleen, IMO, it is a common mistake to think in terms of a shift of "the dial" resulting in "expanded" consciousness. Altered consciousness would be the better way to conceptualize it.

"expanded consciousness" carries a lot of erroneous connotational baggage. Pop culture seems to have it that when our consciousness "expands" we necessarily move into some improved and saintly understanding of things along the lines of the most inspirational NDE accounts.

It's probably more accurate to think in terms of altered consciousness as opposed to expanded. You're listening to music on the radio. You either deliberately turn the tuner dial, or the tuner gets bumped by accident, or there's some kind of interference with the signal - one possibility is that you end you finding a new station that plays some great music that turns you on, but other possibilities are you get scrambled mixing of two or more stations, or maybe just something boring.

Remember,expanded consciousness doesn't necessarily mean improved consciousness. It just means different consciousness.

"In my opinion, the brain does filter and download external content, including memories "

I think this is correct, Matt. The brain does do some computing of what it receives; much as my lap top is currently processing and computing information that it receives from the internet. If the brain is damaged in some way, then it is not computing properly and consciousness will be altered.

I would even say that some of our individuality, some of what makes us unique personalities, has to do with how our brain computes - and these processing modalities translating to personality characteristics are based on genetics and physical brain structures.

So, assuming two people tuned to the exact same frequency, you will still have two different personality expressions; albeit with some fundamentally similar psychological elements.

I have been studying PTSD quite a bit lately. Experts in the field are saying that the disorder is the result of prolonged exposure to intense stress which increases the cortisol and adrenaline levels, which, in turn, over time, will actually rewire the brain with the result being the syndrome. I think this is correct and it would be an example where the receiver/filter model really doesn't apply. It's basically a change in the hardwiring of the brain.

What I find interesting about PTSD is the cure, which involves therapy that gets the afflicted to recognize the symptoms when they come on and then to essentially "think" their way out of a full blown episode. Meditation techniques also play an important role. I'm oversimplifying, but the therapy is proven effective. This would be an example of focused thoughts changing the brain (i.e. reducing the production of adrenaline and cortisol and, ultimately, allowing the brain to revert to its original wiring design).

Also, though, the PTSD treatment does sort of involve the tuner/receiver aspect as well, IMO. A lot of combat veterans dwell, often quite involuntarily, on the horror and shock of what they experienced in war. It's almost like they are channeling that negative energy. The therapy, in a way, is getting them to alter what is channeled because it helps direct their focus away from the war material and, if the war material comes up, they have to use the power of their minds to think about it in a different light (not easy, but apparently doable). It's like they're neutralizing bad mojo by first being aware that they are under attack by bad mojo and then working on overcoming it with positive vibes.

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