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First published on 1/10/2008

The medical study of the mind long ago went a cosmic split between psychiatry and neurology, between higher function and the unknown and lower function and relatively understood.

Psychiatry and study of the mind has traditionally taken in the “whole person” and more abstract theories of thought, mood, behavior. Neurology, OTOH, is very mechanistic, rooted in basic science, medicine, and physiology. It clearly focuses on the Brain and its function, normal versus pathology. Today there is a strong tendency to wipe this distinction away and rejoin the disciplines, and for some good reasons.

After all conditions like Schizophrenia and Alzheimer dementia, for example, are clearly organic syndromes and it would seem the scientific, bench research, mechanistic approach will lend itself well to finding treatment for them, vastly improving the lives of those suffering from them.

It seems to me that the medical model definitely has its limits.   I find a chasm between the thought between theory of mind and theory of brain. People who want to be able to explain everything are trying desperately to bridge this cliff and are in danger of falling off. Read the rest of this entry »

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    As mind/brain and spirit/body dualism have slowly broken down over the past century, puzzling consequences have been left in its wake.  Nowhere are these consequences more evident than in psychology and neurology.  We take seriously the charge to heal the mind and the brain.  We research it, learn about it, ponder over it, all in the hope that someday we will be able to cure illnesses that are currently untouchable. 

Dementia, Schizophrenia, Stroke, Traumatic Brain injury, to name just a few all have permanent and dire consequences for the individuals involved.  The individual’s very mind, consciousness, personhood, spirit, whatever you choose to call it–their very essence or being is changed,  irreversibly at present, by the disease.  To have a sick brain is to become less human in a very real sense.  Read the rest of this entry »

It’s back, while I may not have time to come up with anything worth reading out of my head, I am more than happy to share the wealth of what someone else wrote. Meanwhile, I continue to tread water on the wards. Read the rest of this entry »

More and more lately, I hear from those who would reduce man to a machine. Certain outspoken scientists proclaim life as random, the result of chemical interactions and natural processes, and free will as an illusion. As I have stated before many neuroscientists are seeking to unlock the mystery of the brain and explain away consciousness. Others are convinced that we have evolved logic and can now leave primitive emotion behind. Occasionally this logic is overpowered by the primitive structures labeled by Arthur Koestler as the Ghost in the machine, a derogative term for mind-body dualism. Apparently, the Vulcan race is what these fellows aspire too. We could solve all the problems of the world if we could just be strictly logical, and lose emotion. It seems simple enough doesn’t it? Read the rest of this entry »

Our technology has caused us to radically redefine our concept of death. The advent of the mechanical ventilator greatly prolonged our ability to preserve vital functions in comatose patients. We now have a arsenal of drugs that maintain the function of very sick hearts. In fact, we now have machines that can actually pump blood and oxygenate it on their own, called extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation. It is often used in babies with severe lung disease.

Death has historically, and continues legally, to be defined as the presence of the heartbeat. This technology presents a unique challenge to this idea. Technically, it we use a heart/lung machine during an open heart operation, we are operating on a dead patient. Thus the surgeon, legally if not in actuality, is raising the dead with the operation. Is this playing God, or was the patient really dead A legal rethinking of the matter was inevitable. Read the rest of this entry »

I posted before about how I see a clear difference between brain and mind. Today I want to explore the difference between mind and spirit. There are those in the Scientific field who would disagree and are endeavoring to explain away consciousness, and spirituality as a pure brain physical phenomenon. Read the rest of this entry »

The medical study of the mind long ago went a cosmic split between psychiatry and neurology, between higher function and the unknown and lower function and relatively understood.

Psychiatry and study of the mind has traditionally taken in the “whole person” and more abstract theories of thought, mood, behavior. Neurology, OTOH, is very mechanistic, rooted in basic science, medicine, and physiology. It clearly focuses on the Brain and its function, normal versus pathology. Today there is a strong tendency to wipe this distinction away and rejoin the disciplines, and for some good reasons.

After all conditions like Schizophrenia and Alzheimer dementia, for example, are clearly organic syndromes and it would seem the scientific, bench research, mechanistic approach will lend itself well to finding treatment for them, vastly improving the lives of those suffering from them.

It seems to me that the medical model definitely has its limits.   Read the rest of this entry »

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