AFRICANGLOBE – It is often said, and commonly referenced that the brain and mind are one in the same. Nothing could be farther away from the truth. Both are interconnected and depended upon each other for existence, but, both are uniquely different. The brain is the house where thoughts and thinking takes place.
The brain has been, and continues, to be studied by researchers for numerous hypothesis and belief’s. Brain damage occurs from a variety of places and causes restriction on the expression of individual thoughts. It is common knowledge that certain medications, alcohol, and illicit drugs, can and do, have a profound effect on the developing fetus. This more often than not, causes various degrees of brain damage resulting in limited expression of thought, in its mildest form, to severe psychotic functioning, at its worse.
Each year numerous babies are born with debilitating brain deficits and diseases, due in part, to substance use, of some sort, and at other times, due to genetic transmission of both parents. These “multi-generational” transmissions are the source of generations of major psychiatric disorders. Schizoaffective, Schizophrenia, and Bipolar disorder are a few example of numerous disorders afflicting lives.
Many professionals, in the field of mental health and substance abuse, believe alcohol and drug abuse and dependency indicate a genetically predisposition for a fairly large population of society for addiction. Be that as it may, the question continues to exist, as to what part does brain functioning play when it comes to thinking, or commonly referred to as the “Mind’ of the individual.
In my private psychiatric practice, of 30 plus years, I have witnessed countless individuals struggle with a certain degree of “powerlessness” over their individual obsessive thoughts. Some are hounded by the repetitiveness of circular thinking, debilitating depression, agonizing anxiety, and crippling fears.
Researchers continue to seek new medications to alleviate symptoms and give patients back some manageability over their lives. Many medications are doing just that, alleviating depression, reducing anxiety, and controlling obsessive compulsive thinking.
It has become, as researchers strive to understand brain chemistry, better understood that these medications work on certain brain receptors by stabilizing brain chemistry. It is also understood that the brain is a muscle. The power of the muscular strength of the Brain is no different, in its functioning, as the muscular strength of any other organ of the body. The more we use it, the better, or stronger it gets overtime. However, there is a saturation point, or a point at which to continue is to cause just the opposite effect of what we are trying to accomplish.
We know that in strength building, the subject is usually advised to work, or build his muscle up for several day then rest. Some trainers recommend utilizing one hard “day’s work out” followed by a “light workout” followed by a day of “rest”. Those who ignore the advice, sometimes do irreparable harm to which they may not be able to fully recover.
So it is with brain muscle, it requires rest, from focusing, from paying constant attention, and from too much overload due to work or school.
A Tired Brain vs a Tired Mind
One wonders as to whether it is the thinking of the individual person, which refuses to, “rest”, give up its circular rotation and loosen its grip from overloading brain circuitry, or is it just brain chemistry gone amok? I frequently am informed, by patients; of sleepless nights and tired days painful dilemmas of which they complain that they cannot turn their brains off, especially at night.
It seems as if their “mind” wanders from thought to thought without their direct input, or control. They are clearly the victim of a “tired” brain. This is the reason 12 step anonymous programs instructs and reminds, its members not to get “too tired “or “too hungry” as these conditions has been identified as possible causes of sleepless nights and tired days.
The dangers, for the chemically dependent individual, are relapse, depression, and difficulty in regaining sobriety. In some sense, this condition is very similar to what takes place with the “attention deficit hyperactive individual” (ADHD). He or she suffers from similar inability to control thought, maintain attention, stay focus, and enjoy restful sleep.
With attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, the individual’s inability to stay focused is easily distracted and exhibit boundless energy is likewise the source of enormous discomfort and pain. There are numerous other diagnoses, too numerous to mention, that are also similar to the tired brain syndrome.
The fact that the “brain “and “mind” are interconnected, treating one, treats the other. In other words, medication which affects brain chemistry alters thinking. Likewise, we know, that psychotherapy, group therapy, and 12 step meetings, which is a form of therapy, also affects thinking and alters brain chemistry, over time, if continued. This helps to explain the idea of a “dry drunk”. The notion is that brain tiredness or brain damage, due to overuse, requires time for healing. It is during the healing stages that the individual acts as if he or she is continuing to drink or use drugs.
The longer they are sober, the more opportunity for the brain to regain better functioning, which then results in better thinking and better outcomes for the abuser. There is no better place to begin the journey toward sober living then the 12 step Anonymous programs.
They provide ongoing opportunity for the individual to process their flawed thinking, to relate to others with similar deficits, and to have time to heal without judgment. Not everyone benefits from 12 step Anonymous programs some require additional assistance such as medication to alleviate depression, manage anxiety, reduce or stop hallucinations and delusions and stabilize moods.
One of the statements, in the “How it works” writing is that “there are people who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them due recover if they have the capacity to be honest with themselves. Some people will require assistance with being honest with them-selves. Such is the case with delusions, hallucinations, very depressed individuals and a host of psychiatric conditions that makes it very difficult for the individual to be honest with them-selves. They suffer from a sort of deceptive intelligence.
The brain is not the mind. It is the only vehicle through which thinking takes place and therefore extremely important. However, the “Mind” of the individual is constructed from all of his or her experiences and actually begins at child birth. There are some of “us”, who believes, that the forming of the “Mind” of the person begins forming during the 9 month journey that it takes with the mother.
It is our belief that the “thinking” of the mother, the “treatment” of the mother helps to shape the disposition of the child. This is still a debatable position and will probably never be answered definitively, but never the less; it presents an interesting way of looking at the forming of our unique ways in which we think.
By: John C Bettison
John C Bettison is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) and a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) as authorized by the Federal Department of Transportation. Mr. Bettison is in private practice in Austin Texas. He has over (30) years as a professional treating individuals, families, and groups for both mental health and substance abuse issues, marriage counseling, sex therapy and eating disorders. He can be reached at 512-692-9327.
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