ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Two Topics This Week:

Jack Bragen
Friday May 04, 2018 - 03:27:00 PM

Nonphysical Damage Actually Exists

You cannot see mental, psychological, emotional, and spiritual damage. You cannot measure them directly with medical or scientific equipment. To the world of science and the five senses, nonphysical forms of damage are invisible.  

Sometimes mental health professionals are able to assess some forms of what I am calling "nonphysical damage," by observing someone's behavior. However, far too often, those same mental health professionals are the ones responsible for some forms of this damage. I believe this is so, because therapists sometimes impose their set of assumptions on the consumer. This can include the belief that the consumer is incompetent, or that they have a permanent disability and cannot do things in life that most "normal" people do. 

Sometimes, nonphysical damage comes about through life conditions that are so overwhelming and demanding that damage occurs to the person's operating system. Yes, I am using the term "operating system" in reference to human beings. We have operating systems. They are astronomically more sophisticated than are those in microcomputers, and they allow us to make sense out of very complex and sometimes threatening environments. 

Microcomputers do not have to live in an environment, they do not have to survive, and they can't do very much other than the tasks that we design them to do. 

People's "operating systems," however, do exist, and they develop during childhood. When situations are too difficult or too traumatic, damage occurs. Also, repetition of detracting messages from a person or persons in the environment can cause long-lasting or perhaps permanent damage. 

If people call you a "dumb idiot" every day, it becomes incorporated into your operating system, and it becomes a basic assumption affecting everything else in your mind. If you grew up being mistreated, you could end up as an adult who believes you do not deserve love. 

Human beings aren't just machines, even though many people in the medical profession see us as machines. Science doesn't really understand life. Science doesn't understand the human condition. Science doesn't explain consciousness, nor does it explain existence. Thus, we need to use something other than science to address damage to the mind, heart and soul. 


One Key to Wellness Among Many: Lots of REM Sleep

In recent weeks, I have experienced an improvement in my sleep, and this includes a large increase in REM sleep. I have been diagnosed with severe sleep apnea, and I use a CPAP most nights, but this has only helped me to an extent. 

The impact on me from getting more REM sleep (I remember having dreamt upon waking) is that I feel a lot better. I believe that if people with schizophrenia are getting good REM sleep, it can only be a good thing. 

According to some studies, it is very common for people with schizophrenia to have sleep disturbances, often caused by sleep apnea. Lack of REM sleep can worsen symptoms. Lack of REM sleep can be one of a number of factors that trigger onset of a mental illness. 

In 1982, when I became ill, I had been working nights. I slept during the day and worked overnight. I wonder if this backward schedule was a contributing factor, among many, in the onset of my condition. 

If someone is sleep deprived for three days, the effects can be devastating. It can cause a person who is otherwise normal to go into psychosis. Sleep deprivation is unhealthy in general. It can affect a number of systems in the body, and it can lead to traffic accidents. For someone with mental illness, adequate sleep is even more vital than for those without a mental illness diagnosis. 

A question that my first psychiatrist (whom I met with in the 1980's) asked, every time I went to see him, was, "Are you eating and sleeping okay?" 

Clearly, adequate sleep is key to recovery. And, really good sleep can contribute to doing much better than we otherwise would.