Friday, May 4, 2007

"Pure Reason is a Disease"

I just read this great article from The Boston Globe about the correllation between our feelings and our thoughts. Scientific research is now beginning to suggest that the brain cannot properly carry out its cognitive functions without emotions to go with them.

In 2004, Harvard psychologist Joshua Greene used brain imaging to
demonstrate that our emotions play an essential role in ordinary moral
decision-making. Whenever we contemplate hurting someone else, our brain
automatically generates a negative emotion. This visceral signal discourages
violence. Greene's data builds on evidence suggesting that psychopaths suffer
from a severe emotional disorder -- that they can't think properly because they
can't feel properly. "This lack of emotion is what causes the dangerous
behavior," said James Blair, a cognitive psychologist at the National Institute
of Mental Health.

This makes me reflect on all the problems I've been having these last couple of years...the whole time I've been in grad school actually. I have not traditionally been an overly emotional person so this whole depression thing has knocked me for a loop. To feel this way and be unable to do anything about it has been a very humbling experience. On top of the depression, I'm ashamed of being depressed...what is that called? Is there even a name for it? The harder I tried to feel better, the more miserably I failed, the worse I felt, talk about your vicious cycles. I don't like having to take the antidepressants, but I'm terrified of not taking them. Is this the new me? (Please, no) Will I be able to stop taking them after I get out of school and settle into some sense of normalcy? (Please, yes) I would love to be off of them by the end of the year but again, what if I can't? What if I'm forever unable to control my own emotions?

These are the questions that keep me up at night and are completely unnecessary because it doesn't matter. I won't be able to change anything if it turns out that this is my new persona. I'll just have to live with it and adjust like everyone else, but I don't have to like it. I liked being the steady oak, not the brittle, trembling leaf at the mercy of life's breezes that I've come to be. I guess that's what it comes down to...I don't like myself anymore. I love my job and I have great friends, but I don't like myself. I'd really love to know just exactly what is going on in my brain (chemically, hormonally, anything else-ally) to cause this. How is what I'm thinking affecting what I'm feeling? That is what caught my interest about this article I found. The author of the article, Jonah Lehrer, has a book coming out in November so I put in an order card for the library. Proust Was a Neuroscientist is a great title and the cover is unusual

What does a madeleine have to do with anything and how many people know what one is?
I love the quirkiness of that image :)


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