Your brain is a highly evolved and powerful organ in the human body. Such a seemingly ordinary piece of greyish matter lying between our ears has developed over hundreds of millions of years to the level of complexity that allows a variety of solutions to appear and be implemented. Much of these solutions are human behaviours as needed to adapt to our environment and the people around us. Other solutions are more conceptual and help to uncover hidden patterns from the things we see. Either way, we have the power to visualise other people's situations with remarkable clarity through empathy, and we can even act out the different types of human behaviour with great speed to display our remarkable ability to change ourselves.
In fact, the brain is so complex, it has created a level of self-awareness and consciousness that makes us question our purpose and reason for existing in this universe, and even the nature of who we are in a fundamental sense.
Complex human behaviours can be simplified especially during problem-solving
Yet despite such enormous complexity in the brain and of human behaviour, it is still possible to identify and group together virtually all the human behaviours into two broad categories: L-brain and R-brain behaviours. Whether these are the right terms one should use doesn't matter, What we know is that behaviours can appear in two opposite forms and both are designed to help us balance our thinking and behaviours ocne we are aware of the difference. This fact can be observed in people going about their daily activities (the world's biggest experiment and laboratory).
Does this mean these common observations have never been seen before? Not at all. Observations of common human behaviours are something Dr Carl Jung has picked up on in his studies and published in his book, "Psychological Types". Later, an American mother by the name of Kathatine Cook Briggs observed opposite behaviours in her daughter's husband Clarence Myers (more an introverted thinker) compared to her daughter (more talkative and extraverted). Being interested in personality types, Briggs was able to find and read a copy of Jung's famous book. She then introduced her daughter Isabel Myers (1879-1979) to the book. And from then on, both mother and daughter became avid "type watchers" until they had enough information to create what we now call the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and revealed the results of their first survey in 1942.
Yet despite such effort to identify opposite behaviours (a kind of preferred behavioural approach taken by people), the MBTI is still a somewhat complicated (and probably outdated, but still useful) psychological instrument for beginning the process of understanding human behaviour. It includes feelings, intuition as well as the behaviours that form rational spontaneous extraverted types usually relying on the senses, and the more delayed thinking introverted types relying on visualisation skills. Of course, people can change their personality type over time and situations. No one is ever locked into a particular personality type given by MBTI. Nevertheless, some scientists have noticed people do have a preference when applying certain behaviours. The question is, are these people fully aware of these opposite differences and how consistent these similar behaviours are among other people? And can tpeople see these behaviours in a simplified way so as to help them find better ways of doing things?
Setting aside our emotions, it is now possible for the MBTI to be further simplified to the point of showing how L- and R-brain functions work, how human behaviours are formed, and determining the direction of flow of information passing through the corpus callosum between the L- and R-brain when determining the "preferred" approach taken by people in a natural almost subconscious sense. For simplicity, as people like Mrs Briggs has noted, let us say there is a tendency for certain people to rely on the eyes to gather information and apply memory with the help of the L-brain of known patterns to quickly categorise observed patterns and link these to direct behaviour and action. For other people, it is the opposite. And these opposites tend to be gender-related too.
If this isn't true, then there would be no reason why women couldn't do everything that men can. And the brain would not require to have two hemispheres to process information. There has to be a reason why we have opposite hemispherical brain functions and the resultant behaviours to stem from them. Biology has found a way to deal with our environment by acknowledging the existence of opposites in everything we observe and imagine. The brain has merely adapted to this fact about our Universe in order to help us see the differences and for us to make the decision of where the balance should be as best we can when we have to live and interact with our environment.
The opposites in our behaviour are not unique to our species. Experiments with animals have now confirmed these opposite behaviours (as observed in chickens and monkeys). Sure it gets a little more complicated with monkeys and later with humans (the human brain has a tendency to balance itself when we get older and are acutely aware of when it is being "analysed" for how we think), but the differences are there.
If you need support for this claim, check out Professor Lesley Rogers of the Centre for Neuroscience and Animal Behaviour at the University of New England. He is presently the world expert in unlocking the behaviours of animals. He conducted the experiment on 1-day old chickens where he covered one eye or the other of the animals to allow the side of the brain processing information on the uncovered eye to apply its own specific functions for problem-solving. He noticed a difference in the time it takes to problem-solve for the chicken for different sides of the brain. Where the R-brain was engaged, a delayed factor was noticed as if the animals were thinking and being cautious to apply a new and different behaviour and solution before eventually finding the reward (there is no evidence the solution found by these chickens were memorised the next time it was done again). Whereas other chickens with the L-brain engaged applied a quick trial-and-error approach where it could be memorised (and later reapplied almost spontaneously) after finding the reward.
Dr Rogers has extended this work to include monkeys by looking at the left- and right-handedness of the animals to determine the side of the brain preferred by the animals for problem-solving. He found very similar results.
Unfortunately the same approach using the hands cannot quite be achieved with humans as things get more complicated. So people have to use EEG (an electrical brain wave activity device) as Dr James Donnelly has done. The results here shows problem-solving does involve both sides of the frontal cortex hemispheres of the human brain according to EEG analysis. But it appears the direction of flow of the information through the corpus callosum as it travels from one side of the hemisphere to the other appears crucial to determining the side of the brain that actually applies the problem-solving work on the information for the individual. The question is, does the individual know which side of the brain is actually doing the work? Does he/she make the conscious decision to visualise most of the time, or simply apply a trial-and-error spontaneous approach to get to the goal?
Either way, once a solution is found, a behaviour is displayed that allows the individual to either get rewarded or to adapt quickly to a given situation. It then either gets memorised for future recall should a similar or same situation arise again, or a new solution is sought if there is a possibility the problem will have to be re-solved.
What is the aim of these opposite behaviours?
The only reason why we have these behaviours is because we need to seek balance. Balance is just another word for "survival", or "adapting". And the more balanced we are, the more easily we can survive and adapt to a wider range of environment conditions.
The speed and amount of problem-solving determines how well and quickly we adapt to our environment
Also the speed in finding a balanced solution, and the effectiveness of that solution we create with our brain also reveal something about how balanced and well-trained our brain is. Generally the more well-trained the L- and R-brain become (by doing different and opposite activities) and the more the brain sees where the balance should lie in the solutions it uncovers and retains in memory, not only is the switching of information through the corpus callosum done in a more balanced and quick way, but any new solutions often come very quickly and is powerful enough to solve problems with little need to consult with other people. The brain quickly knows how those solutions affect other people and what are the best and most long-term solutions there are.
How fast this occurs is dependent on how much problem-solving the brain has done, and how balanced those solutions are dependent on how much L- and R-brain skills has been developed to tackle any new problem.
Problem solving is how the brain actually improves itself and becomes more balanced over time, making you a better person. This is the method by which the brain develops the skills needed to efficiently and effectively solve problems.
For most other animals, there isn't too much problem-solving to do. The brain has already internalised the two fundamental solutions to overcoming problems of a survival nature fight or flight. The rest is to co-ordinate the muscle contractions for keeping the body alive, digesting food, move the body from point A to point B, and to reproduce as an acknowledgement that animals do have emotions and are seeking to reach a point of balance like all of us that ultimate leads to greater happiness for all living things. The only difference between animals and humans is the fact that humans can now think about its actions and behaviours more carefully and decide on a better course of action. Animals can't, or not very easily (and often need regular rewards to encourage this form of thinking).
This is why animals with their strong positive emotions are so closely tied to the one fundamental physical activity that ensures the survival of the species. They have never really figured out a way to control this natural behaviour to reproduce. So, for many animals, populations tend to get rampant and spiral out-of-control over time until either famine or predators reduce the numbers. Animals are not exactly trained to solve a lot of problems.
Humans are very much the same in terms of their emotions. However, for humans, we have also realised we have the skills to create a delay in our behaviours, to control our desires, to work out whether what we are doing is the best solution, and so provide us with another survival benefit. The human brain has given us the power to plan ahead, to think about what we are doing, and to find more appropriate solutions to familiar or unfamiliar problems. The result is that humans can now look at themselves and their environments and decide what is the better approach. For example, if we can see the population is too high, people will naturally decide to change the purpose of sex and how they engage in the activity (since the emotions still remain paramount for humans throughout life) to achieve a different goal. No longer do we have to reproduce if we don't want to. Or else we can control our desire to have sex through visualisation techniques and so change our behaviours. Yet, at the same time, people are realising the power of sex to enhance their emotions and functions of the brain. They become better problem-solvers. They quickly become more balanced. And they can accelerate their learning thanks to the highly developed emotional centre needed to be associated with the patterns we need to learn.
For humans, not only do we have the power to solve problems through the L- and R-brain, we now understand the power that emotions provide in remembering and recalling patterns we acquire from the problem-solving process. From this, we become far more powerful at handling even more problems with greater ease.
To achieve this ability to think and solve problems more effectively and quicker than ever before, the brain had to develop two powerful and enlarged problem-solving tools: the L-brain and the R-brain, and the emotional centre for helping you to remember and recall the patterns acquired by our L- and R-brain. All this information has to be brought together in a region called the frontal cortex, where we then make decisions on which patterns we can identify are most important to retain and utilise in the future and how we should act through our behaviours based on those patterns. The L-brain is particularly good at breaking apart our experiences and knowledge into manageable, usually observable and more understandable (often simplified) patterns for recording in memory (although bringing them together can be somewhat complicated depending on how much breaking apart into smaller patterns we do). The R-brain is designed to combine previously observed and/or newly imagined patterns into a larger pattern that helps us to see the big picture again and sometimes even to cover hidden patterns never been seen before or was immediately apparent previously (the artist inside of us), and with it generate a new solution to our original problem or to recognise something new in our environment.
In fact, It is from this latter side of the brain (i.e. the R-brain) that we create our unique and individualised behaviours for adapting to our environment.
But let's not kid ourselves into thinking these tools are enough. The L- and R-brains on their own are not sufficient. For this problem-solving to work properly, the brain needs the corpus callosum to shuttle information back and forth between the L- and R-brains. And we need the emotions to record and recall patterns quickly for the brain to be effective and efficient. For example, the more often we switch the information from one side of the brain to the other and vice versa, the more details we pick up, and the more patterns we notice (both observed and imagined), and the more likely we will see a solution once we see the links between the important patterns as well as relate the ultimate pattern we see to other similar situations or patterns in memory.
And where do we get the chance to see the tip of the iceberg of all these patterns emerging from this shuttling of information between the hemispheres? It is in the frontal cortex. It brings together the outcome of all this switching and the resulting patterns generated by the L- and R-brain into sharper focus together with our short-term memory region of the brain to help remember the important patterns.
As for the rest of the brain, it is simply there to tag those final patterns you have chosen as most important (or the brain has picked up of potentially great survival importance) with an emotionally-charged thought or picture to help increase memory retention and recall, as well as to put those patterns into action through the muscles in your body.
The brain is just a giant problem-solving tool and co-ordinator of your body with the emotions to help you remember anything you want.
Eventually, if you do this enough times, that is problem solving, as well as trying different things to enhance both hemispheres of the brain, and to enhance your emotions, you eventually begin to balance the brain. You will notice this by the way the brain is able to quickly arrive at certain solutions unexpectedly and with remarkable ease. When you implement the solutions, the problems in your life go down quickly. You become less in conflict with everything around you. You learn to discover how to live in harmony with all living things.
And you can do even more things afterwards.
Sometimes, with a more balanced mind and with a brain that has good creative skills as well as good rational skills, you can do unusual things like being able to sing songs that matches remarkably well or in perfect harmony with the original artists, whether female or male, no matter how different the voices might sound (your brain will be able to account for gender differences in the voices and still make your voice sound good). How does the brain do this? It has the power to extract the essential patterns in the original sounds and you can re-create or recall those patterns. And with practice, the muscles in your voice box will change to match the patterns acquired for those sounds and help you to become more like the original artists if you so choose, or at least know how to get your voice to be in harmony (maybe you can become a great backing vocal to your favourite band).
Or if you focus your problem-solving skills to the task of imitating the behaviours of certain people (like some comedians can do), you may discover after a bit of practice the ability to adapt to those behaviours with relative ease and speed. Perhaps you can mimic precisely the behaviours of, say, President George W. Bush, or the Daila Lama.
In fact, when problem-solving in a more balanced way while gathering enough information to help seek the solution, you will discover an unusual sense of power within yourself (and a sense of greater confidence and solid grounding) to understand many problems in a deeper, quicker and better way. You begin to feel more balanced in your behaviours. You learn to be independent of everyone else, yet understanding of how to empathise and see their views from their unique perspective, and so help you to refine your solution in a better way.
Then you become a happier person knowing the solutions you find will help to solve the problems that others may still struggle with.
What makes a genius?
Some people may see this ability to understand and implement solutions quickly as the mark of a genius. But does this mean none of us can become a genius? Of course not. We are all geniuses. Do you not know there is a genius waiting to come out of you when given the right supportive environment and the time to look at any problem set before you and solve it? The tools in the brain are the same for everyone. You can become whoever you want (quite literally), and achieve whatever you like. The brain will tell you what it will take to achieve the solution you want. You just take the small steps initially and later the steps you take will be large and sweeping as you gather and understand more patterns. Eventually you will have the power to see through any problem and understand the solutions that need to be implemented to solve them.
Geniuses are really people who have been given the right environment (especially in the early stages in life) to feel encouraged to learn, be given adequate time to find solutions, and are given regular rewards from other people once the solutions are found, and this in turn helps the genius to raise their positive emotions. Then the person feels great about themselves, more confident, and they are more likely to enhance their own learning by trying greater things for themselves without any prompting from others. The geniuses make use of the extra time in the early stages of education (especially during school holidays) to get ahead by learning more patterns than the average person would normally learn patterns which anyone can learn straightaway if they so choose and so long as books or other materials are designed well and can be accessed to help explain things better.
Once you have the patterns, you practice your acquired solutions with others or yourself through play to see how well you have figured out something. And at every step you enjoy what you do, turning things into games so it becomes fun and easy to remember.
We call this the application of accelerated learning techniques.
That's all there is to it. There is no great secret to becoming a genius. You are gifted right from the beginning with the tools to become a great person and a true genius in your own right. You just need the people around you and your environment to help you unlock your potential no matter what stage in life you are at. Their encouragement and positive reinforcement will entice you to try greater things. The learning of new patterns will accelerate like a runaway train, and you will in due time discover things that no one else has ever seen before. Then these new discoveries will continue to encourage you to go further without assistance form others. You are truly free and independent of anyone else. No one can tell you how to think. This is the beauty of your humble yet powerful brain.
"But what about genetics?" you ask.
Of course there is a genetic element to making a genius. For example, it is clearly very difficult if you are born with little or no frontal cortex because of a genetic defect. Or if you don't have enough neurons in the brain, learn can be difficult or restricted to a few essential patterns mainly related to your survival. But when all the tools of the brain are intact and functioning properly and with the normal numbers of neurons available to us, and this effectively means you, anyone can become a genius in their own right in any field they so choose.
All you need is sufficient time and a loving and relaxing environment with access to the extra tools (e.g. a quality, durable and simple laptop combined with easy-to-use software tools where you can concentrate on learning other things (and certainly not on constantly updating your software or laptop itself by companies more interested in making a profit out of you). When you are focussed on the key information you need to know, you will see patterns more easily and learn them well. Over time, you become quicker at doing this. And for the learning to be most effective, you need to combine your emotions. Hence the reason you play regular games to enhance the learning and you will be amazed at how quickly you will learn and apply the patterns (or solutions) to real-life.
All this is a form of love you deserve to have right from the moment you are conceived and born into this world, to the moment you decide you do not wish to learn any more and die. Having a relaxing environment to make learning fun and interesting is so critical to developing a healthy and powerful brain. Never forget this point.
The obstacles people put in front of you
Sure, modern society can restrict us in what we can learn. Time is one factor to affect how we learn. There seems to be so little of it available to us. Time is money. And sometimes some people want you to think in a certain way because there is a hidden agenda of why those people want you to think in a certain way.
Ignore those people who tell you you should do this or that and the timeframe it should be done, saying this is normal or how it should be done. You decide what is important to learn and the solution you think needs to be implemented for the world. And you decide how much is a reasonable time to figure something out. Sure, you can work with others as this may speed up the problem-solving process. But remember, if everyone else thinks in the same way, the solution to problems may not be the best or sometimes finding the solution is too difficult.
Sometimes, you need to be on your own, or be with people from different walks of life and experiences to help you see different and original solutions.
Not able to find a relaxing environment? Are the pressures from others to perform and find solutions for how they expect you to do things is too great and no love is heading your way? Your brain is a resilient and powerful tool. Occasionally great things can be achieved in this less than ideal situation. However, more often than not the risks of damaging your brain can be great should you find yourself in this unfortunate and stressful situation.
You must make the final decision how to achieve something given the available tools and time at your disposal. You decide what it is you need to make it all happen.
The brain has limits
This brings us to another side of the brain that you need to be aware of. It concerns the limits of how far the brain can tolerate stresses during problem-solving and why they occur in modern society. And how much responsibility should be placed on the individual or society for this situation?
As scientists have found out, there are physical limits to how fast and how much problem-solving your brain can handle at any one time. This is especially true if you are not mentally well-trained and able to switch between the hemispheres of the brain quickly enough. Indeed, you cannot force the brain to do more than it can. So much of what you can achieve with your brain is determined by how much information by way of experiences and knowledge you have gathered and understood as well as how much problem-solving you choose to perform to the information when trying to simplify everything to their essential patterns (known as wisdom) and eventually form new patterns. And you have to believe you can simplify and see the connections between all things to help you see the patterns.
All this takes time. That is the reality.
Unfortunately, time appears to be another valuable commodity in modern society we can’t afford to lose. We can't wait to have our profits. And time costs money. It seems the only time you have to learn something properly is when you are young. And even then, society has its own ideas of the things you should learn at which time in your year of education you should learn about something (even if you want to get ahead), and how much it should cost (why should education cost money?). And people expect you will only learn those things of importance to them and within a timeframe they expect you to achieve. The problem is, many L-brain people are not expecting new knowledge to be discovered when you apply yourself properly to understanding the problems. People expect you to simply remember the patterns that other people have discovered for themselves but don't expect you to question those patterns. These are familiar patterns to others and has always been like this, so why rock the boat? Just regurgitate the known facts and apply them to other problems that society wants you to solve. You don't need to solve things in an original way.
If you want to be truly balanced and independent and eventually have the speed to learn and ability to generate new ideas and patterns, you have to gather enough information for yourself from different sources and you have to think in your own free time about what you have acquired. You must find out the fundamental truth to anything you want to understand, not just the half-truths that some people will present to you. You must record and remember various important facts and ideas. Use a database system to help achieve this quickly and sort the information in different ways. Then you must visualise the information and determine what is relevant or not.
Remember, all this takes time, especially in the early stages of your education. You must be given time to see the links between things.
But don't think you will know everything straightaway or that the solutions you find will be the same as others have uncovered. You have to realise that sometimes the interpretations made by others and the solutions they have found could be wrong (or different) and you have to look more broadly at different areas to recognise this possibility. Sometimes you will see a solution in another area (even esoteric fields such as UFOs and religion to name a few) that can help to solve a long-standing problem in another particular field (say, a physics problem). Going deeper into certain knowledge is only one aspect. This is just one level of genius you need to be. Looking broadly at a range of different fields gives you greater insights into the mysteries of certain problems in other fields. This is the second and most important level of becoming a genius.
Use your creativity to see the differences and similarities. This is another skill of the genius. Also create emotional pictures that enhance the memory and recall of specific patterns you consider important. Again another level of a genius. Then you simply use your creativity and visualisation skills to juggle the patterns around in your head and creating new links until you recognise a larger and potentially original pattern (or create a funny picture that helps with enhancing your positive emotions and so help you to recall it more easily). Here will lie the solution you are seeking.
Remember, sometimes the solutions you find will be unique. They will be things that other people have not seen before.
And when people say what you have uncovered is pure genius, tell them that anyone could have achieved this. Be humble. No point in making people feel they can't achieve anything. Encourage them to think that they too can achieve the exact same things if given time. It is just that you made the decision to find out for yourself.
All this will take time. In the right supportive environment, it can be achieved more quickly. If not, well what's a few years extra time in the whole scheme of things? You will still achieve the same outcome. All you have to do is decide which area you wish to learn and understand and see where it takes you.
Remember, always give yourself enough time.
What happens if we do not give ourselves enough time and to look after our brains?
If you do not give yourself time and you push your brain too fast and without adequate support and resources you need, the brain is like any other organ in the human body: it will breakdown. The most likely area where this will occur is in the corpus callosum and in the wires connecting the L- and R-brain to the frontal cortex. Any damage to these wires will result in a reduction in size of the frontal cortex and with it a reduction in your ability to problem-solve.
Worse still, damage to the wires that shuttle information back and forth between the L- and R-brains can result after a period of time in the type of one-sided thinking and eventually the implementation of solutions that could result in extreme one-sided behaviours that are either highly repetitive or robotic-like, or extremely volatile, spontaneous and creative. And often the behaviours cannot be changed irrespective of what other people might say unless psychosomatic drugs are used.
And in other situations, damage to the frontal cortex may also result in the brain trying to re-create this frontal cortex function in another part of the brain to help compensate for the loss, and this could result in hallucinations and voices in the head as patterns created in the new region interfere with other functions located in the same general area.
This is the risk you take with learning and problem-solving too fast in an environment that is not loving, supportive, and able to provide the necessary resources the brain needs to perform its tasks as it should given its complexity and size. Your brain deserves much better than this.
The old definition for mental illness
According to the McDraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology 1987, mental illness is not a well-defined term. It states in Volume 10, on page 593:
"An imprecise term commonly applied to a variety of disturbances of thinking, emotional reaction, and conduct."
A very superficial definition no doubt based on general observations of human behaviour by psychologists. Except now, for the first time, a clearer definition for mental illness can be presented after conducting this research work into the human brain.
Firstly, on a social level, mental illness may be defined as a long-term disturbance in the mind resulting in overt behaviours described as not 'normal'. In this research, not "normal" means displaying extreme L- and R-brain behaviours, disrupting other functions of the brain to compensate for the loss of frontal cortex functions, and the inability to learn new behaviours to balance the L- and R-brain behaviours because of damage to the corpus callosum and frontal cortex region.
On a physical level, mental illness is likely to be the result of nerve damage through tiny ruptures in the blood vessels of the brain (called strokes), especially within the corpus callosum linking the left-cerebral hemisphere with the right-cerebral hemisphere, and/or the frontal cortex where information from the left- and right-cerebral hemispheres is brought together and processed.
When this happens, mental illness need not necessarily take place immediately (it is likely a stroke may cause a change in the way certain smells of familiar substances are recognised and interpreted often in a different way from other people, a sudden ringing in the ear, the occasional hallucinations etc). However if the brain consistently needs the function of the frontal cortex because the person is under excessive stress to solve a problem and for some reason this is not sufficiently well-developed, mental illness is likely to take place in two ways:
- Reduced brain functions in the damaged frontal cortex may be recreated in other parts of the brain. If the recreated functions interfere with certain other brain functions, a person may suffer what is known as motor control problems and/or visual and auditory delusions such as voices in the head or hallucinations. This is probably how schizophrenia develops for some people.
- When the frontal cortex and/or corpus callosum are sufficiently damaged or underdeveloped, one side of the cerebral hemisphere or the other may dominate without control, resulting in the creation of new "unbalanced" behaviours (e.g. greater creative abilities that are totally incomprehensible to understand). The behaviour may quickly get reinforced (especially for young people) until it is extreme because there is nothing to help the brain balance this situation.
NOTE: There are cases where people who suffer a stroke can suddenly develop opposite brain skills to what they were used to before the stroke. For example, an older person who has developed and applied extensive L-brain skills throughout life (e.g. construction workers, communicators and managers etc) may suddenly develop exceptional R-brain skills of drawing and other creative abilities after a stroke.
Thus one of the classic consequences of this breakdown of the improperly trained corpus callosum (usually after a rapid switching over in the direction of information flow and the blood supply is not well-developed to handle it) is one cerebral hemisphere may function uncontrollably and produce solutions that are turned into extreme L-brain or R-brain behaviours characteristic of many types of abnormal behaviour we see in mentally-ill patients such as spontaneously uncontrolled episodes of highly creative and emotional behaviours for no apparent reason, or getting stuck in an endless repetitive loop of behaviour such as walking around in a circle, talking the same words or unintelligible sounds, or constantly moving the arms or legs in a highly specific manner. (1)
To put it more simply, mental illness is a form of brain damage through bleeding from blood vessels caused by excessive problem-solving (2) which is often exacerbated by poor support and training. In other words, society does not love people sufficiently to look after their brains and help them to development into balanced and loving individuals. Also, genetics can play an important. However, the majority of cases with mental illness are due to a poor environment lacking in the necessary support for a developing and growing brain. People need love, always.
NOTE: A new study by Dr Karen Cullen is starting to reveal evidence of breaking blood vessels in the brain causing damage to nerves and leaving behind "brain plaques" thought to play an important role in creating Alzheimer's disease. It is about blood flow and how the blood vessels in the brain can cope with the pressure. It is likely the same process is taking place in the development of mental illness.
Yes, but how do you damage the blood vessels in the first place?
Damage to this part of the brain linking the two cerebral hemispheres is thought to occur when a large amount of electrical and chemical information flows in one direction through the corpus callosum, followed by a sudden and unexpected change in the direction of this flow during an intense and stressful activity requiring extensive problem-solving by the individual. All this requires a reasonable amount of blood to be pumped to support this activity. Also the frontal cortex can experience something similar because of excessive amounts of information coming from both cerebral hemispheres making it difficult for it to find meaningful and simplified balanced patterns and behaviours.
Mental illness can also go in the reverse direction where a lack of problem-solving in an area of reasonable enjoyment and interest to keep the mind active and healthy can lead to depression. Once extreme depression is reached, the brain will seek to solve problem. If it is done in a negative way, suicide is common. However, you must choose the positive path by learning to find ways to be happy, and tackling head on the limitations in the environment and others that has led you to where you are. Do you need someone else to give you a positive outlook and support your aims for a happier future? Then find that person. Also, do something positive for others and oneself in order to bring greater balance to the situation, and you will find you are happier than before.
This brings us back to the point where we must realise eventually how important it is to balance everything we do. Never stop learning, and balance this with adequate moments to relax and get plenty of sleep. Go out a play a bit. Have some fun. And never think at any time that you are not good enough to achieve great things. Of course you can do great things. With love and support, you can do anything you want. It doesn't matter if the achievement is finding ways to help another person. A person who is sick and brought back to health by various means is just as great as sending a man to the Moon. Do not underestimate the power of giving as a form of achievement. If you give help by using the creative side of your brain and the practical side of how to implement the solutions to maximising and achieving the greatest help, people will always see you as a great person.
Can mental illness be transferred to our genes?
Yes and no. In the early stages of mental illness where there isn't a history of the problem in the family tree, there is not likely to be enough time for microevolution to take place and make changes to the genes to support a permanent change in the brain structure through the development of specific proteins. However, if given enough time, the genes can be modified.
The only way to reverse it is to simply not get into the situation of being stressed. If the environment is lacking in resources and other forms of support, change it. Or go elsewhere. There is no point staying where you are. But if you are strong and willing to tackle the problem head on, you need to be more resilient in this type of environment. And that means you must practice using the mind as a long-term problem solving tool. Try to create a relaxing and supportive environment (even if it is in your own bedroom, or a corner of some café shop). Start with the simple problems and solve them, and work upwards to solving slightly more complex problems. However, never apply yourself to problems that are too difficult too early, or ones that cannot be solved within reasonable times.
Do this a number of times and you will not only solve all your problems, but you will reach a point where the skills you have developed in the brain will be powerful enough to solve any problem set before you. You are now ready to take on the world.
Remember, mental illness is not like a virus where you can catch it simply by touching another person. There is nothing transferred to affect you unless you try to think and act in the same way as the mentally-ill person for a very long time.
Mental illness is nature's way of telling you there is a limit to how much of the human brain can be applied to solving problems, often as a result of an imbalanced, unsupportive, and non-emotional manner. The brain is an organ requiring good training, lots of positive reinforcement, plenty of time to sleep and relax, and giving yourself adequate time to solve problems. You need these things for a truly balanced and healthy mind. And most importantly, for the sake of good positive emotional development, you must regularly enjoy what you do with your brain. Remember, it is your brain. It is not owned by anyone else. You decide how you should apply the brain to solve problems.
What happens if you suffer from mental illness?
If you are already suffering mental illness, some psychotherapy drugs can provide long-term benefits. In the long term, unfortunately, the damage to the brain is permanent. To stop mental illness you must ensure plenty of rest, and access to love and quality resources (e.g. food and education). There is no magic cure to reversing brain damage. The brain will find ways to rebuild lost brain functions in other parts of the brain and perhaps the mental illness will subside and disappear. But in most cases, there is nothing we can do except care for those who suffer.
For those with less severe forms of mental illness, it may surprise people to know the brain can adapt to a level where it is possible not to observe any mental illness. Again, all this is dependent on the level of damage done to the brain.
Who is more susceptible to mental illness?
Virtually anyone is susceptible to it for the simple fact that each one of us has a brain and with it a limit to how much this organ can be applied to problem-solving. However, there are some groups of people who we should be particularly concerned about.
Firstly, young adults entering the L-brain "adult" world are more likely to experience mental illness because they have to understand certain changes occurring in their lives and an expectation from society to learn certain things as they grow from being a child into adults. For example, their bodies are changing, they have lots of exams to pass, there are lots of peer pressure in society to do this or that, and then there is the stress of finding employment, fitting in with society and being accepted, wondering whether there is enough money to buy a home and pay the bills, can they achieve something else in society with the resources available to them, and in trying to exercise a certain level of independence at home. All this will certainly test their brain's ability to problem-solve during this difficult time.
Secondly, people who retire from the familiar L-brain world into a brave new "more creative" and independent (possibly less team-oriented) world where they must now find a variety of different things to keep themselves preoccupied, happy and feeling like they are still part of the community even if they have to work on their own for long periods of time, will also put some stress on the L-brain types as they find a solution to their problems.
Generally, the ones we consider most susceptible to mental illness are those with an impoverished social network or deprived of some other fundamental "need", and/or who suffers from the negative effects of institutionalisation (i.e. the technique of creating "boxes" to classify and measure people, which is a predominantly L-brain activity).
Is it true that the older you are the less likely you will experience mental illness?
Well, yes and no. It depends on what personality type you are (i.e. L-brain, R-brain or balanced), how you perceive new challenges in life, the type of environment you are living in, and whether or not you have the tools or training to meet those challenges.
However, it is generally true that the older you are, the more mental and physical tools (or patterns) you have acquired, and the better your chances of coping with difficult problems later in life. However, there will always be the exception to this rule.
Should we be more concerned for the younger people?
Absolutely. Young people are not likely to be fully equipped with all the essential knowledge, skills, and other resources needed for them to solve problems properly, quickly, and in a balanced way (let alone whether they understand how their minds work). It is, therefore, imperative that society provides young people with all the knowledge and skills for developing a healthy brain (such as a very low-cost or free balanced education, a stable roof over their heads, adequate sleep and time to play and be creative, and access to healthy foods etc.). Otherwise the brains of a number of young people may rapidly acquire certain unhealthy patterns that will eventually emerge in society as "unbalanced" through behaviour. And if left unchecked, young people could even develop full-blown "mental illness" where the young brain may suffer permanent damage because of the extreme L-brain and R-brain behaviours shown and this will be more difficult to treat by doctors and psychologists later in life.
Society simply cannot afford to see this happen.
NOTE: Brain damage of this kind should not be seen as restricted to the corpus callosum or frontal cortex. It is also possible that epilepsy and other motor control problems may also follow a similar trend where extreme activity could lead to permanent brain damage or other similar significant changes in brain function in those areas controlling muscle. A simple and slow build-up is essential to training the brain and muscle to handle the patterns that are to be learnt.
How quickly does mental illness develop?
Signs of mental illness may be observed immediately should the damage to the corpus callosum and frontal lobes be large and very sudden. Or it may take some time for the effect of mental illness to be observed if the damage is small. Either way, the damage may also be accompanied by a reduction in the level of certain neurochemicals within specific parts of the cerebrum over time causing those neurological areas carrying the neurochemicals to eventually "switch off" or function in a different way.
Why the brain strain?
Leaving aside some genetic issues, the only other reason why the human brain has to be placed in this state of heightened activity for a prolonged period of time is because it needs to problem-solve something or there is a range of different problems to be solved. It means the person is under stress and seeking a solution.
The stress can come from many different sources. Sometimes the stress can come from the demands placed on us by something and/or someone else. Or, we may choose to do things that we think is important to achieve, often within a very short space of time or other serious restrictions in our available resources.
So perhaps the real question we need to ask ourselves with respect to the issue of mental illness is, "Why and how much problem-solving is considered acceptable for human beings?"
The typical sign of an activated corpus callosum can be seen from the level of stress people have to go through when solving their problems. When people say they are trying to cope with something (usually just prior to experiencing mental illness in extreme situations), what they're really trying to say is how much problem-solving they are having to do. The brain is, therefore, experiencing a heightened state of alertness and actively processing or transferring a large amount of information to different parts of the brain. This is normal, except when the issue is prolonged with no signs of being able to relax again.
Why do we have to problem-solve?
Problem-solving is a normal and necessary part of life. We all need to do some problem-solving because at some point in our lives we have to survive. Food does not come to us on a platter like you were lying on a hammock underneath a palm tree on a tropical island and a bartender comes up to you and hands you over a refreshingly cool pina colada. Real life isn’t always like this. You have to work a bit to finding what you need to survive. Work will involve some problem-solving. You see, it is a simple fact of life that we all have to problem-solve to some degree if we wish to survive long enough to achieve certain other goals in life. So when we ask, "What will I eat today?", "Where is that can of tuna?" or "How do I catch my fish in the ocean or river?", these questions are our way of creating problems for ourselves (with a little help from our brain and body) so we may problem-solve them (i.e., find ways to grab or catch the food, and then solve the biggest problem of our hunger by eating the food). Even the need to communicate is a form of problem-solving in itself. What words should we use? How do we string the words together to make sense for others? We have to learn the words first and know the basic structure of writing or speaking a sentence and then string them together. Yet we understand how useful communication can be to our survival, especially when dealing with other humans. (3)
The act of surviving in the real world is how humanity has been forced to develop a larger brain because it needed to solve the problems of surviving over many millions of years. Not just for food, but also our predators, and in dealing with our fellow human beings, as well as co-ordinating them to achieve things and so on.
However, humans are unusual in that even when we have what we need, there is still an inner propensity for us to continue solving problems for the sake of either finding new ways to make a bigger profit, or to keep ourselves constantly challenged. Why do we do it? Perhaps humans want to know the reason for their existence in this universe? Or maybe they are just bored of life, or worried about what death will bring when it comes, and need more excitement. It is okay for people to spend extra time problem-solving these things if they like. As we go beyond the problem of surviving and enter a moment of just wondering what else we can do, the urge to understand our purpose and why we are here gets stronger and stronger as our brain develops over time. This latter behaviour is known as human curiosity. Again a normal behaviour
Now this is fine and good when the extra problems being solved are seen as enjoyable and part of our hobby (because we are well-trained or just curious and want to know) and we choose to solve them with plenty of time up our sleeve to do it and as an innate expression of our curiosity to learn more about this universe we live in and give meaning to it. However, what happens when we don't want to solve unmeaningful problems for other people and we begin to lose sight of the difference between need and want? How do we know we aren't solving problems for everyone on a constant basis because others have a desire to have what they want as well as what they need? Or is the necessity to survive by solving the "needy" problems now been supplemented by our want to enjoy all of life's modern conveniences just to make ourselves feel better again (4)?
This may be the fundamental issue of why people get stressed. You see, we all want to find a sense of meaning in our lives: why we have to go to work, why we have to exist in this Universe etc. In the here-and-now moment, we also desire to be loved and for others to notice the things we achieve when we apply ourselves to certain things. We also want to feel accepted in society and the people who we are with. We want to know that we can survive comfortably and yet still be able to achieve something we love to learn about and apply, and with it help others. When we don’t have all these aspects of our lives fulfilled, problems can arise. If for any reason we cannot solve these problems, we desire things we want to make ourselves feel special (i.e., a kind of social status) to fill that part of us that is missing. And if we can’t achieve what we want, either we show a sense of apathy and eventually depression, or people normally have to solve a lot more problems than is considered normal for the brain to cope with to deal with the situation. When combined with often unrealistic expectations placed on us by others or ourselves wanting the problems to be solved and persists for a long time, that is when the stress can become unhealthy for the brain.
So it isn't just the untrained individual being placed under potentially enormous brain strain which can be a problem. It can also be the unrelenting pressure of fulfilling the wants of others and oneself that can be another problem in itself. Or it can also be that we feel we must be like others by solving those problems we really don't need to worry about. All we need is simply to feel loved by someone else. That is probably all anyone ever needs. Everything else should be considered a bonus once we have the confidence of knowing we can do anything.
What are the consequences for people who don't know the difference between needs and wants?
The boundary between needs and wants has become increasingly more blurred from the way people have learned to behave in modern Western society. All we have to do is take a look a number of business people conducting themselves in society to make money (to either satisfy their own and/or shareholders wants) and how this, together with our high population levels, are creating extraordinary levels of stress for people and the environment.
The consequences of such behaviour then spills over and creates other major social problems such as poverty, unemployment, a breakdown in human relationships, eating the wrong food types by choosing unhealthy fast foods, hyperactivity in children etc.
Then people wonder why life is getting difficult. Soon they have to problem-solve if it affects them too much. The question is, can they cope with the amount of work needed to find a solution? Or will they take the easy option of getting what they want through negative approaches in what we call crime (e.g., theft)?
Otherwise, do we give people enough time to find the best and most positive solutions and implement them outside of work and in their daily lives? That is the question we should ask ourselves.
People don't know how much problem-solving is acceptable
That is another problem in itself. Having everything we want can lead to this unfortunate scenario. There is a belief that we must have everything we want simply because we think it will maximise our survival, make us more socially acceptable, and be happy. In other words, we still feel insecure in ourselves because we don't know how much is enough to maintain our survival for the rest of our lives. What we don't realise, however, is that this constant desire to "having what we want in order to feel more secure" may actually be creating excessive problem-solving for ourselves and others and hence more stress which could in turn threaten our mental health (not to mention the possibility of threatening the survival of our species from an environmental perspective, and perhaps through wars between nations seeking natural resources).
Another classic example is the bad employer who does not know (or perhaps do know but does not want to tell you) how much it is asking of his/her employees. You see this with a number of employers where they seem to want more from you over time by quietly introducing additional workloads (because it saves them more money, especially if you know how to multiskill and achieve more things). You know what is needed to do the job as covered in your duty statement. Over time, you feel confident and do the tasks well. Perhaps a little too well. You come up with original solutions that blows away everything that was done before by others, and the employer will know it. The employer may then take advantage of the situation by quietly including an extra line in the duty statement stating that they may ask you to do other unspecified tasks as they see fit. Then they take advantage of you. But they won't saying anything of what it is they want until you can do the rest of your other duties well and can see you have extra time. Then you might think falsely that this is a moment you can relax a bit, thinking about better ways of doing things, or simply try something different from the work you normally do (knowing you have done everything that is needed). However, suddenly the employer discovers you seem to have extra time up your sleeve. The employer asks you to perform other duties that was never in the duty statement or in the job description advertised in newspapers or mentioned by the employer during a job interview. Slowly the employer tries to get you to do more things in the way the employer expects you to perform them. Why? Because he/she thinks it is reasonable. It is not illegal if there is an open-ended statement in the document suggesting the employee can be asked to do anything. If just gives the employer the opportunity to ask for more and presumably not get into trouble under the law. However, if there is no indication of what kind of reward the employer is providing you (e.g., a higher salary) for what he/she is asking, this is effectively slave labour. Unfortunately for some employees (and if they do not know their legal rights) choose not to complain. Because if you do, the employer may claim you are not fulfilling the obligations in your duty statement and, therefore, have enough reason to sack you.
Well, not quite. The law for employment relations does have a few words to say about this to an employer.
Idiots running the management side of certain companies and even other institutions (especially Christian-based ones) really do need to wake up and get their priorities right. And if there is an agenda based on some other form of discrimination, it is time to deal with them very quickly or the law will settle the problem for them.
And it isn't the fact that some employers take advantage of your brilliance at work. They may also have certain agendas like, "I wonder, is he a Christian who prays in Church? If not, well, let's apply more pressure through extra work so we can get rid of the person despite how good he is at his job."
Basically, employers can discriminate employees quite happily if it serves a purpose and achieves an aim on the basis of religion, race, sex and anything else they care to focus on. And they will do it quietly to pretend like they don’t know what is going on. And if an employee raises any concerns about this, the employer (and his/her own lawyers with previous business dealings for the employer) will interpret it all as just the employee’s “perception” of certain events observed.
No wonder there are some employees who suffer mental illness.
So how do you deal with this? The easiest solution is to find another job, but that is too easy for the employer. That is exactly what the employer wants you to do. Therefore, if you have the tenacity, brain skills, and effective communication to do it, take on the employer. Firstly, you need to take note of the actions and decisions employers make and the demands they place on you. You more you are armed with this information, including date and time together with any emails or other written evidence (if necessary, you write the evidence to the employer, never anything verbal or else write it down afterwards and give it to the employer, to confirm what you heard and see if the employer confirms it too or does nothing, which in the latter will still be seen by the legal profession as an acknowledgement from the employer that what you heard is indeed correct unless they write otherwise). Then you need to be smarter than the employer by claiming your existing and standard work expected of you in your duty statement is taking up nearly all of your time. Whether that is actually true or not is not something you need to tell your employer. There is no need for it. Make yourself look busy with various jobs when the employer comes around (or sends certain people to see what you are doing). Even pretend like you are doing work and as soon as the employer disappears, you can take out a book and read the next chapter. But make sure the work you are meant to be there to do is being done. For example, if you job requires printing to be done and there is no immediate need to print anything else at that moment in time, just put through a blank piece of paper as the master copy through the machine, and let the copies come out blank. Then you just re-use the copies in another print job when you are required to get things done (i.e., an actual print job arrives). The employer may look at the stats on the network and get the perception that you are doing your work. That is the kind of thing you should be doing to deal with an opportunistic employer.
Thus, if your employer subjects you to more work because of some agenda or he/she wants to have slave labour, you don't get more creative and efficient in your solutions for your organisation. You use your creativity in the opposite way to ensure you have the time to do what you want and help other people in different ways. Otherwise, if you don't get smarter with your employer, eventually the employer will lose the plot of why employees are there, and the employees slowly become increasingly stressed until they too lose the plot of the job they are meant to do and the company they work for. Then serious problems begin.
Basically, if the employer wants to be an asshole by demanding more from you, you return the favour quietly through clever techniques that make it harder for the employer to demand more from you. Make sure the employer can't see what you are doing. Make it look like you have plenty on your plate to do. If you can do more and want to do more, sure go for it if the employer is nice to you. More responsibilities should translate into more pay. Fine. However, if it is clear to you the employer has an agenda and/or is not willing to pay you more, why give the employer more of your time and effort? You don't have to. Employers who think they can ask for more (for whatever reason) must wake up and realise it is up to you to choose and decide whether or not to give more, not the other way around.
Why? Because it is your mental health that is at stake. No one has the right to tell you to mentally suffer a nervous breakdown because some idiot thinks he/she can ask for more to improve his/her own bonuses and get paid more money from his/her own boss, or because they have a secret agenda and wish to discriminate you.
You see, we live in a world requiring extensive problem-solving, perhaps more so than is necessary because of our desire (or other people's desires) to have what we want and not just what we need, not to mention how hard it is to get what we need and want given how many people are now doing the same thing (5). This, according to L-brain people, is what they call reality although this is not the case for people described as R-brain. R-brain types can create a different reality that does not follow this L-brain trend.
In other words, you can balance the situation at any time. The only difficulty is how to maintain your survival when you try different things, sometimes against the norms and conventions of the business world and your employers.
Maybe it is necessary to find a different job, or to be your own employer starting up your own business. Or be clever in achieving different things quietly without anyone noticing so you can balance the situation without ever affecting your survival needs.
And all this focus by employers on analysing the performance of individuals at work and making claims they can get people to work harder in what the employers claim is greater productivity for the money they spend on people's salaries is idiot work. Employers should be focusing on the opposite: how much extra free time can they give to their employees for coming up with new and original solutions that saves the company a load of money in terms of costs, or helps to increase profit? How much freedom can we give employees to let them decide what else they like to do beyond work. Or do they want to go home early everyday to achieve other things? Now that is the more R-brain approach to work.
Are we really being obsessed with having what we want?
Well, let us put it this way.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, if every human being in the world were to consume and pollute to the same degree as the people of the United States and Western Europe do at the moment, the human race would need at least another two more planets like the Earth to provide all the resources.
Is this the way we should think and do things in the 21st century and beyond when many other people in the world are fighting to solve problems and have their needs met, while others are dying because of mental illness and starvation?
People need to wake up to the reality created by L-brain people who want too many things rather than a focus on needs and being happy with what we have and doing something else of a noble cause.
How can we solve the problem of mental illness?
It seems we may already know the answer. We either take pain relievers or perhaps the harder forms of drugs like cocaine; perform regular physical activity; consume vitamin pills; spend more time with the family; take time off from work; have sex; do some gardening; get out more often doing what we like to do etc.
Or why not stick a finger or two up in the air and as a show of defiance in the direction of their profit-motivated employers as a form of stress relief? Perfectly fine to do in anyone’s language.
But now that we have a better understanding of what is causing mental illness and why, we can do something about it. In other words, we can create a new, more balanced form of reality if we choose to do so. In a L-brain society that values direct observation and being highly rational, thinking more R-brain is your weapon to greater balance while you quietly achieve more things with greater ease often against the odds of what other L-brain people may think is impossible.
And don't make a fuss about it when you do change the reality of your situation. Use it to your advantage (while keeping in mind the positive things you can achieve for others who deserve the help from you).
This explains why many people in western society are interested in watching lifestyle (gardening, home renovations, holiday etc) and (non-violent) nature programs on television, and in fictional or real stories of people escaping the hustle and bustle of city life (e.g. the highly popular ABC series Seachange).
People understand there is a need for balance in society. By watching these television programs and eventually trying to experience what they see for themselves is their way of trying to reduce the stress and achieving a greater sense of balance they are longing to find in their lives. Even things people try not to talk about in public (especially to their employers), such as taking a day off work and sleeping in late, as well as having sex and watching pornographic videos at home are all examples of ways to keep the mind and body relaxed and in balance.
It is through the act of balancing ourselves that we begin to sense the greater reality of life, become more human, and become one with all things.
There are some dubious religious cults who will take advantage of this situation with people as they look for balance in their lives. Of particular concern are those which take advantage of the people's situation by taking away all their money, and in isolating them from friends and family outside the religious group in return for basic meditation sessions and having "creative fun" in group sessions (sometimes involving sexual activity).
It is better that you independently create your own science/religion to follow in your life, with the principle of love at the heart of it as you understand it. It should be one containing more balanced beliefs and actions which helps you to achieve greater balance and shows love to those who you affect through your actions. And it shouldn't cost you a cent. Listen to everyone around you as you refine your beliefs to a level of greater balance. But you choose how to balance your life.
If you choose for yourself to engage in sex, meditation or other activities as a means of balancing yourself, that is your choice. It is up to you to decide what it is you need to balance yourself.
Nobody should ever impose their beliefs on you. You decide based on the information you have gathered the best way to live your life.
The critical thing to realise when solving mental illness is to understand the meaning of the word "support". The word "support" and trying to "relax" is often a recurring theme. People who suffer from mental illness are or were stressed and were unsupported in some particularly "needy" area. Perhaps the support was there, but they were not quite aware of it. Or perhaps there was a barrier that needed to be overcomed. Whatever the situation, it is important to remember that adequate and timely support to the person suffering the illness is vital.
For example, the importance of stable long-term accommodation for which the person can describe as his/her home and with no other pressures from those living under the same roof is vital for a healthy mental state. If you don't have your own accommodation, you are more likely to suffer mental illness. For example, statistics of elderly people living in sheltered accommodation are more likely to experience psychosis (24%) than people who live at home (4%).
Good support does not necessarily have to cost a lot to society. Just being there for someone, listening to their needs and experiences, and giving them a hug and a helping hand every now-and-then is usually enough to help many people suffering from mental illness to feel better, and not just for those who are already healthy.
Support could also mean giving people more leisure time to be creative to help them balance themselves in a natural way.
It is a well-known fact in psychiatry that people who undertake certain types of therapy that promotes creative expression can, and usually do, improve their mental health given enough time. Similarly, people who undertake certain types of therapy that promotes some kind of practical activity for developing the left-brain can, and usually do, improve their mental health given enough time.
According to page 519, Volume 6, of the 1998 edition of Comprehensive Clinical Psychology: 'Rehabilitation remains one of the most poorly understood areas of mental health.' Now we may not have to be kept in the dark.
The clue to more effective rehabilitation may well lie in the way the left- and right-sides of the brain function and coordinate themselves in a balanced way. Perhaps we can begin by acknowledging the L-brain nature of society and start implementing serious R-brain activities to counteract the problems of mental illness.
Evidence to support this approach can be seen on page 532, Volume 6, of the 1998 edition of Comprehensive Clinical Psychology:
"The most common interventions for inpatients were "creative" therapies (art, drama, music - 46%), social activities (33%), ward groups (23%), and relaxation (21%)".
And finally, if self-regenerating nerve cells (like those commonly found in the brain stem of young babies, or the nerve cells found in the noses of people) could one day be a reality, it will assist in the repairing of damaged brain tissue and so put an end to all forms of mental illness. Otherwise, psychotherapy drugs are the only other solution. It is the least we can do for all those people who have suffered in our L-brain society.
NOTE 1: Creative therapies were first introduced after World War II to help war veterans and victims overcome extreme stress. It is believed this may be due to an overactive frontal lobe region trying hard to sort out the information acquired by veterans and victims during the war. Apparently creative therapies have an effect similar to drugs by helping to relax the frontal lobes and allowing other parts of the brain to rebalance itself.
NOTE 2: Since creative therapies do appear to help many mentally ill patients, this could provide evidence in support of the underdeveloped or damaged frontal lobes rather than an underdeveloped or damaged corpus callosum. Why? Because if mentally ill patients do improve through the therapies, some kind of information must be freely flowing between the L- and R-brain. The most logical place where this could happen is in the corpus callosum.
And why not let people creatively solve problems at work by finding better ways of doing things? Or if they don't, so what? If they have achieved everything that is required in their duty statement (ignoring the "unspecified duties") and people are happy with the results, reward them by giving them free time to do what they want to do. Let them read a book. Go out an exercise. Or let them suggest new ideas and make their own decisions based on their experiences in the position.
Make people feel more relaxed and happy in their work environment. Problem-solving should result in solutions that lead to greater relaxation as a reward, greater productivity for the company, and make life seem more meaningful.
People need leisure to improve their mental health. Restrict leisure time and you will almost certainly increase the risk of creating mental illness, especially for the L-brain types. R-brain types are much more difficult to restrict, due to their imagination and ability to do their own things quietly and behind the scenes.
In fact, there are many forms of support people need that do not have to cost society a lot to implement. And certainly not an arm and a leg as some employers may think.
For example, we know L-brain people usually find it difficult to be on their own for long periods of time. Therefore L-brain people are more likely to experience psychosis and other forms of mental illness because of extreme solitude. A common situation would be the typical case of an old woman (around 70 years) who has worked as a legal secretary (i.e. usually L-brain skills with good social skills) and lives alone (i.e. a potentially stressful situation for a L-brain person). Then another person suddenly enters her life. The presence of the person helps to relieve her stress and soon she behaves normally. Sometime later, the person moves away and the item of relaxation and/or need in her life is removed. She develops stress in her life. If the stress persists for a long time, symptoms of mental illness can develop whereby her brain may try to create hallucinations (e.g. voices of the person with whom she cares for). If the hallucinations are uncontrolled and the stress is not properly alleviated, she may require medical assistance. This is what can happen when the right support for a L-brain person is not given.
Support is effectively a reward in itself as well as the means by which we can reach our full potential.
Therefore it is vitally important to support L-brain people in such simple areas as just being there for someone, giving them a hug, listening to their story, and finding ways to help them solve their problem, or at least ensure his/her needs are met. This should not have to cost society a lot to provide this kind of social support system. And why do we do it? Well, do we not value human beings enough?
Do we not see the potential for humans to achieve great things when we support them? Are we that blind? For a L-brain society that values seeing and observing things directly before supporting them, we have the knack to not see certain things when we choose to. That is why modern society has no faith in its own people to achieve great things. Too many L-brain people are unable to grasp the fact that when we choose to apply ourselves to something of value to society, it will be achieved. How quickly it gets achieved depends on the support and faith shown by other people.
And what about for those described as R-brain types? What happens if we try to immerse them in a highly competitive and communicative L-brain society without positive and encouraging people around them? This is likely to create unnecessary stress for these people. For example, it is not uncommon for R-brain people to enjoy being on their own while they go about finding a simpler way of doing things as well as achieving more worthwhile goals for the good of society and themselves. Forcing R-brain people to suddenly live in a world full of L-brain people talking about everyday things and expecting things to be done in a specific way (and probably not the most effective way as the R-brain people see it) is likely to create unnecessary stress to R-brain people and eventually with everyone else.
The lack of support is one thing. Stress can also come from the way L-brain people categorise other people.
You see, L-brain people like to create in their heads a lot of little "boxes" and name these boxes in any way they like. If the "boxes" relate to people in some way and also have a negative connotation associated with them, discrimination and other forms of social division will occur and this is more likely to increase the chances of creating mental illness among the disadvantaged groups (and hence more likely to create greater L-brain behaviours in the L-brain people to deal with such problems). If not, social conflict will take place as people fight for respect and equality.
To alleviate this problem, we must deal with the L-brain people's own insecurity and low self-esteem problems expressed through their poor choice of categorisation and communications head on. Then we must teach them the meaning of life and why we must support everyone and in return they will see the benefit of that support. Finally we have to solve whatever problems the L-brain people have when resorting to poor communication and behaviours with other people, because usually it is the result of a lack of love for the L-brain people by other people that has resulted in a poor choice of words for describing other people.
Bullying, including the aggressive management styles of unrealistic deadlines, high work expectations, unhealthy skepticism and so on, is now the major cause of stress in the workplace for up to 2.5 million Australian employees. The cost to Australia in dealing with the effects of stress of this kind is $3 billion every year in lost productivity.
Malicious gossip is also another source of unnecessary stress for certain people and is costing Australia dearly in lost productivity. As The Canberra Times reported:
"Bullying and harrassment of staff could also be worsened by office gossip" (6)
While there is nothing wrong with having a healthy gossip and may in fact be a good way to relieve stress, negative gossip can have a damaging effect on people.
What do we mean by support?
When we talk about support, what we mean is (i) emotional support (e.g. listening to their story, giving them a simple hug, a total stranger saying "G'day" to them, or learning not to interfere in the affairs of others and so give people time to think through their problems and find creative solutions); (ii) physical support (e.g. long-term and safe accommodation, basic foods etc); and/or (iii) other forms of support as required to help people solve a particular "needy" problem.
The term supporting others does not necessarily have to mean giving away money and that is the end of that (7). Otherwise, the average taxpayer will soon turn into a bunch of cynics complaining about how their money is being wasted (in fact, it is probably not being wasted but rather it is just that they expect people who receive the support to work for society in the way they expect and not give these people the creativity to do things differently and so improve the way things are generally done in the real world), especially when they see certain people sitting around doing nothing (perhaps they are thinking up a solution or working out how to implement the solution?). Or perhaps they focus too much on the negative ways that certain support can bring such as some people using the money to purchase drugs to help cope with an inadequate and emotionally-deprived L-brain society having high expectations and not providing the steps for easy learning and freedom to apply their knowledge and skills to achieve great things.
People who are not in a position to have learned something and want to apply it should not be given money. Supporting others at this early stage should be about giving people what they need to survive, to grow into healthy individuals, and learn new skills and ideas of a non-monetary nature (get to the source of what is needed). But make sure whatever is needed for learning and survival is positive and helpful to their development.
It is possible that the ideal system for solving mental illness and all other world problems in the 21st century and beyond will require a balance between socialism and democratic ideas (8), business and the environment, creativity and rational thinking. Every person must be seen as equal not matter how little money or resources they may have. The hierarchical system of L-brain society has to be flattened out. Less emphasis on the people in a position of power, and more emphasis on allowing the average person on the street to achieve great things when given the tools for learning and the right patterns for living and achieving certain tasks.
Why should I show support to other people?
Support must be there to assist people in solving problems, especially if it is of a survival nature. If there are gaps in the support services, this usually equates to poor (or no) support in many people's mind, including the mentally ill.
Support shouldn't cost an arm and a leg. It is in the simple things that we do for others which can often make the biggest difference to people's lives.
Finally, the support we must give to people should also include the hope that they can solve all their problems, no matter how large or small they are. As Dr Ramesh Gupta, a senior specialist with the ACT Department of Health, has noted about people suffering depression:
"The patient doesn't think they're going to get any better. And that's the unfortunate thing because not only have they lost the light at the end of the tunnel, they've lost hope as well." (9)
So ensure people are adequately supported by giving them hope and other needy things, especially for those suffering mental illness. Otherwise the cost to the community will be great as the plight of individuals put under considerable stress continue to be ignored.
Do we need to be reminded of this through scenes of bloodshed on the battlefield or in our local neighbourhood, or of people robbing banks and invading people's homes, or the number of people starving on the streets, taking drugs or being locked up in prisons or mental institutions?
Listening to people's life story and their current problems is now part of the aim of psychologists to help alleviate or prevent people from experiencing mental illness (i.e. a form of support). For the talkative L-brain person, this is particularly important.
Understanding the story of others is the first thing to do. Later you can make the necessary environmental changes, give the person the required emotional, physical and/or other forms of support, and when they are ready, they may ask for an alternative approach to the original problem. However, the use of medicine (i.e. the clinical approach) for alleviating any kind of serious mental illness should be seen as a last resort, and only then should the safest drugs be used because they have the least side-effects and therefore are less likely to create stress to the person suffering mental illness.
Are people being properly supported and trained to handle problems effectively?
As mentioned before, according to the 1998 edition of Comprehensive Clinical Psychology, Volume 6, page 521, the following poor support structures were in place for mentally-ill patients:
- Lack of, or poor education (e.g. basic literacy, numeracy and self-help skills);
- Lack of, or poor financial support (including money management);
- Lack of, or poor housing (i.e. poor quality or unstable);
- Lack of, or poor social supports;
- Lack of, or poor levels of occupation/employment;
- Difficulties with close personal relationships (family etc).
What is the purpose of life?
We are here to help one another to achieve goal(s) that will ultimately help us and others to see the grander pattern of why we are here and where we are going.
Goal(s) have to be aligned to one that helps people and not just ourselves in achieving worthwhile and more positive things (i.e. a form of love) so that we solve all our personal and world problems and eventually understand the purpose and meaning for our existence in this universe.
Achieving positive and worthwhile goal(s) is one thing. But you have to make sure the journey towards these goal(s) is the most interesting and enjoyable you can make it.
Likewise, there is absolutely no point in struggling through life in achieving someone else's goal(s) if it doesn't have meaning to you and you can't enjoy the journey part as you reach for those goal(s).
You have got to enjoy what you are doing, or learn to use your creativity to make it enjoyable. Remember that old US Hollywood movie where Tom Cruise played the bartender as he juggled bottles and prepared drinks in an interesting way? That is what we mean by enjoying the journey and not just the goal(s).
Making things enjoyable using the things we have available is just another form of love and makes everyone feel better and want to achieve greater things. We all want to express our love while we have this wonderful moment to live in this universe.
So show your love to the world.
What can I do to prevent people from experiencing mental illness?
Here is what you do to avoid mental illness:
- Start young by rewarding and encouraging your child or young people around you for the simple things they can achieve. It doesn't matter what it is. A simple drawing, a one line spoken in a school play, the ability to kick a football well at least once, or anything else. Make them feel great for achieving something.
- You must acknowledge within yourself and with others of the imbalanced nature of the Western world. Understand the emphasis that people make on L-brain behaviours and ideas and why it is needed. Realise that people need to make money to survive (and have what they want). Once you become aware of this, you will know how to balance the situation;
- You must acknowledge the social responsibility you and the rest of society has for all your fellow human beings and not just yourself if you don't want to end up in complete solitude or a burden on society, or for something else terrible to happen to you if you do not do something to help others in some simple and effective way;
- You have to believe with all your heart and mind that you can change yourself and encourage those around you to do the same. Teach yourself or others various things, give them plenty of different experiences in order to create a far more stable and balanced personality and more positive outer world than you have ever known before;
- You must learn to create a more stable world by changing what is happening around you as well as the belief system within yourself, and to deal with the limitations of your environment so that it can properly support your "new" balanced beliefs and world view of how you want to see the world and yourself become;
- You must learn what it is to be a balanced individual by creating (and thus changing) your fundamental beliefs or paradigms and aligning them to something more balanced and sensible in your own and other people's minds. If other people don't want to learn, go elsewhere. Choose different people who do want to learn and are more positive in their thinking. Or be more independent and learn for yourself;
- You must let go of the negative or stressful words, high expectations at work, or whatever other people may have about you. Feel more free and less stressed by doing so. Words are just words. Duties you perform at work are just things you do for others. But you can choose other things to do that is more aligned to your preferred way of thinking and being more balanced. You are in control of how you want to think, feel and behave and the type of things you want to achieve while in the balanced state. Don't worry about what others may think about you. They are entitled to their own thoughts and feelings, and the same for yourself. Feel the power of knowing you are deciding the future you want to take;
- You must find what it is that you need to achieve for the good of society and not just yourself and then go ahead and achieve it. You know where the balance lies. So go for it. Is your work interfering with your real goal? Do only what you are needed in your job for an employer. See the job as a stepping stone to greater things. Use the income you earn to survive and then to achieve important steps towards reaching your ultimate goal. Employers only know so much about what they think is important. But if you are more balanced, you will know precisely what is more important to achieve. Anything you do for the employer is extremely minor in the whole scheme of things. Just do it well and quickly focus on the real issues that matter most in your life. The employer is just another demanding child wanting things to help give him/her the toys he/she wants from life. But you have more important things to achieve compared to your ordinary employer.
- If you want to be happy and healthy, you must choose where you want to live and what you want to achieve for the good of society. Then choose something else to further help yourself and society become more balanced and better than it is today. Whatever you choose to do, try to find something that not only benefits yourself, but will help to make society a better place to live for everyone. Choose something simple and small first before embarking on anything major;
- Do not be afraid to ask for what you need to help you achieve something worthwhile, not what you want. If you need basic food, a stable roof over your head, a safe place to live, and/or to talk to someone and get a hug, then ask for it. You are entitled to this or you would not have been born in the first place. The fact that you are here means you are entitled to the minimum requirements from society. It is then the responsibility of society to ensure those needs are met. If society doesn't, it is their problem not yours and you must do your own positive and worthwhile thing for the good of society to get what you need;
- You must find ways to ensure that what you need to achieve is the simplest and easiest way possible without costing society a lot. Be intelligent about this. Learn and see what you can do to achieve the same goals in a cheaper and easier way;
- You are finally out of the vicious survival circle and now what to achieve a great thing for society? Excellent! Again do not be afraid to ask for help if there are things that will help you to achieve your goal. Again apply yourself to learning to find ways to minimise the cost to society to achieve those things. Listen to people when they suggest different ways of doing things. Look at the benefits and compared this to how you wanted to achieve something. Are there better ways of achieving something?
- You must communicate and implement what you have achieved for the benefit of others and so help other people achieve their own goal(s) quickly and easily. When they achieve something sooner, you can achieve even more things quickly and easily. Society soon transforms itself faster to a state where it can become more balanced and people are free to try anything positive and worthwhile without causing problems for other people or the authorities. People can see the good in what you do;
You must allow other people to decide what problems to solve, how they are going to be solved, or whether it is simply not worth the effort to solve the problems (maybe it requires the skills and achievements of others to make your problems more easily achievable). Also remember to give people at the very minimum the following:
* Adequate rest
* A stable roof over their heads which they can call their home.
* The ability to concentrate on tasks for long periods of time.
* The love of knowing they are worthy citizens in society.
* Adequate finances to pay for the basic cost of living (e.g. foods, rent etc);
* Access to the essential resources that will help to achieve great outcomes from the people who want to do good for society.
- You must not depend on others or expect society to give you everything that you want. Anything that is received from society beyond the minimum requirements should be seen as a bonus (i.e. a kind of gift) and a means of helping you to reach your higher goals and eventually those of society more quickly;
- You must ensure there is the necessary support and resources available to, or at least not hinder or restrict, other individuals when achieving their own goals for the good of society such as adequate sleep and time (10). Only then, can every individual build up from this stable, supportive and simple environment and so eventually reach the balanced ideals and expectations of everyone in society. But don't worry, the expectations of balanced individuals in a balanced society will not be stressful or unrealistic. People are only expecting you to achieve your best in whatever you want to do and to show it with love as your expression of the thanks to those who have giving you the opportunity to come into this world and achieve what it is you want and which you think will make a difference for others;
- As part of your learning to become a more balanced individual, you must engage your mind and body in a variety of positive experiences and knowledge, preferably of a creative nature (since society is more L-brain at the moment) to help balance your mind. For example, learn to sing (karaoke-style perhaps), or go to a local gym or library and listen to positive, interesting and wide-ranging music while you are learning or exercising in a way that interests you and is most creative. Try different exercises. Try learning different ideas. Look for different sources until you find the one that explains the ideas more easily. Talk with different people. Ask to try different jobs and gain some experience in each one of them. Travel to other countries and see how other people have solved problems. But most of all, give yourself time for the brain to understand the world. For you will see in due time new ways of achieving things. Unique solutions will arrive. And you will be pleased by what you will find. Relax. It will happen for you;
- Eat quality foods such as fish, vegetables (11) and fruit as they help to build your brain and make it more able to learn and grow in a balanced way;
- Try to apply the fundamental principles of accelerated learning so that you can train your mind to properly and easily learn and solve problems in all facets of your life as well as to reduce the stress involved in dealing with any problem set before you. Apply your positive emotions to your learning. Give yourself plenty of rest. Sleep that extra hour or two if you need it. Don't be afraid. Let other people think you are lazy. But let them run around like a chook without its head achieving so many mundane things they feel is important. Remember, you have the power to achieve those things are more in a more efficient and creative way. You can make them look like the lazy people for not thinking more closely at what they are doing and how relevant those tasks are in the whole scheme of things. Remember, that extra sleep or moments you can relax is your opportunity on the subconscious level for the brain to sort out the information it has acquired for your choice of sources more effectively and present to you the essential patterns for understanding everything you have learnt; and
- And never be afraid to be who you want to be. You are a unique person with the skills and abilities to achieve unique and great things for society, beyond anything that your parents, your employers, or your government can ever imagine. Never underestimate the power of the individual to achieve great things for society. Sure, our L-brain society may think being in a group situation can achieve greater things than the individual. But with R-brain skills, you can reverse this and show the world what you can achieve greater things than society and is unique to you. The only thing people ask of you when you achieve your great thing is to know it will be positive and bring love to all people.
In essence, if all you want to do in your life is reduce unnecessary and excessive stress and get the support you need, and find time to train your mind to solve problems, from the easiest to the more complex. Use your brain and body as the instrument for learning new ways of doing things in an emotionally positive manner (12) which will help to increase your options and ultimately your chances of solving any type of problem you are likely to face today and in the future. Do this and, together with adequate support from others if you need it and in doing things at a pace you are able to cope with, and you will become a more balanced and healthier person, both mentally and physically.
But how can I solve all the problems in the world? There are too many people in the world to help and support. What can I do to help?
This is an age-old argument, expressed in many ways by government and business professionals. In other words, it is impossible to support so many people today. How can we give everyone the necessities of life if society is already trying to cut-back on its own support and resources?
Well, if the support and resources are so low and/or so expensive that we cannot meet the needs (not the wants!) of everyone, then we must ask ourselves, "Isn't it time we all think differently and start learning to control our population levels and build up our natural environment to ensure the needs of all are met?"
Indeed, are we applying the principles of recycling in everything that we do? Where is our focus on looking after the environment and ensuring adequate low-cost or free foods are available? Do we not have an abundance of timber to build small and energy-efficient houses. And why does everything have to cost? Are we so blind by our L-brain thinking that we don't see the potential achievements of people when they are left on their own to learn and apply what they learn? Must we force them to work in society to receive income to prove they are doing something worthwhile before we can let them do what they really need or want to do for society?
It is no wonder society is slow at achieving balance. We force others to follow our L-brain ways of doing things so we can become rich and powerful (and perhaps to maintain big secrets for our future benefit) and teaching others this is the way it should be when all the while there is a more balanced and brighter future waiting for everyone.
If we can't recycle properly and must allow things to get expensive, then why can't human population levels be controlled?
Well, there is a reason. Business professionals would shriek at the thought of population control because for them more people means more customers (14), and that equates to bigger profits. For example, the council of Adelaide in Australia are now encouraging more people, especially young high-income professionals, to move into the centre of the cities to help economically rejuvenate the area and give the council more money by asking the people to pay high council rates.
Unfortunately for people in the business world (and even those in government), the time has also come to start re-evaluating their own aim in life in the 21st century and beyond.
Are business professionals there to be self-sustainable and to ensure their own existence by learning to have what they need, or at least just enough profit? It might be a bit more difficult in a shareholder company. But why? Or are they designed to grow as rapidly as possible in a constantly changing and expanding manner in an attempt to globalise the world market, taking whatever they can from others and the environment, without limit or consideration of the social and environmental implications of this open-ended approach, and all for the sake of profit?
Where is the common sense in all of this?
When companies are recycling, they don't need to be constantly growing and expanding. And when people do the same thing and have what they need, there is no need to invest and put pressure on companies to make as much profit as possible.
And why? Because the cost of living is increasing because we don't recycle enough and learn to live within our means and focussing on what we need. We are too greedy as a species.
That is why the health system is being burdened by overweight and stressed people. The cost is too great. Too many people are competing for jobs and to survive. There are too many expectations from employers to be multiskilled and to problem-solve within increasingly tighter deadlines. And all this so we can be rich, thinking this will make us happy.
Does it make us happy?
What makes people happy is knowing they can achieve things for society and for themselves and can see the happiness those things bring to other people for as long as they can benefit from those things. What we achieve is more important tan the amount of money we can make.
When we die, people will not remember how much money we earned or even the skyscrapers we may build if they cannot benefit from it. Our names will be forgotten. But not the things that we achieve for the good of all. The more people who will benefit from our achievements, the more people remember those achievements.
And who we were at the time we achieved those things is immaterial. We will be forgotten as time passes. When the universe allows us the opportunity to return to this world in our next life, we can only hope we can continue to benefit from those achievements so we can achieve greater things and see what this universe has to offer.
There are far greater things in life than money and fame. And it is time that we all wake up and reach for the balanced reality we should be heading for and not the one that focuses on our wants while ignoring the potential of other humans.
Revolutions in human history are not unusual. As Donald Kennedy, President Emeritus of Standard University, has noted:
"I was struck by what a remarkable time 1890 must have been for the new institutions that were being founded and for the colleges that suddenly found themselves being turned into universities. But I also thought - and I believe it more strongly now - that 100 years later we may be experiencing the beginning of another revolution." (15)
The real question we should be asking is, "Who is benefiting from all of these revolutions - the profit-oriented individuals or the average socially-conscious person on the street?"
Perhaps we need one more revolution in the 21st century to set the record straight once and for all. Why not have a social (and "green") revolution to show the importance of the ordinary citizens on the street (and our natural environment) in solving all world problems in a balanced way?
In other words, why not everyone tell all the governments and businesses of the world the importance of ensuring our environment is well-protected and providing all the foods we need at little to no cost at all?
Then give people other fundamental needs like a roof over their heads. Finally, let people solve all the remaining problems in their own way as a form of contribution to society, rather than be dictated by businesses and the governments on what to do in such unnaturally short time frames on a regular basis. And only then, perhaps we may consider the possibility of creating other things in society which we may all have a chance to benefit.
Instead of focussing all the time on businesses and government ideas of constantly generating excessive profits and creating jobs through the L-brain approach as their solution to world problems, let the people create their own form of employment for the benefit of the global community.
Remember, all the money in the world will not solve all our problems, or properly make everyone happy. We need more than this.
Wealthy individuals have a mutual obligation (and a health benefit to themselves by feeling more happier and mentally healthier) to the rest of society to help everyone, and not just the poor who need to be given the chance to do the right thing by everyone else by doing something worthwhile for society. As Mr Bob Steege of Charnwood wrote to the editor of The Canberra Times on 19 August 2000:
"The Federal Coalition Government's weary mantra of "mutual obligation" as a justification of the continued bashing of the bottom end of town - now to be advanced through yet more of the welfare sector - would be more credible if the same principle were applied to the top end.
'The tax policy, over which they are still preening themselves, has done absolutely nothing to prevent the wealthy from sheltering behind corporate structures and trusts to avoid paying their fair share. The top end surely has a mutual obligation." (16)
The future can be bright for all of us. We just need to look at ourselves very carefully and what we are really achieving in life. Are we doing something that is important? Or are there better things we could be spending our time on? Once we know what to do with great clarity and a balanced mind, only then will we have a chance to change our beliefs and all of society for the better.
And if that can be done, not only will we become sufficiently balanced, but we will have truly attained the utopia of a society we all dream of. (17)