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Is mental illness a brain disease or disorder


WinterSky
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Since the thread "Personal Responsibility" is changing to what is mental illness, I thought I'd start this new thread. I have heard "mental illness", "disease", and "disorder" used interchangeably. Please refer to the following:

Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General (the most current report)

http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/mentalhealth/home.html

"We recognize that the brain is the integrator of thought, emotion, behavior, and health. Indeed, one of the foremost contributions of contemporary mental health research is the extent to which it has mended the destructive split between“mental” and“physical” health."

http://science-education.nih.gov/customers.nsf/MSMental

It states here that "mental illnesses such as depression are diseases of the brain". This is the curriculum for the classroom but you get the gist of what they are saying here.

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/strategic-planning-reports/nimh-strategic-plan-2008.pdf

"prevention, recovery, and cure" (sounds like disease to me), "public health burden that mental illnesses have", "continue to discover the fundamental knowledge about brain and behavior".

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disorder

If things go wrong in the pancreas, according to the definition here it is a disorder. But we all know that pancreatic cancer and diabetes are both diseases.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disease

Well...

Mental illness, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, all have to do with the health of the brain. The mind as we refer to it is just a model in psychology and has no real substance. The term mental has to do with things having to do with the mind. The brain is an organ just like the pancreas or the heart.

Edit: please note that this post is my understanding of the topic and not meant to be represented as fact. I just simply wanted to "pick your brain". :)

Edited by WinterSky
clarification
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Guest ASchwartz

HI all,

Body and mind are one and the same thing. We no longer think of them as separate and they are not. This is not philosophical, it's reality. We know that the neurons comprising the brain and nervous system run throughout every part of the body and that messages travel back and forth constantly and instantly.

Allan:)

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Excuse me if I was behind the door when brains were handed out but, where does the word mind come from?

I know that people have been saying things like: I'm out of my mind with worry! And, where have you been, out of my mind! But the word Brain comes with all our body parts (the human body) but no mention of mind?

So where did it come from?

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Allan, I respectfully disagree. This topic is as alive today in the halls of philosophy as it was in the time of Aristotle. I'm very aware of the position you are arguing from, but not everyone agrees and it is by no means a dead topic. Let's let people think things through and decide for themselves, is my motto. It is a very interesting thing to contemplate, and people should be allowed to do that.

Edited by finding my way
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Excuse me if I was behind the door when brains were handed out but, where does the word mind come from?

LOL Paula! You have plenty of brains! I am not sure where the word "mind" originated, but the origins I think comes from philosophy but I am not sure. I understand that "the mind" is also used as a model in psychology but I am not sure where I got that from. But it's always been my understanding for a long time. ;)

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HI all,

Body and mind are one and the same thing. We no longer think of them as separate and they are not. This is not philosophical, it's reality. We know that the neurons comprising the brain and nervous system run throughout every part of the body and that messages travel back and forth constantly and instantly.

Allan:)

I agree with this. It is how I understand it. If someone were religious then I can see how one might view this as philosophical. Personally, although I am not religious, I am in this body and all I can experience and understand is from my body. Everything in this existence is experiential. Although who we are is without physical substance (which is again debatable), our journey is experiential, wherever and however it may lead. I don't know what the point is, I don't know if there is anything beyond our senses or beyond our time; I can only hope that I will always be.

Allan, I respectfully disagree. This topic is as alive today in the halls of philosophy as it was in the time of Aristotle. I'm very aware of the position you are arguing from, but not everyone agrees and it is by no means a dead topic. Let's let people think things through and decide for themselves, is my motto. It is a very interesting thing to contemplate, and people should be allowed to do that.

I agree with this as well. Humankind is so much in its infancy, IMHO. We are learning so much every day. But without complete empirical evidence, we must start somewhere. Thus we each have our own personal philosophy to draw from, whether it be coming from a religious stance or a nonreligious stance. Our view is the only one we can have.

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Does it help to frame it this way: wondering about whether the mind is different from the body is not relevant when doing science. As far as science is concerned, when doing science, the brain/body is all there is and it is all physical. There is no difference between the mind and the body. This is reality according to science. And that is sufficient for many people too.

However, as a philosophical topic, there are all kinds of avenues to ponder, and that isn't even starting yet on religious ideas. You hit it right on the head, WinterSky, when you said:

"our journey is experiential, wherever and however it may lead... I don't know if there is anything beyond our senses or beyond our time"

How can we know what, if anything, is beyond our senses, and how can science know? Science is empirical observation through the senses.

This whole thing is not necessarily important at all, but some of us rather enyoy pondering it! It's part of being a human being.

And I agree too, WinterSky, "our view is the only one we can have" and "we each have our own philosophy to draw from"

I hope I wasn't being too reactionary to your comment, Allan ;)

Edited by finding my way
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I love that sense of wonder, the not knowing. It can make one feel alive. If we were sure of everything, if everything was all black and white thus defined for us through empirical evidence, then life would be boring. Without the "problem" there are only answers. Where is the fun in that. It goes against our very nature as humans. I don't know. Maybe we could experience euphoria and peace and not worry about anything. Utopia.

Yet at the same time, as I have mixed feelings and thoughts on the matter, it appears to me that the mind is a manifestation resulting from the processes in the brain having to do with the inputs from our senses. Individual persons develop differently, and I'm not talking purely about personality. I am talking about abilities. I guess once again we come back to nature vs nurture. If a person who is deprived of color from birth until age 20, would that person have developed color perception?

I still think that mental "disorders" that are defined as serious mental illnesses are diseases of the brain regardless of if it originated from nature or nurture. The result is still the same. It's in the brain, IMHO. If it is not, then please help me to understand. ;)

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I'm no expert, but I'd think science would have to agree that mental illnesses are diseases of the brain whether the origin was nature or nurture, because there is no entity beyond brain/body. That does away with the old stigma of "it's just in your mind so we don't have to take mental illness seriously," because anything in your mind has a physical base & could be researched physically & treated physically (meds, behavioral retraining to rewire the neuronal connections) according to the claims that science stands on.

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