Information

Do we know what is happening inside the brain when a person is hit in the head?

Do we know what is happening inside the brain when a person is hit in the head?

For the purposes of this question, I will use the example of a legally sanctioned athletic contest (i.e., a boxing match), rather than criminal activity or accidents, but the question certainly applies to any brain trauma that has similar effects.

Anyone who watches boxing and other fighting sports knows that when a fighter is hit hard in the head or face, a few things are very likely to happen (links lead to videos showing examples of the effect in question):

  • The legs either go stiff, go limp, or begin to wobble; sometimes, they seem to move in unpredictable, involuntary ways.

  • The eyes glaze over and seem to lose focus

  • The fighter will stumble and fall, sometimes after a slight delay

  • Mobility and coordination are profoundly reduced

  • The fighter appears to lose spatial awareness and orientation, sometimes even seeming to be confused as to where he/she is

  • In some cases, the fighter will immediately lose consciousness, but I am more interested in the alternative - that is, a serious blow to the brain that results in the above effects, but doesn't render the victim totally unconscious.

Obviously, when the face or head suffers a strong, sudden impact from the front, back, or sides (or, in cases like an uppercut punch, from below, and to the bottom of the chin), momentum causes the brain to strike one or more surfaces inside the skull, so there is some mechanical/physical injury going on - in short, the person who was hit has a concussion. I know that this can cause significant, long-term damage to the brain and nervous system, but I am interested in the short-term, immediate effects.

Is this physical/mechanical injury the sole reason we see the symptoms I've described above? Are there separate processes taking place (e.g., abnormal electrical/chemical activity causing the symptoms described above)? Or does the physical/mechanical injury cause other types of abnormal activity in the brain/nervous system?

In short, do we know what is happening inside the brain after a hard blow, causing such pronounced effects, described above, in the rest of the body?


When you die you KNOW you’re dead, terrifying study reveals

You've probably heard those who have died and been brought back to life say that they saw light at the end of a tunnel.

Or that they floated above their bodies, watching as doctors frantically worked to keep them alive.

But until now it was not known if the mind kept working after the body had died.

Just like the re-make of the 90s cult horror Flatliners, starring Ellen Page, scientists have discovered that a person's consciousness continues to work after they have died.

In the film a group of young doctors conduct a dangerous experiment to see what happens in the afterlife by taking turns to stop their hearts.

Dr Sam Parnia and her team from New York University Langone School of Medicine had the same question.

They set out to find the answer in a much less dangerous fashion, looking at studies in Europe and the US on people who have suffered a cardiac arrest and "come back to life".

"They'll describe watching doctors and nurses working and they'll describe having awareness of full conversations, of visual things that were going on, that would otherwise not be known to them," he told Live Science.

Their recollections were also verified by medical staff who reported their patients could remember the details.

Death, in a medical sense, is when the heart stops beating and cuts off blood supply to the brain.

This means the brain's functions also stop and can no longer keep the body alive.

Dr Parnia explained that the brain's cerebral cortex — the so-called "thinking part" of the brain — also slows down instantly, and flatlines, meaning that no brainwaves are visible on an electric monitor, within two to 20 seconds.

This eventually results in the death of the brain.

SOUL SEARCHING Researchers claim that humans have souls which can live on after death

Dr Parnia and his colleagues are also observing how the brain reacts during a cardiac arrest to determine how much of these experiences relate to brain activity.

"At the same time, we also study the human mind and consciousness in the context of death, to understand whether consciousness becomes annihilated or whether it continues after you've died for some period of time — and how that relates to what's happening inside the brain in real time," he said.

It is not the first time brain activity after death has been recorded.

In March, doctors at a Canadian intensive care unit discovered that one person had persistent brain activity for up to 10 minutes after they turned off their life support machine, but three others did not.

For more than 10 minutes after the medics declared the person clinically dead, brain waves, like those we experience in our sleep, continued to occur.

The researchers also found the experience of death can be very different for individual patients.

Each patient recorded different electroencephalographic (EEG) measures - the electrical activity in the brain - both before and after death.


Left Hemisphere vs Right Hemisphere Stroke

Along with different lobes and structures, the brain is also divided into two halves, called hemispheres.

Aside from the different areas of the brain that can be affected by stroke, it’s also helpful to look at difference between the two hemispheres.

Generally speaking, the left hemisphere controls language and logical reasoning while the right hemisphere is believed to control creativity and object recognition. This is why language difficulties after stroke are often associated with left hemisphere strokes.

Furthermore, each hemisphere controls movement on the opposite side of the body. Usually, a left hemisphere stroke will cause motor impairments on the right side of the body while a right hemisphere stroke will likely impair the left side of the body.

When stroke impacts both hemispheres, it’s possible to sustain motor impairments on both sides of the body.


Mind after death: When you die you know you’re dead, terrifying study reveals

ONE of the most mysterious questions in life is what happens when it ends. Scientists have found scary proof of what to expect.

5 unique things to do with your body after you die.

5 unique things to do with your body after you die

Several studies have recorded brain activity after a person has died Source:istock

HAVE you ever wondered what happens when you die?

You’ve probably heard those who have died and been brought back to life say that they saw light at the end of a tunnel.

Or that they floated above their bodies, watching as doctors frantically worked to keep them alive.

But until now it was not known if the mind kept working after the body had died, reports The Sun.

Just like the remake of the 90s cult horror Flatliners, starring Ellen Page, scientists have discovered that a person’s consciousness continues to work after they have died.

In the film a group of young doctors conduct a dangerous experiment to see what happens in the afterlife by taking turns to stop their hearts.

Dr Sam Parnia and her team from New York University Langone School of Medicine had the same question.

They set out to find the answer in a much less dangerous fashion, looking at studies in Europe and the US on people who have suffered a cardiac arrest and 𠇌ome back to life”.

“They’ll describe watching doctors and nurses working and they’ll describe having awareness of full conversations, of visual things that were going on, that would otherwise not be known to them,” he told Live Science.

Their recollections were also verified by medical staff who reported their patients could remember the details.

Death, in a medical sense, is when the heart stops beating and cuts off blood supply to the brain.

This means the brain’s functions also stop and can no longer keep the body alive.

Scientists have discovered that a person’s consciousness continues to work after they have died just like in this classic film. Source:Supplied

Dr Parnia explained that the brain’s cerebral cortex — the so-called “thinking part” of the brain — also slows down instantly, and flatlines, meaning that no brainwaves are visible on an electric monitor, within two to 20 seconds.

This eventually results in the death of the brain.

Dr Parnia and his colleagues are also observing how the brain reacts during a cardiac arrest to determine how much of these experiences relate to brain activity.

𠇊t the same time, we also study the human mind and consciousness in the context of death, to understand whether consciousness becomes annihilated or whether it continues after you’ve died for some period of time — and how that relates to what’s happening inside the brain in real time,” he said.

It is not the first time brain activity after death has been recorded.

In March, doctors at a Canadian intensive care unit discovered that one person had persistent brain activity for up to 10 minutes after they turned off their life support machine, but three others did not.

For more than 10 minutes after the medics declared the person clinically dead, brain waves, like those we experience in our sleep, continued to occur.

The researchers also found the experience of death can be very different for individual patients.

Each patient recorded different electroencephalographic (EEG) measures — the electrical activity in the brain — both before and after death.


The Dangers Of Living Inside Your Head – And How To Get Out

How often do you listen to that little voice inside your head?

You know the one – that little narrator that talks to you all day long?

You can probably actually hear it right now if you stop and listen for a second…

It tells you that you’re being too ridiculous, or dramatic, or picky, or too sensitive, or not sensitive enough… the voice that has an opinion on absolutely everything?

That voice can be great at times, it can even be a life saver!

When you live inside your head too much, you start to believe your own bullsh*t.

You really are your own worst critic. And the danger is, sometimes you can start to honestly believe what you are thinking is true.

Sometimes you don’t realise just how much you are living inside your head.

I know this because I’ve been there…

Many years ago I convinced myself at a young age that because my Dad left my Mum that meant that any partner I would ever have would end up leaving me… Seriously…

Sounds silly right? But somehow my mind made it real.

I would actually end up jeopardising my relationships because I didn’t want them to leave me – so I left them first.

But in my mind it was the truth.

It wasn’t until I ventured outside of my head and spoke to someone about it, actually opened up and sought another opinion, that I realised what I had been doing to myself for so many years.

I realised just how powerful my thoughts were.

So now I must ask you a question – “how positive is your relationship with the voice inside your head?”

Because we all have one – good or bad.

But what you need to pay attention to is how influential your inner voice is to you.

How does it influence your decisions?

Are you able to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s simply your inner-critic’s opinion?

When life gets you down, are you able to turn that negative voice inside your head into something positive?

Having lived with breathing problems and panic attacks over the last few years, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt – it’s that I have to deal with any frustration, anxiety, or bad feelings as they come, so they don’t start to fester and eat away at me slowly from the inside.

The longer I worry or dwell on any bad thoughts, the worse they seem to get.

So for a long time I wasn’t able to control the tone of the voice inside my head and I let it knock me around a lot.

“You can’t do this… they don’t like you… why would you even try you’re just going to fail…?”

Thoughts like this would constantly drift around inside my head until I truly started to believe them.

That’s the dangerous part… you start to believe your thoughts are real and not just mere thoughts, they become something they’re not – facts.

And once I started believing these negative ‘facts’ I would often go quiet (on the outside).

I wouldn’t share what was going on inside my mind with anyone because I genuinely thought that no one would want to hear it.

But please don’t let your mind do this to you.

I promise you, you can take back control of your thoughts and turn that voice inside your head into a positive influence.

It just takes a bit of practice, patience and self-control.

Any time I notice that the voice in my head is playing tricks on me again… I do the following:

Get it out
One of the reasons I write these blogs is to help others, but it turns out it also helps me by writing things down and getting thoughts out of my head.
Writing really is therapeutic.
If I’m really angry with someone but don’t know if I want to confront them about it, I’ll write them a letter with everything I want to say and then later decide if I still want to say it. At least then it is outside of my head. I’m the kind of person who lives in my head a lot, and often find that once I write down how I’m feeling, or what I’m thinking, it is never as bad as I thought.

Find something that makes you happy
I absolutely love music and you can often tell what kind of mood I’m in by what I’m listening to.
I’ve created a ‘happy’ playlist, and an ‘inspiring’ playlist to help pick me up when I’m not feeling the best.
I also love animals, so just being around them can instantly make me smile.

Replace any bad thoughts in your head with positive ones
I have to actually boss my brain sometimes – tell myself that I am in control of what goes on inside my head.
Don’t even approach bad thoughts.
Don’t try to rationalise them.
Don’t even think about them.
And definitely don’t dwell on them.
Any of the above is a passive reaction to the negative thought, hence making you feel the negative feelings that follow, which doesn’t help at all. So replace the bad thought on the spot.

Surround yourself with good people
Spending time with good friends or family who cheer me up is one of my favourite things to do when I’m upset.
I’m the kind of person that will always be there whenever someone needs to vent, and having people that will do the same for me in my life is truly one of the things I am most thankful for.

Focus on what you want in your life
What do you really want to achieve in your life?
I want to be successful.
I want the world to be better because I was here.
I want to make a difference in people’s lives.
When I think about what really drives me and what I’ve been put on this earth to do, I get really motivated and all the other stuff seems to become irrelevant.

At the end of the day, everyone has stuff to deal with.

We all have times when life gets difficult and we don’t understand why.

But when this happens, just breathe and remember it’s not the end of the world.

Your thoughts are not in control of you – you control them.

‘You are not your thoughts – you are the awareness behind them.’

Just remember that everything in this life is temporary (both the good and the bad) so the bad times won’t last forever and who knows what amazing opportunities lie ahead for you in your life.

If you liked this article, please share it with others.

If you would like to learn more about the online workshops we offer for reducing stress, improving relationships and learning to communicate with others in a way that people respond positively to, then click here.

Want inspiration at your fingertips? Follow us @InspireAffect on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.


When you die ‘you know you’re dead because your brain keeps working’, scientist claims

A new study is examining what happens to the brain after a person goes into cardiac arrest and suggests your consciousness carries on functioning after your heart stops beating.

We know we are dead when we die because our brains keep working to make us aware of what's happening around us, haunting new research suggests.

Top medical experts have forever been at loggerheads over what happens when humans die, with anecdotal evidence of bright lights and flashes reported by people who have 'come back' being the cause of much debate.

However, a new study suggests your consciousness carries on functioning after your heart stops beating and your body movements fail.

This means you are essentially 'trapped' inside your dead body with your brain still working, if only for a short time.

Survivors of cardiac arrest were aware of what was going on around them while they were 'dead' before being 'brought back to life', the study revealed.

More surprising still, there is evidence to suggest the deceased may even hear themselves being pronounced dead by doctors.

Dr. Sam Parnia is studying consciousness after death and examining cardiac arrest cases in Europe and the US.

He says people in the first phase of death may still experience some form of consciousness.

The expert ventured that people who have survived cardiac arrest later accurately described what was happening around them after their hearts stopped beating.

He said: "They'll describe watching doctors and nurses working, they'll describe having awareness of full conversations, of visual things that were going on, that would otherwise not be known to them."

Explaining when a patient is officially declared dead, he said: "It's all based on the moment when the heart stops.

"Technically speaking, that's how you get the time of death."

His study is examining what happens to the brain after a person goes into cardiac arrest - and whether consciousness continues after death and for how long - to improve the quality of resuscitation and prevent brain injuries while restarting the heart.

Unlike the plot in Flatliners, however, when a person is resuscitated they don't return with a "magical enhancement" of their memories, said Dr. Parnia.


Brain death testing falls into three main categories:  

  • Physical examination
  • Apnea testing
  • Other testing, also known as ancillary testing

Physical Examination

The physical examination is done to determine the level of responsiveness. If the examination shows a lack of responsiveness, the physical exam would proceed to check for certain reflexes.

Someone who is brain dead will not have any brainstem reflexes. For example, a person in a coma who is not brain dead would blink or move their head if their eye is irritated with a piece of a cotton ball. A person who is brain dead cannot blink, flinch or try to move away if the doctor touches their eye with a fuzzy piece of cotton. Therefore, if there is no blink reflexes, that implies that the brainstem is not functioning properly.  

Another type of physical testing is the cold caloric. This test is done by using a syringe of ice-cold water and injecting it into the ear canal. A patient who is brain dead will have no response to this type of stimuli, but an individual who has brain function will have a response, which can range from eye movement to vomiting.  

Apnea Testing

A patient who is sick enough for brain death testing will be on a ventilator and cannot breathe without a ventilator. In order to test to see if the breathing reflex is intact or absent, the ventilator is removed in a procedure called an apnea test.  

Typically, an arterial blood gas (ABG) is drawn immediately prior to the beginning of the apnea test, when the ventilator is removed. Oxygen may be given during the apnea test, but the ventilator cannot be used.

Most people, even those who have severe illnesses, will attempt to draw a breath when a ventilator is removed, but someone who is brain dead will not take a breath during apnea testing.  

When a person is brain dead, the brain is unable to send the signal to breathe and breathing does not happen without the support of a ventilator.

Other Brain Death Testing

After completing the physical assessment, the physician may elect to order additional testing. While it is typical for both a physical assessment and an apnea test to be done, some people who are not brain dead cannot tolerate apnea testing. Often, in those cases, a flow study will be done. These studies are done to see if blood is traveling to the brain through the bloodstream. If the study shows that no blood is reaching the brain, the test is consistent with brain death.  

Some physicians will use an EEG, or electroencephalogram, which is a test that measures brain waves. A person who is brain dead will have a "flat" EEG, as brain waves will be absent.  

Atropine, a prescription medication that causes the heart rate to increase, an also be administered as an ancillary test for brain death because it is not effective in brain dead individuals. If the heart rate increases notably after the medication is given, this suggests that a person is not brain dead.  


What Is Dualism Psychology?

Dualism psychology has been hotly debated for many years, with philosophers, biologists, psychologists, and other scientists weighing in on the subject. The entire discussion revolves around the question of whether the mind and brain are two separate things or the same.

The most common dualism psychology definition is the view that the mind and the brain are two separate things. In dualism, the brain is seen as a physical object only, while the mind is seen as something beyond the strictly physical.

What Is Mind-Body Dualism In Psychology?

Mind-body dualism psychology is a more descriptive term for dualism in psychology. The phrase refers to the idea that the mind and body are two different things that can be separated. To understand this concept better, it is helpful to know at the outset what the concepts "mind" and "body" actually mean.

What Is The Mind?

The mind includes everything in your consciousness. It includes thoughts, reasoning, judgment, and emotions. As you experience something, your mind processes the new information, which ultimately helps you to form conclusions. At the center of your consciousness is your ego, or your subjective conception of yourself.

What Is The Brain?

The brain is a physical, biological object. It is a part of your body, whether you're conscious or not. It's a mass of soft nerve tissue inside the skull. Although science has proven that mental processes are coordinated in the brain, the dualism/monism debate questions whether there is actually a mind that is separate from the physical output of the brain.

Monism Vs. Dualism Psychology

In a sense, the monism vs. dualism psychology debate has been going on since Aristotle and Plato disagreed on whether the soul continued after the death of the physical body. Since Rene Descartes wrote about the relationship of the mind and body during the 1600s, the focus of the debate has shifted to dualism during life. With so many philosophers and scientists interested in this subject, several different types of dualism and monism have developed.

Types Of Monism

There are two main types of monism. The first is materialism. In the materialistic view, nothing exists at all unless it's a part of the material, physical world. In the materialistic view, the brain exists, and the mind is just a set of processes that happen in the nervous system.

The second type of monism is subjective idealism, also called phenomenalism. Subjective idealism is the opposite of materialism. Instead of saying that there is only the physical world, it says that the only things that truly exist are the perceptions of the mind.

This idea that perception shapes physical reality has been tested in many research studies. In one study, people with multiple sclerosis who were depressed behaved as if their disability was greater than what was shown on the tests.

Types Of Dualism

The different types of dualism in the mind-body debate recognize both the physical object, that is the brain, and the mental processes that make up the mind as two different entities. However, different types of dualism offer distinct perspectives.

One is substance dualism. This view assumes that the mind and the physical world are fundamentally different. Rene Descartes was a substance dualist. In Descartes' view, the mind could exist without the body. The body could exist without the mind, but it could not think.

For Descartes, the mind and body were distinct entities, but they were connected through the pineal gland, an endocrine gland located deep inside the center of the brain. While the pineal gland does exist and has several identified functions, the idea that it connects the mind and body is still questionable.

The second type of dualism is predicate dualism. This view is based on the language used to describe phenomena. It states that descriptions of the world can't be reduced to physical formulas. For example, no simple formula describes what a storm is in physical terms in the same way as the common words: tornado, thunderstorm, or hurricane do.

Another type is property dualism. Property dualism assumes that the quality of consciousness is more than a description of brain states. Many decades ago, property dualism was commonly used to explain the difference between the biological reality of life and the life force that started life and allowed it to continue. However, in recent years, this term has been used more often to distinguish between physical phenomena like brain states and behaviors and mental phenomena like thoughts and emotions.

Questions In The Monism Vs. Dualism Debate

The debate about whether mind and body are the same or not brings up several related questions. If all these questions could be answered conclusively, the debate would likely be settled. As research continues on many subjects and conditions, these questions may come closer to being answered definitively.

Are Mental Phenomena Different From Sensory Phenomena?

The sense organs, including the eyes, ears, nose, taste buds, and skin, bring information and enrich the experience. These sensations may bring up many different thoughts. If you smell chocolate chip cookies and think of your mother's kindness, is that merely a physical reaction to the smell? Or, is there a thought that is more than a simple physiological response?

Does The Mind Control The Body Or The Body Control The Mind?

If you believe dualism is the correct view, you're faced with the question of whether the mind or body is in control. Three main answers have been proposed. The interactionist view is that the mind affects the body and the body also affects the mind.

A second view is called epiphenomenalism. This theory states that physical stimuli or events cause mental phenomena. However, mental events don't affect the physical at all. To most people, this view makes no sense. After all, when you feel sadness, your body responds to that sadness, and you find yourself crying. When you see a car speeding towards you in the crosswalk, you move away as fast as you can. In each case, the thoughts and emotions of your mind have a physical impact.

The third view is parallelism. In this dualistic view, mind and body both exist, but they aren't connected in any way.

Is Knowing The Same As Experiencing?

You can gather facts and data until you have a very clear idea of what something is. If factual knowledge is the same as experiencing something, you have nothing new to learn. Yet, someone who has studied love all their life may have a very different understanding of it if they fall in love for the first time.

They may know all the details about how love affects the body and mind, but until they experience it themselves, they don't know what it's like to be in love. They may have known the physical facts before, but now they have a different kind of understanding of the quality of being in love.

Does Observation Explain Everything?

Unless they're doing a thought experiment, scientists typically study observable behavior. Monism assumes that all mental processes are a part of the physical realm. If so, they should all be observable on some level. The concept that thoughts could be observed was an outlandish idea years ago, but it's gaining credibility.

What's The Difference Between A Zombie And A Conscious Being?

One common argument for dualism in psychology is the zombie argument. Here's how it goes. You imagine being a zombie. You have no conscious thought or experiences at all. Yet, your body still exists and can perform basic functions. The argument states that if you can imagine a state in which there is no consciousness at all while the body continues to function, consciousness (or mind) must be separate from the purely physical.

Can Thoughts Be Reduced To Physics?

Although it's becoming clearer that at least many if not all of the mental activity can be observed, there's still the question of whether the thought might be more than the observable physical phenomenon. Physics can describe any physical object or event. What has yet to be determined is whether physics can explain the way thoughts come up and what people do about them.

Is A Physically Identical Twin Also Psychologically Identical?

In reality, even identical twins aren't identical. Their environment changes them from the time they're in the womb. What if identical twins were psychologically identical, though? Would they share all the same mental activities? If this question could be tested, it could potentially help scientists understand the relationship between mind and body.

Why Can Brain Damage Cause Mental Changes?

Some theorists suggest that the fact that brain damage often leads to some form of mental change proves that the mind is the same thing as the brain. Is this true? Perhaps. Or, maybe it's that the physical brain can no longer interact with the nonphysical mind in the same way as it did before the damage.

What About Freedom Of Choice?

If you believe that your mind is the same thing as your brain, it may suggest that everything that happens to you would produce a specific reaction. You would have no choice because every behavior would simply happen automatically. However, if your mind is distinct from your body, as dualists see it, you can think about what happened, use your moral judgment, and choose between several alternatives.

Which Schools Of Psychology Do And Don't Assume Dualism Psychology?

Some schools of psychology favor the view of the mind as nothing more than the physical events that happen in the brain. Other schools of thought view the mind and brain as distinct entities, one physical and one nonphysical.

Behaviorism - Monism

Behaviorism is based on a monism view that behavior is rooted in the biology of the brain. The most famous early behaviorist experiments were those conducted by Pavlov. Pavlov was able to cause dogs to salivate by creating a connection between the ringing of a bell and the arrival of food. Even when the food didn't arrive, the dogs salivated as if it had. For a behaviorist, there is no such thing as mind. There's only the body, including the brain, and the behaviors that they produce.

Evolutionary Psychology - Monism

Evolutionary psychology views psychological events in terms of how they promote the survival of the individual and the species. If a mental activity consistently helps someone or their tribe survive, that mental activity would end up being coded into the genes and passed on to later generations.

Humanism - Monism

Humanism has changed much since it started. However, the basic idea of humanism is that everything is a part of an ongoing process of nature. It recognizes the realities discovered through scientific inquiry. These include biology, physics, and neurobiology. Thus, humanism has come to embrace the idea that the mind and brain are one.

Cognitive Psychology - Dualism

Cognitive psychology deals with mental processes such as perception, memory, thinking, and learning. Recently, cognitive psychology has been criticized because, despite much evidence to the contrary, it clings to a dualistic view of mind and body.

Why Do People Prefer Dualistic Psychology?

Some scientists suggest that the reason people choose to believe that mind and body are distinct is merely for self-preservation. The idea of dualism is at the heart of myth, legend, and religion. It may be that these types of thoughts and stories are essential to human survival because they keep people motivated and doing whatever it takes to survive and thrive.

Are Mental Health Problems Physical Or Psychological?

So, what are the practical implications of monism and dualism for mental health? No matter how you look at the debate, there are two different types of treatments you can pursue if you have mental health issues.

First, you can work on improving your physical condition. You can do this in several ways:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Exercise
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol
  • Take prescribed medications to improve your brain chemistry

Second, you can work on your behavior through psychotherapy. For the strict proponent of monism, behavioral therapy makes the most sense. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you change your behavior starting with your mental processes, whether they're a part of your brain or not.

If you haven't been able to overcome mental health challenges on your own, a therapist can help you work towards overcoming them by teaching you new ways of coping, behaving, or understanding yourself, your problems, and the world around you.

In the realm of psychology, much work has been done on psychosomatic disorders. The term psychosomatic means relating to both the body and mind. A range of physical symptoms might derive from mental health issues. For example, anxiety can trigger psoriasis, heart disease, high blood pressure, or eczema, among others.

In these instances, psychological counseling using methods like cognitive behavioral therapy has shown high rates of success. What&rsquos more, CBT is becoming more and more accessible with the advent of online counseling. A review of scientific literature published in 2017 found that remotely administered CBT was not only effective, it was also far more affordable than traditional therapy. Plenty of online resources are also available to help you learn more about dualism&mdashfor example, the entry from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

If you believe you experience anxiety-induced psychosomatic symptoms or live with other mind-body disconnects, online therapy can help. With remote counseling from BetterHelp, you can access licensed professionals conveniently from the comfort of your own home. If you are dealing with a psychosomatic symptom, another issue relating to dualism, or other psychological problems, they will be able to help. Read what others have to say about their experiences below.

&ldquoMenzo is a kind, thoughtful man. He is a surprising (refreshing) mix of good listener and direct with questions. I've appreciated his insight into my mind, and no punches pulled when he sees an area of unhealthiness or weakness I don't. I sincerely recommend him to bring your life and mind wisdom, balance, and health.&rdquo

&ldquoAly is amazing. She has helped me understand the depth of growth that consoling can bring. She is an excellent listener, and great at helping lead you to discoveries and self growth without obviously pointing them out. She also gives me activities and literature to help my continued reflection in between our sessions. Focus on mind/body/spirit connection. Would absolutely recommend her!&rdquo


This Is What Happens To Your Brain When You Experience Happiness

Too much research has been devoted to the science of stress, depression, and the connection to disease and not enough to the biology of joy. If a greater emphasis was placed on why we don’t go to doctors when we are feeling optimistic, happy, and joyful, there would be less value and importance placed on the emotional states that coincidentally generate more money for those manufacturing medication. There are many ways to experience pleasure in our brains and happiness might be the one emotion that prevents and reverses the cascade of cellular events that lead to disease.

Via: Antonio Guillem | Shutterstock

A lot of people get addicted to chemicals — alcohol, cocaine, amphetamine, heroin, and nicotine. Why do they do that? And why aren’t they happy? It is because brains have a variety of chemical systems that regulate their electrical activities in waking and sleeping, and the addictive drugs artificially stimulate those systems, but the feelings are not those of joy.

For example, a chemical called ‘dopamine‘ is broadly spread through the brain by specialized nerve cells when a person achieves some kind of reward, such as by satisfying hunger and thirst, winning a game, or passing an examination. Dopamine is often called a “reward hormone.” Its chemical actions are produced also by closely-related compounds such as amphetamine and cocaine. They give feelings of buoyant optimism, energy, power, and knowledge.

This same chemical linked to drug addiction may also contribute to obesity, researchers have found.

It is not surprising that people who have no other avenues to success, living in poverty and hopelessness, will spend their food money on some transient chemical bliss. But that isn’t happiness, and even people who are bloated on academic or business success, and who feel elation, aren’t liable to confuse that feeling with happiness.

Other chemicals called ‘endorphins‘ act in the brain as natural pain relievers. Their action is imitated by heroin and morphine, also alcohol. Again, it is small wonder that people who suffer from the emotional pains of regret, shame, guilt, and despair might find relief from their demons in forgetfulness. But that isn’t happiness.

Yet another chemical called ‘serotonin‘ is important in bringing mental relaxation as an important condition for getting to sleep. We don’t really know yet what sleep is for, but we know that we can’t survive without it. The relief from agitation and anxiety that is mediated by serotonin leads also to recovery from some forms of depression. That is why the chemical fluoxitine (Prozac) has become so popular. It doesn’t act like serotonin, but it prolongs the action of what little serotonin the brain is producing, if it is in short supply. But return to tranquillity from anxiety and depression is not the same thing as happiness.

So, is there a chemical for joy? Scientists are beginning to understand that this is a wrong-headed question. There is no such chemical, and even to ask the question is to expose a deep ignorance about how brains — and people — actually work.

Happiness Is Directly Linked To Our Health

Dr. Derek Cox, Director of Public Health at Dumfries and Galloway NHS, suspects that for decades health professionals have been missing a big trick in improving the health of the nation.

“We’ve spent years saying that giving up smoking could be the single most important thing that we could do for the health of the nation. And yet there is mounting evidence that happiness might be at least as powerful a predictor, if not a more powerful predictor than some of the other lifestyle factors that we talk about in terms of cigarette smoking, diet, physical activity, and those kind of things,” he says.

The science of happiness is increasingly suggesting a link between happiness and health. Research conducted by Andrew Steptoe, the British Heart Foundation Professor of Psychology at University College London, has found that happier people also have greater protection against things like heart disease and stroke.

“We know that stress, which has bad effects on biology, leads to those bad changes as far as health is concerned. What we think is happening is that happiness has the opposite effect and has a protective effect on these same biological pathways,” said Mr Steptoe.

What Happens To Our Cells When We are Happy?

The increasing prevalence (and debilitating effects) of depressive symptoms has motivated intense research into the biological basis of mood disorders and negative affect. However, the immense volume of research investigating pathophysiology has yet to be paralleled by research of positive affect.

Specifically, the emerging field of ‘positive affect’ is focused on identifying contributing factors and various effects of positive subjective experiences and emotions, such as hope, optimism, and spirituality. Positive affect is a term encompassing various components, including happiness, contentment, life satisfaction, optimism, and well-being. It appears that happy, healthy people have the same habits.

The study of positive psychology is encouraging more researchers to study the proactive prevention of illness by identifying attitudes and personality traits that contribute to positive mood and increase quality of life. For example, happy people, as compared with less happy people, tend to have greater immune system function, a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and report greater marriage and job satisfaction. It is therefore valuable to develop a deeper understanding of the positive affect by investigating its biological basis. Several studies have begun to investigate potential biological markers of positive affect.

Research investigating the association between potential biological markers indicates depressed individuals have a lower concentration of prolactin. Most people associate prolactin with enabling women to produce milk, however, it is influential over a large number of functions. Prolactin plays an essential role in metabolism, regulation of the immune system, and pancreatic development. In humans, prolactin is produced in the pituitary, uterus, breast, lymphocytes, leukocytes, and prostate. As prolactin response increases, so do the positive effects associated with happiness, and this correlates with cognition and neural connectivity affecting our ability to perceive, remember, and reinforce existing neural connections.

To protect the brain from stress, it releases a protein called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a neurotrophin which translates activity into synaptic and cognitive plasticity in the adult animal. This BDNF has a protective and also a reparative element to memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. That’s why we often feel so at ease and see things so clearly after moments of stress.

At the same time, endorphins, another chemical to fight stress, are released from the brain. The main purpose of endorphins is to minimize discomfort and block the feeling of pain by stimulating pleasure centers, many of which even lead to euphoria.

BDNF and endorphins are the reasons exercise makes us feel so good. The somewhat scary part is that they are associated with very similar addictive behaviors to morphine, heroine or nicotine users. The only difference? Well, it’s actually good for us.

Endorphins are chemicals that are able to cross through the gaps between neurons in order to pass along a message from one to the next. There are many different kinds, and much remains to be learned about their different purposes and functions, but endorphins can be released with many different types of activities.

Endorphins act as both a painkiller and as the pay-off for your body’s reward system. When you hurt yourself (or eat a hot chili pepper), you may get a big dose of endorphins to ease the pain. You may also get an endorphin blast from talking to a stranger, eating a satisfying meal or being exposed to ultraviolet light. (Everyone has different amounts of endorphins, and what may trigger an endorphin rush for one person could very well produce a dud for someone else.) The pay-off in the form of your body tapping into its own stash of “opiates” is to let you know you’ve had enough — and convince you to do it again sometime soon.

Overall, the net benefit of cells undergoing all the above changes leads to:

  • Stimulating the growth of nerve connections.
  • Improving cognition by increasing mental productivity.
  • Improving our ability to analyze and think.
  • Enhancing our view of our surroundings.
  • Increasing attentiveness.
  • Even more happy thoughts.

Via: Maltseva Svetlana | Shutterstock

Why Happiness Cannot Be Made By A Chemical

Where we humans find joy is in surmounting this solipsistic barrier between us and sharing our feelings and comforts. We cannot ever really cross it but, a bit like neighbors chatting over a fence, we can be together. However, there is more to this communion than mere talking. There is trust, which underlies true friendships and partnerships. What is the chemistry of trust?

Answers are found when we look back on our mammalian ancestors. Raising a helpless infant to childhood requires intensive parental care, which comes with bonding between the parents and the infant. Now, how does a carefree child, when it has grown up, become a parent? This change in role requires a catastrophic change in beliefs, attitudes, and values to make new parents. We humans would say that they fall in love, first with each other, and then with their offspring.

Scientists have learned that, when animals mate and give birth, specialized chemicals are released into their brains that enable their behavior to change. Maternal and paternal patterns of nursing and caring appear. The most important is a chemical called ‘oxytocin.’ It doesn’t cause joy. On the contrary, it may cause anxiety, because it melts down the patterns of connections among neurons that hold experience, so that new experience can form. We become aware of this meltdown most dramatically as a frightening loss of identity and self control, when we fall in love for the first time.

Bonding comes not with the meltdown, but with the shared activity afterward, in which people learn about each other through cooperation. Knowing another person doesn’t come with foreplay and orgasm. It comes in cooperative activities during and afterward. Trust emerges not just with sex, but also with vigorous shared activity in sports and combat, through which people bond into teams by learning to trust each other.

So oxytocin is not a happiness chemical, but a brain tool for building trust — and is a documented result of mother-child bonds. Perhaps a million years ago our ancestors learned how to use this mammalian mechanism to promote social bonding beyond sexual union, in order to form groups and tribes. They did it, and still do it, with dancing, rhythmic clapping and chanting, singing and making music together all day and night, into exhaustion and collapse. When they awaken, they are reborn.

Friedrich Nietzsche realized this. Emil Durkheim and other anthropologists have shown how people engage in Dionysian orgies and religious ceremonies as the most effective way in which to create group identities. The joy they experience comes in dancing and singing with each other, thereby forming the bonds of trust. Trust comes when we are able to predict what other people will do, and we achieve that by repeated cooperative actions.

Aristotle wrote, “Happiness is activity of the soul in accordance with virtue.” That is rather abstract. We can see virtue as a set of shared goals for the good of ourselves and our children. Joy comes with activities that we share with people we have learned to trust, and that enable us to share meaning across the solipsistic barrier that separates each of us from all others.

So happiness is not made by a chemical. That would be the same as treating a violin sonata as nothing but rubbing horse hair on strings of cat gut in order to make a wooden box resonate. Violin makers have to know their materials to make one, and violinists have to learn how to make it sing. Physicians have to know about the brain chemicals in order to treat patients, when the chemistry of brains has gone wrong, but they can’t give us a pill to make us happy. We create our own joys, and we feel happiest in learning to trust each other.

The Power Of Positive Thoughts

As far as your brain, every thought releases brain chemicals. Being focused on negative thoughts effectively saps the brain of its positive forcefulness, slows it down, and can go as far as dimming your brain’s ability to function, even creating depression. On the flip side, thinking positive, happy, hopeful, optimistic, joyful thoughts decreases cortisol and produces serotonin, which creates a sense of well-being. This helps your brain function at peak capacity.

Happy thoughts and positive thinking, in general, support brain growth, as well as the generation and reinforcement of new synapses, especially in your prefrontal cortex (PFC), which serves as the integration center of all of your brain-mind functions.

In other words, your PFC not only regulates the signals that your neurons transmit to other brain parts and to your body, it allows you to think about and reflect upon what you are physically doing. In particular, the PFC allows you to control your emotional responses through connections to your deep limbic brain. It gives you the ability to focus on whatever you choose and to gain insight about your thinking processes. The PFC is the only part of your brain that can control your emotions and behaviors and help you focus on whatever goals you elect to pursue. It helps you grow as a human being, change what you wish to change, and live life the way you decide!

Why Optimism Leads To Greater Happiness

Neuroscientists have discovered that people who have a more cheerful disposition and are more prone to optimism generally have higher activity occurring in their left PFC. But that’s a brain explanation… Interestingly, behavioral scientists have observed fascinating differences between optimists and pessimists.

Optimism, for example, involves highly desirable cognitive, emotional, and motivational components. Optimistic people tend to have better moods, to be more persevering and successful, and to experience better physical health. One factor may be simply that optimists attribute good events to themselves in terms of permanence, citing their traits and abilities as the cause, and bad events as transient (using words like “sometimes” or “lately”), or the fault of other people. In addition, optimists:

  • Lead happy, rich, fulfilled lives.
  • Spend the least amount of time alone, and the most time socializing.
  • Have good relationships.
  • Have better health habits.
  • Have stronger immune systems.
  • Live longer than pessimists.

On the flip side, pessimistic people explain good events by citing transient causes, such as moods and effort, and bad events as permanent conditions (using words like “always” or “never”). A study by a University of British Columbia researcher found that some people are genetically predisposed to see the world darkly. Negativity is all-pervasive, it seems. Pessimists:

  • Automatically assume setbacks are permanent, pervasive, and due to personal failings.
  • Are eight times more likely to be depressed than optimists.
  • Perform worse at school and work.
  • Have rockier interpersonal relationships.
  • Die sooner than optimists.

According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, a University of California researcher, unhappy people spend hours comparing themselves to other people, both above and below themselves on the happiness scale happy people didn’t compare themselves with anyone.

According to a study from Lund University, a collective picture of what makes us happy is more about relationships and people, and less about things.

The good news is that you can use your mind to train your brain to ramp down the negative thoughts that lead to pessimism, while ramping up the types of positive thoughts that lead to optimism. You can be the master of the neuronal changes that will lead to greater happiness, and the rewiring starts in those teensy miracles known as your brain cells, or neurons. Even if depression runs in your family, you have the capability of improving the way your brain functions, of setting up neuronal roadblocks and diminishing the neuronal patterns linked to negative thinking. You may not be able to eradicate a genetic disposition towards depression, but you can greatly reduce its impact and its recurrence.

Negative Thinking, Negative Balance

Negative thinking slows down brain coordination, making it difficult to process thoughts and find solutions. Feeling frightened, which often happens when focused on negative outcomes, has been shown to decrease activity in your cerebellum, which slow the brain’s ability to process new information — limiting your ability to practice creative problem solving. Additionally, the fear factor impacts your left temporal lobe, which affects mood, memory, and impulse control.

Your frontal lobe, particularly your PFC, decides what is important according to the amount of attention you pay to something and how you feel about it. Thus, the more you focus on negativity, the more synapses and neurons your brain will create that support your negative thought process.

Your hippocampus provides the context of stored memories, which means the emotional tone and description your mind creates can potentially rewire your brain by creating stronger neuronal pathways and synapses. What you think and feel about a certain situation or thing can become so deeply ingrained that you will have to work hard to dismantle the negative connections and rewire your brain in order to be less afraid, to think positively, to believe that dreams can come true, to trust that your efforts will be successful.

Train Your Brain To Think More Positively

One of the oldest precepts of neuroscience has been that our mental processes (thinking) originate from brain activity: that our brain is in charge when it comes to creating and shaping our mind. However, more recent research has shown that it can also work the other way around: that focused, repetitive mental activity can affect changes in your brain’s structure, wiring, and capabilities.

The actions we take can literally expand or contract different regions of the brain, firing up circuits or ramping them down. The more you ask your brain to do, the more cortical space it sets up to handle the new tasks. It responds by forging stronger connections in circuits that underlie the desired behavior or thought and weakening the connections in others. Thus, what you do and what you think, see, or feel is mirrored in the size of your respective brain regions and the connections your brain forms to accommodate your needs.

What does all this mean? It means that what we think, do, and say matters that it affects who we become on the outside, the inside, and in our brain. Mostly, it means that you can retrain your brain to be more positive.

Start by thinking happy thoughts, looking on the bright side, and refocusing your brain when negative thoughts occur. Your mind has the ability to determine how your brain thinks about what happens in your life. Use it to your own advantage to reframe events and think positively.

Previous articles by Dr. Pochelli:

Dr. Marianna Pochelli is a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine specializing in the treatment of disease through super-foods and herbal strategies. She actively promotes detoxification, colon cleansing, and a vegetarian lifestyle using living foods as a platform to good health. This article is published courtesy of the good folks at PreventDisease.com.

Related Posts


Step 4

Next the alcohol reaches the hippocampus. This is responsible for both emotion and memory. As a result you will find that you feel exaggerated emotions – if you feel optimistic at the time then you will likely become very happy and feel warm feelings to everyone, while if you are feeling down before you start drinking, then you will likely become very upset and depressed. As this area is also responsible for laying down memories it means that you may have only fragmented memories, or no memory of things that occur from this point onwards. It’s not that you forgot as such, rather the memories were never formed properly.