The physical pain of a hand on a hot stove brings about a very natural reflexive response. The pain is a signal to get the hand off the stove. If the pain is ignored and the hand remains on the hot stove, the biochemical signature of the hand changes to the degree that the hand burns. The feeling of pain is significant to the health and survival of the body. The issue is the lack of responsiveness to the pain. But is the condition of the hand an ‘illness’ or an ‘injury’?
From the perspective of an emotional guidance system, the biology of a biochemical “abnormality” associated with emotional pain (such as depression) is analogous to the biochemical “abnormality” associated with the hand’s physical pain on a hot stove. And, the more the emotional pain is (1) ignored, (2) suppressed or usurped, (3) it is biochemically blocked or sedated, (4) it is blocked by neurological damage, or (5) it is unacknowledged for any other reason such that the individual’s thoughts and the activities of his or her mind remain on the ‘hot stove’, the more the associated biochemical signature and neurological processes will differ from that of a ‘normal’ healthy person (3-1). The issue is the lack of responsiveness to the emotional pain to get the mind off a potentially damaging mental stream of consciousness. But, is this biochemical abnormality an ‘illness’ or an ‘injury’?
The ‘illness’ in mental illness arises when healthy responses to the emotional system are absent and the individual does not have the mental/emotional capacity, agility, or wisdom to respond to his/her emotional guidance in a natural and healthy manner to ‘get his/her mind off of the hot stove’. But is this lack of emotional responsiveness an ‘illness’ or an ‘injury’?
Cure an Illness, Rehabilitate an Injury
The observation within people with mental ‘illness’ is a biochemical abnormality from the “mentally healthy.” But there is, by evolutionary design, supposed to be a biochemical anomaly when a person’s mental activities are unhealthy. That is, when cognitive activity dwells upon unwanted, unhealthful, or negative aspects of life. When a mind remains on the ‘hot stove’, he/she is activating a completely different neurological network. There should be a different biochemical signature. The fallacy is in the attempt to pharmaceutically “normalize” a patient’s physiological biochemistry without also removing that person’s “mind” from the hot stove and rehabilitating “healthy” neural network activities between cognition, body, emotions and consciousness.
Where well-being and a natural emotional responsiveness exist, no medical attention is needed. But if the mind ‘burns’ a little, maybe some simple medication accompanied by supportive psychotherapy would promote healing and a return to a naturally functioning neural network of a healthy cognition-physiological/biochemical-emotional relationship that can be utilized by consciousness. However, in acute cases where such a natural emotional response, awareness, or behavior is lacking, and where healing is not occurring, supportive medication and hospitalization may need to be more invasive.
Extensive rehabilitation therapy will be needed to take advantage of the brain’s neuroplasticity abilities to recreate a new neurology of healthy mental responsiveness to its emotional guidance system. Supportive pharmaceutical intervention should be an aid to the patient, as a crutch, to help him/her regain healthy responses to their emotional guidance system. The crux of the problem for those suffering to this degree began with their disregard, or ignorance of, a wondrous and highly evolved emotional awareness of healthy biological conditions.
Responding to a neurological emotional guidance network
There is great power within the activation of the emotional negative neural network and the realization and conception of that which is not wanted nor desired. But this power is only actuated if the opposite end – the positive, pleasurable end of the spectrum can be known (perceived, recognized, conceived, and reasoned, ref 3-2) and actuated.
People who are healthy, happy and successful in life use their power of consciousness to pivot off the emotionally negative aspect of a scenario and into a more emotionally positive re-framed scenario. They have learned and developed the necessary skills that are essential in our society to manage their focus of attention in response to their own emotional feedback. They have developed a ‘cognitive dexterity’ that only temporary upsets healthy biochemical balances. They have the motivation, drive and, most importantly, the proficiency to cognitively create a scenario of that which is wanted and desired – which activates the emotional positive neural network and a healthy and balanced biochemical physiology.
The development of the extreme biochemical signature of mental illness that requires psychiatric drugs is the result of a chasm that developed between the cognitive activities within the brain and the individual’s responsiveness to the emotional guidance system. Severe mental “injury” or “illness” that may never fully heal may have resulted from neurological damage, disease, drug abuse, prolonged and extensive use of medications, trauma, birth defect, or some other inherited condition. On the other hand, more treatable conditions may have ‘normally’ developed through life from a person’s inability to process the indoctrinating effects of life’s significant characters. Parents, religious figures, teachers, peer groups, or the constant barrage of ‘information’ in this new age of technical wizardry can lead to a breakdown between cognition and consciousness’ responsiveness to its own evolved emotional guidance system. Less dramatically, such a breakdown may be caused by the many interactions life presents while growing up – where others’ emotional guidance systems have usurped, instead of enhanced, a person’s natural emotional responsiveness.
Whatever the dysfunction is called – illness, disease, disorder – and however the lack of symbiotic ties between cognition, physiology, emotions, and conscious were disrupted, the objective in psychological and pharmaceutical therapy is to establish the evolved and symbiotic relationship between these constructs where a person can enjoy and thrive in life with its many exciting challenges. The neuroplastic capacity of the brain to establish new neurological circuits takes time and the psychological and pharmaceutical rehabilitation methods to reinforce this new neurological growth have yet to be properly identified and researched. But, it starts with the patient finding but one activity that makes him/her feel better, which usually means feeling ‘less bad’. And as the patient becomes more adept at responding to his/her own emotional guidance, the need for psychological and pharmaceutical intervention becomes less and less.
3-1: Raison, C., Jain, R., Maletic, (2017) The New Mind-Body Science of Depression. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company
3-2: The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. Cognition: Thought Process. Retrieved from