Medications can be very effective in ‘normalizing’ external behavior, but what are these chemicals doing to the cognitive-emotional neural feedback circuit? How can emotions guide cognitive behavior when emotional neurological networks are being targeted with artificially introduced chemical agents? Emotions have an evolved role in guiding cognitive behavior and decision-making. Are emotions ‘out of control’ and in need of ‘emotional regulation’ or are cognitive activities out of control and in need of regulation?
Any uses of pharmaceuticals designed to impact the emotional system also impact the emotions’ correlations with (1) the mind’s cognition and (2) the body’s physiological activities and (3) the emotions’ guiding responsibilities. Biochemical agents must harmonize with emotional design and augment the brain’s neuroplastic capacity for developing new constructive habits. The purpose of pharmaceutical therapy is to assist people to respond to their emotional guidance in a healthy and constructive manner.
Psychiatric Medications in Healing
There is a need for psychiatric treatment to use drugs and medications that help individuals regain their own power and responsiveness to their own emotional guidance system. These medications should also help such persons break away from a narrow and myopic world view which can spiral their consciousness out of control. There is a need for pharmaceuticals that can help create a biochemical environment where the personal powers of an individual’s consciousness can start making attempts to be more responsive to his or her emotional guidance system and augment the brain’s neuroplastic capacity. These new designs would aid individuals in their abilities to use their own mental skills and reflexes to co-function with their emotional guidance systems. These new medications would empower the consciousness to either take the mind off the negative downward spiral of consciousness or take the mind off the out-of-control upward spiral of mania. As new skills are developed and new neurological circuits are cultivated, the need for and the types of pharmaceutical assistance change and may eventually be removed entirely. But, like the hand on the hot stove, damage can be so extensive that no amount of training and development will ever succeed because entire functions of the brain may have been irreversibly programmed into destructive patterns. In such cases, there is the possibility that the mental/emotional/body chasm may be permanent, resulting in a need for permanent pharmaceutical intervention.
Masking Neurological Processes
There is a danger of medications masking destructive cognitive behaviors that normally are exposed through erratic, abnormal, and convoluted emotional feedback. If these emotional reflections of aberrant mental and physical behaviors are camouflaged with pharmaceuticals and if irregular cognitive behavior is left unaddressed without proper psychological counseling and therapy, cognition may fester unabated and create a myopic vortex of circular mental and physical behaviors. This psychosis can break out with disastrous consequences to the patient and to others, who may become characters in a manically-conceived tragedy played out in real life.
This paper does not ignore the importance of pharmaceutical therapy, rather, it redefines its purpose within the brain’s neuroplastic environment to help individuals regain a natural state of responsiveness to their emotional guidance system. As discussed earlier, a person has an evolved emotional guidance system that promotes cognitive and perceptual behavior that emotionally feels good. Negative emotions promote avoidance behaviors. Mental illness may be defined as a person’s inability to constructively respond to internal emotional guidance by disengaging from emotionally negative activities and actively engaging in emotionally positive activities that are useful, healthful and life giving. Pharmaceutical therapy should be augmenting psychological therapy in redeveloping the neurological networks that reinforce evolutionary design.
New Opportunities in Medicine
The argument presented here for understanding emotions as a product of the evolutionary process opens up vast new opportunities and possibilities within the fields of psychology and pharmacology to rehabilitate the cognitive attributes of mental illness while honoring the evolutionary role of emotions. There is certainly a need to identify new medications that are appropriate for healing. Pharmaceuticals need to work with and augment the cognitive rehabilitation processes within psychotherapy and neuroplasticity. And, most importantly, the argument presented here opens up the possibility of a new hope for patients. Patients may now approach daily psychological and pharmaceutical therapies with the hope and anticipation of new possibilities within a journey of healing.
A successful return to well-being and health takes work on the part of both caregivers and patients. If pharmaceutical intervention is required to stabilize a patient’s emotional and cognitive behavior, there is still a need to develop programs that reduce this pharmaceutical impact. As a patient’s rehabilitation promotes the new skills and habits necessary to respond to emotional guidance in a healthy and productive manner, less invasive drug therapy is required. Any healing and return to wellness is dependent on the desire, determination and fortitude of patients to seek wellness and to develop healthy new habits and patterns of thoughts and behaviors in response to their emotional guidance. Likewise, the desire, determination and fortitude of the therapist, the psychologist, the psychiatrist and the pharmacist play their role within the patient’s healing process of restructuring their cognitive and emotional neurology and return to well-being. Well-being means health, vigor, energy and vitality with anticipation for the future and all its uncertainty.