By Rev. Paul N. Papas II
October 3, 2008
Thoughts about thoughts
We do it all the time, think. Without effort our mind works to process the many bits of information that are presented to us from various sources. The speed with which our mind acts is dependent upon a few things. The quality of the responses is also dependent upon a few things.
Our brain works like a very powerful computer controlling all our necessary functions, like breathing and blood flow. Should something disrupt or slow the process we then could be in danger of dying.
When properly working our brain processes all known facts we have stored within it to give us present day solutions. Our core beliefs, our health, and our experiences are major factors that affect the decisions we make.
It is well known that several people can come upon the same car accident and present different versions of the same events. This does not mean any of the versions are wrong. It does mean that people concentrate on different portions of the same events based upon the information they have stored within their brain, their knowledge, experiences and biases.
A computer can be infected with viruses or have corrupted files that alter the normal operation of a computer. The computer can slow down or programs can stop functioning. In some cases the computer ceases to function at all.
When a brain gets a virus, is injured, is diseased or experiences a chemical imbalance the brain’s normal functions are at risk of ceasing or malfunctioning. This could be a temporary, long term, or permanent disability.
When someone has a change in thinking, personality, behavior, or experiences or an unexplained pain doctors ask about a person’s history, recent events, stress level, eating and sleeping patterns and lifestyles. They also check for physical problems.
A simple thing such as a poor diet, recent grief or increased stress level change the chemical make up of the body which change the ability of the brain to think clearly.
One should not make major life changing decisions when overly tired, very hungry, after a major loss, abuse or other trauma, loss of a loved one by death, divorce, or break up. A healthy brain goes into a built in self protection mode as a result of any traumatic event and spends its major energy on self protection. This self protection mode is commonly known as shock.
There are many people who spent their lives avoiding conflict. They avoid conflict to avoid the stress of confrontation. Often times the very act of avoiding conflict produces a large amount of stress, the very thing they sought to avoid. As they seek to avoid conflict and produce stress their body releases chemicals that actually hinder their ability to think clearly. They are perceived as voting “present” throughout life.
Stress alone can cause various physical problems that could be deadly.
I am sure you have run across people would spend a lot of time finding excuses not to do something or avoid responsibilities. They would have spent less energy completing the task. They cause a lot of stress in their own lives, harming their own health.
There are also people who develop various diseases that destroy the brain and therefore normal functions of the brain leaving them severely impaired in their ability to think or act. Alzheimer’s and MS are a couple that come to mind.
Many people who suffer a trauma, with a little help of professionals, can regain their physical and mental strength. This may or may not require medication.
There are people who have a chemical imbalance that can be regulated either on a temporary or long term basis with medication. They may experience racing or harmful thoughts or hear voices that they would prefer not to have. They could experience very high periods, then very low or depressed states that they prefer not to have. Professional counseling, supportive friends and families are very helpful to their recovery.
A broken arm is treated with the idea of full recovery and so should issues of the brain. Obviously a severally broken arm may have some limitations in mobility upon healing. This is just as true for issues of the brain. We always want to have the best possible quality of life outcomes in both recovery scenarios.
Rev Paul N. Papas II is a Pastoral Counselor with Narrow Path Ministries (located in MA and AZ) and current President of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Greater Framingham. NAMI Greater Framingham has support groups for family and friends in Framingham and Uxbridge, a new support group for consumers in Marlboro, and various Education Meetings on the first Thursday evenings of the months from September through May www.narrowpathministries.org and www.namigreaterframingham.org