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About this author
Zack Lynch is author of The Neuro Revolution: How Brain Science Is Changing Our World (St. Martin's Press, July 2009).
He is the founder and executive director of the Neurotechnology Industry Organization (NIO) and co-founder of NeuroInsights. He serves on the advisory boards of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies, Science Progress, and SocialText, a social software company. Please send newsworthy items or feedback - to Zack Lynch.
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Brain Waves

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September 22, 2003

The Chemical Architecture of the Mind

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Posted by Tom

by Tom Ray


Understanding the chemistry of the brain and the mind that emerges from it is one of the remaining great frontiers of science. Developing a fundamental understanding of the chemistry of the mind will provide us with a deeper understanding of ourselves and a theoretical basis for a more rational system for treating mental disorders. Without an *understanding* of the chemistry of the mind, pharmacology remains a trial-and-error "science".


The brain is a chemical organ and our mental states are dramatically altered by chemical shifts. Chemical shifts can be caused by drugs but they also occur naturally. Moods and emotions are likely to have chemical foundations, and even without the influences of drugs, much of our mental life is a chemical dance. Features of the human personality, such as the spectrum between timidity and social confidence, can be influenced by chemistry. A wide variety of serious mental disorders, from depression to schizophrenia, have yielded to effective chemical treatments, suggesting that chemical imbalances may underlie some of these disorders.


Different disorders (see DSM-IV, 2000) yield to different chemical treatments, indicating that each disorder is associated with a specific chemical imbalance. Yet there is currently no rational way to predict which antidepressant is more likely to work than another in a depressed patient or which antipsychotic will work in a specific schizophrenic patient. Furthermore, no single abnormality in any neurotransmitter or in any of its enzymes or receptors has been shown to cause any common psychiatric disorder. It is currently believed that the major mental disorders are the result of an accumulation of factors that together cause the disorder.

Comments (8) | Category: Neuropharma


COMMENTS

1. Leonor Boada on March 21, 2004 8:16 AM writes...

Where can I find information about a person who changes his facial expression, eyes, and embarks on verbal fights until he drags the partner into it, and afterwards accepts he could not help it, and sincerely wants to change? It lasts about 24-48 hours, about once a month. There is history of schizophrenia and suicide, no drugs involved. He is willing to be evaluated for chemical inbalance. What hospital in US or Europe can he go to?

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2. China Greatvista Chemicals on March 22, 2004 12:41 AM writes...

Interesting information

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3. linda on May 4, 2004 9:25 AM writes...

I know someone who has been sic for a long time.Lyme disease and heavy metal poisioning.I was told that they had a chemical imbalance.Paranoid personality and twisted thinking.Actually they have become another person. My question is how do you get evaluated for something like this to get help?Is there certain tests that can be given? Please give me your imput. Thanks

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4. 热电偶 on July 16, 2004 11:34 AM writes...

热电偶

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5. 热电阻 on July 16, 2004 11:35 AM writes...

热电阻

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6. 热流道 on July 16, 2004 11:35 AM writes...

热流道

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7. Roger Sacks on August 24, 2004 5:04 PM writes...

Please help my 24 year old son Andrew. For many years as I am convinced that he suffers from either a hormone deficiency in his brain or a chemical deficiency in his brain since birth.

He was born 3 weeks premature after the sudden and tragic death of my wife's father through a brain haemorage. My wife suffered very badly because of her loss and literally starved herself for a whole week as her father's funeral was coming close.


My wife went into labour with Andrew who is our second son. I rushed her over to Margate General Hospital where Andrew was born after a short while. When we got there there was only one Mid-Wife on duty and she looked at my wife's hospital records and saw that she made herself drunk on Gas and Air and she herself at the time stopped breathing . The Mid-Wife for Sheila and Andrew decided that she was not going to offer her Gas and Air this time and gave my wife Sheila an injection of Pethadin to relieve her birth pains. All hell broke loose at the hospital within minutes and several expectant mothers came in to give birth all at the same time. Several other mid-wives were telephoned to come in from home along with a Doctor as one of the women needed an immediate caessarian to enable her to give birth. My wife was left with just me in attendance for what seemed at the time - forever. Sheila was in a lot of pain and was calling out for help. Eventually another Mid-Wife came to her aid and gave her a second dose of Pethadin before dissappearing off to another expectant mother.

Eventually Andrew's head started to show and I had to try and find a Mid-Wife. I managed to find the original mid-Wife who gave her the first injection of Pethadin and she together with another trainee Mid-Wife helped Sheila to give birth to our son Andrew. It all did not go well - Andrew was being born with the chord wrapped around his neck and his body. The Mid-Wife had to call in the Doctor to help and somehow they managed to push Andrew back a little and untangled him from the chord. I believe they had to turn him slightly as well to do this. however, all of this took quite a long time and was very complicated. When Andrew was finally born the first Mid-Wife gave him the antidote to the initial dose of Pethadin - NOT THE SECOND AS WELL. From that moment onwards Andrew kept on getting cold and he stopped breathing over the next few hours until later that morning - around 11am a total of SEVEN TIMES. When I arrived there at 11am later that same morning - I notice how BLUE ANDREW WAS AND I COULD FEEL HOW VERY COLD HE WAS. I COULD SEE THAT HE HAD STOPPED BREATHING AND SO I PICKED HIM UP OUT OF HIS PLASTIC COT AND RAN THROUGH THE HOSPITAL MATERNITY UNIT UNTIL I FOUND THE NURSES. THEY JUST FLICKED THE SOLES OF HIS FEET AND THIS STARTED HIM BREATHING AGAIN. THE NURSES IMMEDIATELY DECIDED THAT THEY WOULD TAKE ANDREW WITH THEM WHEREVER THEY WERE UNTIL THE PAEDIATRIC DOCTOR CAME ON DUTY. WHEN HE DID THEY TOLD HIM WHAT HAD BEEN HAPPENING TO ANDREW AND THEY HANDED HIM OVER TO THE DOCTOR. The Paedatric Doctor then admitted him into the SPECIAL CARE UNIT - WHERE HE STAYED UNTIL THE VERY NEXT DAY. THE DOCTOR KEPT CHECKING HIM AND KEPT HIM AS WARM AS POSSIBLE AND TOLD ME THAT ANDREW KEPT STOPPING BREATHING AND HE NOTICED THAT ANDREW COULD NOT KEEP UP HIS BODY TEMPERATURE. REALISING THAT SOMETHING MUST HAVE GONE WRONG DURING ANDREW'S BIRTH AND HAVING DECIDED THAT THERE APPEARED TO BE NOTHING WRONG WITH ANDREW'S HEART OR LUNGS ETC. HE DECIDED TO CHECK THROUGH MY WIFE'S AND ANDREW'S NOTES FROM THE MOMENT THAT MY WIFE WAS ADMITTED INTO THE MATERNITY UNIT UP UNTIL THE PRECISE TIME HE WAS ACTUALLY READING THE NOTES. IT WAS THEN THAT HE NOTED THE DISCREPANCY/MISTAKE AND HOW TWO DIFFERENT MID-WIVES WERE INVOLVED WITH MY WIFE AND ANDREW AND BOTH HAD GIVEN MY WIFE THE PETHADRIN. IT WAS THEN HE NOTICED THAT ANDREW HAD ONLY BEEN GIVEN THE ANTIDOTE TO THE FIRST/INITIAL PETHADIN THAT HAD BEEN ADMINISTERED TO MY WIFE IN THE EARLY HOURS OF THE MORNING JUST AFTER SHE WAS ADMITTED INTO MARGATE GENERAL HOSPITAL AT AROUND 12AM/MIDNIGHT IN THE EARLY HOURS OF THE MORNING. HE SAID THAT BECAUSE OF WHAT HAD HAPPENED TO ANDREW BEING BORN WITH THE CHORD WRAPPED AROUND HIS BODY AND HIS VERY QUICK BIRTH FROM TIME OF ADMITION AND THE DELAY IN GETTING HIM OUT OF MY WIFE HE MUST HAVE ABSORBED ALL OF THE PETHADIN (BOTH DOSES) HIMSELF AND THAT THIS WAS THE CAUSE OF HIS LOSS OF BODY TEMPERATURE AND CAUSED HIM TO STOP BREATHING SO MANY TIMES. HE TOLD ME HE EVEN STOPPED BREATHING IN THE WARM INCUBATOR THAT THEY HAD PLACED HIM IN AND THAT HE FOUND THAT HIS BODY TEMPERARTURE WAS VERY DANGEROUSLY LOW.

ONCE THE PAEDIATRIC DOCTOR HAD CALCULATED JUST HOW MUCH OF A DOSE OF THE ANTI-DOTE TO THE PETHADIN THAT MUST STILL BE IN HIS LITTLE TINY BODY - AND THE DOCTOR HAD INJECTED ANDREW WITH THE CALCULATED ANTI-DOTE VERY QUICKLY ANDREW BEGAN TO GET HIS BODY TEMPERATURE BACK UP TO NORMAL.

HOWEVER, SINCE THEN ANDREW HAS ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT THREE MONTHS BEHIND ALL OF HIS CLASSMATES WHEN HE WENT TO SCHOOL. HE ALWAYS HAD GOOD HEALTH AND WAS VERY GOOD AT SPORTS RUNNING, (SECOND FASTEST AT HIS SCHOOL) AND PLAYING FOOTBALL FOR HIS SCHOOL WHERE HE SHONE AS A VERY INTELLIGENT RIGHT BACK. HE WAS ALWAYS KNOWN TO BE ABLE TO READ THE GAME LIKE SOMEONE MUCH OLDER WITH A LOT OF EXPERIENCE - BUT THAT DID NOT HELP HIS SELF-ESTEEM.

HE CONSTANTLY FEELS THE PAIN OF WHAT APPEARS TO BE (S.A.D.) LACKING SELF ESTEEM ESPECIALLY MEETING NEW PEOPLE AND GOING TO PLACES THAT HE HAD NEVER VISITED BEFORE. HE FOUND IT DIFFICULT TO GO TO SENIOR SCHOOL AND EVERYONE PUT IT DOWN TO A LITTLE BOY IN A BIG SCHOOL SYNDROME'. IT WASN'T - IT WAS THAT HE WAS ALWAYS UNABLE TO MANAGE NEW SITUATIONS.

I HAVE HAD NUMEROUS CONVERSATIONS WITH HIS G.P. (DOCTORS) IN ENGLAND BUT THEY ALL JUST SAY THAT HE JUST DOESN'T WANT TO DO ANYTHING FOR HIMSELF. THIS I KNOW NOT TO BE TRUE. HE WORRIES ABOUT EVERYTHING JUST AS HE DID AT SCHOOL. HE USED TO SPEND FIVE HOURS A NIGHT DOING HIS HOMEWORK - ENSURING THAT EVERYTHING WAS ABSOLUTELY PERFECT. IF HE MADE A SPELLING MISTAKE ON THE VERY LAST LETTER OF A FOUR OR FIVE PAGE ESSAY FOR HIS HOMEWORK - HE WOULD RIP IT OUT OF HIS BOOK AND DESTROY IT AND START ALL OVER AGAIN. EVERYTHING HAD TO BE PRECISE. ALL OF HIS TEACHERS SAID THAT HE FOUND SCHOOL LIFE DIFFICULT BUT THEY INSISTED THAT HE TRIED HIS VERY HARDEST IN EVERYTHING HE DID. THE TEACHERS WERE ALWAYS VERY PROUD OF HIM JUST AS WE WERE BUT THEY KNEW THAT SOMETHING WAS WRONG.

AT HOME HE FLASHED TANTREMS THAT COULD BE SEEN AS VIOLENT AT TIMES - AND YET HE IS ALWAYS ONE OF THE MOST LOVING PEOPLE YOU COULD EVER WISH TO MEET. HE LOVES ANIMALS AND WANTS TO WORK FOR THE R.S.P.C.A. (ROYAL SOCIETY FOR CRUELTY TO ANIMALS) AS AN INSPECTOR. HIS HEART IS DEFINATELY IN THE RIGHT PLACE. HOWEVER HE HAS SUFFERED SOME VERY CRUEL BLOWS WITH HIS OWN PERSONAL LIFE - HIS GIRLFRIEND HE WAS LIVING WITH NOT BEING LOYAL TO HIM AND EVENTUALLY HE LEFT HER TO RETURN HOME TO LIVE WITH US A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO. WHILST HE WAS WITH HER THEY WERE ONCE TAKING HEROIN AND POT. SHE HAS TAKEN THEIR TWO CHILDREN UP TO SCOTLAND TO GET AWAY FROM A PREVIOUS BOYFRIEND WHO HAD THREATENED HER LIFE AND HAD BEATEN ANDREW AND HIS EX-GIRLFRIENDS LITTLE BOY.

ANDREW STILL SMOKES POT AND HE SEEMS TO DO IT TO TRY AND HIDE HIS FEELINGS AND TAKE AWAY THE FEELING OF PAIN/DESPERATION/LONLINESS/FEELING SO DEPRESSED ETC. HE IS ALSO TAKING ANT-DEPRESANTS THAT HIS G.P. HAS GIVEN BOTH HIM AND MY WIFE WHO IS CONVINCED THAT THEY BOTH SUFFER FROM SELF ANXIETY DISORDER (S.A.D.). I REALLY STILL DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THIS IS THE CASE - I AM CONVINCED THAT HE HAS A HORMONE/CHEMICAL DEFICIENCY IN HIS BRAIN. I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT HE IS A MANIC DEPRESSIVE AND IS NOT MENTALLY ILL. MY WIFE BLAMES HERSELF FOR ALL OF THIS - I DO NOT - I STILL BELIEVE THAT IT IS SOMETHING DUE TO A CHEMICAL DEFICIENCY IN HIS BRAIN.

I MYSELF GOT VERY BADLY SPINALLY INJURED IN A ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENT IN 1982 WHEN ANDREW WAS JUST TWO YEARS OLD AND SO I HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO PLAY A LOT WITH HIM AS HE GREW UP - HOWEVER I HAVE ALWAYS TRIED TO SUPPORT HIM. I MYSELF AM ON OXYCODONE AND OXYNORM (MORPHINE) AND HE HAS TAKEN MY MEDICATION ALONG WITH, IN THE PAST MY DIAZEPAM AND TEMAZEPAM TO TRY AND MAKE HIM FEEL BETTER IN HIMSELF/TO KILL THE PAIN THAT HE IS IN.

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