President candidate health issues-what about their brains?
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Author:  DO.g's [ Wed Dec 05, 2007 9:26 pm ]
Post subject:  President candidate health issues-what about their brains?

from jaspers evening edition today-

Presidential candidates' health is a campaign issue. So what about their brains?

Getting inside their heads ... really inside ... -rightrail

Three of the last four presidents have shown clear brain pathology. President Reagan's Alzheimer's disease was evident during his second term in office. Nonelected people were covering up his forgetfulness and directing the country's business. Few people knew it, but we had a national crisis. Brain studies have been shown to predict Alzheimer's five to nine years before people have their first symptoms.

President Clinton's moral lapses and problems with bad judgment and excitement-seeking behavior -- indicative of problems in the prefrontal cortex -- eventually led to his impeachment and a poisonous political divisiveness in the U.S. The prefrontal cortex houses the brain's supervisor, involved with conscience, forethought, planning, attention span and judgment.

One could argue that our current president's struggles with language and emotional rigidity are symptoms of temporal lobe pathology. The temporal lobes, underneath your temples and behind your eyes, are involved with language, mood stability, reading social cues and emotional flexibility.

A national leader with brain problems can potentially cost millions of people their lives. Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein give us recent historical examples. Both of Milosevic's parents committed suicide, he had serious bouts of depression and reportedly drank heavily -- all signs that point to brain problems. He was found to be unreasonable and unreliable in negotiations and heartless as a political leader. Hussein was described as paranoid and without empathy, also symptoms pointing to poor brain function. His mother suffered severe bouts of depression and attempted suicide while pregnant with him, which is known to affect a baby's developing brain. He was physically and emotionally abused by his stepfather. All of these stresses must have been involved in shaping his paranoid brain into a mind that could torture dissenters, murder relatives and launch chemical attacks that killed thousands.

Functional scans, such as Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography, provide a window into the brain. Doctors can now see healthy or dysfunctional brain patterns, much as we can assess the strength of a heart or measure hormone levels, and recognize trouble. All doctors might not agree on the interpretation, but there is a growing body of scientific literature establishing what these scans mean, such as attention deficit disorder or a predisposition for Alzheimer's.

Perhaps a simple scan can do what we can't do as electors- decide who is fit mentally to run our politics. Hopefully it's not someone psychotic like the leaders that are leading down this road to insanity that we have now, and will find this out before they do unto others what we would never do.

Someone who can read a map to sanity would be an improvement- lets give them a SPECT scan before they can assume power.

Author:  lefty [ Thu Dec 06, 2007 10:43 am ]
Post subject: 

Actually, I find the whole idea of saying that because their parents had mental health problems that they are unfit to rule, regardless of who they may be using as an example, as personally offensive. While it is proven that depression and other mental illnesses run in families, its extremely narrow-minded and bigoted, in my opinion, to assume that if someone has a history of mental illness or personally has a mental illness that they are defective and couldn't use logic or reason or whatever other skills are necessary to run a country. Its akin to saying that because my mom had breast cancer (it runs in families), then I am likely to have breast cancer and that somehow would effect my judgment as a leader. An illness is an illness. This article and this attitude are exactly why mental illnesses carry such an unfair stigma in this world.

Author:  DO.g's [ Thu Dec 06, 2007 1:58 pm ]
Post subject: 

Well that's good but things running in families is a reality. You are right to state that environment can be a factor, but years of poor breeding has led to conditions that are conducive to these things being more common. Women who have breast cancer do have a higher risk if it runs in the family, but environment can be a greater factor. Heart attacks and certain stomach diseases can be hereditary and despite whatever precautions people take, may help delay or prevent their occurance, but it is not a guarantee.

What is known and speculated is the space between knowledge and assumptions. The individual who is the receptor does become a subjective recipient of conditional living dependant on guidance and instruction. Avoiding hazards has been the realm of the brain for millenia, but now we are totally dependant on our caregivers to help us adapt to the hazards of life. But if that instruction includes repeated reinforcement of castigation and negative programming from someone who suffers from years of depression and other mental conditions, or perhaps was put in care in an institution, then the recipient may be stigmatized by this for life.

The possibility that they will pass this on is greater than a parenting situation that is free from the past and secure in its present. Suicide running in the family could be misconstrued by some as a life goal much like Lieutenant Dan was convinced he would die in the field, like his family did in the movie Forrest Gump. Ok a silly movie, not real life, but the only example that comes to mind. Programming can be the most destructive of forces, especially when we realize that we are programmed from birth with reference points and those were taught to us by someone elses past experiences. Whether right or wrong, brought on by culture, depression or mental disorder, we are in conflict with nature itself and that kind of opposition to our natural growth has had profound effects on our oral history and survival instincts. This problem, this internal conflict between nature/nurture goes right to the genes, so it is a relevant statement.

The reality that transferrence of problems does happen is typical of those who carry the disorder/disease with them. A mental health problem can be triggered by the parent merely drinking while pregnant, so thus is a different condition than an illness like breast cancer and its source, which in no way would make one less of a leader, unless their condition was making the person develop a mental disorder because of say excessive/obsessive worrying.

Trauma can cause mental disorders too, so what mental condition the parent/s have can very well affect the child with permanent PTSD type conditions and this is a fact. It can cause holes and damage to key points of the brain, especially the amygdala and the temporal lobes, so yes, parents can have a profound effect on their children.

We know that Barbara and George Bush were heavy drinkers- the chances that they damaged their child and he is fetal alcohol is real and W certainly exhibits all the traits of a man in the depths of that condition. Inbreeding has been shown to be a problem as well, so denying some connection between generations is hard to prove as well.

Like most everything that we don't understand, much speculation makes for great discussion, but proving whether it is precisely right is the job our brains have to do, and while it searches it always finds answers. Whether right or wrong, if it relieves the pain, one adopts that line of thinking. People speculating on cause and effect are susceptible to this type of thinking. Whether it is correct or not is left for time to sort out. The mind always answers itself as the pain of not knowing drives one to answer problems, whether right or wrong.

We have to try to understand and through our mistakes we create our interpretation. Hopefully we are heading towards a better understanding of our interplay betweeen the unknowns of the internal and the external worlds and the affect on those systems.

I will be posting a test for all to try, to see how little we know because of our experiential fixation to speculation. What we see, hear, taste, smell, feel- our physical sense- are all relative to what we want to believe is true. What reality really is may be completely different from what our minds think is real. Experience may be the best distraction from reality we have. What we see and hear may be a far distance from what we are actually experiencing or believing- we may be just making it all up, and the more we think we know the less we actually know. It is important to complete the puzzle so you can go on to the next problem you don't agree with.

This is the shock one gets when they hear or see something they don't agree with. It causes you to answer with your instinctual mind, the one that is fixed in its beliefs until it is content in its conclusion so it can move on back to where it was.

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