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A new take on mental illness(Was Re: discovery of dopamine...)

Ron Blue rcb1 at LEX.LCCC.EDU
Fri Nov 17 08:34:37 EST 1995

On 16 Nov 1995, john cox wrote:
> Sorry, can't answer your question but I can add one of my own.
> It's always puzzled me why some mental disorders should occur at
> all.  If a disorder is caused by a deficiency in one or more
> neurotransmitters, why doesn't normal cellular metabolizm lead
> to a similar repression in neurotransmitter resceptor sites?
Chaos theory may be useful to explain the complexity of trying to reach
homostatic balance.  Even two or three varible interactions can lead to
complex and unexpected outcomes.  The smallest change can have unexpected 
 > Why doesn't the brain addapt to the new level of neurotransmitter?
Chaos - but it trys.
> The basic processes of life are geared toward homeostatic regulation;
> genes are constantly switching on and off in response to changes in
> the external environment.  Can the level of neurotransmitters and 
> their resceptor sites really be arbitrary and unconnected?\
It can appear to be totally stochastic yet totally deterministic.
> Shouldn't they eventually reach a balance?
Maybe at night when little new inputs are coming in. 
>  What is it that 
> sets the 'normal' levels anyway if it isn't a process of feed-
> back regulation?
>  Poisoning of the brain with chemicals such
> as alcohol and MDMA do lead to a re-adjustment of resceptor
> levels along with a loss in neurotransmitter activity.
> What is it about a 'diseased' brain that prevents it from
> adjusting its sensitivity to itself? 
Chaos, and initial values processed into the memory and neuro wiring diagram.
That does not mean that progress can not be made.
> Surely the interesting
> thing about neurotransmitter deficiencies is not the loss
> of the transmitter but the fact that the sensitivity to the
> transmitter is unaffected by its absence.
well yes and no.
>  This seems to go 
> against everything that is known about the biochemistry of
> cells which have amazing powers of self regulation.
That is because neuro processing has little to do with biochemistry.  Silver
nitrate on film has little to do with the picture that can be made on it.
That does not mean that understanding the biochemistry is not important 
because it is.
> Could it be that these diseases have causes oposite to the
> usual explaination.  Perhaps the resceptors for certain
> neurotransmitters are over expressed.  Maybe its this that
> causes a drop in neurotransmitter levels as the brain
> attempts to keep itself regulated.
Excellent insight! agreed.
>  Maybe low transmitter
> levels are not the cause of disfunction but a _result_
> of a more fundamental disfunction at the genetic
> transcription level.
well yes and no.  You are looking at a complex system that can be 
effected by many variables.  The models we build allow us to examine these
> Comments to this post would be welcom
You are to be complimented with you insight and awareness of the puzzlements
that research has generated.  Ron Blue 
> j.e.cox at cranfield.ac.uk
> John E. Cox

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