A human brain is the most complicated object in the Universe.
If we compare the heart to a pump, skeleton to framing, digestive tract to a chemical factory, a human brain is a sophisticated computer. It’s so advanced, we don’t know how does it work. We don’t even know how to investigate this creator of thoughts. Its 86 billion cells, interconnected with dual chemo-electrical systems, not only let us function in our complex environment, but also learn how to cope with adversities and survive. And how to better our living conditions.
And yet, this organ, with a myriad of highly developed neurons, is not sensitive to touch. Can you imagine? The owner of these array of cells can’t feel when the surgeon touches an exposed brain. We can use a local anesthesia to open the skull, and then talk to the patients how does he feel when you press on some areas of his brain, or watch the patient’s movements while touching the others. I remember seeing the exposed brain for the first time. It was a case of a head trauma, and I was to drain the blood collection pressing on its surface. I saw a warped collection of gray gelatin. Unimpressive. With a heart, one can see its work. The brain does its work, silent and motionless. The heart is a show-off, the brain goes to the corner of the room and works in solitude.
When the brain gets sick, we attempt to treat it. But how do we do it, when we don’t even know, how does this organ work? We don’t know how does the mental illnesses start. We don’t even know how to define them. We have no way of measuring mental conditions. Not even thinking of defining nuances. And what is not measured, is not followed. Yet, we still try to treat it. We have a specialty of medical science we call psychiatry. But how can we take this branch of science seriously when it uses electric shocks? Insulin shocks? When uses the medications in hit-and-miss trials? Medications, which we don’t even know how they work? When they do, that’s great, But when they don’t–oops, let’s try another? What should we think of a branch of the medical science which gets a Nobel Prize for the surgical procedure using an ice pick to blindly rip frontal lobes apart from the rest of the human brain? If one thinks frontal lobotomy is not used anymore – its coding number is still included in medical coding manual ICD-9. When its ‘Bible’ of treatment is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, constantly changing collections of symptoms and numbers, important for insurance companies, a manual in which not many believe, but all admit as a necessary evil? Don’t get me even started.
When you look at the brain of a virtuoso violinist, and compare with the brain of a brilliant surgeon, there is no difference. They look the same. It gets better. We have no blood test, know of no imaging technique, can’t use sensitive EEG to find out which hand uses a bow and which operates with a scalpel. And where is the memory stored?
So, we use DSM, this pathetic collection of numbers and descriptions, to treat our elaborate organ. How is this for science?
Then we wonder the results are tragic. And we have endless homeless and crime epidemics. And we blame poor results on patient’s non-compliance with bizarre recommendations on how to treat their real problems. And, when we want to cut the budget, we close the Camarillo State Hospital, dedicated to treating mental patients. Where the medicine stops and charity begins?