The sun also rises

and I am up at my computer. I’ve been up at dawn after having gone to bed at the very early hour of midnight. Up at 5:30 am then, can’t sleep, and watched a movie. After the movie I flirted with the idea of brewing some black coffee and reading a bit in my window, the sun still low in the East. But I chose not to brew coffee, instead taking down a book from my desk and reading a few pages. The book that I took down was “Listening to Prozac“, a pure delight to read. The chapter that I am reading is on sensitivity. The chapter, indeed the book, has already given me countless gasps of wonder and turns of the mental screws in theoretical musing. This morning’s brief reading gave me the same.

I cannot record the pages that I read, yet will give a brief account. It was told of the early use of Imipramine to treat panic anxiety by Dr Klein in 1960. Imapramine was an anti-depressant, not a anxiolytic (anxiety drug) and was shown not to have any effects on mild anxiety. American Psychiatrists primarily held to the Spectrum Theory of neurosis, meaning that disorders differed from each other in their intensity in the spectrum of mental health, that is that you move from one to the other until you get to schizophrenia. Klein wanted to challenge psychoanalysis’ by treating severe panic attack sufferers. But not only that, but he wanted to know if there were different sorts of panic attacks. He prescribed Imipramine to the most severe sufferers of panic attack in the ward.

What strikes me is not the different modes of anxiety. The notion of the spectrum of disorders has, luckily, been done away with and the brain is being approached for the complex network that it is. No, what really struck me were the responses of the patients. Dr Klein gave the medication and for three weeks there were no changes (it takes a couple of weeks for the medication to set in). The psychiatrists recorded no, and the patients all told of no changes after three weeks in their anxiety. Yet when Dr Klein interviewed the nursing staff he found dramatic changes. The nursing staff would say that the patients would suffer panic attacks and would run to them for help, they’d stroke their hands and tell them everything was fine, and after twenty minutes the patient would leave, only to return a little while later under a new panic attack. The nursing staff told Dr Klein that after three weeks the patients on Imipramine stopped running to them. Again, the interviewing psychiatrists and the patients themselves showed and told of no changes in anxiety. Dr Klein pointed out the change, the improvements in their condition and the patients generally refuses, were vociferous in their great denial of the claim of improvement. Dr Klein would then ask them if they were aware that they had stopped running to the nursing staff every few moments to ease their fears. The patients were not aware, yet when asked why they had stopped they said that they finally realized that the nurses could do nothing for their problems. Dr Klein responded by stating that after ten months of running to the nurses they just now learn this? The answer, “you gotta learn sometime.”

That fascinated me and while I can feel the slow burn of the eyes coming (either from sleep or staring at the CRT of the computer screen, the refreshing screen a source of eye strain, which is why a plasma computer screen is better for the eyes, or sleepiness stealing over me) I know that I will not readily drift into sleep when I go lie next to Eliza. We make guesses as to what the world is around us, who we are, who others are, and how it all fits together based on our experience of stimuli (internal and external). We put out as much as we take in and just as early man created sometimes wild, sometimes poetic, sometimes harmless stories about why things are the way they are, so too do we in our every day life. A book (that I’ve not bought, checked out, nor read) makes a poitn that we are biologically predisposed to a belief in God. I can understand this point and thus far it makes a lot of sense.

Existentialism creeps into my thoughts as I head toward bed.


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