Oliver Sacks, the autonomic nervous system, and psychiatric drug withdrawal syndrome

My husband, Paul Woodward, who has published quite a few essays on this blog, sometimes sends emails to me about his thoughts on my (and therefore, often, our) circumstance. Sometimes he’s incredibly helpful and insightful both. I’m sharing what he wrote to me yesterday. The below is most of the body of an email. I’ve edited out a couple of sentences that were directed to me more personally at the beginning and the end. Most of it is just as it was written. As way of introduction to those who perhaps are not familiar with this blog, the autonomic nervous system injury that Paul is referring to in myself is the one incurred by psychiatric drugs and their withdrawal. It is essentially a sort of chemical and pharmaceutical and, therefore, iatrogenic brain injury. It’s often referred to as psychiatric drug withdrawal syndrome and in some people can be a severe and debilitating condition. … [click on title to read and view more]

Holistic — means more than most consider

As the term “holistic” has been popularized, it tends to emphasize wholeness and so it is an uplifting and enlarging concept. But it also means embracing complexity, the unknown, and our inability to control things. … [click on title for the rest of the post]

How Big Pharma profits from war

by PAUL WOODWARD
Yes, the medicating of combat troops has been done in such a way that it constitutes a form of drug abuse. A year ago the Army Surgeon General warned that medications being widely used to treat PTSD risk making the condition worse. And the dramatic rise in suicides has been widely linked to the effects of suicide-triggering medications.

But there is a gaping whole in Friedman’s commentary: no recognition that the misprescribing of psychiatric drugs by military doctors does not so much contrast with the practice of civilian doctors — it is merely an amplification of already excessive use in the wider population. … [click on title to read the rest]

We feel, therefore we are

by PAUL WOODWARD
To ask whether animals have consciousness is often turned into a question about if and how they think.

That creatures as small as a fruit fly do indeed exhibit evidence of sophisticated cognitive processes is intriguing, but the question that engages philosophers and scientists less than what the brains of other creatures compute is the seemingly imponderable question of what they feel.

The experience of feeling — whether it is ones own feelings or the feelings of others — is the preeminent concern of humans in general when it comes to the question of consciousness. … [click on title to read the rest]

Ode to a flower

Richard Feynman’s friend should have known better than to bait the scientist — yet Feynman’s response proves the point: an understanding of the flower’s cellular structure, its evolution, and the evolutionary function of its beauty are all steps away from the experience of beholding a flower’s beauty.
When Feynman says he might not be “quite as refined aesthetically” as his friend, he’s marginalizing the value of perception, yet a flower is irreducibly an object of perception.