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ryan g's picture


As I flipped through some of my previous posts, it occurred to me that my thoughts have gone in cycles throughout the semester.  Here is a quote from the second discussion "Mental Health?"

 If I am to to discard the cultural framework I have been working in... the idea of a healthy/ill dichotomy... even my beliefs that an organ should function in a certain way... in the interest of being less wrong, I feel like I don't have any ground to stand on anymore.

I remember at that point in the semester feeling like I was really stuck in a rut.  I didn't understand how we would ever reach a conclusion on anything.  

Then, at some point in class, I can't remember which day it was, I had the realization that it doesn't necessarily matter that we can't define mental health.  We can continue forward using the definition that is most useful, and working to make that definition less wrong.  This was a big thing for me.  I was thinking, "I've never cared that we don't really know what is going on on a subatomic scale... I can still learn chemistry using the models we have now.  How is this any different?"  Letting go of my need to reach a conclusion felt good and allowed me to feel like I was making progress again. 

However, I feel like the last few weeks with the tea kettle discussions, the frustration began to build for me again as my thoughts started to drift back towards this feeling of how do we cope with this?  How can anyone say what we should do?  What does it all mean?

This tension has definitely been a main theme for me in the class.  Trying to balance thinking about things on an abstract theoretical level and thinking about applications on a practical level.  For example, the issue of how all these ideas applied to us future healthcare providers.    On one hand I find myself questioning the existence of a healthy/ill dichotomy and on the other hand I find myself wondering how I will actually deal with real life clinical situations.    

As I sit here now and think about this, part of me wishes that I would have spent less time mucking around and more time focusing on things on a more practical level.  However, I think that constantly trying to find a way to balance these thoughts has been the main facilitator for growth in my thinking this semester.

As far as conclusions go...

I am fairly confident that underlying everything we experience day in and day out is the neural network of our brain.  Since this network is constantly reorganizing itself and never static, it makes sense that we can't seek out an ideal structure to call "mentally healthy."  Therefore, making it possible for the brain to "do what it does best" seems like a reasonable stance to take right now for mental health.  I think this opens up a lot of interesting new questions as well.  How can we best facilitate the brain growing and forming new connections?  How does mental illness block this function?  Also, there are sciences like chaos theory that try to predict randomness in different areas of nature.  Can we predict the randomness in the brain?  If so, what will that tell us?   

Thanks, everyone, for a great semester!    



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