Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Analogue thoughts in a Digital World....

Just came across The Death of Common Sense : When Love and Grief becomes "Disordered"....

We as humans have unique brains that evolve in a very fine way,  using external stimuli, internal memory systems,  reactive systems, information feedback loops and seamless connectivity with biological processes.  Every human being is unique, and knowingly or unknowingly , is great enriched by one's living experiences.  Be they, happy, sad, terrible, shocking, or what have you.

  Life actually flows on, with a large number of mental and physical tributaries joining in and many off-shoot flows departing along the side , all over time. And one often sees solutions to life problems within one's self, while being part of this flow.

  One of the undesired side effects of the digital age we live in, is the tendency to compartmentalize things and give them names. The tendency to sit on the banks of the flow and make smart comments.  Which are then organized, and uploaded somewhere,  celebrating one more label, one more theory, one more fancy phrase, where a hand on the shoulder would have sufficed.

Digital micro memory management and mega speeds have got everyone enamoured of high speed machine thinking, without paying attention to the entities being crunched. Fast publishing . 

And so today we have  the New England Journal of Medicine(NEJM)  defining a "prolonged Grief Disorder (?)"  (question mark mine),  described as " "condition is characterized by intense grief that lasts longer than would be expected according to social norms and that causes impairment in daily functioning."   The article also mentions possible treatments with antidepressants/antianxiety drugs.

Hello !   Life, regardless of how standardized it is as in the west, and how varied and non standard it is , as in the east, has one thing in common. 

The subjects are human beings, who are all unique, have unique brains, which have learned and developed abilities, based on the society around them. Something that causes grief in one type of society may never get a second look in another type of society.  Some societies have too much standardization built in.  In western societies, average "bereavement leave " is 3 days.  And pharmacology kicks in when understanding fails.

Grief is NOT a malady.  It is a state of mind, not always a consequence of a physical personal loss; but it is a slow coming to terms with a turn  one's life has taken.  It could be  age related loss of elders, a sudden unexpected loss of someone, or shocking circumstances,  or some event related to a close friend or associate.

It is not something that happens, and then gets cured because some medicines teach your mind to think differently.

Societies have their own systems to alleviate grief of people. It is almost always based on interaction with others, and not on either isolation of self  or organized social interaction "norms"...

Some societies have lots of rituals, where the person is kept busy planning and participating, with the help of family, close and extended, while the grief flows silently in the mind in the background.  These rituals are not always religious, but are sometimes social. There are days specified /suggested  for getting back to your normal life after a loss, but that is about physical life. 

The mind is its own person, and takes its own time. All a function of a specific person who is grieving.  You cannot and should not push it. 

I have known situations where someone lost a child shortly after birth, and the immediate  aftermath, was spent dismantling cradles and things that would affect an aged elder closely related to the child, who was arriving, was physically afflicted with something that would become worse on facing the mental trauma on being subjected to such sights.  Personal grief quietly stepped aside to let something else occupy the visible mind. This, in a society, where elders in the family are valued, and not wished only on specific days etc.  The grief quietly seeped back, and kept simmering as it were, occasionally bowing to external situations, which was like a slow nuanced  effort to come back to normal.

Other situations, where  the answer to "To be or not to be"  was revealed quite suddenly in an earth shattering instant.   A grief , preceded,  sometimes followed by, a sense of huge anger, despite knowing that normal human life has a beginning and end.  A wanting to be alone, but social responsibilities, and memories of how a previous generation handled these things, teaching a thing or to about handling the grief.

Sometimes , losses are anticipated, and predictable. Even so, the feeling of hurt is the same. One often looks inward then, imagining the good times in the past. It is about a mind trying to quietly comfort itself.  The human mind is a very strong entity, and must be given the freedom to come out of it all, in a way it knows best. Forcing neurons and synapses to do things based on medications spoils it all . 

Grief is never about death alone.  It can be over disillusionment,  hurt,  sudden frightening-but-not-yet-life-threatening health issues, and unpleasant surprises .   This kind of grief sometimes explodes irrationally,  but then again, having people around  to vent it on, and talk it over with , often works , to start with.  This is not an organized talking, but a reaching out to those one values.  Sometimes, one quietly writes, perhaps to get it all off, as they say , because the written words can often be later deleted, but a hurtful remark to another person cannot. Such things work in societies where nuclearness is not the norm, and folks hang around the bereaved, trying to fill in the unhappy blanks, as it were , in  someone's troubled life.  While no one thinks they are interfering, these societies also have experienced family folks who can sense if someone is, and such folks are quietly discouraged.

And so Grief is NOT a disorder.  It cannot be quantified, and classified at discrete levels. Simple, Complicated, Post Traumatic Stress based, etc etc.  Barring situations where someone turns violent or goes into a dead faint, pharmacology is clearly not the answer.  A societal understanding  and empathy is.  

You cannot define what is a good period to grieve. You also cannot classify causes of grief.

What causes grief to someone, is a very very personal thing.  A lifetime of training the mind, based on one's bringing up, life experiences, environment, and realizing limitations ,  teaches one to handle it all, and one emerges stronger for it, in one's own time. 

Multitasking is a gift to mankind, and our brains do that in wondrous ways, constantly in learning mode.

We call that Common Sense. 

You cannot medicalize it.  And you cannot let it die. 

Because that grief , will be very very difficult to handle.....    




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