While admitting they have no idea what causes all the invented disorders of the brain and mind they have created over the years, they are champions of “early detection” and preventative drugging with any and every mind bending chemical they can get the FDA to approve.
Since most people are not crazy and never will be, there is a tendency to reject, and rightly so, the idea that such psychiatric theories have anything to do with them.
So, our mental health condition is now being presented in a more acceptable way – psychologists are reporting it’s great to be a neurotic!
Adam M. Perkins, from the Department of Psychological Medicine, King’s College London was the lead author in an opinion piece that appeared in Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
The authors are funded by the National Institute for Health Research Mental Health Biomedical Research Centre, the NHS Foundation Trust, the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, and the Academy of Medical Sciences.
Their work made it across the pond and appeared in The L.A. Times and other news and science media in the US.
Perkins’ title was “Thinking too much: self-generated thought as the engine of neuroticism”.
Neuroticism is defined as a fundamental personality trait in the study of psychology characterized by anxiety, fear, moodiness, worry, envy, frustration, jealousy, and loneliness.
Neurosis is one of five basic personality traits that modern psychology uses to label the basic dimensions of personality. The others are agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness and extraversion (sometimes called extroversion).
Since neuroticism looks like the bad apple in the lot and the least desirable label to receive, clever minds have found a way to put a positive spin on being neurotic.
The L.A. Times article title reads “Neurotic? Here’s the silver lining”.
The Daily Mail from the UK wrote “Are you a worrier? Chances are you’re a GENIUS: Neurotic people are more likely to be imaginative and creative”.
The Seattle Times title was “Neurotics have something to feel good about”.
Creative people are neurotic , so it’s now cool to be neurotic. Which means it’s cool to be filled with anxiety, worry and anti-depressants. You just might become an artist or invent something.
How did Perkins and his team arrive at such a false conclusion?
Perkins starts out by arguing that there is a part of the brain responsible for self-generated thoughts. And that this part of the brain is highly active in neuroticism yielding both creativity and neurotic unhappiness.
Perkins mentions the most popular explanation for why people are neurotic came from British psychologist Jeffrey Gray, who proposed in the 1970s that neurotics have a heightened sensitivity to threat. Gray reached this conclusion after observing how antianxiety drugs reduced the sensitivity of rodents to cues of punishment and also helped to relax and liven up psychiatric patients.
So, giving psychiatric drugs to rats and psych ward patients caused both groups to put their heads in the sand and cease observing any survival threats in their environment and stop worrying about it.
Then Perkins got wind of psychologist Jonathan Smallwood at York University who was using MRIs to try and find the part of the brain that got active during times of negative thoughts. Next Perking found Dean Mobbs of the Columbia University Fear, Anxiety, and Biosocial Lab, also studying brain activity. Mobbs had shown that there is a switch from anxiety-related fore-brain activity to panic-related mid-brain activity as a threat stimulus moves closer. After digesting Mobbs previous work, Perkins said “This could mean that for specific neural reasons, high scorers on neuroticism have a highly active imagination, which acts as a built-in threat generator.”
The fourth and final member of the team was Danilo Arnone, a psychiatrist who felt this new model for Neuroticism might explain why patients with depression compulsively focus their attention on the symptoms of their distress, and on its possible causes and consequences, as opposed to its solutions.
The illustration for their article shows how psychologists attempt to measure brain changes caused when a threat stimulus, in this case a spider, approaches closer and closer to the test subject. At what distance does the spider cause him to “freak out”? That determines his degree of Neuroticism and thus his ability to create art.
A more realistic test might be to measure the subject’s fear reaction at the approach of the psychiatrist.
Perkins admits “We’re still a long way off from fully explaining neuroticism, and we’re not offering all of the answers, but we hope that our new theory will help people make sense of their own experiences, and show that although being highly neurotic is by definition unpleasant, it also has creative benefits”.
The L.A. Times writer tells us “neurosis is, by definition, a fixed and stable personality trait” parroting the psychiatric idea that you can never really get rid of an unwanted mental or emotional state but must learn to live with it and control it with various drugs for the rest of your life.
That bleak view is the best psychiatry and psychology can offer.