News Researchers Doubt That Certain Mental Disorders Are Disorders At All

Sietz

MyPTSD Pro

"Taken together, the authors posit that anxiety, depression and PTSD may be adaptive responses to adversity. “Defense systems are adaptations that reliably activate in fitness‐threatening situations in order to minimize fitness loss,” they write. It’s not hard to see how that could be true for anxiety; worry helps us avoid danger. But how can that be true for depression? They argue that the “psychic pain” of depression helps us “focus attention on adverse events... so as to mitigate the current adversity and avoid future such adversities.”
 

Friday

Moderator
I can honestly see how something like PTSD... or at least a subgroup of people who adapt so easily and thoroughly to extreme stress, that they’re no longer able to function normally without that level of stress... could be species adaptive.

It means that during both catastrophe & peace the species has groups of people who do exceptionally well.

Of course, that throws the individual under the bus; as countless people who are beacons and pillars of society when all is well fall to gibbering messes, or die from brain numbing stupidity during catastrophe; whilst those who thrive in crisis are left as we are, once that crisis has passed.

But the same is true of the vast majority of neurological disorders I can think of. Not all, certainly, but most have clear survival of the species strengths attached.

Whether or not the indivudal tends to enjoy/thrive in their life? In my observation has far less to do with whatever their neurology is, and far more to do with whether their life conforms to it. Do they play to their strengths, and are rewarded for that? Or is their life a constant uphill struggle (on fire, in the mud, whilst their companion whinges nonstop) to be something/someone wholly different from what makes them uniquely themselves?

Having that subgroup of people who adapt so easily/thoroughly to extreme stress not be limited to a certain kind of baseline neurology? Instead of something one is born with, an acquired adaptivity “anyone” is able to shift into (anyone = all kinds of preexisting disorders & none, as opposed to everyone), the entire range personalities/skill sets? Also parses; it’s hard to rebuild a species/society following catastrophe with only one “kind” of person. One really needs all sorts.
 

grief

Sponsor
it's varieble i think. some people who have ptsd also become incapable in a crisis. i have known people who are just too broken to think logically. and even when their life depended on shutting up and being quiet, i had to physically force them to stop reacting because they couldn't do it themselves.

and within the aftermath. and are just too disordered to function in general. but some people with ptsd have adapteve responses. for instance when coronavirus happened i was the only person in my neighborhood and my family who didn't freak out. i was the one encouraging people to remain calm and rational. but in real life? i am lucky i can walk and talk at the same time.

so this isn't adaptive in the long run. because our lives exist as they are now. and not in caves beating each other over the head with bats. or fighting mammoths. or whatever. in terms of how humans live their lives today, ptsd is disordered. it is disruptive to the ordinary process of being alive, generally, which is what a disorder is. it also is not guaranteed to happen if one experiences trauma, and there are non disordered ways that people do react to trauma.

how ever i am also not 100% convinced that after a certain point ptsd is inevetable.

i don't truly know the answer to that. that if any person no matter their neurology was put through a specific set of circumstances would they develop ptsd? and all we can do is look at the data, which is that sometimes it happens and sometimes it actually doesn't happen. like when you look at people who survive genocide-not all of them have ptsd. even though you would think that they would. because of what they went through.

but most of them-at least a good portion of them, based on things i've observed anyway. definitely would/have fit the diagnostic criteria. so it's variable. and these are just the people we've heard about-who would generally be more functional anyway. some people just get through horrible shit and just be normal people. or at least it seems on the outside. but then again. on the outside. i also seem normal. but i know for a fact that i am very disordered.

so to even analyze this kind of question would require an unethical solution. (putting people through trauma and measuring their responses.) as it is now we rely on self reporting. which is often wrong. or doesn't tell the full picture. or we rely on what we can observe in other people's behaviors. which has the same drawback. because we don't have the full contextual basis to analyze it. because we don't personally know them. and we aren't clinically involved with them.

when it comes to depression... is where i get lost. that is not an adaptive response because it is literally a lack of function. even if this were an evolutionary argument, the person who is depressed is going to get eaten first. they're slower, plain and simple. it comes down to how to define disorder which is an interference of function. and all mental disorders qualify as disorders because they disrupt normal functioning.

even if they may be beneficial in some circumstances (my husband is ocd and in a pandemic? you better believe we're spotless. but also, it's disordered, because he was eating lysol every day.) but on the other hand that the article does bring up a good point which is that-and i struggle with this my self, that there are huge deficits in our ability to measure human behavior and develop language to describe emotions and behavioral sets.

because we can't measure what people feel. which often times what ends up to happen. is that a lot of psychiatry and mental health is just essentially people guessing stuff. and that is helpful in varying degrees. but it can also be really tragic and unprofessonal and worse. when the cure is worse than the problem.
 

Sietz

MyPTSD Pro
@grief there is one excellent book I recommend for those series of questions you propose. It was "prescribed" by my psychiatrist during trauma treatment and healing from depression / psychosis / anxiety and so forth. The understanding of this book is that by cumulative notions of "savage vs proper" behaves, we've also transformed the idea about depression - it used to be called melancholia for example. One idea he brings to the table in this book is that somehow before we knew how to behave communally - the indexes and rations by pax of people with "melancholia" or deep sadness were far less troublesome than they are now. There is something to connect, in my own individual research, mostly linked to issues of ecology - how the idea of humans separated from nature and others (maximum individualism - the mememe thing) is one factor to consider. You see girls nowadays with suicidal ideation and deep troubles of self-esteem who have thousands of Instagram followers and people around, in the end, they are lonely, insecure, full of issues with self-image and appearance. In today's society, we have a lot more prominence to self-defeatism through ideas of appearance. There are girls who post selfies in the morning and refuse to leave the house the rest of the day so they don't show themselves, unlike the picture they posted. Plastic surgery as a birthday present at 15 years old. The pill at 13&14 - this speaking solely on women who statistically have a higher prevalence of being diagnosed with depression. On the other hand, men have a different approach to depression, it's a secret, in silence, their friends hardly know, they don't deal with things the same way. My cousin battles depression on and off and he has a good life, an amazing kid and wife, a supportive and caring extended family, and so forth. He can't deal with a lot of social issues, he's very sensitive about stuff, he tries his best though, to have a good moral compass. And that helps, but he's always in deep fear of depressive bouts and to losing his family and life. It's really prominent for him how lack of affection, physical caring, hugs you know? Being able to be a sensitive male person with beliefs and caring attitudes towards everyone. It's really difficult for him. Now going to trans and LGBTQI+ folks in general, it's incredibly difficult to even find therapy or available therapists who specialize in certain aspects of these issues.

Anyway, the books below might help with certain ideas that you brought forth, I'm not sharing the Amazon links because I don't know the policies of the site anymore.
 

Sietz

MyPTSD Pro
@Friday, the human collective does not know enough about the early past or later past to have a resolution to your questions. Quite intensely so, the ideas of behaviorism that we study and think are true in the social sciences are based on Pavlov and Skinner who by himself was the most idiotic human being to ever enter behavioral sciences. Anyway, psychiatry/ology are taking a huge turn, and genetics is one of the newest sciences, archeology keeps bumping itself with astrology and myths and can't really move more than a feet a few decades.

What brings to question is ancestral indigenous knowledge and passed down wisdom and stories, that shed light on amazing recoveries by the power of the simple things, such as storytelling for example. In the same line, Buddhists and proto-Buddhists explain the idea of storytelling in our minds consecutive notions about events and ourselves which may or not be absolute truths. Or in the line that things change. One thing I keep having to remind myself is to look around and see how in lack of actual danger I've actually been in for the past decade. We keep the gear and the tools we learn, but we can shed them sometimes for the simplicity of things - our self-talk is possibly more important after the events happen or non-events than we care to admit. For example, I remember a deeply sad story for me, is a non-event for most other people, including therapists - to postulate someone's eventful situation as a non-event is a very difficult thing because you are not me, I am not you.

One issue for me, a moral issue so to speak, when first coming to this site was to support the military. I'm as anti-war as they come. Very hardcore antifa activist and so forth - military, police, are seen as quasi enemies, the friends of the oppressor. That's the running story in my back mind right? But regardless, the best of friends and people to talk to here, were exactly those for me. It's interesting that we can have very fixed ideas based on running narratives, but when it comes to being human, things flip.
 

grief

Sponsor
One idea he brings to the table in this book is that somehow before we knew how to behave communally - the indexes and rations by pax of people with "melancholia" or deep sadness were far less troublesome than they are now.
this is an interesting theory. but i'm not so sure i would except that it has evolutionary benefit as ultimetely depressive behavior is, in every animal, associated with a higher risk of death. depressed individuals require less resources because they consume less, and they produce less. which is risky, not beneficial.

and we've likely behaved communally since we crawled down from the tree tops, just in different cognetive and linguistic lenses. we've always been the social animal. we just haven't always been a human animal. when it comes to describing mental illness in terms of evolutionery analysis i think the question is honestly begged.

humans have a whole host of psychopathological behaviors because we are intelligent. the more intelligent an animal is, the more psychopathology it gains access to, as we can think just about any type of thought we want. and that ultimetely combines with how neurotransmission works and how we respond to our reactions (our inherent subjective emotional states-which the second book you linked touches on vaguely).

and on and on.

there is no evolutionery benefit to depression or anxiety or ptsd or anything else because it results in disordered behavior. but our brains are probably primed to respond in specific ways to specific events because of evolutionery influence (such as jumping when you see a snake translating into an overwhelming phobia of harmless snakes.)

i just do not think it is as simple as assuming that every type of physolocigal deficit stems from the same rationale. because that is rational and a lot of psychopathology is not rational, inherently.

things like "panic disorder causing people to fear traveling too far away from home" make no evolutionery sense. because humans migrate when their current conditions are no longer sustenable. and if we had a biological stop on being able to migrate. we would have died out long ago. i think it's hard for me to put into words what i'm thinking exactly. but essentially, a lot of this does come across as pop psych stuff.

i'd be more surprised if credible clinicians, neuroscientists and researchers backed this up with the nuance it deserves. some behaviors are probably prevelent because they served a purpose, but also, some behaviors are purposeless because they are pathological. and that is the defining feature of pathology. there is no purpose and there is no reason. it exists irrationally.

and combining with this idea of that it's our current society that is making every one depressed. as long as we went back to nature the pathology would disappear is something i am inherently skeptical of. as we are in nature. we are in human nature. there is, however, good evidence to show that we are building technology that is surpassing our brain's ability to fully conceptualize.

which i think is more in line with what you are saying. and how that manifests with regard to pathology across age spectrum and gender and all of that. and i would agree with that which it is revealing specific deficits in our abilities and not so much that it is creating anything new that was not there beforehand.

a good example of this is the internet versus our physical capacity for empathy. we evolved to have about a hundred, maybe two hundred people in our reletive social groups; and with the internet that number is within the millions, and ergo we see deficits in empathic capacity all across the board when you look at standard internet usege. and that we are biulding weapons, energy resources, and the like.

which that we fundamentally do not understand the consequences to. and this is not to say that technology is the root of all evil but that we nee to be mind full that the top 10% of human intellect that is creating these things, are creating them for the 90% of people who do not really understand how to use them.

which is how innovation works, but when there are no fail safes build in for that. we get exactly what is happening. people who do not know how to read critically are now convinced that the latest 5g update comes from the coronavirus vaccine. and for us as smart individuals we take that for granted. and mock those people but the reality is they don't know enough to think other things. if they did, they would think them.

and the more wrong and useless information is out there the more wrong and useless behavior we see.
 

Simply Simon

Sponsor
in terms of how humans live their lives today, ptsd is disordered. it is disruptive to the ordinary process of being alive, generally, which is what a disorder is.
PTSD is a normal reaction to abnormal circumstances. “The way humans live their lives today” is a manner of living characterized by a set of nonsensical methods and rules producing a population sick with the disease of artificial scarcity borne out of manufactured hierarchies that are self-perpetuating violence against the whole of the earth. In a nutshell, I think it’s f*cking hogwash to use the world in which we operate, where we have more houses than homeless and more food than consumers, as the arbiter of normalcy.

Let’s just think about some asinine truisms. “Dog eat dog world” idioms are absurd. You’re a wolf or a sheep. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Hard work will get you up the ladder. Come on. These are all demonstrably ludicrous sentiments we absorb from everywhere that are only useful as insidious messaging reminding us that the way our “civilization” functions is in line with the natural order of things when it is completely out of step with everything we observe in the ecological systems we haven’t yet completely f*cked.

I once read an article in The New Yorker about a doctor who was pissed because he had repeat patients with all sorts of ailments, and he finally realized the root of it all was a lack of food. He wrote prescriptions for fresh food. The insurance wouldn’t pay. But that was the cure, and it was the cheapest cure to boot. But that’s not how we live today. We can get opiates but not a salad, even though we throw out a spectacular percentage of produce that’s perfectly good.

I was in the airport smoking next to a group of Army boys just come stateside after their tour. The (bastardous, selfish, repugnant) Wounded Warrior Project had a sign in the corner. I started chatting with the boys, and I scoffed at the sign, started talking about the evil things the organization has done to crush grassroots organizations directly helping vets in their local communities. The boys started telling me they were headed to a center for six weeks of “reintegration training” before entering civvy life. One asked me, “After what we just went through, wouldn’t we be insane not to be f*cked in the head?”
it also is not guaranteed to happen if one experiences trauma, and there are non disordered ways that people do react to trauma.

how ever i am also not 100% convinced that after a certain point ptsd is inevetable.

i don't truly know the answer to that. that if any person no matter their neurology was put through a specific set of circumstances would they develop ptsd? and all we can do is look at the data, which is that sometimes it happens and sometimes it actually doesn't happen. like when you look at people who survive genocide-not all of them have ptsd. even though you would think that they would. because of what they went through.
This is where a host of variables come in from epigenetics to resilience factors to risk factors etc...

I started to get into these, but this topic is too huge for me to write about at the moment. We (the forum) have an article about resiliency. We also have one about the veteran crisis. I can’t recommend these enough.
 

Simply Simon

Sponsor
One thing I keep having to remind myself is to look around and see how in lack of actual danger I've actually been in for the past decade.
My mantra is “There is no tiger.” It’s my easy way of reminding myself that stress is a mostly obsolete reaction to the perception of danger. I almost died in a very very very near miss car accident, but I had no spike in adrenaline or cortisol, because at the time I was hypomanic and was already living daily at the ceiling of stress to which my body could rise. My CNS was prickling with it. I couldn’t feel the normal reaction to almost getting killed because my body was already operating at the level of “I’m about to die.”

But usually, there is no tiger.
One issue for me, a moral issue so to speak, when first coming to this site was to support the military. I'm as anti-war as they come. Very hardcore antifa activist and so forth - military, police, are seen as quasi enemies, the friends of the oppressor.
I always say I hate the military and love the service members. I hate the LDS Church, but I love Mormons.

Institutions are structures that influence the people within them to a degree most of us don’t care to admit. Environment and social ecology are integral in determining individual behavior and belief.

You would probably enjoy one of my favorite books, The Lucifer Effect, by the notorious Dr. Zimbardo. Social psychology and anthropology are my great loves. I turn to them all the time when I cannot understand the actions of an Individual. They almost always make things clear.
 

Sietz

MyPTSD Pro
@Simply Simon hey simon, nice to hear from you :)

Yes, I've been on the social sciences choo choo train for the past few years and it's incredible. I've been recently putting together some meetings to discuss "the topic of spirituality" and it has been incredibly rewarding to see how actually open-minded most people are to knowledge and to believe they can be wrong sometimes. It was not what I was expecting from the "spirituality crew" - at one point we had people joining from all sorts of backgrounds, Rosa Crucian, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist, it has been fun. But we touch on a crucial topic which is the idea of "other" which is my field of adoration in anthropology, the idea of the other is something I work within most areas of my professional life and also in most areas of my personal life as well.

I remember one shitty therapist I had who actually gave me a valuable gem for the future - to heal the relationship with everything we have outside of ourselves and we interact with, meaning life, love, people, objects, food, animals, plants, cars, trains... we can go on. :) The idea of the "other", in Indian anthropology resembles the idea of projection in western psychology. And it's incredibly easy to find these mechanisms of "mirror neuroning" others in order to fulfill needs and desires mostly. In spirituality is most of the same, you actually want evil in the world is quite plausible for you to like an evil God and practice evil deeds, if you think the human world is incredibly confused and should be kinder, it's natural to approach a more benevolent view of the concept of divinity. At least for the effort of self-care and mental health, that's what I've been finding. A lot of people like to believe in the concept of the Universe God - out of reach, impossible to attain, because it seems more fruitful in terms of serenity.
Everyone I spoke with on this subject, believes in what they can believe in for an effort of easing emotional pain and achieving some sort of balance and equillibrium for the weird forces of humanity out there.

Look, if you're afraid of tigers, don't go to a Savannah naked. But if you like nature, watch a National Geographic documentary. Anyway, you are right, usually, the fear of tigers comes from the ideas about death and danger, which for folks with various degrees of trauma is something very real. Which for those who do not have any degree of "hard" traumas, is something almost implausible.

The issue of storytelling is very convincing to most people about ideas to pass on, and lessons to be learned. At least that's the approach of most intellectual Christians and Catholics, I've been finding, very similar to the indigenous ideology of spirituality. This is to say that past activist Antifa no gods no masters self is very stubborn in making me believe everyone is sort of stupid anyway. I've been speaking with some indigenous women lately, and they are very keen on understanding the realms of ideas and how these ideas about what is spiritual, what is psychological, and mostly, what becomes somatic. I didn't know, but I've been learning a lot from it.
 

grief

Sponsor
In a nutshell, I think it’s f*cking hogwash to use the world in which we operate, where we have more houses than homeless and more food than consumers, as the arbiter of normalcy.
i agree with you that using this as a standard for what should be normal is irrational. because that standard is cruelty. and cruelty should not be normelized.

but that is not really what i was trying to say. and i apologize that my thoughts frequently make no sense or, are probably wrong, whatever. (that's just like, my opinion, man. lol.) but the purpose of my statement was to illumenate that people tend to get bogged down with the evolutionery origins of mental illness. because they are looking for a rational reason to explain things and to make them selfs feel better about their predicements.

and the reality is a lot more nuanced than that. because the reality is that we do live in a world with other people that we have to engage with, and while that world is imperfect, having ptsd makes it very f*cking difficult to engage with. and that calls into question of what should be normelized and i agree that if we lived in a society that normelized ptsd behaviors? we wouldn't have a disorder, we would just be normal people. it is that vareable.

ultiimetely that the crux of that statement is that if our society were repaired, ptsd would dissipate. and that also isn't true. some people have genuine trauma responses to falling down the stairs. so it just isn't true. we will always have ptsd. until we can develop technology or medicine that fundamentally changes the structures of the brain which are impacted by ptsd.

in a society of ptsd-havers we could say that the non-ptsd havers, "have" ptsd. it's completely subjective because it deals with subjective states, which the last part of my statement would get into of that, which is that we only have relative language to describe this. we do not have absolute language or absolute mesurements.

but i do under stand the impetes of feeling that your responses are sane, given an insane environment. my environment was insane. and i personally struggle with whether or not i have a fundamental disorder or whether or not. that is just what anyone's brain would do. and that is where what you had quoted and discussed of epigenietics and what not. comes into play.

because if ptsd is not a disorder, that means that given sufficient trauma any single human person would exhibit the same responses. because that would be called a rational response and not post traumatic stress disorder response.

and the most complicated thing about this all is that which is also true. ptsd is not irrational on its own! just like me struggling to read and write is not irrational because i have dyslexia because that is the way my brain is. you know what i mean? there is a reason why it exists so it is not inherently unintelligible.

people resist terms like disorder or deficit and view them as insulting. and i understand why that is and it creates an emotive response (and that is some thing i freqently also am guilty of doing, because i have an irrational brain, and it doesn't know how to feel things or regulate things properly.) but i also think that there is value to under stand that objectively we struggle to exist in the world as it is today.

and either you can change the world or you can change your self, and one of those is much harder to do than the other. and there are components at least of my own behavior that is caused with ptsd that i would prefer to change because it leads me to be cruel and unreasonable and miserable and i would rather be nice and logical and happy.
 
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