Archive for the ‘mental illness’ Category

What if there *isn’t* a objective reality?

Tuesday, July 13th, 2021

One of the topics I do occasionally worry about is what if there just isn’t a objective reality? Since we know that our minds are easily powerful enough to generate a experience of reality being created out of whole cloth, this seems possible. It would explain how for some people the Jan 6 USA misadventure was a bunch of tourists on the lawn while for a bunch of other people it was a armed insurrection, for example. It could of course go a lot further than that. It’s a worrisome concept, because it can’t be disproven – but if there isn’t a objective reality I’d really like to reprogram the simulator so that *my* reality is more what I’d like to be doing.

Mania, islanding, and the Shannon limit, and stepped psych med dosing

Sunday, June 20th, 2021

This is going to be a article about one way mental illness can occur, with some side digressions into how we do not do a very good job of treating this particular way mental illness can occur.

So, those of us who don’t believe there’s some sort of voodoo going on in the human brain understand it to be a very, very large neural network. It has 10^11 neurons, broken up into probably somewhere around 10^8 subnets, and those neurons have both excite and inhibit inputs and are also affected by the chemical soup they live in in a number of ways – including that there is a limit to how many times a neuron can fire before it has to uptake chemicals that permit it to fire because firing uses up resources, that a bunch of neurons firing near each other are all working out of the same resource pool, and that the presence of various other neurotransmitters (and even some more exotic things like moving electromagnetic fields) can affect firing probability.

It is also possible there is additional voodoo going on – I’ve seen arguments that the brain is using relativistic effects, that it is using quantum effects similar to a quantum computer, that it is a lies-to-children simplified version of the actual system brought into Earth to help us understand, that it is actually a large radio receiver for a complex four-dimensional (or more) wave, and other less probable explanations. We can discuss things like how this relates to the soul in another article – this one is based on the idea that yes, it’s real hardware, and yes, it follows real physical laws.

One thing commonly commented about people who are experiencing mania is that they appear “fast”, sped up, and indeed you can observe in some percentage of manic folks a increase in the frequency and amplitude of some of the various “clocks” the brain uses to help synchronize operations (i.e. alpha and beta waves, which themselves are somewhat mysterious insofar as a EEG is only picking up a gross average of millions of neurons and even that is not likely to be too accurate given that the electrical signals have passed through the blood-brain barrier, bone, etc)

Anyway, it seems completely reasonable to think that during periods of mania, signalling is occurring faster. One clear law of nature we’re aware of is referred to as the Shannon limit, and it’s the idea that for any given bandwidth and signal to noise ratio there is a maximum signalling rate that can be successful. Attempts to exceed the Shannon limit (by signalling too fast) result in a breakdown of communication – the exact failure mode depends on the encoding method being used and some other variables.

I am fairly clear that some of the undesirable behaviors and effects of mania are the result of some of the signal pathways involved in connecting the various subnets that make up a person’s decision trees experiencing signalling that exceeds the Shannon limit, thusly resulting in islanding. Side effects here can include loss of generation of memory (and apparent ‘jumps’ in time from the manic person’s POV), extremely poor decision making akin to having inhibitions suppressed by alcohol, and all sorts of interesting delusions. I think all of this is what happens when some of the longer inhibitory circuits stop carrying data, or meaningful data, because they are signalling beyond their Shannon limit and thusly the signal arrives at the other end either hopelessly smeared or of inadequate amplitude to cause the neuron in question to receive the excitory or inhibitory input.

In my case one clear case of islanding that has been repeatedly observed is the presence of multiple personalities. This is not that I have DID but rather that this is what happens when islanding occurs in a neural network – you can think of a natural neural network as somewhat holographic and indeed a number of experiments (too many to document here, but I can write a separate article about this topic if there’s interest) bear this out.

(I should also clarify for those of you who aren’t familiar with operating a electrical grid – “islanding” occurs when individual parts of the system are out of touch with each other – in the case of the AC grid this would be because they’re physically disconnected or too far out of phase with each other to allow a connection to be made – neural networks can display similar behaviors and it’s possible to experiment with this with ANNs simply by progmatically disconnecting bits of them. We’ve had chances to explore a lot of the different ways islanding can behave in a natural neural network because of stroke, head injury, various experiments such as cutting the corpus callosum, and the like )

It is possible that this state is even a evolutionary advantage as having something which causes some members of the tribe to take risks they would not ordinarily take may be how we got to, for example, understanding that lobsters and crabs are edible. There are certainly advantages to taking intelligent risks.

Of course, one problem we have with this is that often people in this state will commit crimes and while they are clearly not guilty by reason of insanity, our legal system loves to punish folks and is ever eager to make more money for the people running private prisons by putting them in jail. (It’s also extremely profitable for the lawyers). I suspect the majority of nonviolent criminals are just unable to manage the imperfect nervous system evolution has given us – survival of the fittest turns out not to be the best fitness function for creating creatures that are well suited to today’s world – and also a number of them are probably victims of abuse from predecessors that also suffered from similar problems.

In the meantime, the solution that I have found – using stepped doses of a psych med stepped according to how fast the system is trying to run in order to prevent revving past the Shannon limit – seems to be frowned upon by western medicine. They prefer the ‘I have a hammer so every problem is a nail’ approach of using a steady state dose no matter where in the cycle the individual being dosed is. The net result of this tends to be that the best medications for depression are hugely inappropriate when not in a depressed state and the best medications for mania are hugely inapprorpiate when not in a manic state – therefore the patient ends up overmedicated and often decides to go off the medication because of the damage to their quality of life the medication is causing.

On the other paw, using a stepped dose – this is far easier when the cycle is predictable as mine is but can probably be done via measuring various metrics if the cycle is unpredictable – I don’t know, I haven’t had a oppertunity to test it – leads to very good results. There is no overmedication during periods that are not either manic or depressive peaks, and in the case of medication that suppresses mania you avoid amplifying depression – and also the drug does not lose control authority because it is not being overused.

(In this article, when I speak of a stepped dose, I mean a dose scaled to the need that steps up as the system tries to run faster and down as it returns to normal. One advantage I have that may or may not work with all people is I can tell how fast I’m running by how long it takes to get to sleep, and can step the dose up until I’m able to get to sleep within a hour of initiating sleep)

I should also mention that even with a stepped dose it is very helpful to have some complex activity to engage in during manic periods in order to keep a load on the engine, as it were. I suspect it helps a lot to have activities that follow hard laws (programming, electronics, etc) in order to avoid drifting too far into mystical/magical/delusional thinking, which is another risk involved with mania.

Absent Friends

Thursday, April 22nd, 2021

So, the other day I called a friend I hadn’t talked to in a few years, and discovered I had again waited too late to call someone back. It’s not that they were dead (although I’ve had that happen too) – but the conversation went something like (me) Hi! (them) Hi, Buddy! (me) How are you doing? (them) The grass is in the chest (me) What did you say? (them) I see. It didn’t improve from there either. Dementia strikes again ;( If there was any connection between my statements and their responses I couldn’t find it.

In some ways I think it’s actually harder when someone is fading in that way than when they actually die. Because there’s this tantalizing ‘almost’ about the link, like there’s this sense that you’re just in a bad reception area and if you moved things would get better.

Another reminder to stay in better touch with the people I love 🙁

Input filters and whether we’re setting ourselves up

Saturday, April 10th, 2021

So, as I rant about conservatives, one thing that worries me is that I may be somewhat a victim of confirmation bias, or worse yet, input enhancement.

I’ve talked before about how every adhrent to every religion sees their religion validated in the world – and my theory that part of how this is achieved is by filtering out all the data that is obviously inconsistent with their beliefs. At times I worry – as one does – that the reason I see all this horrible behavior from conservatives is that I have come to expect it – and I’ve come to expect it because I’ve seen it, and I’ve got a self-reinforcing suboptimal setup for my input filters.

The challenge there, of course, is to expect something other than what I’ve seen.

The challenges of sexual relationships

Monday, January 18th, 2021

So, one of the things I struggle with is the challenges surrounding sexual relationships. I think I’ve talked before about how I think a big part of this is that the memetics surrounding sexual relationships on earth are really not too good – we’re wired to fall in love more than once but we’re encouraged by the powers that be to mate for life, assured by various religions that non-monogamy is a sin (God forgot he wired us to fall in love more than once – or this is part of his grand plan for torturing us for being imperfect – a even bigger and more successful part of that plan is to ensure that sometimes we fall in love with people who don’t love us..)

Now, I don’t want to come off like a incel at all, but one of the things that I find frustrating is that feeling sexual attraction for people is very likely to end in disaster. Not only are the odds fairly low that you will be attracted to the same people who are attracted to you, but also if you do have a friendship that includes sexual overtones when the sexual portion of it is over you probably will never get to talk to the person again. I still miss Phoebe enormously, 15 years later, and Vinnie – although I will acknowledge that I screwed that one up in just about every way there was to screw it up.

Which is perhaps part of the problem.. sexual friendships bring out much more intense emotions than other friendships and so as a result things get a lot more extreme in general. I do think it’s true that we say and do things in sexual friendships that we would never do in others. And of course you have possessiveness and jealousy, both of which are *encouraged* in our current world memetics and turned up to 11 whenever possible in our world’s fiction.

Of course, another problem with all of the above is that if you’re going to try to follow the dictates of religion and mate for life, you have to find the right person – on the first try – while you’re very young and inexperienced – with all of the challenges that apply above. And you might end up with someone who physically or emotionally abuses you, because our memetics have set up situations that leave people in states where they do that, and then you should continue to live with the person no matter what because divorce is immoral. Yes, I have periods of really loathing earth’s memetics.

I also of course wish we could work out the whole ‘sharing’ thing. You would think, given how good falling in love feels, that we would want to encourage people to do it repeatedly, that if we in fact did love the people we are connected with we would want them to be happy. Part of the problem here, discussed many times by many different people, is the fear of abandonment – and the fact that Earth makes being abandoned quite dangerous at times, with worries about things like eating and living indoors. But beyond that I think that a very big part of what ails us is the elders feeling the need to know *which* humans are the parents of which child, and our idea that each individual should be responsible for caring for all the children that share their genetics. (In fact it would be *much* smarter for the entire tribe to be responsible for children – and then we could also stop having teen pregnencies ruin lives. But this would take away the fun of those who delight in punishing and love to sneer at the lack of morality of the teens that react to things *they are deeply evolved to feel*)

I do think a big part of the problem is also all the religious nuts who can’t accept that there are all kinds of signs that we are evolved and almost none that we are designed, and therefore want to blame us for things that evolution has done instead of trying to work out a memetic system that aligns with our evolution. I am sure you have all seen me talk about this many times before and I am sure I will talk about it many times again.

Anyway, I really hate the whole ‘if you are attracted to someone they may also never talk to you again’ bit, and I will be the first to admit that I have (partially due to mental illness) impressively screwed up communications with one particular $_PERSON on the subject. But I also think there’s got to be some middle ground and better communication methodologies that could be taught such that we had a lot less #metoo incidents and at the same time did not have no good way to say what we’re thinking and feeling without breaking any friendship or communication we have with people.

In short, the human memetics surrounding sex are a mess. I think pretty much everyone knows it. No, I don’t know how to write the perfect memetics surrounding the topic either. I suppose we’ll all just continue to muddle through, often with broken hearts and/or holes in our lives.

Imposter Syndrome

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

So one problem I do definitely have from time to time is imposter syndrome – the feeling like I’ve been faking things the whole time and don’t really have any idea what I’m doing. This is extra ironic when talking about programming since I’ve written so much code in so many languages, including a fair amount which has seen production or even is still running in production. I’ve also done a fair amount of successful system administration.

I can understand with the building a solar array why I feel like a imposter – I am not in any way, shape, or form a electrical engineer although I do know a fair amount about electricity. but I’ve built *lots* of stuff that used electricity in various ways and I have a very good feel – I think – for how it works.

Of course, I think I’d rather have imposter syndrome than dunning-kruger – I’d *really* rather be me than Trump, for example – but it doesn’t help my paranoia that I keep feeling like my coworkers will discover I’ve been faking it this whole time and I’ll be fired and shortly thereafter end up homeless and hungry.

As I said, I don’t even really think you can accuse me, in a real world sense, of faking it any more. I’ve read thousands of books. I’ve read millions of lines of code. I’ve *written* a million lines of code. I’ve done *all kinds* of stuff..

Ironically one of the places I most feel like a imposter is in my repeated attempts at a music career – and I *really* want to get to a place where I’m earning as much as I am now writing music (or alternately have set up some sort of residual income so I can retain my current quality of life while writing music) – I undoubtedly have thousands of hours spent understanding music, and I’ll also be the first to admit that I am not yet good enough to get paid to do it, although I also feel like I have made some really serious strides this year and might be a lot closer to that dream than I was..

ANyway, as I’ve talked about elsewhere, one of my problems is fishbowl decoration. I know that my conscious experience is not directly connected to whatever senses I might happen to have simply because that isn’t really possible within the architecture of the human mind. As such, I would like it if my CE would get a much more utopic experience than it currently is, but one of my issues is that my subconscious is deeply convinced that I don’t *deserve* a utopic experience.. there are part of me that are convinced that I do not deserve to live at all or if I do deserve to live I do not deserve to live the sort of life I want to live. I’m pretty convinced this is all deeply irrational but there’s not a lot at least thus far that I can figure out to do about it.

Anyway, the imposter syndrome sense is more than a little odd at times.

That one disturbing possibility

Saturday, March 14th, 2020

So, as I note that things like global pandemics underline the fact that our bodies have poor informational security, and are susceptible to virii both informational (religion) and RNA/DNA-based (COVID-19), I find the lack of security to be another compelling case against the idea that we have a perfect creator – or indeed a intelligent designer at all.

On the other paw, there is still this one disturbing possibility that I can not dismiss. Our beliefs act as a filter upon our experience of reality – obviously this must be the case or believers in God wouldn’t continue to believe in God. I mean, the other possibility is that they’ve lost the ability for rational thought – and looking at the fact that they elected Donald Trump, someone who’s about as close to the devil as we’re going to find in this world, and are busy worshipping him, I concede the possibility that they have. But let’s assume for the moment that people have the ability to remember and think..

One possibility that we can’t actually throw entirely out is that God is only real if you beleive in h*, or alternately, that God is real always but your *experience* of God is only real if you believe in h*. This is compatible with the mythos that Hell is the absence of God – certianly the lack of any central planning and the refusal of all collectivism has turned America steadily more hellish.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s not clear to me that you’d *want* to have a God as described by the Old Testament. But, and I realize this is stretching credulity to the max, what if there *was* a loving, helpful central authority, the kind of God you’d build if you were building God out of spare neurons. Certainly they’d do things like removing virii before they got out of hand, and making sure that places didn’t end up getting led by people like Donald Trump.

However, I’ve believed in such a being for a few days at a time, occasionally, when manic, and things definitely didn’t get any better for me. Most of the time, it was believing in such things and then testing them that got me arrested. However.. it may take believing for longer to shape the necessary neural network to have the experience.

Note that I still don’t believe Christianity contains the right answers, for a whole host of reasons. But I’m starting to ponder trying to write something that would. The thing is, the whole thing feels a bit insane. Try to believe in something you can’t experience until you believe in it? Then understand that you can’t experience it even when you *do* believe in it until you cross some threshold?

Wow..

Monday, January 7th, 2019

Only one musical post in all of 2018. Going to have to do better in 2019. I tracked ten different songs that I didn’t think were good enough to release in 2018, and I’ve tracked three so far in 2019. I’m not sure if I need to turn down the lint level, or if I’m just working towards another plateu. On the other paw, it’s not like I get emails clamoring for more of my music or anything 😉

One thing I’ve really been feeling is the sense of missing people. I miss Phoebe, I miss $PERSON, I don’t really ever seem to get over the people I’ve lost. I miss my uncle joe.. I’ve even reached the point of missing my dad, who is still in my life. (I have set up a camping trip with him – I’m not so stupid as to not fix the ones that can be fixed).

One of the things with Phoebe is remembering and regretting all the stupid things I said, especially during our break-up. I know that I participated in breaking that friendship too badly to be repaired and I wish that I had a time machine so I could do things somewhat differently.

Ah well, we go on. What other choice do we have?

I think part of what bothers me about missing $_PERSON at this point is that it’s been so long since I had any kind of contact that I have *no* idea who she is. At some point your copies of copies of memories have no real reliability to them at all, and generation loss has pretty much etched that one away to where it’s nothing but a guess. That combined with the sense that the things that pushed her away were not really me – I mean, they certainly weren’t who I would choose to be and they all occurred in extreme mental states.

Recently I spent some time talking to a facebook friend who seemed to have been experiencing a extreme mental state of her own. A number of my friends criticized me for this, or at least expressed doubt that this was a wise use of my time, but I am fairly sure that what I was doing fit nicely inside my philosophy of ‘be excellent to each other’, and that if more people behaved the way I do, the world would be a better place.

and I have to admit as I research neural networks, my half – and often scarred memories – combined with blackouts – of the periods where I wasn’t myself are telling. I’m fairly certain what I was experiencing was islanding – very large collections of subnets, large enough to be able to respond to stimuli but not large enough to sustain consciousness. This brings up the interesting question of, in DID, are the alters conscious? I’ve always assumed that they are, but then I’ve been doing kitteny neocortex research that is making me question that assumption.

One of the things I’ve realized is that there’s no way we currently know to know whether a neural network is having a conscious experience or not. A NN will learn, and respond to stimuli based on what it’s learned, whether or not the ‘magic’ of consciousness is there or not. At this point I tend to agree with the person who theorized that consciousness is what information feels like when it’s been processed, but I think that’s only true in a very specific context which likely has to do with the way temporal memory works. However, in building my unsupervised learning system for the kittens, I found myself implementing something very similar to short term memory because in order to do unsupervised learning in the model I’m currently using, you have to let LTP create the bindings first, *then* learn the lesson. You also have to keep track of previous lessons so you can unlearn them if they turned out to be wrong. (At least, to solve my particular problem that I’m working on at the moment you do).

I haven’t really come up with any new years resolutions – I have a vague sense that I’d like to exercise more, vape less, eat less, write more music, and generally try not to break anything critical about my life.

Learning to damp out panic attacks

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

So, recently I’ve been thinking about a skill that I acquired some time ago, and I think I can explain how to do it if anyone else would like to learn.

Note that to *really* do this requires some hardware you’ll need to pick up somewhere – namely, a pulse meter and a EEG.

Training level 1: Learning to lower your pulse.

You’ll need to get a pulse meter, and stare at it and try to lower the number on it. Like any biofeedback training, this takes time, and you’ll be most successful at learning to do it if you start practicing when you’re *not* experiencing a panic attack *first*. As with all biofeedback training, your mind is going to figure out how to achieve your goal mostly without you – knowing your goal is to lower the number on the meter it will try various things until it figures it out. Just keep trying, and you’ll find your way.

Training level 2: Learning to increase the amplitude of your alpha waves.

You’ll need a EEG that displays your alphas as a easily readable graph or meter. See above notes – it’s a very similar training process. You may find it helpful to research meditation techniques – there’s a lot of literature about this elsewhere so I’ll assume you can find it. 😉

Optional training level 3: Learning to lower your blood pressure

This one is harder. Because reading blood pressure is such a slow process, you’ll need a lot of time to master lowering your blood pressure. This is where things like imagining your ‘happy place’ come into play. However, I find it’s generally not necessary to stop a panic attack, although it can help with the aftereffects of all that adrenaline dumping into your bloodstream.

Now that you’ve acquired the skills of lowering your heart rate and increasing your alphas, during a panic attack, do these three things

#1: Step one, take several long, slow, deep breaths.
#2: Step two, lower your heart rate consciously
#3: Step three, raise your alphas consciously
#4: Step four (optional), lower your blood pressure.

That’s it. If your mind is similar to mine, this will put you back in a mental state where your anxiety is not the largest thing in the picture and you can then figure out what to do about whatever event made you panic to begin with. The first few times you do it, it will help to have a heart rate monitor in front of you.

DID and neural networks

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

So, popular consensus is that DID is a mental illness caused by extreme trauma that causes a personality to fragment into segments.

I assume it is news to no one that while I do not consider $future_person[0] a alter, I do believe that I have DID, although normally my alters stay very far backgrounded. I do however think that they all contribute to the overall system – that is to say, I think that for example when I’m jamming with the band and making up lyrics on the fly but my conscious experience is only slightly engaged in creating the lyrics (a phrase or fragment or concept), some wordsmith part of my mind is creating bits that rhyme and turning this into full blown lyrics. For a example of this, check out this audio clip from band practice with Bruce, Art, and me – this was not a prewritten song, it was improv – clip

I think it is possible to have something that is a close kin to DID and have it be a more productive order than the average configuration rather than a disorder. The reason is that it enables the operator of the mind that is using this configuration to more effectively utilize the entire neural network.

Consider that normally, your conscious experience is only engaging with a few dozen threads at once – that’s all you can have ‘foregrounded’, or actively a part of your world. Now, obviously there are neural structures that do things like running a scheduler for running events at preset times, but if you have alters, you can also pass off foreground tasks that you don’t need to be actively engaged with to other bits of yourself – it’s kind of like the advantages of having multiple cores in a CPU. I don’t know if alters have a conscious experience, or just a head node and task list, or what – it would be fascinating to be able to look at the structure of my mind sufficiently to find out – but certainly they can be engaging neurons and neural subnets that would otherwise be completely idle.

Now, of course, I have no memory of what it might be like to *not* be this way. So it’s possible that I’m wrong and that I would simply be able to handle more threads if I wasn’t broken. I do seek certain types of reintegration, although with a fair amount of fear and trepidation because I’m hesitant to fuck too much with a running system.