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Tickling As A Cure for Depression???

posted 3/7/2007 12:23:44 PM |
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tagged: depression, brain, psychology, amygdala, tickling

Depression Makes You Stupid!!
I recently read an excellent book about the brain called "Mind Wide Open," in which a man undergoes battery after battery of tests to determine brain function and thereby improve himself.

There is evidence to prove that when one is sad, activity in the frontal lobe is vastly reduced, hindering thinking and creativity. Yes, the book came out and said it: "Sadness (depression) can make you stupid."

It is one of the most interesting books I have ever read.

Why is one depressed? One reason is the amygdala, a section of the brain that records traumatic events, and can pull them up to help with fight or flight response. For example, the author lives in New York. For example, if you have ever been bitten by a rattlesnake, the amygdala will record all that happened in exacting detail. Anytime you hear a similar rattle, the amygdala will say to the memory: "Pull that up about the rattlesnake! I need to see it." The amygdala then helps you switch to fight or flight response by showing it to you. You see, the memory was recorded for two purposes. One, it is often brought up to remind you to not get in that situation again. Two, if you are in that situation, you can react.

Freud stated that we mostly seek pleasure. But while visiting wounded World War I veterans in a hospital, he became puzzled as to why their minds almost automatically went to their most traumatic experiences of the conflict. The above reason is why.

Since our brains are hard-wired to record stressful and fearful experiences in the most detail possible, the memory record of a good experience is usually recorded in far less detail.

When you consider the fact that depression reduces cotrex function, it is easy to conclude that one should try not to think about bad experiences, except to add "good" things to them. That is why the mental health professional's office is so attractive and relaxed. You are talking to them in a non-threatening environment, thereby adding some "pleasant" details to the memory. Even then, one should think about their bad experiences as little as possible, and relive the best memories over and over. As the bad memories have more detail, this is often hard to do.

I will use myself as an example of what I should do. Not what I have been doing, but what I should do and intend to do after reading this book. One of my best memories is receiving the first author's copy of my novel. I eagerly tore it out of that UPS box. I sat in a chair with the television and stereo off thinking "Did I really do this? After three years of writing and four years of trying to find a publisher, has it finally paid off? Am I dreaming?"

Another good memory was when I took on a crooked judge. It is too long to explain here, but a crooked judge took advantage of my elderly step-mother, and I took him on. After almost two years, i received a call that the TN state government was going to take him to trial. Now THAT is a great memory that I should live over and over and over, according to this book. But it has an associated bad memory: he was found guilty, but the court did not do too much too him. When the reporter called to tell me the news, I had a fit! All that work for not much! But... due to bad publicity, he lost the next election, taking only 25% of the vote. So there is a good memory I can associate with the bad to lower the sad feeling.

Also, depression is bad for your physical health-- most, if not all, know this. So waht can you do to reverse that?

The book recommends, among other things... tickling! Yes, you read that right! The book tells us that we are at often at our best when there is humor around. And comedy and laughter will also stimulate the immune system. Besides attending comedy shows or watching a funny movie, tickling is a great way to induce laughter. He tells us that chimps, with whom we share 99% of our genes, love tickling. When humor is present, a brain chemical called oxytocin is working hard. This chemical is also heavily involved with love and nurturing. Oxytocin, not oxycontin, lol!

Let me use myself as an example. I once moved into an area where some of my step family do not have the best reputations, and I was stereotyped, presumed to be like them. I wasn't exactly well liked there. I became sad, depressed. And I didn't think clearly. But I met two brothers, Tony and Carlton, who helped me out a lot, and hung with me despite what others thought. And my thinking cleared and improved.

One very interesting thought: The police can arrest you for illegal recreational drugs, drugs that have almost exact counterparts in your brain! No, the book does NOT recommend illegal drugs, lol! Brain mapping machines can be used to show the abundance and location of "pleasure" or "love" chemicals in your brain. They are usually shown in red. Brains of alcoholics show little red, and cocaine addicts' brains usually show no red at all!!

The writer, Steven Johnson, goes to various experimental clinics that show neurofeedback and which parts of the brain are working and how well they are doing. Using such machines can help you train your brain to operate on certain waves and produce needed chemicals. No, this is still expermental, but the author thinks that these machines MAY someday reduce the need for drugs such as SSRIs (Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, etc) that increase helpful chemicals such as seratonin. He worked with at least two machines that help with attention span!

The brain has sections which he calls modules, which can work together or not work together. You may see something in a certain part of your brain, but the brain which decides the proper reaction to the stimulus is located in another part. There are many, many parts (modules) that have specific jobs.

So, if you know much about Freud, you know that not long ago, he was considered wrong on most things; now with some of above evidence, the pendulum is swinging back. Freud was right on many aspects. No, everything is not related to sex-- on that part Freud was way off. Sex plays only a small part of brain function. Freud's terms for the parts of the mind, id, ego, superego are oversimplified, but in some ways essentially correct. He realized that the mind is divided into sometimes conflicting and sometimes cooperating parts, but he had no idea how many, many there are! Let me use my own simile here. Freud's idea is the Model T with not many parts, not to be compared with the modern auto's many, many parts. His basic idea was correct.

In summation, this is one of the best books I have ever read. It has many great reviews on The only bad reviews were by those who are already experts on brains, saying the book has little or nothing new in it. But it was not written for them. As Mr. Johnson himself says, it is written for the non-scientist, the lay person. And "Mind Wide Open" is a very fascinating read to say the least!

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Mar 7 @ 12:34PM  
Tickle me and I become homicidal...... . Now if I was severly depressed I would not be able to act on this, however, one with suicidal ideations becomes more likely to act on those thoughts as they are coming out of a depression. So. alleviate my depression by tickling and .......... As for Freud....he, like all others of his time, were pioneers into psychiatry and although much of what they learned has since been expanded on they were the buidling blocks for where we are at today with treatments for all types of mental illnesses.

Mar 7 @ 1:37PM  
It is pretty obvious that you had to refer to a book to know about depression....Sorry, but living it seems a little more "hands on" the approach. As for analyists' and their theories, they too have little more than guessed at most of their conclusions, true that there are some experiments that have proved out over the years, but tickling had nothing to do with it.

Mar 7 @ 1:38PM  
Then I should be a happy camper...I am very tickelish

Mar 7 @ 1:46PM  
There is evidence to prove that when one is sad, activity in the frontal lobe is vastly reduced, hindering thinking and creativity. Yes, the book came out and said it: "Sadness (depression) can make you stupid."

-Also known as "Eeyore Syndrome". I totally believe that too!! It seems that depressed people talk slower and can't function.

This was a very informative blog. I really enjoyed reading it. Thank you for sharing it.

Mar 7 @ 1:49PM  
Hmmm ... where is Elmo when you need him ???

Mar 7 @ 8:36PM  
I it works for me. Whenever I tickle may kids, I become a lot less depressed.
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