Monday, August 14, 2017

Pleasure and Reality Part 3

If work is not a necessity, it’s no wonder that these young choose not to work. Avoiding, and gaming provides a much more positive alternative for these people. Playing with a handheld device in hand, removes a person from human interaction and places the recipient alone in a state of fun, distraction/ diversion. Furthermore, gaming is drive inducing. The more one plays, the more excitement experienced, and the more the enjoyment increases. Fighting a foe, wiping out the aliens or dealing with a shortage of resources are much more fun and pleasurable than being in a boring, stressful position outside the home and having to interact with the realities in the real world. To illustrate, one research study at Stanford University, looked at 11 male and 11 female students playing a videogame while employing brain scans. The brain scans revealed an activation of visual processing, visuospatial attention, motor function and sensorimotor integration in various parts of the brain. In another study, using positron emission tomography, or PET, it revealed increased dopamine release while playing a videogame. Yes, one of the benefits of playing a videogame, is that it releases dopamine or pleasure. It’s not a mystery, why they’re more women attending college; are positive role models in the work force; and exemplary figures in politics. Many of our young boys/men are lazy, feel a sense of entitlement, are infantilized and exhibit irresponsible behavioral choices. With the electronic revolution, it’s not hard to figure out why many males prefer not to study, complete their homework or regularly attend class. How does a person get a rush while attending class in elementary, secondary, or college? Escaping the reality of the moment, overrides short and long-term planning, studying, pursuing knowledge, and taking responsibility for one’s future. Unfortunately, the consequence of being young and not having employment skills is a curse in our capitalistic economic system. Also, it’s a prediction for future suffering and misery. Socrates and Aristippus are likely rolling over in their graves when thinking about America’s young males. Yes, the future is sad for many.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Pleasure and Reality Part 2

Another way to distort pain, boredom, apathy, low-energy, depression, etc., of current reality, is to find a substitute satisfaction or satisfactions. This satisfaction could be going out for a trail run. For me, more often than not, I feel much better and have more energy during and after my run than before. I am always pleased that I push myself to do the run. Or, I can turn on the TV, go to the movies or even read a book to change my present reality state. Yoga, is another mechanism that transforms. In Yoga, [happiness of quietness] one withdraws from others, and proceeds into the present or here and now. In Yoga, the process diminishes or eliminates noxious or bothersome thoughts. In this state, yoga also eliminates various external temptations that are present in the environment. This change method is relaxing, blissful, but only temporary. One of my favorite current diversions is going to Baskin-Robbins and getting a variety of chocolate ice cream. After running the Jed Smith 50 K. I’m simply tired and hurting. That is one way I change my reality. Many years ago, I was in an unsatisfactory union, and my favorite diversion was purchasing new Harley’s. Since, I’ve terminated that union, I am now in a better union and no longer have my Harley Davidson motorcycles. Looking at the out of sight statistics for drug and alcohol consumption, it’s obvious that intoxication is another mechanism to distort the reality of living. While intoxicated [pleasurable sensations], one generally is not able to experience contrary or painful experiences. On the other hand, one can generally delude oneself into thinking that they are happy. However, in essence, people instead are simply avoiding or deflecting their actual pain and suffering. It remains difficult to find happiness [reality] in our society with all its pressing restrictions, contradictions and Catch-22 situations. Remember, of the 7 major feelings [happiness, surprise, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, contempt], five are negative or painful. With this brief background, the stage is set for the article titled “Young men: Video games instead of jobs?” The source is the July 28, 2017 edition of The Week. It was reported that the hours worked by men ages 21 to 30 declined by 12% between 2000 and 2015. Perhaps, a third of that work decline might be attributed to gaming activity. The researcher stated that many young men would rather game than take a minimum wage job. He also predicted that joblessness is associated with misery. Further, 70% of the young work force dropouts live with their relatives. These individuals reported that they are very happy or pretty happy. They likely are avoiding, and distorting the reality of being in a position where they have a deficient skill level, and making minimum wage. By gaming, they’re out of touch with the reality of their laziness of having to work in a stressful and/or monotonous environment. To Be Continued

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Pleasure and Reality

Early Greek philosophers like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle emphasized searching for the truth. This meant that acquiring knowledge was noble and as a result, this would lead to righteous behavior. Further, they believed in the ability to control passions. Moreover, Aristotle believed that the highest goal of human life was achieving happiness. Another Greek, Arristippus of Cyrene believed that pleasure was good, worthy and would lead to happiness. It was paramount to pursue pleasure in moderation. If that could be achieved, then the ability to enjoy within the limits of self-control was considered a virtue. Centuries later, Sigmund Freud, in his psychoanalytic study of man, developed the following ideas. Freud, hypothesized that man’s early drives were pleasure driven. Within the unconscious, he called this the Pleasure Principle. He also saw man’s need to avoid pain and unhappiness while still striving for happiness. Unfortunately, he realized that many societal barriers interfered with the gratification of man’s pursuit for happiness. Further, he knew that life was very difficult and man had many impossible tasks in front of him. To cope with life’s difficulty, Freud identified three of man’s psychical escape mechanisms. One way man could psychically deal with his issues from being in the here and now was by creating deflections, diversions, phantasy, images or wishful fulfillments. For example, one of my friends has followed Christie Brinkley for years. Seeing a current picture of her brings a smile to his face. Another friend of mine used to run like Mercury. Currently, while in bed, he imagined himself running fast and easily beating his competition. Then we meet up, talk about his phantasy, and run on the trail. Reality sets in and we laugh. This has happened more than once. As a youngster, I read books about sports heroes and imagined being a hero in my daydreams. The ability to create phantasy does not end in childhood. TO Be Continued

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Dopamine, Food and Drugs Part 3

In an animal study with monkeys and cocaine, it was reported that monkeys placed in a group setting [received more attention, more grooming and more access to food and treats] had more D2 dopamine receptors and were less interested in self-administering cocaine. The monkeys housed in individual cages, had a reduction of D 2 dopamine receptors and they increased their cocaine use. This study suggested many things. Perhaps, one’s environment is an important variable for increasing or decreasing D 2 dopamine receptors. Increasing stress in humans results in more humans with addictive behaviors. Not surprisingly, our food industry produces high-fat sugary foods. Further, these cheap calorie dense foods are highly rewarding. In essence, our caloric modern foods and easily available potent recreational drugs, activate our reward circuits. These quick fixes modify the neurotransmitter in the brain and enhance motivation in the directions of addictive, compulsive and consumption behavior. It’s no wonder that advertising and its subliminal messages targets our drug addicted and obese individuals. These folks are clearly susceptible to such messages with their impaired deficits in critical thinking and lack of impulse control. Perhaps one reason we have evolved employing 2 feet is for locomotion. Prehistoric man was able to run down his four-legged dinner. The biological dynamics, and mechanisms of 2 feet are vastly superior to 4 feet. This coupled with our prefrontal cortex of the human brain gives us the edge over our animal nature. Unfortunately, the impulsivity, irrationality, and amoral behavior in man, interferes with maximizing potential for self-good. If you doubt or object to what I’m saying, step on a scale, look in the mirror and peek into your medicine cabinet. Don’t use your brain to falsify the reality. Those quick looks will provide insight about your D 2 dopamine ratio. Do we blame our brain, our economic, political, and religious institutions for the lack of satisfaction and destructiveness? Are our institutions failing mankind? Is the nature of man, the real problem? Or, is it the interaction of man and his institutions? In the meantime, one of my NFL friends said, “Keep moving.” Of course, movement is only part of the story. Do not forget, you are what you eat and you eat what you are. Sad, but true. Pursuing happiness?

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Dopamine, Food and Drugs Part 2

To make a long story short, an individual low in dopamine has little joy for life and little energy. These individuals then pursue such activities and abuse caffeine, alcohol, sugar, drugs, shopping, sex, video games, online porn, power, and gambling for additional dopamine release. More specifically, nicotine boosts dopamine by 200%, cocaine 400% and amphetamines, 1000%. These behavioral choices assist us in getting through the day, but they are not permanent solutions. It is believed, that the dopamine neurotransmitter acts like a reward system or stimulus that induces appetitive or approach behavior. It also induces consummatory behavior as well. To simplify, wanting, desire, or seeking is associated with approach behavior while liking or pleasure is associated with consummatory behavior. 59,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2016. In a 2015 article, it was reported that middle-class whites have experienced alarming increases in mortality since 1990s. This group was largely driven by despair, suicide, alcohol ,and drugs abuse. Another study found that a lower social status, coupled with less perceived social support [stress] was correlated with fewer dopamine [D 2’s] in the brain’s reward circuit. Another study found that D 2 was linked with lower activity in the prefrontal cortex, which impairs one’s ability to think critically and exercise restraint. Chronic exposure to high-fat sugary foods was also linked with lower D2 levels in people. Individuals with lower D2 levels are more likely to crave such comfort foods. More exposure to such foods results in more craving. Morbidly obese individuals also had reductions in their D2 receptors and that reduction was proportional to their body mass index. Perhaps “the wanting” of reward is that these individuals find normal food consumption insufficiently rewarding. It seems, the more D2 receptors being created; the more dopamine being recirculated; and with the more existing dopamine receptors working better, the higher the natural level of stimulation/ pleasure. Having a positive D2 ratio suggests that one is less likely to go out and compulsively seek recreational drugs, comfort food or engage in other self-destructive behavioral choices. To Be Continued

Friday, August 4, 2017

Dopamine, Foods and Drugs

Thomas Jefferson wrote that “The Pursuit of Happiness” was significant. Unfortunately, in today’s world, that idea is being misinterpreted. Instead, people are pursuing destructiveness, self-hate, sickness and premature death behaviors. For example, we give Congress very low approval ratings; we listen to hate radio; we participate in sadistic antisocial media and we view negative hurtful TV news. We have an opioid epidemic; we have 40% of the population obese; we have 70% of the population overweight; we have drug and alcohol addictions; we have a suicide epidemic and we have out of sight statistics on homicide. In the 1990s, there was no state that had an adult obesity rate over 15%. In 2015, there were 44 states that had obesity rates of 20% or higher. It is clear that a great number of participants in our culture, society and institutions are expressing hostility directed toward self and toward others in unhealthy amounts. On a moral level, there appears to be an absence of alarm, which is very troubling. A July 2, 2017 article in the New York Times had the following: “We created the perfect environment for drug and food addiction.” In that article, the writer wrote about the influence of dopamine, one of the chemical neurotransmitters, found in the brain. This neurotransmitter is associated with concentration, socializing, food seeking, sexual desire, pleasure, reward, motivation, reality testing and attention. Incidentally, motor neuron control, another important element of dopamine, declines in the aging brain. Remember, an aging brain doesn’t make one smarter, or learning any faster. By now, we all know that stress [economic, political, interpersonal, irrational thinking] is not good for anyone. Hans Selye, defined distress “the nonspecific response of the body to any demand placed upon it.” For a quick glance into stress level, consult the External and Internal Stress Index Scale. In fact, stress makes people more likely to exhibit behavior directed toward the search for comfort food, drugs and other poor behavior choices. Further, addiction is neither a moral failure nor related to hardwiring of the brain. In fact, stress and addiction go hand-in-hand like chocolate pudding and pie. This neurotransmitter chemical called dopamine is produced in the midbrain and in the hypothalamus within our 3 pound structure. Moreover, dopamine is the chemical that mediates pleasure in the brain. In that, it is released during pleasurable situations and motivates an individual to seek out ecstasy in an activity like food, sex, and a few drugs of abuse. Food, sex, and opiates stimulate dopamine release in the brain. Specifically, it affects the pre-frontal cortex. Once again, the cortex is where cognitive or executive functions like perception, thinking, judgment and decision-making take place. To Be Continued