Your brain learns illness, but you can teach your brain to unmake certain connections.Our brains are an extremely powerful, very necessary parts of our being. The space inside our skull is “ours” – it holds our thoughts and our mind. One could agree that it holds our pasts and our futures as well.
We can remember things that have happened. We can think about what will happen next. We can assume, fantasize, and pretend. We use our brains for a multitude of different tasks, and it stores life events as memories.
Memory, All Alone In The Moonlight
Sometimes these are pains. Sometimes what the brain remembers is a negative association. Sometimes the brain and body are stressed to extremes, and our brains will remember these extremes.
The neurons that make up our brains are good at talking to each other. Parts of your brain can talk to each other by “oscillating”. If neuron A wanted to talk to neuron B, one would move and the other would listen. But neuron communication can be controlled to an extent.
And it must be controlled. Why? Because the pathways can be weakened or even broken when one neuron moves out of place. But before we get too scientific, let’s get into a story:
A neurologist once saw and treated a tormented patient – Philip, age 12. Philip had recently fallen while delivering a presentation in front of his class. He was convulsing. Philip was having a seizure.
But this was new to Philip, nothing like this had happened before. He was supposed to have presented Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven in front of his class. He had memorized it and could recite it, but when he got in front of his class, something different happened.
When Philip got to the classic haunting refrain of Poe’s poem, “Quoth the Raven ‘Nevermore’” he had a tremor in his lip. These tremors grew with each recitation until Philip finally collapsed. He lost control of his entire body, bladder, and bowels included.
“Quoth The Raven, ‘Nevermore.'”
The neurologist got Philip to recite the fated poem and Philip nearly collapse. The neurologist drew a conclusion – there was a connection between certain speech patterns and the onset of a seizure.
When Philip recited the poem, his teeth chattered and clenched as his lips drew sideways. He knew what to say, and how to say it, but his brain wouldn’t let him.
“The power of the brain lies in its nervous system ability to learn, even through adulthood. But sometimes neurons are too good at their jobs. The brain, with its extraordinary computational prowess, can learn language and logic. It can also learn how to be sick.”
Your brain is always learning. And you’re able to teach it. Another story:
Mr. Glover’s Story
Danny Glover, the “I’m getting too old for this [stuff]” actor from the Lethal Weapons franchise, suffered from seizures as well. It wasn’t until he was 31 that he attacked the problem, for lack of a better term, head-on.
Mr. Glover was waiting backstage. He was getting ready to perform in front of an audience. But he started getting the ringing in his ears that he associated with an oncoming seizure.
Danny suffered his first fit when he was 15. Since then, he knew that the loud ringing buzz meant a seizure was coming. He wasn’t going to let this neurological disorder ruin his first big chance on-stage. So he told himself,
“I will not have this seizure. I will not have this seizure.”
Each time he repeated this, the buzzing became less and less. Each time he repeated this, he believed it more and more. Each time Danny Glover told himself he wouldn’t seize, he taught his brain to not seize. And this simple act is what got Mr. Glover on-stage, and into the movie business.
I’m Gettin’ Too Old For This Seizure
After four years of repeating the technique that Glover called “self-hypnosis,” he had completely alleviated himself of the problem. He no longer suffered from seizures.
Now, neuroscientists are creating implants that (quite literally) shock our brain. These implants are being used to fight attacks of Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and even major depression. These shockers “see” when episodes will happen – when certain neurons oscillate – and curb the movement.
This mild shock therapy is not a natural way to stop these problems.
Some deep-sea divers can slow their metabolism to preserve oxygen. Yoga masters intentionally lower their heart rates. Similarly, epileptics who don’t respond to medication can learn to mentally stop their seizures by responding to brain activity.
By knowing what triggers the seizures, they can be stopped. You only have to teach your brain to deal with the oncoming problem – seizure, sickness, etc. However, this can be a difficult task. Enter the “electroceuticals” (the implants) discussed earlier.
Instead of having something implanted in your brain, train your brain. Fine, you can’t get rid of diabetes just by “unlearning” it. And you won’t cure yourself of cancer just by thinking it away. But you can hone in your mind’s strength and ability.
Your brain knows what being sick is. It remembers. It understands when your body is becoming ill and sends signals. Whether it can tell a seizure is coming, or a cold is coming, your neurons will send signals to the rest of your body, and make sure you know that you’re getting ill.
Train Your Brain
Life is a series of patterns, and the more we know about these patterns, the better we can navigate life. When we see patterns, we can react. When we notice that “x equals y” and “y is bad” then we will inherently stop “x” from happening however possible.
We cannot change the past, but we can control our futures if we learn from the past.
Clancy, K. (2015, May 14). How to Unlearn a Disease – Issue 24: Error. Retrieved from http://nautil.us/issue/24/error/how-to-unlearn-a-disease