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Old 01-07-19, 01:41 AM
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Re: Attention: what is it? What are the subject and object of it?

Originally Posted by sarahsweets View Post
I always wished that there were better ways of defining or labeling adhd and mental illness.
The problem is bigger than that though- psychiatry does not even have an agreed and functional definition of Mind.

Mental, of course, leans "of the mind"- so if we have no definition of "mind" then the definition of "mental illness" becomes problematic.

Of course there is not clear agreement as to the definition of mind outside biomedical science within the philosophies and religions.
For instance i have been wrestling with the the distinction between mind and Mind for some time-- ( I dont want to go too far in to this because it is in the wrong forum).

The idea of ADHD being a "mental illness" is also very depressing for many diagnosed with it - especially children and their parents- who become unnecessarily resistant to it.

( Bipolar is a much more straightforward argument-- I have it too btw).

However a few experiences of mine in the last 12 months have stimulated my thinking a little.

Over much of last year I was working with severe neck and back pain ( now, finally settling) and a friend made the bright suggestion of making the pain the focus of meditation. That worked well, and I was soon imagining the pain as a film of dirt on my mental windscreen- making it hard to see or function.

So the question became- "what is it that is looking out and experiencing that obscured view?"
That then generalised back to a form of meditation I had been doing called "settling the mind in its natural state" in which one progressively withdraws attention from the 5 senses, then focusses on the 6th sense, the coming and going of thoughts, and finally, on the space in the mind between thoughts.

I'm told that experienced meditators can completely separate from all experience of the body or thoughts for hours at a time. I suspect that this "pure awareness" is what in Eastern systems of thought is called Mind.

So interestingly this "Mind" is always perfect and always incapable of being unwell.

However, what we have to work with is something more complex than that.
The mind that we work with is more like a focal point of awareness and observation, combined with a mind body interface, and a layer of thoughts that relate to our nearly inexplicable experiences.

Our "attention" in conventional terms can only be measured by output criteria (or by close EEG monitoring).

ADHD is sometimes described as a neurobehavioural disorder, and in the majority of cases it is related to a degree of uncoordination (dyspraxia)- of which I have plenty (secondary to neck issues)

So in a case like this one of the causes of bad outcomes is the mismatch between incoming body position signals and the actual position of the outside world.
(It drives my partner mad- as I tend to clip lots of bumps and potholes on the road- as I cant calculate position that well. It looks like inattention or carelessness- but it is not- it is the best I can do with rather unreliable machinery).

So there are plenty of brain things going on that can affect our performace and our behaviour- but in fact I'd argue that our "Mind" is something separate to that- pretty much as you are doing.

Originally Posted by sarahsweets

My bipolar is as a result of something with my brain and it can affect my "mind" in that it affects my thoughts or actions but I do not feel it is "in my mind" as in mental. And Illness I always associated with being sick with a cold.. all the way to being sick with cancer. I certainly do not feel sick with bipolar. My adhd certainly gives me deficits with paying attention but I also have areas where I pay attention to much to the wrong things- which causes me to ruminate on the wrong things a lot of times. I have a disordered mind but its hard for me to see adhd as a disorder. More like a disability. Yet it is chronic and lifelong for me. There is treatment for both of these things but no real remission. I had long stretches of stability and then out of the blue my bipolar smacks me to remind me I still have it. Adhd is more pervasive. It seems to remind me everyday that I am not normal. That my mind does not operate like its supposed to. I take medication for both and I think the prospects of "remission" are more likely with bipolar. Even medicated for adhd it doesnt control all of the symptoms. There are some that just wont quit. Then there are side effects that come with the territory. Being on an antipsychotic for this long and being adhd have caused me to develop some mild dythskenisia. Which is embarassing because now I cant go to movies anymore because I truly cant sit still. If I go to an AA meeting and sit with someone that doesnt know me, I always tell them that I will drive them nuts moving around and fidegting so if they want to leave a chair between us It wont offend me. But I cant stop the bp meds because I would end up inpatient. Taking adderall has made certain things difficult. My BP is up, my heartrate is always slightly elevated, I get extreme levels of productivity- either really on point or nothing at all. I sweat more. I fidget despite the meds because of the bipolar meds. Sometimes I feel that its hopeless but mostly I accept it. I am a good person and try to be kind. Every now and then my tolerance tank is on empty and I get all fired up about everything. I know I am immature-or less mature than I should be. Both of these things have kept me from working.
I guess I didnt really answer anything but thanks for giving me pause to jog my memory to really think about these things.

Im pretty much coming to the conclusion that most "mental illnesses" are brain based, or due to having to deal with irreconcilable conflicts between one's own interests and those close to oneself.

Whenever you see a crowd all rushing in the same direction on any one issue, run in the opposite direction.

There is neither fun nor profit to be had in polishing the brass knobs on a bandwagon.
Nicholas Nasseem Taleb.

Last edited by namazu; 01-07-19 at 02:04 AM.. Reason: fixed quote tags for legibility
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The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Kunga Dorji For This Useful Post:
Greyhound1 (01-09-19), sarahsweets (01-07-19)