In the academic and clinical worlds of neuroscience, some things are clear: the brain IS complex, changeable, can be damaged or injured, and is able to learn and repair itself.
Yet few of us act like these things are true, particularly in the way we view mental illness.
We seem to understand the individuality, complexity and fallibility of our bodies without also seeing those same qualities in our brains. We each come to life with a brain that has some kind of brain deficit – large or small, genetic or induced – and the challenges that attend those deficits.
By labelling those with many challenges “mentally ill” we set up a normal vs. mentally ill dichotomy that doesn’t really exist. In fact, we are all, in some way more or less, mentally not perfect.
Facing the fact of mutual mental imperfection has implications in how we see ourselves and how we live our lives.
The good news is we also have a brain that can change and learn. We are learning through a number of disciplines what fixes the problems in the brain. We’re also learning what it means not to be mentally ill, but to be mentally well.
Tim Lowan is a Neurofeedback Technician in Victoria B.C., working with clients dealing with relaxation, depression, sleep, stress and anxiety issues.
Tim has also worked with his father, John Lowan, developing a neuroscience –based approach to meditation that has been taught at to doctors and clinicians at the Mayo Clinic for the past 5 years.