Evolution of the brain and mental illness

The Book

It’s commonly known that almost any species other than humans mostly live in the now. There is not much retrospection, introspection or foresight. For a fish if food is swimming in close proximity it can be captured and eaten. Fish vision even in clear water is very near only. There is no anticipating where the prey is going to be next. According to some studies large eyes in fish came before actually making the jump to dry land. The reason for this was sticking their head out of the water and look for insects as food. It’s not impossible to have eyes that see further out in water but it wasn’t a great advantage. On dry land however vision is very much an advantage.

Further evolution of the brain enabled foresight. Concentrate on the now but have some capacity to anticipate future events. Where the prey is going to be by the time I get there. Or throw a spear at it and have a chance to immobilize it and kill it and eat it.

Anyway, human brain kept evolving with retrospection to examine past failures and learn from them and do it better next time. To have an introspection loop that brings up memories when immediate attention to the now is not required. To think about the future and plan for food supply. Near future events should have a much grater weight in this thought process since those have a more immediate effect. Events further out in the future should have a lot less weight since the time between the now and then may invalidate that planning.

But now we live in a very regulated society. Now events and future events are equally important since those future events are quite likely to happen in a way they were anticipated. And so it starts. When the now is almost empty and the future is grim it can easily become an endless loop of examining the future. And since the future can happen in many ways its spiderweb of future outcomes takes a lot of energy and time and there’s no firm conclusion to finally leave it alone. That is the nature of it.

So it seems like a good conclusion that you need to anchor yourself in the now one way or another. Definitely keep busy, do some workout, read a book, watch a movie and hope that those activities can take your mind off of the things you don’t want to keep examining. But there’s a catch to these things. They don’t have an immediate effect on your now. It’s important to have skin in the game. My idea was to buy a stock that you can keep watching. It’s a simple activity there’s not much to think about other that watch it go up and down.

So there you have it, there is my conclusion, underwhelming or not. Mental illness, constant and paralyzing anxiety, depression has its ups and downs. When the now is so empty and the future grim, there are moments of clarity but then it crashes back down. It’s hard to know which mental state is closer to your “normal”. In those moments of clarity you have an idea, maybe a business idea. But is it any good. It seemed very good in those moments but a lot less so in the morning. Once you feel “normal”, how do you try to maintain it. I find it helpful to think back and see what you think now. Does it still seem like a good idea or at least a decent one?

We all know it’s a struggle and feeling better can be elusive but trying to build on the small achievements is surely a good idea.

The book is available here https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08Y98KBKB/

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