Monday, February 11, 2008

Dopamine Tides

The neurotransmitter dopamine is increasingly seen by researchers as they play a major player in many of the extreme dysfunctions of the brain. Too much of this chemical called Dopamine appears to cause hallucinations, paranoia, over-excitement, euphoria, and exaggerated feelings of meaningfulness, lethargy, misery, depression, lack of attention and withdrawal.

The cells that produce dopamine are distributed along three quite distinctive riverbeds of the brain. These are subject to periodic flash-floods that dramatically change your behavior. As they are inner-connected, a surge through one channel can bring about activity in another. Few of us experience the extreme behavioral symptoms this can cause, but we all know those sudden moments of eccentric behavior that cannot be easily explained in rational terms. This demonstrates how little conscious choice we have over much of our behavior. Our conscious feelings are often a response to secondary chemical effects that have been instigated milliseconds before by the unconscious emotional system.

The system might register danger; the heart rate rises and you respond to the pumping heart and not to the original stimulus. We act upon rather than being in control of our emotions. Once the rivers of chemicals begin to rise, or drain away, we are truly helpless bystanders on the river bank- witnesses of our own unconscious tides.

The old Taoist teaching of "Go with the flow" is, in reality , one cannot help but accept.

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