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Faces of disease

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My whole life seems to have been a series of lessons. Some really friggin harsh ones even. Many of those lessons have had to do with illness of one form or another in others, mostly mental health issues but also some very rare diseases for some reason.

There was a boy in our complex when I was a kid that died of old age at seven. I’ve known mongoloid children, and down’s syndrome kids, and thalidomide victims.
Friends of my mom take in troubled foster kids and I’ve met kids with coprophilia, and autism and aspergers. I’ve known manic depressive people and sociopaths and my own brother went schizophrenic at seventeen.
I’ve been witness to more than my fair share of ailments in others without considering my own.

{I can hear you now…
”What’s this self centered little puke on about, and when is he going to get to the point?”
well just never you mind, this idea is important and it took a good swift kick to the nards to jog loose, so pay attention.}

See…I’m not entirely ‘sane’ per se, and I had to run this whole gamut of mental issues when I was a kid.
I wouldn’t exactly use the word insane to describe myself, but sane isn’t quite right either.
It started with having to touch each piece of food to my nose before I could eat it when I was a kid, and progressed to where I couldn’t stop making strange facial gestures and sounds, having panic attacks and constant anxiety and finally oscillating between depressed and manic while being beat at home and ostracized at school.
I was a bit more than just a mess.
All of this stuff happened before puberty which I think is the only thing that let me find a way through that crap.
See, my mind wasn’t fully formed yet and we are all kind of pre-programmed at a young age to figure things out, so that’s what I did, but it was like trying to plug a bursting dam with gum.
Every time I’d develop some new mental trick to make one thing go away, another worse one would take its place until I couldn’t keep it together anymore and started planning to off myself.
I think I was fifteen, maybe sixteen by this time.
I didn’t really ‘want’ to die, I just couldn’t stay going on like that any more if you know what I mean, and that’s when I learned that ‘it’ didn’t want to die either.
In my mind the ‘it’ was whatever was making me do these things against my will. ‘It’ became separate and something I could bargain with to regain control of my self.
’It’ wanted recognition.
And… It’s gotten it.

So now there are two of us sharing this one melon so to speak.
An awake me and a dreaming me, and after the better part of a few decades of coexisting we’ve done gone and wrangled us up a language of sorts.

Crazy I know, and I don’t expect you to believe me. Why should you? I wouldn’t, but please bear with me anyway. I had to give up trying to get people to believe me, so don’t sweat it.
Just hear me now…you can always believe me later.

Now, you’d think that this would suck.
I mean, who wants a separate consciousness sharing toys with them in their attic space right?, but we are both basically good shits in the long run, (y’know, if’n you like long runny shits), so I’m good with it, and see, well, one of these consciousnesses is like ‘way’ smart, and it’s not the guy who’s doing the typing right now.

This other self makes connections that my waking mind can’t. It notices patterns and mulls over everything I’ve ever learned simultaneously in this incoherent stream of consciousness that I’ve managed to somehow keep myself apart from and yet can dip into at will. It also sometimes tries to convey the insights it has gleaned that I myself am too stupid to clue into.
As far as mellon-mates go, it’s been pretty dang helpful now that we’ve got the general ground rules down and can trust one another.
Basically it boils down to;
if I don’t take it for granted, then… it won’t take me for a ride. If I feed it what it wants to know, it is content to mull this information over, make its connections and relay them back to me.
If I share my attic toys with it, sometimes it lets me play with the toys in its box, which consist mostly of my own autonomic functions.
Not exactly fun toys, but handier than all get-out if push comes to shove.

This works for me, and although our society may view it as a form of psychosis, it is what I mean when I say, “My gut tells me something” or “Something has been tickling the back of my head” and, I’ll be danged but, many of the things it tells me seem to be bang on the money once I look into them, which makes me think that I might not have gotten too far from the mark when I came up with this whole separateness of consciousness thing as a kid to keep my mind from shattering. It was going to happen on its own anyway and in a last ditch effort I think that I may have fractured it on purpose so that I could control the break and keep ‘me’ whole.
I’m no shrink but I figure that this puts my picture quite a few dictionary pages away from the word ‘sane’ if you know what I mean.

So this idea is two-fold.
First of all, I believe that we do ourselves and our children a huge disservice by not acknowledging that there is a part of our minds that is connected to something greater than our waking selves and need to revive this concept. Lack of it is leading to a majority of the mental illness we see around us.
All ancient societies seem to have known this and it baffles me that the society I see around me suppresses and ridicules such notions. Our minds are capable of far more than we give them credit for, or rather, what we give them credit for greatly limits what they can ultimately achieve.
We must change this!
This idea then is not only a WIBNI but also a Let’s All and so MFD-able. Which is a shame because it’s the most important part of this two part idea. Hopefully this next part won’t be delete-able.

{Yeah-yeah, pipe down! I’m getting to it already. Sheesh!}

Now you might be asking yourselves; why on Earth would 2fries be spewing his guts up all over the hb like this?...again.
and that would be a very good question, with like this, completely and utterly shitty answer.

See… all those kids with all those problems I mentioned above left their impression on this other part of me, as did their parents.
So for the better part of my life now I’ve noticed patterns in facial symmetry, expressions, body movements, mannerisms, and a thousand other things that I can’t really put into words, which scream at me from the back of my head when a couple I’ve just met are going to have a down syndrome or autistic baby, or if an individual themselves are likely to develop some disease that I’ve seen symptoms of in the past.
This…knack is not something you can go bandying about. You can’t just meet a new couple and say, “Yikes, hmmm, y’know I wouldn’t be thinking of having any kids if I was you two”, or “Hey buddy, have you been tested for Parkinsons yet?” It wouldn’t go over too well but it might if the questions were asked by someones doctor.
So I would never know for sure if my mind was playing tricks on me or not and I kept all of this stuff to myself.
As the years went by I would see some of these couples have kids born the way I had thought they would be, and some of these individuals develope the diseases I had hypothesized in them earlier. It began to prove out my hunches.

When I first met my wife her son was four years old, she says five and she’s probably right because she is far better with numbers than I am, but I remember it as four and I’ll be damned if his every movement didn’t remind me of my brother at his various stages of his life. My mother has remarked on the similarities a number of times in the past as well.
This did not influence my decision to ask his mother to marry me but I always had it in the back of my mind that I could help him to not follow in my brothers footsteps. I tried so fucking hard, but from the rebelliousness to chemical abuse to psychotic break and finally institutionalization. I just wasn’t able to help him.

So this is the reason for the info overload.
I’m about as crushed as I can be and still function, and I’m going to spend the next decade trying to put my son back together the way I just spent the last decade trying to put my brother back together and I just don’t give two shits about concealing my own mental illness if it has a chance of keeping anyone else from having to go through this.

There is nothing magical about the information that bubbles up from this other me. It is not precognition in any mystical sense of the word. I’ve just been able to make contact with the little savant that I believe exists within all of our minds, and if ‘it’ can know these things based on visual cues alone then today’s computers could be taught to do so as well using facial recognition software and self learning programs.

Early detection of disease is the best prevention and perhaps if my son had known how great his chances of developing mental illness were, it may have kept him from experimenting with drugs in a way I was not able to.
The flip side of this coin is how easily the information could be abused and used to segregate, but I believe that the benefits of this advance knowledge far outweigh the risks if it were used properly.

Some of you may be in a position to be able to manipulate the programs that would teach a computer to draw these same inferences based on visual clues. For me this only works on Caucasians because I have not been exposed to enough people of other races to determine their nuances, and the number of diseased people I have met is relatively small, but a computer program would not be limited by either this bias or insufficient data from which to draw conclusions.

This idea has no scientific basis, I’m just listening to my gut…but ‘it’ is right on this one, and testing the theory should be fairly simple beginning with a sampling of similarities between photographs of individuals with rare diseases being compared to the wider data base and progressing to video recognition of more subtle cues.


Look, I think that reading a string of condolences would pretty much do me in just now, so, if comments could be contained to the merits, or lack thereof, of the ideas themselves I… we would appreciate it.

Centre for the Mind http://www.centreforthemind.com/
These guys might find those missing 2 fries... [4whom, Feb 28 2011]

American Center for the Brain http://cbc.ucsd.edu/
if the previous guys don't these guys might... [4whom, Feb 28 2011]

Autistic Self Advocacy Network http://en.wikipedia...lf_Advocacy_Network
[JesusHChrist, Mar 02 2011]

Jim Carrey http://www.fgnpr.co...0/04/Jim-Carrey.jpg
[JesusHChrist, Mar 02 2011]

Jenny McCarthy http://inyourface.o...hy-375w-pre-pos.jpg
How can she advocate with a straight face? [JesusHChrist, Mar 02 2011]

Boy, 4, Diagnosed With Leukemia After Picture Is Posted on Facebook Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/03/04/boy-4-diagnosed-leukemia-picture-posted-facebook/#ixzz1FgQTeZCf http://www.foxnews....re-posted-facebook/
[senatorjam, Mar 05 2011]

On hearing voices http://www.julianja...g/bicameralmind.php
[mouseposture, Mar 05 2011]


po, Feb 26 2011

       actually I find this so very interesting on many levels ...   

       I would comment on a little voice that I have now and again but I don't know how relevant it is so I'll shut up!
po, Feb 26 2011

       For a few months I've been half-trying to base a posting on the concept of "in-between faces" - very brief moments of bizarre facial posturing that normally don't get noticed, but show up in stopframe on video. The sample set was TV shows, so I'm not sure if it's something people do all the time, or if it's a side-effect of acting.   

       Since the actual idea (2nd-last paragraph) is to find similar visual cues in photos of the mentally ill, I don't see what's so "WIBNI" or "Letsall" about it. The TV programme "Lie to Me" is predicated on "micro-expressions": unconscious indicators of emotional state.   

       However your skill seems to involve meeting people face-to-face... can you do the same from a still photo or video ? Does it involve the whole body or just from the neck up ? Audio cues as well ? etc. etc.: some of the things you need to know if you want to try to emulate it on a computer.
FlyingToaster, Feb 26 2011

       Referring to the video comparison part of your idea, before words were invented, body language was a big part of how we communicated and most of what we had to say to the outside world was done with facial expressions, gestures, mannerisms etc. Many of these are done subconsciously and there may be significant noticeable deviations from the norm that a trained eye could use as a clinical diagnostic tool. I'm sure there would be great merit in cataloging noticeable physical manifestations of various disorders in order to diagnose them.   

       And as a further comment on the merit of your idea, it takes balls to talk about stuff that's burdensome like that. Many of man's greatest inventions were inspired by, and created as a way to mitigate turmoil and suffering.   

       You take care of yourself 2 fries, you're a respected and valued part of the HB family eh? [+]
doctorremulac3, Feb 26 2011

po, Feb 26 2011

       I don't completely understand your experience of the world, and why should I, but I can understand what you wrote and it's interesting.
rcarty, Feb 26 2011

       I think I have noticed something like this in some people’s faces.   

       //You can’t just meet a new couple and say, “Yikes, hmmm, y’know...// Perhaps you should be able to. I think I would rather be informed than not. But how would one know whether one’s informant is genuine, stupid or evil?   

       This is a great idea and it clearly needs scientific research to document the theorised phenomenon.
pocmloc, Feb 26 2011

       This isn't to take anything away from the idea - but more, to maybe provide some support for it.   

       It simply isn't crazy to have a subconscious mind.   

       It's a skill and a blessing to be able to contact, and access its massive clarity of thought, bring any firm conclusions through to the conscious side of your mind, where you can at least begin to communicate them.   

       My potted theory is that most people remain entirely unaware of this powerhouse inside their heads - because they will tend to spend their lives quite happily blowing along in the same direction that it wants to go - it is afterall the bit of your mind that stimulates desire, drive and motivation.   

       But, and here you state it yourself - if your forebrain is hanging on tightly to some positive self-reinfocing narrative like for example, "I am identified by these positive traits..." - or "X loves me as much as I love them" or "They love me really, it's just that they fall into personality type Q, and so express themselves in this way", or whatever - but the narratives, theories or models fail to hold up to the evidence, the rearbrain will kick and struggle and make a fuss.   

       It *knows* which of the forebrain narratives you use to define yourself and which keep you going are true, and which are not. And it demands the cold hard, brutal truth. The crunchtime comes when you are faced with having to either accept the unwelcome truths being provided you by this apparent stranger in your mind, and losing a great deal of personal 'scaffolding' - or continuing to hold on to your personal, life-affirming narratives despite knowing, deep-down that there is something amiss.   

       So your hindbrain is screaming out "something is wrong!" and you can hear it, but instead of accepting the uncomfortable truth, instead, you hold on to your invented/inherited truths and instead wonder whether you are crazy - afterall, why would your mind be telling you something you didn't want to hear?   

       And yet, your hindbrain is also feeding you all of this other fantastically accurate information - almost magically prescient - stuff you can trust - stuff you can use.   

       And so the choice is laid out - which voices do you trust?   

       Let's consider the forebrain for a moment - if we are to believe the scientific community, the conscious mind kind of 'sits' on top of the evolutionary, much older, unconscious mind. Tests have shown that the unconscious acts as a filter (yes, it can be overridden with practice, but 'default' behaviour is for the unconscious to direct attention) both to incoming information, and as a kind of gateway through which motor commands such as moving an arm, or talking, typing, or dancing might require.   

       So you have to rely on and trust your unconscious mind. If it were an os, you'd want it clean-running without any spyware, pop-up ads, or third-party addons cluttering up the available resources - but we still load it up with crap (inherited beliefs from TV Ads, or bullies, or abusive parents, lost lovers, or just plain simple lies) which hogs the system and clouds the signals coming from the clarity of the underlying system, and stops them getting through to the screen, where they can be read, and thought, and talked about, rationally. That clarity shows in a person's demeanour, in their speech, in their facial expressions - it exudes through every pore.   

       And so, for those tortured by this dilemma, in order to walk tall once more, and regain control over their operating system, they must ultimately make friends with their inner voice - tearing down the artificial beliefs in the process is a painful and difficult thing to do, requiring acceptance, faith (or just surrender - I'm not sure which) but ultimately resulting in a clearer understanding of what the self really is. In the process, they meet themselves, properly - good and bad, and learn to accept it.   

       So, to sum all that up, you're not crazy - be glad - you're more whole than most people ever get to become!   

       Also, this: //if I don’t take it for granted, then… it won’t take me for a ride// is so spot-on, it's almost all you need to say.   

       So, with the background out of the way - onto the idea - automating prescience, or 'sensitivity'.   

       Using the inbuilt capability in the mind for sensing problems, mental or physiological - and being sensitive, and having the respect and discipline not to take anything for granted - to access this information and bring it out into the 'real' world where something positive can be done about it - is one thing - and a bloody hard thing to do as it is.   

       But getting a computer to do it? Tricky. How do you get around the respect/taking it for granted thing? Or maybe that's just a matter of not letting your ego mess with the message. Maybe a computer would be the ideal thing to apply in this area - after-all, it wouldn't suffer from the personalisation problems a person would struggle with. Neural nets may well be able to pick out 'something' that identifies the likely onset of a particular disease - and maybe there's a subtle link between someone's genetics and their facial nuances that might provide clues - but it's all conjecture - I'm not sure how you'd be able to gather enough supportive evidence to build a case, beyond just doing it and hoping for your gut feeling to reap results. It would be helpful to come up with some kind of verifiable method though.
zen_tom, Feb 27 2011

       Thanks [po]
//the concept of "in-between faces"//I've noticed this a lot on tabloid covers. When the media is down on a celebrity or politition they use these in-between photos to sway public opinion.
// can you do the same from a still photo or video ? Does it involve the whole body or just from the neck up ? Audio cues as well ?//
I'm very visually oriented so audio cues don't really register but I bet there are cues that audiophiles would pick up on that I wouldn't, so a program should be able to gather these as well. I don't think I could do it from photos but probably from video. It's faces, and gestures and eyes, I think it's mostly eyes and skull shape but then there are those thousand and one other things I can't quite put my finger on.
Also smell will be a huge factor. Dogs can smell schizophrenia and many other illnesses and bees can detect diabetes so chemical sniffers will be able to do this as well once the programs are written that will make the connections. Diagnosis could become very non-invasive and early detection of illness a routine part of daily life.

       On the other hand the information could be used for employee screening, segregation, bribery, extortion and a glass ceiling ten feet thick...
We seem to be raising quite a little medical and pharmaceutical cash cow too that looks to be getting fatter the sicker we are so there will be resistance to cheap easy prevention.

       //but it's all conjecture - I'm not sure how you'd be able to gather enough supportive evidence to build a case, beyond just doing it and hoping for your gut feeling to reap results. It would be helpful to come up with some kind of verifiable method though.//
I'll have to think on that one. Conjecture is the only thing to build hypothesis from. That my subconscious has been running these experiments long enough to feel the need to clue me in is good enough for me, but then I'm not a scientist. If I had the knowledge to verify this I would do it myself but to do so will cost many years spent playing catch-up when there are far more capable individuals already able to.
So the idea is out there now and it will become something or it won't.

       //But how would one know whether one’s informant is genuine, stupid or evil?//
Most people go with crazy.

       //you're not crazy - be glad - you're more whole than most people ever get to become!//
It sure doesn't feel that way. It feels like I'm trying to do a synchronised dual gymnastics routine on a tightrope blindfolded... while being the easter bunny.

       What [po] said.
blissmiss, Feb 27 2011

       blissy - get in touch!
po, Feb 27 2011

       I think there is merit to the idea, but I'm betting a computer would have to have contact with the subject to be able to detect any neural benchmarks.   

       I had a hearing test where the sensor was on my forehead and it detected the stimulus being sent to my brain. From this they could tell there was minor damage to the nerve.
dentworth, Feb 27 2011

       //It feels like I'm trying to do a synchronised dual gymnastics routine on a tightrope blindfolded... while being the easter bunny//

I'd buy tickets to see it!
DrBob, Feb 28 2011

       for what it's worth- you know I love you!! +++++
Maybe you should be Dr. Two Fries and use your extraordinary gift.
xandram, Feb 28 2011

       It's an intruiging idea - that disease, or genetic weaknesses or predispositions are reflected in a person's appearance, smell or behaviour (it reminds me of recent news stories which suggest that dogs can smell cancer). Also relatively straighforward to set up a double-blind trial to test. I am sceptical about whether a computer could be made to recognise this without knowing more about exactly what physiological feature is being recognised.

//Maybe you should be Dr. Two Fries and use your extraordinary gift// - change your name first: "Dr. Two Fries" might not fill people with confidence.
hippo, Feb 28 2011

       //that disease, or genetic weaknesses or predispositions are reflected in a person's appearance, smell or behaviour//
Which is interesting, intersecting as it does with Lombroso's notions of criminological positivism.
calum, Feb 28 2011

       Some insights of my own:   

       I find the best two ways to get outside of my head for a breather when it gets too noisy are to do some physical activity and to get more actively involved in other people's heads. Most other things just put me back into the spin cycle for another go-round on already well-worn ruts.   

       I wouldn't limit the recognition software to faces; body type demographics carry their own disease patterns I suspect.   

       I can't say that I haven't noticed similar traits, if perhaps not as explicitly as you seem to pick up on. Of course we as semi-competitive sexual creatures have some basic wiring in us that seeks out the healthiest specimens; I would suspect this plays a strong influence.   

       To prove out your hypothesis would require a broader statistical sampling than your region; it might be that the diseases proximate to your geography also happen to cross paths with facial types that are proximate. Would such disease- prone genetic variances show up with the same sort of facial features in other local gene pools?
RayfordSteele, Feb 28 2011

       That is a REALLY interesting description. What you are doing is called dissociation. It is a fairly common response to abuse/severe trauma.   

       Clearly everyone is different, and the dissociation spectrum is very wide indeed. Some people end up forgetting the things that hurt them (dissociative amnesia) some people end up being haunted by them (PTSD). Some people become numbed to the emotional implications of what is occurring(depersonalization). Some feel as though nothing is real, or they are not real(derealization). Rarely, some people develop a separate, limited personality better able to deal with pain.   

       Common to these is something called somatization, or allowing your mental processes to play out as physical processes, i.e. the kid whose parents are getting divorced starts getting stomach aches every night.   

       Another common factor is a certain level of magical thinking, and identifying with parts or subsets of things.   

       There is a diagnosis called dissociative disorder, but implied in this is the idea that this is a problem for you, and causes difficulty in functioning.   

       You seem to be very dissociated to me, whether it is a problem for you is something I can't tell you. If this one "quirk" has fixed your OCD symptoms and anxiety, it seems like a bargain to me. If you are pretty happy and feel OK with things, great.   

       However, talking to a therapist may help you feel better about some things in your life. It certainly helped me, although my issues were very different.   

       Regarding your idea, there are a number of diseases easily diagnosable by looking at someone's face. Books on congenital disorders commonly include images of these 'facies' as they are known, with specific descriptors. Down syndrome is a great example, even a lay person can probably identify this due to its commonness.   

       I could diagnose someone with moderate parkinsons from 100 yards, and my vision isnt that good. It's certainly possible that you could catch it sooner than I, and if so good on you.   

       The question of pre-schizophrenia is one that psychiatry is really wrestling with. There seems to be some retroactive "unusualness" noticed in people who develop schizophrenia as adults. They are trying to hash out if this is something they can diagnose in a way that will do more good than harm(self fulfilling prophecy, etc.). It sounds like you may be able to read the symptoms of this a little better than most due to your long experience with a sufferer.   

       take it easy
GutPunchLullabies, Feb 28 2011

       The fact that the phrase "the little voice inside my head" is both in common usage and *isn't* regarded as a precursor towards mental illness indicates that it's within the range of mental activity deemed normal'ish... my own thoughts on the matter are that it may be a result of a stressful time (duh) plus the habit of talking to yourself inside your head (perhaps rehearsing the Nobel acceptance speech or summat). Along that line it may well be another OCD variant, albeit an internal one.   

       While I'll take it as a given that you can spot a mental illness in the making a certain percentage of the time, based on the experience you have with same, it's not any different from a car mechanic listening to an engine and predicting a valve failure within a year, or a symphony conductor knowing that, in a few measures, the lot of them are going to go off the rails; a computer programmer who can debug a programme without even looking at it, etc. etc.   

       Bear in mind that the perceived success rate is usually bolstered by the human habit of making a fuss about the abnormal, thus a "true" hit carries much more weight than a "false" hit in the mind.   

       As well, of course, consider that the "symptoms" you consciously perceive might be just personal icons: "OMG look at the shape of his ears, he's going to spontaneously combust !" is more likely a subconscious evaluation based on other factors, while noticing the shape of the ears is just your subconscious pointing something out.   

       My little voice told me to say that.
FlyingToaster, Feb 28 2011

       Lots of work is being done to understand the special qualities some minds exhibit. The biggest difficulty to overcome is the lack of explanation by those being observed. It is possible to map which parts of the brain are being used when subjects perform these feats. Most times the observations raise more questions than answers.
The only time anyone will invest time (and money and precious amounts of Helium 3)in exploring these abilities is if there is, in actual fact, an ability to investigate.
I am not sure if what you are able to do is an accute instance of what we are all capable of, or if it is complete bunkum, or if it is a rare and valuable gift. However, regardless of which of these it is, you should make it a priority to explore this ability, preferably under expert scrutiny. If an accurate diagnostic ability can be shown, and be duplicated at will, then I would imagine the next step of determining how this diagnostic ability is manifesting will be of great interest.
You seem to be in the unique position of having a communication stream, of sorts, with the part of your mind that can perform these feats. This may prove valuable, both to yourself and to others. It may be that your savant self will keep mum.
As to getting computers to do this, if it exists. It depends on how "other you" is able to do it. It may be a simple (in relative terms) library look-up, admittedly from a large library, or the nuances you perceive may end up being a facial CAPTCHA for the computer.
see links.
4whom, Feb 28 2011

       As a person with a disability I prefer to think of "diseases" as software that runs on bacterial, viral or smaller and more difuse substrates like water, and that can just as well be referred to as ghosts as bugs. I also believe that the world doesn't "care" about the survival of individuals -- the energy just gets mixed around anyway. Make friends with the spirits. Dont be so sure they are bad guys.   

       Maybe they are more like homework that is passed down to us from our hapenstancial ancestors.
JesusHChrist, Mar 02 2011

       //Dont be so sure they are bad guys.// There's now a serious (though disputed) theory that viruses invented DNA. (Not to mention the less disputed theory about the origin of mitochondria.)
mouseposture, Mar 02 2011

       Thanks guys. Sorry for going all Jerry Springer there. My guts are firmly stapled back in place now.   

       The OCD thing never did go away I just haggled it down to one thing in exchange for everything else back. Every so often It'll check and see if I'm still keeping my end of the bargain.
All other aspects of my life returned to normal except for the border in the attic calling me dumb-ass and whacking me with a stick until I clue in to what it tries to tell me.

       One other thing and then I'll give it a rest. If my gut is right on this, then the smarter we get as a species then the more and more incidence of mental illness we are going to see creeping up in society. I think that these are growing pains of something our heads are trying to evolve that we just haven't gotten down yet. There is a chance, God forbid, that you or someone you know may have to jump through some of the hoops I've had to.
This projecting all of it onto an 'other' may be the only way through the maze of our own heads without a chemical cocktail.

       or a few mg of Haloperidol to make it go away for a few hours. There's something decent for anxiety attacks too, but I think it might be too addictive for self-regulated medication.   

       It won't relieve the root cause, but a band-aid doesn't physically cause a papercut to heal faster either.
FlyingToaster, Mar 03 2011

       The touching of your food to your nose could be a symptom of tourettes syndrome. You should read "Motherless Brooklyn" for a great look into the mind of someone with tourettes.   

       I think all of us are a bit skewed, some more than others. I commend your candor about your own mental challenges. As to the idea, however, I don't think a computer could ever accomplish this. Nature can, and has been referenced her a few times.   

       Could it be your calling to diagnose these mental disorders? I wouldn't mind taking a stroll your way just to know.
MikeD, Mar 03 2011

       don't know if this is relevant, but I'll chip in with my two penny's worth anyway...   

       As to "voices in the head" - I wish I had a link to this post, but I once read an article about a guy who didn't have any inner voice. At all. He was in his mid twenties (I think - could be making that up) when he first realised that most people have an inner monologue going on constantly in their heads: it had never been an issue he'd had to address before, and he'd done perfectly well without it. He started a website, I think, and found that he wasn't alone.   

       I think a lot about inner monologues and the subjective processes of thinking. I'm sort of starting to think that most people's inner voice is just language talking to itself. To choose a kind of extreme metaphor - language is a parasite that we use to explain our actions to ourselves.   

       All the best, most creative things I've ever done I can't really take credit for. They've just popped into my head. My inner monologue (the daily annoying person which I sort of count as as "me") had no part in them.   

       Which leads me to believe that my day to day inner monologue me is just riding the froth of my subconscious tides like the world's most imbecilic surfer. I have no idea what's actually going on.   

       I second (or third, or maybe even fourth) po.
lostdog, Mar 03 2011

       "woof" [doggy] <pats on head> for what its worth, your *outer* dialogue is amazing.   

       [bigsleep] I once read an article about a young offender who began to complain to doctors that the voices in his head had started to tell him things. like what? said the doctor. oh just weird stuff, like "that man over there is a jerk!" why that's you just talking to yourself inside your head. said the doctor.
po, Mar 05 2011

       [po] Was the offender being a smartass, and the doctor being a smartass back at him? Or was it simply a commonplace case of a schizophrenic with auditory hallucinations making disparaging comments in the third person about himself? Or was only the offender being a smartass, and the insult went over the doctor's head? (I vote for #3)
mouseposture, Mar 05 2011

       I bet the doctor prescribed something.
rcarty, Mar 05 2011

       lost count, sorry.   

       no, the lad had just never perceived/noticed/heard his inner voice before.   

       sometimes, a thought will cross my mind that I believe is out of character for me and I want to disassociate myself with the idea. perhaps this (to some extent) is what 2fries other friend/foe is - just a random thought that we don't want to be responsible for.
po, Mar 05 2011

       //lad had just never perceived/noticed/heard his inner voice before//
Apparently <link> he was recapitulating _The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind_.

       I believe there's another theory of consciousness positing that the "I" who I think I am is just the protagonist of a story that makes sense of all the bits of perceptions, emotions, thoughts, etc. that pass through my brain -- a story that's not actually true. For example, consider religious stories that explain Creation, human suffering, etc. by reference to a fictional diety character. According to this theory of consciousness, the character of "I" is equally fictitious.   

       [rcarty] I'm sure you're right. When the professional mindset is activated, it's quite dangerous to joke with doctors, as they're apt to interpret humor, or, indeed anything else they don't understand, as a symptom of disease.
mouseposture, Mar 05 2011

       ... and yet that no-art has a name.
mouseposture, Mar 05 2011

       [bigsleep] Hang on, are you saying the theory is only applicable to rich western societies, or that the story (narrative) is excessively complex in such societies, leading to psychopathology?
mouseposture, Mar 05 2011

       But it is the ability to turn off the voice at will, not attribute it to god, and not allow it to lie to you that ... I've lost my train of thought.
rcarty, Mar 05 2011

       //The point I'm making is this. Lots of people are ready to explain the workings of the mind in what seems like a plausible way, without the slightest shred of evidence.//   

       I just know that it worked, sort of, and that it grows as I do.   

       //plausible but untested// Not a valid criticism. \\plausible but untestable\\ would be a valid criticism.   

       In fact, the "narrative" theory of consciousness, instead of proposing an answer (falsifiable or not) to the question, declares the question empty, or meaningless. Which I suppose makes the theory unfalsifiable.   

       Although perhaps, after all, it is testable. I have in mind experiments with, e.g. contingent negative variation, showing that "voluntary" actions can be decided upon before "I" am consciously aware of having done so.
mouseposture, Mar 06 2011

       "Untestable because vague" then, and also he didn't word it as a hypothesis. Or didn't propose specific experimental tests to go along with it.   

       The distinction between "folk" theories that make sense of the world, and "scientific" theories that really explain is a real one, and I bow to no one, not even [MaxwellBuchannan] in my devotion to it. However, it is a spectrum. Can physics, even, claim a theory which really, definitively explains, rather than making sense of experimental observations, in a provisional way, pending a more fundamental theory?
mouseposture, Mar 06 2011

       I don't recognize anything of the position I thought I was defending in the above.
mouseposture, Mar 06 2011

       Please to keep words to three cylinders or less on weekends before noon leftpondia time.   

       ... "syllables".
FlyingToaster, Mar 06 2011

       Hint's always deeply valued, [bigs]
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 06 2011


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