If by some sleight of hand you were able to hold your own brain in your hand (do not try this at home), you would probably be underwhelmed. Weighing about two pounds, it would have all the consistency and personality of thick, stringy pudding.
But under the microscope, your admiration for this organ would soon grow to awe. Billions of cells link up in a complex Grand Central Station of control functions, memory banks, perceptual processors, emotional components, and organic equipment for thinking, decision-making, and, perhaps, for spiritual insight.
This is the arena where anxiety, panic, and depression have their genesis and can have the resolution as emotional disorders. For all our poetic language about “heartfelt” feelings and sentiments “from the heart,” the brain is where the action is.
Why learn about your brain and its functions? If you’ve been pointing the finger of accusation or blame at part of yourself (your heart? your courage? your personality?), you may as well point it as accurately as possible. Understanding what may be going amiss at the level of your brain chemistry may exercise an enormous “forgiveness effect” over many other aspects of your body or character that you have been indicting.
In addition, a knowledge of brain structures and chemistry can help you understand the purpose of medications that a physician may prescribe for emotional disorders. The panoply of modern drugs for anxiety, panic, and depression deserve the category “miracle drugs.” It’s hard to appreciate the miracle if we know more about time slots for our favorite TV shows than the brain’s inner workings.
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