"This article written by the research director of The Research Institute for Infectious Mental Illness discusses the role of infections with parasites and other infectious agents such as fungi and yeats like Candida can be the underlying cause of mental illness."
"Hanaoka Seishu’s fame is based on his invention of an oral anesthesia that could render a patient unconscious for long enough to allow him to remove deep tumors. Hanaoka was born to a physician’s family in Kii Province (today’s Wakayama Prefecture), a remote, mountainous region of south central Japan, in 1760. At age twenty-two he went to Kyoto, where he studied both traditional Chinese-style medicine and Western-style surgical techniques; at age twenty-five he took over the family business and began to practice an eclectic style of medicine that combined these two traditions."
Aside from its peculiar assumptions with long-lost credit, doesn't at least the very general idea behind phrenology seem to resonate in some of the theory and research going on in neuro-psychology today?
That brain is the organ of the mind? Check. That functions and expressions of psychological and behavioral kind are localized across the actual brain-terrain? Check. That the theory and research promote in effect, the very logic and sense of the abstract evaluations these functions and expressions are culturally and morally labelled with--such as good-bad, positive-negative, beneficial-not, normal-abnormal, normal-criminal? Check. That the historical tendency of scientific discourses to assume an anthropomorphic character in universe and a universal character in anthropos once again reveals itself (in truly Hegelian way)? Check.
J.M. Fericgla, anthropologist, author, president of the Society of Applied Ethnopsychology (SdEA), and pioneer in the use of Ayahuasca psychotherapy, speaks ...
A good friend of mine, living in L.A thinks that most of the Hollywood-style self-invention techniques with spiritual or existential concerns (transcendental meditation, rawism, Cali Buddhism) might have to do with camels and lions not knowing what to do with becoming children (Zarathustra’s animals, or metamorphoses, in TSZ: I) A considerable amount of entheogenic literature and oral history I’ve seen so far could be viewed the same way. Homo sapiens is the animal that evaluates (creates, imposes, charges and discharges values) and this renders each and everyone of us with an ego that is, by way of its will to power, anthropo-centric. For this reason moral tablatures and cultural myths reflect anthropomorphic tendencies, romanticization of nature and spiritualization of the non-human with our very own all-too-human labes of good and evil, high and low, divine and this-worldy. Psychologize Bataillean anthropology a little and one may say that even (and especially) our transgressions, whether approved in cultural contexts of faith and festivities, or carried with a counter-culture gesture (for personal leisure, pleasure or exploration of all sorts) are ego’s work to subsume, preserve and sublimate forms of otherness and elevate one’s self by appropriating them (consider ego’s work of overcoming otherness in a number of dialectical oppositions, between the individual and society, between rival communities, between man and Nature, man and culture, culture and Nature). Josep M. Fericgla has more to say on this, with reference to ayahuasca experiences and literature.
Amazonian medicine- especially the plant aspect of it, is mind-blowing if you are curious about differences between times, peoples and cultural geographies in regards to their philosophy and sense of health and disease. This curiosity is deeply Nietzschean in my case, although the man himself is no less occidentalist than his contemporaries when looking at ‘rude cultures’ and ‘savage people’ (see Daybreak 202). All the same, Amazonian medicine is very interesting to study the ahistorical relation between evaluation and health (On the Genealogy of Morals III:13, man as the sick animal) and the historical relation between the moralization of passions and disease (ibid, II:16, the birth of bad conscience and the suffering of man from man). Even the contemporary phenomenon of ayahuasca tourism (the need to leave the much resented doctor at home, journey into the deep jungle to find the magic healer and make a spritual discovery redeeming one-self from an often ontological trauma) demonstrates this on so many levels.
Designboom.com is one awesome independent publication of art & design, with a must-see entry on the anatomical maps of East and West illustrating the journey of medical knowledge across cultures and civilizations. This is the section where some Eastern visuals from the Middle Ages are documented but the left column on the page lists other sections of the entry with medical imagery from Antiquity, Renaissance and modernity as well as. The latter also includes some contemporary art-works on corporeality.
"Medical geography, a subdiscipline of geography, is an interdisciplinary and holistic study of health, illness, and disease by specialists from a wide variety of social, physical, and biological sciences. Working in different cultural systems and diverse biospheres, medical geographers examine the distribution of health-related phenomena over time and the ways in which these phenomena interact and determine the status of human health in a community.
Medical geographers credit the Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates and his followers as the founders of medical geography. In his early treatise Airs, Waters, and Places, Hippocrates proposed that a person’s environment could adversely influence health or well-being by altering the equilibrium between the four bodily humors."
"Wherever something like the animal is named, the gravest, most resistant, also the most naive and the most self-interested presuppositions dominate what is called human culture (and not only Western culture); in any case they dominate the philosophical discourse that has been prevalent for centuries."
"Whether these clips are authentic has been debated, but, they are a remarkable look at Nietzsche's 'last days' in Weimar in the summer of 1899 (the photo stills by Hans Olde are common)"
From Nietzsche Contra Wagner, 'Epilogue':
"I have often asked myself whether I am not more heavily obligated to the hardest years of my life than to any others. As my inmost nature teaches me, whatever is necessary as seen from the heights and in the sense of a great economy is also the useful par excellence: one should not only bear it, one should love it. Amor fati: that is my inmost nature. And as for my long sickness, do I not owe it indescribably more than I owe to my health? I owe it a higher health one which is made stronger by whatever does not kill it. I also owe my philosophy to it."
"In São Luis do Maranhão, Brazil, 23 shamans from as many Native Indian nations challenged all patenting of life forms and traditional knowledge associated to the same, in the moving “São Luis Letter”. From forests to cities, the natives searched for the tools to defend the biodiversity and their ancient system of knowledge from the multinational pharmaceutical industries. We hear the views of shamans, leaders, native lawyers and western academic thinking in the person of the British researcher Dr. Benjamin Gilbert. The film reveals the old world ways of the Xavante territory. We hear from Vandana Shiva, the Indian thinker, mixing biology, ethics and philosophy. Biopiracy - such a Brazilian theme - is yet so universal. The question is for the first time in history being asked not only by thinkers and philosophers, but also by the common man: to who does nature and human knowledge belong?"
For an Indian perspective on biopiracy in the case of Ayurvedic medicine and other traditional systems, check out: http://www.goo.gl/0es9C
In case you too get to be approached by some politically-engaged but touristically-minded folks claiming things like the non-existence of prostitution in Soviet Russia or the emptiness of Cuban prisons, direct them to the HRW reports and tell them which bars serve the meanest mojitos in old town Havana. They probably won’t get it but they will surely appreciate the tip. Nevertheless, it is not too far-fetched to consider a causal relation between the socio-economic feeds of the bigger picture and another subject of public and individual concern: health. History of medicine offers lots of insight on the social factors and economic reasons behind diseases and epidemics that traveled around the world—the Black Death pandemic of 14th century Europe or the small-pox introduced to Americas by conquistadors, to name a few. Effects of structural factors on public and individual health can also be concurred with reference to social studies on policy-making processes, funding and management of medical services. What about the possible relation between cultural ideology and ‘mental' health?
(Below is an excerpt from an interview with Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, referring to their two-volume work Capitalism and Schizophrenia 1972; 1977 and 1980; 1987)
"Q: You associate schizophrenia with capitalism; it is the very foundation of your book. Are there cases of schizophrenia in other societies?
Felix Guattari: Schizophrenia is indissociable from the capitalist system, itself conceived as primary leakage (fuite): and exclusive malady. In other societies, escape and marginalization take on other aspects. The asocial individual of so-called primitive societies is not locked up. The prison and the asylum are resent notions. One chases him, he is exiled at the edge of the village and dies of it, unless he is integrated to a neighboring village. Besides, each system has its paricular sickness: the hysteric of so-called primitive societies, the manic-depressive paranoiacs of the great empires... The capitalist economy preoceeds by decoding and de-territorialization: it has its exterme cases, i.e., schzophrenics who decode and de-territorialize themselves to the limit; but also it has its extreme consequences--revolutionaries."
The complete interview is published in Chaosophy, ed. Sylvere Lothringer, Autonomedia/ Semiotexte, 1995.
"Science Gallery’s latest flagship exhibition HUMAN+ invites you to consider a future of augmented abilities, authored evolution, new strategies for survival and non-human encounters through a range of installations and laboratories exploring the future of our species."
exhibition curator: Dr. Ross McManus, Trinity College Dublin School of Medicine.
LONDON (Reuters) - In a first for European drug research, scientists have launched a clinical trial of an anti-HIV biotech medicine produced using genetically modified tobacco -- a plant better known for ruining human health.
One popular subject of shop talk at happy hour, depending on the company, the weather and how boozed up or bored one gets, is the haunting phantom of the magnum opus that Nietzsche didn’t get to write due to the progressive degeneration of his already frail health. To some, it would have been a work on will to power (and uncannily so, since this is exactly what his anti-Semite nationalist sister Elisabeth desperately propagated for): the concept is nomadically present across Nietzsche’s works, but mostly known via the same-titled collection of his fragmentary writings, published posthumously in 1901. For me though, Nietzsche’s much anticipated but sadly undelivered work would have been about the idea of great health he celebrates in Gay Science.
Great health stems from a critical thinking that affirms a critical distance to the basic philosophical premises of Western metaphysics—dualities most of which are inherently Platonic, Socratic denouncement of life, belief in the absolute/ essence/ truth/ purpose beyond-the-physical, as in above-and-beyond-Nature. Great health also stems from an understanding of life, nature and sciences radically different than the process-oriented, causality-driven scientific narratives based on telic thinking. Most importantly, it is an idea closely related to the study of cultures, peoples and types of man as to what tasks or goals they have set for themselves, what challenges and favors they pursue for creations and destructions of their making, what exhausts or replenishes their spirits, what ailments and cure have come across their paths. As such, Nietzsche the self-acclaimed ‘first psychologist’, ‘the great immoralist’, ‘Dionysus’ and ‘the philosopher of the eternal feminine’ is also a re-inventor of disciplines as diverse as psychology, physics, physiology, even anthropology. To study the human condition through tables of values reflected in morality, religion, art, philosophy and science is the task he suggests for the future philosopher: the philosopher, Nietzsche announces, as the cultural physician (GS).
The book Viroid Life focuses on a number themes of Nietzsche’s thought such as perspectivalism, critique of morality, Anti-Darwinism and becoming, in order to investigate what Keith Ansell-Pearson calls the transhuman condition—a condition, I think Nietzsche’s philosophy of health arguably aspires for. In doing so, Ansell-Pearson uses this term in three senses. Firstly, it is an implication of Zarathustra’s teachings of the Overman which hammer & crush those much exhausted values, weary habits and sickening nihilisim of the last-man (TSZ). The way Nietzsche puts it: “I write for a species that does not yet exist” (WP §538). In its second sense, the transhuman condition is about what science and technologies might be promising beyond human biology and much-contested scientific discourse built around it: the prospect of a machinic (Deleuze) and creative (Bergson) evolution contra Darwinist understanding of nature and the organism. Thirdly, the transhuman condition refers to the (im)possibilities of post-metaphysical thinking, i.e. thinking without universals, eternal truths, dualisms and other illusions of transcendence. In effect, Viroid Life itself can be considered an attempt at post-metaphysical philosophizing: the book explicates in Nietzschean fashion, topics like becoming, memory and the continuity of life while also unravelling those prominently metaphysical configurations they have been given, for instance, in Heidegger’s ontology, Freudian subjectivity and Lacanian death drive. As a renowned Nietzsche scholar of contemporary times, Ansell-Pearson presents a positively eclectic, enjoyably read and inspiring work with an extensive bibliography of continental philosophy and important titles from scientific literature. Whether you are looking for a good Nietzsche reader or streams of discussion significant to Nietzsche’s notions of health and sickness, Viroid Life would do either way.
(image credit: Giant Golden Book of Biology, illustration by Charles Harper)
History of science might be an intellectual domain well-established within French academia, but the impact Georges Canguilhem’s body of work has made on continental philosophy remains unmatched to this day. It offers one unique historiography of Western medicine and speaks a certain vitalism critical of Cartesian mechanicism transcendent to life sciences. Canguilhem’s can be considered a kind of genealogy as well: it unweaves the fabric of scientific and medical narratives, investigates that much neglected historicity of the notions of degeneration, disease, decay and re-evaluates the difference, distance and relation between the normal and the pathological. For Foucault –also his student, Canguilhem’s thought has deeply affected the likes of Neo-Marxism, Lacanian psychoanalysis and Bourdieu's sociology- virtually any individual figure, circle or school interested in the problematics of power and discourse on one hand and the phenomenology of the subject on the other.
Certainly less excited by Canguilhem than Foucault, Charles Wolfe (the author) is rather interested in the philosophical as well as the generally academic context of the 1960s that Canguilhem belongs to. Vitalism has often been the Iggy Pop of philosophy (everyone has heard of, no one really listened) so Wolfe’s discussion is a good opportunity to find out more about its popularity during the 1950s and the timing and the tensions of the alternative it has presented to Cartesian mechanicism. Interestingly, Wolfe understands Canguilhem’s version of vitalism to be both a unique kind of historical object (the unique way in which Life itself wants to be known, and dictates itself as such throughout the history of science and medicine) and an existential attitude (a non-telic, play-ful and power-ful perspective a la Nietzsche and Spinoza).
The reach from Goldstein and Canguilhem towards Oliver Sacks is important for some of the force and body-related concepts of my work in progress.
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