I read with interest the article on “Psychiatry in the Nazi era”.
It is a common notion during Nazi era that feeble-mindedness, schizophrenia, manic depression and epilepsy were suspected to belong to the class of inherited diseases. Nazi believed that their civilization was in danger if the process of spreading bad gene was not stopped.
Law was introduced to voluntary sterilization of carefully specified groups (schizophrenics, manic depressives, epileptics). Involuntary sterilization was to be pronounced by court consisting 2 medical officers and a judge. Finally, about 350,000 persons were being sterilized.
The idea that precipitate mass sterilization come from Hitler himself. He believed that such a law had to be obeyed for 600 years to show a significant effect.
Nazis too subscribed to mercy killing for incurable psychiatric patients. In the Second World War, the pressure to kill incurable psychiatric patients increased drastically. Hitler founded a murder organization.
Patients were killed using carbon monoxide. As usual, some psychiatrists worked for Hitler and many protested. Killing by gas stopped during war against Soviet Union in 1941.
The idea of using these patients for brain anatomy research evolved during this period. At the same time, based on the knowledge of using carbon monoxide in killing feeble-mindedness patients, the same method was used to kill the Jews.
Finally, history has leave us with many facts to be learned. First, the abandonment of the individual in favour of the group should always be checked for abuse. Second, the wishes of the patient should always be respected and last but not least, welcome to the new era of medical ethics.
Why do human being craze for power?
The answer lies to the fact that power creates feeling of mastery and competence. The individual who craze for power believes, only the strong shall thrives, the weak shall perish and only the fit survive.
Unconsciously, some of us believe the reason to be a doctor is because doctors have power over people health (read: life). These people believe that to fulfill the need for power is through achievement. Becoming a doctor is a great achievement especially for a young boy from a remote village in a rural mainland of Malaysia!
As many of us are well aware of, becoming a leader is another way of satisfying the need for power. Powerful people like to be in-charge of his/her environment. Powerful people often are described as authoritarian, domineering, autocratic, manipulative and exploitative. They are the boss. They tell people what to do and how it should be done. They dominate conversation. They want to be the centre of attraction.
I strongly believe one need to strike a balance when it come to acquisition of power. Otherwise one would create imbalance personality. Take for example, one who have a lot of power at work, over-controlling his staff, dominant in making decisions but at home he might behave submissively facing his dominant wife and defiant children.
Human being cannot act powerfully 24/7 because one need to relax and reflect. Relax and reflect create a balance personality.
Each of us is an individual in term of how much power we seek and how often we ‘relax and reflect’ for balancing purposes.
I have seen cancer patients after going through rigorous chemotherapy lead a normal happy life. People who undergo trial and tribulation in life more often than not, will end up strong and powerful.
We want to live because we want to experience life, the beauty of watching our children grow up, enjoying work which we love to do and enjoying thinking about things we like to think. Of course without life, we cannot do all those thing. With life, we submit to God (Allah SNT) and the mankind. People choose to survive because they had things they still wanted to to see and do. Hence, survival is a choice.
If there is an instinct to survive, surely it would be felt strongly in a person who had survive cancer, life-threatening accident, earthquake and war.
Instinct to survive get transmitted through a person’s inner strength. Strong principle in life, high spiritual belief and practice strengthen the inner strength. This in turn improve the immune system. Through this, one survive. The whole cycle is summarized as ‘the will to live”.
Having a goal to live make lives meaningful. But to perform better than that, perhaps the key to survival is to search for the true meaning of life.
When I studied psychiatry, I was fascinated by the brain. In fact, it is the mind that fascinated me the most. Actually, the brain is just a piece of matter, an organ that, when unanimated, cannot think, feel, act, or behave. The brain needs animation. It is the mind that animated the brain. I believe the mind bring about intelligence and emotion.
The mind is the operator of the brain.
Anatomically, the brain consists of some 100 billion neurons. The neocortex (the home of our conscious awareness) alone has more than 40,000 to 50,000 nerves cells. The diverse combination of of these billions of neurons linked together and make up a network.
Then come consciousness. It can be divided into subjective and objective consciousness. Subjective consciousness enable us to express ourselves as a thinking self whereas objective consciousness is the system that run automatic controlling every second on a cellular level of the brain, of which we are not consciously aware.
Mind you, here, I am not talking as a psychodynamic psychotherapist but as a biological psychologist and psychiatrist.
Mind is the product of consciousness embroidered upon the physical structure of cells and neurons. The subjective and objective consciousness create conscious awareness of our actions, thoughts and behaviours. The ability to self-reflect and self-contemplate define our subjective experience of self.
Mind, therefore, perhaps more of a self-conceptual and self-perceiving in nature. It is therefore what we refer to as the self: the “you”.
Of all the many wonders that man has probed on earth, in the sea and in the sky, the most interesting of all seems to be man himself. One need only examine current books. films, tv programs to see that most people are really much more interested in human nature than they are in Mother Nature.
By and large, people are not impressed by arguments that proved how insignificant the individual is compared to the immense universe. Believe me or not, actually, human being is just about as many time greater than the ‘entire universe’ because human acquire mind and the ability to think. Even the ‘entire universe’ doesn’t have mind and the capacity to think.
People always want a practical approach to solve problems. Some people believe it would be possible to solve problems if one study about the causes or roots of the problem. Others feel that you need to study the man and the mankind in order to solve problems create by them. One needs to know how and why people think following certain kind of ways and act the way they do.
Perhaps the strongest practical interest in human nature comes from our intense curiosity about ourselves.
How do I perceive things?
How do I remember, forget or in short learn?
How is my intelligence like?
What is my personality?
In order to follow the dictum of Socrates, “Know thyself” we fall in love for Psychology.