Empty Days

Wednesday, June 23, 2004



The Junkie and the Muse.
(Hamlet speaks, tragic chorus responds:)

Depleted and disgusted today - probably the usual low after the usual high. There is no chance on earth I could ever maintain a steady line. Just ramble away through the listlessness, it's the landscape that does it, there are no shining horizons, only dunes - always the same, always hiding the next dune beyond. And so on.

I could be a junkie for all I know - I already live as one, crawling from one high (or do they call it "stability"?) to another on all four. Biochemistry rules my life - not God or Muses, just dopamine or what not.
Dopamine (C6H3(OH)2-CH2-CH2-NH2) is a catecholamine neurotransmitter in the brain. Its chemical name is 4-(2-aminoethyl)benzene-1,2-diol.
It can also be supplied as a sympathomimetic drug, i.e. a drug which acts on the sympathetic nervous system, producing effects such as increased heart rate and blood pressure.
Dopamine is also a hormone released by the hypothalamus. Its main function is to inhibit the release of prolactin from the anterior lobe of the pituitary.
...
Also, the firing of dopamine neurons occur when a pleasurable activity is expected, regardless of whether it actually happens or not. This suggests that dopamine may be involved in desire rather than pleasure.
...
Other theories suggest that the crucial role of dopamine may be in predicting pleasurable activity. Related theories argue that dopamine function may be involved in the salience ('noticeableness') of perceived objects and events, with potentially important stimuli (including rewarding things, but also things which may be dangerous or a threat) appearing more noticeable or more important. This theory argues that dopamine's role is to assist decision making by influencing the priority of such stimuli to the person concerned.
I need some dope! My system is lacking in sympathy - I hate this life! Where, oh where is my supposed free-will?
War on dopamine ...Disruption to the dopamine system has also been strongly linked to psychosis and schizophrenia. Dopamine neurons in the mesolimbic pathway are particularly associated with these conditions. This is partly due to the discovery of a class of drugs called the phenothiazines (which block D2 dopamine receptors) which can reduce psychotic symptoms, and partly due to the finding that drugs such as amphetamines and cocaine (which are known to greatly increase dopamine levels) can cause psychosis when used in excess. Because of this, all modern antipsychotic medication is designed to block dopamine function to varying degrees.
...
Antipsychotics also have some effects as mood stabilizers, leading to their occasional use in treating mood disorder (particularly bipolar disorder) even when no signs of psychosis are present.
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There is generally a lag of a few days to a few weeks between the time the drug is started and the time that the medication begins to reduce psychosis. Why this is so remains unclear.
It also remains unclear why some people kill themselves while on these drugs. Where oh where has my free-will bygone !





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