Some psychosis cases an ‘immune disorder’ (BBC News)

Some patients sectioned with psychotic conditions, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, may actually have a treatable immune disorder, say Oxford University scientists.

A study in the Lancet Psychiatry suggests up to one in 11 cases of psychosis may involve antibodies attacking parts of the brain.

I am now going to make a prediction:

Within the next ten years, scientists will conclude that ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of mental illness is caused by inflammation responses similar to those reported in the above link.

Furthermore, the cause of ~98% of those cases will be agriculture. The other ~2% will be some other environmental toxin, for example the fluoride they put in the water, or a response to injury.

They will discover that:

  • If white people eat only what was available in a frozen ice age environment, i.e. meat and root vegetables
  • If black people eat only what was available in tropical Africa, i.e. fruit and meat
  • If East Asian people eat only rice and fish
  • Etc.

…then no one will have mental illness any more.

Of course, by this point agriculture is required to support such large populations. The solution will therefore have to be something like genetically engineering crops to remove the factors that cause the immune response, or to create a medical intervention to prevent the immune response following eating such crops.

The crux of the mental health issue is that body and mind are not separate and never have been. Mental illness is of the body first and foremost (with some feedback loops occurring psychologically, but which are easily dismissed once body homeostasis is restored). But since the symptoms are mainly “psychological” — e.g. hallucinations, fear responses — then scientists have been looking for a psychological description of the problem.

This is a bit like a person arriving at an ER with a stab wound which no one can see. The patient is clearly distressed and they are in shock, fight-or-flight, etc. But because the doctors cannot see the stab wound they assume something is wrong in the patient’s head, and section him instead.

It has mainly been due to my fucking around with drugs that I noticed the “poison” response is identical to many of the symptoms of mental illness (and I believe it is this bodily response which causes many of the psychological effects of various drugs). So I have been pushing the idea that mental illness is primarily a toxic/inflammation response for the last couple of years, mostly in the comments section of this blog. Good to see the medical community is catching up. 🙂

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15 Responses

  1. Mayath says:

    Great news. I think many cases of mild to moderate depression and anxiety are psychologically formed and influenced by our culture too though. The huge increase(who doesn’t fucking have depression/anxiety these days) are the result of people living in a very fucked up culture sending them mixed messages. We might have better standards of living but the pressure to succeed and fear mongering information overload are overloading our body with stress. The modern urban environment is too complicated and our emotional responses haven’t evolved to cope with them.

    We’re basically anxious, easily angered monkeys at the best of times. Put us in a office, badly feed and poison us and you get the modern world.

    Too much stress coupled with the fact that because we’ve basically destroyed the nutritional value of the food we get from the ground through over farming, we’re basically never getting our bodies to properly heal.

    The feedback loop is interesting and I agree. I think we also need to take into the account of the other half of the equation, which is the human ability to create narrative and see cause and effect where there is none too. Combine these traits with a diseased, unhealthy body and you get modern mental problems.

    I think mental health always starts in the body and the left hemisphere(the interpreter) creates a narrative around the negative emotional experiences occurring. It makes these things needlessly complicated. Say Someone feels sad because they failed at something.Their LH doesn’t accept that they feel shit. Instead it creates a story about you and your life, something like, it must be because those kids picked on me, etc, etc.

    Someone gets into the habit of this and then suddenly they get diagnosed with major depression disorder when mild mental health problems are there core are three things.

    1:Bad habits of an uncontrolled mind. Someone indulging in ruminating, making negatives narratives, rerunning the same scripts over and over in their heads. Someone is very investigated in the negative story of themselves and their life.

    2:Fear conditioning. This comes from the environment and the family environment. People, in general are easily traumatised and this sets them up to be conditioned negatively and respond negatively emotionally to normal stimuli. It doesn’t help when we have a culture that promotes being a victim and encourages being upset over trivial shit.

    3: Inflammation like Illuminatus post says. When your not able to heal your heal yourself psychologically through methods like Mindfulness and CBT, then the inflammation is very severe and you need to change your diet and take anti-inflammatories.

    When you realise on a deep level that everything is just narratives and things just, it’s very easy not to be bothered by things.

    • Illuminatus says:

      Great elaboration. Thanks!

      Couple of feedback loops/ mechanisms to add to the list:

      – Depression seems to be something like a hibernation program. Some really good sleep can fix it via a “reset”. There is also seemingly a separate “social defeat” program which causes both physical and mental withdrawal. I believe this should be dealt with with a combination of really good sleep plus SOCIAL GROOMING (being touched and fussed by other ape kin).

      – There is a fear/anxiety cycle whereby certain nerves stay turned on, forming a circuit. This circuit creates fearful thoughts and sense impressions, e.g. negative imagery. I have identified the nerves running from the base of the spine into the thighs to be of particular importance here. These nerves are also what cause the majority of “tremors” and chronic tension. These can be released VERY spontaneously via a specific part of the “good sleep” programme I will be writing up shortly. When they release, there is a sudden, intense burst of tremors which REALLY shakes you, deep in your core, like you are being torn apart from the inside. Then there is sudden palpable release and a hugely sedating opioid wave which leads into the best sleep.

      The essence of the good sleep guide, coming soon, are as follows:

      1) NEVER use a pillow. Also, find a good primal sleeping posture.
      2) Imagine any tight area of your body melting down into the bed. When applied to the abdomen or thighs, this is where you can get sudden explosive tremors and release. Do this for a good while — as long as is required by the body to fully relax.
      3) To finally go off to sleep, focus on the spot between the nose and the top lip. This is the point babies are looking at when they sleep. It is part of the “reset switch”. Breathing becomes extremely deep, involuntary, and sedating.

      Good sleep appears to break all of the psychological feedback loops and narratives you and I identified so far.

      • James says:

        ” These can be released VERY spontaneously via a specific part of the “good sleep” programme I will be writing up shortly. When they release, there is a sudden, intense burst of tremors which REALLY shakes you”

        Is that basically like spazing the fuck out? Cause I’ve had that on more than one occasion when I sleep on my yoga matt.

        • Illuminatus says:

          Well you know how tremors induced by, say, TRE, can be left to run on their own but are largely under your control? I.e. you can stop them at any time. Well the tremors I’m talking about in the above are nothing like that. They are totally involuntary and sudden and seem to get at nerves deep in the abdomen and at the base of the spine not usually under your direct control. They don’t often last that long and seem to trigger some deep sedation/sleep programme.

          You may well have experienced this lying on the yoga mat. Hard surfaces seem really important for sleep. My current working theory is that in a soft bed the body thinks it is falling and tenses up the side nearest the bed in preparation for impact. Through my fascia work I identified that the most matted and tense fascia fell in patterns consistent with this chronic tension particularly on my left side, in the exact pattern that the body dips into when lying on a soft bed. A hard surface on the other hand provides the pressure input to the nerves on that side that tells them they are on solid ground and can relax. When nerves which have been turned on chronically suddenly turn off they basically always cause this “spaz out” (deep tremors) because fascia from all over the body is wrapped around them.

          The most difficult part of the transition to good sleep and sleeping on hard surfaces is all this spazzing out and feeling like the body is out of control and cannot get comfortable. I remember feeling like I was melting and sliding across the room the first time I slept on the floor. But that does pass and it is totally worth getting beyond that phase.

          • James says:

            I’ve had moments sleeping on my back on my yoga matt where I’ve been woken up by my body thrusting and then slamming down on my lower back (did not hurt though).

            Low back / abdomin area being hit the hardest seems to be right, at least in my case. I’ve had a lot of flopping like a fish moments.

            I’ve noticed I require less sleep, and my body feels stronger, and my energy levels are higher – For instance I use to just feel “tired” in the back of my neck, my shoulders would also hurt and lower back pain. All of those things have gone away when I sleep on a yoga matt.

            I still don’t do it consistently though, I find I can just take a 30 minute nap at times and get a really good recharge.

            • Illuminatus says:

              Everything you have said is consistent with correct sleep.

              I have had moments where, when I’ve got it just right, I have had the equivalent of a whole night’s totally refreshing sleep in just 30 minutes. I felt high for the rest of the day. The dreams have also been fantastic and completely open and revelatory.

              Like all things, there is so much to be explored here.

  2. Pat says:

    This post makes me curious: what’s your diet like? Do you try to stick to meat and root vegetables?

    • Illuminatus says:

      My diet is atrocious. But now I’ve moved out and my food preparation is 100% under my control, this is next on my list to fix.

  3. YG says:

    Not to de-rail anything but since the forum doens’t seem to get the same attention I thought I would just post this here. I will be taking mushrooms in a couple weeks and haven’t quite came across a website with quite the same interest in meditation and psychedelics as a few posters have here. Anything specifically I should try to do while on mushrooms. Illuminatus you have mentioned setting intentions. Something I have wanted for a while is jhana, but then you also mentioned lsd (similar) is free jhana.

    Should I write out intentions for say I want to experience jhana while on this trip and what I really want is to discover how to access this jhana after the drug has worn off via meditation… and then just sit back? Will this work?

    • Illuminatus says:

      The thing about psychedelics is that if you do not already have strong concentration skills then the trip will almost entirely be out of your control.

      You could set formal resolutions before the trip. To do this, quiet your mind for 15 minutes or longer using whatever meditation skill you have (basic mindfulness of breath is fine). Then, say loudly to yourself, or even out loud, “I intend to X” or “I formally resolve to X” (choose whichever words you feel work most powerfully for you). And you have to really mean it. The emotional state associated with a strong intention is not one of joy, or fear, or in fact any passion: it is actually a very matter-of-fact feeling, like any moment you have finally arrived at a decision and you know the future will change as a result of that.

      You could say:

      “I intend that mushrooms teach me jhana.”

      I have no idea if that will work or not. I haven’t taken mushrooms in more than ten years and I was new to drugs at the time and had no meditation experience.

      Once the intention is set you should forget about. During the trip just sit back and let it play out and enjoy it. If you start trying to invoke intentions during the trip you will probably mess it up since without strong concentration skills you will not have any state control. I recommend forgetting all about the intentions you set while you trip.

      By the way, from what I have read, plant drugs tend to induce spirit guides and other beings associated with nature on this planet. LSD and other synth drugs however tend to induce experiences of God, the universe, the cosmic mind, and space imagery.

      In any case, get yourself a relaxed setting for your trip.

  4. Mayath says:

    I’ve been wondering lately if some people who are Bipolar are just cycling between Arising and Passing Away and the Dukka Nanas with no way out. I’ve been rereading MCTB and Ingram has very low standards for someone to hit A&P and it doesn’t necessarily have to happen through meditation.

    I remember listening to one interview with him where he talked about when he was a young teenager he tried to master Lucid Dreaming by training his mind through intensely visualisations. In these Visualisations, he began to notice that the images he was producing didn’t remain fully static and that on some level he must have noticed the impermanence of sensations and phenomena.

    The reason I’m linking this to Bipolar is that A&P has many qualities that are similiar to Mania. I haven’t been diagnosed as Bipolar but I have experienced full blown Mania a few times but now I’m beginning to wonder if it was A&P I experienced.

    I’ve mentioned here before that I have Maladaptive daydreaming and it takes the form of me intensely daydreaming while spinning a piece of string. While it’s not exactly meditation, it does have meditation qualities. I visualise things very strongly and I can get absorbed quite easily into whatever I’m daydreaming.

    I can link many of my Manic episodes to when I was intensely absorbed in my daydreams/stories. The first time I can remember experiencing Mania was when I was 15 and I was extremely caught up in a story. Everything took on a spiritual quality and I felt intensely one with everything. Classic A&P.

    All the shit in my life like depression and anxiety started after that when mixed with life circumstances. I might have been in the Dukka Nanas for years and not realised it. I think(haven’t entirely convinced myself yet)many people could be caught in this cycle of A&P and Dukka Nanas and wrongfully be diagnosed as Bipolar.

    It’s just a thought but one I thought I’d throw out. I don’t know how you would differentiate people caught in the cycle and who actually have Bipolar due to genetics and inflammation. The stress of being in the Dukka Nanas could well cause inflammation that leads to Bipolar too.

    I think one way to tell is if these people engage in meditative things like maladaptive daydreaming or yoga? Maybe the A&P/Dark Night cycle is a consequence of any Flow like activity? You become absorbed and concentrated enough in an activity it triggers A&P which in turns triggers the Dukka Nanas. The classic stereotype of Bipolar people is that there creative and creativity runs concurrent with Flow like activities like writing or making art.

    If what I’m theorising is true, than the Progress of Insight is a roadmap that all human experience can fit into, not just Vipassana meditators, but it’s not necessarily linear unless your meditating. So you could be engaging in a Flow like activity but because your not examine the three characteristics your not progressing out of the cycle. Additionally your suffering from the Dukka Nanas because you haven’t any insight into No-Self but life has given you insight into Impermance and Suffering.

    Again, I’m sceptical that this is the case for most Bipolar people. I think it could be true for a small subset of people who experience bipolar like symptoms though.

    @Illuminatus: Have you noticed any relationship between the Dukka Nanas and shitty life events? The reason I’m asking this is because I’ve been reading some Thelema lately and in that system there is a a part of the Kabbalah map called the Abyss which sounds basically like the Dukka Nanas. Thelema is more Magikal than Buddhism(on the surface anyway) and when someone is crossing the Abyss, there life just takes a turn for the worst.

    Basically the universe magically rearranges itself in ways to make you suffer. You will experience events that make you suffer and give insight into that. I think I’ve been experiencing the Dukka Nanas for the last few months and some things feel like the universe or my experience has just magicall rearranged itself in ways so that I will learn lessons.

    Have you any experience of that? I don’t know what I think about it. But you take a more magical perspective so it’s quite possible if you take that view that Enlightenement is a magical act, Crossing the Abyss/the Dukka Nana’s are insights into suffering caused by Magick?

    Another question on Third Path. I was listening to an interview with Kenneth Folk where he talks about attaining Third Path/being an Anigami. He says he still experienced Clinical Depression and Anxiety even though he had access to the Jhanas.

    “Ok, so that was a bit of a digression. Now, we go back to, I’m claiming that I had attained Third Path. So, now, we’re talking about the mid-90’s through the early 2000’s, and I was really depressed during this time. So I had access to all kinds of remarkable mind states, all these jhanas, and yet, my life was in a shambles, my brain chemistry was scrambled. I was taking Prozac and whatever antidepressants seemed to work best. I tried several. I was taking an anti-anxiety drug at night, in a very low dose, but I couldn’t sleep at night. So, here I am, you’d think that, according to all of the legends about what an Anagami is, a Third Path practitioner, I should have been really together, and I wasn’t.”

    I’m not trying to criticise him or his attainments but if someone is that far along how are they experiencing this stuff? It could be entirely biological but I don’t buy arguments that Depression/anxiety are fully biological. Surely someone on third path could still experience the physical aspects of depression but not be bothered by them?

    Even a Stream Entrer shouldn’t be experiencing these things or if you do it’s a greatly reduced state. I’m not a stream Entrer and even I feel like I couldn’t possibly experience Depression and Anxiety the same way I used to. When those mental states do come around there greatly reduced and I can see them as what they are, impermanent and grasping for something. I’m not even doing this for very long so I don’t how he could he have been experiencing these things if he was practising long enough to be third path.

    Granted I could believe he was stuck in a bad Dukka Nana cycle but even then if your far along shouldn’t those states not bother you so much? If it was me, I’d give up and try something else because clearly what he was doing wasn’t working.

    I can’t find a link to the interview because Buddhist Geeks Has shut down but
    Here’s a good link to where I found this interview being debated by Culadasa: https://beta.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/jhana_insight/conversations/topics/2879

    Thoughts Illuminatus?

    • Illuminatus says:

      Bipolar is symptomatically identical to many territories of the dharma:

      Positive mania = A&P
      Negative mania = Fear
      Depression = Dissolution, Misery, Disgust. Some Fear perhaps.

      Also, kundalini awakening seems symptomatically identical to mania AND post-traumatic stress disorder. It appears to involve high adrenaline.

      ——————

      I have wondered sometimes whether meditation somehow inflames the brain causing the “territories” and they are in fact the same thing as mental illness. Maybe that is why healthy lifestyle is put across as being essential in yoga/Buddhism — to

      ——————

      “@Illuminatus: Have you noticed any relationship between the Dukka Nanas and shitty life events?

      Basically the universe magically rearranges itself in ways to make you suffer.”

      I get MASSIVE synchronicities at all territories of the dharma. During A&P magick literally becomes real. During Fear if I go on a walk I witness horrific shit. Read my post “Fear in Megaland” — I literally saw a body being loaded into an ambulance, people going crazy punching bins, and all sorts.

      Luckily this has diminished a lot since settling into a better less chaotic lifestyle and meditation routine. However, I have been laying REALLY low recently, partly so as not to encourage such madness.

      ——————

      “I’m not trying to criticise him or his attainments but if someone is that far along how are they experiencing this stuff? It could be entirely biological but I don’t buy arguments that Depression/anxiety are fully biological. Surely someone on third path could still experience the physical aspects of depression but not be bothered by them?”

      I have been estimated at between Second and Third Path by members of the DhO. New situations (such as moving house, like I just did) scare me and make me feel alone. I literally have to FORCE MYSELF TO REMEMBER to do all the techs — the kundalini formation annihilations, making myself feel good with jhana, etc. etc. It’s like sometimes I literally forget how happy I can be, and that I have the tech to change my state, and I think about sitting down and doing it, but then part of me somehow believes I SHOULD suffer, and that moving out of suffering is somehow against the grain of existence.

      I think many of us are just extremely troubled souls. Maybe we are old souls and this is our final battle.

      Or maybe it is just the fact that we are bound to this ancient human hardware that doesn’t like new things and gets scared easy — and that modern life is basically the antithesis of how we developed. This is no doubt why monks would live on the same mountain top for decades. What we are undertaking here in trying to transcend this shell is truly enormous.

      Finally, I would offer the idea that suffering HAS decreased (think of the constant terror and cycling verbal thoughts of adolescence as a comparison to where you are now) but now each bit of suffering we experience is a reminder of how far we still have to go. The focus is now on eradicating suffering, and it is an obsession. If you are trying to squash ants, all you see is ants.

      • Illuminatus says:

        I also want to mention that, during the dukkha ñanas, the samatha jhanas are affected and tend to reflect the underlying emotional state. During Fear for example a second jhana, while pleasing at first, can suddenly become a vision of a demon. Sounds in the environment can begin to sound like dissonant jazz or other unsettling melodies.

        Meditation really is a high-stakes game. The wins are something unbelievable. The losses equally so.

      • Illuminatus says:

        Here is another idea for you. The yogic theory of evolution is that beings are reborn into bodies better suited for the types of actions they engaged in in their previous life. Could a meditating man be reborn into a body capable of almost constantly peeking behind the curtain of nonduality — and be perceived by others as bipolar, or schizophrenic? These would be the seers or oracles in the tribe.

        By the way, it is also said that those who attain jhana easily with little training are in their final rebirths and are close to liberation.

      • Mayath says:

        I can relate to pretty much all of what you’ve said and I don’t know where I’d place myself in the path. In some ways I feel like the heightened awareness of suffering, the phyiscal pain I’ve recently been suffering under is me burning off karma. I also feel like I deserve it on level. Not in a guilty Catholic way but just that I’m reaping what I’ve sown either in this life or a past life.

        What gave me this intuition was applying your Kundalini exercise on my stomach and then literally being told/seeing that this pain is a result of Gluttony. Very Christian. It was most likely my imagination but it was very weird. I’m very skinny and don’t eat or waste much so if it’s not my imagination it could be a past life thing.

        But back to Folk.I can understand someone “Enlightened” experiencing stress or fear. Being awakened isn’t going to stop Cortisol production or the Amgydala working.

        What I’m sceptical about is, IF Buddhism is actually true and the path works, then someone claiming to be third Path should not be suffering from clinical Depression. Depression is self created mental suffering. If you’ve seen through clinging and grasping of the self then surely that should stop?

        Buddhism, at its core says “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”. I believe that someone highly awakened would still experience negative emotions. But that they wouldn’t stay that way for long or perpetuate their own misery, the way someone with clinical depression might. Surely you should see a marked reduction in suffering?

        For myself I can still feel the same biochemical processes or events in my brain that in the past would have resulted in depression or mania but I can handle them more skilfully. Mindfulness reveals the influence these things tend to have on thought processes and emotional reactions and I can observe and act better, without getting as caught up in them. I still experience them at a reduced level but I’m more removed. I don’t get as caught up in negative feedback loops for as long and I’m able to accept pain/emotional suffering where I couldn’t before. Now I just observe when these things happens. Additionally Jhana and Metta have allowed me to build up a reservoir of positive emotion that I didn’t have before so day to day life is much more pleasant.

        This is different from the Dukka Nanas or at least how I’ve experienced them so far. The Dukka Nanas aren’t really about me in the way Depression or anxiety are about me. The Dukka nanas at their core feel like things that just arise that I need to see through. I experience Disgust but it’s not linked to any narrative the way Depression is. There’s no story. Everything is disgusting and I just see reality that way but with mindful investigation I can break down disgust as just another sensation.

        The Dukka Nanas say “this is what Suffering is”. It’s created by these emotions, by these sensations. Here’s a chance to look through these things. There always there on some level because you are a biological being who evolved these traits for survival. But there just as constructed as anything. This construction is presented to you biologically(fear arising out of nowhere) or the universe magically rearranges itself to teach you fear.

        But Depression and anxiety are essentially about the self being unhappy about something. There tends to be some sort of reason for them even if it’s buried. The Dukka Nanas aren’t about a self. Or really they are about the Self learning it exists in an Impermance and suffering reality and that’s it’s as constructed as everything else.

        The Dukka Nanas are really only intensely bad if you haven’t on some level seen on some level how the self is constructed. When you’ve seen everything is suffering and impermanent but still believe your an enduring self whose happeness depends on things in the world your gonna have a bad time

        We’re limited in how much we can truly effect our biology or the occurrence of life events but I think if you’ve attained certain levels on the path, you shouldn’t be getting clinically depression. I believe you’ll experience negative emotions but you won’t be crippled by it. Of course that’s only if Buddhism actually eradicates suffering.

        Or maybe, like you’ve said Monks live on mountain tops for decades, because it’s basically impossible to completely eradicate suffering if your living in the world.

        “The focus is now on eradicating suffering and it is an obsession”.

        That’s the danger of mindfulness. You realise how often your unhappy or physically in pain. Before we’re blind to it but now we see and there’s no going back. You see it everywhere, in yourself, in others and you can’t ignore it anymore. Hopefully you respond to it better over time.

        “If you are trying to squash ants, all you see is ants”.
        Can’t argue with that. You do see suffering more.

        “The wins are something unbelievable. The losses equally so”.

        Sometimes I wonder if I should even recommend meditating to people. Luckily I don’t think most people will ever get that far because of how unrewarding it is in the beginning.Its only the extremely troubled souls as you say, that will keep at it and want out.

        That yogic theory is interesting. Maybe the Dukka Nanas are just a quick way to burn through Karma? Haha, I hope the bit about Jhanas is true. I’ve advanced pretty quickly in my practice all things considered so perhaps I was extremely attained in a past life. I’ve always know I was special hahaha.

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