Monday, January 28, 2008

msb-0253 Coping With Disappointment

msb-0253 Coping With Disappointment


Feedback comes first, so...

Trickle Up

Guess who I just heard from?

Herrad Ford, the Dutch MSer, who just told me about a blogger who's site she likes. (And the poster of that site [ ] talks about food deliciously.)


It occurred to me that I'd better tell all of you web downloaders once again about getting iTunes, (its free for download at Apple [ ],) going to the MSBpodcast page [ ] and subscribing to this podcast (which is also free and is always going to remain free.)

It makes things so much easier.

No to mention that using iTunes allows you take full advantage of the images, illustrations pictures and hot links to the websites and mail addresses rather than having to fish them out of the show notes.

And if you've got an iPod or other MP3 player... So much the better.

We're hearing from "Aaron English" again because my wifes really likes him and I figure its a way to get her to listen to my 'cast. :-)

---- "The Lullaby of Loneliness" by: "Aaron English"

Feed Forward comes next, so...

This is "your" segment.

Say "your" piece on this segment.

Share with other MSers whatever "you" want to share.

Drop me an email: "charles at"

---- "Animals Like Us" by: "Aaron English"

Feed Me comes third, so...

Do you have a therapy, product, good or service that is of interest to MSers?

Consider advertising on this podcast.

Reminders on this segment only cost $0.03 per reminder per download of an episode. (A $30CPM targeted at MSers.)

It can/should lead to a full ad, in text, audio or video, which costs $3.00 per download.

That sounds expensive until you do the math and realize that if nobody downloads it it costs you nothing, unlike print, where you often can't even get an ad in to the specialized journals, or radio or TV where you'd just be wasting your money with the 0.0833% MSers rate of return. (That's about six times "below" the level of "statistical noise".)

But MSBPodcast is 100% in your market, and you only pay per download of your material.

No play, no pay.

Reach the MSers who would buy your therapy, product, good or service, with-out having to waste your advertising money on anyone who is "not" interested...

Send me an email at: "charles (at)"

---- "Like Smoke" by: "Aaron English"


We end up spending so much of our lives waiting for "syzygy", for that one instant when the stars are all lined up, that we end up feeling unbalanced when the stars finally do their inexorable dance through the sky.

It seems almost anti-climactic. (Sort of like the news reports about this or that wonder drug or treatment which should yeld miracles ... "some day" ... [I basically ignore those; "some day" means "not now" and I have MS "right now". {"Some day" does nothing for me "right now". (I mean, its nice to know, but its also useless.)}])

Its always been a question of coping with disappointment.

The build up is almost never worth the wait.

Its usually a slog.

---- "Ghost is Broken" by: "Aaron English"


I bought a book from Amazon ("The Mind & The Brain" by "Jeffrey M. Schwartz and Sharon Begley" ISBN: 978-0-06-098847-0 ) about, well, about OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder,) specious misapplications and misunderstandings of quantum mechanics, and some mystical force called "attention" (as if attention was ever mystical, [too bloody rare, sure, but its not the mysterious and transformative force he surmises it to be,]) [attention] is applied like in the old cartoons on project management where a complex CPM/PERT chart was drawn on a white-board from both ends only to both join in a cloud labeled "Something wonderful happens."

What it had been advertised as was by its sub-title : "Neuroplasticity and the Power Mental Force".

By the way, I am "not" disparaging this book, its authors or their quite brilliant work with the behavioral expression of the structural/functional brain disease known as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD.)

The development of the four steps: "Relabel, Re-attribute, Refocus and Revalue" is a work as deep as it is simple. (OCD is a fairly simple disease with a well focused cause. The behavioral effects may be extremely variable but that's in "response" to the disease: "the itches we can come up with to scratch when we don't know what itches".)

Likewise, their description of the development of the fetal brain "in utero" makes for a fascinating read. (This is a very good book. [I'm not sure that it was what I was looking for..])

Little did I know that the mechanisms of neuroplasticity were not going to be discussed in terms that I would be able to easily grasp, those being through the use of illustration of the architecture and the mutability of the brain being like that of a mobile bound in the physics but not in the functionality of the physically bound mobile.

They're describing things from the outside in, which makes all kinds of assumptions on the culture of the describers and the described, and further assuming that the states they are describing are indeed the ones felt at the moment. Their approach works because of the cooperation of the patient (and it may not work due to factors entirely out of the patient's control, [the patient may not be able!])

Sigh... Suppositions on subjective phenomena. (On a map, there would be a large "cartouche" wrapped around some mythical sea beast warning sailors: "There be drivel, uh, dragons".)

I am dealing with a fact about which there is nothing subjective. (And neither is the mind, which is a collective term for nested "Matryoshka Dolls" (homunculi) and networks of focii ("Society of Mind" by "Marvin Minsky: ISBN: 978-0671657130) each contributing their own to the non-physical thing we call consciousness. [That's why there is no documented proof of psychokinesis or of telepathy. Consciousness arises and exists entirely "within" our brain.])


There are bloody great sclera on my nervous system.

I should be able to even detect the location of these sclera in my brain and on my CNS by learning how to read the MRIs.

I might even be able to detect the effects of the sclera on the sensor and motor homunculi (and lets not forget that there are several of these nested like "Matryoshka dolls", from the cortex to the medulla oblongata,) by their effects on what I can perceive (like my eternally cold, wet feet) and what I can affect (like the "shakiness" of my motion, balance, and a whole lot of crap I'm not too happy about...)

And there are probably effects on my CNS as well, way below what I can reason with. (I know there's ambiguity in that last sentence but I'm committed to using "English". [Reason is both a verb and a noun.])

Other people with MS will have different symptoms both on their sensor and motor homunculi because the scarring is entirely individual and idiosyncratic.

But the disease is the same and any approach I find will work when adapted to the individual's

Now, lets see if there is any information out there concerning finding ways to reroute nerve impulses.

(Actually, I can see developing a new form of "Tai Chi" based on the quiet contemplation of one's inner state, augmented by MRIs to know what damage has to be routed around and to "not" focus on trying to use the same pathways but instead use neuroplasticity to get other connections to develop and grow. [A more dangerous approach would be to later use the body's own clean up crew to cut up sclerotic nerve fibers and cart away the garbage. {While that works fine for muscle and fat cells I'm rather leery of trying to replace the "spokes on the wagon wheel while the coach is rolling across the Great Salt Flats". That strikes me as imprudent in the utmost.}])

---- "Thin Ice" by: "Aaron English"


I'll keep my disappointment to myself and keep on trying.

Since it seems that neuroplasticity is the default process by which we construct our homunculi to begin with, and how we integrate our body's experience throughout our lives, I suspect that the homuncular constructs are "default states", a representation of the body to the brain/mind through which it will process nerve signals for sensation and for volition.

It would seem that neuroplasticity will make my job harder (since there is no fixed brain address for nerve x to correspond with) while making it easier (I shouldn't have to worry about re-establishing such a correspondence.)

In effect, I will have to do again what I had to do after my first (undiagnosed at the time,) MS episode: I learned to play the guitar (and became damn good at it too.)

This time, I will have to explore the functioning my body with an eye towards recovering everything I know it can do being of intact musculature.

The sclera are likely to give me problems, but not insurmountable ones.

After all, what else can I do?

Its not in my nature to give up.

Makes me a prick to live with and a real prick to work with. I'm always right except when I'm wrong (I pay attention to which!) When I'm wrong, I'm quick to abandon whatever I was wrong about and to fix it.

I've never minded switching sides and tossing aside years of hard work. If something fails to work now, throw it away and start from scratch. (Actually, it seems to be part of my "genetic make up" [ ][Some people never learn, and some people "do".])

Think your ass off so you don't have to work your ass off.


As for the arguments advanced that the mind must be "something else," separate from the brain.

They don't interest me in the least.

Since my train of thought can be derailed by a sensation, the mind is a '"top level" construct which can and does arise from higher and higher levels of abstraction. (Please note: I didn't say "merely" a top level construct because it is quite astonishing that it exists at all.)

Think of "mind" as a verb and think of "brain" as a noun. ("Entia non sunt preater necessitatem")

Living lies at the intersection of both.

The noun leaves a cadaver to be disposed of.

The verb leaves friends to grieve a bit, to hoist a glass to your memory, with longer and longer lapses in between thoughts and to eventually forget.

I guess I can now get back to reading "Eisenhower" (by "John Wukovits" ISBN: 978-1-4039-7137-10).

---- "Weeping Wind" by: "Aaron English"

Nope. Now I've got to read "The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers..." by "Norman Doidge" (ISBN-13: 978-0143113102 )

I believe in getting as many points of view as possible before I have to "get off the pot" :-)

Who knows? It might lad to an informed decision.



mdmhvonpa said...

You have to wonder what, if any, damage a MRI does to what Tai Chi is trying to manage.

Charles-A. Rovira said...

Hello MDMH,

I think of the two as complimentary.

One (the MRI) gives so much more information, and so much more accurate information, on that which the other (Tai Chi) can operate without wasting any of the energies we try to marshal in the process of getting the body to heal itself.

My wife is now walking around watching me walk around and is struck by how much better I am coping with the gravity which is always trying to lay us low. (Its gravity. What else could the effects of gravity be? :-)

My Tai Chi teacher also remarked on my progress after our last session.

Knowledge is never perfect but the more of it you have, the better you can reason.

MRIs and Tai Chi are complimentary helpmates for my meditations.