The role of the different disturbances of perception in the development of the psychiatric signs and symptoms
Sándor Kalmár M.D., Ph.D.
Nihil est intellectu quod non fuerit in sensu. (Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz 1646-1716)
Despite huge improvements in the research of the nervous system, psychiatry has yet to suitably define a lot of criteria neccesary to accurately define psychiatric illnesses. This crisis in psychiatry has employed psychiatrists all over the world; as was seen in the Fourteenth World Congress in Prague in 2008. With plenty of research descrepencies between traditional psychiatry and new trends, it is often difficult to accurately assess, diagnose, and address psychiatric symptoms.
Some parts of our central nervous sysftem are suitable for the intake and comprehension of the events occuring in the world around us. However, if the environmental events are outside the scope of the sensory channels (e.g. spirituality), one may no longer be able to directly detect these events. In accordance with the reality that the intake of the mental nourishment happens through the senses, it may follow that these “mental nutrients” have their own metabolism – thus “organs” can be found which carry out the processing of these sensations. As the normal intake of food is possible according to the needs of the digestive system; reduced intake (malnutrition), desire for more input (overdose), and the harmful intake of material (poisoning) also exist in the perception. Deficiency, damage caused by overdose, perception pollution, and damage caused by the intake of harmful information are all possible within the senses. Such disturbances of perception are of huge importance within populations of psychiatric patients due to the fact that there is much biological basis to such perceptions.
Following this analogy, the diet of the nervous system is provided by the stimuli from the outside world. If the stimuli flow is lost, the perception distorts and the internal world of the nervous system starts to live an “independent life,” causing various psychiatric signs and symptoms to present themselves. For example, the reduction of hearing often results in auditory hallucination and the formation of delusions. The perceptual experience is therefore intrinsicaly connected to the functioning, or perhaps malfunctioning, of the nervous system. These facts may likely be the basis of the material explanation for many psychiatric signs and symptoms.
The perceptual experience is therefore a lot more vast than merely the five senses. It consists of mental and physical (electrical), biological, and biochemical activities, and these activities cannot be separated from the functioning of the nervous system. Our experiences have physical realities that are constantly interacting with each other and changing within space, time and culture. Therefore, one may not deduce higher-order operations directly from physical realities, just as one cannot know the complete properties of water by just knowing the characteristics of the oxygen and hydrogen.
It would be worth focusing on the duality of the psychiatric disorders, which are partly biological (i.e. objective and can be examined with scientfic methods), and partly based on culture (which is subjective, spiritual, mythological, subject to social changes, and can only be examined indirectly). If realized and responded to, these realizations can not only be the basis of a new diagnostic system, but may also alleviate some of the opposition between psychiatrists of the biological approach and those of the psychological approach, ensuring a more inclusive and comprehensive biological-psychological-sociological continuity.
Researchers and clinicians should use both genetic and socio-cultural research when responding to perception disorders in order to better objectively assess psychiatric diseases, biological validation and the stabilization of the position of pychiatry in the medical sciences.