The brain, which weighs only three pounds and is made up of eighty percent water, is the key organ of our nervous system. It is divided into three different parts: the Cerebrum, the Cerebellum, and the Medulla Oblongata. The gray matter of the brain is about one-eighth inch thick and it gives the brain its gray color. Inside the brain is the cortex, which is made up of billions of neurons. These neurons extend into the cerebral hemisphere and it controls all mental activity. In this report I will be discussing different disorders of the brain and how they affect the every day life of people who may have these disorders. (The Volume Library 900)
The first disorder that I will be discussing is a disease called Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (A.D.H.D.). This disease has not just been recently discovered. It was first discovered in the eighteen hundreds by a British physician where the first book about Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder was written, Fidgety Phil. Up until the 1960s it was called minimal brain function. Medication is not a new treatment either. In the 1930s a medication called Dexedrine (d-amphetamine) or Desoxyn (methamphetamine), now known as Ritalin, was used. (Wender, M.D. 15)
This disease is present in three to ten percent of school-aged children and four to five percent in adults. A.D.H.D. is more common in boys than in girls. To determine if a child has A.D.H.D., there are not set psychological or laboratory test but the testimonies of the people who are involved in the patients everyday life. However there are certain criteria that can define and diagnose symptoms.
In many cases medication can reduce and to an extent eliminate A.D.H.D. This is true in about seventy percent of school-aged children who have A.D.H.D. and in about sixty percent of adults who are on the medication. Another plus of the medication is that it is not addictive if it is not abused. To reduce the symptoms of A.D.H.D. in adults therapy may also be helpful. Although, the use of medication to treat A.D.H.D. can be very controversial. (Wender, M.D. 9)
Some characteristics of school-aged children with A.D.H.D. are problems in school like math, reading, and spelling because twenty to thirty percent of children have learning disorders. The most common symptom is attention difficulties, distractibility, and hyperactivity. Not all patients of A.D.H.D are hyperactive, therefore a new diagnosis was identified: Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.). Some A.D.H.D. patients may have a lack of memory, problems sleeping, being over talkative, and even have emotional difficulties. (Wender, M.D. 10-26)
What causes A.D.H.D.? In Wenders book he relates the brain to a telephone. The telephone sends and receives electrical impulses and the brain sends and receives chemical impulses. Theses chemicals are called neurotransmitters. When the neurotransmitter is sent from one nerve another one picks it up. If there are too little of a certain neurotransmitter, the receiving nerve will not register it and it is as if the connection between nerves has been broken. A.D.H.D. patients are deficient in creation of a certain neurotransmitter. In some cases the amount of neurotransmitters can be increased over time. (Wender 35)
The next disorder that I will be discussing will be obsessive-compulsive disorder (O.C.D.). O.C.D. is defined as the anxiety caused by an obsession a person may have (excessive washing). The only way to relieve the anxiety is working through the obsession. The main ages that O.C.D. can start in males are thirteen to about fifteen and in females twenty to about twenty-four. Thirty-three to fifty percent of adults who have O.C.D. report it starting with in childhood or the pre-stated ages. (Nathan, Gordman, and Salkind 140)
The treatment of O.C.D. is a very tedious task because it takes on average seventeen years to completely cure. For reasons as people are secretive or embarrassed or even in denial of having O.C.D. Another case is that it is not easily noticed and that they might not have access to a treatment center or they couldnt afford the treatment. There are many ways that O.C.D. can start. One can be just a daily pattern in someones life that they can become dependant on doing. Some others are being overly worried, having parents who have O.C.D., also having an irregular metabolism, or an abnormal antibody response to a virus. (Nathan, Gordman, and Salkind 142)
There was no successful psychological or pharmacological treatment up until the 1960s. In the 60s there was ongoing research on a patients surroundings, backgrounds, and environments. This was called Exposure and Response or Blocking. It was somewhat successful in five cases out of fifteen and through a five-year study two were completely cured. (Nathan, Gordman, and Salkind 144)
The next disorder I will be discussing is called Schizophrenia. Schizophrenia disrupts a persons ability think clearly. This is cause by the voices in their head make the person confused. Approximately six percent of prisoners and thirty-three percent of homeless people are affected by schizophrenia and ten percent are suicidal. (Nathan, Gordman, and Salkind 162)
The first cases of schizophrenia are documented to be in the late 1800s and it was described as an illness that begins in young adulthood and often becomes chronic. It was first studied by a famous psychologist, B.F. Skinner, at Harvard. The cost to treat schizophrenia is about nineteen million dollars a year. There are many characteristics of schizophrenia. Some are delusions such as feelings of grandeur or persecution and hallucinations hence the voices that some hear. Another is disorganized speech or communication impairment or inappropriate emotional levels like laughing at an inappropriate time. Some may experience a lack of energy, motivation, or a complete loss of interest in anything. The chance of you having or developing schizophrenia varies directly if you are related to someone who has it than an individual that is not related to a person with schizophrenia. If you have an identical twin that has schizophrenia your chances are increased greatly. (Nathan, Gordman, and Salkind 163-165) (Grubin Http://www.pbs.org/wnet/brain)
The last disease that I will be discussing is one called Parkinsons disease. Parkinsons Disease is one that does not go away over time but it gets worse over time. There is no cure for it. It was discovered and named after the physician that was first diagnosed with Parkinsons disease. He wrote the first book about it called Essay on the Shaking Palsy. What happens is the neurons in the brain are slowly and progressively injured and then they die. (Weiner, Shulman, and Lang 3-4)
Some characteristics of Parkinsons disease are tremoring, rigidity (stiffness in the muscles), akinesia (lack of maintaining movement), and post instability. The indication that Parkinsons disease is in one person and not in another is unknown, But most likely genetic and environmental surroundings. Genetic meaning that it runs in the family and environmental meaning something from outside the body like toxins and drugs. (Weiner, Shulman, and Lang 32)
There are some early warning signs though. Signs like changes in facial expressions (lack of blinking), failure to swing one arm while walking, frozen or painful shoulder, and numbness. Along with these warning signs there are many problems involving Parkinsons Disease. Problems in communication, urination, weight loss, swallowing, imparity in everyday activities, and walking and balance problems. (Weiner, Shulman, and Lang 60)
As we have observed, the brain is a very complex and integrated system of communication and control for all bodily functions. Any disruption or breakdown in this system can be the cause of a minor ailment to a major life-changing dilemma. From childhood disorders including A.D.D. and A.D.H.D. through adulthood phobias, mental health issues and physical diseases, the brain can be considered the omnipotent and omniscient god of our bodies. All knowing, all-powerful.