The Role of Dopaminergic and Noradrenergic Systems in Perceptual Inclination

Due to the onset of depressive and anxious symptoms some months ago, I began taking medication which reduces the uptake of the chemicals dopamine and noradrenaline in the brain. To my (and my family’s) dismay, this medication did not alleviate my symptoms, nor seemed to have any effect on my whatsoever. That’s not to say I didn’t deal with these symptoms otherwise, though. After trying out some different supplements which allegedly aid with depressive/anxious symptoms, I found that probiotic yogurt and magnesium seemed to resolve all of my issues. And no, these solutions didn’t cure my symptoms consequential to some kind of placebo effect. Whatever nutritional issue I’d been having somehow also affected my body’s ability to regulate my body temperature, as, prior to taking the supplements and eating the yogurt, I somehow managed to both feel rather temperate in 90 degree days without breaking a sweat and require covers to keep me warm during 80 degree nights! After changing my nutritional intake, all of this ceased.

However, I’ve remained on the anti-depressive medications and, in doing so, I’ve noticed a good few things regarding my perception of the world. Now, it’s worthy to note that the depressive state itself altered my perception of the world – whereas in the past I would have constructed my thoughts around certain social ideas, in my morass, society itself was not something I could conceive of. In a word, my entire consciousness had been subsumed into a nihilism which negated all logical and emotional counter-arguments. The greatest manifest consequence of this mindset was an inability to accurately perform any kind of work, as, on any given task, my mind would have recourse to the task’s immediate reduction to worthlessness. As such, without having any ability to find any intrinsic value in the task, it’s performance became grueling and, quite honestly, painful.

Once the stupor ended, so did the vast majority of these symptoms. Some, in particular a feeling of weight and pressure in my head, have remained, possibly, on my own speculations, due to the medication I am on. As opposed to returning to my former perspective of the word prior to the induction of my depression, a new one has arisen in its place. Unlike the depressive perspective, which I’ve hitherto described as “death affirmation,” which stood in as a sum total antithesis to my prior perspective, my current perspective stands not antithetically opposed as though it were a parallel line, but synthetically intersected as though it were one but a few degrees off from my initial perspective.

For clarity I’m going to define three variables for future reference – P, for my prior perspective, D, for my depressive perspective, and C, for my current perspective. Perspective P was marked by several defining factors, or, in Aristotelian terms, proper accidents / properties. Now I must make clear what I mean by this since it’s crucial to the points I’m to make later in this post. The proper accident is a necessary compositional aspect of a thing, perceptually speaking. For instance, for a chair, the presence of “at least 3 legs” is properly accidental to the chair. In order for the chair to be a chair, it must have three legs. Two legs and the object which would become a chair with an additional leg cannot be utilized in the same manner that new object (the chair) would. In logic, all proper accidents with respect to the subject of a proposition are present in the predicate whose definition is identical with that of the subject term – that is – the predicate that defines the subject! Thus, in the proposition

A chair is an object with three or more legs which is purposefully utilized for sitting.

Contains the predicate “object…sitting.” Here, if we assume this predicate defines “chair,” the following are proper accidents to this term:

  • Object
  • Three or more legs
  • Purposefully utilized for sitting

Some term which is defined in a manner lacking any of these notions cannot be a chair, as these constituent predicates define what a chair is. Now, all of this ignore’s Derrida’s problem of definition in that some objects / terms seem to be, for instance, chairs even though they lack one or more of these predicate notions. For example, a booth may be described as a kind of chair chair, albeit one lacking legs, a constituent feature which defines a chair as such. Now, I’d counter-argue that terms and their correspondent concepts have real reference to real objects in an orbital fashion, many terms orbiting other key concepts and terms within certain contexts. This, however, is a discussion for another time. For now, just accept this conceptual scheme as merely that – a scheme/model that I’m utilizing to explain my experiences.

Now, I’ll define all perspectives as consisting in the following necessary predicates – perception of self and perception of non-self. Non-self is divided further into living and non-living, living being further divided into human and non-human. However, each of these matters, several key assumptions are made which facilitate perceptions themselves. This is because, for any given proposition, I am necessarily informed by prior experiences and perceptions thereof. It is within this complex that I perceive anew, fitting my new perceptions into my older ones in a process of perpetual reformation. Given this idea alone, before defining any perceptions, I must, therefore, define P, D, and C on the grounds of this first proper accident – the manner in which perceptions themselves are incorporated into the perception complex. To do this, I must define self-perception, as it is the antecedent to all other perceptions. However, because I as a human only exist in the context of other humans and, arguably, cannot maintain a self-concept without some external point of reference, I must define my view of the external social world at the exact same time as I define myself.

Perception P conceived of myself as a minimally extra-ordinary individual with a unique view of a largely broken world. As an inhabitant in the world, I understood myself as engaging in the process of perceptive reformation at all times, exposing all perceptions to perpetual scrutiny. Perception D conceived of myself as a mere animal living in a sham world of symbols with no real truth content. As an inhabitant in a simulated, symbolic world, perceptive reformation and, really, seemed like a sham not worth my time. Perception C conceives of myself as a precisely ordinary individual in a world the state of which concerns me very little. As an inhabitant in that world, my interests and concerns are foremost.

Now, the discussion of proper accidents was crucial as it is the only manner through which I can truly emphasize that the above are assumptions proper to my entire state of mind. They are my state of mind. Argumentation cannot change them, as all perceived propositions run through the above assumptions as though pasta water runs through a colander. These states of mind and their relative assumptions are due wholly and entirely to chemical balances and imbalances in my neurology, as I’ve emphasized above.

I’d like to outline some consequences of these perceptual differences now, specifically between perception P and perception C. Because P witnessed persistent self-criticism in the context of an external world larger than myself, constant intellectual curiosity, ideological flexibility, and a degree of anxiety resulted. However, because C witnesses almost no self-criticism in the context of an external world largely subordinate to myself, almost no intellectual curiosity and ideological flexibility are present to me right now. My ideas and conceptions of the world appear to me as most valid simply because I have them at the present moment. However, because I am not critiquing myself regularly, I feel very little anxiety about my self image. In addition, however, I feel a large degree of irritation with regards to matters which do not conform with my will, almost irrationally so.

In a broader sense, many of these new tendencies seem to conform with narratives I’ve heard concerning what has been referred to as a “masculine” worldview – one wherein domination and conformity with my will, as opposed to the search for critical truth in earnest, is the ultimate aim of my existence. And, truly, it is only in the context of having literally and truly experienced these two mindsets as brute realities that I can wholly state that, in some ways, this narrative is precisely the case. Without a will to criticize and search for truth, I, at the moment, see no reason to criticize society. Others’ suffering doesn’t really and truly concern me. Of course, this in and of itself is quite concerning to me, and is all the more reason for me to cease my taking of this medication. I’m well aware that, logically, oppression is not something I ought to accept. And yet, the reality of this matter and the degree to which it elicits animation in my soul are rather lacking.

To extrapolate outward, it seems that the two systems invoked in this post’s title, the the norandregenergic most especially, are the precise reason for the characteristic masculine worldview (ie. The will to dominate) alongside other typical male behavioral characteristics like aggression. Likewise, it seems likely that the noradrenergic system’s high activity within male neurology is properly accidental to the male perspective in general. Indeed, I think it ought to be said that the characteristic male perspective of self-centricity, defensiveness regarding new (particularly aggressive ideas), and (though I haven’t mentioned this prior, I think it ought to be said here) a general view of women which asserts their (implicit) inferiority, is proper to the male condition. It’s for this reason, because these notions are consequential to neurological realities, that narratives concerning male political affinity seem somewhat legitimate – the conservative man who is averse to new ideas in part because of the same chemical likely also responsible for other aspects of his visible masculinity, such as his confidence in himself (ie. Lack of criticism towards himself) and his desire to aggressively dominate. Conversely, the man who leans more liberally may be more likely to display fewer signs of aggression and self-centricity, both of which point to lower levels of noradrenaline.

Of course, all of this is purely speculative. However, I must reiterate that my experiences with this medication have provided insights I could not otherwise have achieved, and that these are matters which ought to be discussed more frequently.