There is an epidemic of neurological injury and disorder.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the signature injury of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, partly because improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are being used so effectively, and partly because emergency medicine is keeping more people alive with TBI than could ever have survived in the past.
Parkinson’s in young adults and neurodevelopmental disorders in children are also exploding, possibly due to overall toxic load from the environment and vaccine preservatives. A huge increase in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s is coming down the pike in the next 40 years simply because of the aging of the population (Gregory Petsko TED talk).
The Internet has made it possible for patients to compare notes about incessantly prescribed medications, and discover that their medication is causing them neurological problems. This is now widely accepted in regard to antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, cancer chemotherapy, newer antibiotics, hypertension meds, and HIV retrovirals. I suspect it’s just a matter of time before neurotoxicity is recognized in most of the other classes of medication.
At the same time, neuroplasticity has become a popular meme, and our understanding increases every day about how much healing, growth, and enhancement is possible, even in an injured, adult brain. Tools and therapies are constantly being developed --brainwave entrainment, neurofeedback, music, memory games, etc.
Never before in human history has there been so much brain damage *and* so much brain training. Why? We’ve already mentioned some of the efficient (eg mechanical) causes, but what about the final (eg teleological) causes? What is the purpose and how is it being driven?
Neurological damage is a profound shock to the body, psyche, and spirit. It shoves people toward the kind of total make-over that often follows an NDE or spiritual emergency. Not only do people re-make physical and cognitive dexterity, but they also usually re-make their worldview in the direction of emphasizing relationships, nature, and who they really are.
Many psychics, mediums, medical intuitives, and energy healers have a history of neurological trauma, after which their psychic abilities expanded dramatically.
In short, neurological damage often leads to a shift towards humanistic values, environmentalism, becoming more truly yourself even if that means being unconventional or anti-corporate ;), becoming more spiritual, more intuitive, and, sometimes very psychic. These are the common outcomes of NDEs and spiritual emergencies, also. I like to call neurological damage a slo-mo NDE. As I have experienced myself, an old version of yourself dies, and a new, markedly different version comes into being.
What purpose might this wave of anti-establishment, humanistic, psychic unfolding serve?
Gaia theory consists of many hypotheses that range from the more conservative and materialist (eg microscopic organisms help maintain the planet’s temperature) to the more radical and metaphysical (eg the Earth and everything on it combine to form one conscious entity, such as Plato’s Anima Mundi).
We know the ecological system is dangerously out of balance. We know the economic system is dangerously out of balance. I’m sure you could think of a couple of other small problems facing the communitas….Could Gaia, the Earth’s consciousness, be orchestrating a dramatic rescue – pushing a lot of humans to get neurologically rewired but fast in order to save the planet before it’s too late? Neurological damage is a rotten experience, but it does push adult humans to re-design themselves in a dramatic way that is hard to duplicate.
Is Gaia using our own destructiveness (war, toxic air and water, toxic meds) in the service of some sort of cosmic plan to force-march a lot of people into a quicker evolution? As part of this re-wiring, forced-pace evolution, are we being helped to be more true to our original nature, more connected with other people, animals, and the environment, more spiritually and psychically open? Could this facilitate the leaps in collaboration and creativity that we need for our own sakes and for the sake of the community?
Maybe it’s not Gaia per se driving this mass developmental push. Maybe it’s the collective unconscious. Or the Tao or the cosmic intelligence. And, not everyone who undergoes neurological damage is going to get their own psychic TV show, but, together, we just might muster enough intuition to save Gaia.