New and Improved

My new thesis is not entirely different than what I was researching earlier. I’ve realized what I didn’t like about my previous thesis was not just that it was a straightforward question but also the solution. The solution would have been a campaign which would have communicated to avoid drugs in some manner while knowing that agriculture debt is the root problem. I don’t think a campaign would have helped. The campaign would have further made the audience focus on the wrong aspect of the problem. I feel much better about my new thesis and the solution.

De-stigmatizing Drugs talks about governments and society focusing on drugs as the problem whereas drug epidemics are a sign of deeper problem in an addict’s life or the population.

My Proposal is to create a  series of five visual essays. The essays will aim to challenge the established notions about drugs. The essays will be lenticular printed with stories or aspects that compliment each other. For example the war on drugs and Switzerland’s heroin maintenance centers would be printed on the same sheet of paper. The medium will force the audience to shift and back and forth and change their perspective to engage with the message. The medium is indeed the message along with content of course.

This is getting annoying.

I know I decided on “Drugs and Brain Intervention” as my topic. But my research is all over the place so should change it again? I found this in one of the books I picked up from the library:

VR! Insanity can be defined as when somebody can’t tell the difference between reality and fantasy. In “Intervention and the Brain” by Robert H. Blank, the author talks about the possibility of applying VR technology to medicine. VR can be used to get surgical training but applying it to be used as treatment. Everything is a possibility. VR experimentation has shown hippocampus activation (Blank, 2016). That’s cool. But Blank also talks about how it can go horribly wrong.  “VR gives the computer complete control over input into the human senses, thereby altering experience, emotion, and, ultimately, thought” (Blank, 2016).


I’ll continue working on the “Drugs and Brain Intervention.” People find it more interesting when I tell them drugs are good for them rather than VR is more than just for games.

I also talked to a friend who is mastering in biology and she told me I should investigate biomarkers. But another interesting topic that came out of this conversation was progression and the idea of the perfect world. Trying to achieve that happy society. CRISPR can edit genes so babies are born “perfect” and if not, there are drugs that can help them become “perfect.”  

CRISPR and psychotropic drugs fall under a larger question about the internal and external perfection of the human body. It’s a huge topic but I’ll continue focusing on Drugs and Brain Intervention for this thesis. I’ll probably look more into CRISPR later on for fun – it’s intriguing.

Presentation

Although my research has reached 8 pages and doesn’t really make any sense yet, designing this presentation and trying to pick what I want to talk about has helped me sort out what I’m actually focusing on in the literature review.

In remembering how drugs behave and their addictive properties, we forget how they benefit. They help cope with negative emotions. Drugs are purposeful.

Presentation

I proposed to make a book on how drugs can help push our bodies’ limits. If you disregard addiction and the drugs’ negative effect on our bodies, you can see the potential the drugs have. Drugs have been used in hospitals in a controlled manner and maybe one day we can also take full advantage of these drugs without any drawbacks. Can we create SOMA (a drug used in the dystopian society in the novel Brave New World)? Soma is the “perfect drug” and taken if there is any form of dissatisfaction in life in the novel.

The point of my thesis is not to entice my audience to go home and try drugs but to understand the potential they have if we were to use them correctly.


The class didn’t find the proposal relevant or perhaps a strong answer to the question. The presentation could’ve also used factual information so that it didn’t seem like an abstract idea.


It’s going to be okay.

Drugs and Sanity

An interesting question but it’s drifting away from the main topic:

What if you can take drugs and somewhat return to your original happy state of mind for a limited time temporarily or embrace insanity in the same society? Would you let your closed ones become “insane” or put them up for treatment in a hospital?

Can drugs protect you from going insane? Should we protect our brains from going insane? Is the transitioning between sanity and insanity the unbearable part since there seems to light at the end in both directions.


I have an eight page essay which doesn’t entirely hit the mark.

People abuse drugs all the time because of life stresses. When the brain can no longer fix it’s problem itself. We start looking into other solutions for the sake of personal survival.

Is my essay about deciding whether to go insane or not? or about drugs relieving the stresses of daily life which allows us to continue our lives in the society?


THESIS

I want to study effects of drugs because I want to find out how drugs are helpful in order to help my readers understand the untapped potential of drugs that can help us keep our sanity.

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I Read

I read a few thing in a few books related to psychology and biology, but philosophy got involved in the process too somehow. While I was writing about these new interesting things I’d been finding. I kept on going back to what I should call my essay. The following is how the topic morphed as I found new research and themes:

  • Drugs, emotional homeostasis and depression
  • Personal Survival and Drugs
  • Homeostasis before Insanity
  • Psychopharmacology for Depression and Emotional Homeostasis
  • Drugs and Brain Intervention
  • Happiness and Brain Intervention
  • Should I take drugs or let myself go insane?
  • Edge of Chaos

An interesting connection (is this the future of drugs? should we? can we? eliminate the addictive hook in the drug?)-

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is a novel about a dystopian world where drugs are distributed by the government and are part regular lives. Soma, a hallucinogen described as “the perfect drug,” is calming, surrealistic and induce ten -hour highs with no side-effects. The citizens of the “World State” have been conditioned to love the drug, and they use it to escape any momentary sense of dissatisfaction.

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I’m writing a lot but it’s all over the place. I read something about “the edge of chaos” in the brain. I read a little and later I later I found out I completely wrong idea of what it actually is. I was thinking that “the edge of chaos” is something like having depression and it keeps on getting worse and worse and your brain eventually jumps into “chaos” which I thought meant insanity. Or you could get out of depression and get back to the “ordered” state. I took this idea literally. But reality “the edge of chaos” is how the brain perform that is the state our brain is always in.

But out of the wrong understanding, I began to question if going insane was actually an another way our brain is making us be ourselves – happiness through insanity. “The edge of chaos”is just a transition state in our brains. The following example blows my mind:

In Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, a women who had only dreamt of a perfect married life but disappointed with her husband and the life she lives. In her mind she divorced her husband and believes she’s married into the English aristocracy. She imagines she has a new baby every night. She’s happier this way. Would it better restore her sanity? The head physician at the hospital said he wouldn’t.

So this women was at the “edge of chaos,” unhappy and depressed. Her brain made a decision and called the shots. Gave her what she wanted in a “chaos” state. So transition is awful but there light at both ends of this tunnel. Either “order” in which you are part of the society but in “chaos” where you aren’t. But you are happy, is that the emotion our brain aims for at all times?? Whaaaat?? Ofcourse this just a theory coming straight out of my head with no research what so ever. You can ponder, you can laugh, but don’t trust it.

Is happiness addictive? Is that why we do drugs because transition/edge of chaos is painful? Do drugs push our brains to “chaos”/ insanity or “order”/regular life where we are happy? Is happiness all our brain is trying to achieve?

Rethinking

If I’m going to do this all again, I’m going make sure I don’t find myself in the same situation again. I don’t want to pick an exhausted topic where people just walk past it among other projects. I want to challenge established notions.

I’ve been writing here and there on the bus or whenever I have time. So far this is what I know or understand. I’m trying to figure out what I know, so that I can find out what I want to know. Drugs and emotional homeostasis is an interesting pairing. I’m proposing that drugs are good in many situations; we just don’t know how to use them yet.

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Proposal

This is the proposal.

Although I’m now interested in the solution, my research doesn’t support it. It is much different than what my initial question was. I’m now considering changing my thesis overall. I don’t think its unique and I feel as if I’ve exhausted it enough. I do have to work with it till April. That’s a lot of time spent on something I’m not interested in anymore. Although the epidemic in Punjab is a valid question, it’s not interesting enough or challenges established beliefs. It’s not shocking. It’s a plain question. I rather take a risk now and restart my research than have to talk or explain my project to other people while I’m not interested in talking about it myself.

Another Idea

What if I investigated 5 different drug epidemics around the world. I would make visual essays to the corresponding drug that’s being abused and balance it with what the society is missing. Like heroin and depression go hand in hand. Heroin provides what depression takes away.

An Idea

The problem seems more and more like something I would done in Communication 2 or Information Design 2. There’s an obvious answer to a straight forward question, and this doesn’t excite me. I could most definitely design campaign but what else can I do?

Homeostatis is an interesting theme that’s emerged while researching mainly discussed in the Addiction video by In A Nutshell. So what if there were a machine or a device that would monitor drug percentage in the addict’s body. You’d gather the data and inject less and less amount of heroin everyday. So that the user can go through a day without withdrawal symptoms but eventually quit heroin use.

Although this sounds interesting, I don’t have the skills to build this. And even if I did since Youtube is almost magical, how would I test it? I don’t have the credibility. This project would take longer than 4 months to finish.

After a brief talk with Professor Adam, I’m trying to reconsider what a campaign is and explore interesting possibilities.