Can you imagine what is would be like to have your beautiful young son or daughter come to you with such hatred for their appearance that they are begging you to take them to a plastic surgeon?
I think from time to time we all check out our image in the mirror and make an evaluation of it. Some people (young and old) make such critical evaluations of their appearance that they start to believe that they are unable to contribute to any sort of life because of their appearance. When this becomes debilitating, we usually consider a diagnosis of Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
I’m sure if you have ever played a computer game or console game you know that they can be great fun and a handy distraction. Like anything fun in the history of humankind, though, there is the potential for life to get out of balance if too much of our time is dedicated to one source of enjoyment. Until they are old enough to curb urges and delay gratification (jobs linked to the brain’s cortex), children need parents to act as their cortex. Until children fully develop a cortex of their own they need limits set on their exposure to all things that might compete with living a happy and healthy life – they need some limits on gaming time.
In all of the years I have been in clinical and forensic practice with young people, I have never seen a young offender who has been convicted of a violent crime solely because they played too many computer or console games. Child development is much more complex than that! However there is perhaps a more frequent or common concerning trend and that is where gaming starts to interrupt a happy, healthy and social life for the individual or their family.
“Your child needs help” they said. “Something is not right with him” they said. “Maybe you should take her to see someone”. That’s all very easy for other people to say, but how do they know? How do you know if your child has a problem and if your child does have a problem? How do you find the best person to help them? Surely it takes more than just “seeing someone”?
Yes, there are some days when we could all use someone to talk to about our worries, fears or problems and children are no exception! In terms of taking your child to see a psychologist, there is a general rule of thumb that can assist. If your child’s problem has persisted for some time and is starting to get in the way of them having a happy and regular life, then it might be time to consider getting them (and you) some extra help.
As the amazing human brain develops, it moves from a pretty primitive state of jumbled up nerve networks, through to a very complex series of coordinated networks over the years. The first networks that come on board start to link our senses to our brains – we can start to see and hear. As we age, our biology and our growing experiences connect pathways and we are able to do things that are more complex – so complex that some of our brains can even master algebra, fly fishing or a baking a sponge cake.
Our brains also start to become more efficient. We start to prune back the pathways we don’t need so that we can become more efficient at what we do. At about age 25, the pathways in our brain are covered in an insulating substance called myelin, which essentially stops messages leaking out on their journey along the pathways and we get even more efficient at the things we practice. Some things even become automatic.
So, as we journey through life, we are taking information into our brain and trying to work out where it should fit. In essence we make a set of rules, core beliefs or schemas upon which we build up our bank of ideas about how the world works and what is going to work best for us. The rules that govern our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are buried deep within our brain. Each of us has a unique bank of rules because we all started with varying biology and then from the very get go, we all began to experience the world differently.
The human brain never ceases to amaze me. It is truly an amazing piece of equipment made up of miniscule and precise parts that coordinate and move our body in ways we think about and ways we don’t even have to think about. You would think that having had a brain for as long as humans have existed, we might know a bit more about it by now. Technology and machines that go “ping” are helping us to advance our knowledge further and further each day. In the meantime, I find it easy to explain a lot of human behaviour by thinking about the brain being made up of sections or parts that each have a an important job to do when we react to things.
The brain seems to have some really quite primitive parts and some really extra clever bits. The primitive parts are the bits that look after our essential survival – things like breathing, eating, pooing and running away from dangerous things.