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Part I:
Understanding the
Island Syndrome

Part II:
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Part 1: Understanding the Island Syndrome

(August 12, 2010)

What Does Dave Need?

Let us reconsider Dave. Why does he suffer so much? It is true that he lacks significant face-to-face communication. It is also true that he spends a great deal of time interacting with computers, both at work and at home, rather than with other people, and that he is often overwhelmed by the demands technology makes on his time. However, the same is true for the fellow in the next office, the woman down the hall, and for many other people. And yet, not all of them share Dave's dysthymia (chronic mild depression) and chronic anxiety, and many of them have reasonably happy marriages. So why does the Island Syndrome manifest itself more in Dave than in other people?

The answer is that Dave is chronically undernourished, which means that his neurotransmitters and other brain chemicals are in short supply. This leads to moodiness, unhappiness, and a lack of resiliency. Physiologically, Dave's high-sugar, low-protein diet, coupled with the daily use of caffeine and alcohol and the occasional use of marijuana, creates chronic hormone imbalances.

For example, Dave has developed mild insulin resistance, which makes him nervous, forgetful, anxious, indecisive, and irritable. In addition, Dave's diet and lack of resiliency causes him to suffer, unknowingly, from internal stress reactions. Even when his wife is not complaining or his smartphone is not nagging him, Dave's adrenal glands continually produce high levels of adrenaline and cortisol. As a result, he spends much of his waking hours amped-up, feeling both wired and stressed at the same time. What others notice is that Dave's concentration is both too intense (when he plays video games) and too fractured (when he talks to his wife and other people).

If people are to thrive, they require: meaningful connections to other people, stimulating information, nurturing, and a congenial mate.

Is it any wonder that the pressures created by computers, the Internet, mobile communication devices, email, and text messaging affect Dave so strongly? You will remember the idea that, if people are to thrive, they require: meaningful connections to other people, stimulating information, nurturing, and a congenial mate. Not only does Dave lack all these things, his poor nutrition and unhealthy habits make him biologically susceptible to the Island Syndrome and to the damage it causes.

In practical terms, if you want to understand what is happening to Dave and to the many people like him, you must consider more than the stresses imposed upon him by modern technology and culture. You must also study the unhealthy biochemical environment that exists within Dave's body. Should Dave desire to get himself back on track, he will have to improve his moods, change his habits, and work on his marriage. Before he can do so, he will need to learn how to free himself from the tyranny of email, his Blackberry, and his video game addiction.

As odd as it may sound, the best way to begin might be as simple as eating a good, healthy breakfast every day.

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The Island Syndrome
1. What Is the Island Syndrome?
2. What's in the News?
3. Difficult Questions
4. Why the Nature of Communication...
5. No Man Is an Island
6. Putting a Name to the Malaise
7. The Lady and the Psychiatrist
Living in the Bubble
8. What's in the News?
9. The Three Mandatory Machines
10. Life in the Bubble
11. Why We Keep On Keeping On
12. The Lady and the Psychiatrist
The Importance of the Brain's Biochemical Environment
13. What's in the News?
14. The Story of Dave
15. Importance of Neurotransmitters
16. The Stuff of Moods, Feelings and...
17. What Does Dave Need?
18. The Lady and the Psychiatrist
19. Introduction to Part II
20. The Island Syndrome
21. Excessive Text Messaging
22. Excessive Pornography Use
23. Understanding the Biology
24. Hormones and Neurotransmitters
25. The Pleasure Center
26. Too Much, Too Fast: Craving and...
27. The Female and Male Brains
28. Biology of Excessive Text Messaging
29. Biology of Excessive Pornography...
30. Conclusion: The Island Syndrome...
31. References