Posted in Life & Happiness

For Them

Eat, for those who are starving.
Run, for those who cannot walk.
Breathe, for those who are suffocating.
Dream, for those who have lost hope.

See, for those who are blind.
Listen, for those who are deaf.
Feel, for those who are numb.
Speak, for those who are voiceless.

Laugh, for those who are crying.
Love, for those who are heartbroken.
Live, for those who are dying.
Be happy, for those who are miserable.

There is no excuse for not doing what you can. 
There is no excuse for trapping yourself in a box.
If it does not harm you or others, then do whatever the hell makes you happy.

Posted in Psychology & Medicine

Phantom Limb Pain

In up to 80% cases of amputations, a strange phenomenon occurs where the amputee reports sensation or even severe pain where the limb has been amputated. It was noticed in field hospitals during wars when a soldier would wake up and ask someone to scratch his leg – which was no longer attached to his body. The sensation can be so powerful that victims actively believe that their phantom limb can interact with real objects. For example, there have been case reports of patients trying to pick up a cup with an amputated arm and becoming frustrated with their inability to.

Phantom limb pain may persist even after the amputee realises the limb is no longer there. The basis for phantom limb pain is a neurological system called the cortical homunculus. The cortical homunculus is a concept that the part of the brain responsible for sensation and movement is mapped out so that each part corresponds to a part of the body (see picture). For example, the top of the primary somatosensory and motor cortices (said parts of the brain) is responsible for foot sensation and movement while the side receives information from and sends signals to the face. It lets the brain construct an image of what the body looks like from sensory information it collates from various body parts. It is suggested that phantom limb pain is caused by a remapping of the cortical homunculus, fooling the brain to think that the limb is there even if it has been physically cut off. This also explains a similar condition called supernumerary phantom limb, where the brain believes there is an extra limb (e.g. a third arm).

As the homunculus concept is a recent idea, treatment options had not advanced much until the late 1990s. In 1998, a neuroscientist called Dr. Vilayanur S. Ramachandran devised a method called the mirror box treatment. He noticed that victims of phantom limb pain (PLP) had paralysis or pain in the limb just before the amputation (such as tightly gripping something before the arm got blown up by a mine), suggesting that PLP may be a form of learned paralysis. This means that the brain believes that the arm is still paralysed and any movement causes an uncomfortable sensation as the brain thinks the limb is contorted into a painful position. To fix this problem, Dr. Ramachandran invented a box with two holes, each going into a separate compartment. One compartment is for the good arm while the other has a mirror positioned on an angle to reflect the other arm (instead of seeing the stub they put in the hole). He would then instruct the patient to perform symmetric movements with both hands while looking at the reflected arm. For example, he would tell the patient to squeeze their “fists” tightly as possible and then let go. Through this procedure, the brain is retrained to let go of the perceived paralysis and pain as it is tricked in to thinking that the arm is healthy again. The mirror box therapy drastically improved the outcome and quality of life of PLP patients through the power of illusions.


Posted in Philosophy


In the film Matrix, a scene shows the protagonist, Neo, talking to a bald child in the Matrix who can bend spoons. The child can bend and straighten the spoon at will just by looking at it. He then passes the spoon to Neo and asks him to try. Neo stares and stares but nothing changes. The child then says:

Child: “Do not try to bend the spoon, that’s impossible. Instead only try to realise the truth.”
Neo: “What truth?”
Child: “There is no spoon.”
Neo: “There is no spoon?”
Child: “Then you will see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.”

This philosophy, while sounding rather simple and nonsensical, can be applied to modern day life in so many ways.

For example, as people mature, they have a tendency to lose the creativity and innocence of their inner child. They find that reality is too harsh and cruel and one must follow the strict rules of society to survive. They feel as if they are trapped in a box, unable to escape forever. This pessimistic view of life and the world restricts their ability to be happy. These people have not yet realised the truth.

There is no box

Free your mind and the rest will follow.