Neuralink aims to treat some of the most severe and damaging neurological diseases on Earth. In terms of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and epilepsy, a Neuralink device would be a great way to prevent these diseases from ruining everyday life for those who have been affected by them. With that being said, Neuralink needs not to treat anxiety and depression disorders, because those illnesses require human reaction and vulnerability to treat. Defeating anxiety and depression should be done without the help of a complete fix, and it is crucial not to look past the importance of humans being able to feel these two sensations.
This is something I feel very strongly about for several reasons.
Before I dive into those reasons, I want to explain why I feel qualified enough to take a stance that I think many supporters of Neuralink will disagree with.
I have dealt with clinical anxiety and severe depression for my entire life. I was clinically diagnosed in 2009 at the age of 14 with both of these disorders, and I would estimate that it took me around 11 and a half years of diligence on my part to begin living a normal life. My anxiety and depression disorders hindered me from doing a lot of things in my life: playing certain sports, moving away for college (on multiple occasions), keeping past jobs, committing to relationships, etc. It has affected me in the worst way for so many years, and I would never want anyone, even my worst enemy, to experience the things that I felt on a daily basis when I was under the control of these two diseases.
However, I don’t think that everyone should completely rid themselves of anxiety and depression. Why? Because they are two emotions, as humans, we need to have.
Anxiety, while painful and difficult to confront head-on, is necessary for some reasons. The first being the obvious, anxiety is an excellent way to sense when danger is near, and it is a crucial part of our fight or flight response. It can warn someone when there is an issue with what is going on near them and can be life-saving in certain circumstances.
Anxiety also is an opportunity to grow as a human being. Facing and confronting anxious thoughts is one of the best ways to test resilience and learn about what we are made of. Anxiety teaches us a lot about ourselves, and while frightening, facing it directly is one of the best ways to show that we can push through certain circumstances that we aren’t confident about.
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Depression, while more severe in my own experiences, also has its advantages. Without darkness, we wouldn’t know what light is. Without depression, we wouldn’t know about happiness. There are points where humans need to face adversity and challenging circumstances to feel the great things about life.
Now, the way I treated my anxiety and depression disorders was a clinically-focused approach. I regularly attended therapy sessions, took medication, and spoke to doctors as often as I could. While I wholeheartedly believe everyone should talk to a therapist at least three times a year, I disagree with taking medications. In my experience, they are a masking agent for anxiety and depression disorders, especially. They caused me more problems after I started taking them, and the side effects needed treatment on their own.
I believe the best way to treat disorders like anxiety and depression is solely up to the person who is dealing with them. When I started to make real progress with my issues, I began using Exposure Therapy to treat my problems. I did as many things as I could that scared me. This included long drives by myself, roller coasters, and doing more things independently. When I started doing these things, I had stopped taking medication, and my self-diligence started to solve the problems I was facing.
I am in no way condoning that medication is not a wrong way to initially treat these illnesses. However, I do not believe that the healthy dose of side effects that come as a result of taking these medications is helpful to anyone who is being treated for either disorder.
This is where my issue with Neuralink comes in.
I believe that Neuralink intends to completely remove these sensations from a person’s emotions, which I feel can be dangerous to the future. Taking away emotions from humans can be detrimental to the way people communicate with each other and respond to specific events. As hazardous and as stressful as dealing with any mental illness is, solving them requires a long and tiring fight. It is not easy, but anything in life that is worth doing rarely is.
I believe very strongly that removing emotions from humans is one of the most dangerous things that anyone could do. At what point will devices like Neuralink completely take over the human brain? When will emotions begin to disappear from people? Could it lead to a decreased amount of social interaction? How would that make us any different than robots?
It is dangerous, in my opinion, to remove core emotional responses from a human. Nobody wants to be depressed, and nobody wants to be anxious. But treating these diseases is done by finding out who we are as people. It requires us to go out of our comfort zones and grow, not put a chip in our heads or a pill in our throats that eliminates the possibility of feeling certain sensations.
There comes the point where our humanness needs to be preserved. The invention of Smartphones has taken away a lot of opportunities for face-to-face interaction, and there is plenty of evidence to suggest that anxiety and depression disorders are caused by these devices, especially through social media use.
I am interested to hear other points on this matter because I know some people have different experiences with anxiety and depression than me. One thing I’ve always loved is hearing other people’s stories about how their anxiety or depression changed their lives. It usually starts with a valley and turns into a peak. While this can differ from case to case, two people rarely have identical stories when talking about their experiences. They also, frequently, are different from one case to the next because of how we obtained anxiety or depression. Some get it through abuse, and some get it from other forms of trauma when their brain is developing.
Neuralink is yet another brilliant idea from Elon Musk. It will hopefully change the way certain neurological diseases are treated and can provide some insight into what causes these medical conditions. However, there has to be boundaries and taking emotions and psychological responses away, in my opinion, is not the right thing to do. To quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”