“Entropy is the price of structure” – Ilya Prigogine
If the amount of flexibility and connections in the brain are indeed connected with the ability to make or break new habits, then clearly, we have a framework for why psychoactive substances generally affect human psychology in predictable ways. Entropy is more than just “disorder” or “chaos”. While these are useful metaphors that capture some of the aspects of entropy (such as the breakdown of structures and rigidity), they have negative, normative connotations that take away what entropy generally means in mathematics and physics: an increase in possibilities. Matter changing from a solid to a gas represents an increase in entropy because as the particles expand, they can be found in more possible positions. Do people feel the need to self-medicate with substances- such as alcohol and cigarettes in the case of schizophrenia, or hallucinogens in the case of depression or addiction, on disparate ends of the entropic spectrum- to unconsciously enable changes within their own brain entropy? Can we replicate the entropy-inducing qualities initiated by psychedelic drugs to reap their benefits- such as flexibility and changing habits- with non-pharmacological, non-invasive methods? Could we even do the opposite, and treat schizophrenia by reducing entropy? At the very least, within this model we gain an understanding of how adjusting maladaptive states in the opposite direction might be therapeutic, and how the brain can and does change.
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