A big disclaimer and a reminder: I’m just a wannabe scientist.
Have you ever yelled at a friend, family member or a spouse, “Stop! You’re driving me crazy!”? I propose that another person can literally drive you insane. A conversation or an argument with another person can make you angry or upset, but I say it can also ignite the chemicals in your brain and possibly lead you into a type of psychosis. That might sound extreme and ludicrous but just hear me out.
Hypothesis: Near-proximity-induced psychosis
Another person’s mere toxic presence can literally change the chemicals in your brain and cause symptoms that mimic (or are actually) psychosis. There are levels to the effect and not all toxic relationships will trigger an intense reaction such as psychosis. But I conclude that some might.
Note: a request to the real scientists out there to study this topic.
Here I will list already scientifically proven ways that the human brain responds to other people’s nearness, and how our brain chemical’s reactions influence us in both positive and negative ways.
Exercise releases chemicals in the brain that cause states of happiness, sometimes referred to as Runner’s High. This effect has been commonly explained as endorphins that get released in the brains of long-distance runners. However, I know that even after a brisk 30-minute walk, my mood can be totally lightened. It doesn’t take much for the happy chemicals to kick in.
From this 2006 LiveScience article, “The Most Important Exercise Tip”, “Two primary chemicals involved in making exercise feel good are cortisol and endorphins. Debbie Mandel, author of “Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul”, is quoted , “Cortisol is a hormone produced by the body under stress…Exercise burns cortisol, and thereby makes us healthier and happier…” The article continues, “Exercise stimulates the brain’s pituitary gland to release endorphins, an abbreviation for endogenous (meaning “produced within”) morphine, in the bloodstream.”
This 2017 article, “What Causes the Legendary Runner’s High and How to Feel It,” includes more recent findings. “…research from the University of Heidelberg suggests that endocannabinoids, another type of chemical our bodies release during exercise that have an impact similar to cannabis (yes, marijuana).”
The point is that there is a chemical reaction from endorphins in our bodies triggered by certain types and intensities of exercise that creates spikes in our euphoria.
A potential mate’s pheromones can make us fall in love with them.
The Scientific American reveals that the insect world and animal kingdom both “send out these chemical signals to entice mates.” And that “pheromone-laden fragrances” are used by “humans (to) also exchange molecular come-hithers”.
More from the same 2012 Scientific American article, is that there are a “….suite of chemicals emitted from our bodies (that) subliminally sways potential partnerings.”
There is often no logical reason we can think of why we fall in love with the people that we do. It isn’t always because they are the most attractive, successful, wise, nor well-behaved. Sometimes we say to ourselves, “Why can’t I say no to them?” We go against our most upright selves and cave to an attraction that might even be a little spicy. Why? Because we can’t help what our bodies put in our brains via the chemical reaction of pheromones.
Intoxicants can cause substance-induced psychosis
Drug-induced psychosis is a psychotic episode resulting from an abuse of drugs or alcohol. “According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, psychosis refers to an episode in which an individual has a break from reality.” Yet, it’s not easy to determine whether the psychosis was triggered by intoxicant abuse or whether the psychosis was already beginning.
While psychedelic drugs or alcohol abuse inducing psychosis is not a given, it is a possibility. A change in brain chemicals can happen from the hallucinogens affecting the brain’s cortex. Thus, altering the person’s perception and resulting in hallucinations or a permanent trip.
Therefore, I conclude, from all of these examples, that the phrase, “You’re driving me crazy!” might actually be true.
That is, if you are in the midst of a toxic relationship, in whatever form, and that person is near you, and they trigger you into a disruptive state of mind. It might be anger at first, anxiety, frustration, or confusion, but with repeated exposure, your brain chemicals could make a shift for the negative.
In other words, just saying that a person is hard to get along with should draw some attention. If there is a repeated pattern of negative behavior from someone toward you, that will affect you even if you try to create an imaginary boundary between the two of you. It might not escalate to psychosis even with repeated exposure over many years, but, hey, what if it does?
I’m not able to prove that this can physically happen within a human brain but I say it’s possible. I’m not sure whether or not you have to be one of the 3 out of every 100 people that will experience a psychotic episode or not.
We aren’t always able to help someone improve their behavior, but we can protect ourselves. Things like therapy are helpful to figure out whether you are in a toxic relationship and whether or not you need to get out of it. Keeping up with your overall health and thus strength and stability is also a deterrent to ever losing your mind because of someone or a situation.
These are suggestions that don’t require a chemical reaction to do but your brain chemicals will definitely be very happy as a result.
- Make your health a priority.
- Be sure your surroundings and relationships are toxic-free.
- Practice self-care, with whatever that means to you, i.e. exercise, spa-time, or fresh air.
- If you need to vent perhaps seek a therapist rather than expect that your friends or co-workers will offer helpful enough advice.
- Be your own best friend.
- Adopt a pet to give and receive much needed unconditional love.
Overall, I’m presenting a hypothesis and you are free to just take it in jest. However, I do hope the scientific community will take it seriously and check into it. We need to make many more advances in the now lacking mental health field.