Seth Golub (
Fri, 22 Aug 1997 16:15:59 -0500 (CDT)

Joe Barrera <> writes:

> One issue that really puzzles me is the interaction between mental
> illness and free will.

What about mental wellness and free will? I, and many people I know,
get cranky when I'm very hungry. I can't think straight, small
problems seem large, and even coordinating with people to go get some
food is often more hassle than I can deal with. Then I eat, and I'm
back to normal. This is less of a problem than more serious
imbalances, but raises the same questions.

Someone close to me is going through personality changes as a result
of epilepsy and of the assortment of related medicine. It's been
disturbing for both of us (though much less for me, I'm sure) to think
about those changes and the implications they have on identity. Is
this the same person? Is this any different than going through
non-medical life-altering situations? What makes me ME and how much
of that is really under my control? How much of my behavior is based
on chemistry?

I'd guess that this sort of thing would bother a woman less than it
bothers me. They're more used to the notion of personality being
radically altered by changing chemistry. I used to, and would prefer
still to think of myself as more stable than that. Now I think I'm
unstable, but carefully balanced, and I'm more aware of what
unbalances me. We often base our identities on what we erroneously
believe is entirely nonphysical, but none of us is immune to our own
bodies. It's just a matter of degree.