Table of Contents and Reading Guide for Taming the Polar Bears

The sole (soul) reason I exist and write this blog

Part I 

The Neuroscience of "You"


When three years ago I started looking into better ways to understand mental health problems and disorders and why people have such problems overcoming their disorders and improving their lives and inner mental states, it became very clear to me that we needed a better understanding of how our brains work and why. 

It is my position that a better understanding of brain systems and how they create behaviour and reactions of all kinds can greatly help us understand our selves and our difficulties. More importantly, it can help us understand how to truly change how our brains work - and thus us. Even more than that, however, I learned that understanding how and why brains work the way they do and how they got to be to any one state can help us work past self-blame and towards self-compassion and understanding and acceptance. 


Chapter One - Neuroanatomy 101 

A brief and fun look into some of the basic brain anatomy and neurobiology that makes up an individual, all of which "sets the table" for later chapters to come. Since originally writing this in the fall of 2013, I've received a great deal of enthusiastic and sincere endorsements of from laypeople to those from the fields of psychology to neuroscience itself. 

Chapter Two - A Brief Look 

at the Evolutionary History of the Human Brain

For reasons I can't quite fathom, most professionals in the study of human behaviour somehow either overlook how the human brain evolved or inexplicably don't think it's important. This is a gross oversight in my view (and I am not alone in this view). At any rate, this chapter is a very brief look at the history of human brain evolution. Understanding our evolutionary past can also greatly aid in understanding modern human behaviours and what we'll call for now "brain difficulties". 

Chapter Three - An Introduction to Genetic and Environmental Factors in Individual Brain Development


 We are our brains. This chapter begins to look at some of the factors that are at play in developing a given brain or "you". While both genetics and environmental factors are important, of course, starting in this post I argue that it is environmental factors that either trigger genetic pronation towards a given disorder or psychiatric condition or alter the brain's development in such a way as to give rise to various mental health disorders. 

Furthermore, in a future post (or series of posts) I will argue that there may be absolutely nothing wrong with a particular person's brain but that the mental anguish and suffering may be on account of being stuck in an environment that is unsuitable to that person's core personality, character and emotional needs. 

Chapter Four - Brains as Reality Creators: An Introduction

Something that is very hard for people to wrap their heads around is the fact that our brains "create" what we experience as "reality". Which is not to say that the world around us is not real, only that our individual perceptions of it are not exactly or necessarily "real" and that much of what is in our heads is not "real". While this would appear to have nothing to do with mental health problems, in fact it lays at the very crux of most of them. Understanding the concept introduced here is very important for when we start looking at cognitive distortions, delusional thinking, hallucinations and other factors involved in any one case of a mental health disorder. 

Chapter Five - Zombie Programs: An introduction

"Zombie programs" is a term coined by the neuroscientist David Eagleman in his book Incognito which he uses to refer to the vast and enormous numbers of neuronal circuit programming that hums away below our conscious awareness controlling all of our physical movements, thoughts, feelings, beliefs, actions, decisions and so on. When I talk about our "subconscious" running our lives (as I do repeatedly throughout this blog), this is for the most part what I am referring to, not in the Freudian subconscious sense (which is what will generally spring to most people's minds when they hear the term subconscious). What we are experiencing consciously is but a very small fraction of what's going on beneath the surface of our minds. In this chapter I begin my argument that much of what goes wrong with those of us with various psychiatric disorders is our deep autonomous programming running faultily. 

Far and away the most important discovery of neuroscience in my view is the concept of "neuroplasticity", the brain's ability to reform connections and networks in response to internal to physical injury, to both internal and external events and mental and physical demands. 

Chapter Seven: An Introduction to Stress 

and the Stress Response System

Part one of a series of essays on the neuroscience of the stress response system and the importance of its role in psychiatric and mood disorders.


Part II

 Taming the Polar Bears

Positive Difference Making Fundamentals

Everything I do and teach pertaining to better mental health is based on neuroplasticity and retraining our brains. These are the basic fundamentals that can help you or anyone do that. 

The original post needs some rewriting and brushing up again but it still stands up well as an introduction to the basic fundamentals to better mental health, resilience and improved mental outlooks and in the end, an improved life. 

Spirituality - Gratitude and Compassion 

Gratitude and compassion are two age old concepts and practices for taming our minds (or polar bears). I introduce and talk about them in this post. 

Brad's Brain Training Games

One of the principles of neuroplasticity is to have regular ways to stimulate specific brain regions (and de-stimulate others). I devised my own approaches to working on better mental states, problem solving strategies, correcting negative self-talk and attitudes and so on. I introduce the principles of the approaches I developed in this post. 

An Introduction to Music Therapy

There is now an enormous amount of neuroscience and real world evidence for the benefits of music therapy on the brain. In this post we look at a bit of the neuroscience, what music therapy did for me and how you can begin to develop your own music therapy program.

Part III

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

(other disorders to come)

Part IV
Psychological Factors
in Psychiatric Disorders

The psychiatric and medical establishments miss vast areas of the psychological impacts of our disorders and how our minds are impacted by those. I attempt to address that in these (and more to come) posts and essays that don't fit the other categories. 

My Story, Personal Experience and Perspectives

Essays on Mental Health Issues

Deconstructing Quick Fixes for Psychiatric and Mood Disorders

In Praise of Quick Fixes for Depression and Other Disorders

Mania and the Story of Icarus and Daedalus

Planes, Why, Black Swans and Mental Illness Stigma

The War Over Our Minds and We the Victims

On Psychiatry and
Pharmaceutical Drugs

Through a relatively brief period of personal experience (only thirty months along with two briefer periods in the summer of 2013 and the winter of that year) and through enormous amounts of extremely in depth research, I discovered that the psychiatric industry is wildly and tragically inept at understanding, diagnosing and treating any psychiatric disorder. Furthermore, that in alliance with the pharmaceutical industry much of what they do is designed - in a very literal, and very well documented sense - to create life long consumers for psycho-active or neurotropic drugs. 

I wrote at great length about this in a now abandoned manuscript back in 2013. I'd hoped to get to outlining more about the false claims put forward by these two groups (the American Psychiatric Association (and their counterparts throughout the Western world) and pharmaceutical industries) but it's an enormous task and I decided instead to focus on what I found instead to be going on in psychiatric disorders and positive ways and approaches to understanding them and working through and even past them. 

I did write briefly about both, however, and I'll include some useful links for further reading. 

The Myths of the Benefits of Psychiatric Drugs

Endorsements and Testimonials

There is much more material to be added, but in time. 

Support Taming the Polar Bears


If you enjoy or benefit from the information you gain from this blog, or see the importance of it for yourself or for others in understanding and working on your/their mental health conditions or if you're in the mental health professions or otherwise see the importance of the work done and presented in this blog, please consider donating and supporting it. 

All the writing and research is done by a single individual - Brad Esau - who himself has been disabled due to the long term effects of his condition and who lives on a very minimal pension and thus has great difficulty supporting himself. 

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