Systematic Political Science


How Psychogeriatrics and Senescence are Affected by Fluid and Crystallized Intelligence, Gelotology, Pretiare and Neurotheology

Dallas F. Bell, Jr.

1. Psychogeriatrics and Senescence

Senescence (L. senex means old or advanced in age) is the period or process during which organisms become old. The life span of humans can reach 120 years of age (Gen. 6:3). The average life span is around 70 years of age (Ps. 90:10). The symbols for age are Y1 (0-20 years), Y2 (20-60 years), and Y3 (over 60 years). The boundary between Y2 (middle age) and Y3 (old age) varies in the effects of aging among individuals.

The potential age limit for each individual is enhanced by proper diet, exercise, and rest. Beyond which, honoring parents (Ex. 20:12; Eph. 6:2-8), keeping God's laws (I Kings 3:14; Prov. 3:1-2), wisdom (Prov. 3:13, 16, 4:10, 9:10-11), fearing the Lord (Ps. 128:1, 6; Prov. 10:27), keeping from evil (Ps. 34:11-14), praying (II Kings 20:1-11), and God's promise (Gen. 15:15) can add to life. On the other hand, killing (II Sam. 3:27), God's judgment (Job 22:15-16), and suicide (Matt. 27:5) lowers the length of potential life.

The aged are to be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, charitable and patient (Titus 2:2-5). They are to leave an inheritance to their children's children (Prov. 13:22). The Y1 and Y2 behaviors toward the Y3 is to minister to their needs (I Kings 1:15), to show respect (Ps. 71:18-19), to care for (Is. 46:4), to honor (Lev. 19:32; Prov. 16:31), and insure that righteous widows without families are taken care of by the church (I Tim. 5:9).

The Y3 demographic can contribute to society wisdom (Job 12:12), maturity (Job 5:26), spirituality (Prov. 16:31; Luke 2:36-38), fruitfulness (Ps. 92:12-16), judgment (I Kings 12:6-8), counsel (I Kings 12:6-16), leadership and faith (Josh. 24:1-2; 14-15, 29). Of course, there are the limitations of physical infirmities (Gen. 48:10), deteriorating bodies (Eccl. 12:2-7), declining strength (Ps. 71:9), and becoming less adventurous (II Sam. 19:31-39).

Common examples of physical decline are skin wrinkles, graying hair and hair loss, lessening of seeing and hearing abilities, lessening of the libido, decreasing bone density, slower reflexes, and mental changes. Usually mental changes include difficulty in recalling memories and a lessening ability to think clearly.

Geriatrics (Gr. geras, old age; L. iatria, relating to medical treatment) is the branch of medicine that specializes in the diseases of old age. The practice of geriatric psychiatry is often called psychogeriatrics. This field deals with the study, prevention, and treatment of the mental aspects of aging. This would encompass fluid and crystallized intelligence of the elderly, such as a lessening or not lessening of the ability to shift core theological beliefs, change ideological voting patterns etc. Scholars such as Kuruvilla George, Director of Aged Persons Mental Health at Eastern Health, and David Schretlen, Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, can not say definitively whether neuroscience studies indicate that there is or is not a lessening of inherent flexibility in those decision making cases (specifically theology and voting ideology). (The views of Kuruvilla George and David Schretlen were expressed in an email exchange with Dallas F. Bell Jr. in March, 2009.)

2. Fluid and Crystallized Intelligence

Fluid intelligence (gF) is the ability is find meaning in confusion and to solve new problems. Crystallized intelligence (gC) is the ability to use skills, knowledge and experience. Fluid and crystallized intelligence are considered to be discrete factors of general intelligence (g) as outlined by Raymond Cattell (1905-1998) around 1987. Those two forms of intelligence are believed to be separate neurological systems.

Fluid intelligence is the ability to make inferences and comprehend the relationships of various concepts, independent of acquired knowledge. This problem-solving and pattern recognition ability has seemed to be rarely affected by brain injuries. Crystallized intelligence is not equated to memory or knowledge, but does access information from long-term memory. It relies on specific and acquired knowledge and is susceptible to change (e.g. if someone learns a new physics equation then the gC has changed but the gF has not changed or if the belief in a god is proven false and the theological belief is shifted to a belief in the infinite God, a new knowledge is gained).

People with high gF, not surprisingly, seem to acquire more gC and at faster rates than people with lower gF. A number of factors that share correlation in gF are induction, visualization, quantitative reasoning and ideational fluency. Factors for gC are verbal ability, language development, reading comprehension, sequential reasoning and general processing of information.

Fluid intelligence, such as reaction time, peaks early in Y2 and then declines. The lack of practice, along with brain changes, contributes to the decline. Today, research seems to support that gF can be maintained or even improved with memory exercises. Some research for both gF and gC show two separate brain systems. The prefrontal cortex and cingulated cortex, among others, relate to attention focus and short-term memory for gF. The hippocampus involves storage and usage of lone-term memory for gC.

David Schretlen coauthored a paper in 2000 that postulated two theories for normal cognitive aging. The first theory asserted that decreases in simple processing speed mediates the age related decline in gF. The second theory maintained that age-related atrophic changes in the frontal lobe undermines the functioning of executive abilities and thus produces the same decline. The paper's findings suggested that both ideas are partially correct and compliant with each other.

Studies show that all dynamic or learning scores (post-test) discriminate better healthy Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's Disease (AD) subjects than all static pre-test scores. Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the temporal lobe can differentiate AD from dementia regarding vascular dementia. Depression and other disorders associated with MCI are not determined.

In 2003, it was found that self-report questionnaires for elderly persons regarding memory was significantly less effective than direct questioning for those without MCI or depression. Additionally, a tentative study of 50 pairs of elderly female twins for concordance of cognitive impairment showed that age-related impairment in cognitive testing did not differ between monozygotic and dizygotic twins.

Life expectancy rates do not equate to correlation of abilities. For example, the average 30 year old in a society with a life expectancy rate of 35 years has the same abilities as an average 30 year old in a society with a life expectancy rate of 75 years. Thirty year olds in all societies would have similar abilities though the bell curve for death would be inverted with peaks of mortality at both infancy and old age.

It has been somewhat seriously suggested that there be an upper limit (Y3) on voting rights just as there is a lower limit (Y1) on voting rights due to measurable less than optimum mental decision-making abilities. It would seem that there is a greater correlation between theological beliefs than abilities in Y3 voter demographics, roles in civil unrest, etc. among the elderly without MCI.

Many issues can be analyzed as more germane studies are vetted. A large effort is being directed toward the behavioral effects of laughter and humor on psychogeriatric health.

3. Gelotology

In 2000, imaging research showed that humor appreciation appears to be based on the lower frontal lobes of the human brain which has long been associated with social and emotional judgment and planning. It is surmised that this is why people who have suffered strokes in the frontal lobes have lost their sense of humor along with experiencing other alterations in personality.

Researchers have found that activity occurred in the anterior supplemental motor area of the brain in laughter. That area is normally associated with planning movement and initiation of speech. However, when people viewed the complex comprehensive humor in written jokes and cartoons, activity occurred in the brain's ventromedial frontal lobe. Then laughter at a joke requires the use of several parts of the brain.

Gelotology (Gr. gelos means laugh[-ter or -ing]) is the study of humor and laughter on the human body. Laughter can increase blood pressure, lower blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes, increase heart rates which burns calories, boost the immune system by increasing antibodies, T-cells and B-cells, increase oxygen levels which aids in healing, and reduces anxiety. Laughter can reduce levels of cortisol, growth hormone and catecholamines and is studied in psychoneuroimmunology.

Although it is often reported that the Y1 group laughs 300 to 400 times per day as compared to the Y3 groups laughing 15 or so times per day, the facts being compiled by the Association for Applied Therapeutic Humor (AATH) shows that adults in general may laugh more than children. Beneficial therapies are now being practiced by many psychiatrists, doctors and mental health professionals. Therapeutic humor may use books and movies to encourage humorous experiences. Clown therapy may involve clowns using magic or music. The client can provide personal information to create a humor profile that can be used to focus laughter therapy.

As most people know, there are many different types of humor. They include: puns, riddles, formal jokes, satire or sarcasm, irony and parody, etc. Therefore, humor requires problem-solving from the freewill reasoning of intellect. Then the creator, God, would have expressed the attribute of humor from His intellect. (In an email exchange during March and April of 2009 between Donald Capps at Princeton Theological Seminary and Dallas F. Bell Jr., Professor Capps recommended the research concerning humor and religion conducted by Vassilis Saroglou et al., psychology of religion professor at the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium.)

In the Old Testament book of Genesis, God's humor can be seen in His creation of daffy ducks, long-necked giraffes and the antics of monkeys. Those animals bring smiles to zoo visitors around the world each day. The people of Israel (c. 1026 B.C.) angered God by rejecting God's judge, Samuel, by demanding a king. God chose Saul to be their king as he was in the process of trying to find his asses (I Sam. 9:1-20). Gideon was addressed as a mighty man of valor (c. 1140 B.C.) as he was hiding (Judg. 6:12). Similarly, in the New Testament Peter was called "the rock" by Jesus when he was the least stable apostle (Matt. 16:18). God's overall philosophy is to use the foolish to confound the wise and to use the weak to confound the mighty (I Cor. 1:27).

In the New Testament, Jesus used the humorous references of it being easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than... (Matt. 19:24; Luke 18:25), ...strain at a gnat but swallow a camel (Matt 23:24), and take the beam out your own eye before worrying about the mote in another person's eye (Matt. 7:3-5; Luke 6:41-42).

It seems apparent that there are types of laughter: divine (Ps. 59:8), natural (Job 8:21), derisive (Neh. 2:19), deceitful (Prov. 14:13), scornful (II Chr. 30:10), confident (Job 5:22), and joyful (Ps. 126:2). Some causes of laughter are folly (Ps. 2:4), something unusual (Gen. 18:12-15), untruth (Matt. 9:24), and contradiction (Ps. 22:7-8).

An example of righteous humor in mocking (Heb. hathal) is when the righteous prophet, Elijah, derided the evil prophets of Baal and said that they should cry aloud because their god is talking or asleep or is on a long journey (I Kings 18:27-40) resulting in Elijah's affirmation as he killed the false prophets of Baal. Other examples are found in Num. 22:29, Judg. 16:10-15, Prov. 1:26, and Ps. 2:4.

An example of unrighteous humor in mocking (Heb. qalac) is when the evil children ridiculed the righteous prophet, Elisha, saying that he, the old bald head, should go up as Elijah did (II Kings 2:23-24) resulting in bears killing the children and affirming the righteous Elisha. Other examples are found in Gen. 39: 14, 17, II Chr. 36:16, Prov. 14:9, Prov 20:1, Matt. 20:19, Luke 23:11, Acts 2:13, Heb. 11:36, and Jude 18.

Among other things, unrighteous humor demonstrates the arrogance of man's puny abilities as being foolishly funny which is deserving of just punishment for the sinful pride against the holy God. Human knowledge is limited (I Cor. 13:8-12). For example, the expected microwave radiation shadows by big bang proponents have been recently found not to exist by Richard Lieu at the University of Alabama, Huntsville. Whatever the reason for this effect, the situation can be seen as humorous (Heb.11:3).

Molecules made of atoms from subatomic structures can't reason--rocks don't laugh. But when these inert particles are given the intellect from the Creator's intellect, reasoning is possible as the designed billions of atoms unnaturally work in harmony with purpose--to praise God. Wernher Magnus Maximilian Freiherr von Braun (1912-1977) knew that the more one learns the more one sees the beauty of the creator God.

4. Pretiare (Praise) and Neurotheology

Neurotheology studies the correlation of neural phenomena with subjective spiritual experiences. Atheists wrongly apply the former (neural) to completely explain the latter (spiritual). David Wulf, a psychologist at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, suggests that there is a common core of religious experiences across cultures that points to a structure or process in the human brain.

When posed the question of correlations between the activity of praising God and health specific to theologies and age, Wulf noted the difficulty in tracing brain activity in the extended state of praising God. He further states that it is not known if anyone at this time is looking at age differences for this phenomenon. (This query was posed to David Wulf by Dallas F. Bell Jr. in an email exchange in March, 2009.)

Neurological mapping has limitations but has come a long way as Michio Kaku, author and physicist, explains in his recent book how mapping can show concepts recognized by the subject, such as a tree or dog. With those maps, a lie by the subject can be seen. The obvious problem would be deception by the subject when the baseline of mapping, trees or dogs, etc. is being conducted. The subject need only focus on strong images such as fear or sex to defeat the presented baseline concepts.

Praise of God could also defeat the brain mapping. The human brain can't both praise God and be fearful or depressed. Praise (L. pretiare, to praise or glorify) is the impassioned exhalation of God (Ps. 139:14) in obedience (Ps. 117:1) and gratitude for His name (I Chr. 29:13; Ps. 99:3), for His power (Ps. 21:13), for His faithfulness and wonders (Ps.89:1-5), for His loving kindness (Ps. 138:2), and for His works (Ps. 145:4). Believers are to praise God daily (Ps. 35:28, 72:15, 119:164), continually (Ps. 71:6), at midnight (Ps. 119:62; Acts 16:25), and while they have life (Ps. 146:2). All in heaven praise God (Rev. 7:9-12). The soul praises God and the mind and body will follow. All things praise God by their ordered existence. Jesus said, "If these hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out." (Luke 19:35-40)

To praise God gives spiritual victory (Neh. 12:40-47) and to not praise God gives a foothold to spiritual defeat (I Sam. 13:5-8). Believers are to praise God in all things (Eph.5:20). Believers praise God with all that is within (Ps. 103:1), with joy (Ps. 35:9), with a pure heart (Ps. 119:7), with a joyful noise (Ps. 100:1), with the mouth (Ps. 34:1), with song (Ps. 47:6), with shouting (Ps. 27:6), with instruments (Ps. 150:3-5), with raised hands (Ps. 63:4), with clapping (Ps. 47:1), by standing (Ps. 135:2-3), by bowing (Ps. 95:6), and with dancing (Ps. 30:11).

"By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name" (Heb. 13:15). William Blake (1757-1827) referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God (Is. 53:7; John 1:29-36; Rev. 19:7-9). George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) praised the Messiah. Ludwig van Beethoven's (1770-1827) Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "choral" praises the Creator. James Clerk Maxwell's (1831-1879) poem To the Chief Musician Upon Nabla praises God's creation. Ian Hutchinson, Professor and Department Head of Nuclear Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, points out that theological belief affects theorizing about cosmology and brain science but it is less obvious to see the direct influence in technical endeavors. (This comment by Ian Hutchinson is taken from an email exchange with Dallas F. Bell Jr. in March, 2009.) However, to technically say 2 + 2 = 4 does eliminate, to some degree, adherents of the theology of relativism who contradictory believe in only one truth, that there is no truth.

5. Conclusion

Psychogeriatrics and senescence are affected by fluid and crystallized intelligence. The study of humor (gelotology), praise (pretiare) and neurotheology are relevant to psychogeriatrics. They demonstrate the reality of the Creator and His scripture. Those Divinely inspired passages give hope for God stimulated achievement in old age such as invention by Noah (Gen. 9:28-29; Heb. 11:7), procreation by Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 21:5; Heb. 11:11-12) leadership by Moses and Aaron (Ex. 7:7; Heb. 11:24-29), and conquering by Caleb (Josh. 14:10-13; Heb. 11:30). All those achievements were kinetic and propulsive for both the individuals and for the society.

John saw heaven opened and a white horse and He that sat on him was called Faithful and True and righteous, He judges and makes war, His eyes were as flames of fire and His head had many crowns and His name is written and no man knows except Himself, He was clothed with a vesture of dipped blood and His name is called the Word of God and the armies of heaven followed Him on white horses clothed with white linen. Out of His mouth is a sharp sword to smite the nations and rule with a rod of iron with the wrath of Almighty God. He had on His vesture and on His thigh a name written KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS (Rev. 19:11-16). Praise our God, all ye servants, and ye that fear Him, both small and great, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice and give honor to Him (Rev. 19:5-7).

Pavel Grigorievich Tchesnokov (1877-1944) wrote in his choral work, Salvation is Created, "Salvation is created in the mids't of the earth, O God. Alleluia!

(Special appreciation is extended to Robert A. Nozik, Professor Emeritus at the University of California Medical Center, for his assistance with email queries from Dallas F. Bell Jr. in March, 2009.)

----------------ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2009 DALLAS F. BELL, JR.----------------