OK, I’m not sure what forum this belongs in, so if the moderator needs to move it, just let me know where and when.
Recently, I watched a Dr Daniel Amen MD, on PBS. He has a show on brain health, and how in his experience, he has been showing through brain scan imagery, that functions of the brain can change the way we think, and also the way we behave.
He was interesting enough, that I went out and purchased his book, yesterday.
Dr. Amen was raised Catholic, but I’m not sure what faith he is now, being I’ve just started reading the book and about him.
However, his research has proven, that the brain functions do cause behaviors, such as ADD(Attention Deficit Disorder), depression, anxiety and even rage.
In fact, a number of patients who came to him, were being treated by psychiatrist for depression and suicidal tendencies, and rage, without much success. Through SPECT imaging, Dr. Amen was able to treat the disorder successfully.
Through SPECT imaging, he found that such patients had deformity in the parts of the brain, which controlled the behaviors and emotions. From this, he was able to treat the patients and has a 100% success effective rate.
Anyway, he mentions in his book about what was thought to be free-will, is not necessarily the case. People who were once considered bad people, where changed, once they visited his clinic and receive the help, that before, was not though possible.
In relation to all of this, my own confessor(a PHD in Theology) once explained to me, that the three conditions for committing a mortal sin, are not necessarily infallible. They are a good guideline that can be used in determining if a mortal sin was committed, but because brain chemistry and function, may have played a role in preventing a person from making a decision with full consent, it would not be a mortal sin. He used road rage as an example. Most people who commit road rage, do so impulsively, without even thinking about what they’re doing, until they’ve done it. Was full consent given here? From the science we’re learning, probably not. He said that science is proving more and more, that brain chemistry and disorders, my cause many behavioral patterns that over ride a persons free will to act properly. This is not an excuse, and must be looked at by a confessor, on individual cases.
Also, Dr Amen does say that his study should not be used as an excuse for bad behavior, because we still have a sense of right and wrong, and can make good choices on most moral issues.
The reasoning behind my interest in this, is that Dr Amen also provides methods and advice on how to help create and keep a healthy brain. He has some techniques in helping brain performance, which can help in decision making, and controlling emotional responses to events in everyday life.
Last, I think this new science will be something that the Church will have to use in understanding free-will and will influence how priest are trained in hearing confessions.