Is a very serious problem. Usually it is the overhanging anxiety following strokes, concussions, car accidents, premature births. It is also used as a threat. Don't drink—it causes brain damage. Don't do drugs—it causes brain damage. Don't hold in a sneeze—it causes brain damage. The validity of the last one is somewhat questionable. Still, we are told and we see how external circumstances can cause irrevocable brain damage. It is incredibly sad and terrifying.
I started questioning my existence when I was about eight. Not in the “why am I here? Do I have any significance in this huge world” type of way. Fortunately, I had unusually extreme self-confidence and never really doubted why I was in this world. Obviously, my presence made it a better place. What I would do, however, was think myself away. I am making no sense, I know. Stick with me.
I had a tendency to go through my life as if it is a story (probably an after-effect of too much reading as a small child). I know many people “narrate” their life sometimes, but I did this ALL the time. It was if there were two Chloes. There was the one that did the acting, the living out. Then there was another one that sat backstage and watched. Every once in a while the backstage Chloe would throw out a couple of forgotten lines or give out stage directions, but for the most part, that Chloe just watched.
I had gotten so accustomed to watching myself that sometimes I would lie in my bed at night and stare at the ceiling and repeat to myself... “This is real. This is real. I am real. I am me. My life is real.” Realizing the fact that the person that I was watching act out their life was actually me always sent my head into a dizzying fast orbit. The fact that everyone was real, that we were all humans, that this life wasn't just an incredibly complex and enthralling novel, absolutely turned my brain to mush. This is what I mean by questioning my existence. It is no wonder that after these mind games, I would fall promptly asleep, my brain too tired to continue living in the conscious form.
I still do this sometimes, but its harder now. I don't know if it is because I've done it so often or if my mind is no longer capable of imagining the inconceivable.
Back to brain damage. I was considering this peculiar habit of mine (that is, the existence questioning) and wondered exactly how much damage it had done to my brain. Questioning the fact that one is real certainly doesn't build up the brain cells. While pondering this, I came to an interesting conclusion: While brain damage caused by the external is serious and harmful, perhaps the greatest brain damage is done by ourselves with our own thoughts. What else could be so powerful as to damage our brains than the very things that feed it? When our thoughts become twisted and confused, our brain follows suit.
We can turn off parts of our brain by no longer using them. While a car crash can cause brain damage that is not of that person's choice, we can in fact use our own thoughts to intentionally damage our brains. The sad part is, that by leaving some parts of their brains stagnant, many people are hurting their minds without even realizing it. Unintentional self-brain damage is very dangerous indeed.