Do you feel anxious, hopeless, discouraged, or depressed?
If so I have good news: you can break free from all that negativity. The trick is to learn to make the mind work toward your best interests rather than against them.
By Will Meecham — Acceptance underlies most of my recovery from what was once diagnosed as bipolar disorder.
As earlier posts have made clear, I no longer buy into the concept of ‘mental illness’ because the phrase refers to putative brain disorders that are viewed as irreversible. My recovery demonstrates that my formerly intense moodiness did not result from a structural or genetic neurologic condition, but rather from errors in relating to the chaotic vicissitudes of life. My instability resolved once I learned to accept my experience, no matter how painful.
The ‘illness’ metaphor as currently used robs hope from those suffering mental distress. And if there is one thing we need when our minds are in turmoil, it’s a sense that things can get better. The expectation of a little improvement at the cost of drug dependence and awful side effects will not suffice. We need to believe in the possibility of a grand and glorious transformation from constricted misery to expansive joy. The ‘brain disease’ metaphor rules out such optimism.
What if instead of psychiatric hospitals, we created spirit-healing camps?
Let me be clear: people sometimes behave in ways that look incomprehensible or even insane. Suicidal behavior, profoundly delusional speech, and irresistible compulsions represent severe behavioral problems for individuals and society. No doubt they stem from cognitive activity and emotional tones that differ from average day-to-day awareness. These sorts of disordered conduct do indeed derive from ‘mental’ processes, but do they qualify as ‘illnesses?’
In ancient times, spiritual vitality and mental health were considered identical. People did not conceive of a mind separate from the soul.
While it can’t be denied that people have problems in the mental sphere, I object to the widespread assumption that they suffer from organic diseases. Yes, symptoms sometimes diminish with pharmaceutical treatment, but that doesn’t prove they are caused by faulty neurons. But if we abandon the “brain dysfunction” formula, what do we replace it with?