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Author Topic: The root causes of mental illness  (Read 4135 times)
the joint
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June 21, 2012, 10:28:18 PM
 #1

I have boiled down the root causes of mental illness to 3 things; feedback and comments/challenges are encouraged.

1)  Desire (I'll go with the Buddha on this one)
2)  Attempting to control things that are beyond one's control (an offshoot of desire)
3)  Identification with a false concept of identity.

Brief explanations:

1)  Desire:  Whenever a person has any type of desire, it implies that they are dissatisfied with what currently 'is.'  Dissatisfaction implies discontent and a lack of happiness.  If you want something that you don't currently have, this is a problem.

2)  Attempting to control things that are beyond one's control:  This is one of the leading causes of anxiety, anger, etc.  How often do we define our own happiness according to the actions of other people, communities, governments, girlfriends/boyfriends, husbands/wives, etc.?  How often do we become frustrated when our attempts to change these people, communities, governments, etc. fail?

3)  Identification with a false concept of identity:  Who are you?  How did you reach that conclusion?  According to all 11 definitions of identity in Webster's Dictionary, identity implies stability over time.  Yet, how often do we identity/define ourselves conditionally?  For example, let's say that someone says, "I am a teacher."  Ok, great.  Now, if your job is in jeopardy, then your identity is also in jeopardy!  Now, in contrast, how many would have answered this question by saying "I am an observer"?  For, as long as we live, we observe.

Note:  I would expect one of the most common challenges to these assertions would be, "Well, what about chemical imbalances?  What about genetic predispositions?"  To this, I would remind everyone that environment vs. genes (i.e. nature vs. nurture) is a false dichotomy.  It is known scientifically that interactions with our environment has effects on the genome which are then passed down and inherited generation by generation.  Thus, I would assert that any 'genetic predispositions' for a mental illness are the results of the 3 root causes that I listed to begin with, but in previous generations.

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June 21, 2012, 10:31:13 PM
 #2

Note:  I would expect one of the most common challenges to these assertions would be, "Well, what about chemical imbalances?  What about genetic predispositions?"
What about child abuse?
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June 21, 2012, 10:48:53 PM
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Note:  I would expect one of the most common challenges to these assertions would be, "Well, what about chemical imbalances?  What about genetic predispositions?"
What about child abuse?

Excellent question.  I would respond as follows:

First, I remember in my undergraduate psychology class a study we reviewed in class with our professor.  This study studied the effects of child abuse on children of various ages.  I truly need to find this study again as I've brought it up in many conversations, but the results of the study indicated that if the abuse occurred before a certain age (specifically, before the time of memory formation or concrete identity formation) then the negative effects of this abuse were minimized to some degree.  While the brain naturally and continually forms associations of the world, it can do so consciously or unconsciously.  As a result, while these early-abused children may still grow up with feelings and associations that the world is a more dangerous and stressful place relative to children who were not abused at all, there was less internalization of the abuse relative to children who were abused at later ages because a concrete concept of identity had not formed yet.  

Second, I contend there is a difference between pain and suffering.  For example, let's say you break your arm.  Obviously, this is painful and this pain can be experienced.  But, I contend that suffering comes from subsequent mental processes such as "now that I've broken my arm, I cannot do x, y, and z, in the future and so my future will be bad."  Relating this to child or sexual abuse, the actual event of abuse is temporary, and while this event can be extraordinarily painful, it is from the following mental processes that mental suffering occurs.  Please do not mistake me for being insensitive to those who have experienced this kind of trauma.  I am in no way saying that the negative associations formed from such an experience are easy to overcome; I am simply trying to provide a logical understanding of mental illnesses themselves.

Third, the preceding 2 paragraphs encompass elements of all 3 root causes that I listed.  For example, the person who has experienced child abuse likely desires that the abuse never happened.  This incorporates both the dissatisfaction associated with desire itself as well as wanting to control things that are beyond that person's control (i.e. to change a past event).  Finally, I would contend that the 3rd root cause, identifying with a false concept of identity, is also present.  Who was abused?  This can be analyzed on 2 levels:

Level 1:  Who was abused?  If you were the child that was being abused, are you still the child and are you still being abused?

Level 2:  If you are an observer, and you observe yourself as having the body of the child that was abused, then were you even abused?  (I.e. was the 'observer' abused?)  This is the hardest concept to grasp.  If I, the observer (the subject) can witness my body (an object), my thoughts (objects), or pain/discomfort (objects), then this implies that I am not any of these observed things.  In other words, I contend that I as an observer cannot possibly be my body, my pain, or my thoughts because I am observing them.  The things that I observe are "over there."


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June 21, 2012, 11:28:26 PM
 #4

Mental illness is largely based on whatever the fashion of normalcy but I have to agree on the teachings of Buddha to end suffering.

Actually, I think it's based primarily and fundamentally on root cause #3 that I listed (i.e. identifying with a false sense of concept), and that this one little/huge mistake leads to virtually everything else.  Although, I also think that this mistake is not entirely our 'fault' as it is something that also has been passed down as a 'predisposition' of sorts through countless generations.

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June 21, 2012, 11:31:29 PM
 #5

Second, I contend there is a difference between pain and suffering.  For example, let's say you break your arm.  Obviously, this is painful and this pain can be experienced.  But, I contend that suffering comes from subsequent mental processes such as "now that I've broken my arm, I cannot do x, y, and z, in the future and so my future will be bad."  Relating this to child or sexual abuse, the actual event of abuse is temporary, and while this event can be extraordinarily painful, it is from the following mental processes that mental suffering occurs.  Please do not mistake me for being insensitive to those who have experienced this kind of trauma.  I am in no way saying that the negative associations formed from such an experience are easy to overcome; I am simply trying to provide a logical understanding of mental illnesses themselves.
That's one way to look at it or you could use science and evidence and actually see the damage done to the brain on an MRI. Now that we have the tools to see it we know a brain injury caused by repeated verbal abuse is just as real as a broken arm caused by physical abuse.
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June 21, 2012, 11:49:12 PM
 #6

Second, I contend there is a difference between pain and suffering.  For example, let's say you break your arm.  Obviously, this is painful and this pain can be experienced.  But, I contend that suffering comes from subsequent mental processes such as "now that I've broken my arm, I cannot do x, y, and z, in the future and so my future will be bad."  Relating this to child or sexual abuse, the actual event of abuse is temporary, and while this event can be extraordinarily painful, it is from the following mental processes that mental suffering occurs.  Please do not mistake me for being insensitive to those who have experienced this kind of trauma.  I am in no way saying that the negative associations formed from such an experience are easy to overcome; I am simply trying to provide a logical understanding of mental illnesses themselves.

That's one way to look at it or you could use science and evidence and actually see the damage done to the brain on an MRI. Now that we have the tools to see it we know a brain injury caused by repeated verbal abuse is just as real as a broken arm caused by physical abuse.

Ok, but let's break down what you said.

1)  Why did the damage occur to the brain?  Was it the act of abuse alone that damaged the brain, independent of anything else?  Was there in fact something else that caused the damage?  Was it a combination of things?

Science and evidence also shows us that the beliefs and thoughts we have have indirect and direct changes on brain and body.  Indirectly, this can be through intention.  For example, the thought of wanting to smoke marijuana --> leads to intention and action of smoking marijuana -- > leads to effects on the brain which can be damaging over time.

Directly, thoughts can also have an impact on the brain/body.  The most obvious example would be thinking of moving your arm and then actually doing it.  Next, try focusing on a positive word like "love" or "happiness" for hours on end and you will feel the effects of more efficient dopamine transmission.  Studies have also shown that the muscles of those who mentally imagined themselves performing a workout routine received about 30% the amount of stimulation that they would have received had they actually physically performed the same workout routine.  This gives credence to the idea that if a person simply believes they have been damaged, then the damage can manifest itself physically.

2)  Also consider the event from the offenders point of view.  The offender commited said abuse through some combination of the 3 root causes I mentioned as well, especially desire.  Now, as I have already pointed out that nature-vs.-nurture is a false dichotomy, then his desire will have its consequences on the environment as well as himself.  In other words, the root causes of mental illness as manifested in one person can cause negative effects on the environment, including other people.  This is how community psychology functions, and there truly are such things as "sick" and "healing" communities.

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June 21, 2012, 11:52:25 PM
 #7

How is blaming "desire" for the problem not merely an avoidance mechanism to deprive the abuser of both agency and accountability?
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June 22, 2012, 12:03:29 AM
 #8

How is blaming "desire" for the problem not merely an avoidance mechanism to deprive the abuser of both agency and accountability?

Good question.

To clarify, I'm not saying that desire itself is to blame, for each person has the choice of whether to follow that desire (and thus perpetuate it) or work to overcome that desire (and thus decrease the intensity and frequency with which it arises).

The nature of desire is that it can never be fulfilled.  Take sex or drugs for example.  The desire to use drugs (and then actually using them) tends to increase the desire to use drugs.  The desire to have sex (and then actually going out and trying to get or having it) tends to increase the desire to have sex.

Desire itself is intentional whether it is conscious or unconscious desire.  And, because it is intentional, it can be systematically increased or decreased by chasing after the object of desire or letting go of the object of desire respectively (attachment vs. detachment).

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June 22, 2012, 12:10:39 AM
 #9

I'm still not seeing the point of all this.

One could say that a child feels pain when he tries to move his broken arm because of his desire to move the arm and that he could avoid pain by learning not to want to move his arm but that would be asinine.

The only thing blaming "desire" accomplishes is to obscure the cause and effect relationship between the infliction of trauma and the resulting dysfunction. It's a way of letting the perpetrators escape recognition for what they have done.
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June 22, 2012, 12:37:17 AM
 #10

Note:  I would expect one of the most common challenges to these assertions would be, "Well, what about chemical imbalances?  What about genetic predispositions?"
What about child abuse?
Excellent question.  I would respond as follows:
[...]
Level 2:  If you are an observer, and you observe yourself as having the body of the child that was abused, then were you even abused?  (I.e. was the 'observer' abused?)  This is the hardest concept to grasp.  If I, the observer (the subject) can witness my body (an object), my thoughts (objects), or pain/discomfort (objects), then this implies that I am not any of these observed things.  In other words, I contend that I as an observer cannot possibly be my body, my pain, or my thoughts because I am observing them.  The things that I observe are "over there."
Really liked this post, especially the level 2 paragraph at the end.  Reminds of of Eckhart Tolle's "You are not your mind.  You are the observer behind your mind."  This was a good example, at least in the sense that I had an "Aha!" moment reading it Smiley
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June 22, 2012, 01:23:23 AM
 #11

I'm off for the evening.  I will gladly respond to all posts tomorrow Smiley

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June 22, 2012, 03:27:31 AM
 #12

Quote from: the joint
I have boiled down the root causes of mental illness to 3 things; feedback and comments/challenges are encouraged.

1)  Desire (I'll go with the Buddha on this one)
2)  Attempting to control things that are beyond one's control (an offshoot of desire)
3)  Identification with a false concept of identity.

I will disagree based on your reasons.

Quote from: the joint
Brief explanations:

1)  Desire:  Whenever a person has any type of desire, it implies that they are dissatisfied with what currently 'is.'  Dissatisfaction implies discontent and a lack of happiness.  If you want something that you don't currently have, this is a problem.
Desire originates in the will. It is activated, in the realms in which it is directed, by that which is the motivating force, through the will and the mental abilities of the individual. Desire is the power which drives our physical, our spiritul self, while will is the directing force. It is the intent of mind that strengthens desire.

Quote from: the joint
2)  Attempting to control things that are beyond one's control:  This is one of the leading causes of anxiety, anger, etc.  How often do we define our own happiness according to the actions of other people, communities, governments, girlfriends/boyfriends, husbands/wives, etc.?  How often do we become frustrated when our attempts to change these people, communities, governments, etc. fail?
This is a symptom not a cause.

Quote from: the joint
3)  Identification with a false concept of identity:  Who are you?  How did you reach that conclusion?  According to all 11 definitions of identity in Webster's Dictionary, identity implies stability over time.  Yet, how often do we identity/define ourselves conditionally?  For example, let's say that someone says, "I am a teacher."  Ok, great.  Now, if your job is in jeopardy, then your identity is also in jeopardy!  Now, in contrast, how many would have answered this question by saying "I am an observer"?  For, as long as we live, we observe.
This is a logic problem. Invalid logic is still logic.

I would think mental illness, except for those with a disease causation, schizophrenia, or those with a spiritual causation, obsession and possession, are mental patterns that are stuck or fixed in position. I believe also, that nutrient deficiencies can lead to or exaserbate mental illness.

For those with a nutrient deficiency where mental illness manifests, combinations of specific vitamin/mineral supplementation has been shown to be effective at creating a remission of the mental illness.

For those absent of a nutrient deficiency, their is an abnormal mental pattern of functioning, much like an 'addictive personality'. This probably could be seen via a brain wave graph. To place mental illness into remission in this instance requires, meditation, biofeedback, or some form of guided image therapy that will reset the abnormal pattern. This process can take 6 months to 2 years.

Drugs and alcohol modify these mental patterns also, but combined with addiction require multi steps to achieve the mental illness remission.

True schizophrenia, not a misdiagnosed case of possession or obsession, is a degeneritive disease which progresses over many years. It destroys nerve sheaths and a gold deficiency prevents their regeneration, also, excess spinal fluid entering the brain destroys brain cells. 90%+ of all true schizophrenia can traced back to a traumatic birth.

Obsession and possession can be resolved with prayer and exorcism actions. These are non-invasive methods, though those suffering may erroneously complain of death, pain or some form of anguish, and when employed by competent specialists can achieve 100% remission of the mental illness in a short period of time.

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June 22, 2012, 09:43:31 AM
 #13

To anyone in this thread:
So, based on your theory, what do we do about it then?
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June 22, 2012, 11:58:16 PM
 #14

To anyone in this thread:
So, based on your theory, what do we do about it then?
It is difficult to provide a specific answer to a vague question.

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the joint
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June 23, 2012, 03:02:09 AM
 #15

I'm still not seeing the point of all this.

One could say that a child feels pain when he tries to move his broken arm because of his desire to move the arm and that he could avoid pain by learning not to want to move his arm but that would be asinine.

The only thing blaming "desire" accomplishes is to obscure the cause and effect relationship between the infliction of trauma and the resulting dysfunction. It's a way of letting the perpetrators escape recognition for what they have done.

I'm not sure I understand what your point is with respect to your first sentence.  Pain is pain, and it is simply an experience as any other.  As I have stated, I contend pain is not equivalent to suffering.  The distinction I am making here is that pain (for lack of a better term) is experienced prior to any interpretation of it, even the interpretation of calling it pain.  But, for the sake of this discussion, I have to call it something to convey the message.  The 'suffering' that can result after the experience has been interpreted as pain is the product of the drama that unfolds in the mind through negative thoughts about the future as a result of some past experience (e.g. "I hurt my arm in the past, and now my future will be worse because of x, y, and z."  But, as I do not understand what your point was, this was probably an off-topic response.

Also, as I stated in a previous post, blaming "desire" as an isolated phenomenon is not accurate.  Desire is intended, and the intent to follow (attach) or let go of (detach) from desire is also a choice.  The choice of whether to attach to, or detach from, a given desire is what makes desire itself intended.  In other words, the desires that we have now are the product of attaching ourselves to (or following) similar desires in the past.  Desire is habitual in nature.

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June 23, 2012, 03:18:49 AM
 #16

Quote

Desire originates in the will. It is activated, in the realms in which it is directed, by that which is the motivating force, through the will and the mental abilities of the individual. Desire is the power which drives our physical, our spiritul self, while will is the directing force. It is the intent of mind that strengthens desire.

I agree with you completely, so I'm actually not sure why you disagreed with what I said.

Quote
This is a symptom not a cause.

I acknowledged this in my original post when I stated that root cause #2 is an offshoot of root cause #1.  Perhaps it is the phrase "root cause" that tripped you up, and to this extent I agree that it is a misnomer.  In fact, I would say that root causes #1 and #2 are both offshoots of root cause #3, in which case both are misnomers.  And, I also could point to ways in which root cause #3 is an off shoot of some other primary cause.

When I began typing this post, I faced an immediate conundrum:  How do I convey what I want to say in a way that speaks to a wide variety of people, but also in a way that won't leave some logical/philosophical purist in the dust.  This is why I completey left out any discussion of a comprehensive model which would necessarily entail self-resolving logical paradoxes explained by relative levels of syntax (where higher level logical syntaxes can help resolve paradoxes in lower level logical syntaxes).  I didn't want things to get so utterly confusing to the point where the intended message would be lost to 99.9% of the population.  I am posting this more for practical reasons.

Quote
This is a logic problem. Invalid logic is still logic.

I would think mental illness, except for those with a disease causation, schizophrenia, or those with a spiritual causation, obsession and possession, are mental patterns that are stuck or fixed in position. I believe also, that nutrient deficiencies can lead to or exaserbate mental illness.

For those with a nutrient deficiency where mental illness manifests, combinations of specific vitamin/mineral supplementation has been shown to be effective at creating a remission of the mental illness.

For those absent of a nutrient deficiency, their is an abnormal mental pattern of functioning, much like an 'addictive personality'. This probably could be seen via a brain wave graph. To place mental illness into remission in this instance requires, meditation, biofeedback, or some form of guided image therapy that will reset the abnormal pattern. This process can take 6 months to 2 years.

Drugs and alcohol modify these mental patterns also, but combined with addiction require multi steps to achieve the mental illness remission.

True schizophrenia, not a misdiagnosed case of possession or obsession, is a degeneritive disease which progresses over many years. It destroys nerve sheaths and a gold deficiency prevents their regeneration, also, excess spinal fluid entering the brain destroys brain cells. 90%+ of all true schizophrenia can traced back to a traumatic birth.

Obsession and possession can be resolved with prayer and exorcism actions. These are non-invasive methods, though those suffering may erroneously complain of death, pain or some form of anguish, and when employed by competent specialists can achieve 100% remission of the mental illness in a short period of time.

My reply to this is mostly conveyed above.  Again, it's hard to present a comprehensive model for such assertions without getting into a "tower of turtles" which requires a very lengthy philosophical argument to even attempt to explain and resolve.  I am trying to present the information in a way which I recognize is ultimately fallible in its logic but will still provide a basis by which people can benefit.  And, by benefit, I mean to benefit in ways that I think are both atypical with respect to typical psychological therapeutic models, and are also not so overwhelmingly complex that it would take months if not years of contemplation to understand.

Don't forget, virtually any 'sound' conclusion is true on one syntax level, but is invalid on a higher syntax level.

Edit:  A good analogy for the "tower of turtles" would be the physical dimensions.  Let's say that I assert "That bird is over there."  Well, in the 3rd-dimension, that statement can be true.  In the 4th dimension, that statement is both true and false because the 4th dimension represents the sum of all possible configurations of the 3rd dimension.  So, in the 4th dimension, that 'bird' is both 'over there' and 'not over there,' and the 'bird' is also a 'non-bird.'  

But, then any statement made about the 4th dimension yields the same problem, and you need to go to a higher syntax (the 5th dimension) to shed light on the issue.  And so on, and so on.

Logic itself works the same way.  "A barber has a sign in front of his shop that states 'I will shave all those, and those who do not shave themselves.'"   This is a paradox.  If the barber doesn't shave himself, then he shaves himself.  Most people would just say "this is plain stupid," but we must remember that the assertion has already been made, and if we simply shift to a higher level of syntax, then these paradoxes become self-resolving.

The problem with human intellect is that it only works according to yes OR no operations, and not yes AND no operations.  Every (not-every) word (not-word) in (not-in) this (not-this) sentence (not-sentence) is (not-is) only (not-only) understood (not-understood) through (not-through) yes (not-yes) or (not-or) no (not-no) operations (not-operations).

As a result, we must pick one syntax level and use it as the highest level of syntactic operation, and then try to explain everything else as a lower level of syntactic operations.  If we were able to intellectually perform yes AND no operations simultaneously, then this wouldn't be so fucking confusing Cheesy

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June 23, 2012, 03:48:08 AM
 #17

To anyone in this thread:
So, based on your theory, what do we do about it then?

A great question:

Here is my humble advice.

1)  First, try to identify more with yourself as being an 'observer' rather than a 'participant.'  If you think "I am thinking," try to shift it to the idea that "there is thinking."  If you think "I am sad," try to shift it to the idea that "there is sadness."

Thoughts are like boxes.  Whenever we have a thought or idea, its as if our mind jumps inside that thought-box and whatever that thought-box contains becomes our entire reality.  Now, if that thought-box is full of negative things and we jump inside of it, then all of those negative things can hurt us.

The trick is to learn how to float above and hover around those thought boxes.  If we can make the box be "over there," then our mind becomes free.  Thoughts are the constraints on the freedom of our mind.  By learning to identify ourselves as observers, we can place some distance between ourselves and the boxes.

Now, you might be thinking, "Well, what about good thoughts?  Why not jump inside those boxes?"  Well, why need to?  Have you ever just looked up at the clouds and enjoyed the view, or watched the sunset?  It's not like you need to be right next to the clouds or the sun to enjoy them, you can enjoy them from afar.  Besides, if there's many good thought boxes, why jump inside only one of them?  Why not simply enjoy all of them from a distance?

2.)  When you learn to identify with yourself as being an observer rather than a participant, then naturally your desires will decrease in frequency and intensity.  You will learn to be more content and satisfied with what you observe. 

Keep in mind, observation is related to stillness.  Any good photographer knows that in order to get the most clarity in a photograph, he needs to be calm and still.  Observation itself is the method of stillness and calmness.  When we become better observers, we naturally become more calm and more still, and less anxious and stressed. 

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June 23, 2012, 04:28:27 AM
 #18

I love the term mental illness. It sells a lot of books. Personally, I don't believe it exists. What we perceive as depression, delusion, ADD (bullshit), schizophrenia (most diagnoses are inconclusive), etc. is nothing but our inability to cope with our own weaknesses in helping each other. Basing a worldview on several thousand year old year myths is as useful as empowering self-serving authorities to steal the freedoms of individuals for personal profit. If a person can be labeled as mentally ill, then groups of people should be labeled as socially ill. Where are those peer-reviewed journals? In fact, most of civilization is pretty fucking nuts. That's why we sometimes read, watch, and worship fiction that gives us a glimpse of how things maybe should be if we weren't so goddamn willfully ignorant to do anything about it.

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June 23, 2012, 05:32:29 AM
 #19

1)  Desire:  Whenever a person has any type of desire, it implies that they are dissatisfied with what currently 'is.'  Dissatisfaction implies discontent and a lack of happiness.  If you want something that you don't currently have, this is a problem.

Quote from: check_status
Desire originates in the will. It is activated, in the realms in which it is directed, by that which is the motivating force, through the will and the mental abilities of the individual. Desire is the power which drives our physical, our spiritul self, while will is the directing force. It is the intent of mind that strengthens desire.

I agree with you completely, so I'm actually not sure why you disagreed with what I said.

What I disagree with I highlighted. In your view, all desire is negative. Is self-preservation or hunger a lack of happiness? Is it necessary for us to give up all desire for us to be happy?
The positions in which we find ourselves are drawn to us through our desire; What we are has been built through desire. The 'is' was achieved through desire. Therefore, happiness or a lack of happiness is desire fulfilled already.

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June 23, 2012, 06:30:47 AM
 #20

I love the term mental illness. It sells a lot of books. Personally, I don't believe it exists. What we perceive as depression, delusion, ADD (bullshit), schizophrenia (most diagnoses are inconclusive), etc. is nothing but our inability to cope with our own weaknesses in helping each other. Basing a worldview on several thousand year old year myths is as useful as empowering self-serving authorities to steal the freedoms of individuals for personal profit. If a person can be labeled as mentally ill, then groups of people should be labeled as socially ill. Where are those peer-reviewed journals? In fact, most of civilization is pretty fucking nuts. That's why we sometimes read, watch, and worship fiction that gives us a glimpse of how things maybe should be if we weren't so goddamn willfully ignorant to do anything about it.


Note:  While I do hold a masters degree in social work mental health and a bacehlors degree in psychology, I am not a licensed professional and am not legally qualified to speak professionally on the diagnoses of mental illnesses.

That being said, the DSM-IV is the basis upon which all mental illnesses are diagnosed.  The DSM-IV itself is simply a book outlining categorical criteria that form the basis for mental illnesses.

Do I think that mental illnesses exist?  Well, that depends.   Now, if I were to say definitively that "yes, mental illnesses exist," then I would seem to be contradicting myself when I went into the whole "identity implies stability over time."  In other words, if someone was and is mentally ill, then this would imply that the mental illness would never, EVER go away, nor would that person have been free of mental illness at any time in the past.

So, why use the phrase 'mental illness' to begin with?  Well, why say 'AIDS' or 'cold' or 'flu'?  Isn't every AIDS case different in intensity, duration, etc.?  Don't some people recover from colds in 5 days while others recover in 7?

The phrase 'mental illness' is used to reflect a certain group of characteristics that seem to reflect certain patterns.  The term 'depression,' for example, is simply used to describe a certain number of categorical criteria in an individual.  Using such phrases have benefits -- for example, they make communication between professionals and academics easier.  In other words, they help you to form a general idea of what a given person is going through, what their characteristics might be, what you may be able to expect from them, etc.

My personal belief is that the phrase 'mental illness' is a term just as any other, but truly it is the 'experience' that we must try to understand.  When I say the word 'apple,'  what kind of apple did you think of?  Was it a red apple?  Why didn't you think of a green apple?  Should we hound anybody that uses the phrase 'apples and oranges' for not saying 'red apples and green apples?'

Long story short, any good mental health professional/paraprofessional/student should learn to understand experiences, and from that understanding we can learn ways to bring about more positive experiences.

It is from my emphasis on understanding experiences that my emphasis on identifying with an observer arises.  Observation is a fundamental, self-evident experience.  It aligns with Occam's Razor, and it is hard to get more fundamental than statements like "I observe" or "I am."

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