edited: Saturday, August 04, 2007
By Roberta Maria Atti
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Saturday, August 04, 2007
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An essay on mental health.
The mind, body, spirit and emotions are inseparable. Like players in a team, they can be isolated and observed separately, but we cannot expect to fully understand their role unless we take into account the whole team. Psychotherapy cannot be purely mental or emotional, detached from body and spirit: integration is necessary.
In our search for a therapeutic model that works in today's world, we must start by critiquing the prevailing styles of psychotherapy, not so much to devalue, but rather in an attempt to improve their effectiveness.
As we explore the clinical approach to mental illness in its practical applications, the model we are most likely to encounter seems to be but an offshoot of current medical paradigms: it is as if our soul struggles were just one more form of pathology, to be eradicated by any means necessary, for the soul's own benefit and for the good of humanity.
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for us, the human soul refuses to be conscripted within such limits. This is clearly demonstrated by our ineffectiveness at establishing adequate levels of social sanity.
Given the vast improvement we have witnessed, this may sound like an unfair assessment, however, serious mental pathology is not relegated to mental hospitals and may be at play in many of the dynamics we accept as the price of progress and don't normally think of as insane. How mentally sound is it to pollute our land and water, cut down oxygen producing forests and hunt tigers into extinction, just to name a few examples of what I'm referring to?
Mental illness manifests as a destructive force in individuals and communities, tearing into the matrix of life itself. It suffocates hope, joy, compassion and creativity. Mental illness confuses us with half truths and false enlightenment while all we seem to be able to do, more often than not, is prescribe mind altering drugs, clinging to the belief that numbness may be our only salvation.
But addressing global sanity is a huge endeavor and must be tackled with patience, not to mention humility. If we are determined to foster social sanity we must begin by focusing on the individual, the person who suffers with emotional and mental pain, the soul who is looking for an answer to life's irreducible dilemma. The one who seems to be lost in paradox and confusion, struggling to find balance on the tight rope of existence, often afraid to take a step forward or back.
And perhaps, as a first step, we might want to recognize that, no matter how evolved we think we are, we will never truly be mentally or spiritually "sane" until we personally arrive at a source of compassion that doesn't discriminate, condemn and/or blame anyone or anything for the suffering in our lives.
It may sound like a simplistic, trite and vague cliche', but I invite all of us to ponder on it a bit longer, before discarding the idea.
And may we all be surprised by what might happen if we do just that.