Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A suggestion for Mental Illness

Various theories are being used to help us in understanding problems related to emotional and behavioral adjustment, and to explore different approaches to mental health and treatment options. 

As a result, we continue to have a plethora of views or theories regarding mental health, giving rise to many specializations or paths. Like, Analytical/ Developmental approach, Behavioral psychology, Cognitive theories, and Social influences. Essentially, all these theories present the problem with two sides, a biological, self-serving side, and, a non biological, predominantly social side (e.g. intellectual, spiritual, philosophic, or aggressive influences), each needing our attention. Of late there is much discussions about how clinicians differentially weigh symptoms of mental disorders in diagnosis and cure.

A review of the broad models of mental health and illness that have been in use can show us how we think about the concept of mental illness.   The first and oldest explanatory system for mental illness is spiritual.  This was followed by the dictum that mental illness is moral in character.  As humans progressed, biological and neuro-physiologic reasons came to be the culprit.  Along with which, we also attributed mental illness to learning and developmental issues and other psychological reasons.  The final explanatory system is sociological, where we are willing to blame ourselves, at least partly.

But one thing is there common with all the above. Unlike other problems of our body, the central philosophical debate over mental illness is not about its existence or cure, but rather over how to define it. And we are constantly busy with questions of such nature. Whether it can be given a scientific or objective definition, or whether normative and subjective elements are essential to our concept of mental illness. Are we are on right track?

I think we need to attack mental issues with a holistic outlook. One can easily see, all our inventions and discoveries owe a lot to the desire some of us felt, for lessening their burden, or for adding to their comfort. In fact our constant effort, like that of other forms of life, is to make one's life more and more comfortable. Accordingly, all the developments in science and technology, which we celebrate as the principal proof of human accomplishment, can be seen as nothing but the result of such a path, that is, the desire to add comfort or oppose discomfort. In fact we actively pursued this thought when we attacked the issue of physical illness and found its cause lying in entities external to diseases, namely germs. Ever since, we are following this path successfully in the realm of physical health. What is causing discomfort to us, as far as the mind is concerned?

Why can't we think about germs of mind? Perhaps some entity external to us, or present in our life, that can initiate mental disorders at will?  Aren't the exhortations we constantly receive from our leaders, be it of spiritual domain, political arena, or cultural playground, a fit candidate here? Or things that can make us too uncomfortable, as well as those that can take us to a state of bliss?

This can definitely make classification and control of mental illnesses, more orderly and structured, like all other branches of medicine. Quite pointed, selective measures can then arise both for prevention and for treatment of mental disorders. I think, as a result, rather than feeling intimidated by a plethora of symptoms, medical practitioners in this area too shall be able to handle health issues objectively.
Isn't this the right track?


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