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Mental illness as "enlightening"?

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otherlander Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-25-08 11:44 PM
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Mental illness as "enlightening"?
So last week I went to Manhattan to attend a meeting set up by some anarchist friends of mine. Though not personally an anarchist (more of a libertarian leftist, if you'd like a label for me), I find many of the goals and attitudes of anarchists to be very admirable- in their dialogues, they seem more conscious of cultural constructs and societal privelege than liberals or leftists, and more willing to take direct action and build alternate institutions that function on a more human level. We had a very interesting discussion that went on for hours, and I've been mulling it over, and decided to come here and post a few of the key points that came up:

-Dealing with mental illness is undoubtedly difficult, but much of the difficulty comes from the stigma that society attatches to it. If this stigma was removed and people recieved more support and acceptance from their communities, people could potentially see their mental state not as a curse but as a sort of dangerous gift.

-Some mental illness comes from chemical imbalance, but some is caused by environmental factors (Read: The World). As Krishnamurti once said, it is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick situation.

-Things seen, heard, thought, or otherwise experienced during a psychotic break could, upon return to reality, be sorted through and interpereted for messages about one's self or one's environment. One could learn from their own hallucinations, somewhat like a shaman interpereting messages from a "spirit world", except in this case, one would be interpereting the creations of their own subconscious mind. (This was, I believe, part of the premise of Doris Lessing's Briefing for a Descent into Hell.)

-Depression could potentially be used as a state in which to connect to and empathise with the suffering of all living beings, and the energy of mania could be channeled into acting out of the sense of solidarity gained during depression.

Thoughts?
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CanSocDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-02-08 02:21 PM
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1. Interesting ideas.


These were the basis for LSD experiments in the treating of alcoholism in the 50's and 60's...

"One could learn from their own hallucinations, somewhat like a shaman interpreting messages from a "spirit world", except in this case, one would be interpreting the creations of their own subconscious mind."

Of course it all depends on the current definition of mental illness or mental health, doesn't it?
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otherlander Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-06-08 09:22 PM
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2. Yes, it definitley does, CanSocDem.
Homosexuality used to be called a mental illness. It was a huge fight to get transsexuality removed from the DSM, too. And though not officially listed in any diagnostic manuals that I know of, left-handedness was also seen as something to be "cured". We've made some progress since then, but not enough for me to believe that everything that gets called an illness actually is one. Thanks for stopping by my thread; sorry it took so long to get back to you. And... YAY OBAMA!!!
:bounce:
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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-09-08 10:06 AM
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3. I once came across a study that said depressed people see the world more accurately
Basically, they tried to reduce a lot of variables by asking people to assess simple situations and likely outcomes.

Depressed people were much more accurate in predicting outcomes. This suggests that "normal" people are unrealisticallly optimistic. So depression might be a form of insight into how things "really are."
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CanSocDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-09-08 01:24 PM
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4. No wonder...


...there are so many anti-depressants on the market. Can't have 'reality' cutting into shareholder profit. :woohoo:


.
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SHRED Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-09-08 08:55 PM
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5. yes
I am living proof.

The outside world labeled it "illness", not me.
I knew deep in my soul that I had stumbled across enchanted realities with their own subsets of heaven and hellish domains.

Mandala visions intertwined with an upper body like bliss, white robbed beings at the end of burning tunnels, walls that melted around me as a gentle breeze blew incense and chanting started.

Just a small snapshot of where I have been.
The places the outside world could not see and while I was there labeled me, drugged me, and placed me in solitary confinement all out of their fear.
I am not blaming them.
They don't understand.

---
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Ilsa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-12-08 12:46 PM
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6. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor has written a book about her new enlightenment after suffering
a horrible stroke. And I don't mean enlightenment from suffering, but enlightenment from learning to use your brain differently. It took her eight years of recovery, but she writes about using the right hemisphere more to find yourself in the present to reduce stress and find serenity.
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Tigress DEM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-25-08 01:38 PM
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7. It is good to look at things from a different perspective.
Having known many manic-depressives and being a depressive myself (chemical imbalance at this point) I can see some good in things that were discussed.

When you touch a hot object your body quickly withdraws your hand to protect you. If your mind is misfiring and you think all black objects are hot and you withdraw only to find out that all red objects are hot too, that is the kind of Hell people with mental illness go through at the psychotic level.

The stigma is bad. People do need more support and acceptance from their communities, but I don't know if looking at it as a dangerous gift is quite right. That somewhat glamorizes it, and it can go from hypo-fun to full on delusion and danger to self and others too quickly to not treat mental illness with a certain degree of caution, both for the sufferer and those involved in their care.

I've had situational depression as well and I agree that it is not sane to be well adjusted to insane situations. I think a lot of people can learn from neurotic or past trauma related behavior and using a deeper self analysis find out what is really the cause and discover ways to learn new behaviors and attitudes to get to a healthier place.

I was with a friend during a manic episode who went into a cupboard and started pulling out baby bottles - glass - and tossing them across the room. I quickly realized some part of her realized her baby needed to be fed, but she was unable to fully connect. As soon as I offered to make the bottle for the baby, she stopped. Then she wanted to trade me a pinwheel for the baby, but I said, "Not right now. I'm enjoying holding the baby." So she wandered off and another support friend followed her while I took care of the baby.

And I think a lot of times mania is the mind's way of trying to get us to address or flee from situations it determines we can't handle. For some I've met when they learn to say, "No" when they need to and express anger when it's appropriate, the incidents of mania decrease rapidly. But the realm of hallucinations is as murky as dream interpretations, very subjective.

I sometimes wonder if many depressives are simply too emphatic and can't always unplug themselves from the suffering of the rest. I know it's sometimes true for me, but I do appreciate it as a positive aspect of who I am, feeling deeply is a good thing as long as I can still take care of my own stuff.

Manic energy is unpredictable and unhinged from the person's other life experiences. Most people can't remember much from their episodes. If someone can record it and discuss it afterward, that might help. But some things in the subconscious are submerged because a person doesn't have the skills to deal with it yet. Developing general coping skills before trying this idea would probably produce more positive results.



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mandyky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-04-09 08:19 PM
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8. Addiction is a Mental Illness
Not sure the active addiction is always spiritual but the recovery using the 12 steps is.
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