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Mental illness as "enlightening"? [View All]

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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"?
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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.

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