About Mental Illness and Perceptions

To understand mental illness we must appreciate the fact that every one of us is a conditioned individual. This is inevitable because no matter which society one grows up in one receives a powerful conditioning effect from the cultural value system, the language and traditions of that society. It means that every one of us is brainwashed by the society we live in as we grow up. It also means that every one of us will have acquired values, traditions and beliefs of that group and have some distorted perception of reality to start with. Our perceptions then change as time and experience forces us to move on. It is up to the individual to wake up and clear up those perceptions during one’s lifetime or die becoming a copy of the people around them.

Normally we all go about our daily activities despite our somewhat distorted perceptions. This is because society conditions us to think in a particular way. However this normality is relative to the society we live in. Since not all societies have the same value system, what is considered right in one society may be considered totally wrong in another society. That is our behaviour may be acceptable in one set of circumstances but may be totally unacceptable or inappropriate in another set of circumstances.

So it is the degree of distortion that determines the level at which a clinical disorder of behaviour and action will manifest itself in the individual as mental illness.

As perceptions produce physiological and biochemical changes in the individual is it not important to understand how they influence our subconscious mind and our body?

Do you know that almost 96% of the human body weight consists of only four elements, oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen? And most this is in the form of water.

And do you know that our mind can be divided into two parts, the conscious and the subconscious? The conscious mind which most people are aware of only represents a fraction of our daily activities. Like our body weight which is mostly made up of the above four elements, over 90% of our activities are subconscious. That is all our vital organs such as our brain, heart, liver, kidneys and lungs which keep us alive are under subconscious control. Yet no one seems to be interested in learning about how our subconscious mind works and how negatively or positively it is being influenced by our perceptions.

The fact is we live in a hypnotic world. While our conscious mind is discriminatory with our like and dislikes, our subconscious mind is like a sponge which absorbs everything in its path and will be open to all sorts of influences. It is non-discriminatory. Negative stimuli will make us feel negative and positive stimuli will make us feel positive.

Our perceptions and how they affect our subconscious mind are therefore most important in the way we feel. This is why in a consumer society the ego is being constantly exploited and pandered to by businesses, the media and the politicians so they can enhance their own interests. Yes it is a self-centred world we have created where individuals carry distorted perceptions and where responsibility for one’s actions is never foremost in one’s mind.

Can we therefore depend on the politicians to improve our mental health? Now politics is a game of distorting people’s perceptions, not correcting them. Politicians will be the last people you turn to, to improve your mental health.

Can we depend on the media to improve our mental health? The media depends on news, gossip and sensationalism etc. to sell their product. How can these mischief makers help you improve your mental health?

The only people we can turn to, to improve our mental health are the doctors. But alas the medical profession appears to have been seduced by our consumer society and have abandoned their role of being our guardian of physical and mental health. They have turned the profession into a political bureaucratic structure where they operate closed shops and indulge in restricted trade practices in collusion with the government. Like the politicians they are trying to convince themselves and the public that medicine is an exact science and can be treated as a consumer item with the same standards of measurements that apply to any consumer item. Clearly our medical leaders are misguided. These pseudo-scientists should not be playing politics and they should not be playing the sick role of Porky Pig selling pork chops and pork sausages on behalf of the government. This is not self-regulation they are practicing. That is a misnomer. In my book that is the path to self-enslavement.

But just because our medical leaders are twisted in their perceptions, it does not mean the rest of the profession thinks in the same way. Doctors as a breed are mostly independent thinkers. Most of us in the profession do not follow any leader or leaders blindly and are not academically inclined. We retain healthy amount of skepticism in whatever we do. Most of us enter the profession meaning to improve the physical and mental health of people around us.

So in this day and age where there is a lot of confused thinking, anxiety and depression going on in society and if you wish to improve your mental health, I would suggest you find a good general medical practitioner you can talk to. I say General Practitioner and not a Specialist because it is the GP who has the special interest in your welfare. The Specialist does not have the time or inclination to listen to your private matters. This GP should have a common sense approach to life and must look happy and healthy. Be wary of any doctor who looks sick and unhealthy. If he cannot cure himself he cannot help you either.

Quite clearly the outside world is constantly causing our perceptions to be distorted and our sanity is being tested. Thus if you are stressed out, anxious, depressed and miserable, it means that you are suffering from distorted perceptions. It means the world is making you sick and what you need is a change in your perceptions.

Remember that if you look at a problem in the right way, there is no such thing as a problem. If you look at it in the wrong way, everything becomes a problem. So why not straighten out your perceptions and start enjoying life? You have only yourself to blame if you have not done anything about it.

Myths Debunked About Mental Illness

Mental health issues do not affect children

It is incorrect to believe that mental health issues do not affect children. Children, too, can and do, experience mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety. According to the NAMI, one in five children between 13 and 18 years of age have, or will have, a mental illness. In fact, 50 percent of all lifetime cases related to mental illness begin by the age of 14.

Mental illness is a sign of weakness

An individual diagnosed with a mental health problem is often wrongly thought to be weak due to a lack of understanding. In fact, mental disorders can affect any individual from any age group, caste, creed or culture. Since the risk of developing a mental illness is dependent on various factors such as genetic, biological, social and environmental, it cannot be a sign of weakness.

Mental illness makes a person mad and dangerous

Since mental illnesses weaken a person’s emotional and mental capabilities, this, in turn, can result in disruptive behavior patterns that can negatively affect his or her life. The person might even face difficulty in interacting comfortably with people around him or her. However, any dramatic change in one’s behavior is interpreted as a sign of madness. Consequently, the person is deemed to be a danger to society. This is not at all true as dealing with a mental illness is in itself a huge challenge.

Taking a pill is the best treatment

Since mental health conditions affect every individual differently, there may not be one best suitable treatment plan that can work effectively for all. This raises the need to customize the treatment according to the needs of every person. Though medications are popularly used during the treatment, using a combination of medications and therapies, such as cognitive therapy, can work as the best treatment for a person with an illness such as depression or anxiety.

Mental illness makes the person incapable of performing at work or school

Irrespective of the fact whether a person is healthy or depressed, managing stressful situations is difficult for every individual. Therefore, it is wrong to say that a person with depression is prone to fail at work or in school, or in meeting family responsibilities. In fact, a majority of them excel in their fields. In certain cases, the person can be so brilliant that it is hard for people to even realize that he or she is dealing with any mental health problem.