From Mad in Sweden: Investing more money in today’s dysfunctional and in many places downright counterproductive systems, without bringing into these systems relevant knowledge about the underlying mechanisms of mental illness, does not help those in need and does not improve public health.
Read the original article here, and the English translation here.
“We need to realize that the various expressions of suffering that we today refer to as mental illness, or even more cynically as mental illness, are actually functional reactions to difficult and overwhelming life situations. And must also be seen and treated as such”
This is so true! Anyone who has been in psychotherapy or psychiatric treatment are looked upon as if the problems they have is ONLY their fault hence dismissing the often sick world we are living in which keeps our emotional and psychological well being in a state of arrested development. To make matters worse, this arrested state impairs our innate potential in discovering higher stages of development towards self realization.
Dr. Erich Fromm knew this long ago. In his book, “Escape from Freedom” he said
“modern man still is anxious and tempted to surrender his freedom to dictators of all kinds, or to lose it by transforming himself into a small cog in the machine, well fed, and well clothed, yet not a free man but an automaton”
Elsewhere he said
“Man’s brain lives in the twentieth century; the heart of most men lives still in the Stone Age. The majority of men have not yet acquired the maturity to be independent, to be rational, to be objective. They need myths and idols to endure the fact that man is all by himself, that there is no authority which gives meaning to life except man himself. Man represses the irrational passions of destructiveness, hate, envy, revenge; he worships power, money, the sovereign state, the nation; while he pays lip service to the teachings of the great spiritual leaders of the human race, those of Buddha, the prophets, Socrates, Jesus, Mohammed—he has transformed these teachings into a jungle of superstition and idol-worship. How can mankind save itself from destroying itself by this discrepancy between intellectual-technical over-maturity and emotional backwardness? As far as I can see there is only one answer: the increasing awareness of the most essential facts of our social existence, an awareness sufficient to prevent us from committing irreparable follies, and to raise to some small extent our capacity for objectivity and reason”
In his book, The Sane Society” he says,
“The problem of the sense of identity is not, as it is usually understood, merely a philosophical problem, or a problem only concerning our mind and thought. The need to feel a sense of identity stems from the very condition of human existence, and it is the source of the most intense strivings. Since I cannot remain sane without the sense of “I,” I am driven to do almost anything to acquire this sense. Behind the intense passion for status and conformity is this very need, and it is sometimes even stronger than the need for physical survival. What could be more obvious than the fact that people are willing to risk their lives, to give up their love, to surrender their freedom, to sacrifice their own thoughts, for the sake of being one of the herd, of conforming, and thus of acquiring a sense of identity, even though it is an illusory one”
It truly is a disgrace that our schools, clergies, and politicians have ignored the prophetic words of Dr. Fromm- intentional or unintentional though it may be. Fromm said that we must increase “the awareness of the most essential facts of our social existence”. And so, how can we do this since the aforementioned institutions are as lost about it as the common man on the street?
The answer I see is through stories. Stories gives meaning to our lives. The entertainment industry knows all too well that we, as humans, are enthralled by stories and the industry spares no expense in making them. Unfortunately, much of what we see is like junk food: taste great but of no nutritional value.
In Dr. Susan Green paper, “The pleasure and pathology of Narrative” she said that
“Literary texts, in particular novels, provide unique ways of representing and exploring the workings of the human mind. Our capacity and willingness to be immersed in an alternative world through the power of narrative suggests our peculiar sensitivity to this form of communication and its capacity to structure our experience. But our hunger for narrative suggests a desire for knowledge as well as a desire for the ‘right’ story: when this desiring in the imagination motivates behavior and affects decisions, narrative can become dangerous”
What a vaccine is to the body is what meaningful stories can be to the mind. We, as humans, need to know the real purpose of our existence other than work and making money. We need to realize that the way we go about living our lives is unsustainable and that our unexamined perception of reality is keeping us all in a state of arrested development. If we don’t break free from our cultural conditioning, nothing will change for the better.