Chronic Stress and “Mental Illness”

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Could it be possible that what we call “mental illness” is a direct consequence of the changes that occur in the body as a result of trauma and chronic stress? Could we be focusing treatment in the wrong area? Could treating, as well as preventing, the upstream aspects of chronic stress—instead of its downstream outcomes—be a more suitable and safer alternative? If so, what would these treatments look like?

A Black man in a suit, in profile, with his head being fragmented digitallyThe Stress Response

If we are confronted by a bear, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is activated by the release of epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol. This immediately enables us to either fight, run (flight), or freeze. Our heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure increase, blood flow is redirected from non-essential areas such as the skin and gastrointestinal system and directed to the muscles, short term memory increases, and pupils dilate.

When the bear leaves, and there is no longer a threat, the cortisol is turned off through the negative feedback system and the epinephrine burns off, resulting in a return of homeostasis.

Everyday stress, whether it be external (work, financial, traumas, bad relationship, etc.) or internal (overthinking, catastrophizing, negativity), results in the same activation of the SNS. The only difference is, because the stress doesn’t go away, neither do the chemicals.

It is a fact that serotonin and cortisol help keep us alive. However, chronic, long-term secretion can lead to adverse effects that, unfortunately, do not exclude any bodily system.

Chronic Stress and Its Biological Impact 

The number of Americans reporting stress is on the rise. In a 2022 survey, upwards of 87% of Americans reported being stressed for different reasons. Ever-increasing cost of living, navigating work-life balance, the state of our education and healthcare systems, tending to our own personal relationships and working with our own self-defeating thoughts are some examples of stressors Americans are facing today. Chronic stress is associated with a dysregulated hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which can result in maladaptive reactions including elevated blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, low sleep quality, and stomach ulcers. It also contributes to the onset of type 2 diabetes. There isn’t an area of the body that stress does not affect.

Nervous System. Although chronic stress can upset many regions of the brain, three of the most affected areas are the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex. The hippocampus is responsible for learning and memories, and the amygdala’s primary function is to control emotions, such as fear, sadness, and aggression. Chronic stress and consistently elevated glucocorticoids have been found to cause dendritic shrinkage and loss of spines in both the amygdala and the hippocampus. These changes have been associated with brain atrophy, declarative memory disorders, reduction in spatial memory, weakened verbal memory, increased anxiety, PTSD-like behaviors, and social avoidance.​

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) plays a central role in executive functions, including planning, judgement, decision-making, anticipation, and reasoning. Chronic stress affects this region by the debranching and shrinkage of dendrites of the PFC neurons.​ Further insults to the nervous system that are a direct result of chronic stress include decreasing the amount of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and decreasing the amount of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). cAMP is an important intracellular second messenger molecule regulated in many physiological processes. The levels of cAMP can determine the state of function in a disease or healthy state, by mediating various biological processes including but not limited to metabolism, immune function, and gene regulation.​ BDNF is an important molecule involved in plastic changes related to learning and memory. It also regulates both excitatory and inhibitory synaptic transmission.​7

Lastly, chronic stress has been found to alter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) transmission, deplete serotonin, sustain the release of noradrenaline, increase glutamate release, and directly impacts dopaminergic neurons.

Immune System. Studies have found that stress is associated with increased susceptibility to infectious and inflammatory disease. A strong decline in innate and cellular immune responses has been noted. Additionally, chronic stress has been directly associated with growth of malignant cells and tumor expansion. Over time, chronic stress causes immune cells to become desensitized to cortisol and express fewer cortisol receptors, and there is an increased production of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-6, IL-1 and Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF).

Chronic inflammation can lead to a multitude of signs and symptoms, including body pain, arthralgia, myalgia, chronic fatigue, insomnia, depression, anxiety, other mood disorders, constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, weight gain/loss, and frequent infections.​ Since the onset of COVID-19 affecting the world in 2020, the rates of mental health disorders, specifically anxiety and depressive disorders, have increased dramatically. According to the World Health Organization, in the first years of the pandemic, anxiety and depression increased by 25%. Other than the social isolation the pandemic caused, another possible impact of COVID-19 that could cause, or worsen, “mental illness,” is inflammation.

According to one study, after a COVID-19 respiratory infection, 20-70% of patients who presented with post virus symptoms such as anosmia, cognitive and attention deficits, brain fog, fatigue, new-onset anxiety, depression, psychosis, seizures, and suicidal behavior, continue to have these symptoms even months after the illness resolved. The researchers note that traditional medications used to treat depression and anxiety today, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), do not typically help this subset of patients. Why is this?

According to the National Institutes of Health, this is result of overactive immune cells releasing high levels of inflammatory substances, the immune system making autoantibodies that attack a person’s own organs and tissues, and the virus becoming active again.​

Endocrine System. Other hormones are also directly affected by chronic stress. Gonadotropins, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH), are suppressed, growth hormone (GH) secretion decreases, thyroid function is downregulated, prolactin is affected, insulin availability decreases, leptin decreases, and ghrelin increases (which results in increased hunger, leading to obesity).​ It is well-researched that changes in hormone homeostasis can directly affect our mood.

Gastrointestinal (GI) System. Chronic stress has also been found to cause GI inflammation, as well as affect the absorption process, motility, intestinal permeability (i.e. leaky gut), mucus and stomach acid secretion, and function of ion channels.​ Neuroscientists have noted the bi-directional link between gut physiology and brain function; the linkage between gut functions and emotional and cognitive processes is provided through afferent and efferent neural projection pathways, bi-directional neuroendocrine signaling, immune activation and signaling from gut to brain, altered intestinal permeability, modulation of enteric sensory-motor reflexes, and entero-endocrine signaling. It is the gut microbiota, which communicate to the brain through the vagus nerve, that directly influence all of these pathways.​

The gut microbiome is the largest microecosystem in the human body. It is interdependent with the host and maintains normal physiological processes in a dynamic equilibrium state. Any imbalance may result in neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease, and gastrointestinal diseases.​ Chronic stress affects the microbiota in the gut, and dysfunction in the microbiome has been associated with stress-related disorders such as anxiety and depression.​

With all of the pathological changes that occur throughout our bodies as a result of chronic stress coupled with the dramatic increase in reported stress, it is no wonder the incidence of multiple chronic illnesses continues to rise, to include diabetes, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease, and “mental illness.” The widespread inflammation that occurs as a result does not omit any bodily system. Could subtle changes in inflammatory, hormonal, and cortisol markers be a measurable sign of these ramifications?

Potential diagnostic biomarkers of chronic stress include cortisol, ACTH, BDNF, catecholamines, glucose, HbA1c, triglycerides, cholesterol, prolactin, oxytocin, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S), CRP, and interleukin-6 and -8.​

What Can We Do?

Although more research is needed in this area, there have already been quite a few studies on possible solutions to the chronic stress dilemma. Most of them are non-pharmacologic. Eating healthy, learning time management, setting realistic goals and boundaries, getting more sleep, exercising, learning and practicing mindfulness, building stress reduction skills, and diaphragmatic breathing are some of many non-pharmacologic methods that have been researched as potential interventions to reduce the adverse effects of chronic stress.

With regard to pharmacologic therapies, there have been few studies performed. Those have focused on the widespread inflammation caused by chronic stress. Some studies have found that patients with depression and anxiety are helped by anti-inflammatory medications, anti-inflammatory diets, and nutritional supplements that have been designed to curtail inflammation.

With the ever-increasing demands of today’s society, resulting in chronic stress, subsequently leading to chronic illnesses, including “mental illness,” it is of utter urgency that treatment begin, not end, with stress prevention and management, as well as the treatment of the biological ramifications of chronic stress.

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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

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21 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for your contribution. This is a very good overview of theory and research on stress and its various adverse impacts on physical and psychological health. Also the methods you discuss are effective means of helping individuals manage stress more effectively and achieve a greater degree of wellness. The only point I would add to your discussion is that we need to broaden the examination of the causes of why our lives have become increasingly stressful beyond the level of the individual. That is, the very powerful impact of larger social, economic and political factors on creating stress that can have a profound impact on well-being. For example, the research on inequality and the social determinants of health. Marmot and Wilkinson in the Whitehall studies found that occupation status was highly correlated with the risk of morbidity and mortality. This is called the social gradient of health in which the higher the occupational status, the lower the morbidity and mortality. The underlying cause they proposed for this is stress based on the relationship between demand and control. Being lower in occupational in status results in many more demands being placed on individuals which is then paired with having little control. Other social determinants of health, like the neighborhood you live in, education, and access to health care, also are detrimental to health due to the stress caused by these conditions “getting under your skin”. One other instance in which individually-based methods of dealing with stress proves not effective is when conditions in which employees are exposed to extreme and unfair working conditions. Some corporations, for example, teach their employees mindfulness or other stress management methods in order to give the impression that they care about the well-being of their employees. However, this is a facade as it is toxic working conditions that are the real problem. In light of this, seeing stress as a social ill in addition to appreciating how it is an individual problem is a truly holistic approach that takes into account various forms of injustice, such as oppression and exploitation.

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    • Frank, I loved your beautifully expressed comments as well as the original article, thank you.

      You did say that teaching employees “mindfulness” is a facade.

      My brother once reminded me that “no one goes into work on a Monday morning wanting to do a bad job,” and I think this applies even to every saboteur, deliberate or otherwise, as it is our very human nature to wish to improve things:

      “No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks,” according to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, echoing Socrates, if indeed he said “Who KNOWS what is right will do what is right,” but presumably (if he did) using a knowing verb which made his message clearer than modern English can (much, perhaps, as may be the case in ancient Aramaic or whatever the man on the Cross reportedly used to say much the same.

      Folks argue about whether or not Einstein suggest that a problem cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness or of thinking at which it was created. Who cares if he did or not?

      Thinking, itself, is clearly what causes all our pains, aches, angst, miseries, sufferings, frustrations, stress and distress: “Nothing’s either good nor bad, but thinking makes it so,” Shakespeare had his Hamlet tell us centuries ago….and modern medicine is only now begGINNing to acknowledge this: we do not even have (peripheral) pain-receptors, for Goodness’s sake, but only sensory nerve endings…and whatever our brains and minds make of it all:

      https://youtu.be/0VyH1laOd2M

      If thinking causes all our woes, then thinking can hardly be the same level at which we can solve them.

      We can sink below thinking through use of drugs/booze which quiet our minds and/or quell fear.

      Or we can rise above thinking, and from there, assess it, direct it, and even learn to stop it, at will for as long as we wish.

      CERTain forms of “mindfulness” practice may surely help us attain states of consciousness above, beyond or deeper than thinking.

      In such states, we may realize our oneness with one another and with all, and more.

      From there, we may access our freedom from fear, and, with it, our highest creativity.

      Bears and saber-toothed tigers have indeed helped propel our evolution to this moment, and to these pages, where we have evolved to the point where we see that we can all take our own evolution into our own hands, and out of our own minds, and love.

      Apart from Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and many other women, and William Shakespeare, Buddha, Socrates, Jesus, Carl Jung, Miguel de Cervantes (whose Sancho Panza reminded us that “…we are all as God made us, and many of us [also translated as “and frequently”] much worse) and Yogi Berra (“If this world was perfect, it wouldn’t be”), many teachers and writers have tried to teach humanity this, but it seems we had not yet suffered enough to be receptive to their message.

      Nowadays, thanks in no small way to tigers, bears, pandemics and warmongers, perhaps we very soon will all have suffered enough to realize we might really like to learn to be increasingly able to stop thinking, while remaining fully conscious, to go to our Happy Place at any moment, and to remain there, and, from there, to do all we need to do?

      I know of no one who teaches this quite so well as Eckhart Tolle, who wrote that

      “You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge. But it can only emerge if something fundamental changes in your state of consciousness…”
      …and reading whom may help bring about just such a transformation.
      So c’mon us saboteurs – all of us!

      And many, many thanks, Frank, Rebecca and MIA.

      Tom.

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      • Tom, Thank you for your kind comments and thoughtful observations. Much has been written about the importance of making “work” more than just a means of “making a living and earning a wage”. One example was the work of Karl Marx who believed that it is part of our “species being” or inherent human nature to self-realizing, creative, and expressive. The psychologist, Alfred Adler, who was influenced by the ideas of Marx, spoke of the importance to human beings of feeling “useful”. Labor offers an important means for human beings to find a channel for expressing these positive and pro-social needs. Unfortunately, because work for the vast majority of people is exploitative, boring, repetitive, and often even harsh and soul-less, these needs are stifled. And the ultimate consequence is that human well-being, defined in the Aristotelian tradition of eudamonia or flourishing is thwarted. As you observe, most people do not go to work wanting to do a bad job, but find themselves tragically all too often in working conditions that deprive them of the ability to bring their best to the job they are doing. And more importantly, find themselves treated in ways that are both overtly and covertly inhumane–as they are treated as a means of securing ever-more wealth not only for business owners, but for shareholders and corporate boards.

        For that reason, much of the talk by business people and corporate heads that work should have meaning and purpose is utterly disingenuous. And their use of spirituality to somehow provide a veneer of meaningfulness is a shameful charade that utterly debases the true meaning and purpose of spirituality. That is, of course, to acknowledge–as you observe–the inherent goodness of human beings and to encourage their highest aspirations. A good book that details how spirituality has been contaminated by neoliberalism, commodified, and packaged as a “quick fix” for stress and a host of other ills is Spirituality, Corporate Culture, and American Business by James Dennis LoRusso.

        I also appreciate your observations about what the practice of mindfulness and other methods like it actually is intended for. That is, the cultivation of consciousness in order to attain a transformative experience or elevated state of consciousness in which we realize our essential connectedness with all creation as well as with a Higher Power or the Divine. Regrettably, this understanding has also been tragically abstracted from how mindfulness is used merely as a form of stress management or a therapeutic technique. While it is true that engaging in various forms of meditative techniques can have salutary physical and psychological effects, that is NOT want these techniques were actually developed for. This is an example of trying to gut these methods of their original and essential spiritual foundations. It has been my experience that this has also had a number of damaging consequences.

        In short, spirituality is an essential dimension of the human person. Only in recognizing and fostering what is our most powerful desire and need can true well-being be facilitated.

        Frank

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        • Frank, heartfelt thanks for this tremendous response.

          Perhaps what we see as soul destroying work, such as Mandela’s ?27 years of breaking stones, may be seen as ego-busting, instead, though, and that,vin retrospect, at least, but also increasingly contemporaneously, we may appreciate that “the obstacle US the way,” at least until we have learned to go beyond resistance?

          Toxic workplaces may be like the conditions prevailing inside egg shells, or filthy nests, stimulating chicks to, you know…and finally fling themselves…

          I stayed in one toxic workplace for years, trying to help, but maybe making things worse, or “worse,” for all I know!

          Million heartfelt thanks, and more, Frank!

          Comfort and joy!

          Tom.

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      • So Einstein is believed to have said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

        That explains a lot, especially psychiatry’s ugliest features:

        1. Its success in creating ever more “illness”
        2. Its addiction to prescribing ever more drugs
        3. Its failure to distinguish fantasy from reality

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    • Frank Gruba-McCallister wrote:

      “…Marmot and Wilkinson in the Whitehall studies found that occupation status was highly correlated with the risk of morbidity and mortality.”

      No one needs a “study” to figure THAT one out when all you need to do is check the zip codes of legal vs illegal drug dealers.

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  2. A lion in the natural environment leads a very stressful life when it does not know where the next springbok deer is going to spring from. In captivity a lion wants for nothing because it gets its food delivered. Conservationists now realise that a leisurely life held captive with no stress is a source of failing health in a lion. So conservationists now produce what is called “Enrichment”. This involves placing excitingly stressful challenges in the lion’s den, in the form of food that the lion has to climb to reach. Studies have been done that show that after a few years of putting a deer carcase high up on a climbing pole, out of reach of the lion until it climbs, causes lions over time to have better bone density and less arthritis. There is a phenomenon called Ustress. Ustress is regarded as favourable stress and is actually of key importance to balanced health. Think of Ustress as the opposite of bad stress or di-stress. The human, just like a lion, needs challenges and excitement of the unexpected in the environment. Dull tedium becomes depressing. The chap who climbed El Capitan in his slippers was doing something pretty darned stressful yet he looked exhilarated from it. Thrill is but the flipside of anxiety. A life of no anxiety means a life of no thrills. Risk is thrilling. And because risk is stressful it means stress can be energizing in a thrilling way. People who take depressed youth on hikes up mountains are not taking them on a soothing picnic. Ustress is healing. This means that the body is capable of doing multifactorial things with stress, not all of stress being injurious to the body. But stress that optimises health will leave no markers of its visit or show how the body has made good use of the influx of stress. Balanced health seldom makes an appointment with a nurse or doctor. This means that medical people may tend to only zone in on how stress can impair or burden the body. But is that always stress? Or is it sometimes a paucity of Ustress, the good, thrilling, revitalizing lion pole climbing or El Capitan climbing stress? It may be that there is a way the body acclimatizes to stress, like people need to do fast in a natural disaster, or surgeons do when working frontline in an emergency department in a hospital. Stress may initially raise blood pressure but over time there might be ways that the body adjusts and converts anxious stress into thrilling stress. We would never know, if we were only looking for marker of illness, how much the body adapts to stress in positive ways, because adaptation looks like health.

    All ideologies have merit. But any ideology can become misread and used as an excuse to oppress. This is ongoing in our current society.

    Your message is a fine message. Reduce stress in people to reduce ill health. Intolerable stress is ghastly. Intolerable stress points at a bullying regime inflicting suffering. Nobody should accept intolerable stress in their lives. It is a form of abuse. It is cruelty to the body.

    My concern is that a bully who likes to mete out stress to others will soon do so by telling others that “their” being “simply themselves” is having a direct impact on the bully’s endocrine system or lymphatic system or circulatory system or mental health. This then concludes that when other people are “simply being themselves”, in a way that might be construed as causing a bully to experience damaging stress levels, those other people are engaging in acts of aggression against the bully’s actual body, or aggression against the bully’s mental health. This then exuses the bully to “retaliate” against perceived aggression or stress bestowal coming from the other people who are merely going about their day being “simply themselves”. After a spree of such bullying the other people may then feel they owe the bully an “apology” for the bully ever feeling stressed about the other people “simply being themselves”. This then makes it look as if “simply being yourself” is the same thing as being hostile or aggressive. So this then makes those other people seem to be the bullies who cause stress by being so flagrantly “who” or “what” they “are”. Until other people minding their own business and going about their day being utterly harmlessly just themselves appears to be an act of wonton bullying towards the susceptible body.

    Like I said already, there is nothing wrong with any idea or concept or understanding or ideology. They all may bring blessings to humanity. But the impulse to bully will leapfrog into ANY ideology and come the victim of bullying and crack down on other people merely simply being themselves.

    It is good to realise there is a difference between an other person “being harmlessly who they choose to be” and being “a pushy, controlling, dictator”.

    An other person being “simply themselves” may get deemed stress inducing merely because they have the misfortune to have a whining voice or take up too much space at the movie theatre or seem to masculine or seem to girlish or seem to stupid and slow or seem too religious or like the opposite political party. When an other person just liking another religion is deemed to cause you stress by such a choice of difference, and when their being so different is assessed as being heinously wounding to your endocrine system or your lymphatic system or your circulatory system or your mental health, that other person who has the misfortune to have been born in a different religion or political party is then regarded as a murderer of your bodily integrity. This then seems to legitimate you becoming a murderer.
    If a bully or a fascist perceives a sense of injustice in the world, they are probably about to commit one.

    Care needs to be taken to ensure that any ideological outlook is understood as but one of many millions of free choices of ways to look at life. Violence IS bullying. Violence can come in over the top of ANY ideology and infiltrate it to nefarious ends. The ideology is not the problem. The bullying is. And the bullying is a quite separate issue. It is like a virus that can leak into ANY ideology or religion or politics. It is violence if someone is bullyingly stressing you over your different beliefs or characteristics or choice of way of life. Your differences, your different beliefs or characteristics or choice of way of life do NOT make people bodily sick. Impinging your beliefs or characteristics or choice of way of life is an impinging that comes from bullying, a bullying that is separate from those beliefs or chatacteristics or choice of way of life.

    Bullying does cause stress. Intolerable stress. An ideology about how stress occurs can be used by a bully to impinge their belief or choice about what would be not such stressful behaviour on your part.

    The same problem can arise with building an ideology about “trauma”. Suddenly a bully can say you being “simply you” with your harmless different religion or belief or characteristics or politics is a harmless free choice that is “traumatizing” the bully’s body or mental health. Trauma then gets used by the bully as a conduit of control over you and your free choices. Until it begins to look like “free choices” themselves are inherently “traumatizing” to the masses.

    A persons complete inner wellbeing and balance relies upon them having access to their “own” feelings and opinions and thoughts, that go on to guide their “own free choices” in life.

    Thus the impinging of harmless “free choices” lest those traumatize or stress the masses, is traumatizing and stressful to the individual person. The masses are made up of millions of individuals. Oneness is made up of millions of differences. If those individuals are deprived of their “freedom of choice” to be exactly who they differently are, then those individuals cannot access wellbeing and balance and so they soon become sick and so soon the masses become sick.

    Freedom of choice to be different may not be “liked” by someone else. But being merely different is not aggressively harmful or stressful or traumatizing to someone elses body or mental health.

    Only bullying is harmful, stressful and traumatizing. You can be as different as you choose to be. This is not going to affect someone elses endocrine system or lympthatic system or circulatory system or mental health. You need your “freedom of choice” in order to be full of wellness and be unapologetically harmlessly and healthily who you authentically are.

    In the future, for a few years, nobody will be allowed their harmless different freedom of choice choices.

    When enough individuals become unwell through being told not to enjoy their right to their harmless different choices, the accumulation of millions of miserable individuals will be looking for a big mass fix. That desperation for a big mass fix will see the rise of mass bullying.

    What causes any bully to be a bully, is them not being in touch with feelings and free choices and the wish to be authentically differently just who they used to be. Bullying is indifference to the suffering of others, and is caused by inability to be in touch with the emotions that feed concern and caring. A person cannot nurture their feelings if they are not allowed to “choose” what they want and do not want. Choosing what “you” really want, or do not want, in any given moment, is how you find satisfaction, balance and wellbeing. When some leader tells you that your choices are damaging to them or to an ideology or campaign, you limit your feelings and harmless free choices. This impacts your optimal wellbeing. This makes it more likley that without a reservoir of wellbeing you will be more prone to the way stress can cause anxiety rather than thrill, and your lack of wellbeing will gun for a causer of your dissatisfaction. A someone else or others who seem suspiciously characteristically harmlessly different. Perhaps people who enjoy their free choices. In this way you can end up blaming your proneness to stress and anxiety on the well. Suddenly in society the well seem to be causing the ill. Rather than going after the phenomenon of bullying, as a human symptom of imbalance, people are encouraged to believe they are victimized by other people seeming too healthy.

    When humans start to attack what health is they give themselves no hope of ever finding it.

    A REGIME is coming.

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  3. You’re completely right. Now figure out a way to make money off it and bring it to the masses.

    Diet, exercise, and managing environmental stress probably are the best treatments for mental health but few providers are trained to effectively use these treatments. Nurse practioners are already providing higher quality care at a lower price than psychiatrists. This is one of those rare opportunities to decrease costs while improving outcomes.

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  4. Having greatly enjoyed possibly dozens of other “NDE” or “NLE”* interviews from “Thanatos TV EN,” today I stumbled across this one (or perhaps vice-versa, or both):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rxxzM8C_8M

    (And, in it, I think Helmut also shares a compelling account of one type of “ego-collapse,” as recently mentioned by Penni Kolpin, March 14, 2023:

    https://www.madinamerica.com/2023/03/25-years-stress-breakdown/?mc_cid=f93d699d68&mc_eid=7195c76cb5 )

    At approximately Minutes 14:40, 25:59, 34 and 37:40, Helmut happens to refer to the “knowing” to which I referred in a comment above, and to that “higher consciousness” from which alone, perhaps, we human beings may find our lasting escape from stress/distress, and from any bitterness towards others, including those who seem to have been responsible for much of our distress, and not least those misguided professionals and others whose convictions about what human rights abuses may justifiably be heaped upon those diagnosed as “mentally ill” has led to so many appalling atrocities up to the present day.

    Bon courage!

    Tom.

    *I share Helmut’s views that we are all “crucified,” daily, and that there is no death (from the point of view of those dying), and so believe that “NDE’s” are a misnomer, and that this here is the afterlife, certainly for “near-death experiencers,” so to speak. This belief should probably dispel all distress, if only the ego were not so damnably persistent, but perhaps it, too, must have earned its right to remain, thus far, at least – if only for the amusement of others?

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    • Just brief…to say, Tom, that I too like Thanatos Tv. I think I recommended some of their vids ages ago.

      My evolving perspective though is that to crave too complete a healing is like craving being an impervious corpse to visceral experiences. Complete healing is sampled when take to our beds and let nothing untoward happen. But quite soon it becomes a kind of dying to life. I think heaven, like a cosy bed, may rapidly lose its novelty once you have been lolling indolently in it for a few years. I think this is why souls in heaven line up to be incarnated back into the chaos and rough and tumble of life. Without no pain there is no experience of satisfaction, without hatred there is no experience of love, without misery there is no experience of joy. I do not think one state of being is superior but that the “flow” of all of these is like a continually rushing effervescent stream within our psyche that creates our lovely aliveness. On Earth we get to revel in these uncontrollable fluctuations of feeling. Another way to regard it is that we may loathe our family and long to depart from them, and go to a swish hotel that is luxurious (heaven), but after spending a few centuaries in bed in that hotel we might reminisce about our annoying, stuborn, crazy, exciting, eccentric, family.

      AI is courting our wish to have more and more of a “real feeling” experience whilst engaging with it’s intrinsic unrealness. Our tragic departure from the aliveness of Earthly nature has us in bed all day (that stultifying heaven) with computer games that cannot ever hurt us. I do not see this as progress. I think the vogue for spiritual progress is full of blessings and curses. On the one hand it is about creating a humanity that excells, though this progress should be about humanity returning to the animal state of being less bullying….yes animals are less bullying…think of how nice dogs are…but on the other hand it is a notion of progress that is about anaesthetizing us from feeling anything at all. In order to maybe get us all to 5G, that mythic state of human perfection. This can become a curse if a person then tells another person that their chaotic emotionality is the grubby lack of progress that is destroying humanity.

      We are here to be emotionally messy. Spirituality tends to want us impeccably tidy and orderly. Lots of “rules” cluster around spirituality…you must wear this…you have to have no shred of ego…you have to pray with your fingers in a special knot…all of these “have to’s” can be ideologies used by bullies who infiltrate such ideologies just to pick on anyone “different” and “free”. This then turns a beautiful spirituality into a hell for the “unique”.
      But it is not the fault of the spirituality. It is the humany bullying that comes in over the top of it and uses the initially loving spirituality as a “sin cosh”. This then has it that you are not allowed into the hotel and bed of eternal heaven unless you follow steps one, two and three to five hundred.

      Thanatos TV interviews are quite good though at letting a peek of real heaven shine through, a heaven that knows….

      “ALL ARE EQUAL”.

      What bliss!

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    • Tom Kelly says, “….if only the ego were not so damnably persistent….”

      Maybe psychiatry could learn something about living from people who are dying.

      On YouTube: Next Level Soul: “Hospice Doctor Reveals SHOCKING Deathbed Vision Accounts!”, especially at 28:45 — 33:55

      “…and I think that whole need to make this thing concrete, organic and quantifiable, measurable is insane, really misses the point, which is that there are things that we should just have reverence for, and you understanding etiology source is absolutely irrelevant, and really obscures the meaning….and I think there’s value in not knowing….”, Christopher Kerr M.D.

      Key word: REVERENCE

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  5. I should not say more but here is an addition to my prior comment.

    We live in a very toxic society and it is easy to see that we need to go into retreat and adopt old tribal or communal ways of life. Sounds good doesn’t it? Who doesn’t ache for the bond of belonging at times? The person in infancy likes to gravitate towards bonding with its life-supporting parents. That infant grows up with a tension between satisfying its personal wishes and feelings and having to sublimate those in order to please the “consensus opinion” of the parents, or tribe, or community, upon which it also relies.
    Messy messages are going on in our world about this. Some people say the best way to nail a utopia is to get everyone to see how important the community is. A community will care for its people. A romantic notion of a chimpanze troupe is often spotlit as an ideal community of brotherly belonging. I have often been allured by that notion myself. But if you think about it the community of chimps, all bonded by “consensus opinion” that sublimates the “individual opinion” is always just one point on the pendulum swing of balance. If this were not the case then there would only ever have been one tribe of chimpanzes, with no individual chimps ever high tailing it out of there, to set up their own splinter group, or outlier tribe. The fact that there are many individual wanderer chimps going off to form many tribes of chimps is telling of how intrinsically dissatisfying a tribe, when it is full of bullying “consensus opinion” can be.

    The individual matters because the individual forms one bit of the united bits that form the Oneness of the community. If the individual gets ill it should matter to the tribe. The tribe can see the illness as an indication that all may not be well within how the tribe operates. Remedial steps can be taken to improve the tribe. A sick flower in a garden may indicate a pest. But for an idividual to feel optimal wellness they need “freedom of choice” as much as they need “belonging”. If the rules for “belonging” have a very tight or restricting “consensus opinion”, one that overly prioritizes itself as more crucial than individual wishes and feelings, it may generate more illness than its “belonging” is trying to heal.
    Currently scrutinizers of our toxic society are finger pointing at typical “individuals” who are running amok in the world and who are jeopardising “tribal belonging”. Such “individuals” get lambasted as being “selfish” or “authoritative” or “narcissistic” or “different”. All qualities that also emerge in any “individual” who is siding with their own infantile wishes and needs and feelings. An “individual” may always be deemed a danger to the tribe. And yet it matters to the overall health of the tribe to nurture the many “selfish” and “authortative” and “narcissistic” and “different” complainers within it. Oneness is made of biodiverse “differences”, each locus of “difference” is needing an individualised kind of nurturing that respects how uniquely “different” it is. Many species of plants reside in one garden. To uproot all the “selfish” or “individual” or “different” plants soon destroys the garden. Wholeness comes from pieces that are not all the same. Each chimpanze is “different”. That is why so much squabbling is part of the health of the “consensus opinion” in chimp tribes.

    What happens when a regime is building is that “individuals” doing their own “different” thing are tarnished as if being who they are is the same thing as being toxic.

    Generally what causes toxicity anywhere is bullying. Bullying does not come from feelings. Bullying is only possible by the absence of feelings, such as a feeling of compassion. A person needs access to all of their feelings, good and bad feelings, to distil a moment of a feeling of compassion. A person brought up in a “consensus opinion” community that tells them they must sacrifice their personal fedlings for the greater good of the tribe, can become a bully within that tribe. When enough “individuals” are prevented from accessing their feelings because to do so is deemed dangerous to “consensus opinion” those individuals try to mend their misery by meting out misery to everyone else. They become persecutory, controlling, bossy, bullying, violent. People then wrongly think that such bullying is a sign of rampant “individualism” and so they crack down on “individuals” who show the slightest bit of garden “difference”. As if “difference” is the death of the tribe. This crack down on the way “individuals” can access their own wishes and feelings then perpetuates what causes more bullying. Plus, there is nothing a bully likes to do better than to tell “individuals” that their “uniqueness” is making the bully upset. By this stage an “individual” then looks like a traitor to a band of bullies.

    We see in the rise of online videos instructive of what “selfishness” is an attempt to single out an uptick in bullying, but it runs the risk of singling out the antidote to bullying, which is tolerance of “free choices” that meet the needs of “individual” feelings.

    An “individual” satisfying their harmless free choice, is satisfying a harmless feeling. A feeling is not the same thing as outward acts. The more that inner feelings get satisfied the more a person will have access to calm and a feeling of caring and compassion. A calm, compassionate “individual” will not want to bully someone else by making harmful choices.

    There is a risk that in trying to have a revolution, that arrives at the imposition of yet another prioritizing of “consensus opinion” at the expense of “individual” feelings, that the only flowers we will see are the blossoms wilting out of the barrel of a gun after the planet has been turned into a muddy wasteland.

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  6. A further point…

    There is a benefit to any tribe to “respect differences”. This does not mean respecting impinged bullying.

    There was a recent furore in another country when a spokesperson from a particular tribe went to loudspeaker what that tribal “consensus opinion” was for and against. A tribe inevitably wants to celebrate its group togetherness. By expressing beliefs. Celebration and expressing beliefs is not the same thing as bullying. It is not about forcing you to change how you “differ”. Celebration is more like a welcome. An invite. The world needs more diverse celebrations. The spokesperson was met by a crowd from another kind of “consensus opinion”. Both tribes began to lose celebration and start to heckle one anothers “differences”. As if merely being “different” was destroying everyone and the vast planet. Bullying can destroy everyone and can destroy the planet and so cannot be tolerated. But tolerating “differences” is “how” to prevent what underlies bullying.

    A random person being told to “respect” another person’s “difference” does not mean the random person “has to” cease their own choice of “difference”.

    People get confused and replace the word “respect” with “having to” like or regale or celebrate” that other person’s choice of “difference”. Any uncelebratory response is then deemed aggressive whereas it is merely a state of not liking or not choosing that belief of “difference”.

    One person “not liking” your specific “difference” is their “freedom of choice” to prefer their own “difference”. This is “individual choice” and is healthy in any community and in the wider world. But this “not wanting your difference” is NOT the same thing as bullyingly telling you that you must get rid of your freedom to be your kind of “different”.

    You may feel uneasy or unsafe when someone does not celebrate or like your “difference” but this is not the same as you being bullied. A person does not “have to” love you. Forcing love destroys what love is. When any bully says that you must “respect” their “difference” and this involves forcing you to like or love their “different belief” they are bullying no longer respecting your freedom to be “different” also.

    To “respect” someone’s “difference” does not mean you “have to” like what they like, live what they love, read the books they read, wear the outfits they wear, have the same vision for the world that they have, celebrate identically what they celebrate….and in doing so nullify your own “difference”. Rather “respecting difference” just means “not bullying” that “individual”. You refrain from impinging or forcing your beliefs when you note they are just not the same as you. This does not mean you do not celebrate and express your beliefs. There is no harm in celebrating. And humans always think they have the answer even when they are alcoholic and cannot sleep at night and so they tend to want to “share” that answer, their “difference”. But sharing and celebrating are not “forcings”. What people rightly take issue with is being “forced” to abandon their “free choices” that make them so “different”. But what can then occur is an impulse to make the world only have your own kind of “difference” in it. A garden version of monoculture. This may make you go to war on any seedling that looks like an invasive species to you. Any “individual” may come to represent “dangerous differences”, as if “difference” is bullying of the way you are “different”.

    The internet brings an illusion of a world that ought to be cohesive. A world that ought to only have one “consensus opinion” where all “individuals” sacrifice their “differentness” to that magbificent endeavour. But really it is magnificent bullying to suggest that the world is too small to include your “difference”. When enough people viewing the internet get wind that a “cohesive” paradigm in the world is trying to exclude bullying by excluding their choice to be harmlessly “different” they begin to fear that cohesive world, that unwelcoming monoculture. So they then do battle with any tribes who seem to be trying to form that unwelcome of their “difference”. This then looks like the whole world is fascinatingly fighting the whole world and in such an emergency state its all hands on deck, militaries then seem to need formed out those with “different beliefs”, beliefs or ideologies that were once only joyfully celebrated. Invites.

    The internet, by giving a threatening false sense of the world being menaced by the “different”, those people who are no harm to anyone, people who merely like idiosyncratically unique choices that do not push around or violate or bully anyone, is an internet that screams that unless you do something to shut up the “different” then your “freedom” will be wiped out.

    It is not our many “differences” that ruin “freedom in the world”, it is just the issue of bullying. The more we allow each other liberty to be “different” then the less bullying there will be in the actual world. A world that has never been cohesive.

    Some of the “different” may want changes in the world. Some of the “different” may want tradition and staying stuck the same. BOTH come under the auspices of “free choice”. It is possible to find a way to “respect” both, and see that bullying and abuse and cruelty are quite, quite a separate problem.

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  7. Lastly there is a proviso…

    A person in yellow silk can rant at someone for not “respecting” the “consensus opinion” of the huge group the person in yellow silk belongs to, and that person in yellow silk can regard such a lack of show of “respect” from someone else in fawn silk (that is to say conforming) as a sign of bullying from that someone in fawn silk. As in…

    “You don’t believe what religion or ideology I am immersed in therefore you are a disrespectful bully.

    Parents, belonging to a set ideology, can be that way towards offspring. But also offspring can be that way towards parents, as was seen in the Khmer Rouge.

    Peculiarly, often people who are the most demanding that you must “respect” their belief are doing so because they themselves do not respect their own belief solidly enough to feel secure in it, secure enough to not need your additional “consensus” vote empowering it.
    The internet gives a false illusion of the world because it is rather like how air travel has shrunk the geological vastness of the world, such that those of extreme “differences” can now be in eachother’s proximity in an hour or so of time of air travel. In previous eras people were allowed to be “different” in peace. Let me use the animal world as an analogy here. Giraffes or chimps. 8It is a bit like how in the realm of chimpanzes in a forest, where they form a tribe, and then a new tribe buds off from that tribe, and then another tribe branches away from that tribe, what is happening because of the internet, is the forest is experienced as not vast but shrunk, and all tribes seem to be squashed into a small zone of attention on the internet, where their “difference” has to endlessly compete. This then makes each “different” tribe stiffen its resolve to crack down on “individuals” within their tribe who are not heckling others about those others being “different”. The crack down on “individuals” within the tribe then becomes to the detriment of the holistic health of the tribe. The tribe becomes sick from within, bullying its own, and defensively bullying other groups who seem “different”. All this rampant aggressive bullying then gives an impression that everyone better sharpen weapons to bully or be bullied back. Nobody realizes that bullying itself is the main problem in the world. Everyone instead equates “difference” as “violence” and goes to town on suppressing “uniqueness”. This leads to war because another side wants the freedom to be unique.

    You may think that what we must do is ensure that everyone be embracing of each other’s “difference” and that those who cannot be embracing are ruining the small shrunk world. This then could make you punish anyone who cannot embrace your “difference”, but such punishment can be you becoming a bully to people who prefer not to be effusively tolerant. Provided that those people who do not embrace your “difference” are not actually directly bullying you, then they must be “free” to “choose” to be feeling disgruntled grumpy loveless refusers of your vision of a better world.

    A person must not be a bully. But a person does not have to be embracing of “difference”. But all this means that they cannot bully you to change your “difference” or feel ashamed of your “difference” or shut up your celebration of your “difference”.

    It is great to be “different”.

    Being “different” might also be “choosing” to be “the same”. The same as being in a large crowd, say in a religious venue where all celebrate a samey specific vision.

    But being “different” cannot be about being a bully. All bullying has to stop.
    But care needs taken not to “go after” those who do not embrace “difference” but who also are not bullying anyone.

    It is all too easy to want to create heaven on Earth by getting everyone to stop bullying. But this goal can inadvertantly end up by becoming a “consensus opinion” rabble rousing view that also can excuse being a bully towards anyone who does not agree with this. A person may not agree with this yet they may be someone who is not being anything but “different”.

    Know we are coming into an era where not many will be tolerated in their “difference”, this is coming to pass to teach us the vital importance of it learning the key difference between “difference” and “bullying”. The first is a blossoming of health. The second is an indication of failing health.

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  8. Using psychiatric drugs is fighting fire with fire, as these stress out an already stressed out body via “side effects”, which can eventually lead to iatrogenic illness, turning stress into catastrophe.

    Acupuncture is a much safer alternative as it doesn’t rely on pharmaceutical toxins.

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