What is the mind? Is it all the activity within our brain or does it extend beyond? What makes the mind, your mind, my mind what they are at this moment? These questions and more about the mind have been debated by philosophers, theologians, and physicians for years.
Many have also debated the source and treatment of mental illness. Even in ancient civilizations mental illness was studied. The Greek came up with the names melancholy, hysteria and phobia. they developed the humorism theory which postulated that there were four fluids in the body. Physical health and mood were determined by the balance between these fluids. this theory was the view of health held by the Romans, Persians, Arabs, and others in the medieval Islamic world. In other ancient cultures, evil spirits were the cause of some physical and all mental illness. This can be seen in the Bible and other ancient documents. Through centuries views of mental illness followed one of these paths or a conglomeration of the two. We know well of the witch hunts of people believed to be possessed. Others were put in special jails and work houses. In the 19th century illnesses began to be classified and the term psychiatrist was first used: although a psychiatrist then was only slightly like those of today. In the 20th century “inmates” began to be called “patients”. We also had the advent of various schools of thought about mental illness, and psychotherapy was born.
Why have I gone into this lengthy description of the development of attitudes of mental health? The professional understanding of mental illness over the years has struggled to come up with a consensus of the causes and treatments for mental health. If there isn’t agreement among professionals, how can the average person make sense of mental illness. How do you define mental illness? How should it be treated? How should persons who supposedly have a mental illness be treated? Mental disorders are sometimes defined by a combination of how a person behaves, feels, perceives or thinks.
This Thursday a large portion of the world will gather in some way and drink wine and bread. All of them will consider that wine as the blood and the bread as the body of someone who lived over two centuries ago and now lives in heaven. These people will feel very positive about this experience. Some probably think that the way these people behave, feel, perceive, and think about this event could be defined as having a mental disorder. To one who does not behave, feel, perceive, or think about this experience the same way, those who participate are delusional. Or is it the other way around?
So how do we define mental health? Who has a mental illness? What test do we use? Can one cure their own mental illness by the way they think? Do some need drugs to achieve mental health? Are drugs misused by both people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness and those who haven’t? Do you know someone with a mental illness? You probably do and may not know it. Mental health can be a challenge for anyone.
Please stay on topic.