On psychospiritual growth, health and normalization

I have for some time experienced first-hand a variety of conditions described as mental illnesses, including depression. I am in the process of separating from some of these conditions, a process sometimes described as healing, and sometimes as normalization.

At first I took the view commonly held, that these conditions were largely a result of biochemical problems in my brain... this was encouraged partly by the extent to which health professionals agree with it, and partly by the fact that tricyclic antidepressant drugs did indeed relieve the acute unhappiness that I felt. More recently, I have seen arguments against this `biopsychiatry', and for the idea of `mental illness' as `psychospiritual overwhelm responses' and have found that these correspond much better with what I have observed of my own experience.

I'd like to work through these ideas and come up with my own views on quite what mental health and illness are, and what their advantages and disadvantages are, too.

Central seems the idea that mental illness of the kind I have experienced is connected with spiritual growth occurring faster than is comfortable -- a tearing of the petals that are unfolded by rough hands before the reluctant bud opens at its own slow pace. Change is always an opportunity for growth, but if change is resisted, tears in the fabric can result.

The state a mind is in -- its memories and moods -- depends on the accumulation of past perceived experience, built possibly on a framework built in to each of us as part of our genetic heritage. The way each external happening is perceived is formed by the available routes of perception (senses, etc) and by the existing state of the mind which evaluates and incorporates it. Thus, what is remembered of an experience (and what moods its memories induce) is interpreted according to memories of the experiences preceding it.

Through this selective and interpretive mechanism, the mind of a being changes state as its surroundings change. At any time, there will be a discrepancy between state within and state around, as recent experience is still being processed for inclusion. There is also the possibility that the interpretation placed on fresh experiences causes them to be remembered in a way that does not help the mind to accord with external reality; and that the selection of what to remember may cause an experience to be ignored, leaving the mind's internal (model of) reality out of accord with the external reality which its internal model should, in principle, accord.

Thus, there is some disagreement between internal and external state. As long as perception of the external state (and, for that matter, of the internal state) is functioning, the mind will perceive this disagreement, and will usually experience a negative affect from it.

The greater this disagreement, the greater the negative effect. In the more extreme cases, it may cause depression.

[95 Oct 15]
I'm sure that's part of the same thing, except in a few sociopathic cases where feedback regulation of behaviour has been diverted into a very poor local optimum.

John C. G. Sturdy
[John's home] Last modified: Sun Jun 10 18:17:20 GMT Daylight Time 2007