22 Jan 2010

Sample Essay: Mental Illness Treatment

Introduction

This essays subject matter is mental illness and the treatment of mental illness. We will argue that medication is a relic of the 19th century and that psychological treatments that do not deny the mythic and irrational are more conducive as they better represent the whole of the psyche which is rational and irrational. Medication denies the irrational side of the psyche. And it is the repression of the irrational side of the psyche that has brought about much neurosis in the first place.

Part 1

Before the material scientific revolution of the 19th century, religion was too literal. Science was correct to bring attention to that but incorrect to castigate the irrational and meaningful as of no value. Myth, fairy tale, and the esoteric in general equates to natural psychotherapy.

Hence there is a science of the irrational. But the modern western world denied this in order to place value solely on the physical. This is clear in sciences focus on the five senses… see, smell, hear, taste, touch. Yet is contradicted by gravity which is only proven by its effects. (Stein in Fordham, 1994, p6)

In the introduction (above) I said that the consequences of repressing the irrational side of the psyche is neurosis. It is also psychosis in extreme cases. The neuroses (and occasional psychosis) substitute for irrationalism. Addictions come onto the field of play in place of the natural irrational. One may take up shopping. Such a person won’t call it a religion (or if they do they misunderstand religion). Let’s stick with this example for now. Excessive clothes shopping maybe vain but it is not very irrational. Hence it never fulfils in the same way that ancient myths, traditional religion, myth and fairy tale did/does. Meanwhile other addictions are all the more obvious in their failure to fulfill. Drink and drugs comes to mind here. They too are in-a-sense rational. Their physical nature equates to predictability that they would become crutches for the modern westerner believing in scientific materialism which rates the physical as oh-so-real and the psychic as utter nonsense. Sport (as in supporting a team) is another substitute but is far too rational and at the extremes of excessive competition becomes a blatant power-trip.

There is however one modern western myth that qualifies as a psychotherapeutic irrational myth. And that is the UFO phenomenon. The UFO phenomenon has legs. It has staying power precisely because it is irrational. It is not a substitute religion like drink, drugs, shopping or supporting a sports team. On the contrary it is a religion itself. The psychology of this is healthy. Ufology completes the psyche precisely because it isn’t repressing the irrational. It allows the irrational in and therefore the whole of the psyche is experienced. Quite simply the esoteric is psychotherapeutic. Yet the modern mental health industry, influenced by the physical 19th century scientific revolution… prefers the banal, statistical and methodological, mind-numbing, dust covered text-books. Hence psychiatry (to a large extent) values psychiatric medication. And what does this do? It further denies and further represses irrationalism in favor of rationalism. Yet it is this western denial of the mythic irrational that causes so much neurosis in the first place. So there is an irony here. The Jungian psychologist Maureen Roberts is spot on when she says “I suggest that the underlying or root issue is this: the human psyche, as an immensely complex fact of Nature, will not be tamed, modified, or bought off with medications, attempts at behavioral modification, neatly rational theories, or well-meaning advice. It has its own agenda, and that includes its innate yearning for the mythic, the sacred, the symbolic, the meaningful, the irrational, the universal.” (Roberts). Roberts goes on to say that if these needs are not met the psyche collapses to differing degrees and that our culture shuns these collapses. (Roberts). Rather than color these collapses as “symbolic death, imaginal irrationality and mythic descent [which are] facets of the psyche […they are instead…] feared, repressed, ignored, or treated patronizingly as pathological, or abnormal.” (ibid)

Further on Roberts claims that “a third of all schizophrenics on medication end up committing suicide”. (ibid). Hence she argues that psychotherapy exists but that it is shunned by much of psychiatry. She says that psychotherapists should have knowledge of areas such as mysticism, fairy tales, the UFO phenomena, Shamanism (and so forth) (ibid)

Conclusion

The American psychologist James Hillman is someone who is in agreement with what has been argued in this essay. He describes the psychiatric culture as suffering itself… “When we read professional psychology, hear its language, the voice with which it drones, the bulk of its textbooks, the serious pretensions and bearded proclamations of new ‘findings’ that could hardly be more banal […we observe…] a psychology without soul, beauty, or pleasure to train you to help the suffering. Psychology has no self-help manual for its own affliction.” (Hillman)

What is required is the same as what Carl Jung was saying in the first half of the 20th century (and right up to his death in 1961). We need to respect the psyche as real in its own right to the extent that it is worthy of study and not repression. At the start of his text Psychology and Religion he wrote: “Psychological existence is subjective in so far as an idea occurs in only one individual. But it is objective in so far as it is established by a society – by a consensus gentium. This point of view is the same as that of natural science. Psychology deals with ideas and other mental contents as zoology for instance deals with different species of animals. An elephant is true because it exists. The elephant, moreover is neither a conclusion nor a statement not a subjective judgment of a creator. It is a phenomenon.” (Jung, 1960, p3). And Jung saw the archetypal in mental illness. This is a large subject area and it would require a different essay to discuss it properly. All we can say here is that we have touched the surface of the problem and that not until we value the whole psyche can we say that we are scientific in our approach to the psyche. Psychiatry, with its emphasis on physical medications, is analogous to a doctor (when dealing with the physical body) treating the outer body when the problem is inside.

Bibliography

Fordham, M, (1994) Analytical Psychology: A Modern Science (Karnac Books)

Hillman, J, (1997) The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling (Grand Central Publishing)

Jung, C, (1960) Psychology and Religion (The Terry Lectures Series) (Yale University Press)

Roberts, M. B, (Website) On the Need to Radically Re-Vision the Mental Health System

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