Our society is based on certain societal rules, without which it wouldn’t be able to function. Each society is different and has different rules. For instance, in some societies, mental illness is not considered as illness at all, with totally different consequences for the individual concerned as a result. The individual can receive a special training, for instance, and become a shaman, which is considered as an upper level in the hierarchy of the society where the shaman is trained.
Most Western societies moved away from faith-based systems towards negation of spirituality (or God) and atheist- based systems, where one is judged according to one’s place within a society. We are ‘measured’ based on our social identity. This is how others perceive our place within the society, such as being a mum, a doctor, a wife, an academic, a student, etc. Status and one’s capital are considered as the most important traits within an individual in the majority of Western societies.
Mental illness therefore, becomes a sort of social deviance, because an individual (suffering from mental illness) has stopped following the rules. The behaviour, such as social behaviour is something which we learn at schools (it is not a given, but an acquired trait) and therefore, a step from the norm of acceptable social behaviour has been put in the domain of deviance.
Mental illness is nothing more or less (from the point of view of sociology) as breaking the rules of the societal game. The society in which we are based is a game, but because it is a game followed by the majority, it has become a norm. Most individuals don’t stop and reflect on such deep existential questions as: ‘Who am I as an individual, besides being a mum, a wife of a rich husband, or an English-man based in New York?’, or ‘why should I drive a car in the first place?’, ‘Why do I need to look a certain way in order to be considered as beautiful?’, ‘Why should I earn a certain amount of money in order to be judged as success?’ or ‘Why do I need to acquire a big house or wear certain brands to acquire a better social image?’
Individuals who suffer from mental illness, in their majority, simply saw the flaw of the societal system as such and ‘broke’ away from the game at some point. Mental illness is a deep existential and spiritual crisis, which is not recognised as such because mental illness has been judged as a deviance and moved into the domain of such institutions as psychiatry. It has been called ‘an illness’ for a reason. If it is considered as an illness then it can be treated through medications and delegated to specialists in the field of medicine. It can be then diagnosed, and analysed from the point of view of psychological ‘disturbance’. These are nothing more than some concepts to deal with mental health problems as deviance.
Unfortunately, there is nothing an individual suffering from mental illness can do to change how the society runs. Anti-psychiatry manifesto can do nothing in terms of changing the game. In fact, by blaming the psychiatry, one can do more harm than good. Despite the flaws of our society, medicine is one of its aspects which makes our life better. Scientists and doctors do save lives, and trying to ban the medical aspect of psychiatry risks delegating the problem of how we view mental illness totally into the domain of the argument of pro-psychiatry or anti-psychiatry, while the debate should be in the domain of sociology and philosophy.
It is how we view mental illness as such and how we judge it which is a problem.
So, what can you do as an individual suffering from mental illness in terms of how to position yourself within the society?
First, you need to know that mental illness as a term became known only in the 1900. It was called ‘illness’ only in order to put it into the field of societal deviance.
Mental illness is breaking the rules of societal game, but once you recognise it as a game, you will also see that you simply stopped ‘playing’.
Mental illness is a spiritual crisis but our society is not equipped to deal with it.
Which means that in order to still continue living a happy and fulfilled life you need to rely entirely on yourself. Psychiatry can give you medication but it won’t equip you spiritually and it won’t help you to find your place within our society. It can put you back into the system but without taking into account the existential call of your psyche, which will continue calling back unless you deal with it and recognise it.
Unfortunately, there is no help available in terms of how to deal with existential crisis in our society. From now on, this blog is dedicated to address this problem. I will try to combine different views and teachings (including from philosophy, esoteric domain, different faiths, and sociology) as well as some practical tips (including help from psychiatry and social domain) so that more individuals are equipped with the problem of our society in the domain of mental health. Such as that it treats its manifestations but not the cause.
I also welcome all contributions and advice on the matter.