ON SO-CALLED MENTAL 'ILLNESS' AND DISORDERS

In our culture & society, many times people and things get demonized and pathologized that, in fact, should be credited for the pathologies which they actually prevented from developing in an individual had they not employed such psychological defense mechanisms. To clarify, I myself, am a survivor of sexual abuse as well as systematic childhood emotional abuse. When I was younger, being the designated 'black sheep/scapegoat/'identified patient' of my dysfunctional and abusive family system, I was 'diagnosed' with many psychiatric conditions. I have pretty much been 'labeled' with everything in the DSM-IV. However, looking back, and after having healed a bit from the wounds such labeling inflicted upon me, I realize fully now that what they needed to keep at arm's length (so as not to identify) by pathologizing and/or demonizing, were actually what not only saved my physical life but my emotional, mental and spiritual one as well. Had I not been 'schizoidal' in the ways that I was, had I not been bi-polar in the ways that I was, had I not been 'paranoid' and depressed and socially withdrawn in the ways that I often was, I would not have survived as intact as I did. Period. In fact, what gets labeled as a 'Disorder' is actually a psycho-spiritual symptom of an intense internal conflict that we are experiencing as we are attempting to establish a moral 'order' from without ourselves and 'without' in our interactions with others. We have made some strides in our society concerning the enlightenment about such issues, but there is one constant that will always push against this: the tendency of some types of people to resist self-awareness out of fear. It took me many years and much inner soul work on myself before I finally realized, without just internalizing it, that whenever others treated me in a patronizing, dismissive or otherwise condescending manner regarding my healthy and well-developed sense of self-awareness and my honesty in sharing my story, it is only due to their fear of tapping into their own trauma and their own inner, private Hades. Oftentimes, we will hear people say things mindlessly like: “Oh, but they probably just don't understand. You have to forgive them for that.” Yet I think that they very much do understand, and that is why they are behaving in the way that they are. The truth is, every human individual suffers from some 'trauma' of some variation. And the truth is also, that all human persons are fundamentally, and in a philosophical sense, similar enough to warrant treating one another with dignity and respect. I may not be able to completely empathize with what someone else has gone through, but I can, when examining my own life experiences, garner enough empathy to be careful not to dismiss or further wound the person revealing their vulnerability to me. We must be part of the solution, as individuals, by taking responsibility for that of our own healing process, so that we 'stop the cycle' of wounding and at least, in our own small but significant way, lift one another up instead of tearing one another down. May we therefore let our words heal and not wound, may we therefore let our own wounds give us the strength and compassion to fight our own demons, so that we can be fully ready and available to help others do the same. When it all comes down to it, we cannot judge people by the defense mechanisms which they employ in order to prevent themselves from falling into greater evil. Rather, we should evaluate one another only upon how we treat other human beings despite that of our own sufferings and afflictions. After all, even our Lord Jesus Christ said, “It is not what goes into a man that makes him unclean, but what comes out of him.” (Matthew 15:11)

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