Philosophical Mental Health Contemplation of the Day, part one

This is a philosophical contemplation of mental health, so it’s going to be a little longer than just a tip.

Anxiety is probably the most foundational element of mental health. As the early investigators into psychic and mental phenomenon noted, there are really only two adverse mental phenomenon that we are really concerned with: to use somewhat archaic terms, we have neurosis and psychosis.

In order to give context to this mental health contemplation today, we need to understand these two basic principles; then we will get into the more contemporaneously relevant third issue next post.

Neurosis, very basically thinking, is anxiety. it refers to conditions as, what Sigmund Freud termed, “amicable to the couch”. Aside from the more contemporary conflations of neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology, it is from the simple statement that pretty much every approach to psychotherapy stems. It is the principle which basically says that the client has the solution. We as counselors are really helping the person in their process of coming to their own solution. The couch, in this frame, was the actual couch that a patient would come in for Freud and others, and lay down and start talking, basically in free association, with little or no intervention or prompt from Freud or the psychoanalyst.

Now, this might be kind of a disillusionment for many people who want to go to the psychologist and get their mental disorders fixed; I would say that this kind displacement, where I am trying to get “fixed”, is merely a contemporary and modern phenomenon of mental health, and behaves more like a religious rite than it does behave towards any true recognition of what we’re actually dealing with. Hence, ironically, the idea that the problem is the problem. But that is another conversation to have.


Psychosis, on the other hand, names those that Freud and others noted who were ‘not amicable to the couch’. What he meant by this is that he encountered certain patients which no amount of talking would help alleviate the issue they are Attempting to deal with.

In our more contemporary terms, “Amicable to the couch” as they talked about it then is really what we call an ability to “reality check”. People who are psychotic do not have an ability to test themselves, thier perceptions and thoughts, against reality. The term “schizophrenia” Was an early term Developed by early investigators to account for persistent acute psychosis, to indicate that there was something structurally, physically abnormal about this persons brain. Early neurologist believed that all forms of mental abnormality are reflecting a structural physical abnormality of the brain. That the structure of the brain is the cause of all mental phenomena.

While there are some correlations in this structural physical situation to mental health issues, not all mental health issues can be reduced to one’s neural structure or as we like to talk about nowadays, the chemistry. A more enlightened and current view is that while there may be a propensity involved in the structure of neural tissue to yield various mental health ailments, more likely it is the environment which activates such abnormality or dysfunction. However, this is to shed light upon the difference between psychosis and neurosis; The early neurologists and their Scientific congregants were using psychotic patients in order to argue back that neurotic patients have likewise a structural physical chemical aberration in their brain.

The point that I am making is that we cannot be sure what is the actual “cause”. Classical neurology, as indeed anachronistic approaches to mental health still advocate and it’s absolute form, Propose that all cause of mental issues is always neural structure. The issue nowadays is no one can be really sure if understanding this cause actually helps us to a solution.

What we find when we actually look honestly and openly at what is occurring, as opposed to relying upon the “historical and traditional theories”, Is that what is normal and abnormal so far is neuroses does not fit neatly into the model which finds structural differences between psychotic patients and “normal”. The truth of the matter is that there is this huge gray area — no pun intended, or maybe there is! — that the Nuro chemical model of mental dysfunction is merely promoting upon an exploiting. The Nuro chemical model of mental disorder as applied to the traditional neurotic is not taking account of the facts. It is merely drawing upon a theory and imposing that upon what they speculate could be the case. Such practitioners “see“ what the theory dictates rather than having what they see shape their theory.

The Borderline

One could argue that the main problem involved in our current state of mental health is the Borderline.

The idea of a borderline personality disorder comes out of the initial polemical situating of mental health issues. This is to say, neurotics can find their solution through their own process facilitated by someone who is skilled in allowing for that process. Whereas psychotics, and it’s classical sense, cannot find their own solution through this kind of self process.

The notion of a borderline personality was derived because it seemed like there were some people that would come in who appeared neurotic, Yet the process of their self reflection Appeared to only work sometimes, at that, not very well.

Ponder: what of these three categories would you say you fall into?

More in a bit….