Redefining Mental Illness

Narcissus, from Greek mythology, gazing at his reflection in a pond

As I am reminded of the tale of Narcissus, the boy from Greek mythology, who was so in love with his outer beauty that he lost his life to it, I can’t help think of the many people who drown in the illusion of who they they think they are.

Certainly loving oneself for who one truly is, is fantastic but when we love ourselves for our material possessions or accomplishments we easily fall into Narcissus’ trap. Not realizing we are trapped, we easily continue to fuel dysfunctional patriarchal, ego driven structures and mindsets that inevitably lead to more pain and suffering.

Today, I invite you to consider how unhealed narcissism may lead to places where unhealthy people think they are healthy and healthy people think they are unhealthy- perhaps offering a new way to look at mental illness.

Mental health labels

Mental health professionals have created a whole slew of labels to describe people who cannot cope in society. According to UPMC HealthBeat mental illnesses can be categorized into five categories:

  • Anxiety disorders.
  • Mood disorders.
  • Schizophrenia and psychotic disorders.
  • Dementia.
  • Eating disorders.

We are often conditioned to believe that there is something wrong with a person suffering from any of these conditions. Of course, anxiety, mood swings, confusion, forgetfulness and not being able to feed ones body adequately make it difficult to function and contribute to society.

I offer a different perspective. Given the way many people are treated and still segregated today, perhaps we ought to look at those who do not suffer from any of these conditions, as out of balance, rather those who do.

A narcissistic mindset that plunders the earth, and rewards cut throat competition, unfair distribution of resources, abuses of power, lack of empathy, stealing, cheating and lying may very well give rise to a “healthy” person losing all sense of clear thinking.

Let’s take a closer look at how patriarchal pillars that have become toxic may lead to confusion over what it means to be truly healthy and well.

Controlling

Patriarchal structures and mindsets that have become toxic seek to control what people think, do and say. Countless examples of this are found in many of the judicial, legal, corporate, educational, government and medical institutions still standing. Is someone truly healthy when they control people and events, or are controlled in return?

Close your eyes, connect to your breath and bring your awareness to how and why you personally collude with these controlling structures and mindsets. How and why do you control or are in turn controlled at home, at work, socially with your friends and in society? Notice what comes up for you….

Hierarchical

Patriarchal structures and mindsets that have become toxic fuel a sense that certain people or groups of people are more deserving of resources than others. Countless examples are seen today where certain professions, countries, talents and skills are more valued than others. Is someone truly healthy when they accept that certain people are more deserving of having basic needs for food, shelter, safety, respect and kindness met while others are not?

Close your eyes, connect to your breath and bring your awareness to how and why you personally collude with these hierarchical structures and mindsets. How and why do you support hierarchies at home, at work, socially with your friends and in society? Notice what comes up for you….

Competition

Patriarchal structures and mindsets that have become toxic feed into behaviour that supports deceitful behaviour and the wearing of the false mask to meet goals. Think of the student who cheats in an exam, the aspiring social climber who hides his true thoughts to be accepted into a group, the athlete who takes drugs to win a race, the ambitious employee who discredits a fellow colleague to win a promotion… Is someone truly healthy when they do, and are encouraged to do, whatever they can to get what they want just because they can get away with it?

Close your eyes, connect to your breath and bring your awareness to how and why you personally collude with these competitive structures and mindsets. How and why do you compete at home, at work, socially with your friends and in society? Notice what comes up for you….

Conclusion

Dysfunctional patriarchal systems create a divided society. As more and more people come into balance and heal what they need to heal, there is certainly a good argument to be made that these traditional structures, support and are perhaps even the cause of much of craziness, confusion and may I even suggest “mental illness” in the world. The invitation is to rediscover the light in these patriarchal structures so they can continue to offer the needed structure without squashing the human spirit.

Namaste,

Nicole

Nicole Rolland is the author of  “Stepping into Consciousness- A Guide to Living a Life of Joy, Meaning, and Abundance” . 

You can visit her anytime at Nicole Rolland Yoga, Meditation, Mindfulness (NRYM) www.nicolerolland.com to learn more about her classes, programs, mindfulness coaching, as well as, her blogs, podcasts and other healing tips to help you experience and remember the wholeness and perfection you are.

www.nicolerolland.com