Friday, 10 October 2014

What Causes Mental Illness?

This is a mindful exploration that I have wanted to begin for awhile now. Not to say that I haven't been exploring already, I have, but this is the transition from non-physical thoughts to physical documentation. I want for my writing to contain some structure to it. It probably won't, but at the very least you'll be able to sense that I tried, insofar as my will may succeed.

The topic that I will be looking at today is mental illness. I think about mental illness every day, so it's an idea that holds space in my mind. For the sake of background information, I was prescribed SSRIs around a year and a half ago for moderate anxiety and depression. For those who might be curious, I took the drug for a very short period of time and no longer take it. Ever since this moment occurred in my existence, I've developed a deep fascination toward this subject.

Some thoughts on the matter shall be written out below. I know that this is a sensitive subject, so I hope that this writing will find the reader well. I do not intend for this writing to be condescending toward those who may disagree - it's simply a personal belief after all, which could very well be inaccurate. I do not claim certainty on a lot of the thoughts that will be shared. This is not intended to be academic, as this entry adheres to the non-formal creative writing format.

I suppose the most basic question to ask would be: what is a mental illness? "A mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning."

Two words in that definition catch my attention: illness and medical. You might be thinking to yourself "Well, that's strange. Why would these words catch your attention? Especially illness, as it's right in the term 'mental illness.'" I find that both words catch my attention because words such as illness and medical usually refer to physical body concerns.

This brings me to a question: are all mental properties physical? And from here I have even more questions to address. Do people have both a physical brain and a non-physical mind? Do people only have a physical brain? With the assumption that the physical brain is the totality of mental properties, it would be easy to say that all mental properties are physical.

Many would infer that a mental illness is purely a physical problem. People with said belief might say that a mental illness is nothing more than a chemical imbalance inside of the physical brain.

However, as someone who believes in the reality of spiritual things, I think that this is one of the greatest faults of secular psychology - this idea that all mental properties are physical. I should also say that I am especially concerned as a Christian. I don't intend to delve too deeply into Biblical theology here, but with my conviction that The Bible is the Word of God, I certainly hold a conviction that immaterial parts such as the mind, the heart, and the soul are intrinsic to human beings because the Bible talks about the actuality of these things. Is it possible that the non-physical mind, heart, and soul could have some cause in the case of mental illness?

Make no mistake, I am not trying to say that all mental illnesses go beyond chemical imbalances. Perhaps a chemical imbalance really is the root of mental illness in some circumstances. But nevertheless, I am still left with many doubts and questions. What is the basis for determining a chemical imbalance? Is that basis trustworthy? Why is it assumed that just because particular chemistry can be observed inside of the physical brain, that that particular chemistry is the very origin of the mental illness itself? Is there something that causes neurotransmitter imbalances?

So what's the conclusion of the matter? I believe that the physical brain is perhaps connected with the non-physical mind, heart, and soul. And with that belief I think it's vital to be careful with how mental illness is responded to. All said and done, I'm unable to provide an actual conclusion though.

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