Part III: Is There Any Such Thing as Mental Illness?

by | May 9, 2015 | General Health, Reflection

Now to take the complementary view of the “mind”. Here we deal with something spiritual, not physical.

Science has demonstrated that living tissues (especially those of the brain) DIE from lack of oxygen. The definition of  death, technically, is “cessation of cellular respiration.” Respiration means “breathing”. Breathing requires “air”. Air is Life.

Who knew?

“… nothing new under the sun….”   Ecclesiastes 1:9

The word which means simultaneously, “air”, “breath”, “life” appears in all cultures from nearly the beginning of recorded history. Sanskrit: “Prana”, Hebrew: “Ruach”. Chinese: “Qi” or “Chi”, Japanese: “Ki”, Polynesian: “Mana”, Greek: “Pneuma”, Latin: “Spiritus”…. from which we get the English word  “spirit”,  “inspire” and the word for the chemical process of the life of cells themselves, the previously mentioned “respiration”.

All science texts aside and no matter what your religious predispositions are, there is no better description of the components of the human “mind” than that found in the Torah, the writings of Moses, the first book of the Christian Bible, Genesis. To paraphrase: “God took the dust of the ground (the physical) and breathed into it the ‘breath of life’ (Heb: “ruach”- the spiritual), and man (Adam) became a living, breathing being, a soul” (Heb: “nephesh”, Gr. “psuche or psyche” -(from which we get the word psychology, the study of the mind).

The human mind (the person, the soul, if you will), rather than being a distinct thing in itself, is therefore a composite of TWO actual things: matter (the physical) and spirit (the non-physical). Modern scientific inquiry just HATES this.

But now we’re getting somewhere.We now have a rational basis with which to attack the problem of “mental Illness”.

I’ve already asserted that the mind per-se, is not a thing that can be treated. It is a dynamic function, a process made possible by the union of two THINGS: one physical, one spiritual. These are separate and distinct things.They can both be the objects of treatment.

I can treat a body (the physical). I can treat a spirit.

The mind? Mental Illness?

Got no clue how to treat that. It has no independent existence.

The body? I’ve already scratched the surface of this topic in the last blog. It’s the science of psycho-neuro-pharmacology… the chemistry of the brain that affects our cognitive and emotional processes. It’s about medications for depression, bi-polar disease, schizophrenia, ADHD, and others.

Since we know that the chemistry of the brain and body is associated with “mental illness”, and that modifying this chemistry can help improve the quality of life of patients, next we will turn to the treatment of the other component of the “mind”:

The Spirit.