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Barefoot Doctor on mental health

I recall during my late teens on a trip to Paris, checking in at a variety of cheap hotels (this was before the internet when you just did things blind and found out for yourself – imagine that), beguiled by the relatively fancy lobby only to discover the actual room was a shit-hole, until by about the fourth one it dawned on me the experience was showing me something profound about human society – it's show biz.

We collectively tacitly agree to put on our best show for each other and thus transform what would otherwise resemble the doings of wild monkeys (apologies to all wild monkeys using that reference incidentally, as I suspect you're all be far more elegant about it), into the civilized version we all know and expect as our birthright.

But show biz it is.

We're all obliged to pretend to each other, and to pretend to ourselves and each other neither we, nor the others, are pretending.

Time spent pretending while pretending we're not pretending interrupts the connection with the soul, the true nature within that actually drives and fuels us.

Divorced from the soul we have entered the realm of madness – or more precisely delusion.

This will have many appearances depending on too many environmental, societal and genetic variables to mention, ranging from what we might describe as mild depression all the way through to full-blown psychosis.
And as save possibly for a few individuals in remote tribes relatively untouched by the disease of pretence, pretty much all 8 billion of us are pretending and are mostly unaware of it, it's not unreasonable to posit all 8 billion of us are essentially mad.

Hence, we are living in a global lunatic asylum, and more or less all of us are inmates.

And that includes so-called mental health practitioners.

So to suggest that the psychiatrist isn't masking as much existential angst, torment and turmoil as the patient he or she is treating is disingenuous.

However, the entire basis of conventional attitudes and approaches to mental health is skewed and relatively useless.

The Cartesian either-or paradigm governing our world implies someone's either mad or not mad. The reality is each one of us is a combination of mad and not-mad.

The not-mad aspect refers to being able to conduct a relatively consistent internal dialogue in respect of describing the world to ourselves, of evaluating our position in relation to it, and of making choices based on that, which derives from a large enough big-picture perspective to preclude delusional thinking.

This partly consists in taking responsibility for ourselves, our experiences and our lot, rather than dumping it on others, real or imaginary, and then blaming them for our own shortcomings in doing so.

It also partly consists in the ability to empathize with others rather than judge them.

And to a large-large-large extent consists in appreciating that there is no either-or about mental and physical states.

According to the ancient Taoists, who knew more about reality 12,000 years ago than the majority do today, states of mind correspond to, are caused by and vice versa, states of body.

And it wasn't just the Taoists – ancient Westerners (Celts etc) felt the same, hence why livid means angry – the liver is overheated, or why feeling it in our waters means having an intuition, because the kidneys (water element and in charge of discharging dirty water from the body), govern the flow of intuitive thought, or why giving vent to your spleen means speaking your mind, because the spleen governs intellectual acuity, or why the heart is involved in the act of loving another – because the heart governs the sense of self-hood and hence the sense of the self-hood of others, for instance.

When the kidneys weaken we get anxious.

When the liver goes flat we get depressed.

When the heart goes flat we lose our courage.

When the lungs weaken we lose our enthusiasm for life.

When the spleen weakens we lose our bearings.

And vice versa – when we lose our bearings it weakens our spleen and so on.

The point being we can redress the mental balance by adjusting the energy flow to the various organs via acupuncture, acupressure, meditation-concentration-focus techniques, various qigong moves, and the fabled Taoist healing sounds.

That's why, for instance, people suffering with depression feel better when they exercise – exercise stimulates the liver's function of releasing blood into the system and doing so it wakes up and the mental tone shifts of itself.

But more crucially even than that perhaps and this is where the conventional system is really askew – depression isn't an illness – it's not some sort of viral entity with a will of its own – depression alludes to the state in which we depress our self – when we press down on the inner wild-person so much we can no longer feel our own spontaneity – that's depression, no matter the fancy names we give it. So to say to someone, 'you have depression' and then give them some sort of masking medicine to take the sensation away, is obviously ignorant and primitive – and it doesn't work. Simply because the whole premise for describing and addressing it is invalid. - delusional.

Similarly, for more severe conditions though obviously once we stray into the realms of psychosis, schizophrenia, paranoia, and so on determining precise energetic and psycho-emotional causes and consequent treatment plans, it all becomes more complex, but nonetheless addressable once the person accepts it's they who generate whatever occurs within them and no one or nothing else. For once owned, a different set of choices can be made.

And while I would never insist anything I say is the absolute truth, but merely a subjective albeit considered view, this is not idle theory either – aside from training personally as a young man with the world's greatest ever master of understanding the human condition, RD Laing, of the million-plus one-to-one treatments done over the course of nearly 20 years of running a healing practice, at least 20% had been referred for so-called mental illnesses, and my success rate using the above-mentioned approach was around 90%. Its efficacy was confirmed for me more recently while working on a mental health pilot project for the NHS in England, aimed at getting people diagnosed as 'dangerous psychotics' off the acute ward and eventually back into the community.

Personally I've found far more sanity overall among the supposed patients than in the supposed mental health practitioners.

RD Laing suggested, and I feel rightly, that mental illness episodes are actually the soul screaming to be acknowledged and rejoined with, and if conducted correctly will lead to epiphanies of genuine healing – as opposed to the alarmingly high level of masking via anti-depressant and anti-psychotics usage throughout the developed world, as it is.

I'm not sure I've said everything or nearly as much as there is to say, in fact I'm sure I haven't and in any case certainly not as eloquently or delicately as the subject warrants, but in any case it serves as a starting point for discussion, so make free to indulge via the comments box, and let's explore.

In summary, we're all fucking mad, no matter appearances to the contrary (they're just faking), and sanity if anything consists in learning how best to make our madness work for us, and by extension those around us, rather than against.

© Stephen Russell 2017

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