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Firefighting, Fire prevention and Mental Health

April 22, 2012

Consider a burning house.  This is a disastrous situation that I would not wish to happen to anybody.  But it does happen.

Once the fire is burning, it must be brought under control and then put out.  But, once out, and the remains have cooled down, the next step is one of rebuilding, not continuously dousing the remains in water in case the fire spontaneously relights. Things are much the same with extreme mental states.

Extreme mental states are generally an indication that something, somewhere in the brain, is being overdriven: a bit of neurological circuitry is overactive beyond the point where it functions properly, and distorted mental signals (and with it distorted perceptions and cognitions) are the result.

A short term remedy is to ‘douse’ the brain generally in the hope of getting the overactive bit, which something as dumb as a drug cannot possibly target accurately. But once this short-term firefighting goal is achieved, once the overactive brain and mind has been sufficiently reduced in activity (to the point, and only the point that rational communication and cooperation are achieved) the remainder of the task of recovery must be accomplished away from the psychopharmaceutical domain that is the preserve of modern psychiatry.

Alas, there is no one-size-fits-all path from here, and nothing that can be manufactured in pill form that will just make people well again.  Recovering from mental breakdown (be it depressive, manic, whatever, I am using this term in a general sense) is a long, slow process.  Overmedication can be almost as harmful as the problem the medication is intended to fix, and once can do better.  Thus seek a balance, where mood and mental state do not reach extremes.

Some advice:

  1. Learn what balanced states of being feel like, from physical balance through mental ones.  These feelings become part of your internal guidance.
  2. Learn to verify your intuitive thoughts (but not necessarily reject or criticise: they are all valuable) so that the end result of your thinking is productive.
  3. Be aware that, interesting as the metaphysical dimensions are, there is a real world in which we need to live, breath, eat and interact: do not venture to far from reality.
  4. Finally, learn and practise disciplines that train and reward deep self-awareness.  This awareness is key to achieving the balance I describe here.

From → Mental Health

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