There will be overlap with my Professional Experience in Psychology.

Firstly on this subject, many of those I care about live with mental illness of varying severity. Some have done so for a very long time. Exposure dates back to three years old. In my short time on this Earth, I’ve come into direct contact with hundreds of mentally ill individuals of all kinds in a high range of settings.

I have good friends and family members who have emotional issues. Otherwise, I know very well those who are schizophrenic, bipolar, clinically anxious, depressed, and otherwise emotionally unwell. I’ve seen people battle symptoms of ADHD, insomnia, eating disorders, drug addiction, and more.

At various times in my short life, I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and schizoaffective disorder. That said, the label is a guide more so than a title. People may have mental illness to control, but they are people first. That is absolute.

Since I became ill in the Fall of 2011, I’ve tried tens of psychiatric medications. Yes, 30. Now, I’ve found a stable cocktail. No getting high included!

I’ve taken several psychological tests, such as the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) and Rorschach Inkblot Test. On the latter, it may be highly unscientific. It relies on “psychological intuition” more than science and statistics.

I am learning to live with myself on a daily basis more and more. Lately, I’ve been coming out on top.

I’ve seen countless mental health professionals. I observe their methods, and integrate them into my own approach, consistent with Bandura’s social learning theory. This is from way back when, as a child, when I first started seeing a therapist. Similarly, in my conversations with clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, I ask direct questions to hone my knowledge of mental illness.

From March 2011 to September 2012, I developed a daily meditation practice lasting no less than 42 minutes. It was Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Body Scan. The practice was created to be entirely medicinal, absent of religious belief. The guided CD prompts the listener to pay attention to various body parts. For about the last six months of my meditation tenure, I did so without the CD. Nowadays, I draw on principles of mindfulness, and teach it to others.

Much of my spare time is spent researching discoveries related to mental illness, mostly regarding schizophrenia and depression. I read the science at its source, actual studies, not reports on studies.

I’ve read books directly focused on psychology, mostly by Freud, but that was as a freshman in high school. I read The Ego and the Id, An Outline of Psychoanalysis, and part of The Interpretation of Dreams.

Most of my understanding of psychology, however, is through a more philosophical lens. Elaborated on are some of the main tenets I draw from.

Now we converge into a more philosophical commentary

First and foremost, Immanuel Kant, George Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel, Charles Darwin, and Karl Marx, all saw human society eventually developing into utopia.

There once was an ancient Greek man named Epicurus. He created his own school of thought. His teachings are succinctly relayed through something called The TetrapharmakonThe gods present no fear, death no worries, and while good is readily attainable, evil is readily endurable. This man and his followers believed that living in a blissful state is living without anxiety, happiness as a lack of unhappiness. Furthermore, this is an accessible goal, completely non-reliant on power, money, or fame, which in fact are main proprietors of dysphoria. Epicurus was a true egalitarian, welcoming women and slaves as equals. The highest Epicurean virtue is prudence, making every action conduce to our higher goals. Please see my essay on  The Epicurean vs American Final Good for more information.

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Next, Kantian ethics and reality. He detailed three general moral patterns in human society.

The hypothetical imperative is when someone does something for someone else as a means to reach a goal, or reward. For instance, someone who knows where a fugitive from the law is might tell the law where they are not for the safety of society and preservation of justice, but to get a monetary reward.

The practical imperative is when someone treats the happiness of someone else as the goal. For instance, a person might pick up a hitchhiker and drive them to their destination, though it may be out of the way, simply for the happiness of the hitchhiker, nothing else.

Finally, the categorical imperative is an improvement on the golden rule. It is when someone not only treats another how they want to be treated, but treats them how they would want everyone to be treated.

Kant’s perspective on existence and knowledge is called critical idealism, or, transcendental idealism. Idealism in the philosophical sense holds that only mind exists, not body. We furthermore only know of the world through our senses. As such, we do not know things-in-themselves, the true nature of reality. And so we are perpetually caught in a delusional state.

Hegel was also an idealist, in the ontological sense (regarding existence). His version, absolute idealism, holds that the whole of existence is an immature god. This being constantly changes things in the world in order to self-realize, but due to its naivete, doesn’t know what’s right to do, so constantly makes mistakes. The process is called the dialectic (though Hegel never termed it as such).

Basically, an idea comes up (thesis). Then, a competing idea is revealed (antithesis). And finally, both ideas mesh into yet another idea (synthesis). The synthesis becomes the new thesis. Then another antithesis is posited. The new thesis and antithesis then compromise on a synthesis, which synthesis becomes the new thesis.

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Nietzsche’s criticisms of society also play a role in my outlook. He stated that Democracy was the successor of Christianity. He also envisioned that Democracy would create tyranny such that the world has never seen. Another one of his ideas was that people grow stronger through pain, that there shouldn’t be as much support for those who are downtrodden, or they will never learn how to pick themselves up. Though his words were harsh, they expressed quite a unique mode of thought. His constant joy at looking upon things in a deeply cynical manner had no small part to play in his complete mental breakdown at the age of 45, a lesson to all of us.

Finally, the United States was founded from a variety of perspectives. For instance, Jefferson wanted the nation to be agrarian, while Hamilton advocated for an industrial society. One thing most agreed upon, however, was deism. This is the idea that God did in fact create the world, but afterwards, simply walked away from it.

Sources: The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, David Galezo, https://www.azquotes.com/author/4529-Epicurus https://brewminate.com/kant-and-the-categorical-imperative/, https://brewminate.com/kant-and-the-categorical-imperative/