Mental disorder consists of two types: (1) the normal type; here, the normal person sees his self as a body and ego and defends it, (2) here, in addition to doing what normal folks do the person rejects his body and ego and posits an idealized body and ego and defends it. Healing mental disorder is done at two levels: (1) giving up identification with the ideal self and its wishes and not defending those; this brings the person to normal status, and (2) not seeing one’s self as an ego and body and not defending one’s ego and body.
MENTAL ILLNESS AND SPIRITUALITY
Ozodi Thomas Osuji
The conventional wisdom is that mental illnesses, especially the major ones such as schizophrenia, mania, and delusion disorder etc. are not curable. Folks suffering from these disorders are given loads of psychotropic medications and are not expected to be cured but to come to their medical doctors for the rest of their lives seeking medications. Those with other forms of mental disorders, such as the various anxiety disorders and personality disorders are hardly expected to become healed; they are expected to see their psychotherapists for decades without really being healed.
The mental health field is a mess; it is a field where practitioners do not heal their clients while filling the world with literature on what they do. The field cannot heal any one because it is chasing shadows of people. It has a wrong picture of which human beings are and therefore cannot really heal them.
Human beings are spiritual beings having physical experiences; therefore, you cannot heal them when you ignore their spiritual sides. Hanging out shingles on one’s office door claiming that one is qualified to heal people does not mean that one knows how to heal people. You cannot heal people unless you first have understanding of their spiritual needs as well as their psychological needs.
No one can heal another human being. Only the individual can heal himself. What another person can do is provide other persons a method following which he believes heal their mental disorders and leaves it to them to try healing themselves by following that methodology. Human beings are free agents; they chose to be in this world and chose their mental health issues and will choose when they want to heal them; they will heal their mental illnesses with the help of all of us.
The mistake that psychologists and psychiatrists made was to arrogate unto themselves powers that they do not have: the ability to cure mental disorders; they cannot cure mental disorders for they do not have such powers. The most that they can do is posit a methodology that they believe if followed would heal mental disorders. Only the individual mentally ill person can heal his mental disorder, following his own methodology for doing so or following the methodology posited by other persons.
Mental disorders cannot be healed at a blow; cure lies in ongoing efforts to have good mental health. Cure entails doing something about one’s mental health on a daily basis for the rest of one’s life. To have good mental health one, more or less, have to be receiving on-going spiritual learning, pretty much as folks go to church to receive nourishing spiritual teachings from their ministers. This is how it is meant to be. There is no such thing as one time healing of the human mind; one must be continually striving to heal one’s mind for the rest of one’s life on planet earth.
This is because to be on planet earth is a mental disorder to be healed! To be on planet earth is to have separated from ones real self and identified with a false ego-body self; to see one’s self as who one is not is to be deluded and to hallucinate. To be on planet earth is to be psychotic, a psychosis that needs to be healed with on-going spiritual practices.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM? SEPARATION FROM THE WHOLE
Before you can solve a problem you must first define that problem and then come up with an action plan as to how to solve it. So, what exactly is mental illness? Is mental illness found only in those that go to mental health professionals?
All human beings are mentally ill. How so? When we are born on planet earth we have separated from the whole (that folks call God). To be separated from God and from each other is to be mentally ill. To be mentally healthy is to be aware of one’s self as a part of the whole, God; a part joined to all parts of the whole and to the whole.
God created all of us. We do not like that God created us. We want to create God and create ourselves. However, once created it is impossible for one to create one’s creator or one’s self.
While in spirit, in God, we wished to create God and ourselves but could not do so. Unable to gratify our wishes we sought separation from God.
We went to sleep and in our sleep dream that we are now separated from God (the whole) and from each other (other parts of the whole).
To make our seeming separation real we invented the universe of space, time and matter we live in. We house our souls in matter (body). Body gives each of us a sense of being separated from other people and from God. In body one is over here and other people are over there. One is now separated from the whole and from other parts of the whole (God).
INVENTION OF THE SELF CONCEPT TO REPLACE OUR TRUE SELF, UNIFIED SELF
Our true self is unified spirit self. When we separate from God we no longer know who we are. Therefore, the first order of business is to develop an idea of who we think that we are. Thus, every human child’s first order of business is to invent a self-concept (and attendant self-image) for himself. The child enters the world and uses his inherited body (biological constitution) and social experiences to construct a self-concept for himself.
The self-concept says that the individual is in his body and is a separated self. The human self-concept is a sense of separation from God and other people.
The self-concept, also called human personality, is a specific pattern in which the individual feels separated from other people; the self-concept is the manner one protects ones separated self, the ego.
SENSE OF COMPLETION AND INCOMPLETION
Upon separation from God and other people, that is, upon birth on earth, the individual feels incomplete. He feels incomplete because he came from a place of completion, unified spirit self, aka heaven. To feel complete one must feel a part of the whole, aka God, God and all creation. We came to earth to be separated from God and his creation so we must feel incomplete.
To be a human being, a person separated from God, is to feel incomplete. Upon birth on earth, in body one feels incomplete.
We came from a place, unified spirit self, aka God, where we felt part of the whole hence complete. Since we came from a place where we felt complete, magnificent and perfect and whole we cannot accept the sense of incompletion we feel on earth. Therefore, we struggle to feel complete. But this time we do not obtain a sense of completion by feeling a part of the whole, God, but through our seeming independent powers.
WESTERN PERSONALITY THEORIES
Alfred Adler noted that children, because of biological and sociological reasons, in degrees, feel inferior and inadequate. He said that they do not like that feeling and react with a compensatory sense of superiority. Each human child, Adler says, pursues power hoping that if he is powerful that he would feel adequate and whole. To Adler, neurosis, that is mild mental disorder, comes from this pursuit of an imaginary superior self.
As Adler sees it, the neurotic (which is all of us in degrees) is a person who feels inferior, inadequate and powerless and compensates with pursuit of false sense of power, adequacy and superiority. The neurotic feels inferior and restitutes with fictional sense of superiority.
The neurotic, that is, the mentally ill person, is a person who feels inferior and obsessive compulsively seeks compensatory self-invented superiority. His entire efforts are motivated by desire to seem better than he is.
Karen Horney built on Alfred Adler and changed words around but pretty much said the same thing. The neurotic, Horney says, feels that as he is he is not good enough. He does not like feeling not being good enough. Therefore, he rejects the self that he believes is not good enough and uses his mind and imagination to invent an ideal, perfect self that he thinks that if he becomes it he would feel good. The neurotic child thus rejects his actual self (his body and ego) and posits an ideal self and struggles to become the idealized self. In pursuit of the idealized self the neurotic feels anxiety from fear of not attaining the ideal self. If one wants to be an ideal self and fears not attaining it and since one does not want to be ones actual self, one must feel anxious. Thus, the neurotic is filled with free floating anxiety (that Horney called Basic anxiety).
When the neurotic actually fails in attaining the goals of his imaginary ideal self he feels depressed. When the neurotic believes that he is the imaginary ideal self he develops delusion disorder and or mania and schizophrenia.
Delusion disorder, mania and schizophrenia emanate from identification with a self that one is not but a self that one wishes that one is.
Both Adler and Horney have useful insights into human nature. I will therefore borrow from them and from other Western psychologists, as I see fit. (I am not a Westerner and do not feel obligated to take everything the West says on anything; I take only what makes sense to me; I reinterpret whatever I take from the West in light of spiritual psychology.)
What Adler and Horney are saying is that to be a human being is to find one’s self-feeling not good enough (in my language, incomplete). Human beings feel not good enough but cannot accept that feeling because they came from a place (what Christians call heaven) where they felt complete, perfect, magnificent and powerful. There is simply no way that a human being can accept a sense of inadequacy and live with it; he must strive to feel adequate and magnificent; the real choice he has is whether he gives himself that feeling or whether he roots it in God. Generally, we give ourselves that sense of completion. This is the origin of neurosis and psychosis.
When a human being builds on his own powers and sees himself as important, powerful, superior and ideal he is neurotic and or psychotic (neurosis and psychosis are differentiated by degrees; the neurotic is still able to test what society calls reality, he knows what is real or not but does not like the real and wants to improve it with ego ideals; the psychotic has lost touch with reality, and is unable to test reality and takes his fantasy of what reality is as reality).
The human being sees his life on earth as not good enough and invents a self-concept and self-image that says that he is good. In Horney’s categories, the human child rejects his actual self and strives after becoming an ideal self; in Adler’s categories the human child rejects feeling inferior and tries to seem superior.
When the human being wants to become an ideal self he also feels motivated to make other people become ideal selves, for as a person wishes for himself he wishes for other persons. The neurotic wants to become an ideal self, wants other people to become ideal selves, wants social institutions to become ideal and wants everything in the world to become ideal (including stars, galaxies, planets, plants and animals).
The neurotic sees himself, people and the world as not good enough and wants to change them and make them better. He posits ideals and perfection and struggles to become those and make people and everything become them.
Naturally, the neurotic is bound to fail in attaining his ideals for nobody can change himself and become ideal. Ideal and perfection are mental constructs; they are not real. Reality is not of one’s making. The ideal self is ones invention hence not true.
Reality is created by God, not one. One’s real self is created by God not by one’s self. One can return to the awareness of the real self that God created but one cannot create it.
The feeling of not being good enough is rooted in separation from God, manifestation in body and in the world of space and time. Every person who is born on earth, that is, is separated from God, must feel incomplete, inadequate and inferior.
The real question is what one does with that feeling. If one recognizes that God created one and embraces God one reduces that feeling of imperfection. But we came here to seem separated from God and to deny that God created us thus we use our imagination to fashion self-concepts that say that we are ideal, perfect and powerful and strive after those; we identify with the ego ideal we invented to replace the real self, unified spirit self, that God created us as.
To be a human being is to invent for one’s self an ego self-housed in body, a separated self; in neurosis and psychosis to pursue the ideal self. As long as one wants to be a separated self, especially an ideal separated self, one is mentally ill.
It follows that to be mentally healthy is to give up the desire for the separated ego self-housed in body, especially to give up the desire for an idealized, perfect self.
What heals mental illness? To be mentally ill is to seek (1) a separated self-housed in body and (2) to seek an idealized, perfect self.
To be mentally healthy is to desist from seeking separated ego self, especially idealized perfect ego self. To heal mental disorders is to give up the quest for separated self and ideal self.
UNIFIED SPIRIT SELF OR EGO SELF
One must have a self. The question is what is ones real self? On earth we have forgotten our real self. Our real self is unified spirit self, what Christians call Christ self, Hindus call Atman and Buddhists call Buddha self. We are not aware of this real self. Right now we are only aware of our ego separated selves and if we are neurotic or psychotic our ideal ego selves. No one on earth is aware of his real self, at least, not all the time.
Because we have forgotten the awareness of our real self we must therefore ask God (his Holy Spirit) to tell us who our real self is. We should not presume to know who we are; we have to ask God to tell us who our true identity is.
On earth, we do not know what our true identity is. We only know about our false identity, the ego separated self and ego ideal. The ego and ego ideal are false selves; false selves used to adapt to a false world.
IN MEDITATION WE CAN GAIN AWARENESS OF OUR REAL SELF
Buddha and Buddhists ask us to sit still and negate the selves that we are aware of and wait in silence until we experience our real self. The real self has no name but if it must be named it is unified spirit self, oneself that is simultaneously all selves.
You are you and simultaneously all selves. But before we can regain awareness of the real self, the unified self, we must first jettison the separated ego false self, we must empty our minds of all concepts of the self that we made for ourselves and for other persons. We must accept that we do not know who we are and sit still and say: I do not know who I am; I do know that I am not the self that I am currently aware of; the ego separated self is my shadow self, the earthly self, a figment of my imagination, a fiction and not a real self. I have no separated ego self. I want to be told who I am, in fact.
If one says so and does not try to tell one who one is, one would attain inner peace and silence. If one is silent for an hour, without clogging one’s mind with concepts of the self that one made for one’s self, God (Holy Spirit)would tell one who one is, in fact.
All the selves that we currently believe ourselves to be are false. This includes what folks call normal selves, neurotic ideal selves, deluded selves, manic selves, depressed selves, schizophrenic selves, personality disordered selves etc. Every self that one is aware of is a false self. One simply does not know who one is.
Mental disorder (which all of us have) lays in the replacement of the self that God created one as (unified spirit self) with a self that one invented, a separated self.
When ones separated self is in agreement with other peoples separated selves we say that the individual is normal but when it deviates from other selves we say that it is neurotic or psychotic.
All mental illnesses have the same root: assumption that one has a separated self, especially an ideal separated self.
SOME MENTAL ILLNESSES DEFINED
What is the deluded person? The deluded (paranoid) person invents a separated self that he feels is very important and identify with it and defend it as if it is who he is.
What is a manic person? The manic person invents a very important self that he wants to become and now sees himself as that false big self.
What is a depressed person? A depressed person invented an ideal self but now feels that he has failed attaining that self.
What is an anxious person? An anxious person invented an ideal self and wants to become it but fears that he is not becoming it hence feels anxious.
What is a schizophrenic? A Schizophrenic is a person who rejected his real self and invented an ideal self and identifies with that false self.
What is a personality disordered person (all of them: paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, narcissistic, histrionic, borderline, anti-social, avoidant, dependent, obsessive compulsive, passive aggressive etc.) is a person fleeing from his real self in an attempt to become an idealized self that is fictional.
All mental disorders are rooted in rejection of the real self that God created us as (unified spirit self) and desire to become a different self, a separated special self (that we invented for ourselves). The separated special self is made by one with the aid of other persons.
Mental disorder inheres in rejecting the self that God created us as, the unified spirit self, and trying to replace it with the false separated special self that we made for ourselves.
(The idea of separated special self is elaborated on in Helen Schuman’s book, A course in miracles; I borrow from that book as well as from Hinduism, Buddhism, Christian mysticism, Gnosticism and other books that I have studied; the reader can find his real self by reading books on the various religions of mankind; what I have done is present my own specific understanding and if that understanding helps the reader to find himself I am pleased.)
SOME IDEAS ON GOD AND HIS CHILDREN: UNIFIED SPIRIT
The following metaphors on God and story of creation represent spiritual reality. However, metaphors are not the reality they try to represent in words. No words can explain God. Nevertheless, consider the following story as representing the truth.
God is spirit. God is one spirit that is simultaneously infinite spirits. God’s one spirit self-extended his self into other spirits; one spirit became many spirits; one spirit became infinite spirits. One God extended his oneself into his children.
God is now in his children and they are in him. Where God ends and each of his children begins is nowhere.
God is the whole spirit and we are parts of that whole spirit; we are inside God, literally, and he is inside us, literally; there is no space or gap between God and us and us and each other.
There is literally one spirit self, God. That one spirit self is simultaneously itself and each of us. This is the state of heaven. This state is permanent, eternal, immortal and changeless.
God and his creation are always one and have always existed; they have no beginning and no end.
The state of eternal oneness remains so now but in that now we, the children of God, wished to separate from God and from each other. We cannot separate from God and from each other.
As Sigmund Freud observed, what we cannot gratify in reality we seek to gratify in dreams (in fantasy). We could not separate from God and from each other (to go gratify our desire for self-creation, hence have independent power, specialness) so we, as it were, went to sleep and in our sleep dream that we are separated from God. Our extant world is a dream world and is not real; in reality we are still unified with God and with each other.
Right now we are in God and in each other. While in God and in each other we dream that we are separated from him and from each other. The self we see ourselves as, separated selves housed in bodies and living in the world of space, time and matter, are dream selves, dream figures; they are not real. The selves we see ourselves as are mere dream selves. Dream selves are fictional selves.
When we awaken from the sleep-dream we are in we recognize that we remain as God created us: one with him and all selves (only spirit can unify, join, so our real self is spirit, not body).
Our physical universe is a dream place; it is not real at all. In the unreal universe we find ourselves in we see ourselves in bodies and have ego separated selves.
In the physical universe we made our bodies fragile and vulnerable and they could be hurt and destroyed. Mindful that our bodies can be destroyed, and not wanting to die we defend our bodies with food, medications, clothes, and shelter and ego defenses (repression, suppression, denial, projection, displacement, rationalization, sublimation, reaction-formation, fantasy, avoidance, pride, shame, guilt, fear, anger etc.).
We defend the ego and its body and in defending them keep them alive for the 100 years or so we live on earth. Alas, whatever is in body must die!
Our bodies die; they decay into the elements that composed them. The various elements in our bodies, such as nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium etc. decay into their particles (protons, neutrons and electrons). The particles decay to quarks and quarks decay to photons.
During the Big bang that initiated the material universe, something became inordinately hot and exploded and gave rise to radiation (photons) and the photons transformed themselves to quarks and quarks combined to form protons and neutrons (photons transformed directly to electrons).
In time the particles of protons and neutrons formed nuclei of atoms and in further time nuclei captured electrons to form atoms.
Atoms in time formed molecules (combination of atoms…for example, water is a molecule made of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen).
Stars formed, galaxies formed, planets formed and on planets biological life forms formed. In time biological life forms produced animals one of which evolved to what we now call ourselves.
Thus, we now see ourselves living as human animals. In time human animals die and decay and their bodies return to the matter that composed them and ultimately to photons and photons return to what existed before the Big Bang, before separation, before the existence of this dream world.
In the present, we find ourselves in the physical universe, a world of dreams and the dream seem real to us. We defend our separated egos housed in bodies and they seem real to us. But dreams are not real.
As physicists now tell us, where we find our universe are other universes (multiverse). Many universes occupy the same space. Where I am right now are other universes. I am not aware of those other universes. This is kind of like what happens to us at night when we sleep and dream. In our dreams we invent other worlds and live in them while our bodies lying on the beds are in the shared ego universe we live. In dreams one is in two universes but only thinks that he is in the dream universe he has invented.
We are in the unified spirit world that God created and while in it invented our current shared dream world, the material universe. We are dreamers and take our dream selves and dream universe as real.
Our scientists study the parameters of the dream universe.
As long as we identify with the parameters of the dream universe we are deluded; as long as we see ourselves in bodies and see people in bodies we are hallucinating for those we see are not there. In effect we are psychotic because we believe ourselves to be in a world that does not exist and see people that are not there.
What is mental illness? Mental illness is to be in this world, to be on planet earth, to be in the material universe.
We are dreamers and can wake up from the dream of separation and regain the awareness of our true selves, unified spirit self, and at that point become mentally healthy.