ON MENTAL ILLNESS: We Cannot Take Our Faculties for Granted

Jack Bragen
Thursday October 17, 2019 - 10:14:00 PM

Many things can affect the amount, type, and quality of cognitive faculties. Environment is one of them. If the environment in which we live is excessively demanding, and if we do not get enough time of not being hassled, it can negatively impact faculties. In order to create and maintain mental faculties, we need peaceful time and space. If we can't get that, deterioration is the result.

Many people believe it is a waste of time to sit and ponder. Sitting and pondering is exactly what Albert Einstein did, allowing him to arrive at longstanding rules of physics. Sitting and pondering is exactly what the ancient Egyptians and Greeks probably did, when they first arrived at and improved upon Geometry, and many other areas of thought that are used to this day.

While we don't need to invent math or physics, there is a place in our lives for sitting and pondering. It can help us understand ourselves much more. It can help us reflect about things, including past behavior patterns or other relevant material, and the fruit of this is better actions. There is a place in our lives for clarity.

You normally can't get clarity without some level of pondering or reflecting. You can't deeply reflect when the environment is excessively demanding. 

There are psychiatrists who believe people with schizophrenia are better off if prevented from doing too much thinking. That attitude is one-size-fits-all, and it assumes the only product of a schizophrenic person's mind will be delusions. That is one attitude I have seen. 

Of course, lack of treatment for mental illness will negatively impact faculties. Inadequate oxygen to the brain will negatively affect faculties. Alcohol will negatively affect faculties, and it should never be combined with psych medications. 

Often, when I lack an area of mental function, I am unaware of its absence. Part of the problem inherent in the absence of certain faculties is the inability to be aware of it. This is because the faculty through which you would know this is the one that's missing. 

When we lack our full faculties, the first thing we ought to do is to become aware of that. The faculties can often be brought back through activity or cognitive exercises, so long the cause of the lost faculty is not brain damage. You probably do not have brain damage if a doctor has not said that you have it. It is worthwhile to do something mentally stimulating to bring back faculties, but not something overwhelming. 

Psychiatric medications, including antipsychotics, will usually do more to make the faculties available than to suppress them, since they are intended to remedy a mental condition. Meds do not necessarily shut down higher functions. They will probably make the higher functions more available, since your thinking will no longer be dominated by psychosis, mania or depression. 

Faculties become stronger and more readily available with use. If you are unaccustomed to using brain power or if you are not used to having an organized activity, it is harder to bring these capacities into use. 

Another faculty I'd like to mention is the internal sense. The typical non-afflicted mainstream person never develops this. Yet most people can develop this ability by making an effort to look within. The more that you look within, the more adept you will become at this and the more thoughts, structures and emotions will become discernable. Many psychiatrists would advise against this. Yet, in my opinion, it may be key to gaining a better mind, as an augment to conventional treatment. 

Some psychiatrists are better than others. Some seem to have a mindset that someone with a severe mental illness isn't capable of anything, should be supervised, and can never be an intelligent person. Others are more openminded. 

If you are medication compliant, and if you are not breaking any laws, there isn't much that a psychiatrist can say to you about your other self-improvement efforts, and they can only say, "Here are your medications." Yet, there are psychiatrists who are kind, and who are willing to believe in your potential. 

There are all kinds of faculties that a person can have. There is the faculty that allows you to clean your kitchen before it becomes roach infested. There is the faculty to skillfully use a computer or other gadgetry. There is the faculty to say, "I'm sorry," when you realize you should apologize. The mind can do a lot of things wrong, but it can also do a lot of wonderful things. It is up to you.