Mental Pain / What is it?

This post is the result of spending a lot of time recently with a friend; we’re entering the last stage of what life offers and requires. Our lives have been radically different, but for both of us, there is now more room for reflection; for talking about “forbidden topics” away from the relentless bombardment of infantile American social obsessions with immortality, perfection and youth. Time to sit quietly and to let it all hang out. It feels luxurious: time is luxurious. It takes time to review very different lives with honest, if still tentative conclusions, spoken out loud; to toy with doubts about “who we were” and more pressing, to acknowledge the great mystery of winding up the job of life and closing the curtain on a play with no beginning, no resolution. We are left with a pile of questionable memories; memories that span but an instant in time, which is how “life” looks in the rear view mirror.

Our biggest area of agreement? The last stage of life is all about stepping up and claiming, “This stage of life belongs to me. I’ll write my own review.” 

At some point in a previous visit, I was not feeling well; one of those moods generated by the “all too present pressure of the social world” – a consequence of the constant awareness of the obnoxious “social system” that devastates human happiness; more precisely, the overpowering “word concept” oppression that dictates self-harming behavior in order for the individual to “fit into and uphold” the upside-down American social order.

My friend thought that I was physically ill: “Where does it hurt?” It was a typical  sympathetic question for an aging person to ask another aging person. More like, “Where does it hurt this time?” Stuff hurts that never hurt before.  

“My brain hurts,” I answered. An honest, too honest answer, but the most accurate. How many times had I been confronted with the same predicament of trying to explain the type of pain that is the worst for me; not only to “civilians” but to a legion of doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, “therapists” and other “know-it-alls”, for whom pain, unless blatantly “physical” (symptomatic of medical definitions) is a “personality or gender defect” to be ignored, pooh-poohed,  or dismissed as “in your head” (crazy)

“All pain is physical,” I said. “The brain is physical; the source of my pain is not. It’s mental – environmental.”

Now, this is exactly what “new psychiatry” is supposedly about, and is the rationalization for “carpet-bombing” human brains with psychotropic drugs. Just “blunt” the symptoms. Just “mask” the pain. It’s a pretty dimwitted strategy; risk terrible damage to the most important organ in the body by the application of toxic substances; attribute failure to the patient; declare victory. Deny and ignore the consequences; attribute the rapid rise in “mental illness” to magical interference by “vague immaterial forces”, a generic idea that suffices for the neurotypical understanding of superficial reality.  

Every human being who has ever existed has experienced mental pain. 

“Archaic” healers understood this; the evidence lies in how they treated patients. Sprains, broken bones, thumps on the head, infections, cuts and bruises, parasites?  Use common sense, tried-and-true traditional treatments: stabilization, splints, wrappings, sutures, simple surgeries, a cornucopia of chemical plant and insect remedies, dietary additions or restrictions accompanied by reduced activity, good sleep and healthy food. Wait for the body to heal itself.

Mental pain was acknowledged and routinely attributed to spirits, demons, bad winds, supernatural  interference, accidental “disrespect” of varied “god” forces, and tabboo boundaries crossed, whether intentionally or accidently: “Magic” boils down to recognizing the threat of evil thought, intent and behavior that originates in other people. The foundation and source of magical attributions is the recognition of potential harm that lurks all around us in the environment – primarily the social environment. Belief in magic IS the recognition that other people have the power to cause us pain, not only with a club, but with IDEAS. Magic also attempts to find counteractive remedies: the act of gathering and entraining the forces of nature (totem animals, protective symbols, reading “signs” as omens, pre-emptive strikes)is meant to protect the individual from other humans and the abundant cost in mental pain that “belonging” requires.

The obsession with “word magic” falls into the same category: humans hurt, manipulate and condemn each other with words. Magic word spells, chants and formulae inflict “real physical damage” to the human body. We call the manifestations of this socially-inflicted damage stress, anxiety, depression, addiction, obesity, anorexia, narcissism (and on and on) – the absurd collection of “modern illnesses” in the DSM, which like the Bible, blames the object of maltreatment for his or her own suffering. The individual is accused of being disordered, defective, mentally or emotionally ill: a problem to the Wonderful World of Perfect Social Harmony as demonstrated by normal people. The myth of social perfection is a necessary lie. 

Lies and facts co-exist within a “war of words” that labels predictable pain and suffering as the fault of the “imperfect” child, who is blamed for his or her own “abnormal reaction” to unhealthy social activity: the purported causes range from the child being “possessed by a demon” “born a sinner” “born a certain race or ethnicity” “born female” “obstinately fixated on being disobedient” “having developmental defects and multiple pathologies” and the ever-more-popular “obscure genetic defects” (The defects are in that child’s DNA somewhere… just wait; we’ll find them). In popular opinion, these causes may be effectively shortened to: He or she is an asshole. A dangerous asshole. No mental pain could possibly be inflicted by that cruel exclamation…!

The error of “modern psychology and psychiatry” is just this: all the propositions, prescriptions, explanations and opinions about “normal” human behavior, which are routinely misrepresented as “expert knowledge” under the cloak of pseudoscience, are mere repetitions of the most primitive tactics for maintaining power and control over the mass of humanity; a brutal system that was invented and perfected thousands of years ago.

The way that society “deals with” with mental pain is simple: blame the individual. Deny, deny, deny the true source of pain, which is the abnormal, illogical, unnatural and preposterous beliefs imposed by “authorities” at the top of the social hierarchy.

An exaggeration? The U.S. today is experiencing a mass eruption of socio-cultural mental anguish. What’s the official “boneheaded” remedy? Easy access to prescription and “illegal” drugs, guns, and alcohol (including mass media addiction).  Mass incarceration of “troublesome minorities”. Politically correct “Puritanical” restrictions on free speech and personal expression. Polarization of citizens into  exaggerated bigoted ideological segments. Militarization of “public safety and law-enforcement” and rampant invasive “spying” on every detail of public and private life:  Diagnosis of the MAJORITY of the population as “mentally ill”.

Maybe this time, it won’t work.

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