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The spectrum of Mental Health. Psychology links to Buddhism and Taoism.
Posted by Phil Walker on 01 Jul 2017

Have been thinking a lot recently about the whole spectrum of mental health and how the idea of the more self actualised/creative individual links in with Buddhist and Tao teachings.  I wanted to discuss this a bit here.


I think the line of mental health is one where narcissists would be obviously off centre to the left.  If we think of the far left as being a Psychopathic megalomaniac, perhaps Hitler as a good stereotype. Going from the middle to the right I feel this is where different self help Psychology attempts to pull us into.  I am speaking here of the likes of Jung, Maslow, Carl Rogers.  Some what I would call 'pop psychology' has gone a little off track here in my view and isn't totally as foundational to this.  The more pure Psychology I highlight here I feel links in with more spiritual views of what becoming 'enlightened' is.

From the middle to the left can be seen to be behaviour which does harm to self and to others.  It is regressive, self serving, it violates what people would typically see as the human spirit.  To the right from the centre is all about the heroes journey,it's about a responsibility for ones own emotions and their processing.  It is characterised by responsibility and a working forward to be our true selves and to become more enlightened.  Carl Rogers speaks of the fully functioning person, Abraham Maslow
speaks of the self actualised individual and Carl Jung of the process of individuation.

On the far right characters such as Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln (particularly in later years) were identified by Maslow.  Abraham Maslow spoke of the idea of working towards a utopian future with all self actualised people.  Carl Rogers spoke about the characteristics of the fully functioning person as being what would be required for humanity to survive in the 21st century and obstacles to this emergence.  

It is important for us to take this journey within and from this journey of becoming more whole it can leave the world more whole.  I have posted on here about the owning of our shadow.  Things can become too confusing and political and rhetorical but the journey within is not easy by any means and not for the faint hearted but in ways is actually simple and the only way.  

Ken Wilber said in reference to politics and different people getting in etc etc that at the end of the day all we can do is dedicate ourselves to integral practice and that way we can make the world more whole than how we found it. To some degree we need an actual detachment while at the same time still being healthily involved with events around us but without being too caught up in them.  Abraham Maslow speaks of self actualisers as not being 'encultured'.  I found this resonating.  It seems to make a lot of sense.

I'd recommend anyone to look at the characteristics of the self actualised person and the characteristics of the fully functioning person. See below.


https://www.verywell.com/fully-functioning-person-2795197

Recently in my spiritual development group I've been able to see more overlap between what these Psychologists were talking about and spiritual teachings.  Buddhism speaks about the great world of harmony as what we are working to.  Similarly this is a life of creativity, of being
able to help others while living our own life to maximum capacity.  I feel this is the same as Abraham Maslows utopian society idea of self actualisers.  

In Couples therapy I often teach about H shape relationships.  Where each person knows themselves and has their own connection while at the same time is able to empathise and to see the world of the other.  Relationships therefore being interdependent each with their own healthy spirituality.  It is this which lacks on the left of the centre of the mental health continuum where things become around control and domination of others rather than harmony.

It's so important to keep processing our own feelings and noticing how we can free ourselves.  Carl Rogers eloquently speaks about freeing ourselves from conditions of worth. Being in spaces where our emotions couldn't process properly.  The conditions of empathy, congruence and unconditional positive regard given in Counselling help this unravelling to take place and by people being in touch with their own organismic valuing process they can become the person they were always meant to be.

I feel it's important to let life become that simple letting go of just being the fullest you.  The experience of actually being fully human is actually so rare but there can't be a nobler while more simple goal.  This involves lots of work and lots of identification of emotional danger and going down a lonely path but it is worth it.  Experiences happen through dreams, new relationships happen, insights are gained and life never loses a sense of excitement.  The whole cliché of 'just be yourself' can take on a huge and incredibly profound meaning as if that really is the only thing we are really here for and we are good enough just being ourselves in our maximum capacity.  Different karmic tests may come on us then ultimately it becomes about how we respond and grow as we keep walking the heroes path.  Ken Wilbers' integral life practice is wonderful as a resource for everyone just following their own path and creating a path which works for them.

Witnessing the overlaps recently has been a big learning curve for me recently as I've become more settled that this is just the only way and the only goal.