Re: Buddhist thought on mental illness?

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Posted by Tim C. ( on May 26, 2000 at 23:50:41:

In Reply to: Buddhist thought on mental illness? posted by Pete Jones on May 26, 2000 at 10:29:50:

Dear Friend:

There was a psychologist (I believe that was his profession) in the 1960's by the name of Thomas Szasz who proposed that "mental illness" does not exist. While his reasoning was quite complex, the main point he was getting at is that what we tend to call "mental illness" are actually social deviations (obsessive compulsive disorders, etc.) or diseases of the brain (chronic alcoholism, Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, etc.). He further postulates that mind, and brain & body are seperate in a sense, but interdependent (just as Buddhism believes). From a Buddhist perspective, since there is no physical entity of mind which can be located, it is quite difficult to assert that because there is an imbalance in behavior, or an imbalance in neurotransmitters, an individual has a disease of the mind. So the perspective I am coming from is that what we tend to call "mental illnesses" are actually not directly related to a disease of the mind, but are related to that of the physical body (primarily the brain).

And, unfortunately, if you would like to hear a Buddhist perspective you can not ask for a perspective which neglects to acknowledge karma. If that is what you are asking for, then you are looking for a non-Buddhist perspective. With relation to what was said above, it is your karma which pulls you into the physical entity that you now are. If that physical entity which your karma pulled you to has an imbalance of this neorotransmitter or that neurotransmitter then that is your karma (that is the effect of a previous causal action or actions). If you are asking for an explanation which disregards karma, then you might be looking in the wrong place.

Nonetheless, I wish you luck in your quest and I hope that you find whatever information it is that you are seeking.


Tim C.

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