How the dualism of Descartes ruined our mental health

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sciborg2

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« on: May 13, 2019, 12:15:20 am »
How the dualism of Descartes ruined our mental health

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While it is true that there is value in ‘normalising’ irrational experiences like this, it comes at a great cost. These interventions work (to the extent that they do) by emptying our irrational experiences of their intrinsic value or meaning. In doing so, not only are these experiences cut off from any world-meaning they might harbour, but so too from any agency and responsibility we or those around us have – they are only errors to be corrected.

In the previous episteme, before the bifurcation of mind and nature, irrational experiences were not just ‘error’ – they were speaking a language as meaningful as rational experiences, perhaps even more so. Imbued with the meaning and rhyme of nature herself, they were themselves pregnant with the amelioration of the suffering they brought. Within the world experienced this way, we had a ground, guide and container for our ‘irrationality’, but these crucial psychic presences vanished along with the withdrawal of nature’s inner life and the move to ‘identity and difference’.

In the face of an indifferent and unresponsive world that neglects to render our experience meaningful outside of our own minds  –  for nature-as-mechanism is powerless to do this  –  our minds have been left fixated on empty representations of a world that was once its source and being. All we have, if we are lucky to have them, are therapists and parents who try to take on what is, in reality, and given the magnitude of the loss, an impossible task.

But I’m not going to argue that we just need to ‘go back’ somehow. On the contrary, the bifurcation of mind and nature was at the root of immeasurable secular progress –  medical and technological advance, the rise of individual rights and social justice, to name just a few. It also protected us all from being bound up in the inherent uncertainty and flux of nature. It gave us a certain omnipotence – just as it gave science empirical control over nature – and most of us readily accept, and willingly spend, the inheritance bequeathed by it, and rightly so.

It cannot be emphasised enough, however, that this history is much less a ‘linear progress’ and much more a dialectic. Just as unified psyche-nature stunted material progress, material progress has now degenerated psyche. Perhaps, then, we might argue for a new swing in this pendulum. Given the dramatic increase in substance-use issues and recent reports of a teenage ‘mental health crisis’ and teen suicide rates rising in the US, the UK and elsewhere to name only the most conspicuous, perhaps the time is in fact overripe.
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« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2019, 01:40:07 pm »
Well, this article somehow irrationally bothered me.

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Common notions of mental disorder remain only elaborations of ‘error’, conceived of in the language of ‘internal dysfunction’ relative to a mechanistic world devoid of any meaning and influence. These dysfunctions are either to be cured by psychopharmacology, or remedied by therapy meant to lead the patient to rediscover ‘objective truth’ of the world. To conceive of it in this way is not only simplistic, but highly biased.

Maybe it was this part, because I don't know if this is or is not a "common notion."  It is, however, to me a serious error to suppose that anyone holds "objective truth."  I think, and maybe I have just been reading too much physics stuff lately, but any "truth" or "objectivity" will be relative as a matter of necessity.

So, what one should be doing is offering perspective.  My loosely associated mind jumps to Sartre's sort of example, where we meet someone who believes he is Napoleon Bonaparte.  One would, of course, be tempted to say, this person is obviously wrong, because it is the year 2019, the facts are simply against this.  And so, indeed, in a sense, we can enforce the perspective of this "facticity" to display that this person's "error."  But this is a biased perspective all the same, because, as Sartre is apt to point out, because we are saying that the "facts" trump this person's experience and attempt at transcendence of mere facts.

Of course, though, not all perspectives are "equal" that would be a silly statement.  But bias is still bias.  We might be "biased" toward facticity over trancendance, but that does not mean it must be the case that we should always be.

But maybe I am off the rails...
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira