Thursday, April 19, 2007

PERSONALITY DISORDERS VS. MENTAL ILLNESS: What the Advaita Teachings Can Address and What They Cannot, Part Two, The Conclusion

F.: Yesterday, the God Complex, depression, personality disorders, ego and ego-states were mentioned as some of the causes of the misery and suffering and outrageous acts of violence that (1) mark the human condition and that (2) are often addressed and eliminated via the Advaita Teaching. That said, there are conditions that the Teachings cannot address. It should also be noted that violence breeds violence…that the abused become the abusers. How common is abuse or the occurrence of traumatizing events? While the ego wants to say, “My parents did a great job, all things considered,” (meaning “I turned out great, all things considered”) studies are showing that the majority have suffered one or more traumatizing events by the time they reach their teen years.

Emerging nowadays is a better understanding of the causes of trauma-related stress and anger and rage, of how many are truly being affected, and of new, effective methods for treatment. The Advaita Teachings are not the answer to this problem; instead, professional help from a specialist is a requirement. In the past, the estimated number of sufferers has been low, but now more realistic statistics are becoming available. The problem is common and the effects are widespread. When children are abused mentally, emotionally, physically, or sexually, a sense of powerlessness happens. Later, a desire for power can manifest, and when that desire is not met, repressed anger can explode into rage and subsequent acts of fury. While the Advaita Teachings address the perils of desires (including the desire for power and control), the effects of severe trauma indicate a need for professional intervention.

If you study the type of thinking that is generated by the God Complex, you see how rooted that disorder is in duality:

They need to reform and I can reform them.
They need punishment and I shall provide it.
I have the right to judge them.
I know who is right and who is wrong.
I know who is moral and who is immoral.
I can destroy them.

Clinical depression requires treatment by trained professionals. Situational depression has, on occasion, been addressed by the Teachings. Many who have come to discuss the pain of a divorce receive some respite when they understand the manner in which a threatened ego-state is driving those feelings. The Teachings provided clarity and respite for “floyd” when he was in what seemed to be the depths of fear and depression prior to Realization, a condition which was described thusly in one book:

He had reached a point where he felt as if he were a pane of glass, held in the hands of the world. He felt as if the thumbs of the masses were pushing so hard that they had bent him totally out of shape, putting him under so much strain that if anyone happened to apply even the slightest additional pressure, he’d shatter into a million pieces.

First, note the duality: “the masses” as opposed to “I.” Such levels of fear/paranoia and duality and depression, whether clinical or situational, can drive persons to thoughts of harming self or others. Many would suggest that being in the state described above is evidence of mental illness (and it might be in some cases), yet that depression was rooted in the belief that many prized (but false) identities were being "lost." At the time, "husband," "family man," "homeowner," "finance man" and a number of other false identities were ending. It can be seen now that assumed personas and personality disorders had accounted for those depths of fear and despair and depression. How can that be stated with certainty? No clinical treatment was required to address the issues. Realization addressed the issues, and it has been noted before that Realization can address personality disorders but that professional intervention is required to treat mental illness.

(Again, if you know someone who is suicidal, encourage the seeking of professional help. Sometimes the threats are cries for help, sometimes they are efforts to manipulate, sometimes they are attempts to punish self or others, sometimes they are histrionic outbursts, and sometimes they are completely serious. Many who have written to this site or who have called seeking help were advised to go to their nearest hospital emergency room instead. Only the most arrogant or the most ignorant would believe that their “method” or “philosophy” or “ideology” or “religion” or “program” alone has the solution for every problem.)

According to statistics reported by mental health providers and/or researchers, a fraction of humans suffer mental illness but almost all suffer one of more personality disorders. That having been said, there are also some personality disorders that can become so severe that professional assistance is indicated. For the “average” person/persona walking the planet, Realization could provide a means for eliminating the misery that is resulting from dualistic thinking and the subsequent arrogance and narcissism and self-absorption; however, personality disorders can reach such severe levels, as reported by the Enneagram Institute, that they too can inspire violent behavior:

Type Ones can become punitive and cruel to rid themselves of “wrong-doers.” Severe depression, nervous breakdown, and suicide attempts can happen. Type Twos can become able to excuse and rationalize what they do since they feel abused and victimized by others and are bitterly resentful and angry. Type Threes can reach a state of being psychopathic, capable of murder. Type Fours can become despairing, hopeless and self-destructive and can experience emotional breakdowns or suicide.

Type Fives can seek oblivion, may commit suicide, or can have a psychotic break with reality. They can become deranged, explosively self-destructive, and schizophrenic. Type Sixes can become self-destructive and suicidal. Type Sevens often give up on themselves and life and suffer deep depression and despair, self-destructive overdoses, or impulsive suicide. Type Eights may brutally destroy everything that has not conformed to their will rather than surrender to anyone else. They can become vengeful, barbaric, and murderous. Type Nines can become severely disoriented and catatonic.

Linked to the God Complex is ego. Linked to ego is a desire for fame (or notoriety) and respect. Linked to the failure to attain the desired respect and fame are anger and frustration. Linked to anger and frustration are misery and suffering and insane-like behavior. An act of “road rage” where one driver shoots another who “disrespected him” by “cutting him off and taking his place” in a certain lane is not necessarily about insanity. It can be about ego, a desire for respect, a desire for power and control, and about the rage and anger that erupt when "respect" is not shown. Ego is at the core of what the Advaita Teachings attempt to remove. If the understanding of the Teachings happens, what is eliminated is ego-driven arrogance, anger, rage, the desire for power (even God-like power), the desire for control, misery, suffering, fear, and most of the insane-like behavior on the planet. Yet that will not happen on any widespread basis, so ego-states will continue to drive conduct.

Many ego-states can exist which, if hurt, interfered with, or threatened, can inspire violent or insane-like behavior: namely, “The Spurned Boyfriend/Spouse”; “The Victim”; “The Threatened (Failing) Student”; “The Outsider/Loner”; and "The Threatened Employee"; “The One Abused by Authority Figures.” As that uncle who worked in the mental health field taught, the 1-5% of the people who truly suffer mental illnesses at a clinical level are not the ones who are responsible for most of the crimes of passions that make the news. If they were, then everyone charged and tried would have to be found "not guilty by reason of insanity." That is not the case.

The majority of the crimes of passion that are happening on the planet have some ego-state that inspires one to “make mountains out of molehills” and then to live in the darkness of the mental and emotional valleys created in that process. Personas have no accurate perspective, but the Teachings can provide a realistic perspective which allows the Realized to witness all in the relative existence from a logical and rational stance. In the soon-to-be-released book entitled CONSCIOUSNESS, AWARENESS, AND THE NATURE OF REALITY (Peace Every Day When Abiding as The Absolute), the following pointer is offered:

“If not firmly fixed as The Nothing, then everything in the relative existence will be taken to be “something”: a breakup, a traffic ticket, problems with school assignments, problems while seeking employment, problems with neighbors, problems with persons not accepting you in the fashion you expect, problems with persons behaving in a way that is not pleasing to you, persons not properly “honoring you” in the manner your egoism desires, ad infinitum.”

While the Teachings cannot assist those with mental illnesses (or even those with personality disorders that have reached a violent stage), the Advaita Teachings can address the misery and suffering that is being inspired by the belief in duality and the assumption of ego-states as actual identities. The teachings begin by guiding the seeker beyond body and mind. Advancement along the “path” beyond that point requires the abandonment of personality. The abandonment of personality, in turn, would end much of the misery and suffering and outrageous acts of violence that mark the human condition. Have you taken the steps required to be free of the effects of personality? Please enter the silence of contemplation.