What is the cause of today's alarming increase in mental illness and what is the cure? Here are primary answers to the crucial questions with personal comments by eminent doctors and psychiatrists.
MENTAL health is a priceless possession. But today all too many are losing this most precious gift. In the United States, one in ten are mentally ill or suffer from emotional instability and less serious mental disorders in some degree. A similar situation though usually less serious exists in other nations of our modern Western society. But WHY? Is it natural to be mentally or emotionally ill?
Our False Delusion
Modern Man has thought that if he could have high living standards, a good income, more leisure time, education, and the freedom to do as he pleases including sexual freedom he would automatically be happy. Today more people are experiencing these conditions than ever before. And the result? "Instead of mental health, these conditions have led to an unprecedented increase of mental disease, and even to new forms of mental disorder...." So said Dr. Ludwig von Bertalanffy, noted Canadian psychiatrist, before 400 doctors and psychiatrists gathered at a widely acclaimed "Symposium on Schizophrenia," held in Shreveport, Louisiana some months ago. Something is clearly missing in Modern Man's pursuit of happiness and peace of mind. Something is causing his appalling mental illness. But what?
Too Many Pressures?
Dr. von Bertalanffy went on to explain: "One may say it is the stress of modern life that leads to mental disturbance, and certainly this is true in individual cases. But it is no good as an explanation in general." He then showed that World War II "in Europe imposed a stress incomparable." Business, homes and marriages were disrupted; hunger and fear of death were ever-present; and political suppression was ruthless. But in spite of all this, psychoses and neuroses "decreased and improved, instead of the expected opposite." And so it has been many times throughout history! Times of stress and trial have often brought out the best that is in man. Such times can strengthen character and actually improve mental health. On the other hand, if mental and emotional weakness is already present and deeply rooted, but has been submerged, stress may bring this weakness to the surface and expose it. If a person is incapable of coping with this stress, it may be the factor which triggers serious mental and emotional disorders. But stress is not the basic cause of mental disorder. Many people have proved that it is possible to successfully withstand stress including those unusual pressures of our hectic modern world without "going to pieces." But if stress isn't the primary reason for mental illness, what is? And why does stress strengthen some people and break others? What makes the difference? Comments by a well-known doctor at the symposium give a valuable insight into these questions.
The Penalty of Permissiveness
Dr. Robert Prall is a leading child psychiatrist and the father of five children. In a personal interview he told PLAIN TRUTH reporters: "I am a firm believer in discipline. I don't mean spanking a child all the time, but making children behave themselves is a thing that can go a long way in preventing a lot of emotional problems and particularly delinquency problems." "Delinquency begins in the home, very early in life. The child who runs wild at three or four is the juvenile delinquent at 17. Sensible child rearing wipes out delinquency." Dr. Prall says that "freedom of expression" child rearing has gone too far. "There are too many people," he says, "who read articles by child psychiatrists and child psychologists and think they don't want their child to grow up 'inhibited' or 'repressed.' They let the child 'get away with murder' and go overboard in terms of permissiveness." "Parents today can't say no. But good mothers and fathers say no. They say enough is enough. They set reasonable bedtimes for the little three or four year old and then make him go to bed. Likewise, they give teenagers a time to come in." And what does all this have to do with mental illness? It has everything to do with it! Mental and emotional discipline must be learned. These vitally important character traits need to be taught to children by parents beginning at a very early age. But today, because of foolish permissive ideas, relatively few parents teach their children mental and emotional control. Then when the child grows up and is faced with adult responsibilities, it is too much for him. He cracks under the pressure. This is one important reason why there is such an alarming increase in mentally and emotionally disturbed young people. It seems that about the only place many parents put any pressure on their children any more is in academic matters. It's a strange paradox, but parents who are utterly permissive with a child's social and emotional life can be very severe in the academic demands they make of their children. And why do parents have this warped approach? Because the almighty dollar or pound is the parent's goal in life. And they relate high grades with status, a good future job and a high income for their children. So they pressure their children in this one area of their life and neglect nearly all others! Dr. Prall says that "too much academic pressure is put on children today while the parents neglect training the 'whole child.' This causes capable children with high IQ's to rebel, develop emotional blocks, and drop out of school and society." Permissiveness breeds mental problems. It's just that simple. Society today is beginning to reap the penalty for this false philosophy. But there is a second and even more basic cause that goes "hand in hand" with permissiveness in creating today's widespread mental and emotional sickness.
Does Life Have a Purpose?
If the world really grasped the purpose and meaning of life, we would not be suffering mental and emotional sickness as we are today. We would have a real GOAL in life both individually and collectively and would be striving with vigorous purpose to achieve that goal. When stresses and difficult situations arise from time to time as they inevitably do we would understand the reason for such tests. And we would overcome instead of succumb. We would know what man is, why we are here, how to achieve that purpose. We would know where we are going. We would understand the laws which govern happiness and promote wellbeing. But today we have lost our way. We have rejected the only Source that can give the answers to the big questions of life. And we are breaking with seeming impunity those inexorable laws which regulate human conduct and guarantee our well-being. We have substituted all kinds of vain and harmful pursuits for the true values. And then we wonder why we are mentally and emotionally disturbed! Take, for example, the current drug craze. Today we take an aspirin for headache, a pill to go to sleep, a tablet to wake up, an alkalizer for an upset stomach, and an unending stream of cigarettes, coffees, cola drinks, etc. to meet various stresses throughout the day. We seem to believe that these things can meet every need in life. Some even seem to believe that drugs can meet religious needs! Dr. Albert Moraczewski, who participated in the Symposium as an expert on drugs, said: "Everyone yearns for God, but today's young people don't find this yearning fulfilled in religious circles so they turn to drugs.... Some have been told drugs will answer the questions of 'Who am I?' and 'What is the meaning of the world?' But this is a false road which leads to despair." As Dr. Moraczewski went on to explain, it sometimes also leads to modern forms of witchcraft. Cults of witches and wizards are springing up in many cities, often in or near the areas of drug activity. Such experimenting can lead to the most serious kind of mental tragedy (read our articles on spiritism). Yet this is the destructive path some are choosing. Permissiveness and lack of a true goal result in failure to understand the purpose of life and the laws which govern this purpose. Since this is the cause, then the CURE is to find the meaning of life. When one knows the purpose of life, then one can see his or her problems in true perspective. And long before a problem becomes serious enough to cause mental illness it can be solved. But is this the cure being used on the mentally ill today?
Treating the Effect
Doctors and psychiatrists treating the mentally ill admit that they do not have the answers to the big questions of life. Therefore it would be unreasonable to expect them to provide their patients with this information or to show them how to apply it. They must use other methods of treatment methods which treat the effect, not the cause. One such method is psychoanalysis. Here the patient lies on the couch and tries to explore his subconscious mind to see if he can discover what is really bothering him. In other words, he looks inside himself for the answers. But that's where the problems are not the answers! He must look OUTSIDE himself to the One who created him to find the answers. Another method is to use "shock treatments." But listen to this candid admission by Dr. Wilfred Dorfman, eminent doctor and writer. He told the Symposium: "I would like to go on record by saying that electric shock treatment does produce damage to the brain and it is not only temporary." He went on to explain that he has known many patients including some who today are doctors and psychiatrists who are suffering such damage. He said he has seen people who now have "blank spots" in their memory from only three or four treatments and he can only imagine the effects on those who have had 30 or 40 such treatments (which is not as uncommon as you might think)! Drugs are another widely used treatment. But as any of the doctors will admit, "Any drug has side effects. The problem is to find the right drug for the right patient." This is largely a process of experimentation. The doctor using drugs feels he has to weigh the disadvantages with the possible advantages. Some doctors use yet other methods of treatment, or various combinations of treatments. But NONE of these methods treats the cause, none teaches the patient what life is all about so that he can once-and-for-all overcome his problem. Like mental health itself the knowledge of why we are here, what is life's goal, how do we achieve it, is priceless, yet free! You can have it by writing today for our free booklet The Seven Laws Of Success and the articles How to Conquer Your Fears and This Universal Lack of Self-Confidence. Don't YOU become a victim of mental and emotional illness. Prevent such a tragedy by resolving to learn the purpose and meaning of life now.