February 7, 2007



Conventional Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Counselors generally define the word, "insanity", to mean a state of mind or mood that has the propensity to affect a person's ability to function in a reasonable manner. This could include a clinical diagnosis like Schizophrenia, Major Depression or Bi-Polar Disorder. Before I explain a different definition of the word, lets briefly go over the clinical perspective.

Schizophrenia is a thought disorder, and can include symptoms like auditory or visual hallucinations, isolative behavior, paranoia or delusions. A person suffering from Schizophrenia often struggles with disturbing thoughts or internal stimulation, which impair one's capacity to relate to the world in a reasonable way.

Major Depression or Bi-Polar Disorder are mood disorders, and include symptoms like impaired sleep and appetite, chronic lethargy, anxiety or even mania. People who suffer from this type of chemical imbalance of the brain often complain that life is either hopeless or that their energy level is too high too often, which can eventually cause the person to "crash."

In either case, modern medicine is the first line of treatment. (It is essential to discuss the risks and benefits of this "better-living-through-chemistry" approach with the prescribing doctor.) Abstaining from alcohol and illicit drugs is part of the equation to staying well. Emotional support (family, church, community, counseling) is also very helpful. It builds self-esteem and a sense of hope.

At the risk of offending an advocacy group called, "PETA" (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), for obvious reasons, we cannot utilize animal studies to help us to understand, treat or cure mental illness in humans. To date, lack of animal studies in this arena has meant minimal progress. However, the field of Molecular Psychiatry is showing some promise in helping us realize the goal of curing mental illness some day.

Genetic research appears to be the wave of the future for identifying "flawed genes" that can cause symptoms of a mental illness when triggered by the correct environmental factors. The genetic concept also applies to other serious conditions, some of which are potentially fatal like cancer and heart disease. Since we don't have animal studies to better understand and treat mental illness, lets continue to improve genetic engineering applications.

The old Communist Russia had a unique way of defining mental illness or "insanity." It was a label given to people who did not agree with the politics of the government, often creating a sub-culture of people who were locked-up for their dissenting political views.

The remainder of this article will touch on a lighter meaning to the word, "insanity." I do not want to take away from the seriousness of clinical psychosis or depression. I want to document some specific behaviors that appear unreasonable, yet most of us tend to repeat, while hoping that our results be different each time.

Perhaps humans are creatures of habit/routine. This may account for us repeating the same self-defeating or self-actualizing behaviors. As a Counselor, I believe human beings, who gain insight into their self-defeating behaviors and show an effort to change, can stop the vicious cycle. If our habits are of the self-actualizing sort, there is no need for a counselor. The habits we choose to do create our lifestyle!

EXAMPLE ONE: The person who has the goal to lose weight and body fat, but who continues to repeat behaviors like eating unhealthy foods and avoiding a medically recommended exercise plan. Healthy nutrition and doctor recommended regular exercise is the "sane" approach to losing weight, building muscle and losing body fat. Achieving the results we want means taking a reasonable and time tested approach like nutrition and exercise. It takes insight plus effort to change. The alternative is to continue to do the things that do not get the results we want to achieve. That is "insane."

EXAMPLE TWO: The football coach who is headstrong about continuing to play his/her first string players even though the team is losing 42-7 at half-time. Wake up, coach, and think outside the box! There's half of a game left to play the second and third string players, and maybe realize different results.

EXAMPLE THREE: The student who studies for exams while under the influence of marijuana, but who expects to remember the information when sober. Lets repeat the words, STATE DEPENDENT LEARNING, and know that it is more rational to study with a clear mind if we expect to show the teacher what we've learned at exam time.

Sometimes we need to change our approach to get the results we want.

Written by,
Mark S. Rogers, LPC.
Licensed Professional Counselor
Julunda, Tamara and Lisa supporting Stooltime Counseling. I like your visors. Thank you, ladies!

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