Once you separate the body from the mind, you split off the efforts to understand consciousness from science into mysticism.
For thousands of years, this separation has set the tone for how we understand what makes us tick. It’s created a deep chasm between our knowledge of “the body” and our understanding of “the mind”.
It’s no wonder, then, that “Mental Health” continues to be treated in a class of health that’s virtually disconnected from “regular” Health.
It’s why insurance companies got a way with disparity in policies.
The root word for health is whole. You cannot be whole if you are split.
Yes, “mental health” can be a convenient way to help distinguish from “bodily” health.
But here’s a problem: once you label something one way, it can be hard to remove the label even after it’s determined to be wrong.
For instance, someone may have an endocrine disorder which manifests behavioral signs and symptoms. By classifying the problem as “mental health”, there’s a chance that further investigation into the cause – looking at the endocrine system – is neglected.
This is where stigma originates too. Ignorance does that.
Our ancestors simply didn’t know that invisible particles whirring through invisible glial cells and synapses – working together at an incomprehensible power of complexity – could bring about consciousness. It was mysterious.
Our ancestors can be forgiven. We can’t – we don’t get to use ignorance as an excuse.
I’m not saying we don’t need certain ways of speaking so we understand each other; nor am I saying we don’t need specialists; nor am I suggesting we overdo reductionism.
What I am saying is that psychiatry has lagged behind other branches of medicine for too long.
Our fear of destroying mystery by learning the truth about ourselves is not a responsible stance. I think this fear of putting the “mind” under scientific scrutiny has cost us dearly in our advancement of making connections between how we think and feel with how we live.
Rather than using “Mental Health”, we need to use language which is more specific to the problem we’re trying to solve.
We don’t file cardiovascular disease or cancer under the phrase “Body Health”. Why should we file bipolar disorder or anxiety under “Mental Health”?
It’s all filed under “Health”.
The body and the mind have been separated.