Understanding Mental Illness
In this week's Spot, Sadhguru addresses the causes of mental illness in today's society, and how one can understand and nurture those around them. "If you have witnessed it, you know there is no other suffering like mental illness because the human mind has enormous capabilities. If these capabilities work in your favor, life becomes fantastic. If they work against you, there is no escape because the stimuli for suffering is not even coming from outside."
 
Sadhguru speaking at Darshan near Chandrakund, Isha Yoga Center
 
 
 

A few years back in a sathsang you mentioned that the highest point of human suffering is mental illness. What causes a person to suddenly have a mental illness? And is there any possibility or hope that they would come out of their illness and off medication?

If you have witnessed it, you know there is no other suffering like mental illness because the human mind has enormous capabilities. If these capabilities work in your favor, life becomes fantastic. If they work against you, there is no escape because the stimuli for suffering is not even coming from outside. If the stimuli for your suffering were coming from your neighbor, your mother-in-law or your boss, you could run away. Nobody can cause suffering to you, mentally. They do things and you react to it in a certain way. But if you come to a place where, without anyone doing anything, suffering is simply happening, it is a psychological condition.

How does one come out of it? It depends on the level of damage. There are some who can come out of it, but in some pathological cases, it would have manifested in a physical form in the brain. Such conditions have to be supported chemically from outside. Sedating it is largely what people are doing, but you cannot just put down one aspect of your mind or brain – the whole system gets affected.

The line between sanity and insanity is very thin. Many of you enjoy crossing it.  Suppose you burst out on someone in anger and they got scared and did what you wanted. You will say, “You know what? I got really mad at him and he immediately squirmed and did what I wanted.” You got mad and you came back, so you seem to enjoy it. Suppose you got mad and did not come back, then it is a different matter.

You keep crossing the line with anger, hatred, jealousy, alcohol or drugs. You are crossing the line of sanity, enjoying the little bit of madness that you go through, and coming back. I want you to know that many of the people who have lost it were perfectly “normal” people like you. Just one day, it is gone. Something fused out and suddenly they are on the streets.

You keep crossing the line with anger, hatred, jealousy, alcohol or drugs. You are crossing the line of sanity, enjoying the little bit of madness that you go through, and coming back.

It is like how the physical body can get ailments. You could be fine today, but tomorrow morning your doctor tells you something. These things happen to people every day. Similar things can happen to the mind. At least if it happens to your body, you will get sympathy from everyone around you. When it happens to your mind, you do not get sympathy; no one wants to be anywhere around you because it is very difficult. You do not know when they are acting up or when it is for real – you cannot make a judgment. When they are acting up, you want to get tough on them, when it is real, you have to be compassionate with them. It is a tightrope walk; it is not easy. It is painful for that person and even more painful for people around them.

We need to build structures in society where the margin for mental illness is very low. Why I go back pining for the culture that existed in this land is because about 200 to 300 years ago, there were hardly any mentally ill people in this country simply because of certain structures in the society. Slowly, without awareness, we are pulling it down. Today, even in villages, there are psychologically broken people, which was never so in the past. If it happened, it was an extremely negligible percentage of people. The percentage is increasing. You can distinctly see that in so-called “affluent” societies, the percentage is becoming quite high. This is because a human being is a social animal unless he transcends certain things. Either we should work for transcendence or we should create a society which is supportive, which is not demanding. Right now, the social structures that we have created are horribly demanding.

This is happening to urban India, but it has happened even more so in the West. If you want to live in America, even if you fast for the next 30 days, your bills will still add up to 3,000 dollars. The society is structured in such a way that it is very demanding on the individual person – someone cannot take a break and just sit down.  Not everyone may be capable of continually being on. A whole lot of people need to withdraw from certain things. If there is sufficient sadhana in their life, then you can drive them 24 hours, 365 days because life is brief and we don’t want to sit back. But if there is no sadhana, it is very important that people have space and time.

We have created societies which are a constant challenge to live in, always in a mode of competition. There is something called “fight and flight” response within the human being. Irresponsibly, people are using the words, “I like the adrenaline.” You do not understand what adrenaline is. Adrenaline is an emergency device in the system. If a tiger comes at you, adrenaline pumps so that you can escape. But if you simply pump adrenaline and go walking in New York City, you will burst. You are not supposed to be in that state all the time. If you do not die, you will break.

Our education systems are horribly demanding. Not everyone is geared for it. For someone, it may be a cakewalk. For somebody else, they may read one sentence 25 times and not get it, but they may be capable of doing something else. “No, we don’t allow them to do something else. They must do this first.”  There are so many horribly cruel structures – these are not structures for the well-being of the human being. We are trying to manufacture cogs for a larger machine we have built. We want the machine to live; we do not care what happens to the individual human being. We need to produce parts for that big machine we have built which is fake; it may collapse any time.  If you are not made of the material to make a proper part for that big machine, you will break in so many ways.

There are some who have come with pathological situations within themselves which may naturally occur, but that is a small percentage. We are responsible for breaking the rest of them.

A human being needs a certain level of psychological, emotional, and physical space, and a certain atmosphere for him to be nurtured. Those atmospheres are missing right from day one; even an infant is not getting it anymore. There was a time when the mother held the infant to her breast and was not bothered by the time. Now she looks at her watch, “Why don’t you drink fast? I have to go!” One week after her delivery, she is back in the workspace. I am not saying women should not work. I am saying human beings should live well. If human beings have to live well, there are certain inner realities. A child should grow up without concern about what will happen to him. But from the first day of school, he is worried about getting two marks less than the neighbor’s child. This is all rubbish. This will destroy human beings and we think this is performance, well-being and efficiency – no. If you break the human being, what is the purpose of the rubbish that you have created?

There are some who have come with pathological situations within themselves which may naturally occur, but that is a small percentage. We are responsible for breaking the rest of them.  But what is the way out for the person who is already there? If they have crossed a certain line, medicine is a must. Over a period of time, if we work with some sadhana in parallel, it could work better; the dependence on the chemical medicine could be lowered.

Above all, each individual is not the same in the body, and even more so in the mind. There is no particular way; it is difficult. If you want to create a healthy atmosphere to take care of such people, it will take a whole lot of infrastructure - both material and human infrastructure.  Unfortunately, I do not think anyone is willing to invest so much material and people towards that.

It will take a lot of expertise, caring, and a certain level of involvement to bring them out of that. Even then, you may not totally bring them out. Within their limitations, you could make them comfortable so that they are not suffering. But it needs a lot of dedicated attention to that and a certain level of expertise and empathy.

Love & Grace

 
 
 
 
  57 Comments
 
 
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4 years 4 months ago

Ask that question to yourself

4 years 3 months ago

Doing Aumkar meditation could help them. Sadhguru told that hundreds of people recovered from their mental illness just by doing aumkar meditation properly for few months. People taking medication for years where they believed their medication for ever, even those people also got recovered from their mental ailments by doing this meditation regularly. Its a free meditation offered in Isha Yoga Center, you can contact them and get more details about this.

4 years 4 months ago

very nice explanation.

3 years 10 months ago

Speak to the maas and swamis (also rejuvenation center) in ashram ka... I hope you would have done by this time.. else please do it ASAP... You will get good guidance for sure... Pranams..

4 years 4 months ago

The quote is more relevant than ever before.

4 years 4 months ago

Just awesome

4 years 2 months ago

sadguru... as you said in the above article.. it takes enormous infrastructure and caring.. still to some extent if we can start care centre... will be superbb

4 years 4 months ago

How to help them sadhguru? Can they attend your program n be cured? Pls tell me sadhguru

3 years 9 months ago

Love you Sadhguru

4 years 4 months ago

What if one day we lose housing, food and work? External circumstances can change anytime. But if there is inner stability, external situations can be handled better.

4 years 4 months ago

So what should be done for someone who is mentally ill but perfectly functioning on the outside?

4 years ago

As some one who has gone through depression, wanted to add this. When in depression, each time we do a positive step, a step that we think we need to do, but don't have the enthusiasm and courage to do, we feel empowered. Each small step we take in the positive direction, will push us several steps out of the depression pit. Each time we overcome the grip of the lethargic, negative mind, it is a big victory, it is proving depression wrong or proving to ourselves that we are freeing ourselves from the grips of depression. I used to tell my mind, i know you are playing tricks, i am not going to listen to you, i am going to do this even though i am not feeling like as it is the right step. Even the basic thing like eating food, taking bath, i was not motivated to do, each time i used to tell the depressed mind to go hell with it and do what i was supposed to do and eventually i made it out. So with Inner engg help you will be perfectly alright. The remaining 20% will go away when u declare to your mind you are no longer going to give in. Live in the moment as the class teaches, that helps a lot. No fear or worries of what might happen, as whatever caution one takes, there is no guarantees in life, so keep the attitude will see when it comes. Trust life!
Keep Smiling, even if you don't feel like. When we are joyful we smile, converse is also true , if we keep smiling we become joyful :)

4 years 4 months ago

A Indian teacher (J Krishnamurti) once said,
'It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society'

I think the culture today has become essentially 'make do for now' as long as you can. Even to so called expert psychiatrists are a mess in their personal lives.

3 years 8 months ago

He may not have schizophrenia though. Some people have clairvoyant or clairaudient abilities and these can be mistaken for mental illness.

4 years 4 months ago

Dear Neela,
The past as well as the future, are both non-existent. Sadhguru talked once about this. If someone suffers that which does not exist, how can that person be named? The situation can be called a socially accepted mental illness, but that doesn't mean the person cannot easily change that; all it takes is to realize it. I understand the love for your brother, and I'm sure you did the best that could come out of you at that time. Experiences and situations are coming to us, so that we can grow on many levels, we become wiser and stronger, I'm sure you know that. If you learned something from that experience, I think that's wonderful and for sure it made you stronger. And if you didn't had the chance to do everything you think you could have done at that time, you still have the chance to do it with people close to you today :-). Are you involved totally now with the people dear to you, or are you going to suffer this also after you get older? You see this? Actually we all have only a certain amount of energy and capability at certain periods of life, but this is how we grow and develop ourselves higher. If you just remain stuck in guilt for the rest of your life, it means you are against life in a certain way, is that so? Just ask yourself, what do you think your brother would say, seeing you in misery and guild, do you think he would be proud of you? I don't think so :-). But if you see how to make yourself a joyful human being, I think you will naturally make everyone happy around you, and not just the dear ones but you also will be proud and happy about yourself. So, I believe you are mature and strong enough to drop away the non-existent nonsense and begin to value the present, because that's the only place where we can work upon and make our lives beautiful. You know this name "present" :-) is really a very precious gift, or a precious present for everyone of us. I hope you can connect to this different perspective I tried to show you. Outside help or advice is good sometimes, but esentially all the answers are within you :-). Love and respect, take care.

1 year 1 month ago

do shambhavi mahamudra

4 years 4 months ago

Sadhguru, namaste. What should be done for someone who is mentally ill but functioning perfectly well on the outside?

4 years ago

I am also someone who get angry quickly, but words of sadhguru, why will one turn against oneself when the outside is already hostile to one, is n't it dumb. He also emphatically pointed to the chemical reactions it causes within and the damage it does to our bodies and how one will soon die. After hearing this i am watchful and conscious and has been able to reduce the intensity. For a fact i know the physical pains in my body has been the out come of my anger and stress/pressure to which i was uccumbing

4 years 4 months ago

Sadhguru, I feel I am mentally ill when I get extreme anger. I am unable to control it, though I do all the kriyas regularly. I become so mad and then feel so sorry and bad about my behavior. Pls. help me. Sadhguru.

3 years 7 months ago

excellent article Sirji....frankly many a times we start expecting too much from others, simply because nature has gifted us with some intellignece

4 years 4 months ago

Sadhguru - I'm suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder. It's an anxiety disorder. Apart from taking medicines, should I do any special kind of sadhana? Please guide me on this friends.

1 year ago

Hi i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anyplace,
when i read this post i thought i could also create comment due to this brilliant piece of
writing.

4 years 4 months ago

Very well said my Sathguru.

4 years ago

Sleeping disorder could be due to many reasons, but good sleep is required for a clear and healthy mind. So before it affects body and mind do take necessary steps as mentioned below. If it is due to thoughts and worries, know for a fact that there are no guarantees in life, take it as a surprise game and flow with it. Know easy to but think that is all it is.

4 years 4 months ago

I wonder how true this is for most other people. For me definitely, it's the pressures around me to be perfect, otherwise I am less-than. Those pressures combined with some psychologically stressful situations essentially did break me, physically and mentally. It's taken 5 years to get back to being able to function. Even so I'm not happy like I was before, and I definitely don't look as healthy. Thanks for the post.

3 years 4 months ago

Namaskaram Sadhguru could you please throw some light on handling the situations of prompting and hammering the brain ?

4 years 4 months ago

While cultural changes take time, what can I do to survive the current reality and sustain a family, a company or an inner turmoil?

4 years 4 months ago

Guruji, 2 weeks ago my brother committed suicide, he was 56 years old. Diagnosed schizophrenic at 23 yrs old. This boy was different as a child, troubled, bad behaved and though physically delicate There was a strength which came from mind. It is safe to say he was born this way; can u explain that sort of insanity? Not mental illness, that is too mild a term.

3 years 11 months ago

y nobody replied here ?

4 years 4 months ago

Sadhguru please re-build this nation.

2 years 11 months ago

Namaskaram Sadhguru family history does have mental illness could that effect in spiritual upbringing?

4 years 4 months ago

Hi Anonymous, do you know where your anger is coming from? The beautiful thing is that you don't need to waste your time trying to control your anger, you just have to see where it comes from. If you become more aware of yourself, it will naturally disappear, because anger comes only when you are not aware. You can try this: next time when anger comes, you just observe what is happening within you in that moment; observe your breath and listen carefully to the space within; try to see where it comes from. Also, when you do the kriyas it is very important to pay as much attention as possible to what is happening within you; only then it will have the highest effect. For example, if you do the kriya just as a routine quick exercise, you may miss the whole point. You can try this and see if it works for you. Peace and love.

4 years 4 months ago

Unconditional LOVE is the only solution for the mentally Ill. Not from others only BUT FROM THE PERSON HIMSELF OR HERSELF. A mentally ill person should be taught to LOVE HIMSELF OR HERSELF FULLY. This is Vedanta.

3 years 11 months ago

My breath sometimes work 366 days is it OK Sadhguru?

4 years 4 months ago

"One who earns the grace of Bhairavi neither have to live in concern or fear of life or death of poverty or failure all that human beings consider as well-being will be his if only he earns the grace of Bhairavi" - Sadhguru

2 years 10 months ago

Hi!

If you do not mind me asking - what does this quote mean?

4 years 4 months ago

We are blessed to be showered with the wisdom of spiritual Gurus ,some are living with us in reality ,some through their books and recorded speech.they have shared their wisdom in various dimensions .Although we know what they said is perfectly true,we never gave importance to it,we listen to their speech and read their books for time pass and always be the part of this society that needs wealth more than the health of the people to sustain a false life style.

4 years 4 months ago

Karna and Sai, Is it possible for someone to be mentally ill but function perfectly well? Even those who are labelled mentally normal don't seem to be always handling external situations well. And of course, what is considered as perfectly normal is just relative and subjective. Maybe it is possible to put up a smile. But, when we are living in conditioned societies, a smiling face does not necessarily mean a joyful being.Pranam

3 years 11 months ago

Thank you sadhguru, this clarity certainly is heartwarming and certainly useful to understand this illness better.

4 years 4 months ago

Sadhguru once said in a speech, that his mission is to change the world.

2 years 10 months ago

<>

What does this mean (the portion highlighted by me)?

4 years 4 months ago

Sadhguru,My brother having Schizophrenia for 2 years;We gave treatment which includes shock treatment and medicines.But still he is not to be cured.He told that, he is hearing voices of neighborhood people in his mind,they scolded him in irregular words.So he got tensed.But we knew that hearing voices are symptoms of schizophrenia.But he is not able to to understood us and not taking medicines.Due to this problem he is unable to get job.His age is 24 years.Please help me ? which Isha course is best for him.We need to cure him and make peace for him.

4 years 4 months ago

Satguruji, I was waiting for your article on mental sickness. some 3 years back my brother-in-law , aged 51 years, who was schizhophrenic (severe) since last 30-35 years, committed suicide. We all stayed together. Life was getting very difficult at home. I feel as if I am responsible for his suicidal death. I feel I should have supported him totally, with all my strength and capacity, which I think i did not do. Now, after his death, I am totally in guilt. I don't know how to come out of this. Each and every moment his thought comes to me. I seek your advice and guidance. Please help me.

3 years 11 months ago

sadhguru
ji i want to talk to u about child injury(getting
beaten,blamed,criticised,cornered,shame,fear,tensed,teased and etc by
surroundings from a childhood to adult)....is it possible for the person
who got child injury to recover?

4 years 4 months ago

Sleeping disorder is so common, that it is not labelled as a mental illness, but it definitely is a lack of ease : dis - ease ... And I have seen many people get relief just from doing Aum chanting (Aumkar Diksha at Isha yoga center), or doing Isha Kriya, a simple 15 minute meditation procedure (http://www.ishafoundation.org/Ishakriya) ... or doing the Inner Engineering of Isha foundation. I really hope that you do Isha Kriya, and benefit from it. A simple 15 minute meditation procedure (explained at the web domain) can simply change the entire way we live, for better. Pranaams.

2 years 9 months ago

Dear Sathish,

My mother suffers from the same problem. I want to get in touch with maa, I have done one course with her, I had spoken about this her, I lost her email address.
Can you help me with her email address?

Please help

sangeeta.sundaram@gmail.com

4 years 4 months ago

i dont think i could exchange anything for what sadguru has given me today.i was in a depressed state for almost 1 1/2 year .after attending inner engineering on jan 14 in coiambathore.my depression has come down by almost 70-80%.but still somtimes i am hit by this ,but able to recover very fast. i bow my head to sadguru feet for this wonderful gift.

4 years 4 months ago

I have been suffering from sleeping disorder for the last 3 years.Is sleeping disorder is a mental illness? and can it be cured completely? Please Any one help?

3 years 11 months ago

i have depression for many years because of inhumanity of some people...is it possible to cure it?

4 years 4 months ago

Somesh are you practicing any meditation? It could help. It has helped many people. Would recommend taking the Inner Engineering Program if you haven't already and practicing regularly...

2 years 4 months ago

I've been diagnosed as bipolar and do lose touch with reality from time to time. It's a blessing to hear sadhguru talk about this subject. I've also been advised against doing the shambhavi maha mudra or pranayama . Only aumkar meditation is good for my system

4 years 3 months ago

Why do anything unless there is the possibility for harm.

4 years 4 months ago

Dear Sadhguru: Thank you for this post. I think it's very reasonable that we could cure mental illness in a short amount of time by properly educating human beings and by growing food and building housing that contributes to human wellness. The way we design our lives - the content of them - also certainly contributes, as you point out. Compulsory work is an abomination. Timothy Ferriss and Ricardo Semler both note that we could all work much less, and potentially make much more. So proper training, housing, food, and work would fix everything, I think. Pathology expresses itself in certain conditions, right? So we remove those conditions. Or we could also perhaps begin to see pathology as other acceptable ways of building a mind and we would see the value in those viewpoints - a change in our behavior towards them would make it cease to be a pathology as opposed to another way of being. The distressing symptoms might disappear or take on another quality as well.

3 years 11 months ago

Sadhguru pranams to your lotus feet. I get deeply influenced by your preachings. iam a clinical psychology resident from hyderabad. At the hospital i get to see lots of people suffering from very strange disorders. Some times i see little children suffering from mental illness. Why is god very unkind to them?? They face rejection from their families, from the society and a lot more. There is lot of pain in their life. Is an offspring burden to a mother??? But i get to see mothers who joke about the plight of their children??? This all killing me sadguru!! Is there any way to help them ??? Its just not medication and counselling that they need. How can i help them?