What are Mental Problems? Chapter I

This may seem an unnecessary heading, for most people should know what mental problems are, but in fact, most of us have very limited and perhaps naive concepts regarding the meaning and scope of mental problems.

The most basic mental problem with most people is lack of meaning. Psychiatrists as far back as Jung recognized this basic mental problem. Jung correctly pointed out that the main motivating force in everyone’s life is the need to find meaning. This is usually covered over, however, by multitudinous activities or other conflicts in life that make people forget this problem exists. Or, perhaps, it is more true to say that most people participate in so many different activities in their daily life in order to forget that they can see no meaning in their life. Most psychoneurotic problems, as well as many physical problems, are caused by the basic fact that people attach no meaning to life. Everything seems pointless and futile and the despair results in intense negative emotions which can result in the breakdown of mental and bodily functions.

Jung recognized this, for he wrote with devastating simplicity, yet directness and insight: “When conscious life has lost its meaning and its promise, then it is as though a panic breaks loose …” This sums up the state of most people’s life. They are living an empty, meaningless life, without hope. So if you are in this position, then you have a mental problem, the most basic one that a human being can have. If the sense of meaninglessness is sufficiently overpowering, then you will take steps to resolve it. And there is meaning in life, in the life of each and every one of us, but you must find it out for yourself. If you forget the present emptiness in your life, then you are escaping; if you try to cloud the question over with dogmatic assertions that there is meaning without really knowing it from the depths of your being, then you are still escaping. You must find out for yourself, through your own experience. The method is yoga. From this will come knowledge and understanding of your real nature and your incredible relation-ship with existence. The problem of lack of meaning in life will automatically drop away and dissolve as you experience higher awareness and knowledge.

When you attain higher knowledge, then you can bear anything in life. You will be able to swim through the ups and downs of life with perfect ease.

There are many other more obvious mental problems, some of which you will be conscious of and others that you will not be able to recognize, for they will lie in the deeper levels of the subconscious mind. Some people are scared of insects, of certain animals, of open spaces, of closed spaces, of other people, of tbe opposite sex, of the dark and so on; the list is without end. Some people have sexual complexes, such as impotence; other people have a strong hatred of their mother or father, or both; others have strong feelings of jealousy towards others either specifically or generally; others have had and still feel the shock of death, perhaps of a close friend or relative. Examples can be quoted to completely fill this section. All of these problems must be rooted out if you want to achieve happiness in life.

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