Fundamental human suffering
Plato is his book Republic, quotes that Socrates talks about the soul and the body that inhibits and discusses the limits that the soul faces entering the material world.
Limits that aim to guide the soul to follow and choose the road of Virtues.
Every embodied soul, he writes, is called to mimic Hercules in facing her Lernaean Hydra.
Here we see that there is a Fundamental Human Suffering recognition of the very nature of a Human Being.
A heroic choice is what Socrates claims to be the right one.
A hero is a Superhuman being, a human being that has recognised his nature and makes the right choices through self transcendence guided to walk the road of Virtues.
As long as we have shaped our mind towards a meaningful Living, the experience of our Essential core is experienced.
We Human Beings deep inside know that our Essential core is not attached or effected by the “pleasures” or the “sufferings” of our embodied nature.
Still we have to accept our limiting nature and accept that situations will appear, where unavoidable pleasure or suffering will arise.
As long as we make the choice to be guided, to make the right decisions and attitudes, through our spirit and the voice of our conscience in any situation, the meaning of our own unique life will be revealed to us and we might even sense the refined Ultimate Meaning of Life.
There cannot be any ‘lost causes
Jonathan Glover interviewed people with severe mental disorders using Socratic dialogue.
Glover makes a metaphor of the binocular vision to the inner mental vision of humans , that especially medicine professionals should apply in order to truly help a person.
I will paraphrase one of his sayings:
How can we take with sufficient seriousness the testimony of someone who is not sorry to have schizophrenia or is not sorry to die, without falling into the shallowness of belittling how terrible it is?
Glover in his book “Alien Landscapes, Interpreting Disordered Minds” quotes:
“When and how much do mental disorders impair agency and responsibility?
When should acting under the influence of severe depression excuse someone from responsibility for what she does?
What do some disorders do to a person’s identity?
When someone with schizophrenia shows unprovoked hostility and aggression, does that reflect him, or is it his illness?
How should we draw boundaries here?
How much is the original person still present in severe dementia?
Binocular Vision in Psychiatry
People are deep or shallow in different ways.
Some are reflective but have little human intuition.
Others are the reverse.
And so on
People come in different places on the continuum in different contexts.
Depth and shallowness are relevant to psychiatric interpretation.
Judging how to help a person may require trying to look into their depths.
The metaphor of visual depth perception is useful.
To see the physical world in depth, we use our two eyes.
The brain decodes the slightly discrepant pictures they give to get information about the relative distance of things.
Knowledge of physical depth is extracted from the incompatibilities of binocular vision.
This is a metaphor for psychiatry, a field where there are truths that at first look incompatible.
People are not transparent, yet often they can be interpreted.
To some extent we create ourselves.
Yet what we are like is quite severely constrained by factors outside our control.
Psychiatric dis-order can have such strange features that domesticated accounts often falsify it.
Yet, Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto: I am human, I think nothing human alien to me
It is essential not to forget the extent of the shared human condition on both sides of the boundary.
A major psychiatric disorder is a tragedy to be prevented if possible.
Yet it may be something the person who has it would not change.
On each of these issues there is a tension between what comes before the word “yet” and what comes after it.
But there are no deeply incompatible truths: paradoxes exist to be resolved.
Each side of the opposition may be part of the truth.
Psychiatric disorder can make people in some ways radically strange without obliterating all the human psychology they share with others.
The philosophical interest is greater when the tension goes deeper.
How far is self-creation compatible with the constraints of temperament and of environment?
How can we take with sufficient seriousness the testimony of someone who is not sorry to have schizophrenia without falling into the shallowness of belittling how terrible it is?
These are foundational questions for a philosophical account of psychiatry and of the conditions it treats.
In trying to answer each question, we have to start from the two perspectives.
It is only by combining whatever is ultimately defensible in each that we go deeper.