As hundreds of so-called “psychotherapies” have been foisted onto the public, all claiming to treat “mental illness,” newer understandings of how the human brain actually works and the processes which drive the formations of mentation that we refer to as “the mind,” demand a reassessment of what exactly we are referring to by the term “mental illness” and what kinds of intervention would be feasible in both the prevention of and recovery from cognitive and behavioral disorder.
A fundamental process in the formation of an individual’s mentation is the associations of experience. These associations not only account for constructive behavior, but can also lead to deleterious or negative behavior, suggesting that some associations are negative and therefore the negative behavior can be remolded through contrasting positive associations; however, to understand what this really means and how it works, we must start at the beginning and define what exactly is this negative behavior that we refer to by the term “mental illness.” One of the most important axioms of life so simply but profoundly phrased by Oscar Wilde, is that “the truth is rarely pure and never simple” (emphasis mine). Nothing can ever be explained by simple sound bites – oversimplification is just another word for misrepresentation – so to understand, we must truly engage the subject, and to engage the subject, we must first and foremost clearly define what it is that we are seeking to understand. In this case, it demands that we understand what exactly is mental illness.