Impact Of The Belief System On Perception Of Mental Illness Philosophy Essay

The present study aims to assess the impact of belief system on perception of mental illness. Belief system is major principle from which one live one’s daily life, those which govern one’s thoughts, words, and actions. Without these principles one could not function. Belief system essentially makes up who we are. Our belief system is made up of a set of core values, which we tend to base everything we do, say, or believe in. This study would be helpful in identifying the impact of belief system on perception of mental illness and preferred mode of treatment.

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“A belief is not merely an idea the mind possesses; it is an idea that possesses the mind.”

A belief is a thought we hold and deeply trust about something. Beliefs tend to be buried deep within the subconscious with the result that they trigger automatic reactions and behaviors. We seldom question beliefs; we hold them to be truths.

Belief loosely, whatever an individual is willing to accept without direct verification by experience or without the support of evidence, and take as a basis for action or non-action. META HISTORY.ORG. (Beyond the tyranny of beliefs)

The nature of belief systems.People have different beliefs about different perspectives of life. It affects our life and how we move in the world. What we do and don’t believe dictates how we set up our life, our moods and everything we experience.

Belief systems are fundamental to human existence and there are a few ideas worth exploring to see if anything can be determined about their origins. Without getting into brain physiology or psychology, there are a few conclusions we can draw from general observation. The brain is our information processing center, so it is capable of accepting data input and analyzing it. However, let’s break the functions down a little more precisely. Data coming in is always examined; however most of it never reaches the conscious portion of our thought processes, so there is a background process which acts as a filter on the data being entered. Should something unusual occur, our conscious mind is alerted to the discrepancy and we can now consciously analyze what is taking place. There are also other processes which must occur for this to work properly, in that the brain must be capable of retrieving pertinent information when it is needed, so there is clearly an organizing capability in the brain that allows data relationships to be established. While this may describe brain operation at a high level, there’s a basic problem that needs to be addressed; how do we know what information is relevant or useful? There is no doubt that much of the information processed is simply “background noise” in that it represents events that we have grown accustomed to since birth, so we don’t pay any particular attention to them. So when we encountered something new or different we need to have a quick mechanism to be able to classify the data without protracted analysis. After all, whatever we have encountered could threaten our survival, so while we could contemplate it during a more leisurely interval, we must be capable of immediately assessing where it fits among our existing pool of data. Such a scenario requires that, in addition to basic organization, the brain utilizes some form of a “framework” or “worldview” against which data is evaluated and collected. This worldview or “belief system” would consist of data drawn from experience that represents our subjective sense of the world around us. It doesn’t necessarily have to be factually correct, but it does need to be operational.As an example, if ghosts are not a part of the belief system, then unusual happenings or noises, don’t immediately elicit a response of supernatural origins. Instead, we would look for the cause of the event among our experiential knowledge. Similarly all the data we encounter must fit into our belief system. (Gerhard Adam, 2009).

A belief is whatever an individual is willing to accept without direct verification by experience or without the support of evidence, resulting in assumption which is taken as a basis for action or non-action.

Societies, cultures, religions and individuals contribute to the diversity of our world. Each person’s beliefs, values and attitudes create one’s own unique belief system, each exclusive belief system being valid for the individual. These basic components, manipulated by inward and outward events are the essence of that which drives influences and motivates human thinking that leads to behavior (Walsch, 2003).

Negative behaviors and interactions in work environments often stem from human beings’ diverse belief systems. In an effort to understand each others’ belief systems, it is important to first understand one’s own belief system. Understanding is vital for building a respectful civilization. (Connie M. Ross, 2004)

Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true. Belief system is the actual set of precept from which one live one’s daily life, those which govern one’s thoughts, words, and actions. Without these precepts one could not function. Belief system essentially makes up who we are. Our belief system is made up of a set of core values, which we tend to base everything we do, say, or believe in. These beliefs are regarding too many things like beliefs about food, health, illness etc. (John Stuart Mill, 1863)

A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioral pattern associated with distress or disability that occurs in an individual and is not a part of normal development or culture. The recognition and understanding of mental health conditions has changed over time and across cultures, and there are still variations in the definition, assessment, and classification of mental disorders, although standard guideline criteria are widely accepted. (Davies, T. 1997)

Mental disorders can arise from a combination of sources. In many cases there is no single accepted or consistent cause currently established. A common belief even to this day is that disorders result from genetic vulnerabilities exposed by environmental stressors. (Diathesis-stress model). However, it is clear enough from a simple statistical analysis across the whole spectrum of mental health disorders at least in western cultures that there is a strong relationship between the various forms of severe and complex mental disorder in adulthood and the abuse (physical, sexual or emotional) or neglect of children during the developmental years. Child sexual abuse alone plays a significant role in the causation of a significant percentage of all mental disorders in adult females, most notable examples being eating disorders and borderline personality disorder.

(Mental disorder in Encyclopedia)

Treatment and support for mental disorders is provided in psychiatric hospitals, clinics or any of a diverse range of community mental health services. In many countries services are increasingly based on a recovery model that is meant to support each individual’s independence, choice and personal journey to regain a meaningful life, although individuals may be treated against their will in a minority of cases. There are a range of different types of treatment and what is most suitable depends on the disorder and on the individual. Many things have been found to help at least some people, and a placebo effect may play a role in any intervention or medication. (Phillip W. Long, M.D. 1995-2009)

The first theory is that mental illness is caused by malignant and nefarious supernatural entities. The main symptom of this illness is possession in varied degrees. The main adherents of this theory are in tribal a peasant societies, however one comes across these ideas not only in small towns but in metropolises also. This would explain the popularity of healing centers that deal with spirit possession in several parts of India. One of the extremely well known centers of this type is a temple of the monkey-go (Hanuman), known as the Bala-ji temple, in the district of Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan, which is visited by people of all shades of life (Kakar, 1982). Recently, after the Erwadi incident, in the state of Tamil Nadu, in which twenty-seven mentally ill patients who were chained to poles and trees died in an accidental fire, we have learnt of a number of religious shrines in India reputed to render cure to mentally sick people (see Wadhwa, 2001).

At one end of the continuum lies the ‘supernatural theory’ of mental illness, at the other is the bio-chemical theory. This continuum overlaps that of the societies; at one end are the tribal and peasant societies, at the other the complex, industrial and post-industrial societies. It also indicates that as societies change from simple to complex, the theory of

causation mental illness also changes from the supernatural to the bio-chemical. Some grain of truth certain lies in this proposition, for it is highly unlikely that tribal an peasant societies would subscribe to the bio-chemical theory of mental illness. In these societies it is not only mental illness but also physical illness, which is understood as being caused by supernatural factors. Moreover, it has also been observed that many tribal and peasant societies do not maintain a distinction between physical and mental illness (Becker and

Kleinman, 1999). An important observation here is that urban Indians including those belonging to highly educated, upper classes often attribute mental illness to supernatural causes. These theories of disease causation have implications for the treatment of mental illness. Those believing in supernatural causation will approach the spiritual healers. If mental illness is viewed as consequence of shock, the belief is that in course of time the person will recover from it, therefore counseling will constitute the main treatment. When bio-chemical deviations in the brain are seen as causing mental illness, the people are likely to approach psychiatrists for treatment and counseling. It is also likely they may combine both supernatural and biochemical treatments, assuming the absence of any contradiction between them.

An important part of mental health is how you perceive the world around you. Your sense organs receive signals and pass them through the nervous system to the brain, which processes the information. The mind then interprets that information. There are some built in filters, which help the process. For example, you can sometimes filter out background noise, so that you can concentrate on what you are doing without distraction. Attitudes and emotions can affect the perception process. You may read the implications of what another person says and his body language differently, depending on if you like the person or not. (Ron Kurtus 29 August 2004)

Our belief system is the actual set of precepts from which we live our daily life, those which govern our thoughts, words, and actions. Without these precepts we could not function, so in order to take this journey, and to give it some meaning.

Belief systems involve stories, or myths, whose interpretation can give people insight into how they should feel, think, and/or behave. The elaborate polytheistic mythologies of the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations are a good example of how belief systems can affect the daily life of a society’s members and the role they can play in giving significance to people’s actions. The most prominent systems of beliefs tend to be those associated with formal religions; however, any system of belief in which the interpretation of stories affects people’s behavior, a system of superstitions, for example can be a living, contributing component of a given society’s culture. Values and beliefs as components of culture.

Our concern here is with belief systems, which we might equally call religions, ideologies, philosophies, worldviews, or ways of life.

Belief system always has an ideology or philosophy, a collection of ideas, a framework for organizing thoughts.

One important function of a belief system is to serve as a framework for thought and action. It explains where the world comes from and where it’s going; what our purpose in it is; how society should be organized; how people should treat each other; when you’re messing up and what to do about it. All this is very comforting, and allows believers to focus their energies. (Mark Rosenfelder, 1998)

Our Belief System can be one of our most powerful assets or our worst enemy. Our belief system essentially makes up who we are. Our belief system is made up of a set of core values, which we tend to base everything we do, say, or believe in. ( 2007-2012).

There are different beliefs prevails about the causes of disorders and according to beliefs, people adopts different treatments to cure themselves from these disease.They have beliefs that there are supernatural power factors, social factors, personal factors and also biological factors which, contribute to psychological problems and different people have their specific beliefs about healing such as spiritual healing, psychological treatment, medical treatment and sometimes these methods are used in combination of two like medical and spiritual and psychological and spiritual as well.

The term supernatural or supranatural (Latin: super, supra “above” + natura “nature”) pertains to being above beyond or what is natural, unexplainable by natural law or phenomena. (Joseph Jastrow, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1918 Study of Beliefs and Attitudes)

There are different categories of supernatural powers, such as Taweez (amulets),Witchcraft, Jinn possession, magic or spirit possession, Evil Eye, Divine punishment and God’s Will. People have beliefs that these supernatural powers can cause physical as well as psychological diseases. People believe that these powers can cause different bodily as well as psychological diseases. They have beliefs about causes of mental illness which include personal causes and social causes of mental illness such as; addiction, lack of will power, financial distress and stressful circumstances etc.The people also believe that biological factors also can cause a psychological illness.these biological factors include;hereditary,contact with mentally ill, child birth and chemical imbalances. And according to their belief about the causes of illness they adopt the type of treatment which they believe. The types of treatment for mental illness in Pakistan are different as most of the people don’t have awareness about these illnesses. Most preferred treatment option is spiritual healing, then doctor (general physician and less adopted treatment is consulting to psychologists/psychiatrists.

Spiritual healing is a phenomenon in which a disease is cured without prescribing any medicine by performing some religious rituals. A healer may act as an intermediary. In all the other types of healing methods such as Allopathic, homeopathic, “desi” and “unani, some medicines are prescribed to take, by which the disease is cured but in this method of spiritual healing, the healer uses only his spiritual powers and some particular to cure any disease. It also involves in dealing with the psychological problems of the people i.e. some psychological diseases treated by it and some people psychologically feel satisfied visiting any spiritual healer.

In this system of healing, the cure is related to spiritual healer where divine powers moves in the hands of the healer which he gains through complex act of meditation.

All cultures have unique ways to identify, understand and deal with symptoms of what mainstream society calls mental illness, as well as different reference points for describing atypical behaviors. Different diagnostic schema or terminologies may exist, and causes may be attributed to folk beliefs rather than psychological or biologic causes. Often the preferred means of dealing with these symptoms is through native healers, religious rites, or holistic and alternative medicine. Many have traditionally resolved problems within the family, and focus more on external environmental circumstances that affect the individual rather than intrinsic processes (Lim, 2006).

In a report surveying gains in mental health, the U.S. Surgeon General found, “Even more than other areas of health and medicine, the mental health field is plagued by

disparities in the availability of and access to its services,” and multi-cultural ethnic groups bear the heaviest burden of unmet mental health needs and reduced productivity (Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health 1999; 2001).

The actual seeking of professional mental health treatment may be delayed until problems have become especially intense and beyond the supports their cultural communities can provide. As a result, cultural groups are underserved in outpatient community based

programs. If accepted for outpatient treatment, fewer services or treatment sessions are utilized and treatment often terminates early with feelings of alienation. Few studies have documented successful outcomes of mental health treatment among multi-cultural populations, even when ethnic and language matching have been tried (Snowden, undated). Delays in seeking treatment and premature terminations create a cyclical reliance on increasingly more costly crisis services. (Munoz, Sanchez, SAMHSA-WICHE, undated). Private sector programs typically are inaccessible to members of minority cultural groups (SAMHSA, 1996).

Contributory factors for the under-utilization of the mental health system are socio-economic, familial, financial, geographic inaccessibility and problems related to immigration status. These have been attributed to access barriers created by financial deterrents to seeking care, program locations and service hours, and treatment problems related to misdiagnosis (USDHHS, SAMHSA, 1997). Language barriers (especially during assessment and treatment), cultural misunderstandings, prejudice, and difficulties

with acculturation to American society also play a role (Corrigan P et. al, 2008). In care, communication difficulties may lead to inappropriate treatment (Sue et al., 1991); HYPERLINK “ HYPERLINK “ “” Hernandez, 1986), ineffective case management and inadequate referrals (New York State Office of Mental Health (NYSOMH), 1997). Such alienation may lead to premature drop-out from treatment (Snowden, 1996, 2001; Proctor HYPERLINK “ “” Davis, 1994). Other deterrents include lack of knowledge about available services, distance from service center, limited hours of operation, and lack of child-care.

Belief drives behavior, but often belief is not based on experience and so does not reach or reflect the intimately lived dimension of human existence

“Some things are proposed to have certain properties which may be logically inconsistent, and hence these things can be proved not to exist.”

Dr. Niclas Berggren from “A Note on the Concept of Belief.”

To start our journey in life, we create a set of beliefs, which define us. As part of our healing process, we take our beliefs as our ultimate truth and often do not sway from them. Sometimes, it is necessary to reinvent our belief system and redefine our values so that we can see clearer and be able to achieve the fulfilling life that we desire. ( 2007-2012)

Mind medicine imparts the healing power on the entire body. This can be seen repeatedly in many forms of Eastern medicine. The psychological root-cause of each person’s belief system, which becomes the texture of how we live our lives, can be expressed in the subtle energies of the body as well as in the expression of disease. ( 2007-2012).

Healers and religious men in the succeeding generation further attempted to organize. Contemporary thoughts about mental illness and to develop appropriate diagnostic categorizes while some men perceived disordered behavior as sickness of the soul. Others brought early beginning of scientific thinking to the effort to understand the mystery of human abnormality. Unfortunately, the progressive gains of the Greeks and Romans Empire. The dark brought revival of demonology, intricate theological explanations and magical forms of exorcism. No matter what form of therapy we use, be it spiritual, psychological, medicinal, we are only capable in balancing our lives as we are by the beliefs we hold in our heart.