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Mental illness and the Will

Arthur Schopenhauer is a German, philosopher whose ideas focus on, his ideas focus on a certain concept about the inner reality of man. Schopenhauer says that man is but will and desire. That’s it, man’s entity revolves around his will and desire. 

I will mention some of what he said “if you try to convince of something, using proofs and logic and keep trying to convince him for hours, and he is not convinced, be sure that it is not because he did not understand, but because he did not want to understand.”

That’s because one’s will has the upper hand over all evidences and logic, moreover, the will employs the mind to fulfil man’s needs. When you want to do something, you justly it logically by all means; you keep reasoning to do that, and similarly, you may use the opposite logic, just to get your mind to fulfil what your will and desire want. Your will controls your mind, logic, reasoning and your body, too; the will uses the body, too. 

The body is fully-controlled by man’s will. Our will is crucial as it is our inner nature. To prove it, consider our bodies. The human body gets tried, grows old but, the will does not; even very old people, and till the last moments of their lives, they have their will, wishes and needs. 

Man always wants and needs things. Desires never stop. Even when you get old, you cling to have what you want, even more than children may do!

So, our will to desire and ask for things does not get senile, exhausted, or sick. That’s why Schopenhauer believed that the inner reality of man is his will. Also, he discussed an important matter; that is, if our inner nature and reality are but our will and desire, this means that we will suffer till we die, why? Because no one can ever fulfil all desire and wishes. Our wishes are endless; if we fulfil one of them, we will be satisfied for some time, then, we’ll get bored, and ask for more and more. 

We will never stop being in need, or cease desiring things we do not have. Man always wants more and more. Schopenhauer says “we’ll never live in peace, as we’ll suffer from deprivation when our desires are not fulfilled, and at the same time, we’ll get bored and fed up with things that we have. So, man is swinging between suffering and boredom; between the pain of suffering and that of weariness. We are either deprived or bored!

We’ll be swinging between suffering from deprivation, and boredom of fulfilled needs. Both states go on forever, and we’ll suffer in both cases. Man is destined to suffer. This how Schopenhauerthinks. That is, man is destined to being tormented for life, as man’s will and desire are man’s inner reality!

He claims that there is no way out expect by death!

That’s why he advocates mass suicides; he considers them the only solution. I dare say that he is a melancholic, and pessimistic philosopher. Buddha had another point of view. He thinks that salvation exists. In what?

Buddha said it existed in subduing your will and desire. He motivated people to control their will and to subdue their desires. No, actually, his doctrine invokes people to be rid of their desires. 

Christianity has an extreme similar stance. It calls for getting rid of desire, completely. Christianity calls people to be rid of desire for God’s sake. This is what monasticism is all about; to abandon women, not to be married and totally get rid of sexual desires.Islam adopts a moderate stance. We are not asked to be rid of our desires, but, to tame and subdue them; that is to say to control them according to the Islamic sharia. We are not asked to abandon women, or to keep on fasting forever, rather, we are requested to get married, so as to lawfully consummate our desire, according to the sharia. 

Christianity urges people to be so tolerant and loving; slapped on tour right cheek, turn the other side to be slapped, and love your foes. In contrast, Judaism adopts an extreme stance; “a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye.” Their justice is extreme. So, the extreme tolerator are the Christianity, and jews who are to avenge themselves on the spot, are the ones at the opposite end of the scale. 

Islam adopts a moderate stance in this respect; it calls for mercy which is a combination of love and justice. God says: “those who repress anger, and who pardon men.” He did not tell us to be rid of anger, no, only to repress it. However, to forgive and pardon others when you can, is the best thing to do.

In Islam, you have the right to avenge yourself on those who harm you. Still, “if one forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is with Allah.” You can avenge yourself, but forgiveness is the best. So, Islam has adopted that realistic, moderate stance regarding everything. In Islam, man is not burdened with responsibilities he can not shoulder. You are to control your will and desires, but, not get rid of them. You could not ignore or eliminate your desires. Islam does not ask us to kill our will and desires, or do without them. 

We are to control them according to the tenets of sharia. Islam tackles this issue in a profound way; that is to say if the will can transcend sordidness, it becomes noble and lofty, so, we have to ever ignore its role. Since our will can transcend sordidness, it is righteous.

What matters is not that we have a will, or not, rather, it is the nature of what we want. Also, there are different levels of human will, wishes and desires; some may only focus on food and sexuality; they live as animals do. But, you’d transcend that and reach out of beauty and noble emotions. You might even become insightful and a staunch advocate for doing good deeds, turning your intentions to Allah. “And to your lord turn (all your) intentions.” There are different levels. Islam does not ask you to abolish your will, but, to be a better person using it. Transcend evil and worldly needs with your will; seek a higher status. So, instead of demanding sordid things, demand lofty ones. Do not love the beautiful, love the beauty, and it is best to love Allah, who has created both. 

See the different levels of love? You love something, then, the abstract and finally Allah, who has created everything. Man’s needs are classified into different levels. These demands can be low, or lofty. They are either worldly or divine requests. These are levels of human needs. 

What is the perspective of psychology regarding that issues?

Psychology entails studying psychological and psychiatric disorders. In psychology, a psychologicaldisorder is but the defeat of the will facing a sudden, drastic change of some kind; such as failing in love, getting fired from work, going bankrupt, going through lawsuits, enduring a chronic disease, death of the parents, or a spouse, etc.

All these dilemmas may happen to anyone. So, you either cope, or suffer from a lack of readjustment. Man is facing an endless chain of unexpected changes; accidents, diseases, bad and good things always happen. Can you always adapt with such changes?! Or when you face sudden problems, you will not manage to readjust, so, your will become defeated?

The defeat of your will, facing any of those untoward sudden changes that may happen any day, heralds a psychological disturbance, or a psychiatric disease. In the past, psychotherapy was the mainstay of treatment of such cases, but now, treatment entail medication as tranquilizers, hypnotics, etc.

This is no treatment, it is escaping the dilemma. Some stress-related psychiatric diseases are related to situations and problems such as divorce, failing in love, the death of one the parents, going bankrupt or fired and the lack of ability to cope and adapt. 

You may try to escape the problem. How?

You may do so by daydreaming, eating too much, indulging in spirits, and some may go to the extreme and get violent. Some’d develop hysteria; hysterical paralysis, for instance. So, when such patients are treated with tranquilizers, it is as if they were given another means of escape. Classical psychotherapy methods of treatment were better; psychoanalysis, confrontation and understanding. Stress-related psychiatric diseases are related to defeat of the will upon facing a problem that a patient cannot cope with. So, the will of man plays a major role in this respect  

 

   

  

          


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