Nice to meet you

Article by Dr. Mark Ritzen

 

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Meeting other people is a very common, and for our mental health important part of our daily life; Meeting others can ensure us to be part of a group, which gives us the feeling of being accepted, protected, integrated. Furthermore, meeting others can help us fulfill some of the intentions or plans we have in life; Here, a meeting gives us the feeling of opportunity. Last but not least, a meeting can help us to develop ourselves in all possible ways : by meeting people we learn about the existence of other values, lifestyles, ideas, convictions, intentions, etc. and might enrich ourselves with this. By learning about other ideas, intentions, believes , we can reflect more profoundly about ourselves, put things in perspective and place ourselves better in the complex and fascinating heterogecity of being human.

The other person we meet presents us a rich diversity of individual characteristics that are the result of his genes (nature), as well as his education and life experiences (nurture).

Some examples of the many characteristics that define a person are his sex, weight, size, personality, temperament, interests, know-how, intentions, social intelligence, strengths, weaknesses, desires and worries, and of course we can define many many more.

When two persons meet, two different worlds of individual characteristics are voluntarily or involuntarily confronted with each-other ; this can be a very enriching, never-ending process of dialoging/ experiencing/ discovering. It can also be a challenge to adapt oneself to avoid greater discomfort.

Fortunately, during most of our meetings we are rather pragmatic ; during a meeting, we reduce the complexity of the other to those dimensions that are important to us in the given specific situation. That might for example be a specific know-how (for example if we consult a lawyer), or a shared interest/ habit (like religion, to reassure us being part of a group).

Knowing all this, we can imagine that meeting others is a very complex event for the brain that is accompanied by differentiated and precise perceptions, priorisations, interpretations, curiosity, expectations, hopes, fears, desires : We try to estimate/ inventorying the other’s individual characteristics, especially those, that are important to us in a given situation; In the meantime we have to reflect about/ look at/ eventually re-define our own characteristics ; furthermore, we have have to estimate the chance to reach our goals with the available/ detected ressources in ourself and in the person we meet. Finally we have to develop or adapt a strategy to reach (if defined already) our goals.

Meeting others is necessary for our mental health ; on the other hand it is a very complex challenge for the brain. Therefor, If the brain is affected by a a psychiatric illness it might have difficulties to manage all the necessary processes in order to have a « good meeting »; as a result, many psychiatric patients don’t feel at ease with other people and tend to isolate themselves, to draw themselves back from society. Meeting others is so important to experience happiness ; Without it, how can we feel ourselves accepted, wanted and integrated ?

Exactly here I think that society (that means everyone) can really help people, suffering from psychiatric problems. By being sensitive, tolerant, inviting and supportive, especially to those who have a risk to loose connection to society ; By doing this, society has an opportunity enrich itself, by rediscovering other values than competition, power and wealth-related successfulness, by reactivating ressources as patience, observation, fascination, compassion, heterogenicity and flexibility.

 

Mark_Wand_klein

Dr. Mark Ritzen – Psychiatrist in Luxembourg.

Visit his Medihoo profile HERE

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Dare to care

Mark_Wand_klein     By Dr. Mark Ritzen


Mental diseases have a huge impact on our quality of live, our ability to experience happiness. Nevertheless, mental illnesses remain often undiagnosed or untreated.

This problem can both be found in rich countries as well as (even more severe) in developing countries.

Besides fear for stigmatization, feelings of shame and guild, or simple a lack of knowledge concerning specific symptoms, this might be caused by a lack of psychiatric health-care, a poor accessibility to health-care or too high treatment costs.

To treat a person’s psychiatric problems, to improve his mental health, means to support him in feeling a respected and participating member of society.

Unfortunately, this turns out to be be more difficult than one might expect.

Highly demanding societies, a very narrow definition of success, an increasing interpersonal competition, as well as a profound individualism have increased the gap between healthy persons and those who suffer from mental problems. Therefor, re- integrating people in a society has become a highly complex job.

Nowadays, treating people with mental diseases has become more and more a matter for highly trained professionals, who normally use to work in specialized facilities (for example psychiatric hospitals) that are, in a certain way ironically, separated from “normal ” society (and thus not very suited to facilitate a reintegration process)

Being a social living being by nature, it is difficult to expect a person to re-experience happiness without an adequate re-integration in society. I think it is crucial to enable a person ( with or without psychiatric problems) to develop themselves while dialoging in a respectful and healthy way, with their surrounding social environment.

Social isolation, stigmatization, marginalisation, and societal individualism might participate to the problem that many persons, suffering from a mental disease remain untreated, lonely and sometimes even forgotten by the society they used to live in.

To facilitate access to support for mental health issues, to improve the situation of social isolation, to re-responsibilize a community for the mental health of its individuals, several very interesting projects (especially for the developing world), have been developed. Examples are the “community therapy” by professor Adalberto Barreto, or the “MANAS” (MANashanti Sudhar Shodh, which means “project to promote mental health”) trial by professor Vikram Patell.

These programs invite people to become guardians of their own health, to help and to support each other. The Community itself activates and uses its power to support mentally troubled participants in their healing process.

Even if those programs partly have been developed to compensate poor accessibility/ poor resources in developing countries, I think they are excellent examples of how an important part of the responsibility to integrate mental ill people can be brought back to where it belongs: Within society; to all people making part of it.

At ted.com I found this interesting video with professor Vikram Patell, who recommends us to “dare to care”:

http://www.ted.com/talks/vikram_patel_mental_health_for_all_by_involving_all?language=en

Other interesting links:

https://www.ashoka.org/fellow/adalberto-barreto

(in french)


 

By Dr. Mark Ritzen – Psychiatrist. View his Medihoo profile HERE