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In Ideology and Insanity, Thomas Szasz expresses concern over classifying people with mental illness. Szasz noted how classifying a person has a direct influence over their self-image, and what they believe is possible. Decades later, research by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer, captured in Mindfulness, shows the extent people unconsciously adapt their behaviour to their identity. We are what we think, and the concept becomes reality, a lens through which we see the world.
Synchronicity signals something significant unfolding. Usually, that significance is an emerging insight. But occasionally, personal synchronicities relate to collective emergence. Recently, these synchronicities related to a process I was going through with reframing mental illness. I read Thomas Szasz’s Ideology and Insanity, discovered by chance at a bookstore, weeks before a significant review was published, which argues there is “no convincing evidence” the chemical imbalance theory of depression is true.
I’ve died many times. It’s a strange thing about depression. At least, a strange thing about how my mind works: from a young age, I’ve been presented with worst-case-scenarios in technicolor, painting a picture of catastrophic what ifs. More than once, I’ve lost everything I’ve loved. My world has fallen apart without a brick crumbling in real life.
There are similarities between depression, philosophy and spirituality. Each seeks to understand the existential. I’m fortunate I discovered a spiritual practice which offers refuge from existential anxiety. Thanks to my practice, the context of these mini deaths has shifted — I don’t see them as depressive dysfunction but powerful markers of growth.