Website owner:  James Miller

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Cause of emotional disturbance

   What is the cause of emotional disturbance, mental problems?
   There may be a multitude of contributing mechanisms but I 
   think that at the bottom of a large portion of emotional 
   disturbance is two things:  1) fear, and 2) anger.  

   Fear of what?  Fear of personal failure and ruin.  Fear of 
   losing out in a competitive world.  Fear for your future.  Fear 
   of being unable to hold a job and thus survive in this world 
   (where it is understood that without a job there is no money 
   and thus no food nor shelter).  Fear of finding yourself out in 
   the cold with no food.  Fear of ruin and destruction.  Why 
   these fears?  Well, we all have our strengths and weaknesses, 
   abilities and inabilities, our idiosyncrasies.  Some of our 
   weaknesses and inabilities are more important than others and 
   some may present real threats to our ability to cope and 
   compete in life.  We are all aware of our weaknesses and 
   inabilities although we may try to hide them from others.  And 
   we are aware of the threats they may pose to our ability to 
   compete and survive in life.  So what does this translate into?  
   It translates into lack of confidence in oneself, personal 
   insecurity --  a person inclined towards feelings of insecurity 
   and lack of confidence.  And so what happens?  A person is 
   afraid others will see their weaknesses and inabilities and 
   scorn them and put them down.  So they respond defensively.  
   They put up walls.  Instead of being open to other people they 
   become closed in their personalities.  They keep people at a 
   distance.  They fear close scrutiny.  They don't want to open 
   up and let people see them. 

   Now for anger.  Anger at what?  Anger at people and life for 
   all its unfairness.  Anger at being put down, humiliated.  
   Anger at society for its unjust institutions which grade you, 
   judge you and destroy you.  Institutions like the educational 
   system, for example.  

   And connected with all this is another very important thing:  
   Ego.  We all have a certain amount of pride.  We all have a 
   need for a certain amount of respect from others, to be treated 
   with decency and respect.  We all want to feel that we are as 
   good as someone else.  None of us wants to be a failure.  None 
   of us wants to be put down, trampled, used disrespectfully, 
   used abusively, be humiliated as may happen if others see our 
   weaknesses and inabilities.  And of the two fears, that for 
   material survival and the fear of humiliation, the later is 
   perhaps the worst.  For respect is very important to man.  A 
   man would almost prefer to give up food and shelter, to die, 
   than to be humiliated.  I think it is important to understand 
   the great role played by ego and need for respect in 
   understanding the human mind.   A man will do almost anything 
   to preserve his self-respect.  The worst thing you can do to a 
   person is to use him disrespectfully, to humiliate him.  Bad, 
   malicious people know this.  That is why they can use their 
   tongues so skillfully. 

   Inner anger, hostility, lack of confidence, insecurity.  It is 
   a very unhealthy combination.  It is an unhealthy, abnormal 
   mental pattern that adds up to emotional disturbance and mental 
   problems.  What tends to happen is that a person with these 
   problems loses all perspective.  He is living so close to his 
   problems that he can't see himself with perspective.  He blows 
   his idiosyncrasies, weaknesses and inabilities up into things 
   much bigger than is merited, makes mountains of molehills.  He 
   fails to understand that we all have our strengths and 
   weaknesses, abilities and inabilities, our idiosyncrasies.  We 
   all have them and must accept them.  And that the most 
   important thing in life is not abilities but what we are in a 
   moral sense.  There may be things we can't do as fast or as 
   well as others, but we can all serve God and live good, moral, 
   principled lives.  A person lacking confidence needs to 
   understand that his weaknesses and inabilities are probably not 
   as important as he thinks, that many weaknesses and inabilities 
   can be overcome, that persistence and hard work will compensate 
   for almost any weakness, and that life has many niches and most 
   people can find a niche where their weaknesses are not a big 
   factor.  And he needs to understand that the very worst thing a 
   person can do is allow himself to be taken over by anger and 
   hostility.  One must cope with it all without anger.  Anger 
   will destroy you. 

   What happens is that things tend to snowball.  As the problems 
   become more serious one starts worrying about his mental 
   problems.  He feels caught in a trap.  And just that worry 
   about his mental condition gets bigger and bigger, takes over 
   his mind, becomes an obsession, and becomes the biggest problem 
   of all.  He feels like a fly caught in a spider's web.  He 
   doesn't know how to get out of his trap and becomes frantic.  
   It all escalates.  His mind becomes all hung up on his personal 
   problems and doesn't function normally.  Worry about his mental 
   state has his mind in a continual state of mental distraction.  
   Then he starts seeing psychiatrists who tell him all kinds of 
   foolish things and get him more messed up than he already is. 

   May 2007

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