Vitality: A Psychiatrist's Answer to Life's Problems

By Richard Esser | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12.
COMING TO GRIPS WITH THE SCARIEST PART OF OURSELVES

To come to grips with the scariest part of ourselves we must somehow make sense of the wildness, bizarreness and irrationality that comes to the fore when our desperation is at its worst. That making sense is the key to dealing well with our living.

What gets in the way of making such sense is that such wildness, bizarreness and irrationality would seem to defy commonsense explanation. It appears strange, weird, not normal. Indeed, it raises the fear that there might be something really crazy inside oneself. And that fear raises, in turn, the question of whether the wildness, bizarreness and irrationality people can experience is somehow connected to the craziness that psychiatrists deal with.

It may seem far-fetched to imagine that the wildness, bizarreness and irrationality people in general can experience at the worst of times is connected to such diagnoses as schizophrenia and manic depression (now called by psychiatrists “bipolar disorder”). However, I have come to see that such a connection not only exists but also pinpoints both the means for understanding ourselves and the obstacle to doing just that.

That obstacle is how psychiatrists diagnose craziness. They call it psychosis. They see such craziness as mental illness or mental disorder. It is assumed that such conditions are at root biological, hereditary or genetic in origin. They are thus beyond any commonsense comprehension that ordi-

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