WHAT IS NORMAL MENTAL HEALTH
NORMAL MENTAL HEALTH
The word normal is a relative term. What is considered normal in one place or time, may not be so in a different place or time period. Hence defining normal mental health is not only difficult but is also confusing. There is however some commonly accepted models of normal mental health and they are as follows:
- MEDICAL MODEL: this may simply be described as the absence of any psychiatric disease or psychopathology.
- SOCIAL MODEL: According to this model any person who adopts socially permissible behavior is considered normal.
- UTOPIAN MODEL: Wherever individual behavior functions optimally the person may be considered normal. But as this happens to an ideal this is called Utopian.
- SUBJECTIVE MODEL: As per this model normality is viewed as situation where there is no distress or disability nor a tendency to seek help to tackle problems and is similar to the medical model described above.
- STATISTICAL MODEL: This really is a mathematical approximation. Statistically normal mental health falls within two standard deviations of the normal distribution curve.
TRAITS OF A NORMAL INDIVIDUAL
There are however some characteristics which describe the normal man and they are:
- Accepting reality and being realistic in behavior.
- Self-awareness and a willingness to increase self-knowledge.
- Self-acceptance and self-respect.
- Ability to build relationships and maintain it.
- Ability to give and receive love.
- Have an aim and work for it in a productive manner.
- Ability to have voluntary control over behavior.
- Is not fixated and is emotionally mature.
- Stoically accepts the hard knocks of life.
- Is independent and can earn his likelihood.
- Is glad to be alive and possess joie d vivre.
- Is adaptable and gets along with others.
- Has tact and tolerance.
- Accepts criticism and is not oversensitive.
- Possesses a sense of humor.
- Learns from past mistakes.
TYPES OF INDIVIDUALS
All people can be classified into any one of the following category:
- Normal people
- Neurotic people
- Mentally handicapped
At one end of the spectrum are normal people. Actually it is very difficult to find a perfectly normal person. He is a statistical construct, which we cannot find in the real world. All of us have some degree of eccentricity and mildly neurotic. The psychopath on the other hand is a deviant person. Into this category would fall criminals, sex offenders drug addicts etc. the mentally handicapped on the other hand are those who are feeble minded and mentally retarded. The psychotic at the other end of the spectrum lives in a perpetually dark and shadowy world inhabited with phantoms and phobias. They are those unfortunate few who are totally cut out from reality and society.
Ancient Greeks believed that mental disorders caused by two evil spirits called MANIA and LIZA. But it was Hippocrates who gave a rational explanation by suggesting that mental illness was caused by derangement of the brain. Surprisingly BHELACHARA who lived in the 8th Century BC, nearly four hundred years before Hippocrates had proposed a similar theory in his work BHELA SAMHITA.
Modern Psychiatry conceptualizes psychiatric disorders as disturbances of :
- Thought i.e. Cognition
- Action i.e. Conation.
- Affect i.e. Feeling.
In many cultures there are traditional methods of treating such illness which are still followed by people around the world. So whether it is Siberian Shaman or the witch doctor of Africa, many shy away from seeking psychiatric help owing to the stigma that is attached to mental illness. No one wants to be typed a ‘Psycho’ even of absence of medical help is detrimental to health and well being.