Holistic view of mental Illness:

A Brief Essay

By Alice Holstein, Ed.D.

Manic depression can be a profound spiritual path. There is an underlying healing-wholeing process that can emerge with proactive consumer effort and changed attitudes from those who treat us.

With other illnesses, such as diabetes, the person is not prevented from becoming a whole person despite the fact that they must live with the disease for life. They are not branded, labeled, stigmatized or told that things are hopeless. In contrast, the mentally ill are too often given the idea, which we adopt ourselves, that we cannot change the outcomes. But there is much we can do to help ourselves. We must take responsibility!

Challenging the Prevailing Wisdom

1. Manic depression is considered a disease of the brain. While there are chemical imbalances that register in the brain, this conclusion seems to forget that the brain is connected to the rest of the body! The trouble with the definition is that it causes us to look for solutions only in the brain and in drugs that affect the brain. It absolves us of responsibility for digging further for healing, especially emotional wounding. It inhibits pursuing alternative healing methods or downright prevents them.

2. A woman by the name of Dr. Candace Pert did cutting-edge research, discovering that emotions exist throughout the body. (Any body worker will tell you that the effects of emotional wounding are lodged in the very cells of our body. “The issues are in the tissues.”) Therefore we can benefit from body work to treat these conditions, many of which are lodged in the unconscious and unavailable to us any other way than with the help of such alternative treatments.

3. Manic depression often has a genetic link to the illness. Maybe this is true, but the trouble with continually stating it is that we then believe that nothing can be done about it except to rely on drugs. There is work, however, called Hellinger Constellation work, that shows that emotional wounds can go back generations. In my case I discovered that I took on some survivor effects of my father’s World War II experiences; it became clear that I bore the wounds of being his victims. Children take on the psychological burdens of their parents and sometimes beyond. The work furthermore proposes that theses interrupted connections in the flow of love that is supposed to exist in families can be healed. Google “Hellinger Family Constellation Work” for further information.

There is also evidence that diet can affect our DNA or genetics. The brain is one of the most sensitive organs nutritionally. I know that the way I’ve changed how I cook and eat has changed how I feel. We need lots more attention to diet beyond just being told that we need to eat healthily. In addition exercise has been shown to be crucial.