The Four Assumptive Worlds of Psychopathology III B- The World of Distorted/Inaccurate Views of Reality

The Four Assumptive Worlds of Psychopathology III B- The World of Distorted/Inaccurate Views of Reality


It might be required to depend on causality to live in an apparent world, for example to treat an illness, one might need to identify the cause, articulate the causal relationship and prescribe a cure. In the eastern traditions, causality is attributed by a mind which is incapable of conceiving reality. One billiard ball hitting another displaces it – but how could we conclude one as the cause of the other? Could our senses (in this case our eyes and our thinking that follows) determine the ‘truth’ or are they filtering ‘what is’ based on their limitations? Also, systems thinking informs us that multiple or countless factors can create the arising of a moment. It is not possible to determine the so called causes and effects. Linear thinking simplifies the cause and effect understanding to a point of causing severe distortions. Therefore, our highly simplified way of understanding the causes of illnesses can create distortions and the cure we prescribe can further aggravate the problems. In the East, being wholistic is critical in the way we approach the treatment of illnesses. For instance, in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), understanding and alignment of energy or meridian flow is deemed to be more important for fundamental treatment. In Ayurveda, the primary goal is not to cure a disease, but to live a long and healthy life thus proactively preventing ‘dis-ease’, by understanding and adopting a wholistic perspective of reality.

Are We Stuck?

So, it is not possible to speak of mental illness (or speak of a real world that exists) from the essence of eastern traditions. The East would question the simplistic labelling or categorising of mental illnesses according to the DSM. There isn’t an OCD or a PD condition as though these illnesses exist as an actual entity in the world. We need to agree now that we will come to the level of apparent reality so that we can speak about a person, her body, mind and the illnesses – as though they are real, though they are not. This is what is done in the systems of medicine such as ‘Ayurveda’, without negating the experience of an apparent world, yet not forgetting its ‘unreality’ as an independent entity or a collection of independent entities. Hence the systems of treatment are basic, focused on well-being at all levels, realistic and just functional compared to the western medicine.

When ‘my life’ is just a ‘bad’ dream to be continued without a choice until I wake up, why would anyone focus on fixing it more than needed, expecting everlasting fulfilment from it? Thus, treatment of illnesses or dis-eases is about correcting the distortions of perceptions. We have to go beyond just prolonging life and reducing pain. The process of birth, growth, illnesses and eventual death is a natural one. In the East, “treatment” is about accepting this natural process and utilising this to gain realization of Reality. And the distortion of duality view has created much suffering. So in spiritual awakening, the East talks about the need to see clearly. To see without distortion is to see the non-dual reality and know that our identity isn’t a personal one fixed to a physical body which is constantly changing. Our awareness or consciousness at the most basic level is not personally tied to our individual history or background. Then we begin to realize that our attachment to prolong our personal life or pleasures or aversion to pain and losses are not necessary. We return to the Source (pure awareness) which was concealed thus far because all the obscuration of the unreal. So in the East, even ordinary life is an illusion caused by dualistic distortions. It is the enlightened life that is truly complete.


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About the Author

Richard LimDr. Richard Lim serves as the Senior Consultant Psychologist with TASE—a center providing clinical and consulting services (located in Singapore and Jakarta Indonesia). His organizational consultancy and training specialty is in the application of the science of focus, thinking, communication and team leadership for the achievement of excellence. Dr. Lim provides leadership development work with very diverse organizations. In more than 15 years of leadership performance consultancy, Richard Lim has worked with leaders and senior executives from multi-national companies like Microsoft, Coca Cola (Indonesia), JP Morgan, and SIA; international agencies like The Salvation Army, YMCA, Outward Bounds and World Vision; and numerous government organizations and community institutions. He is also an active contributor to the development of staff and research at the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, and BINUS. Richard has served as President of the Psychotherapy Association of Singapore.

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