The Four Assumptive Worlds of Psychopathology III B- The World of Distorted/Inaccurate Views of Reality
Classification and Diagnosis
In classification of illnesses, for the healing sake, it has been divided into categories such as those originating from the body and then affecting the mind (e.g. fever or diarrhea) versus those originating from the mind and then affecting the body (e.g. depression or grief, neurosis). Some diseases are considered to be an affliction of both (e.g. psychosis, epilepsy). There are various modalities of examination prescribed. For example, in Ayurveda, the mind being subtle, it is impossible to directly ‘know’ it as the knower itself is a ‘mind’. Hence the focus is on the next grosser level of manifestation as pointers to the mind. Responsiveness, conduct, facial expressions, habits, temperaments, psycho motor activities and many other means are adopted from the many frameworks available. Many of them focus on observation, inquiry, study of daily habits, demonstrated values in life, recent life experiences and interactions. Conclusions are based on understanding and inference and not on measurements and data.
Treatment according to Ayurveda may generally be classified into three classes, though there are many variations and sub classifications. These are divine remedies or spiritual intervention, logic-based modalities and psychotherapy.
The first of the classifications is for those illnesses that are caused by extraneous reasons, such as psychosis and neurosis. The remedies could be anything like incantation, prayers, pilgrimage, wearing sacred herbs or precious gems, rituals, oblations, sacrificial offerings, fasting, giving gifts, vows, ceremonial penance, surrender and so on. The healer takes time to understand and make sense of the situation before the prescription. The second of the classification is treatment with diet and herbal drugs. For various mental illnesses, diet consisting of milk, ghee, meat, specific fruits and vegetables and herbs are prescribed. If the mental illness is caused more due to an imbalance of vata, pitta and kabha, the first step is a complete ‘detoxification’ or purification/elimination at the cellular level. This involves very elaborate processes of cleansing which consists of rest, disciplined eating, medication and purging/steaming/streaming/dripping with ghee, oil etc. The second step involves medication with tonics and palliatives in order to reinstate the deranged manas to normalcy.
The third category is more therapeutic including lifestyle changes. A healer is required to be a ‘friend’ in this role according to the texts, in order to influence the derailed mind to detract from ‘unwholesome’ objects of desire or fear. Change in occupation, location, routines and habits are recommended and specific prescriptions are offered in order to influence the mind through awareness, learning, courageous action, analytic thinking and so on. Mental disorders caused due to extreme negative emotions like grief, jealousy, fear etc. are also identified. The lifestyle changes will help these to be neutralised and more positive emotions induced in time leading to a cure.