Asymptomatic and Unhealthy

What constitutes mental health and how is it defined? Sigmund Freud identified mental health simply as ones ability to work and love. For people who experience anxiety and depression, or some other types of identifiable symptoms, it is clear to them that they are dealing with some type of mental health concern. What about individuals that do not experience mental health symptoms? If we don't experience excessive anxiety, depression, or addiction, are we mentally healthy? Individuals who experience the suffering of anxiety or depression are often motivated to seek help so they can alleviate their symptoms. In the process of receiving treatment they may come to understand that the manner with which they relate to their environment, themselves, or family members, may well contribute to their condition and suffering. But when a person does not experience, some addiction, anxiety or depression, can we assume that they are mentally healthy? Much like the Corona Virus, it is possible that people may infect others with their illness, however, do not show symptoms themselves. In my practice it has been frequently the case that some individuals who are not symptomatic, contribute to the addictions, anxiety and the depression of family members who clearly have been suffering from identifiable mental health symptoms. We can see this with children whose parents may be overly demanding, harsh or critical. Sometimes anxiety in children is generated even by a lack of structure provided by parents. A child may easily become anxious or even depressed and withdrawn dependent upon how they are treated by adults. In the movie, "When a Man Loves a Woman", Meg Ryan was dealing with a substance abuse issue", Her well intended husband, Andy Garcia, it turns out was unconsciously contributing to her illness. Can we assume that he was mentally healthy, since he himself did not have a substance abuse issue and was asymptomatic. When we talk about substance abuse we might use the term, "enabling", The term itself might be an oversimplification. This is really a complicated question. For me, I see mental health frequently, but not always, as a systemic issue, in which the challenges of a dysfunctional system may become expressed in the symptoms of one individual. There has been much controversy regarding this issue, and I am sure the controversy will continue for quite some time. I believe it is inaccurate to assume that because an individual does not experience symptoms, that they are necessarily mentally healthy. A person may not believe they need to seek counseling because they are not aware of any suffering that would motivate them to seek help. This does not mean that they may not experience any symptoms, however, the physical symptoms in their bodies for them are not connected to mental health or communication related issues. They might experience inflammation, pain, hypertension, or any number of physical ailments, or even stress that does not appear to them related to their emotional state or well being. So how do we know when we are really mentally well adjusted? If we believe that there is nothing wrong with us, and we have nothing to work on to improve they way we relate to others, this is likely a red flag. Most well adjusted people can clearly identify that there are things in their communication, and their relationship with others that can be improved. They can also accept accountability for their part in conflicts, and their actions in relationship to others. They can have positive feeling about themselves, in spite of accepting their inadequacies and shortcomings".

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