“What does your anxiety do? It does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but it empties today of its strength. It does not make you escape the evil; it makes you unfit to cope with it if it comes.” ~ Raymond Cramer
According to the definition of mental health, it is the psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioural adjustment. The term “mental hygiene” was invented in the mid 19th century, and it implied maintaining peace of mind even in the midst of turmoil or incidents that would constrain or devastate its energy, quality or growth.
Only few people claim to have maintained perfect mental health throughout their life. The concept of maintaining a balanced mind seems impossible to most of us, but desired by everybody. Clustered thoughts and the inflow and outflow of matter and material in the mind lead to a battlefield in our system. Sometimes, we all know our way to peace but the mind is unable to let go of the perplexed matter.
In such a case, knowledge of the constituents of mental well-being can bring a lot of clarity to one’s life. One can introspect and flow in the right river of thoughts instead of being stuck in a tangled web.
The school of psychology defines the constituents of mind, but few noted psychologist have gone beyond to expand this model, M Brewster Smith (1950) being one of them. According to Smith the three universal, positive indicators of optimal mental well-being are: Adaptive adjustment, Integration, and Cognitive adequacy. All three are interconnected and one needs to understand that relation in order to be in a perfect state of mind.
Beginning with the Adaptive Adjustment, which means that no individual can feel well and happy unless his needs, biological and psychological, come to terms with satisfaction. Satisfaction of needs results in the dynamic equilibrium, which is desired by the mind. Each mind is different and hence, everyone’s approach to the state of homeostasis (mental equilibrium) is different.
Next is integration or self-realisation. It is a state where the individual avoids being influenced by the conflicting situations or circumstances. The individual is free to channelize energy along any path of adaptive adjustment.
Integration also refers to the harmonisation of needs, means, and goals. The goals of the organism are well matched with the resources of his culture and environment.
When solving a biological and psychological problem, the integrated individual is able to retain a sense of harmony or self-consistency. This is also known as individuation.
The concept appears in numerous fields and is encountered in works of Carl Jung, Gilbert Simondon, Bernard Stiegler, and Friedrich Nietzsche etc. According to Jungian philosophy, individuation leads to holistic healing of a being, both mentally and physically.
And the last indicator of the series is cognitive adequacy.
In any community the individual’s well being demands that his cognition and perception of reality – his capacity to select and interpret stimuli- be adequate to ensure both adaptive adjustment and integration. (Abt and Bellak, 1950:60)
The mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses is known as cognition. Ability to understand the perception, sensation, idea and intuition falls under cognitive adequacy. It becomes a prerequisite for a healthy state of mind as no goal can be achieved without the knowledge and condition of the self. An example of cognitive inadequacy is debilitated sense of self-realisation or false consciousness.
How can one fix the problem without knowing that there is a problem?
Mind is an instrument of the soul. It is like clay. It will mould itself according to your guidelines but not vice-versa. To eradicate chaos and achieve a balanced state of mind, knowing the root cause of the chaos is a major achievement.
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