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Mental health, mental illness, and yoga

John takes care of himself, has a steady job, friends and plans for his future. John sometimes thinks about old age and death, but is somewhat consoled by the knowledge that he will, if he’s praying to the right God, go to heaven.

John doesn’t think too much about evidence for heaven, or what it might actually be like to remain in one state for eternity, without challenge, change, an indeterminate future to plan for, or that living in a kingdom rather than a democracy violates his libertarian politics.

Sue doesn’t believe in god - that would be antiquated. Sue is a Communist. She believes that the ills of humanity lie primarily in the poor allocation of resources. Sue doesn’t worry about the lack of evidence that, even if possible, re-distributing resources perfectly might still result in a generally unhappy humanity.

Derek isn’t religiously or ideologically possessed, thank the stars. His philosophy is that each person is a point of consciousness in the universe - like a star. Derek enjoys a varied diet of vegetables and meat, and does not concern himself with the suffering of the animals he eats. These animals are lesser beings - less intelligent - and therefore a resource for humanity. After all, Derek is a Humanist and therefore advocates for the interest of humans before other forms of life. Derek doesn’t concern himself with the question of how he came to believe that intelligence is the metric by which it is decided who or what is a digestive resource, or a point of light in the universe. Derek practices yoga regularly.

Marge isn’t having a good time. She can’t seem to maintain friendships or a steady job, and is often lacking financial resources. Marge doesn’t believe in god, she doesn’t think economic reform will really change internal human suffering for the better. Marge isn’t a humanist. In the same way she isn’t a racist, Marge doesn’t advocate for the supremacy of her tribe without a good reason. Marge doesn’t see any logical reason why humans should be using other forms of life and the planet itself as a resource for the continuation of her species that seems bent on exhausting all resources, eventuating its own destruction. Marge understands that everything that is alive seeks to flourish, but choosing arbitrary capacities like intelligence or size to determine ultimate value in relation to other living things seems unjustified. Marge doesn’t have any internal stories about a better future, she doesn’t see herself as the hero in a self-created narrative, and she doesn’t see her contemporaries as heros either - one of the reasons she doesn’t have any friends. Marge can’t help but be honest when asked direct questions, and therefore is terrible at job interviews. She doesn’t think the process of re-branding a cellular provider to increase profits is a good idea, and she really doesn’t care about it. This is true of pretty much every job that is available to Marge. Marge also doesn’t think becoming pregnant with a child and raising that child to maturity is a good idea. Firstly, she cannot gain the consent of her unborn child to be born. She knows that her own personality and view of the world would influence her child, and if that child then asked why she decided to bring another human into the world her only honest answer would be because she thought it might make her own life more interesting.

John, Sue and Derek all have adaptive strategies for coping with life. Marge does not. John, Sue and Derek have not and will not seek help for their mental health. The first three have all overlaid reality with a story designed to promote their well-being that is acceptible within their peer groups. Marge has not done this, and therefore suffers the negative judgement of her peers as well as her own internal struggles. John, Sue and Derek disagree with each other in most ways concerning the aim and value of life, but they all agree on one thing: Marge is mentally ill.

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