Psychology — Can therapy and drugs save us from stress and depression?
I am curious to inquire about psychology. Here in the West people have the idea that the way to deal with suffering and inner turmoil is to see a psychologist and/or take medication for stress and depression like anti-depressants etc. What is you take on this?
Hare Krishna! All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
We are suffering from “inner turmoil” because of identifying with the body. We think, “I am an American man,” “I am an Australian man…” We have been lead to believe we will achieve a whole set of unattainable goals in our life by the media, by advertisers trying to sell their products, etc. There is so much false propaganda about finding “true love,” and living a “meaningful life” and being “happy.” So many great things are supposed to happen when we get a job and earn a lot of money. We will have so much leisure time… We will be very happy… We will fall in love… All we have to do is work very hard…
Most people have no idea they are not the body but the spirit soul within the body and that the real purpose of life is on the spiritual platform providing the spiritual “food” needed by the soul.
This society places no importance on the soul or spiritual advancement and as a result people will naturally be depressed. Without the spiritual component in their lives they must be depressed, they must suffer from so much stress and mental turmoil. They are trying to live an impossible dream.
People believe they can be happy are trying very hard for this in the material world which is a place of suffering full of death. The reality is that every way we try to get happiness in the material world will disappoint us in the end. Everything ends in frustration. That is the reality of the material world. But the general public are not aware of this. They have so many unrealistic expectations of what they will achieve from the material world…
Even people who have very easy lifestyles still face the same problems. No one is happy in the material concept of life. The mistake is thinking if we satisfy the body we will become “happy.” Today there is so much endeavor to increase the comforts of the body. But we are not the body. We are the soul within the body. We can only be happy if the soul is provided with spiritual food.
Srila Prabhupada gives the example of the bird and the cage. If you neglect to feed the bird in the cage but keep the cage very clean and shine it very beautifully and decorate it very nicely the bird will die… Similarly if we simply cater to the “cage,” the body, and supply food to the body and comforts to the body and try to gratify the senses of the body but neglect the soul naturally we will be depressed and suffer from stress and inner turmoil. Because we are not providing the spiritual food the soul needs.
It does not matter what our lifestyle is like if we do not provide the food the soul needs we will not be happy…
It is best to live simply and only supply the needs of the body to the minimum needed to maintain the body in good healthy and spend one’s time and energy in developing the spiritual side of life by Krishna consciousness.
Using drugs to “cure” unhappiness and depression is not a cure at all. It simply masks the problem. The problem does not go away at all, nor does taking drugs do anything to help solve the problem. Basically it just stops the mind from functioning rationally for a some time. It is simply intoxication.
We have to be realistic. The lifestyle most people lead in the modern world is almost completely devoid of any spiritual touch. The population is educated to be completely on the bodily concept of life, so naturally they are depressed and suffering from inner turmoil.
The solution is to educate people in Krishna consciousness and in this way they will have realistic expectations about this world. This world is not paradise, it is a place of suffering. Not a place we want to stay in, but a place we can use to elevate our consciousness so that our next life will be in the spiritual world with Krishna.
This human life is not meant for working so hard. Life can be simpler. And if we lead a simpler life centered around serving Krishna and making spiritual advancement we can be happy and satisfied even in this material world. That is the solution.
It is a great mistake that psychologists presume because someone is suffering from depression there is some problem with him. Of course his problem is he is on the bodily concept of life but this is because he is not properly educated. This “modern” world does not provide the education required to enable people to have realistic expectations of what they will achieve nor is any real spiritual education available. Thus the population in general are educated in sense gratification and the bodily concept of life so natural they will suffer from stress, anxiety and so many other problems. This is a problem with the way the society is being run, it is not the fault of the individuals.
From any point if we take seriously to Krishna consciousness, chanting the Hare Krishna maha mantra, reading Srila Prabhupada’s books and serving Krishna, we will advance in spiritual life and the more we make advancement in Krishna consciousness the more clearly we will understand who we are, what is our business in this material world and we will see the world around us very clearly for what it really is. The stress, the anxiety will go away and be replaced with transcendental bliss.
We will gradually transcend the material world. Even though we are here in the material world our consciousness will be beyond it. That stage we can come to gradually. The best “therapy” is to chant:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
The 2 nd question is the methods that they usually use is of discussing a persons past always to explain the way they are today. Like for example is someone is suffering from a lack of peace and joy in life they go see a therapist and they forever discuss the persons past, “how they grew up in such a dysfunctional family, how their dad was too harsh with them and scarred them mentally, how they feel insecure today due to being constantly called stupid by their mom” I think you catch my drift, the idea that the way I am today is completely due to all the external influences of the past and I now need a therapist to point out to me all my “issues”.
I feel in my gut that this is a very misguided “science” however I don’t have the insight to explain why it is ultimately very flawed. Can you please kindly give me some insight into this please?
Yes. This is a very misguided “science.” Generally the psychologists themselves are not feeling much joy and happiness in their lives. Often their lives are just as bad as their patients. What can they do? Physician heal thyself.
It may be that our family may not have been very good however the family we get is because of our karma. We can’t change the past. Moving forward does not require a detailed analysis of exactly how we came to the point we are at now. Simply we have to take stock of our position at the moment and determine where we want to be in the future and work out what is the process to travel from the point I am at now to the point I want to be at in the future.
Krishna consciousness is the perfect psychology. Saddhana-bhakti, the beginning stages of Krishna consciousness is about mind and sense control. It is a process that will make the mind peaceful and purify the body. And the exact details of how the soul, the mind and body work and how to get them to work correctly is given in the Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic texts.
So my suggestion would be to take to Krishna consciousness and realize that:
- The lifestyle people are expected to live in the modern world is unreasonable. It is completely on the bodily concept of life and there is no spiritual education. Naturally people will suffer in so many ways because of this.
- The preconception of psychologists that there is something “wrong” with a person who has inner turmoil and suffering as a result living within the modern world is incorrect. This is quite natural and to be expected.
- The idea that the problem is caused by one’s childhood experiences is false. There is a very serious problem with modern society. It is effecting everyone, no matter what their childhood upbringing was like. Even people who had good childhood experiences still suffer from mental turmoil trying to live within the expectations they are given by the media and the advertisers, etc…
- The problem can not be solved by drugs.
- The solution is Krishna consciousness.
Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!