On Mental Health

How dialectics has helped my mental health

I recently joined a Socialist group. My reasoning being that the situation in the world is becoming so ridiculous that I needed to take action of some kind. Subsequently when I was walking through the centre of East Crydon and saw a group of people selling leaflets and papers under the banner of ‘Socialist Appeal,’ I went over and asked to learn more.

The group fundementally works and theorises off of the back of the writings of Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, Leon Trotsky and Vladimir Lenin. They pride themselves on this fact, and as I have done reading and research I have come to understand why and to agree that it is a strength. Karl Marx’s ideas have been diluted over the years- they were distorted and misunderstood in his own time, and since then have been the target of much revision and reinterpretation. In doing so the revolutionary nature of his writings has often been lost, so as to enable revisionists and opportunists to claim to be Marxists, when in reality they are not.

This revolutionary undertow is the main thrust of Marxism. Lenin wrote in The State and Revolution (and here I paraphrase), that what seperates Marxists from purely ‘class conscious’ theorists and thinkers is that Marxists go further. Marxists are those for the whom the class struggle is not acceptable. Marxists predict that the class struggle will eventually end in a violent revolution and overthrow of the current economic and political system and institutions. Revisionists and opportunists will becry the class struggle and the vast inequality which is the result of it, but then they will stop. They will not think further because they do not care enough, in their heart of hearts, to expend time and energy wrking out how these problems can be fixed. Marxists do, and Karl Marx (with Frederisk Engels) worked out a system which explains the current situation we find ourselves in and how it will be changed in the favour of the working class. In favour of the majority.

This system is ultimately Marxist philosophy, and it is made up of 3 parts. Dialectical materialism is the method used to reason and analyse, historical materialism is the method used to analyse history, and Marxists economics the system for approaching the economy. As I am just starting to learn about all of this I have started with the idea of dialectical materialism, and more specifically the theory of dialectics, which is something that has been around since the classical era. Heraclitus (an ancient Greek philosopher) first posed the notion of dialectics, confusing more people at the time than he illuminated. It was largely forgotton for centirues, until a German philosopher and thinker named Hegal picked it up again in the 18th century. He put a particularly idealist spin onto it, and it was up to Marx to put it ‘right way up,’ resolve the contradictions which this idealism created, and make it a materialist method.

As much as I’d like to explore all of these ideas in more depth here, I’d decided to write specifically about how dialiectics has been a useful tool to utilise when thinking about my mental health. So I will continue wiith this is mind and charge ahead.

Dialectics is fundementally a theory of change, motion and contradiction. It is the highest level of reasoning which takes into account the fact that everything is always moving and changing, nothing stays exactly the same permanently and forever and everything has a beginning and an end point. It accepts that contradictions exists, in fact a main part of the theory of dialectics is something called the unity of opposites. Dialectics can be used to analyse history, science and the way we as human beings think and process the world around us and our own place in it. Dialectics has the same relationship to sound ‘common sense’ reasoning as higher mathematics does to lower mathematics. Common sense will take you so far, but to understand more complicated issues and systems, one needs to take in a wider perspective, and this is what dialectics allows for.

Dialectics is a broad field, and can be used to analyse many areas. So whilst I was doing my research I had a thought- perhaps I could apply these ideas to my own mental health, and the struggles I have been through with it in the past. It occurred to me that one of the central points within dialectics is the idea of constant change and motion. The idea that A=A but also that it sometimes doesn’t. Heraclitus coined the famous expression, “you can never step into the same river twice.”

This is massively helpful when considered in relation to my own mental health. I think that for a long time, I was working on pinning down the possitive in my own head and my thinking; I was trying to hold onto the positive or the neutral shades or lines of thinking, and making them absolute, making them the main influence in my head.

I was trying to fix my head in some sense and then becoming frustrated when my mood inevitably dropped again, when I couldn’t hold onto what it was that I wanted to.

Studying dialectics has shown me, that espeecially in a realm as multifarious and various as the mind, one cannot simply fix a positive mindset and then hold onto it indefintely. The mood of a person shifts and changes through the day, due to internal and external factors. There is absolutely no way to alter that fact. Energy levels rise and fall throughout the day; a person is affected subconsciously by 100 and 1 small and apparently insignificant factors. Things are going to happen which cannot be accounted for and a persons mood and mindset are going to shift. Thus trying to hold onto a fixed positive basis from which all that can happen from is likely nion impossible.

Moreover that is the way that the mind naturally works. Dialectics shows how everything is always moving and changing, energy in the mind is focused at one momenent on one problem, and then half an hour later on something quite different. Something may happen which will knock you slightly, and then you will work on getting yourself back up again. Ten minutes later soething good will happen and your mood will rise back up again. Basically what I’m saying is that the mind is always on the move; unconsciuosly and subconsciously things are happening which youre not even aware of.

The mind works in a dialectical way. Cause and affect are interlinked, and shift and change as the day progresses.

So thinking about this, and accepting this premise has really helped me let go a little bit, to trust that the mind is doing it’s own thing and doesnt’ need me to be so aware of everything which seems to be working to affect me. It is pointless to try and ‘hold onto the positive,’ because in reality the mind is always shifting, always moving.

So this article is a little disjointed, and a little like a ramble, but I haven’t written for a long time and wanted to try and get something out in half an hour without overthinking it too much. Please ignore the very basic explanation of dialectics and Marxism- I’m still learning! And as saif I didn’t want to spend hours on this post. So it’s a tad basic, but I’m going to leave it that way for the moment.

Thanks for reading!


3 thoughts on “How dialectics has helped my mental health

  1. That’s great, I found it really interesting, I wonder if you would be interested in the writings of Jiddu Krishnamurti, he was like a philosopher, but more on the level of the individual, with an eye to a better world too!

    Liked by 1 person

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