Venkat
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"Mental health" is such a vague concept. Western healthcare systems medicalize it entirely and it's a bunch of DSM-IV pathology descriptions. You're healthy if you have none of those.

Eastern traditions have a bunch of esoteric infrastructure that compiles down to a "just meditate and everything else will take care of itself" attitude, a sort of monetarist/supply side psyche approach approach ("just set the interest rate")

The western approach is like mercantilism/trade war if you extend the economics metaphor. DSM-based mental health has no macroeconomics, just sector-by-sector tariffs and protections and trade wars.

Nothing maps to Keynesian... aggregate demand boosting etc.

Hmm... to complete the mapping, the Austrian approach would be "shut down all metacognition, just stick to GTD and manage mental health entirely at the level of to-do lists."

@vgr I agree that "mental health" is a vague concept, but I disagree somewhat about Eastern traditions.

It's true that the overall message is "just meditate" but it's a bit like saying that people seeking physical fitness are advised to "just exercise." In reality there is a huge amount of quite practical information about both physical and mental fitness, but in both cases, the overall instruction is quite simple. But that's different from trivial or useless.

@bkam @vgr seconded. Eastern traditions go a lot deeper. The fitness comparison is spot on and one I haven’t heard before. Thanks @bkam

@msweet @vgr I've found it quite useful to think about "mental obesity". I don't think everyone needs to do a month-long retreat, but I do think the uncurated modern world is like junk food for the attention. A quick dopamine hit with long-term consequences when repeated enough. If you ate fast food for every meal and never exercised you wouldn't be surprised to find yourself overweight. Likewise for happiness: it requires attention to mental diet and exercise.

@msweet @vgr It need not be vipassana meditation, but a lot of smart people devoted their whole lives to instruction in that tradition, so it's not a bad place to start.

Maybe meditation is a bit like running. It's not for everyone but if you don't like it, it doesn't mean you can just not exercise at all and expect to be fit. You don't need to buy into Buddhism, but you do need deliberate periods of contemplation, concentration, reflection, introspection, if you want to be mentally healthy.

@vgr reminds me of a quote:

"Psychosis performs a similar dual function in Navajo culture, but the primary difference is that the Navajo, largely through story and ceremony, recognize that the path to psychic health and well-being winds through the forest of insanity, while psychoanalysis, as Foucault asserts and Derrida implies, has yet to acknowledge that."

-Bernard Selinger

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