If you had to create a mental health checklist, kinda like a car scheduled check at 25, 50, 100k miles etc. You have 3 options:

1. Go down a list of DSM descriptions of likely pathologies and ask for each, "do I have that? do I need to fix that"

2. Do some sort of meditation/retreat thing and trust your inner chi or whatever to rearrange your mind into a better state

3. The option I like: use a crude map of how the mind is organized to take an inventory. Example:

I think the first approach is basically good only for when you have a strong pattern match hit to a long-studied condition like depression or bipolar etc.

The second approach is time consuming and can get some basic low-level energy/attention flows healthy.

The 3rd approach I think is under-rated and the most useful of all. Though system 1/system 2 is too crude a map. You need a map with more pieces. I'm currently trying to do an inventory with my goat-crow-rat map from

@vgr What about mental conditions that are unique to yourself, developed over a long time and are derived not from any specific part(s) of the mind?

@BruceJia you're on your own for such things. This is why I go with off-the-shelf stuff wherever I have a choice.

@vgr Btw, how do you develop coherent complex thought/attention flows

@BruceJia I don’t think you can “develop” attention flows of specific types. Whatever is natural to you is what you have and you have to find thinking work that fits it.

@vgr Did some intense debugging of my own model of myself last night, hah. Big fan of option 3.

@vgr You do realise that there are plenty of people for whom doing 1 would produce a hundred diagnoses and cause an anxiety collapse syndrome?

@vgr Option 3 is correct, but slow. You need to find a reasonable crude map.

I'm fascinated by the travelling baba model of option 3: the guy just tells you random platitudes till one sticks. Because platitudes are only useless with the wrong context.

@vgr I'm probably borderline autistic, but I'm infinitely thankful I didn't grow up with that knowledge.

It gave me time to struggle and make my own models of humanity that make sense to me, and now I can make it so that people are surprised when they hear that fact about me.

@vgr OTOH, knowing about depression really really helped. I wouldn't have got it otherwise.

@vgr I think 2 and 3 might overlap. A central aspect of many forms of meditation is non-judgmental observation. Over time that makes you better at seeing what your mind is doing, and sometimes gives insight into root causes of mental states, as well as into the structure of the mind.

The insanely detailed look at this is the Abhidhamma, which breaks down experience into dozens of types. It's dense enough that I don't recommend it, even though I do think it is right about how the mind works.

@vgr Option 4: The deconstruction of the concept of mental health (à la Ivan Illich, Thomas Szasz, et al.)

kinda like "I'll just keep driving this junker until it doesn't work, and then I'll start walking" instead of taking your car for a scheduled check.

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