What is Mental Hygiene
What is Mental Hygiene?
We do not know ourselves and the workings of our minds simply through the fact that we have a mind any more than we understand the workings of our body, how best to control and regulate it, simply through having a body.
Certain obvious things about the operation and hygienic care of the body we all know and heed, but when faced with malfunctioning of the body we readily acknowledge our ignorance and appeal for assistance to those professionally skilled in such matters .
But how different is our attitude concerning the operation of our minds Our mental processes are for the most part our most vivid and persistent possession our emotions, sensations, memories, aspirations, overt behavior, etc , are not simply ours, they are in a sense our very selves.
But while our conscious processes are the most potent and immediate things in life, vie rarely pause to analyse sari understand their intricacies We cannot, of course, ignore their functioning, but \then faced with any difficulties concerning them, our inclination is scarcely to appeal at once for skilled assistance but rather the opposite, to conceal as far as possible our difficulties lest IA e be considered queer, abnormal or in some sense inferior.
This attitude is not to be wondered at True, it is intensified by social pressure and convention, but it has a much deeper significance than that It means, first, that mental facts have to do with the realities of life that they are so knit into the fabric of our being that even the frank examination of them presents a problem Secondly, it indicates that, notwithstanding their immediacy,. mental processes are not less intricate, puzzling and subject to major or minor malfunctioning than are our bodily processes of which we are less directly aware.
Thirdly, it suggests that in the face of whatever inhibitions and prejudices we may be heir to, the age old maxim, Know thyself, is to day taking on a new significance leading us, perhaps haltingly, yet none the less surely, towards a broader conception of health based upon a fuller knowledge in which all sides of our individuality will be taken fairly and frankly into account.
Let us for a moment look at the growth of this tendency in its wider aspects, past and present No movement of the present day has aroused more profound interest on the part of the general public than tint of Mental Hygiene This is true not merely because of the general appreciation and expectation m relation to mental hygiene programmed which is manifest in many communities, but also because the movement already shows a developmental history of remarkable interest from the point of view of method, a history not completed, but pregnant with suggestions and promise for the future It is as pointing the way towards a useful procedure to be followed in future investigations that we are into review briefly some of the steps already taken.
Mental hygiene and Public health
As an aspect of general medicine the present interest in mental hygiene may be compared with that in public health of which it is a part As in the analogous field of physical hygiene, attention in the field of mental health was first focused on outstanding and blatant disorders . The pioneers in the field of physical health were concerned first with the virulent epidemics that from time to time devastated communities, then with general measures for the prevention of disease, such as the ensuring of pure water and pure milk supply .Here the value of the public health movement was more or less easily demonstrable because of the conclusive nature of its results—typhoid elimination following sanitary sewage disposal, smallpox reduction through vaccination, eradication of yellow fever, etc .
Similarly on the side of mental hygiene, interest was first aroused in relation to severe mental disorders Here, only after centuries of irrational and even cruel handling was the more humane care and treatment of the insane made an accepted point of departure .The insidious and long drawn out development of most of these conditions as no doubt largely responsible both for the profound ignorance which has continued to prevail concerning their incipient phases.
To trace in detail the shift of emphasis from therapeutics to prevention with an objective that is educational in terms of hygienic principles is beyond, the scope of this essay One can only indicate the radical and important nature of this change in conception, and the fact that it arose as a logical development from critical studies of individual histories of mental cases Such studies at first involved a working backward from the fully developed clinical forms to the incipient stages of the disorder—la sort, of natural history applied from a post mortern standpoint An important impetus in this direction came from the closer study of the early symptoms and signs of marked.
nervous exhaustion ‘ which m hen so reviewed was seen to be seldom net-Nous in the neurological sense or exhaustion in the physiological sense. In due course the same method logical approach has proved to be applicable in the forward looking direction with the additional advantage that here the living phenomenon can be studied as it progresses from its earliest appearance in the individual . Thus tantrums negativism responses, introversion tics of all kinds, nail biting thumb sucking enuresis, restlessness, early asocial tendencies, etc , are now being observed and evaluated, and the findings checked against future developments in the given individual and in comparable cases.
History of mental health
The natural history point of view, applied backwards or forwards brought a new flood of light through its emphasis upon an understanding of genesis as being essential both to diagnosis and prognosis as well as to treatment But the forward-looking direction of study has proved incomparably the more illuminating And not only has this latter longitudinal plan furnished a method of investigating the anomalies of behavior, but also of studying all behavior
its developmental aspects In the latter sense mental hygiene with prevention as its aim is no longer to be conceived as meaning various therapies designed for end stages and extreme forms, its first and fundamental interest is to understand normal processes of individual adjustment and their variations at all stages in life, extreme cases being merely special instances
This change of emphasis is slow in percolating the public mind, but when one considers the progress it has made in the last twenty years as contrasted with the twenty century preceding, the future is not unpromising .The change in conception carries far reaching consequences and implications.
What is Mental Hygiene Article Source is : Parents and the Pre School Child by Wiliam E Blatz