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  • Sarah Menzies

Science of the Damned

As most of you know I'm currently in self isolation with the family. It's giving me lots of time for thinking, so I'm trying to keep it constructive rather than maudlin.


I heard on the radio how mental health has struggled under lockdown. Hardly surprising is it?


But it did get me thinking about the problems we seem to have with our mental health, and why we seem unable to cope with modern life.


Very few of us are religious anymore, at least not in the sense of organised religion, going to Church on a Sunday. I was brought up as a Catholic, I literally read the book on organised religion, under duress!


But, before we dismiss it completely, it is important to look at the the lessons we are being taught. The old testament, which let's face it is the interesting one, recounts story after story of suffering. We must bear in mind that these tales were brought together by different story tellers from 1000s of years ago. If nothing else they tell us about the mindsets of the people in these ages. The mindset is one of pain and venegence.


Modern day thinking is all about the science. Religion is ridiculed, science is the new god. When someone is suffering mentally, we talk of brain chemistry and what is dysfunctional there. We talk of prescribed drugs and hormones. Everything is about the science, there is no room for anything else.


The problem is that humans have been on this earth for thousands of years, suffering through the pain of loss for all that time. They have dealt with this pain without any thought of science, science didn't exist, but human feelings did.


When we mock this experience, the lessons that we have been left from the past, we dismiss everything that we could learn. What all the authors are trying to show us. Pain and grief is an intrinsic part of life. It is irrefutable. How we deal with it is what's important.


We are a result of all those 1000s of years of learning. We have innate responses to situations. We understand fear and love and pain in a primeval way. A way that science cannot fully understand.


It is not enough to explain our feelings through science. It is too restricted, too unwielding. It is important to allow space for the ancient.


If we had managed to understand more and snub less, maybe we would have learnt to deal with grief and disappointment and the unexpected in a better way. Maybe then we wouldn't have 18 people in the UK killing themselves every single day because they cannot cope with the pain of life. (And that's the 2018 figures, I'm sure 2020 will be much higher) Maybe if we spent more time listening to the messages in the religious scripture of the past, and less time diriding them, suicide wouldn't be the most common cause of death, in the UK, for men under the age of 45.


I am definitely not religious in the traditional sense and I don't think that there is any easy fix, but clearly how we currently deal with the pain and sorrow of life is not working. Something needs to change.





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