Thursday, August 5, 2010

Intellect and Insight

"Insight is the light in the darkness"
Photo by Susan 2010

"Intellectualizing" and "insight" are two buzzwords that seem to carry quite a bit of weight in the field of mental health....and are also very vague in application to ones own journey.

So what's the diff?

Well - lets think about it for a minute.

Intellectualizing to me is the shopping for that "nugget of truth"; it's like going to the supermarket and holding up a can of tomatoes and reading the ingredients to determines which brand will be most economical, which variety has the spices that will best serve the recipe I"m putting together.

In the Dictionary:

intellect |ˈintlˌekt|nounthe faculty of reasoning and understanding objectively
It's the taking in of information that will empower me to make the best choice for my purposes.

It's also a term often used in the mental health industry where I was discouraged from doing exactly this - taking in information that I could make my own choices about how my journey would play out...

I saw the providers as the authority - and since I doubted myself so deeply - I had committed to being a malleable "patient" - a "good" patient that was compliant and submissive to their authority, I accepted the labels they offered and their assessment that there was no hope or solution to what they had termed an "illness" and that I was "disordered".

"Intellectualizing" therefore was discouraged in my journey through the mental health system under the (perhaps well intended but harmful) assumption that since I had experienced emotional and cognitive distress that I was therefore incapable of coming to my own conclusions and was "intellectualizing" to avoid the "hard work" of the therapy relationship.

So I was discouraged from finding my own "insight"

my own answers

from finding an understanding that I was not "ill" or "disordered"; an understanding that would free me from dependence on people places and things outside of myself to maintain my "stability"

but that I held the power within myself to develop the awareness that I could learn the life skills and seek the knowledge that would empower me with the wisdom to create and live the life of my choosing

every day.

insight |ˈinˌsīt|nounthe capacity to gain an accurate and deep intuitive understanding of a person or thing

One of my first "insights"?
Was that coming from a background of abuse that was based on power and control that I was extremely vulnerable to the labels that were presented to me and that I adopted as my "truth" and by which I came to define myself.
And - that in order to begin to define myself and let go of "illness" I had to see myself as a person who had been injured - not a diagnosis - to begin to find "wellness".
Insight then is the application of the truth discovered through the intellectual understanding
the "aha" moments where we see the light in the darkness.

Letting go of Labels is a post I wrote earlier this year.
If you would like more information and resources about creating your own journey from "illness" to one of "wellness" please check the Resources page here.
Q: Have you had your own "aha" moment of insight that changed your journey?


Michelle said...

Susan your post is so TRUE!! and touched me strongly on one of my pet hates about the mental health system. Insight is a vital tool to anyones journey...but how we utilize it is another thing. My momment came after 16 years of having a mental health label whacked upon me that I became saturated with and believed!!!! It is only in recent months that the light has be flicked on and I now know where it all comes from, being brought up in a dysfuctional enviroment of abuse,alcohol,violence that I thought was all a normality in every family..It is easier for the mental health system to label a person and send them on there way with medication, than to STOP and take some time and understand the background of a person and work with them through there truama..After 16 years of trusting the mental health system and allowing them to control me...I now know what the core root of my issues are and it is I that has had that insight as the independant woman that I am today.I now know that I am the driver of my own journey that lies ahead of me.

Susan said...

Michelle-I am so so sorry that you've had these experiences. What a courageous thing you are doing in taking control of your destiny and stepping into your own power. I do soooo relate to your story - thank you again for sharing your experiences with us here.

Congratulations on finding that moment of insight that set you free, Michlle...and on laying claim on your journey!

Great to "see" you today!