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A utilitarian concept of manas and mental health

Indian Journal of Psychiatry
Medknow Publications
Publication Date
DOI: 10.4103/0019-5545.82532
  • Presidential Address
  • Medicine
  • Psychology


INTRODUCTION We, the generation living in the early years of the 21st century, occupy a special position in human history, in that we have witnessed unprecedented and unparalleled growth in the understanding and knowledge about the world around us and life on this planet. While we bask in that glory, let us not forget that there are some important and large questions that remain embarrassingly unanswered. The most conspicuous of those questions is one that is central to the field of psychiatry - “What is the mind?” Nevertheless, psychiatrists have brazenly avoided or ignored this question due to a learned lack of enthusiasm, given the historical inability to achieve a consensus about anything pertaining to the mind. Not to mention the inevitable criticism and/or possible ostracism that relentlessly pursues anyone who takes a stand on this controversial issue. Psychiatrists did not just want to open that can of worms! We simply hoped that if we managed to keep the can closed, the worms would suffocate and die and we would never have to face that uncomfortable question again. We believed that just like we managed to evade the exact definition of mental illness, we would be similarly successful in evading the definition of the mind. However, in the last several decades, human life has transformed so much that we are now faced with a relatively new concept - mental health, which too remains to be defined. The list keeps growing and our silence has been deafening. While our understanding of the human brain, human behaviour, and neurosciences has grown exponentially, the task of describing or defining the mind has also become increasingly difficult. Our wilful indifference or tactical retreat from confronting these tough questions is not helping us, one bit. Increasingly, we are educating ourselves with an explanation that any definition of mind or mental health is not even a possibility, let alone plausibility. Let me highlight the importance of this issue by discussing the well-known, controversial,

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