General Question

Blackberry's avatar

Is it possible to be completely mentally healthy?

Asked by Blackberry (31782points) June 16th, 2010

Like if someone was raised in a great environment, no type of abuse from their parents or peers, and they developed a decent education etc. Would they be at the pinnacle of mental health, or would some random event like a heartbreak interfere with this mental health?

Or is it not even possible for a human to have exceptional mental and emotional health because there are so many factors and no one has the perfect upbringing?

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35 Answers

marinelife's avatar

The latter. Basically, experiences happen to people and those experiences affect them. Still, that being said, there is a range of mentally healthy out there that people can achieve. Not necessarily the people who have had no childhood wounds either!

xStarlightx's avatar

The reason I believe is because a lot of mental disabilities are genetic. For instance my mom and dads side of the family both have cases of server depression and (sadly) I and my brother have it to.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

We’re people, not machines.

dpworkin's avatar

That depends upon your definition of mental health. The vast majority of people are normatively mentally healthy. That means that they have human flaws, but they aren’t nuts. I’d say that’s the best you get.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I think it’s possible to have good overall mental health, similar to overall health. Some things might lessen it from time to time (like a cold does for regular health), but overall the person is still “healthy”. For people with serious, chronic conditions (like sever depression and other mental disorders), the person would have what is considered “healthy” for them and then deflect from that standard (similar to a person with diabetes that takes care of themselves, they could have good overall health and thus they would have what is considered “healthy” for them).

Dr_Dredd's avatar

Definitely the latter. “Normal” is the setting on a washing machine, nothing more.

cthulette's avatar

I think this can be possible. Of course, we’re humans, not Vulcans, so we make mistakes and feel emotions. Upsetting things can still come up, but what I think what makes a mentally healthy person is how they deal with problems and upsets: this includes stuff like trying to understand the way your emotions work and why you make the mistakes you make, as well as seeking help when you need to.

GeorgeGee's avatar

Contrary to popular press and even the opinion of some medical professionals, there are no clean boundaries on mental health issues. While there was a campaign to think of depression for instance as something that is easily testable “yes” or “no” based on a checklist of symptoms such as gaining or losing weight, this was pushed by a drug company which was largely motivated by their interest in selling more anti-depressants. This is not to say that disorders such as depression aren’t real, only that they aren’t binary thing like pregnancy where you ARE or you AREN’T, they exist in degrees, and what is normal for one person is unusual and a problem for another. It is actually normal for everyone to feel sad and blue now and then and it is NOT a good response to run to fill a prescription for Prozac every time that happens; it is part of a HEALTHY and normal life to experience both happiness and sadness.

zophu's avatar

We’ve built a world that works against our natural proclivity as it is, and it’s changing constantly. There are very few people who maintain consistent mental health. Almost everyone seems to require a certain level of insane doctrine to even function within society. And most don’t function well for long at all.

Too much has to be sacrificed to adapt to this insane world; so we either remain disenfranchised and in constant frustration, or we are broken-in into shapes no human should have to twist themselves into.

CMaz's avatar

Depends on what side of the “mentally healthy” fence you are on.

Trauma comes at us in all forms, in our lives.
Not being “mentally healthy” is not necessarily a bad thing.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Don’t discount the role genetics plays in mental health. I would think that if someone inherits good genes and is raised by loving, responsible parents, their chances of having good mental health their entire life are very good. There are environmental factors and accidents which can affect mental health, but those are beyond the control of the individual in question and of their parents.

Blackberry's avatar

@all Indeed.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Yes, and quit picking on me all the time. What’s that strange voice I hear commanding me to beam up to the moon? You can’t hear it? Quit lying to me! And quit picking on me!

Sorry. Mental illness is a serious problem and GeorgeGee did a great job of addressing the question.

zenele's avatar

I wouldn’t know.

Neither would I.

gailcalled's avatar

Freud said (not in these words) that one’s goal should aim for normally neurotic instead of clinically bonkers.

Otto_King's avatar

Relatively everybody is “normal”! It’s all about what is normal for YOUR mind. It ain’t about what is normal in a country’s sociaty, culture, habit. Everybody in his little world can feel normal. Even if some of them aren’t, according to regional meaning of being “normal”.

nebule's avatar

like that @gailcalled!!

I would say no… as others have said there are too many factors that go into us being human..a primary one being emotion and the fact that we are biological (in the sense of hormones perhaps I’m thinking…) heartbreak is bound to befall us all at some point…

Now if you said can we have moments of being mentally healthy…even days…months…possibly yes…. but that can’t be sustained…and I don’t think it should be…without pain..there is no pleasure it is a fact of the universe we live in…life-death…to name but one

Aster's avatar

I guess you’d need a detailed definition. I think we can start out having almost perfect mental health but sooner or later stuff happens adversely affecting that mental health. Maybe if we could grow up on a sparsely populated island and stay there we could be saved from a lot of misery. But even then, our parents would pass away and our kids would get sick so I guess we were all meant to go through trials in life in order to appreciate the good times. I’m so poetic. ))-:

Val123's avatar

I think not. But I also think I’m as close to perfectly mentally healthy as a person can get. But that’s just my opinion.

zenele's avatar

@Dutchess: Yeah, you blend.

Val123's avatar

@zenele I hardly think that blending is a sign of mental stability! I suppose it could be, if there are those that feel that people who don’t blend are unstable.

Andreas's avatar

@Blackberry Mental health is something that exists in the mind, hence the mental part. Whether outside factors influence a person or not depends on that person. A depressed person can be absolutely emotionally numb in a party or festival situation and get absolutely no joy from the surrounding festivities. A mentally healthy person can be ecstatic in a crowd of mourners at a funeral, as a contrast. It all depends on where they are mentally at that time.

The idea of “normal” is rubbish, as what is “normal”?

I speak from personal experience.

All the best to you.

Val123's avatar

How could a mentally healthy person be ecstatic in a crowd of mourners at a funeral? How could a person possibly feel ecstatic when surrounded by people who are hurting, and hurting badly at the loss of a loved one? I would take that as a sign of mental issues….as well as total insensitivity.

Andreas's avatar

@Val123 It was meant as an illustration to show the great chasm that exists between a depressed person and a mentally healthy one. Mental health issues cannot be broken down to a static list of what is and what isn’t depression, in my personal experience. To truly understand depression as a human with all its pain, one has to experience it. There is no way of fully understanding every nuance without personal experience. Treating professionals without personal experience can only give clinical understanding to the sufferer. Mental health problems are loathsome in the extreme.

No offense was intended to you or any other person. I apologise for giving such. I suffer from depression, which is kept in check with antidepressants, and hence, speak from personal experience.

I consulted two psychiatrists in the mid-90’s and I never felt any benefit. The people who I got the most help from at the time were my counsellor, a lady who had had some horrible life experiences and was inspired by her counsellor to train for the same type of work. Anta, my loving wife, was the other person, but over a good many years, and still continuing. Anita, too, has mental health issues.

I wish you well.

Val123's avatar

@Andreas I appreciate your input, and I’m learning to appreciate what you have been through and are going through (having never experienced a day of “depression” in my life it’s hard to understand, but I do try.) However, a truly mentally healthy person would not feel glee at a funeral unless they were actually glad the person was dead. They may not suffer from depression, but they’re sure as heck suffering from some other mental illness, like some sort of disassociation or something.

Andreas's avatar

@Val123 I think I chose the wrong illustration for my point. “However, a truly mentally healthy person would not feel glee at a funeral unless they were actually glad the person was dead.” I agree. They do exist.

Again, I wish you well. Thank you for your comments.

lily786's avatar

Yes,you can be completely mentally healthy.When you make yourself to be happy in every situation of life.

zophu's avatar

@lily786 it is definitely not healthy to be able to make yourself happy in ”every situation of life”

gailcalled's avatar

@lily786 : There are certain situations that befall us where we are overwhelmed with grief, anger, sadness, loss and the inability to function, much less do the dance of joy.

Val123's avatar

Mental health does NOT equal “Happy all the time.” Mental health = appropriate emotional reactions in a given situation—then moving on. @Andreas Yes, I suppose a person could be at a funeral when they are really joyfully, gleefully happy that the person is dead, but that would be a very rare and odd occurrence IMO.

@lily786 and @Andreas Please tell us exactly what you think is unhealthy with being sad, even devastated at times, at certain turns of events in your life?

Andreas's avatar

@Val123 There’s nothing wrong with being sad or even devastated at times. We all have that and that’s part of life. An insane person is one who is always grinning and laughing; then the people in white coats come and take them away! “Haha, hehe, hoho,” as the 1960’s song went.

“Mental health = appropriate emotional reactions in a given situation—then moving on.” Agreed. (But I should not have used the funeral analogy! Groan.)

As for my personal experience: Most of my emotional problems can probably be traced back to age 18-months- to 2-years-of-age or so and certain events that happened to me at that time (details unknown to me, but caused by a female neighbour.) Apparently I went from being a well-balanced, get-into-everything type kid to being withdrawn. From a water-baby to being totally frightened of water. I remember being afraid of being over my depth in school and as a consequence I swim like a rock!

The situation then simply developed where I had no self-esteem, etc, etc, etc, ad nauseum.

Hence it’s very important to give kids a good start in life.

But these days I have overcome most of these things, and one important thing I’ve learned is always help others. The payback is that I don’t dwell on myself. That is important for maintaining good mental health.

And in my case, a cracked sense of humour also helps. (Think Warner Bros cartoons of the 1960’s!)

I hope your query is now answered.

Val123's avatar

Yes, much clearer @Andreas. Glad you’re over coming it.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, it’s possible to be completely mentally healthy if you don’t meet the criteria of the

Most people are mentally healthy. Minor temporary problems are not a sign of a mental illness. Being sad is not the same as being clinically depressed. Being afraid during a battle in Afghanistan is not the same as having an anxiety disorder. Wanting to lose weight is not the same has suffering from anorexia.

Val123's avatar

@mattbrowne most people are mentally healthy. That’s such a breath of fresh air! Thank you for that.

Faithgirl's avatar

I feel no one is 100% free of mental difficulties at one time or another during their life. Depression and anxiety can hit us as a result of events that happen to us along life’s path. I do feel the more love we feel within our hearts for ourselves and others can trump certain conditions. With faith and love SOME mental health issues can be overcome. This of course would not include severe mental health in which medication and therapy is needed.

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