Most people reading this blog will have heard of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), but the latest thinking is that we are all inclined to be obsessive over something or other at some point in our lives. It's quite fortunate that some are obsessive about health as without many doing so we wouldn't have the marvellous miracles that lead to treatments to help manage what is currently incurable as well as cures for what can be cured.
We all have our particular favourite things to turn to in our darkest hours, from sports and arts to studying all manner of subjects. We have our retail therapies too but here any of those can all too quickly and easily get out of hand. From alcohol and drugs to fashion and technological gadgetry and of course fame and fortune and political campaigning.
These last three have, in recent years arguably become some of the most dangerous obsession of all for they fuel motivations that lie behind globally dangerous obsessive behaviours. The paradox being that it is not actually fame, fortune or political powers that anyone really craves the most, it is acknowledgement and acceptance for just being human. Our achievements say something about what we can do, but do not in any real sense tell us much about who we actually are either as individuals or as a species.
The news headlines are awash with examples of obsessive behaviours. You don't have to be a compulsive abuser in the form or a rapist or terrorist to make the news. You just have to excel or be extreme at something, from finance to science, from making things to organising - the media tells us that to be successful requires us to be extreme - including reporting things!
Another angle to look at obsessive behaviour from is that of being dedicated, focussed and determined to become high achievers. It's an interesting question as to whether we are wise to encourage more people to become experts in their field as their journey is often a dangerous one. They often come from disturbing backgrounds and those that don't soon find the level of responsibility to be a genius 24/7 a pain in the neck with no time off. The result is often a serious and long-term if not life-long mental illness of some descriptive or another.
It is perhaps not surprising that given the primary purpose of any species is to reproduce that so much abuse comes in a sexual format as it is another coping strategy obsession. Most of us luckily know where to draw the line and respect other people's boundaries, sadly the damage caused by those who don't profoundly affects everyone in the world, our social structures and how laws are shaped by our governments. The same is true of financial abuse but as to psychological abuse, sadly as we are all guilty of it we'd have to lock ourselves in prison permanently to eradicate it from our planet and the universe beyond.
We cause psychological abuse daily by judging each other unfairly and by not reporting things that we know we should and we are very good at coming up with thousands of excuses for both avoiding doing the 'right thing'. Why do we do that though? The answer is because we have to in order to have a sense of order and structure to be able to function at all. We all have a limit on how much responsibility we can take on our shoulders at any given point and that limit continually varies as we journey through life. At no point in history has everyone reported every crime they have witnessed (the authorities haven't the man power to cope if we all did), but to fail to come forward once serious crimes have been reported is rapidly becoming too serious a matter to tolerate any more. Most petty crimes as a society we self-regulate on and that process starts at school by being told off for pulling someone's hair or for stealing sweets.
The most recent obsessions to emerge in the media are those concerning conspiracy theories and human rights. All governments are conspiratorial because they have to be to keep people safe from causing harm to themselves and the rest of their nation and the indeed the rest of the world. Human rights it seems have become confused with human needs.
Yes, we have a right to express ourselves, but is it right to do so when it causes pain and suffering to others? Human needs will always outrank freedom of speech in this regard but it would help if governments throughout the world would say "yes, we know what the problems are and these are our thoughts on how to fix things. If you have better ideas for a solution here's how to contact us." Cruel and abusive dictatorial regimes no doubt will be the first to invite people to 'open up' to stop them speaking at all. Such behaviour tends to be lead by unstable, dangerous mental ill dictators do they not, but in a world where there are too many voices to be heard and none of them agreeing and all of them angry, what should any government do to prevent things becoming so volatile as to lead to violence?
Luckily most nations in the 21st century favour a more helpful and inclusive approach as they are aware that things tend to work better when they are done by mutual agreement and consent.
Governments throughout the world need constant reminders of what needs to be fixed and fortunately that is where freedom of speech does really help. It shouldn't matter how something is expressed but it does because by taking into account the level of anger and bitterness we can begin to understand the motivation behind what is being said. A person who is not bitter nor resentful but merely passionate expresses themselves quite differently from those who mean no good. Therefore in democratic nations at least, if you are paranoid about officials, so long as you mean no harm you should worry little about what you express with regard to them. They may well put you in hospital to help you not to worry so much and to prevent you from harming yourself or others but that's about all they'll do against your will. Their objective is the same as yours, for all to be well in the world which includes you. Remember it is not only officials you might be upsetting, it's your loved ones too simply through not knowing enough, not understanding enough and not letting you head have a chance against your emotions and fears.
It's not just governments that need reminders, it is actually experts in every field for when we are sufficiently proficient in any profession we begin to lose objectivity and it is actually novices and outsiders that help keep boffins on track. Overall we do it rather well too. Just as a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, so too can too much knowledge prove just as lethal, but both are equally and mutually helpful toward making progress in all things. Don't forget that those that rule us also have a duty of care and in times of national crisis our governments often need not only to remind us of our humanitarian principles but get us to take some nasty medicine to get us well or make us strong enough to cope with a crisis - rather like mental health teams do in a way.
Just as historically mental health treatments have needed improving (and still do), so too do governments. These are constants that will never change because, like all species we are always changing. We change our ideals, our goals, our aspirations, our dreams and most of all we are forever increasing our demands on what we will accept as... 'fair and reasonable'. We are right to do so as without those motivational elements in our psychologies we cannot evolve, nor can we learn from mistakes. We often learn best from our struggles, our pain, suffering and most of all from our losses the question is, can we learn to learn just as much from our successes to safeguard against the possibilities of dangers created by ourselves?
If you are stumped as to how to combat extremes then here are a few tips.
1. Switch off from thinking or feeling anything by concentrating on getting sleep, exercise and good food inside you.
2. Vary your chosen coping strategies by adding new ones and take control of yourself to do many things little but often as life becomes far more relaxed and fun that way which leads you to being happier and the world becoming more interesting to you.
Everything in moderation except...
The greatest thinkers and doers of all history ensured they had switch off time so that their brains were as much as possible in tip top condition the majority of the time. To be well and happy everything needs to be "in moderation" as one of our Mindwalking mental health professionals pointed out. He then added "including moderation itself". This then threw all of us and resulted in the title of this blog post.
We do sometimes need extremes to let out our pain in the right circles with the right people at the right time. Posting such things on the Internet to strangers can just as easily make matters worse as better which is why it is wiser to campaign for things once we've let go of all those confusing and conflicting emotions. Leave it to your friends to campaign for you to give yourself the break you need to work through just that.
We also need extremes to share our joys and that is where each and everyone of us can help improve our health instantly. Which would you prefer - to live a life devoted to looking at all the pain and suffering in the world or to live a life that brings comfort, fun and joy to yourself and to others despite all the pain and suffering? Such activities can be as infectious as absorbing, as interesting as fear, terror, anxiety, stress and cruelty.
If we each did managed to get a better balance between helping others while looking after ourselves it would not eradicate suffering but it would help so many more people recover from it to live a happier life of quality - a life worth living. It would also help prevent the severity of suffering and the risk of burnt out medical and emergency service staff from the sheer volume of people in need of help. In effect we should each try to aim to become Unipolar with the difference of being dedicated to seeking solutions instead of problems and joys instead of sorrows. The result of that would be that we'd all be happier and the only criticism others could launch at us would be that we are naive - which we are at exactly the same time as we are the precise opposite.
The answer to the paradoxes of paradoxes is simply to recognise which response in appropriate for each event we encounter and act on it. It is impossible as none of us can know everything to do so, but perhaps then the answer is to just give each other and ourselves a little be more patience, consideration as well as support to work through these things?