Using What Works – An East/West Approach to Mental Health


Until the late 20th century, Western approaches to mental well-being focused mainly on treatments directly affecting brain function (via surgery, electric shock or pharmaceuticals, for example) or insight-oriented psychotherapy intended to unearth the root causes of mental distress and (hopefully) thereby end them. More recently, Western “cognitive behavioral therapy” has made great strides by focusing on quick, effective treatment of problematic behaviors, rather than trying to ferret out root causes.

For several thousand years, Eastern approaches have focused on proactive, self-directed self-care through meditation, breathing exercises, and the physical activities we in the West think of as “yoga” (though the term "yoga" technically covers a wide range of practices, including meditation). Leaving aside for the moment extreme pathologies like schizophrenia and clinical depression, a central difference in the two schools lies in the way they view mental illness – Eastern approaches treating emotional suffering as a universal human condition caused by delusions about the permanence of self. From this perspective, mental retraining and taking an active role in shaping your own psychology is seen as a universal need. Western approaches, on the other hand, treat psychological health as the norm and target pathologies individually, rather than as symptoms of a problematic worldview.

Dr. Andrew Weil argues that in spite of their differences both Eastern and Western psychology have developed effective techniques, and that integrative approaches to self-care that adopt practices from both traditions can be extremely effective. In “Retraining and Caring for the Mind,” the second video in his Sponteneous Happiness workshop for Big Think Mentor, Weil explains how mindfulness meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, and positive psychology, when combined, can add up to a balanced approach to mental health.

Video: Dr. Andrew Weil offers strategies for a balanced approach to mental well-being.

In Spontaneous Happiness, his five-part workshop for Big Think Mentor, Weil teaches a program designed to protect and enhance emotional well-being through specific lifestyle changes. You’ll learn to:

  - Take a holistic and realistic approach to unlocking “spontaneous happiness.”

  - Integrate Eastern and Western approaches to positive psychology.

  - Use specific breathing exercises and meditations designed to develop mindfulness

  - Optimize your diet to support emotional well-being

- Build physical habits that support emotional well-being

3D printing might save your life one day. It's transforming medicine and health care.

What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.

Northwell Health
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
  • Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
  • Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
Keep reading Show less

Hyperdimensional computing discovered to help AI robots create memories

New computing theory allows artificial intelligences to store memories.

Credit: Perception and Robotics Group, University of Maryland.
Technology & Innovation
  • To become autonomous, robots need to perceive the world around them and move at the same time.
  • Researchers create a theory of hyperdimensional computing to help store robot movement in high-dimensional vectors.
  • This improvement in perception will allow artificial intelligences to create memories.
Keep reading Show less

10 new things we’ve learned about death

If you don't want to know anything about your death, consider this your spoiler warning.

Culture & Religion
  • For centuries cultures have personified death to give this terrifying mystery a familiar face.
  • Modern science has demystified death by divulging its biological processes, yet many questions remain.
  • Studying death is not meant to be a morbid reminder of a cruel fate, but a way to improve the lives of the living.
Keep reading Show less

Why inequality is a ticking time bomb – for poor and rich

Riots may ensue as more poor Americans recognize their "miserable" long-term prospects.

Videos
  • How bad is wealth inequality in the United States? About 1 percent of Americans hold 80 percent of the money.
  • In the United States, the correlation between the income of parents and the income of their children when they grow up is higher than in any other country in the world.
  • One of the big underlying reasons for poverty is receiving a crummy education, which in turn leads to crummy jobs. When people recognize their miserable long-term prospects, they are more likely to partake in riots.