7 Signs That Things Aren't Going Well in Your Mind
In reality we can’t talk about a “normal” versus an “abnormal” mind. If you think about it, what at one time and place is “normal” in another time and place can be considered pathological. The mind and human behavior manifest in hugely varied ways, and an unusual mind or behavior doesn’t necessarily mean there is a problem.
Despite this, it is also good to remember that the mind can present problems and/or become unwell. For example, this happens when someone develops ideas or behaviors that systematically damage themselves or others, or when there is severe difficulty distinguishing between reality and fantasy.
“The chains of slavery only tie the hands: it is the mind that makes man free or a slave”
– Franz Grillparzer-
The great difficulty with people with psychological problems is that often the person isn’t aware that they have these problems. In general this is an inverse relationship: the worse the problems, the less aware the person is of them. This is because the problem originates in the mind and it is that same mind that carries out the evaluation.
It is therefore important to pay attention to the symptoms. These are defined as features, signs or characteristics of the behavior. They aren’t conclusive, but they can indicate the presence of a mental difficulty of some kind. In this article we will share seven of them.
Perception and problems in the mind
Perception is the ability to capture the world with the senses. Hearing, sight, touch, taste and smell. An adequately functioning mind is able to perceive color, smell, shape, etc., as they are. With a margin, yes, for sure. Our perceptive system is a specialist in playing “tricks” on us, but that doesn’t mean our mind has a serious problem. To determine whether it is or isn’t, one clue is found in evaluating whether these “tricks” condition our life: to what extent and whether or not they cause problems.
Sometimes our mind perceives something that isn’t really there. We see or hear something non-existent. It is experienced as something very real, even if it isn’t. It is common for example when we are alone or in an old house: in these situations our mind amplifies the intensity of any stimulus. The problem arises when it becomes constant or when the uneasiness caused by it goes beyond anecdotal.
Organizing your thoughts
It is understandable that we all have moments or phases of being scattered. We switch between one subject and another, one activity and another, without much order. Stress can make this chaos seem even more chaotic. In general, the consequence is “just” more stress.
The problem arises when this becomes incoherence and continues almost constantly. This kind of incoherence refers to the inability to follow the thread of a thought or conversation, jumping from one idea to another, with no apparent link between one and the other.
Restriction of thoughts
Restriction of thoughts suggests a troubled mind when it has certain characteristics. The most notorious of these is fixation. Inflexible or intense beliefs in themselves are a problem. But when they are also removed from reality, they can become a source of great anguish.
One thing is for someone to have an absurd conviction, but to be able to navigate it. That is to say it doesn’t cause them intense nor continuous nor frequent problems. In this case, we could speak of an intolerance. But if that fixed belief causes great doses of anguish, we could talk about a problem on another level.
State of consciousness
In our day-to-day lives many things escape our consciousness. This is typical of a “normal” mind. For example, this happens when we get up to do something and, as soon as we’re on our feet, we forget or we deliberately abandon our intentions.
If these escapes of consciousness become frequent, or involve significant events, we could talk about a problem with the mind. If someone does something and afterwards doesn’t know why, what for or how they did it, then we have good reason to suspect a problem.
The mind and attention
Attention problems are related to the absence or excess of concentration. When there is an absence of focus, the mind dances from one side to another aimlessly. For example, the person is incapable of following step-by-step instructions.
On the other hand, if there is excess focus, the person loses peripheral attention. That means that they are unable to connect with their environment when they are paying attention to something. Obviously, for this to be a mental problem, this symptom must be severe and last for the length of time stipulated by the criteria of diagnosis.
Memory and recognition
Failures of the memory or recognition can have many causes. They arise from stress, fatigue, excess stimuli, among other triggers. Human memory is not like that of a computer. For example, our emotions have a big influence of the depth with which we register facts or events.
What some people call memory lapses, or partial or total amnesia of significant events, constitute an indication that something isn’t well in the mind. Frequent forgetfulness or the inability to recognize events in which the person was involved, are well-founded causes to suspect a problem.
Language and the mind
Language is the main vehicle of thought. Clear language speaks of a clear mind. On the other hand, whenever there is a problem in the mind, it is reflected in confused, disorganized or irrelevant language.
Within the field of language we can also include forms of expression that are not strictly verbal, like tone of voice and gesturing. Someone who is not capable of holding their gaze or makes excessive movements when they talk may also have problems. Remember that in this case, as with the rest of the symptoms mentioned, it is necessary for a professional to carry out the evaluation.
Images courtesy of Henrietta Harris