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Living With Mental Agony

For many years of my life, I was in a state of unremitting, intense mental pain; indeed, terms like mental agony and mental torture would be far from inappropriate ways of describing my psychological condition.

I was rendered almost demented mental turmoil, unable think with anything approaching clarity, make decisions, talk in much more than mono-syllables, or function in relation to even the most basic of everyday tasks (as I have written about elsewhere).

I constantly thought of suicide as a way to end my suffering. Paradoxically, this knowledge that I could end my pain allowed me to carry on (although one suicide attempt very nearly killed me, as I have also written about elsewhere).

Mental pain, then, caused me, and has caused countless others, profound and protracted suffering. Such pain is also sometimes referred to as emotional, psychological or psychic pain. As one would expect, such a state of mind involves the sufferer experiencing deeply negative beliefs, feelings, thoughts and behaviours (which are likely, frequently, to be highly self-destructive).

The psychologist, Schneider, attributed the cause of such excruciating pain in the mind to frustrated psychological needs.

Many social psychologists, more specifically, attribute this almost unendurable mental anguish to being rejected by society, humiliation, and hurt feelings on a profound level.


Mental Agony And Sufferers Of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD):

We have seen in other articles that I have published on this site that those of us who suffered significant childhood trauma are at greatly increased risk of developing BPD than is the average person.

Research now indicates that those with this most serious of mental conditions (ie BPD) suffer more intense mental pain, on average, than those with any other psychiatric illness. This is borne out by the absolutely staggering statistic that 10% of BPD sufferers die by suicide suggesting that current care and treatment of such individuals is disgracefully inadequate. Indeed, much stigma still exists in association with a diagnosis of BPD, as the potentially fatal illness is generally very poorly understood.

The mental pain that sufferers of BPD experience is generally most intense in response to rejection and social isolation 

So utterly desperate can BPD sufferers become to escape their mental pain, with all its dementing effects, that they impulsively turn to behaviours that are self-destructive. These include:

– very excessive drinking

– self-harm (the self-inflicted physical pain floods the brain with endorphins which may temporarily alleviate psychologicaldistress).

– extreme overspending leading to massive and ruinous debt

– extreme gambling, leading to same effects as above

– violence/aggression (release of pent-up rage).

– sexual promiscuity/ sex addiction/ pornography addiction / sexual deviancy ( release of pent-up up tension, followed by self-loathing and self-disgust).

– hard drugs (in particular those with strong pain-killer effects such as morphine and heroin).

In fact, as may be partially inferred from the above list, research currently suggests that the mental suffering that BPD entails is even greater than was originally thought.

Possible Treatments:

This condition is so serious that expert help and advice is clearly essential.

Research suggests that some brain regions, such as the anterior cingulate cortex and the prefrontal cortex may be involved in the processing of both physical and mental pain. It follows from this that some treatments for physical pain, such a paracetomal, may, if taken over a long period, help to reduce mental  pain – however, more research into this is necessary.

Hypnosis, too, is used by some dentists in order to reduce the patient’s experience of pain so much that their dental work can be carried out without anaesthetic. Again, then, it follows hypnosis may be effective in also reducing mental pain.

Mindfulness, too, may help some individuals.


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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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