The Over-Pathologisation of Misery

by Ishtar Babilu Dingir

For those who are wondering about whether I’ve used an unnecessarily medical term in the title, that is the point of the article.  I’m making the case for my observation that our whole lives have become unnecessarily over-pathologised into a kind of Misery-scenario in which the very therapies which appear to be trying to help us are not only ineffective but are only making us worse.

Let me explain.

Pathology means the study and diagnosis of disease, coming from the ancient Greek πάθος, pathos, “feeling, suffering”; and “logia”, “the study of”.

However, suffering is not always a ‘bad thing’. It may not stem not from disease but from a huge dose of reality. For instance, the mid-life-crisis is thought to be a time of suffering when, in fact, it is just that the middle-aged person is beginning to wake up and are in a state of extreme dis ease over the fact they are unprepared for what they’re beginning to see, feel and realise … that their life really IS meaningless unless they discover how they got here, why they are here and where they’ll be going afterwards.

Those how, what and why questions have to be satisfied for every single activity we perform in life, from eating breakfast, going to the laundrette, visiting the theatre and starting a new job to learning to drive a car, having babies, going on holiday, taking out insurance, saving for a pension and retiring….the list is endless. We wouldn’t dream of doing anything without knowing why we should be doing it, how we got to be doing it and what we’ll be doing afterwards. And yet when it comes to applying those three questions to life itself, we’re discouraged and distracted from doing so. And those that do spend their lives in contemplation of those questions are often regarded as ‘outsiders’ or misfits that can be anything from slightly nutty to thoroughly deranged.

However, it is during certain life milestones  — such as ‘empty nest syndrome’, ‘mid-life crisis’ and the menopause — when these questions, if still unasked or unanswered, will plague you in your subconscious, and will keep you awake at night, or visit you in nocturnal dreams and nightmares. This can have a serious knock-on effect in your waking life too.  So where do you turn for help?

The medical industry cannot answer these three fundamental questions  … not even the ‘talking therapies’, because these therapy come from a place that there must be something wrong with you that needs to be corrected, and not something wrong with a society that blindly sleepwalks its way from the cradle to the grave. Nor can the television industry help us,  where the main aim is to distract and entertain us. So to turn to them, or any media, for answers is a complete waste of time. What’s really needed is a shaman.

What starts to happen to people, particularly during the mid-life crisis or the menopause, is that the Ancestors begin to try to contact them, to remind them of appointments and plans they made for this life, in service to the evolution of the species, before they came into incarnation. They are prodding us. They are trying to wake us up. They’re saying: “If not now, then when? You may be more than halfway through your life. You have raised your children and they have gone. So when are you going to get on fulfilling the purpose of why you’re really here?”.

This state sometimes comes up in a Tarot card reading as the Nine of the Swords.

Here we see the Hero (that’s us) being plagued by the Three Norns otherwise known as the Fates. The Fates are trying to wake the Hero up to his destiny by poking him with their swords and although the Hero is in great discomfort, he still keeps his hands over his ears, trying not to listen.

Admittedly, it is difficult for some of us to accept that we even have Ancestors who’re trying to contact us when we’ve been taught, all our lives, that death is the end and once you’re six foot under, you’re gone forever. However, a shaman can help you get in touch with your Ancestors, so that you can hear about your destiny and what you should be doing with your life. Once you know this, and you set off on that path, all misery falls away … not least, because you don’t have time for it! No, but seriously, what happens is that your life comes alive because you are moving forwards in exploring its true purpose.


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Ishtar Babilu Dingir is a  former Sunday Times journalist and now a shaman, writer and healer. Contact her through her website, the HANGING GARDENS OF BABYLON.

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