In 1907, the American physician Duncan MacDougall of Massachusetts wanted to prove with an experiment that the human soul has a material substance that at the moment of death leaves the body to heaven, hell, or purgatory.
For his experiment, he put a bed on four scales, looked for six patients who suffered from a serious illness in the final stage, and then measured the weight before and after the death of the subjects. In fact, in one of the dying, he found a weight loss of three-quarters of an ounce at the moment of death - better known as the infamous 21-gram supposedly meant to be the weight of the soul.
MacDougall's experiment and his views are now regarded as abundantly macabre spins - the material weight of the soul plays no more important role today than the exact location of their situation. Whether stomach, heart or chest: all cultures have ideas of the soul and can describe their effect. Joy, fear, thoughtfulness, grief and many other emotions can not be grasped, measured or used with scientific methods. But visible and describable are emotional movements in the form of feelings, body language and interpersonal communication in any case.
21 grams and often much more
Even if the exact weight of the soul can not be determined, the picture fits well. Because almost all people - regardless of age, gender, skin color, nationality and social status - know that their soul is often very difficult. Depression, for example, is estimated by the World Health Organization to have affected some 340 million people, of whom about 1 million commit suicide each year. This disease causes more deaths than tuberculosis. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every person's chance of developing depression is between 10 and 20 percent. No wonder that depression is considered by the WHO as a global disease of great importance, just to name one indicator of mental stress.
Depression is a modern disease, triggered by stress. According to the America's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, there are at least 39 variants of this disease alone. One of these, unipolar depression, will cause humanity the majority of disease years on average in 2020 after cardiovascular disease, estimates Christopher Murray, WHO's chief epidemiologist in Geneva.
What does the soul need to stay healthy?
Depression is just one of many mental illnesses - and not everyone who has a bad day needs treatment for depression. Anger, stress, irritation, bad mood - all of these are normal sensations experienced by every person throughout his life. The way in which a person deals with his feelings for himself and his environment is decided by mental well-being. For example, stress as an expression of physical and mental strain caused by stress in work and play is among the factors that cause depression and other illnesses in most people today.
It is important how the person deals with his or her stress - for example, whether he or she can minimize the stress factors or make them less stressful.
New findings support the treatment
Modern medicine has made it possible to detect chemical processes such as certain metabolic processes in the exchange of information between cells in the brain as the cause of mental illness in many mental illnesses today. This applies, among other things, to people who are manic-depressive or schizophrenic. In many cases, these patients can be helped with medications (psychotropic drugs) that are accompanied by psychotherapy.
In many cases, the predisposition inherited, the disease comes only in combination with other factors or may not break out. From other studies it is known that not everyone who was tortured and abused in his childhood and adolescence becomes an abuser himself - humans can develop their own protective mechanisms to protect themselves from mental damage.
The inner balance as Ruhepol
Mental health springs from the harmony of many factors. Disorders in balance can lead to serious mental and physical illnesses. Therefore, the World Health Organization (WHO) emphasizes "No health without mental health!" It is a prerequisite for a healthy development of children and a fulfilling life in adulthood. In our fast-moving and demanding time, a balanced relationship between tension and relaxation, demands and freedom, work and leisure is an important prerequisite for mental well-being and health:
- our physical health and physical existence ("Eating and drinking keep body and soul together")
- Partnership and family for love and security
- job and work
- our personal network of friends, free time and social contacts
We draw strength and energy from these areas. They condition each other and are in balance. The loss of this balance is an almost everyday experience - the balance between family and work, the coexistence of leisure and work is subject to constant comparison. Disputes, quarrels, illnesses or heavy losses belong to the different phases of life of each person.
But if the balance does not want to adjust anymore, our psychic life gets in trouble. This also has consequences for our physical health. There are many examples: mental imbalance affects the immune system, eating disorders such as bulimia or eating cravings can have life-threatening consequences. For almost all mental illnesses there are now therapeutic options - but the diseases must be recognized and treated. These include:
- manic-depressive diseases,
- Anxiety disorders,
- Panic attacks,
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder,
- Psychosomatic disorders and
- Personality disorders such as borderline cases or pronounced self-insecurity.
For all health and relationship disorders, related symptoms are bundled and named. Thus, the "International Classification of Diseases" ICD, which is now in the 10th version (ICD-10), has become the basis for the indication and thus the basis for the reimbursement of costs by the health insurances in many countries. The ICD-10 focuses mainly on symptoms as they explain the theories of depth psychology and behavioral therapy.
Sick Soul - Big Economic Damage
The individual and personal sufferings and discomforts suffered by each sufferer have a different, societal side. Depression, WHO writes in its 2001 annual report, affects life as well as blindness or paraplegia. Among other things, depressive people have a significantly higher risk of developing osteoporosis or cancer.
The economic burden of mental illness and its negative impact on global productivity have long been underestimated. Data from the World Health Organization, World Bank, and Harvard University's Global Sickness Survey show that mental illness, including suicide, is second only to disease burden. The costs incurred by depressive illnesses each year in Germany alone are estimated at around 17 billion euros. Paradoxically, it is only the focus on costs in recent years that leads to mental illness being taken seriously as a disease and patients being treated as being in need of treatment.