Haumai, The Ego Complex: The Missing Link in Mental Health Discourse

ਹਉਮੈ ਕਰਤਾ ਜਗੁ ਮੁਆ ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਘੋਰ ਅੰਧਾਰੁ ॥
Haumai karṯā jag mu▫ā gur bin gẖor anḏẖār.
Engrossed in egotism, the world perishes. Without the Guru, there is utter darkness.
Guru Amar Das

ਹਉ ਵਿਚਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਹਉ ਵਿਚਿ ਛਾਇਆ ॥
Hao vicẖ māiā hao vicẖ cẖẖāiā.
In ego they love Maya, and in ego they are kept in darkness by it.
Guru Nanak Dev

The concept of "mental health" as a label for psychological well-being has been widely used and accepted in the field of mental health care. However, when considering the interplay between ego-fixing, psychophysiology, and the conditioning of the egoic complex, the term "mental health" might be seen as limiting and somewhat misleading.

The term "mental health" implies a focus solely on the mind and mental processes, often overlooking the role of the egoic complex and its influence on psychophysiology. As discussed earlier, the ego is a conditioned sense of self deeply linked to physiological responses in the central nervous system. When the ego is stimulated, it can activate the fight-flight response, leading to experiences of dukh (suffering) or sukh (absence of suffering). This psychophysiological aspect highlights the intricate connection between the mind and the body in shaping emotional experiences.

By using the label "mental health," there is a tendency to overlook the root cause of psychological challenges—the conditioned nature of the egoic complex and its impact on psychophysiology. The term "mental health" might inadvertently reinforce the focus on mind-fixing rather than addressing the underlying egoic conditioning that gives rise to emotional distress.

To more accurately reflect the interplay between ego-fixing, psychophysiology, and emotional well-being, a shift in terminology is proposed. Rather than using "mental health," terms such as "ego health" or "ego-illness" could be more appropriate. These labels emphasize the importance of understanding and addressing the conditioned sense of self, which profoundly influences emotional experiences.

"Ego health" would signify a holistic approach to well-being, recognizing the interconnectedness of the mind, body, and egoic complex. It highlights the need to cultivate self-awareness and self-transcendence, moving beyond the limitations of ego-fixing interventions.

On the other hand, "ego-illness" would acknowledge that emotional distress and suffering often stem from the conditioning of the egoic complex. By using this term, mental health professionals can place a stronger emphasis on addressing the root cause of psychological challenges rather than merely treating the symptoms.

In conclusion, while "mental health" has been the standard label for psychological well-being, it may not fully capture the complexity of human consciousness and the role of the egoic complex in shaping emotional experiences. Considering the interplay between ego-fixing, psychophysiology, and emotional well-being, a change in terminology to "ego health" or "ego-illness" may better align with a more comprehensive and transformative approach to mental well-being.

Ego-health and ego-illness (c) 2023