Insight and grandiosity

Insight and grandiosity… Insight is a very significant term in psychiatry. In general terms it can be defined as the patient accepting that he has a disease and having full knowledge of the symptoms of it. Trying to overcome the disease is an advanced stage of insight. The presence of insight is a great advantage in coping with the disease, and naturally its absence is a disadvantage. How beautifully Yunus Emre’s words summarize this:

Knowledge is knowing wisdom
Knowledge is knowing thyself
If you don’t know thyself
What use is all the reading

The poet’s words sum up the meaning of insight brilliantly. It makes you want to say: “stop here and think”. In fact, gaining insight is not as voluntary an act as it seems. There may be biological obstacles due to not yet fully understood reasons. For example, if damage to certain areas of the brain occurs the person may not even be aware of his physical integrity, never mind his psychological state. He may for example argue that a part of his body does not exist. Lately my colleagues at the Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty and I have been conducting comprehensive research on this subject. As soon as we have the results and these are published in a magazine I will share them with you. But at present I will only pass on my personal views on one aspect of the subject. As I have written, many factors including biological ones can play a role in the gaining of insight. Age, gender, education, intelligence level, cultural status etc. may only be a few of these. I now want to look at insight together with grandiosity which is the second part of the heading. At this point capability gains a partially voluntary dimension. The more a person boasts about himself and believes in his own grandiosity the less insight he will have. In order to have insight one has to first of all be able to say “I am a creature no different from others”. In the words of believers “I too am only a servant of God. What happens to them could happen to me. What makes me so different that I should be privileged?”

Once you have this ability a series of rewards await you. For instance, all over sudden you realize that you are part of the universe. This removes the feeling of isolation and fear which the disease has caused. Then you notice that you are more tolerant towards yourself … you start to love yourself more. This is accompanied by more understanding and love towards others. Such warm feelings develop. You become a person who can share under equal conditions one house with mankind and play cheerful games such as children do. What is the sense in saying “I am special” and staying outside the game? And also don’t forget, insight activates all the other wonderful reserves you have, and your ability to coupe with the disease reaches its peak. It may even be the case that you leave your disease is totally behind you. This would be the biggest reward.

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