Humans are the only species on Earth who may actively seek to deceive themselves; and not only seek to do so, but to achieve it with such prominent success. It is the obvious perception that what separates us from the other species of the Earth is a higher level of consciousness which allows us to perceive that we perceive. The famous words Cogito Ergo Sum (I think therefore, I am) encompass this premise in a way that is simple enough for most who take an interest in the mind to understand. But what many fail to see is that the unconscious is just as important as the conscious mind, for both use different methods to perceive the world in which we live, and one cannot function in a healthy way without the other. The unconscious is intuitive and all encompassing; it acts much like a floodlight in contrast to our more specific spotlight-like conscious attention. The pathology of modern man is to be cut off from his unconscious, and thus separated from that which would make him human; the natural and numinous aspects of his psyche are cut off, and he becomes less of a man and more of a monster. (I discuss this collective pathology further in my essay The Rejection of the Unconscious, which is also here on the blog).
Humanity then is the one animal who is subject both to his own will, and the natural urges by which he is still commanded. He must sleep, he must eat, have sex, and fulfill the natural needs to which the unconscious forms its ties. It is these urges (no matter how detestable they may be, for some urges are truly detestable), that keep us grounded and in a sense are what continue to make us a complete human being, and not just an abject creature of consciousness. The power of the will; however, is one that has pervaded humanity since the first thought that the first human had. The power to choose is ultimately one that rests with any animal who pertains to consciousness, and so rests with all animals. The framework of the choices we may make however is not determined by the individual until the individual is able to see, destroy, and recreate the framework within which he may make his own choices. This process of changing the frame of mind of a pathological individual is the pursuit if any competent therapist; for one cannot change the mind with the mind, as the mind can never be an object of its own knowledge. Thus the unconscious is the framework upon which the conscious mind is held up; or, better yet it is a pool in which the experiencer of consciousness (the ego) floats. Thus in order to change the mindset of the individual, one must delve into the collective part of our psyche; the part of ourselves which includes the collective symbols which we universally understand and are able to intuit from. But here there remains a problem. Any sickness, whether it be mental or physical, remains a sickness only so long as the victim perceives (and so uses his will to impose a frame of definition upon the event) it to be a sickness in the first place. That which is objectively an illness is only so because we are conditioned to believe it is so from a young age; whether that conditioning is based in reality or in the pathologies of our families or culture changes with each individual.
Thus a large part of having a mental illness is the framework in which one views the illness; if one deems a small amount of anxiety to be chronic and crippling, it will naturally become so. If one decides (whether it be consciously or unconsciously) that there is something inherently and morally wrong with being depressed, they will fall further into the pit of Nihilism from where those thoughts crawled out of. The frame in which the individual is set is just as important as the symptoms of the individual; and herein lays the problem of modern treatment. There remains very few now who seek to explore the unconscious of their patients, and to find the TRUE source of the problem. Instead, we boil down treatment to something which we deem to be completely objective, and thus the patient is blanketed in soma and pills which snuff out the awareness of the illness all the more. But. If one can become aware of the framework in which they operate, and use the various Maps of Meaning laid out by the various myths and inspirations that humanity carries with it in its cultures, then one may begin to change it. And the hope of there being change is the predecessor to there being a belief of change, which finally ends the process with faith; faith in oneself, and in the world for not being such an out-rightly wretched place. Once one sees the whole situation as it is, a true choice for the better may be made, but so long as the will remains focused on the problem and not its causes, and believes the problem to be worse than it is, the individual mind will never be free from the self-created chains in which it is bound.