Beware There is no Definitive Answer As To What Causes Mental Illness.

Posted by dfb @dfb, Oct 31 3:03pm

The human body is incredibly complicated organism. The origin of the Universe is simple by comparison.

No one knows for sure what causes mental illness!

Mental illness is thought to be caused by genetics and environment. Put another way, anything and everything.

I have no control over my genetics. I do however have a great deal of control over my environment. By environment I mean everything that is not my genetics.

Study after study has proven that controlling what I can control can have a tremendous effect on my mental and physical wellbeing.

Principally what I can control is what I put into the machine that is my body (food) and how much I move my body, (exercise).

Science knows a great deal about the effects of quality food and exercise on wellbeing. Medications and the interactions between them is mostly trial and error.

I have spent thirty years of my life doing research. Lately I have turned my attention to saving my own life. My take aways can be summed up pretty quickly:

Eat nutritious food.
Exercise as much as I am able to but at least a little bit each day.
Sleep seven to eight hours a night.
Reduce the stress in my life.

Will these four items cure everyone? Probably not. The do have the benefit of, for the most part, being within my control. They also happen to be empirically proven to to be effective with no negative side effects.

My physical well-being is inescapably tied to my mental health. My mental health is inescapably tide to my physical health.

For me being well is not just a matter or life and death; death is easy. Living in hell is hard.

I am now comfortable stating the if any health care provider suggests they have a solution to what ails me that did not include, attention to my diet, my level of physical activity, sleep and stress reduction, I will move on to someone who can read.

Trusted unbiased (to the extent that is possible) scientific literature is everywhere, any provider who doesn't avail themselves of what are essentially free resources is in my opinion guilt of negligence.

All but the most physically damaged people, and most of them too, can improve the quality of their life by embracing what we can change ourselves.

I looked for answers in a pill and it cost me everything but my life.

I hope everyone can find the peace they deserve. Life is to short to spend it in hell.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Mental Health Support Group.

Dear DFB,

You touched my soul with your post, Sir.

I published a book this summer on, "Tools of Transformation" (TOT) that has a kinship to what you shared.

However, I believe deep down to my bones there is a root cause and fix to all mental illness, as outlined in the first of my series of books on human transformation and healing (TOT).

When I turned 30, which was 32 years ago, I made the deepest promise of my life – to heal my broken life. Although by outward appearances I seemed successful, I suffered from mental illness during most of my adult life. My healing took more than three decades, and I made a quantum leap in my recovery during the past two years since retiring at age 60.

TOT is about my life and my teaching.

Kindest regards,
Joe Lerner


Thank you Joe,

I wish you continued peace and success.


Mental illness isn't fixed by exercise, diet or getting enough sleep. Bipolar disease, Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective disorder, even psychotic depression: these are not things that respond to lifestyle. And they are not environmentally caused nor, so far as anyone knows, proven to be 100% genetic. It appears that real life stopping mental illness most likely occurs in utero, an "accident" of sorts, an innocent but tragic occurrence. There might be genetic factors predisposing. In identical twins, when profound mental illness is diagnosed in one, the other can be totally free of it. Unfortunately, mental illness isn't big on the list of things to fix, not a priority worldwide, perhaps to some research facilities it is but overall no one cares. DNA research would CURE profound mental illness but, trust me, they'll cure prostate cancer first. And don't forget male pattern baldness.


We agree, genetics come first environment second.

No matter the illness, improved nutrition and movement can reducing suffering and in some cases (misdiagnosis) eliminate symptoms altogether.

Everyone’s genetic predisposition is different.

I am hard pressed to think of any illness that does not respond favorably to improved environmental conditions.

Granted the degree to which environmental changes help one person versus another varies greatly.

I choose to believe and my experience has shown me that I have a great deal of control over how much I suffer.

It gives me hope!

I wish you peace and good health all of your days.


When the designer of Tower of Pisa found there was some error in his calculations on foundations, he said to have said, 'Oh, no one is going to find it.'
Now the 21st century soil mechanics is saving it from falling!
And it has become a magnet of marvel of attraction!

Human body on the other hand is incredibly more complex — there is No One or even a bunch of Causes for the problem that exist in it. Maybe that is our Strength…we are responsive to Multiple interventions all of which help us make us More Fully Human, a Flourishing existence as Aristotle might say.
So all healthier life styles help us to various degrees on different people often for multiple benefits. Out gut, for example, helps us with our mental health because it communicates with our brain. That's why, for example, food is important…as are physical activity, and trusting friendships and stress management. (actually there is some work on how transplanting healthy gut material to one with mental health could help)

Sol let's do our part — change that… let's ENJOY doing our part with wholesome food and physical activity to get closer to what is a Healthier life. No big steps or promises. Nature is not our enemy. With tastier foods we can have a healthier mind-body, as with playful exertion. Remember the toddler-in-us who strained (Happily, not making faces and screaming) to stand up and one day was running and climbing into a taller stronger fuller human?


Dear Sisyphus,

You and DFB are gifted writers and teachers.

I believe there are other potent and powerful human transformational and healing tools, per my budding series of books.

I also believe genetics is critical aspect of a human beings development, but I am more in DFB's court – we are the captain of our souls, the master of our fates.

Warmest regards,
Joe Lerner

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