Contemporary Episteme and Mental Health

Rahul S
5 min readAug 2, 2023

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Life is better today. We have cuter smiles, smoother rides, and the ability to connect across oceans. Yet beneath all this, an insidious undercurrent flows. An invisible yet palpable drainage that suffuses our lives with a chronic sense of anxiety and depression.

Let us discuss a few thought patterns of today (Episteme) that wield such psychological turmoil upon us that we become mentally ill.

MERITOCRACY

One is meritocracy. The glittering promise that all can rise to greatness if they possess the right talents and spirit.

This episteme is unfounded and lacks logical ground. It leaves no room for the slip-ups of fate or the caprice of circumstances. Today, we consider failure as a damning indictment of character. And, as usual, we brand those at the bottom as unworthy souls destined for sorrow. We forget the role played by luck and tragedy.

This leads to a constant state of tension between one’s present condition and future condition; and eventually anxiety — about future, and depression about present. We are all victims of this episteme. We continuously hanker after a definition of ‘meritocracy’ defined by ‘others’ and let our mental state deteriorate. Statistically, only a very small percentage of us are able to ‘rise to greatness’. Rest are all unhappy, sad, depressed, anxious and defeated.

This needs to change. We must prioritize our well-being over our status in society based on a false man-made concept of meritocracy.

INDIVIDUALISM

Next is once-much-celebrated individualism. A belief that elevates the lone individual and their accomplishments above all else.

Under this ethos, the collective spirit is shunned, and the ordinary path is deemed a curse of insignificance. The pursuit of normalcy is disparaged. And this leaves us feeling like freakish failures for following the course that most inevitably tread.

We need to learn to discover the beauty of the good ordinary life and the quiet heroism woven into everyday moments. It is not about escapism or accepting ‘defeat’. It is about changing the concept of defeat. Success is never just of one person. It always belongs to more than one. So, individualism is a…

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