An Imbalance of the Tripartite Soul: A Discussion on Mental Health

An Imbalance of the Tripartite Soul: A Discussion on Mental Health

Well it’s the worst part of the semester, exam season. Though, it is also the most exciting in feeling that you’re almost at the finish line after a hard couple months. Everyone will soon be home for a nice long break with friends and family and I’m sure everyone is thinking it could not come any sooner. Though personally, I find it’s a time where I am reflecting a lot on the last couple months. I think this personally has been the hardest semester at UBC for myself; with a heavy course load, impending stresses of the future and all the other challenges that life can bring. This semester has been more emotionally and mentally draining than ever before, as I am sure all students can relate easily to. I found it was the most challenging for my general mental health as well.

During the last year or so, I have been struggling with depression and anxiety. I think I came to the point this semester where I finally felt like doing something about it and making a change. I started to talk to counselors and I found that it was incredibly cathartic to be able to vent out my bottled up emotions and receive some insight from someone that actually knew what they were talking about. It definitely has given me perspective that I obviously am not the only one that struggles with depression and that it is ok to talk about it when I felt that it wasn’t. When I think about how my depression and anxiety has taken a hold of my life and overall wellbeing, I think of it in terms of how my tripartite soul has been at an imbalance of its parts during the last year.

In Plato’s dialogue, Phaedrus, Socrates discusses how the soul consists of three parts: logos (reason), thumos (pride/spirit) and epithumia (appetite). It is with the balance of these three parts that create the soul to function in a healthy manner. While reading the dialogue, it became evident to me that my soul had definitely been at an imbalance for quite some time. Though I agree with Socrates’ statement that logos is the best good and should be able to harness the other parts of the soul such as thumos and epithumia, I find that my soul is at a point in my life where despite my efforts to try and reason to govern the other parts of my soul to a balanced state, my efforts are failing. I feel like my soul has been in this constant mess in which all of the parts lay in a confused jumble. In other words, I have a pretty unhealthy soul according to Socrates.

I feel like my drive for thumos and epithumia have decreased quite substantially as I find that I don’t enjoy the same pleasures or am motivated to do things like I used to be. I’ve found recently though that my logos has been in a reasonably good state as demonstrated in my decision to seek help elsewhere when I found myself unable to cope with my problems on my own. I ultimately was able to make the best choice for myself and took initiative on correcting the other imbalances in my soul. I feel with this extra help of counseling, I will in time be able to grow and harness the parts of my soul to go back to a state where it is in balance and is able to function in a more healthy and happy manner. Counseling is a method in which I think Socrates would have approved of, as I am able to share an open dialogue with an adult who is knowledgeable in their field. With the help of my counselor’s advice and knowledge, I am striving to reeducate my mentality and gain a better foundation of knowledge to combat the times where I feel weak and down on my own.

Good luck to everyone in this dreadful period and remember to take Socrates’ advice in knowing thyself (lol) and your limits when experiencing stress and frustration.It’s always so important to be aware of your mental health (the health of the soul) and to exercise good habits like taking breaks when needed and knowing when to get help from others because it’s ok to :).


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