Do you ever wonder where purpose comes from? How is purpose even a thing? If you are a religious believer, the answer is easy: The universe was...
“Coming to terms with randomness, while initially frightening, can be liberating and empowering. Realizing that the universe is fundamentally random is not usually the cause of nihilism, apathy, or feelings of pointlessness about life.”
– Dr. Ralph Lewis
You could say that one of the central roles of a psychiatrist is to persuade people to be skeptical about their own beliefs: that is, to critically examine the evidence for their assumptions, and to not automatically believe their own thoughts and perceptions. An example is the common human habit of seeing life events as cosmically intended. We are strongly biased to see events as inherently purposeful and designed rather than random.
In his resolutely rational yet empathetic blog series, Finding Purpose, Dr. Ralph Lewis examines how human thought processes, emotions and behavioural tendencies have been imprecisely tuned by evolution, and how our foibles become magnified in psychiatric disorder. Human nature is writ large in mental disorders, which are usually just one end of a spectrum of the normal human condition.
Dr. Lewis is a psychiatrist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, Canada, and an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. His clinical work focuses particularly on two areas: youth psychiatry and psycho-oncology.
Dr. Lewis is the author of Finding Purpose in a Godless World – Why We Care Even If The Universe Doesn’t.
“A random world – which according to all the scientific evidence and despite our intuitions is the actual world we live in – is too often misconstrued as nihilistic, demotivating, or devoid of morality and meaning. My hope is that this book will help people to see the scientific worldview of an unguided, spontaneous universe as awe-inspiring and foundational to building a more compassionate society.”
Read more posts from Dr. Ralph Lewis on his PsychologyToday.com blog »
Why we think that everything happens for a reason
Our evolved cognitive bias is magnified in illuminating ways in mental illness.
The physical evolution of consciousness
The brain is a physical organ – that much is clear to everyone. But how do we understand the mind and consciousness – what is it and how did it...
Do you have free will?
Do you have free will? Learn more about free will and the brain.
How hospital chaplains can help non-believers without talking about God
As a non-believing patient, you might find counseling from a hospital chaplain surprisingly helpful.
Our sense of purpose is not dependent on the universe having a purpose
Lawrence was a university student who came to see me for a psychiatric consultation for depression that had been affecting his academic and social...
When your unmotivated aimless teenager fails to find purpose in life
Andrew’s life was going nowhere i. He never seemed motivated about school. Actually, he didn’t seem motivated about anything, except video games...
Medical assistance in dying – Is there purpose in suffering?
When his mother, Rosemary, was dying from cancer, he witnessed a different kind of suffering—intractable and without purpose. “It was cruel. Nobody...
Letting go of control and finding purpose in the randomness of cancer
Coming to terms with randomness is frightening, but it does liberate us from the tendency to blame ourselves for illnesses we didn’t cause.
Don’t believe everything you think
“For some of our most important beliefs we have no evidence at all, except that people we love and trust hold these beliefs. Considering how little...