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Perception and Mental Health

by Ron Kurtus (updated 21 November 2022)

An important part of mental health is how your perceive the world around you. A person with poor mental health or a mental disease may perceive things much differently than a mentally healthy person. In many cases, therapy can help to correct these distortions in perception.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions. Mental Health Disclaimer

How perception works

Your sense organs receive signals and pass them through the nervous system to the brain, which processes the information. The mind then interprets that information.

There are some built in filters, which help the process. For example, you can sometimes filter out background noise, so that you can concentrate on what you are doing without distraction.

Attitudes and emotions can affect the perception process. You may read the implications of what another person says and his body language differently, depending on if you like the person or not.

Distortion of perception

If something goes awry in this process, what you perceive may not be reality.

Physical reason

Physical malfunction in the sense organ, nervous system or brain could distort the signal or information.This would be considered a physical health issue.

Mental health issue

But if your memory and range of experiences has created an unhealthy mental state, then it is a mental health issue.

This means that the brain is functioning as it should, but the information in the brain is haywire. This is similar to a "bug" in a computer program. The computer works fine, but the program code has problems, resulting in an improper output.

A bad experience may become ingrained in the brain's "program" or in the mind, such that the person will not act rationally concerning that or similar experiences. He or she may even have false perception of information. They say you hear what you want to hear. A person could easily hear words that are completely different than what were actually spoken.

Correcting distortions

Extensive therapy sessions with a counselor or psychologist may correct some distortions in perception, when they are not caused by physical problems with the brain.

In some case, medication will help bring the patient back to a healthy perception of his or her world.


The perception of the world around you is an important part of mental health. Some may perceive things much differently than a mentally healthy person. This can be from a physical disease or injury to the brain. If it is caused from experiences, thoughts or attitudes, therapy can help to correct these distortions in perception.

Keep a healthy attitude

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