Can Principles of Mountaineering Help in Recovery from Mental Illness?

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The picture shows me standing on top of the summit of Cotopaxi (19,347 ft.) in Ecuador (Allow me just a little bit of self indulgence here). I spent less than 2 minutes on the top and had to make arrangements to safely descend. All I had was a brief ‘dopamine squirt’ providing me with a mild dose of euphoria. Was this the most valuable part of the journey? You can read the full article here.

This article is written by Dr Sanil Rege. Sanil is a Consultant Psychiatrist at Vita Healthcare in Mount Eliza and co-founder of You can follow him on Google+

2 Responses to "Can Principles of Mountaineering Help in Recovery from Mental Illness?"

  1. Marion says:


    I enjoyed thinking about the analogy outlined in the article and appreciate the reflection and hope given through providing such a framework of experience. Re the 7 Commandments – #7 is somewhat problematic as, in my experience, I didn’t and in fact couldn’t, comprehend the context in which my ‘strengths and limitations’ would need to be ‘known’ until I had actually started ‘climbing the mountain’. It was only then that I discovered that previous (i.e. when ‘well’) strengths could be a hindrance and some limitations a help when faced with an unknown, never-ending enormity. My previous ability to ‘fix’ things was useless. A previous limitation of over-thinking became a god-send as I researched and researched what was happening to me.

    Having reached the top of the mountain, my descent (falling off!) produced a shocked realisation that I would be descending to a different landscape than that from which I departed. Further, if your ‘buddy’ as mentioned above had e.g. died on the journey (as happens to one’s Self as was previously understood), the grief and anger around that is another mountain to climb! It is not a matter of slipping, but climbing another mountain!

    I am no longer purely seeking ‘recovery’. Living with a mental injury changes one’s landscape entirely. Different strengths and limitations need to be found and/or learnt and sometimes whilst capability may be there, capacity is not. For me, as I look back at the mountain range(s) I have climbed, and needed to climb, but often alone, without oxygen (!), I now think more in terms of wellness, rather than recovery. Discovering and exploring wellness’ as a wholistic Life-enhancing process, is, fortunately, (for me) far more gentle a process than mountain climbing! – gentle hills instead!

    Thank you for your thought-provoking article.

  2. Psychscene says:

    Thank you for your comments. You have made some valid points and it is useful post in itself. I think one can say that there are many trails that one can use to achieve the same aim, or in some cases, traverse gentler hills. I wish you all the best in your journey , but your insight is refreshing and will certainly hold you in good stead whilst you progress.

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