The oxymoron of the objective world; yes, it can perhaps be maintained in the virtual reality of cognitive dissonance, but the human body warns and tells all. The basic problem is that while the “mind” retains an image of frozen time, the body continues upon the progressive course of constancy in deterioration.
We all have an image of ourselves, and no matter how many times a day we look into the mirror, that “image” remains with us, as we are not the one’s watching ourselves as we grow older. Yet, the body ignores the image we hold, and time, nature and the linear disintegration of organic matter leads to the consequences of a decrepit body.
We are reminded of this when we do silly things – like challenge a high school kid to a game of one-on-one after not having played basketball for a fortnight and a decade; or join in a pick-up game of football or other activity upon a dare, a challenge or an embarrassing invitation in the public’s realm of sight and sound; and though we may try and ignore the body that has advanced by the call of Nature’s echo, the reverberating results scream in the morning’s light as the human body resists the image beheld.
There are, of course, sad exceptions to the “youthful mind” counterpart – of dementia and early onset of cognitive deterioration; but of the decrepit mind, there is no offset, though by cosmetic surgery and other artificial means, we may fool the image reflected in the mirror to somewhat match that which is beheld in our minds.
It is this constant bifurcation and mind-body dissonance that allows for old men to act foolishly and young men to laugh uproariously. Somehow, the disconnect between the youthful mind and decrepit body has never quite overcome the incommensurate nature of the two; but, then, perhaps that is why Aristotle’s primary focus was upon the rationality of man as the defining essence of his being, knowing that the far greater value resides in the area more populated by angels than by aging bones.
For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who is getting ready to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or even CSRS Offset, the greater travail imposed by the mind-body problem may well come to the forefront in preparing one’s Statement of Disability on SF 3112A.
For, rare is the instance where either and both are not impacted, even in the case that the primary medical condition is psychiatric and not physical, and vice versa, if the focal illness is physical and not psychiatric. For, the mind can be impacted in other ways beyond the formal diagnosis of a psychiatric condition – by loss of mental acuity, profound fatigue that goes beyond mere daily exhaustion; and how the two are intertwined may be important in later years if the U.S. Office of Personnel Management sends out a Medical Questionnaire and you are recovered physically, but not mentally, or again in reverse order, recovered mentally, but not physically.
In the end, the general rule of “normalcy” of having always a youthful mind while one’s body continues to become decrepit, can be defied only to a limited extend; but for the Federal or Postal employee who is seeking Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the interconnectedness of both is important to consider in preparing, formulating and filing an effective OPM Disability Retirement application.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire