How’s this sentence, from a blog, for a leading statement: “Many people think that talking with a mental health professional is a sign of weakness in the individual seeking counseling, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.” Actually the question as to whether counseling could be a sign of weakness for some hasn’t been answered here. I would say that it always depends upon the circumstances. Seeking counseling could be a sign of strength, but it could also be a sign of weakness. When a person decides he or she can’t handle something on his or her own, and this person seeks a counselor to assist with the matter, that’s one thing. When a person uses counseling as an excuse, or a crutch, or makes an addiction of it, that’s another. I’m not beyond saying that both instances occur.
A “stigma” attached to the “mental illness” label is perceived as the reason why many people don’t seek professional counseling. The assumption behind this claim is that there are many people out there in need of counseling who are not receiving it. Such an assumption serves the mental health business above all other interests. How convenient it must be to have an endless supply of potential clients? This kind of slant leaves a number of essential questions unasked, such as, do all the people receiving counseling need this counseling, could not some of the people entering counseling not be in need of it in the first place, and is this counseling at all detrimental. There is also much question as to whether the assumption behind the need is even correct. We haven’t answered any of these questions by making sure our weird Aunt Carol or our goofy Uncle Sol are taken care of.
Some people, most people in fact, don’t seek mental health treatment. I would say that this is probably due to the fact that most people don’t see themselves as “mentally ill”. I think that it is perfectly okay for most people not to think of themselves as emotionally disturbed. I think that if some of the people who thought of themselves as disturbed decided that they weren’t so disturbed after all that this would be a good thing, too. You’ve got a problem person when you’ve got a person convinced that he or she is emotionally or mentally unstable. If there’s any “stigma” attached to emotional turmoil, maybe it had better just as well remain a “stigma”. When donning the “mental illness” label becomes a fashionable trend, then we will be on the verge of what is referred to in medical parlance as an epidemic. An epidemic, and I hear we’re having one now, of “mental illness” would not be a good thing to have.
While some people actively seek mental health treatment, there are other people who make no effort whatsoever to be treated for any mental health issues, but who find themselves in treatment all the same. A “stigma” isn’t preventing them from seeking treatment, they don’t want any such treatment in the first place. In some cases, the treat they receive seems much more like a trick, and an occasion of much horror. I’m speaking about people who find themselves committed to state hospitals against their will and wishes by a court of law. This can only happen through a loophole in the Constitution of the USA, with its Bill of Rights, known as mental health law. People are treated involuntarily, and against their will, regardless of any “stigma” attached to you name it. No other branch of medicine treats people in a, essentially totalitarian, and like manner. People in this system are locked up, not because they’ve broken any of the laws of the land, but merely because it is feared they will break a law in the future. Mental health law is pre-crime law. The fact is we shouldn’t have laws against crimes that have not been committed. We couldn’t have people locked up from crimes that have not been committed (i.e. involuntary mental patients) if it weren’t for mental health law.
What I’m saying here is that if you want to do anything about any “stigma” attached to mental health issues, you’re talking through both sides of your mouth if you aren’t also for the repeal of mental health law. It is through this mental health law that people in the mental health system are disempowered, marginalized, and reduced to second class citizenship status. Involuntary mental health treatment wouldn’t occur if people thought better of troubled people in troubling situations. This involuntary treatment involves disarming people and violating their second amendment rights. It also involves violating their rights to due process of law. Being a civil matter, people are presumed “sick” until pronounced otherwise. There is no question of reasonable doubt. There is no jury trial. Life, liberty, and property are all at risk in this process. There is no sense in talking about a “stigma” attached to mental health issues if you don’t address the issue of the loss of power and confidence that comes of the keeping of mental health treatment records either. You’ve created a paper trail for purposes of damning unwanted people. If you don’t want to damn (“stigmatize”) them, repeal the law, burn the paper, and see to the welfare of the people involved. Some of them might be your siblings, some of them might be your children, and some them might even peer back at you from the mirror.
When we have an all volunteer mental health system, then and only then will emotional travails and troubles become less of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” matter. People who have survived and endured forced mental health treatment know better than to look on most mental health professionals without apprehension. We’re now calling abduction, assault, imprisonment, torture, and poisoning mental health “treatment”, and let me tell you, abduction, assault, imprisonment, torture, and poisoning are good for nobodies mental health. The two faced and hypocritical nature of contemporary mental health treatment will only change when force is removed from the equation, and this force can only be removed by repealing what amounts to an unjust law. If you want an end to any “stigma” attached to mental health issues get rid of the law that makes mental health issues a confineable offense. When we have done so, and only when we have done so, will we have made the matter of experiencing personal problems less of an object for shame, scorn, derision, and ridicule. You can say one thing, but when you do another, sooner or later your actions are going to give you away, and then the game will be entirely up for grabs. Much of this talk of “stigma”, because it doesn’t tackle the problem of coercion, is actually part and parcel of the very thing it would be attacking.
Filed under: Alternatives, Biological Psychiatry, Conflict of Interest, Discrimination, Disinformation, Elder Abuse, Force, Fraud, Human Rights, Law, Mental Health Care, psychiatric survivor, Recovery, State Hospital, Violence | 13 Comments »