The Mental Health Movement Is Not A Mental Health Movement

Mental health movement propaganda has reached a nauseatingly feverish pitch of late. Mental health and “mental illness” months, May and October respectably, have become times to blitzkrieg the American public with pathetic personal stories that embellish appeals for money and legislative action. The legislative action is generally aimed at treating people who don’t want to be treated, not wanting to be treated being perceived as an indication of a more severe “illness”.

The problem with this frenzied state of affairs is that it means increasing the numbers of people in treatment and, additionally, it means multiplying the numbers of negative outcomes. Certainly throwing money at any problem is not going to make it go away, quite the reverse, and such is the situation with the mental health treatment world. When you consider that safe and effective treatments are the exception rather than the rule, you’ve also got to consider the fact that we are throwing good money after bad.

Mental health is not, at the present time, to be found in mental health treatment. Nor is physical health. Compliance is a matter of buying the lie that will eventually kill you. Don’t be fooled by the propaganda. 1 in 4 people are not “sick”. The idea is not only patently absurd, it’s offensive. The number one notion that the mental health movement is promoting and selling is the notion that “mental illness” exists, that it is real, and that it is physical. Apparently, a good dictionary to settle the matter is too costly of an investment to be made. Who needs a dictionary anyway when you’ve got the unmitigated gall to redefine everything to suit your propaganda purposes.

The gap between minor and major “mental illness” is as small, or as great, as you want to make it. People, given the most severe diagnostic labels, have been known to recover, and escape from the treatment gulag. How do they manage this seemingly incredible feat? In the same fashion that people with more minor “mental illness” labels escape the mental health system. The mental health treatment system is a dependency system, and those that make their way into more healthy lifestyles, do so by becoming independent of that system.

Prognosis, as fate, doesn’t offer many options. It’s like playing against loaded dice. Your chances of winning are zilch. There are, therefore, better career choices than that of statistical dead weight. The question is how long is it going to take before the good intentioned mental health movement stops selling and promoting “mental illness”? This “mental illness” is actually the apotheosis of the negative prognosis. It has an existence, surely, but only in so far as we believe in it, and only in so far as we invest in it. Think elves and unicorns. As long as there is an ear for it, there will be a market for the good bedtime story.

Faulty logic can be engaged in, coming up with erroneous conclusions, without correction infinitely. Folly of itself doesn’t necessarily lead to wisdom. Circular reasoning has it’s circuitous course evading any potential resolution. “Mental illness” as an enterprise has it’s obvious shortcomings and limitations. One of these limitations is definitional. The mental health movement is captivated with an illusion. “Mental illness” is the illusion that the mental health movement is captivated with. It cannot move beyond this illusion without moving beyond itself, and its aims and illusions.

Realism is devoid of illusion by definition. The false us and them dichotomy has fallen by the wayside. We are no longer in a realm of the healthy and fully human versus the sickly and inferior subhuman. Such unproven leaps of judgment are not permitted. Triumph by the elimination of chance is not an option. We’ve dispensed with the loaded dice. The door is not locked, and the patient is free to come and go at will. Your true adult has always had more options than your fake adult child. Success, for the suffering, once again becomes a possibility. Given the right circumstances, it becomes a certainty.

Some Awarenesses We’d Do Better To Live Without

A local mental health, oops, wrong word. A local “mental illness” system advocacy group, the Mental Health Coalition of North Central Florida, is going to have their own little NAMIfied shindig. They are holding this event for what they call “Mental Illness Awareness Day”. My immediate response on hearing the announcement is found in the following question. Wouldn’t it be better to hold a “Mental Illness Unawareness Day”? When it comes to awareness, “mental illness” awareness is just not the kind of awareness I find particularly helpful. I kind of have this feeling, you know, screwed up enlightenment isn’t really enlightenment.

This group. the MHCNCF, has even given the event a name. It’s called Gainesville Day of Understanding For Mental Illness Recovery. Again, I’ve got an issue with the name. Why the heck would anybody want to recover a “mental illness”? And if this or that person had a “mental illness”, and managed to lose it, would that really be such a bad thing? I suppose some people are really sentimental about their problems, but those problems are probably not such good things to hang onto. They’re not answers anyway. What sort of understanding should anybody have then of this “mental illness” a person has recovered? Now tell me that isn’t a bad choice of words.

Another possibility would be to throw a Mental Health or Mental Wellness Awareness Day shindig, and to talk about understanding the recovery of complete mental well being, but I imagine the thought is beyond the capacity of this little group of mostly scoundrels to comprehend. Where is this little shindig going to be? In a community senior recreation center? Already I’m seeing a few young heads, look both ways, and then walk off in the opposite direction. I don’t know. Yes, yes, old age and feeble minds might go together, but let’s not cut to the hearse chase if we can help from doing so. I don’t want to sound too critical, but a senior recreation center sounds less neutral to me than another location that might be less apt to scare off the few ingenues among them.

This leads me to the agenda for this event. #1. Proclamation of Mental Illness Awareness Week. Yikes! Didn’t I just deal with this subject, and they want a week of it. Again, I would suggest a “Mental Illness” Unawareness Week. It makes more sense to me; I’d think it should make more sense to them, too. #2. Path of Understanding. Path of Understanding “mental illness” recovery I presume. Geez, just think…There are other paths, and some of them are even challenging. #3. Celebrity Walk of Fame. Uh, because celebrities make “mental illness” cool I imagine. #4. Resource Station. Yep, I believe that’s a sign taped over the word “police”. #5. Candle lighting service. I know, this is going to be about people believed to be destroyed by “mental illness”, and not about people believed destroyed by the mental health system. The horses are calm so long as they have their blinders on. #6. Moment of silence. Any longer and the gig would be up. Everybody would know this little event is a farce.

I get it. Really. Take your drugs, and enjoy the farce without ever attaining consciousness that it is a farce. Do so, as well as you can, anyway, despite the “side effects” from the drugs you are on. Consciousness, after all, is what people given diagnostic labels are presumed to be lacking in. If you are dosed sufficiently, then you shouldn’t be able to attain consciousness anyway. Perhaps your understanding will be limited to understanding “mental illness” recovery. The fact that some people really do recover from the upsets of a crisis period, and go on to live full and eventful lives, is not the kind of message these folks want to give. This event isn’t really about living an independent self-reliant and emotionally satisfying life anyway. It’s about holding out that little tin cup, and crying, “Nickels for your pity.” They’re hoping, beyond hope, that maybe the government is listening.

If I was in government, I could do better than support people in their “mental illnesses”. For one thing, I could get further more economically if I were supporting people in their “mental well-nesses”. Treatment can be darned expensive, and a burden on the entire nation. An expanding “mental illness” system, what these people are after, means an even bigger expense and an even bigger burden. Accountability, responsibility, for people who work in mental health services should entail helping people get out of the system entirely rather than encouraging them  to accept the dependency role of what amounts to a ward of the state. The system here has a whole lot of rethinking to do before it gets back on track. All I can do is  chuckle my amusement as I’m certain that that rethinking, in the long run, is inevitable. Let me tell you, it certainly represents an improvement over the current stupidity.

In the been there, done that, department: The I don’t care whether we arrive at concensus or not form

Fill in the blank with one of the group of words from the right.

Mental Patients Liberation

Peer

Peer Support

Peer Specialist

Consumer

Consumer Empowerment

Psychiatric Survivor

Consumer/Survivor/Ex-patient

C/S/X

Ex-patient

User and Survivor

Anti-psychiatry

Anti-stigma

Peer Recovery

Recovery

Mad

Mad Pride

Mental Patients

Mental Health

Self-help

Disability

Ability

We are the __________ movement.

It’s Okay to be withdrawn, anti-social, socio or psychopathic, too.

There, I had my little transactional analyst moment. Thank you. Good night!

A Fighter For The Better Use Of Language

One of the voices most vehement in his opposition to the use of the word “stigma”, when it comes to dealing with people who have experienced the mental health system first hand, is that of Harold A. Maio. It was, therefore, refreshing to see his words in print featured in an opinion piece on the United Kingdom’s Guardian, headed aptly, We no longer talk about ‘the’ Jews. So why do we talk about ‘the’ mentally ill?

Presently popular worldwide is “the” mentally ill, a replica of “the” Jews. It is seldom recognised. In 2008 all nine US supreme court justices agreed “the” mentally ill existed. I shuddered; the US went silent. The entire country went dark and did not notice. An alley expression had reached the height of the US supreme court and journalism fell silent, neither seeing it, nor wanting to. Not just in the US, but worldwide. It is one of the prejudices I track worldwide on the net. I respond to each example.

If you follow stories in the media where the word “stigma” comes up in reference to people who have known mental health treatment, you will often find Harold Maio has written a sharply critical letter to the editor. It would certainly be helpful if more people took the time to chastise editors and journalists for their shortcomings in this fashion, and for this shortcoming in particular.

I trace one other prejudice on the net: “stigma”. It is closely related to the first. Once one has diminished a group to a “the”, one then claims for them a “stigma”, a “they”, a difference, eventually a deficiency. Establishing an “us” is one of the primary tools of prejudice, resulting in a “them”.

I’ve never liked the word “stigma” used in such instances either seeing it as a highly prejudicial word. As it means “a mark of disgrace” you start with a perceptual problem, you’ve identified the members of this set of individuals as set apart somehow from the rest of the population. In such instances, it becomes easier to ignore the common humanity that unites people, and it becomes harder to come to the conclusion that we are them, too, and they are us.

When I objected to the use of this word during a teleconference of psychiatric survivors and mental health consumers I was happy to find that most of those at the event were in agreement with my objection. They had a different reason for objecting though, and their reason was that it was a term they felt had been co-opted by people who didn’t share their aims and objectives. This word that might once have been their word at one time, was no longer seen as their word. It had become then, for these people who had been through the mental health system, a word that was used by a “them” against the “us” they represented.

The outcome of forced mental health treatment is usually not a very good one. The damage that is done to one is financial and social as well as possibly emotional. This socio-economic double whammy illustrates that the problem is systemic. While ex-slaves were promised 40 acres and a mule before the end of the American civil war, a promise the government renigged on, mental health patients are promised next to nothing on discharge from an institution.

Ignorance of the disruption that involuntary treatment entails is itself an example of prejudice in my view. Let us return to the example of propertyless ex-slaves, one thing they could count on was poverty. The predicament most recently discharged mental patients find themselves facing is similar. Add to this precarious state, just as with black people in this country, you have a group of people facing a great deal of prejudice. This prejudice contributes to making efforts to reenter the fold, so to speak, and move upward such a challenging, often self-defeating, undertaking.

I haven’t read it suggested that there is a “stigma” attached to mental health. People labeled “mentally ill” have recovered from the label. This word “stigma” is often used to refer to the way people treat people for whom recovery is thought to be beyond reach. This presumption, in itself, is an example of prejudice. There is a great deal of fatalism at work in this perspective. It is my feeling that when a person has received a psychiatric label, improvement should be the expectation. Resignation is, all too often, the tact encouraged by professionals who have failed their clientelle, and by a system that is too often based on managing symptoms rather than recovering stability.

A Word On International Psychiatric Oppression Day (IPOD)

Yesterday, October the 10th, was International Psychiatric Oppression Day. I didn’t post yesterday because I felt silence more befitting for such a day of mourning. I know the thought police and their associates have a different expression for this day. They call it World Mental Illness Awareness Day or World Mental Health Day. Whatever you call it, that doesn’t prevent it from being an International Psychiatric Oppression Day.

The thought police and their goons conduct annual mental health screenings on this occasion. The purpose of these screenings is to find more people to whom they can attach “mental illness” labels. These screenings, in effect, serve as a recruitment grounds for patients in the mental health system. These patients are referred to as consumers as they consume mental health services (i.e. take pills). They keep the billion dollar drug industry booming, and they are the life and blood of the current epidemic in psychiatric disability that keeps Social Security dishing out those checks.

The thought police claim that there is a “stigma” attached to receiving psychiatric treatment, and that this is why it is so important for them to conduct these screenings. When people deemed in need of treatment are fain to come forward of their own free will, it helps to have detection devices like mental health screening tests to smoke them out. It must be remembered that although people under the law have the freedom to receive psychiatric treatment, they don’t have any freedom to refuse such treatment. Mental health screening tests are just one more way for psychiatrists to find the people to whom labels might be attached. This procedure supplements the pay that walks into their offices voluntarily.

The USA is the epicenter of the current worldwide epidemic in psychiatric disability. Big pharma must sell drugs, but in order to sell these drugs big pharma must also sell “mental illness” labels (i.e. mental health services). The drugs that big pharma sells have been shown to be a contributing factor in the extremely high mortality rates people in psychiatric treatment are known to have. The drug companies must make up for these losses by expanding their markets. One way of expanding these markets is by screening the population as a whole for mental health.

There are 300 + psychiatric labels in the DSM IV, the field guide and bible of psychiatric disabilities. The DSM is growing with every new label a revision committee elects into its “disease” pantheon. Thankfully, most of these labels are relatively trivial, and might escape detection by a mental health screening test. A minority of people are, at this time, being treated for “mental illness” labels. This situation is subject to change. The World Health Organization, for example, predicts that by the year 2020 depression will be the leading cause of disability in the world. Any imaginative soothsayer ought to be able to predict a time in the future when the majority of the people on earth will have psychiatric labels attached to them.

An antonym for oppression is liberation. We have a day to celebrate psychiatric liberation, too, and that day is July 14th. Bastille Day in France is Mad Pride Day around the world. 2 madmen were among the 7 people liberated from the Bastille when it was stormed in 1789. We know people can liberate themselves from their labels, and we celebrate this fact on that day. Sometimes we call this liberation recovery. We call this liberation recovery because much of the thing people are recovering from is oppression. Internalized oppression, and learned helplessness, come of psychiatric labeling and institutionalization. What you don’t hear so much about is the fact that there is a way out of this pathos of iniquity. Ability and facility come of breaking the chains of such oppression and labeling. This facility starts with the dawning awareness that “sickness”, the label, isn’t everything.

Report claims half the people in the USA bonkers

A story in DoctorsLounge.com, Half of Americans Will Suffer From Mental Health Woes, CDC Says, covers a new report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that claims about ½ the people in the USA will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives.

About half of Americans will experience some form of mental health problem at some point in their life, a new government report warns, and more must be done to help them.

Given that the USA is at the epicenter of the current WORLDWIDE epidemic in psychiatric disability, I don’t really find this statistic all that surprising. Pharmaceutical companies must sell pharmaceutical products, and as a result of this advertising frenzy, the USA has become the leading example of a growing prescription drug culture.

Straight off I can see 3 obvious reasons for this epidemic that many mental health professionals are apparently fain to spot. 1. direct to consumer advertising (legal only in the USA and New Zealand) by drug manufacturers, 2. mental health screening programs (they have incredibly high false positive rates), and 3. patient advocacy group anti-stigma campaigns (when having a “mental illness” becomes cool and trendy, there will be more people claiming to have one.).

There are “unacceptably high levels of mental illness in the United States,” said Ileana Arias, principal deputy director of the CDC. “Essentially, about 25 percent of adult Americans reported having a mental illness in the previous year. In addition to the high level, we were surprised by the cost associated with that — we estimated about $300 billion in 2002.

Did you get that! About ¼ of the adult population of the USA reported having a “mental illness” last year. They are also talking costs, estimated at $300,000,000,000. Well, I know that so-called “serious mental illness”, lifelong disability, can be very expensive. Add to it doctor visits for the psychiatric equivalent of the common cold, and you’re still talking money down the tubes.

“Mental illness is frequently seen as a moral issue or an issue of weakness,” Arias explained. “It is a condition no different from cancer or other chronic diseases. People need to accept the difficulties they are having and avail themselves of the resources that are available.”

Ileana Arias says a lot of things on this subject in this article, and every time she says something, I feel like cracking up. If she’s saying that ½ the people in the USA are going to have a brain disease, I think she must be as batty as some of the people psychiatry treats. More to the point, if ½ the people in the USA will have “mental illness” at some point in their lives, that “mental illness” has more to do with a lapse in moral fortitude and strength of character than it does with any inheritable disease.

The report says 5 % of the nation’s population was labeled “seriously mentally ill”, that is, unable to function, at some point last year. That would be about my estimate, too. This figure I expect to climb even further in the future.

The question I have to ask is what is making the USA such a difficult country to live in? When this article claims 8.4 million people had suicidal thoughts last year. Shrug. I imagine the real figure to be a bit higher. 2.2 million made plans to kill themselves, and 1 million attempted suicide. Attempting suicide, unlike succeeding, will get anyone a psychiatric label. This article doesn’t explain how we make this country a more livable place for the vast majority of people who inhabit it, and that, I think, is the question you have to ask before you can expect the emotional turmoil rate to go down.

The absolutely amazing thing is you’ve got this report saying 50 % of the people in the USA will experience mental health issues during their lifetimes, and this shrink in the same article says under-diagnosis and under-treatment is a big problem! Uh, I don’t think so. Remember with nostalgia the silent majority then, and welcome the new Mad Majority. Half of the people of the USA is two thirds of the way to 75 % of the people in the USA. I guess our movement must be making progress.

Recent Trends in Philosophy

Disclaimer: the following post is fiction. It was composed for strictly satirical purposes, and the views expressed within it are not be confused with the views of the author in any way, shape, or manner whatsoever.

A new philosophy is sweeping some quarters of the world at the present moment. This new philosophy goes by the name of invalidism, and it involves a devaluation of all customary values. The mantra of true believers of invalidism is, “I think I can’t, I think I can’t, I think I can’t”. Proponents of invalidism have replaced the Cartesian cogito, “I think, therefore I am”, with the invalidist cogito, “I can’t, therefore I can’t.” Invalidism is all about the corrosive power of negative thinking.

Allied with, and related to, this invalidism is a small but growing school of thought, mutilated by the moniker, disablism. Disablists are enthusiasts in the pursuit of inability. Incapacity is their field of endeavor and expertise, their profession, as it were. Disablists feel that the government should be paying them to practice a new nerve-soothing exercise they have come up with by the name of vegetation. Some disablists have learned to vegetate with facility.

Invalidism and disablism are both branches of the more general and all encompassing philosophy of medicalism. Medicalism would replace residential neighborhoods with a gigantic nationwide communal complex known as the hospital. There are to be two basic classes of citizen in this communal development project, patients and staff. Patients are experts in the theories of invalidism and disablism. The hospital staff works devotedly as servants for the more sophisticated and aristocratic patient savants and their elaborate theories.

Proponents of medicalism believe in medicine, or better functioning through the use of performance affecting drugs. Their philosophy involves a belief that millions upon millions of years of evolution can be improved upon by the instantaneous addition of a few choice chemicals. Medicalists have made mistakes, in some instances, but in the name of science. They believe all their endeavors are ultimately directed at improving nature. They also believe that the amazingly convoluted mental gymnastics invalidists and disablists sometimes display are the result of defective and mutant genes.

Bleakness is the new buzzword in our expanding age of medicalists, invalidists, and disablists. The increasingly complex nature of contemporary living means increasingly complex problems demanding increasingly complex solutions. These solutions are often arrived at in a laboratory, and make mega-bucks for their discoverers. Gone are the good old days when the simple joys of living made people content. Happiness, at present, can only be found in a medicine cabinet.

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