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Recovery, The Third Path

If you have often seen the question posed, ‘when did you first discover you had a mental illness’, you have probably seldom seen the opposite question posited, ‘when did you first discover you were mentally healthy’.

This situation makes the ‘recovery’ of ‘mental well-being’ difficult because the presumption is simply that such ‘recovery’ doesn’t occur. People are born ‘mentally healthy’, but they are made ‘mentally ill’, indefininely.

Take another leap in judgment, and people are not made ‘mentally ill’, they are ‘born’ ‘mentally ill’, too. This is what a number of ‘mental health’ professionals have done, but this leap is not based upon evidence. This leap is instead based on the failure of institutions to recover the patients in their charge to their senses.

Long term institutionalization has been long thought to result in a certain amount of ‘learned helplessness’. The ‘state hospital’, where this is the case, could well be thought of as an ‘academy’ for ‘learning helplessness’.

The ‘I think I can’t’ mantra is pretty predominant in the world of mental health treatment throughout. Doesn’t this mantra suggest that the ‘illness’ itself has something to do with this acquired incapacity?

The transformation of ‘schools of helplessness’ into ‘schools of helpfulness’ cannot be achieved by mere rhetoric alone. The typical institution would have to undergo the type of complete overhaul in direction for this change to occur that we just haven’t seen as of yet, despite the best intentions of your mushrooming ‘treatment mall’.

We are actually dealing with two types of incapacity here. There is the very real disability brought about by the drugs typically used to treat psychiatric conditions, and then there is the entirely psychological disability drilled by these schools of failure into the successful mental patient, or mental health consumer, if you prefer.

A successful mental patient is an unsuccessful human being. With the advent of the ‘mental health consumer’, the lines between success and failure have become more blurred; consumers can now develop careers as consumer leaders, but not without sacrificing a great deal of integrity.

The third path available is that of capacity, or what one might refer to as recovery, but it cannot be achieved alone and in isolation. Relationships change everything. When lopsided and disempowering relationships are replaced with more equalitarian and giving relationships, this goal of personal salvation is found to be much more within an individual’s grasp.

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