Fuel For The ‘Mental Illness’ Generator

To maintain that a social institution suffers from certain ‘abuses’ is to imply that it has certain other desirable or good uses…. My thesis is quite different: Simply put, it is that there are, and can be, no abuses of Institutional Psychiatry, because Institutional Psychiatry is, itself, an abuse.
~Thomas Szasz

Excuse my lax PC, if that’s what it is, but I see no ends to the fun that can be had in playing with the notion of ‘a stigma’ attached to the likewise foolish notion of ‘having a mental illness’. Take an article from the Mayo Clinic entitled Mental health: Overcoming the stigma of mental illness, for instance. We have a confusion of terms that grows even more confusing with the subtitle: Progress is being made to remove the stigma of mental illness and mental health disorders. You can take positive steps to combat stigma. Mental health, mental illness, mental health disorders and the Pacific Ocean between, just what the bleep do the authors of this article think they are talking about!? Then the authors start going all military on us, take positive steps, no problem, to combat, problem. If this means that the drug industry has a great deal of stock in the military industrial complex of super power imperialism, no doubt, but still such a thought is conducive to paranoia. The unasked question then becomes is the notion of ‘paranoia’ stigmatizing.

After a regurgitation of some of the presumptions of the bio-medical school of psychiatry, the way these presumptions are being regurgitated in so many places these days, we get the following bulleted list on what are seen as the harmful effects of stigma.

 Trying to pretend nothing is wrong

Good one! Now try pretending something is right.

 Refusal to seek treatment

This is particularly annoying, especially when the treatment you would be seeking, as so often is the case in the mental health field, turns out to be mistreatment in reality. The right of people to refuse unwanted psychiatric treatment is something these folk haven’t gotten around to considering.

 Rejection by family and friends

This is where the idea of extended families and new friends comes up. Who, after all, needs to be stuck with such shallow relatives and acquaintances as those that would reject a person because that person has had a difficult time? The Mad Movement itself is not nearly such an exclusive club.

 Work or school problems or discrimination

I think we have a civil rights struggle on our hands here. I don’t think you can just tell people to be kind to your nutty buddy, and expect it to happen. With your slutty buddy, well, that’s a different matter.

 Difficulty finding housing

Homelessness, and let me stress this point, could be considered a step up from ‘having a mental illness’.

 Being subjected to physical violence or harassment

I couldn’t agree with this point more. Those people, who are statistically most apt to be victimized by a violent criminal, are now being suspected of being the population most apt to perpetrate a violent crime. You can’t have it both ways.

 Inadequate health insurance coverage of mental illnesses

As has been pointed out before, where the mental illness ends at the running out of the health insurance coverage, maybe more health insurance isn’t such a great idea.

Then there are the steps suggested to cope with stigma.

Get treatment.

One could get treatment, yes, or one could get a second, a third, or a hundredth opinion questioning the need for any such treatment in the first place. If this treatment is going to mean mistreatment, maybe you don’t want to receive it?

Don’t let stigma create self-doubt or shame.

I don’t know. I don’t think there is a mental illness pride movement in this country. Maybe you need to revise your terms and redefine the problem.

Seek support.

Confess your mental illness? Here again I wonder. Why not confess your mental health? Oh, right, because you need the support of a crutch of one kind or another. Why didn’t you just say so? We can’t just throw off a crutch because we don’t need one. No, never. Besides, if it doesn’t makes it easier to panhandle then maybe it makes it easier to defraud the government.

Don’t equate yourself with your illness.

Personally, I don’t think ‘having a mentally illness’ is such a big improvement over Mr or Mrs Bipolar Disorder, Mr. or Mrs. Schizophrenic, and Major or Majorette Depressive Disorder. On the other hand, if you could lose your mental illness, then you might be getting somewhere. I just don’t think mental illness is such a good imaginary friend to keep around the house as some people seem to think he or she is.

Use your resources.

Call the disability squad. Sure, that might work, but then you may have other resources at hand you haven’t even considered trying. Ingenuity humankind is credited with having in no short supply. You don’t, and this is a point I must make, have to be disabled to be resourceful. (I know. Some of you out there are saying, “But it helps”.)

Get help at school.

It beats getting bullied at school. Of course, sometimes help is harm, and so you have to be very careful.

Join an advocacy group.

Sure, you could advocate for your own oppression. This article, for instance, suggests joining NAMI. NAMI is an organization composed primarily of family members of psychiatric inmates and ex-inmates. Family members are often responsible for having other family members locked up, forcibly drugged, physically restrained, and electrically shocked. NAMI also receives the majority of its funding from the psychiatric drug industry.

There are other groups that don’t advocate for oppression. You might look into joining one of those groups instead.

Speak out.

Did somebody say, “Squeak out!”?

This line of questioning naturally enough could lead to a discussion of human rights as opposed to mental patient rights, or mental health consumer rights, or mouse rights.