I remember seeing an article titled Overcoming the stigma of mental illness recently, and I couldn’t help thinking, rather than the ‘mental illness’? There is no ‘stigma’ attached to ‘mental health’, is there? The message we seem to be getting here is that people who are ‘mentally ill’ can’t recover their mental health, and so they need some kind of special treatment from society at large.
This makes me wonder deeply, and what I deeply wonder about is whether we should be rewarding mental health professionals for being such out and out failures. Okay, financially and status-wise they aren’t failures, and maybe it was this professional failure, this failure of their patients, that folks are paying them for. After all, if they got enough people out of the mental health/illness system, some of these professionals would be out of work.
‘Stigma’ as a rationale for illness is a kind of sticky subject. I don’t have to overcome my ‘sickness’ because it’s ‘biochemical’. It’s ‘biochemical’ because my psychiatrist tells me it is so. My psychiatrist says so because all the other psychiatrists say so. The psychiatrist who doesn’t say so is a quack. He’s not a quack because he said anything incorrect, mind you, he’s must be a quack because he disagreed with all the other psychiatrists who are in complete agreement.
Psychiatry is obviously not a profession for experimenters and non-conformists. This fact in itself throws into question any pretense it makes of being a scientific discipline. How scientific can you be if you have forsaken free thought? As for its bid to be a branch of the medical sciences, well, the source of ‘mental illness’ is still, strictly speaking, unknown. As much as psychiatry knows, psychiatry keeps showing us how much it doesn’t know.
The nature of ‘mental illness’ keeps changing. Once the people judged ‘insane’ were thought to be curable. Then we found that most of the ‘insane’ were incurably so. Then we found that the ‘mentally ill’ could recover their mental health. Then we found that most of these ‘mentally ill’ people were only capable of a partial recovery at best. Then we determined that chances for recovery depended on the opinion of the expert with whom we conferred. Alright, it only remains for ‘mental illness’ to become a fleeting condition again for the stigma associated with it to dissolve as well.
If the psychiatrist says you have a chronic condition, I suggest you consult another psychiatrist, and if that psychiatrist suggests you have a chronic condition, then I suggest you consult with still another psychiatrist. I suggest, in fact, that you keep switching psychiatrists until you find a psychiatrist that doesn’t think your mental condition is chronic. When you have found such a doctor, voila! The goal of overcoming your ‘mental illness’ is within sight, and with it, any stigma attached to that ‘mental illness’.