Myth Number 3: “Mental illness” isn’t the result of bad parenting

We were looking at the bogus top ten myths of “mental illness” arrived at through a survey of quack (crack is too sharp a word to use in this instance) mental health experts conducted by the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD).

In my last post, we looked at the first myth regarding the label of “mental illness”, and that is the view that it is a medical condition. If it isn’t a medical condition, all sorts of explanations for such life crises the medical model would reject and dismiss again become plausible.

Myth #3: Mental illness is the result of bad parenting.

Fact: Most experts agree that a genetic susceptibility, combined with other risk factors, leads to a psychiatric disorder. In other words, mental illnesses have a physical cause.

~Top 10 Myths About Mental Illness

This “genetic susceptibility” argument and research tends to fall apart upon closer examination and scrutiny. The search for the mad gene has not produced any particularly reliable data. When its “susceptibility” depends a great deal on a slew of other factors, such as bad parenting for instance, a cloud of doubt is cast over the entire “susceptibility” angle. Also, if you don’t have “susceptibility” suspect genes in 100% of the cases, the “genetic susceptibility” argument can’t be applied to those cases in which the genes are absent.

Although it would be permissible to say that so called “mental illness” is not necessarily the result of bad parenting, it would be impermissible to say that what is often referred to as “mental illness” is never the result of bad parenting.

There is a peculiarly pernicious contemporary form a child abuse that involves taking a toddler to a psychiatrist, and having that psychiatrist give the child a psychiatric label, together with a prescription for powerful psychiatric drugs, that I will be returning to in later posts. Childhood mental disturbance is an invention of rather recent date, and it is a fabrication that has wreaked havock on the overall health of a percentage of our nation’s children. Doing so, when the kid is likely to grow into a chronic psychiatric disability case, and a lifelong burden to the taxpayer, is not good parenting.

It was a running joke from my days in secondary school that we kids had driven one of our school teachers crazy. She had, as I was told, been sent to the psycho ward on account of our mischievous, disobedient, and unruly behavior. Okay, if it was possible for school students to drive their teacher crazy, it is certainly possible that parents have driven their kids mad.

The gavel comes down with a boom. “Case closed.”

2 Responses

  1. Very often the parents of kids in a general children’s hospital are weird. The kid may have a genuine case of appendicitis or leukemia but the parents are still weird. Sometimes the kid is weird, a small child “failing to thrive”, an eight year old with anorexia. The weirdness of the parents cannot always be accounted for by the explanation that they are just ordinary people worried about their children.

    Many parents seem to only ever interact with their kids at all when nursing or medical staff are in the room. And it often seems to be for the benefit of the staff person. The parent will say something stupid like, “The nurse says you have to eat all your lunch.”, or some such rubbish. This can suggest to me that when they are home alone with their kids they behave in a way that they would hope no-one would ever witness. I’ve been in family homes and seen parents “disciplining” their children and they are every few seconds glancing at me. And most of the time I’m not there as a nurse, I’m just there as a neighbor or an acquaintance or working on their house or something.

    If parenting is not important why does anyone bother to treat their children decently? Maybe it would be better to treat them like shit so that they could be more readily identified and at an earlier age by the psychiatrists who claim that they are genetically defective. Parents who are charged with abuse and neglect could use this as a defense. If they are not predisposed to mental illness it will do them them no harm, if they are predisposed they can be diagnosed and drugged early.

    I’m a bit peculiar and very selfish. I treated my kids decently for no other reason than the pure pleasure and delight of it.

    • Parents have been known to molest their children. Should we ignore the fact that parents molest their children? Does this molestation have a detrimental effect upon the child’s mental stability? How could it have a good effect? I don’t think anybody would call child molestation an example of good parenting.

      The fact is that there are bad parents, and there are parents who weren’t ready for parenthood. Pretending otherwise is just that, pretense. I know a lot of parents are very defensive when it comes to the part they played in producing their offspring’s behavior, but it would be wrong to assume that they had absolutely no part in it. Perfect parents are just as illusory as perfect children, but more should be expected of the parent. Children are innocent to begin with, this is not true of parents. When we expect too much of the child, you’re likely to end up with a crazy person.

      “Wierd” is human, only humans hide that “wierdness” for the sake of other humans. Many people are stuck in broken families and lousy home situations. If we ignore that fact, we don’t make it go away. When the kid is having a hard time, mom or dad going an extra nine yards can mean a whole lot to him or her. When the kid is failing, mom or dad can nudge that kid onto success. There is something wrong with parents who aren’t concerned about the welfare and status of their children. When psychiatric labels become a way of dismissing (killing) a person’s humanity, making essientially an invisible non-entity of that person, everybody becomes implicated in this crime.

      I think we have a crime scene here, and using the crime scene analogy, when it comes to violent crime, the first suspects are always the people who were closest to the victim. Going to Peking China to search for the source of a person’s madness in Sidney Australia is not likely to get you very far.

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