Two Species Of Mental Disorder

There are two separate species of those life crises that have come to be dubbed mental disorders. I think that a closer scrutiny of what separates these two species might well eventually play a role in debunking the mythology of medical model psychiatry. This cleavage has existed for ages. It roughly parallels the no longer current divide between neurosis and psychosis. This is the division between minor mental illnesses, so called, and major mental illnesses (sic).

The suspicion that these two species are closely related is offset by claims that they are such different animals. Some people, myself for instance, feel that the fissure between them has been breached in a most arbitrary, and therefore questionable, fashion. Theory, posing as ironclad proof, puts forward its own biases and prejudices, and hopes people won’t see through the textual smokescreen. Surveys, with questions such as is the world flat or round, are no way to determine whether the world is flat or round.

Let us look at what are seen as the characteristic differences between these two species of disorders. Professionals have tended to see minor mental disorders as having a non-biological base. Minor mental disorders are thought, in other words, to be predominately caused by stress and stressors, and not by genes. Let’s forget for a moment that mating is a social phenomenon. The situation is reversed with major mental disorder where the disorder is thought to have primarily a biological base, irrespective of environmental and social factors.

One can’t help noticing that while such differences are often seen as merely a matter of degree, such a view doesn’t jive with prevailing theory. Defining these two animals by their relative significance, minor or major, severe or mild, and so forth, would indicate that this difference was merely a matter of degree. If it’s a matter of degree, then either minor mental disorders are more biological in nature than previously thought, or major mental disorders are less so.

When professionals talk about the percentage of people who have a mental disorder but who are not receiving treatment, usually they are referring to people labeled with minor mental disorders. A fear exists that if left untreated your minor mental disorder will develop into a disorder of much more calamitous proportions. I feel there is an equally valid suspicion that if your minor mental disturbance was left untreated it would resolve itself naturally without intervention. Certainly, there is every reason to look more closely at this division of disorders in the interests of making sure that our preventive measures don’t end up being propagation errors.