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Just how ‘real’ is your ‘mental illness’, buddy?

Almost every article you read nowadays on the subject of “mental illness” is out to stress the reality of its existence. I’m frankly fed up with hearing it. I know people have problems. I know these problems can interfere with their relationships and their jobs. A problem is not a “sickness”. Should a person become overwhelmed by a problem, even so overwhelmed that the person has difficulties getting tasks completed, being overwhelmed is still not a “sickness”. Should a person need help solving his or her problem even that development does not make that person “sick”.

Psychology and psychiatry, under the sway of some sort of twisted positivistic philosophical theory, have come to interpret every negative emotion in the world in pathological terms. I, on the other hand, have a lot of positive things to say about negative emotions. People find themselves in negative situations, and perpetual denial will not help get them out of those negative situations. Pretense is pretense, and pretense doesn’t work. Only through negative emotions do people surmount negative situations, and find positive ones.

I have issues with all these people throwing the “mental illness” tag around so freely. My biggest concern is the ease with which people would dispatch the reality of a situation with two words. I have never met a cluster of symptoms equaling “mental illness”. I have only met people someone or other claimed had a “mental illness”. I have found that “mental illness”, naming a specific disorder or the generic term, has become a way for people to avoid dealing with the fact that they have another human being with needs much like their own before them. When “mentally ill” has become a way of alienating a person, maybe we should be responding in another fashion altogether.

My readers have undoubtedly heard the saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. In few areas is the application of this saying more appropriate than in the field of mental health services. The numbers of people receiving federal benefits for psychiatric disabilities is steadily rising, and these numbers have been rising for years. This increase is, in fact, so high as to throw the genetic theory of “mental disorder” on the ash heap. If any of these so called disorders are hereditary, many of them simply aren’t’ hereditary. Had effective measures been taken to prevent these rates from increasing so dramatically, the numbers of people in treatment might be going down.

The moral of this story is that one must be careful where one’s money goes as it could be going to fund a disaster. In the mental health field we have countless personal tragedies taking place every day of the year. Unwittingly, much of the money spent on mental health services each year could be going to increase the number of these tragedies taking place. Eventually this increase is going to affect the entire nation in an unfortunate matter. Our economy is going to become overburdened. Many mental health treatment programs are simply ineffective, and when such programs are ineffective, they are a waste of time, effort, and money. Instead of nursing that hole our collective pockets, our energies would be put to better use working on developing treatment programs that actually work, and then we could put some of our money into those.