End forced mental health treatment and reduce “stigma”

How’s this sentence, from a blog, for a leading statement: “Many people think that talking with a mental health professional is a sign of weakness in the individual seeking counseling, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.” Actually the question as to whether counseling could be a sign of weakness for some hasn’t been answered here. I would say that it always depends upon the circumstances. Seeking counseling could be a sign of strength, but it could also be a sign of weakness. When a person decides he or she can’t handle something on his or her own, and this person seeks a counselor to assist with the matter, that’s one thing. When a person uses counseling as an excuse, or a crutch, or makes an addiction of it, that’s another. I’m not beyond saying that both instances occur.

A “stigma” attached to the “mental illness” label is perceived as the reason why many people don’t seek professional counseling. The assumption behind this claim is that there are many people out there in need of counseling who are not receiving it. Such an assumption serves the mental health business above all other interests. How convenient it must be to have an endless supply of potential clients? This kind of slant leaves a number of essential questions unasked, such as, do all the people receiving counseling need this counseling, could not some of the people entering counseling not be in need of it in the first place, and is this counseling at all detrimental. There is also much question as to whether the assumption behind the need is even correct. We haven’t answered any of these questions by making sure our weird Aunt Carol or our goofy Uncle Sol are taken care of.

Some people, most people in fact, don’t seek mental health treatment. I would say that this is probably due to the fact that most people don’t see themselves as “mentally ill”. I think that it is perfectly okay for most people not to think of themselves as emotionally disturbed. I think that if some of the people who thought of themselves as disturbed decided that they weren’t so disturbed after all that this would be a good thing, too. You’ve got a problem person when you’ve got a person convinced that he or she is emotionally or mentally unstable. If there’s any “stigma” attached to emotional turmoil, maybe it had better just as well remain a “stigma”. When donning the “mental illness” label becomes a fashionable trend, then we will be on the verge of what is referred to in medical parlance as an epidemic. An epidemic, and I hear we’re having one now, of “mental illness” would not be a good thing to have.

While some people actively seek mental health treatment, there are other people who make no effort whatsoever to be treated for any mental health issues, but who find themselves in treatment all the same. A “stigma” isn’t preventing them from seeking treatment, they don’t want any such treatment in the first place. In some cases, the treat they receive seems much more like a trick, and an occasion of much horror. I’m speaking about people who find themselves committed to state hospitals against their will and wishes by a court of law. This can only happen through a loophole in the Constitution of the USA, with its Bill of Rights, known as mental health law. People are treated involuntarily, and against their will, regardless of any “stigma” attached to you name it. No other branch of medicine treats people in a, essentially totalitarian, and like manner. People in this system are locked up, not because they’ve broken any of the laws of the land, but merely because it is feared they will break a law in the future. Mental health law is pre-crime law. The fact is we shouldn’t have laws against crimes that have not been committed. We couldn’t have people locked up from crimes that have not been committed (i.e. involuntary mental patients) if it weren’t for mental health law.

What I’m saying here is that if you want to do anything about any “stigma” attached to mental health issues, you’re talking through both sides of your mouth if you aren’t also for the repeal of mental health law. It is through this mental health law that people in the mental health system are disempowered, marginalized, and reduced to second class citizenship status. Involuntary mental health treatment wouldn’t occur if people thought better of troubled people in troubling situations. This involuntary treatment involves disarming people and violating their second amendment rights. It also involves violating their rights to due process of law. Being a civil matter, people are presumed “sick” until pronounced otherwise. There is no question of reasonable doubt. There is no jury trial. Life, liberty, and property are all at risk in this process. There is no sense in talking about a “stigma” attached to mental health issues if you don’t address the issue of the loss of power and confidence that comes of the keeping of mental health treatment records either. You’ve created a paper trail for purposes of damning unwanted people. If you don’t want to damn (“stigmatize”) them, repeal the law, burn the paper, and see to the welfare of the people involved. Some of them might be your siblings, some of them might be your children, and some them might even peer back at you from the mirror.

When we have an all volunteer mental health system, then and only then will emotional travails and troubles become less of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” matter. People who have survived and endured forced mental health treatment know better than to look on most mental health professionals without apprehension. We’re now calling abduction, assault, imprisonment, torture, and poisoning mental health “treatment”, and let me tell you, abduction, assault, imprisonment, torture, and poisoning are good for nobodies mental health. The two faced and hypocritical nature of contemporary mental health treatment will only change when force is removed from the equation, and this force can only be removed by repealing what amounts to an unjust law. If you want an end to any “stigma” attached to mental health issues get rid of the law that makes mental health issues a confineable offense. When we have done so, and only when we have done so, will we have made the matter of experiencing personal problems less of an object for shame, scorn, derision, and ridicule. You can say one thing, but when you do another, sooner or later your actions are going to give you away, and then the game will be entirely up for grabs. Much of this talk of “stigma”, because it doesn’t tackle the problem of coercion, is actually part and parcel of the very thing it would be attacking.

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13 Responses

  1. The “stigma” thing is simply a red herring to deflect attention from what you’re complaining about.

    I went willingly to a psychotherapist and spilled my guts about everything in my life. I got nothing from it and stopped going after several sessions. Several months later what I had said was used to lock me up. I never would have trusted this psychotherapist if I had known my trust was going to be betrayed.

    • I think the best thing I ever got from psychotherapy was the realization that it wasn’t for me.

      I got stuck in group therapy, too, and I came to the conclusion that the real groups were the groups that weren’t about so called mental health issues at all. You can get a heck of a lot more out of any old hobbie than you can get out of that kind of thing. It’s like the contrast between a real job and payless rehab.

      I’ve mentioned the psychologist who thought he was a good listener before. You tell this guy anything and he dismisses everything you say as symptomatic of “mental illness”. I’m not an illness. I don’t even have an illness. My bullshit detector cleared that one up for me early.

      So what is this “stigma” that attaches itself to receiving “treatment” but a silly con-game? The “stigma” is attached to the “mental illness” label, and “treatment” is a part of accepting that you have such a “condition”? Beep-beep-beep goes my bullshit detector. You call it a red herring, and I guess that is as good an expression as any to use for it. It certainly has nothing to do with the real world of real people. You have a waste of time passing itself off as “treatment”, but that doesn’t stop it from being a complete waste of time. When a person walks into a store, and applies for a job, the whole system has just gone to hell in a few seconds flat. The mental health system is just a very odd way of putting hundreds of middlemen and women between yourself and anybody else. Get rid of them, and the timepiece starts serving a purpose again.

      As for the people who “need” it, I think adult children about covers it. Either you grow up eventually, or you don’t grow up. They’ve got a whole industry revolving around the people who don’t grow up and out of it.

  2. The (no) stigma spin is just a part of the junk that loosely fits with the rest of their lies, feigned ignorance, fraud, perjury, just trying to help you garbage. They think that their willingness to paint glittering generalities over the top of bullshit gives them the nod to lie.

    Betasheep might know now that he would have been better off seeking counseling in a bar even if that was worth exactly zero.

    I would never seek a mental health professional but I might occasionally hunt. Any counseling that might occur is likely to leave the mental health professional looking a little pale and shaky.

    • “… the nod to lie.”

      But not just to lie in general terms like a politician or a CEO might, but to lie about pertinent and crucial facts directly relevant to the situation of an individual. Lies/facts that are directly relevant and supposedly support the faux reasoning that supposedly justifies scrutiny from these lying blockheads.

      While I’m here I’ll remove “little” from “a little pale and shaky.”.

  3. That should never have happened to you, BetaSheep, and I am sorry to hear that it did. It says nothing for client confidentiality and a lot for the desire to incarcerate anyone who is seen to deviate, or who claims to deviate, from a preordained set of principles that are not universally or personally recognised. Trust is a delicate thing that should be cultivated and respected by those it is given to under any circumstances.

    MFV, although I agree with much that you say, the words “You’ve got a problem person when you’ve got a person convinced that he or she is emotionally or mentally unstable. If there’s any “stigma” attached to emotional turmoil, maybe it had better just as well remain a “stigma””, decries those who experience problems beyond your ken. Personal difficulties are just that – personal. You cannot sit in judgement with a clear conscience. You are in danger of denying many people a voice when you claim to want to provide a voice. It should not be the case that you deny acceptance to those who truly suffer from mental ilness.

    • I’m afraid we differ in our views on people who “truly suffer from mental illness.” I don’t think of what is commonly referred to as “mental illness” as “illness”. This is to say that it is not illness, and whether it involves suffering, and whether that suffering is true, is another matter altogether. I don’t think it can be denied that many of these campaigns to end “stigma” have not served the interests of recovery. I’m more interested in seeing people recover from their dependencies, their upsets, and their life crises than I am in providing them with an excuse for not recovering.

  4. Correction: “illness”.

    • You could say about a person who is crazy that all is not well. And we do use expressions such as “ill will” and “ill wind” but we also know that such usage is archaic.

      Best to avoid the term illness altogether when talking about someone who is confused or distressed. Most people will assume you are talking about a medical condition.

      The healthy human brain is quite capable of supporting states of confusion, anger and grief.

      • You said it, Rod: “The healthy human brain is quite capable of supporting states of confusion, anger and grief.” No mention then of how the unhealthy human brain copes.

        Being confused or distressed temporarily does not necessarily constitute illness. When a person does not recover from these things or worsens then it is an illness, a medical condition that can be treated.

  5. Well, we are in agreement on some of that. It does concern me that doctors see throwing pills at someone to be a solution. It isn’t. Masking a problem is not the same as dealing with it and continually masking it means continually avoiding dealing with it.

    Drug addiction and alcoholism are examples of people self-medicating to avoid dealing with their issues. It is claimed that alcoholism is genetic. One would think that knowing this would encourage vulnerable people to stay away from alcohol at all costs. Living with an alcoholic parent is no fun so there are numerous environmental factors to consider.

    Nobody seems particularly worried about the mass addiction to prescribed drugs.

    I agree with your remark about stigma. At the moment there is an increase in people believing they are mentally ill when all they are experiencing is a normal reaction to, for instance, job loss. There is a danger of these people becoming dependent. Once dependent, it is hard to crawl back to independence. This in itself can cause further problems and on it goes. Doctors do not monitor patients well enough. Patients should be reviewed regularly and not given endless repeat prescriptions. Rehabilitation should be at the forefront of all treatment for mental health issues.

    I agree that the term “mental illness” is overused at the moment, an example of which I have just given.

    Now, the place where we part company is on the reality of mental illness. It exists and there are no two ways about that. Schizophrenia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, they all exist, MFV.

    And we are back. Whether certain people are genetically pre-disposed towards becoming mentally ill is a long way from being proven.

    The way doctors currently go about treating mental illness is all wrong. They bring far too much ego to the table and they need to leave their egos at the door if they are truly going to help. Tablets do not fix people. End of story. But they may help people find life more manageable and we have to consider that. Who are we to deny someone that? We would not take away a person’s blood pressure pills and tell them to sort themselves out, would we? I think we must give people with mental illnesses the same consideration.

    If you feel like wheeling out the no visible evidence line, there is no need. Mental and emotional illnesses have to be recognised for what they are or you exclude people who suffer from them from society. That is going backwards and forcing an even greater stigma upon vulnerable people.

    Rehabilitation is key. Coping strategies are what people need when their functionality breaks down. This is what any treament should start with, for mental health or otherwise. “Mental health services” should be just that, not the opposite.

    Mental illness should be viewed as a temporary condition, not a lifelong cross to bear.

    The mental health of the whole world is in question, MFV. Take a look around. People cannot cope with the rapid changes technology has brought. We may be equipped to create an atomic bomb but we are not equipped to cope with having them around. Not that long ago, what you saw happening in front of you was real, now we have television, where nothing is real. We are not equipped to unscramble the signals going directly into our brains.

    Religious fundamentalists are fit to burst with anger in so many regions of the world. The level of violence is barbaric. We are not so evolved, you know. Our brains cannot catch up. Everybody is going potty and it is all going to hell in a handbasket.

    Spraying baying mobs with a mist of ecstasy is a better solution than blowing them up, is it not?

    From Wikipedia:

    “MDMA can induce euphoria, a sense of intimacy with others, and diminished anxiety. Many studies, particularly in the fields of psychology and cognitive therapy, have suggested that MDMA has therapeutic benefits and facilitates therapy sessions in certain individuals, a practice for which it had formally been used in the past. Clinical trials are now testing the therapeutic potential of MDMA for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety associated with terminal cancer.”

    I reckon just about anybody who has lived in a bombing zone is suffering from PTSD, so it is no wonder they are raging.

    In cities particularly, too many people do not have the time, opportunity or inclination to look at the good side of life. Pausing to smell the roses along the way is necessary for our collective well-being.

    Children spend so much of their time now immersed in mediated experiences; the lines between fiction and reality are blurred. Their brains are still forming and they have to deal with all this. I read today that British teachers are allowing young children to sleep in classrooms during the day because their parents have let them stay up half the night on computers. So now children go to school to sleep.

    People want a quick fix for their problems and their children’s problems and those attitudes are what you are dealing with. Educating people to look beyond this is essential.

    This genetic research will continue regardless of what we think. It is the vanguard of medical science. There will be tweaking and furore and maybe we will end up with a Brave New World. Who knows, perhaps that beats the Metropolis, 1984, Revelations cross-breed we have now.

    • When it’s all in your head, it doesn’t exist, not even in your brain. We know what a brain tumor is. A brain tumor can’t be said to be a “mental illness”. A disease, in the case of a brain tumor, cancer, is effecting an organ of the human body, specifically the brain. We can’t say the same thing about that extended adolescence that stretches into decrepitude. When a “mental illness” is found to have a physical source, it ceases to be categorized a “mental illness”. People have problems. I’m saying the expression “mental illness” is merely a semantic confusion. There are better and more apt terms for whatever is going on. I’m not going to use it. I think the erroneous belief that one has developed ‘an illness of the psyche’ makes resolving the conflicts that a person may have all that much more difficult, if not impossible. I wouldn’t encourage anybody to believe, for instance, that he or she had a chronic incurable condition when this condition is just the logical outcome of negative thinking.

      Medicalization is a growing problem in today’s world. I think, unfortunately, due to the power of money and corporate interests, medicalization isn’t going away anytime soon. In Aldous Huxley’s tract, Brave New World, we get 2 different human elements inhabiting the same planet. You get the rival inhabitants of The World State and The Savage Reservation. This is something very much like the situation we’ve got today. We’ve got an ongoing battle between the people in business suits and the people in more casual attire. It would depend upon your perspective as to whether you thought the devil would make an appearence in a business suit or in more casual attire. Regardless, there are perhaps better routes to take than that of haranguing with the devil for a “better deal”. I’m not a big fan of plutocracy, but some people are big fans of plutocracy. I think in a plutocracy you’re going to get people treated like cattle.

  6. Wrong. Of course it exists if it is in your head. The brain is a mass of complex chemical reactions and electrical impulses. It makes absolutely no sense at all to consider this as some kind of inviolable machine that never goes wrong.

    I like the term “extended adolescence that stretches into decrepitude”. It is apt in some circumstances but not in others. It does make me think of those who grow up in a dependency culture, end up on benefits and repeat the pattern with their own children.

    If you want to categorize the word “illness” as being something that has a physical source, then that is fine. We are debating semantics again because I have yet to see it proven one way or the other. We have a physical manifestation and within it we experience thoughts and emotions. As they take place within our physical manifestation then any abberation of them could be described as being of the physical.

    I have presented altenatives here and you have pooh-poohed them, so come up with your own terms.

    I do not think that telling someone who has an “illness of the psyche” that they do not is productive either. If the “pull your socks up and get on with it” approach is unmanageable for them, they are only going to get worse.

    Where do negative thoughts come from? It is not a lifestyle choice, you know.

    Yes to the rest.

    The devil wears a white coat.

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