Big Rift, Little Rift, Crossable Channel

The mental health system has very little to do with mental health, and the mental health system has a whole lot to do with “mental illness” labeling. Mental health experts are not so much mental health experts as they are “mental illness” experts. They don’t treat “well” people, they treat people who are seen as “sick”, and if “wellness” is the aim, it isn’t the typical condition people “under their care” are thought to possess.

There are a number of problems with conventional mental health treatment that attributes immature and irresponsible behavior to biological defects. Belief in biology of this sort doesn’t even allow for personal growth. The folly of youth can’t give way to the wisdom of experience when that folly is a predetermined physical condition. Contemporary theory has replaced psychosomatic with somatic psychological.

By definition “mental illness” is psychosomatic. Brain disease proper is an illness, or damage to, a specific bodily organ, the brain. A blurring of the lines between neurology and psychiatry has obscured this basic distinction between these two disciplines of study to the detriment of all people in mental health care. The answer to the psychosomatic dilemma is psychological. There is no answer to the somatic psychological condition, psychology being an individual response to matters beyond one’s control.

What people don’t realize is that much of the cynicism regarding mental health treatment today is based entirely upon theoretical bias. Without responsibility there is little or no freedom. When choice is removed from an equation, the possible outcomes are severely limited. It should come as absolutely no surprise then that negative outcomes are often the self-fulfilling prophesies of negative expectations.

Responsibility comes of taking charge of one’s behavior. Where self-control is accounted lacking, taking charge is thought to be unattainable. It is this matter of control that is at the crux of our dilemma in mental health care today. The assumption is that “disease” vanquishes all “self-mastery”. The reality is that this ouster has not been sufficiently demonstrated to justify abandonment to belief in it. If the “disease” were characterized as a “lack of self-control”, perhaps its severity is all too often exaggerated into mythology.

Some people have a great deal of difficulty, and if you consider their circumstances, it should come as little surprise, getting over this “mountain made out of a mole hill”. The question is how does somebody manage to shrink this “mountain” back down to a more manageable dimension again so that a person could step over it in order that he or she may move on with his or her life. Psychiatry has been supremely ineffective, to date, at arriving at a method for making this step possible.

I submit that we need to look closer at the relationships this person has with people who inhabit his or her social sphere before we jump to any conclusions about his or her character. These relationships include business and therapy associations as well as family and friends. Between the 5 % of the population who have been given chronic psychiatric labels, and the 95 % of the population who are deemed, relatively speaking, “mentally healthy”, I think the gap is much narrower than it has been thought to be. It is so narrow, in fact, that I think a great deal more people might be able to move beyond it than has been hitherto suggested.

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One Response

  1. Psycho-somatic illness is specifically a physical disorder arising from a mental or emotional source.

    Speaking with a neurologist last year, I discovered that there are people who cannot walk simply because they have been told from a young age that this is the case. There is absolutely nothing wrong with them physically but they are effectively disabled.

    The point is that whatever the cause, the suffering is real.

    Neurology and psychiatry coming together to help people like them is something I support. I do not concur, however, with the way psychiatry is currently conducted nor with the power that it wields.

    Speaking of relationships, the influences of people around the person supposedly “sick” have a lot to do with the condition of the individual. When the lives of others are interlinked, there is an expectation of the “sick” individual to continue being “sick” so that the order built around them is maintained.

    When you talk about psycho-somatic illness, it appears you are talking about psychological illness and the fact that mind control can be exerted to bring that to heel. I think this is true in a lot of cases. I have been musing about a virtual reality/real life survival situation that takes a person away from their usual routine and challenges their ability to think for themselves. Proving to themselves that they can come up with strategies to deal with the fundamentals of survival when it counts would be a massive confidence booster to a person and would provide more healing than sitting in some ward somewhere on drugs.

    There are times when self-control is not an option. These times are when the basic self-defence mechanisms are triggered. It is almost impossible to interfere with and can happen without a person even knowing it and without their recalling it afterwards. Calling this a problem is accurate in some cases – say when someone is extremely easily triggerable – and is highly inaccurate in others. Medicalising the visceral response is dubious. For instance, the terror felt by a person being dragged off against their will is accurate and fighting it is natural. That person does not suddenly become mentally ill because of it.

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