Sacred Cow Mental Health Mental Illness Dogma

A great sacred cow of our times is the idea of “mental illness”.  Expose the sacred cow for the myth that it is, and you are, according to some of its most fervent adherents, converts, and devotees, “stimatizing” people who are convinced they have it, hampering people who would treat it, and dismaying people who use it as a convenient excuse to get annoying people out of the way.

The dogma is just that, dogma. You’ve heard the dogma before, “Mental illness is real, it is biological, it is brain disease”.  Given these premises, and they’re only premises, nothing has been established here. People with it, that is, “mental illness”, are thought to be beyond self-control. They are, as it has been put, thought to be “controlled by their illnesses”.

The executive function of the brain has been short circuited by an idea. We’ve replaced the demons of religion and sin with the no less far fetched demons of “mental illness”. You can’t find it on a microscope slide, you can’t test for it, you can only ascertain its existence through the services of certain professionals trained to diagnose it. This diagnosis, according to some of these professionals, is more of an art than a science.

Given that we are dealing with what purports to be medical science, exposing this fraud for the fraud that it actually is can bring you accusations of raising the suicide rate. People don’t kill themselves for reasons. They kill themselves because they are ‘sick’, according to theory. Negative emotions, unhappiness, sadness, moodiness, are all “sicknesses”, according to theory. Cause is “disease”, the opposite of good fortune. Effect is a label and treatment.

Excuse me, excessive negative emotions are “diseases”, and they are excessive if they are enough to bring you before one of these imposters trained in picking them out. In other words, everyday ordinary emotions are not excessive until they send one into the presence of a “disease” detector, and if one crosses the thresholds of one of these “disease” detectors, one’s negative emotions must have been excessive.

 As far as Catch 21s go, you’ve hardly scratched the surface of the number of ways a person might get caught up in this process. The new heretics, disbelievers in those initial premises, must be dealt with, and they are dealt with in a number of ways.  Dismissal for the employee, treatment for the patient, silence and persecution for the critic, ostracism and discrimination among them.

The panacea of this new religion is the pharmaceutically achieved chemical lobotomy, the chemical strait-jacket, the chemical coffin.  People can now live in the community rather than be segregated from it because they are on these wonderful new anti-mental illness drugs goes the story. Suppression is cure. Suppression of the self. Self-expression here seen as an assemblage of unwanted ‘symptoms” equaling “disease”.

What you’ve got to realize is that before these drugs are even used you’ve got a diminishment of the human being into something less than a human being in the dogma. Anybody who doesn’t make the cookie cutter fit for a 9 to 5 dismally gray existence is by default “mentally ill”. Mental health treatment isn’t about healing “sick” people, it is about eliminating maladaptive behavior.

Some people don’t learn the ropes, and for those people we have a psychiatric label and treatment. The ropes I’m speaking of are conventional steps to conventional success. Problem: conventional success often means unconventional failure. One answer to a misstep here or there is the motivational specialist in the self-help field. as a career option. Another answer is the sky, about which I hold my tongue.