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mental illness "stigma"

There is a movement to remove the "stigma" from being "mentally ill". I am disturbed by this because:

It promotes the idea that a person, once ill, is always ill - similar to being born female or black.

It suggests that this is the big issue facing the so-called mentally ill. That society is afraid of them or thinks of them as "different". The do-gooders in this instance want to propagate the idea that the mentally ill are still people, that they are not necessarily dangerous...

...that they just need to take their meds.

My contention is that most of these folks are not actually "mentally ill". Many of them are brain-damaged, which is not the same thing, and most of that damage comes from the meds.

I am bothered by the inappropriate focus, by the media, the doctors, the hospitals, and government, on the "mental health crisis". The worry about the many persons who are not diagnosed, who are not "getting treatment". Those, my friends, are the lucky ones, if by "treatment" is meant the current standard of meds and electroshock. The worry that there "aren't enough beds". There wouldn't be need for more if we were not continually creating new long-term cases!

There is a crisis, all right. But it's a crisis of misinformation, not "access to treatment".


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 19th, 2004 01:30 pm (UTC)
100% agreement.
Feb. 19th, 2004 03:01 pm (UTC)
I would be dead if not for my "meds".
My depression requires chemical help. I am so thankful there are drugs that help me not be depressed.
Feb. 19th, 2004 03:20 pm (UTC)
hmm. i've lived with depression for nearly 40 years. who knows if i was damaged back in '71 from force-fed meds. i do know i wasn't 'well' years before i ever heard of ad's. whether it is organic in nature, or environmental is something i have yet to decide. 42, anyone?

i don't think of myself as 'mentally ill,' (but do consider the source, ha!) and don't define myself by any illness, for that matter.

however, i *do* know what it's like to live with clinical depression off and on meds, and i *choose* the latter for now. ymmv.

and yes, i torment myself on occasion with the 'ill for life of not?' question. no answers, but you bring up some interesting points, judith - as always!
Feb. 19th, 2004 07:47 pm (UTC)
bbc philosphy

and here.....enjoy


on the other link I left you need monday's nightwaves - but hell enjoy them all!
Feb. 20th, 2004 10:58 am (UTC)
I know that many people do not agree with my position on mental illness, drugs, and electroshock. I am happy to agree to disagree. I have written a page on the subject on my website: http://www.judithlautner.net (see the link at the top) and will continue to add to that page. This is my way to expressing my point of view without having to write volumes every time I post about it. Unfortunately, I have not had time to insert recent articles and links there, new data. That will come as it can.
Feb. 23rd, 2004 03:38 pm (UTC)
On 'Mental Health" and The Crisis
It is depressing that this obsession with mental health keeps on reinventing itself. The more I work with mentally disturbed people the more I become convinced that there are two ways in which a person can be 'diturbed'. It seems almost certain that there are two chronic illnesses variously called, according to country and culture, Manic Depressive Psychosis and Shizophrenia. No matter what labels we choose and sub-categories we invent to make sense of them it is very obvious that there is something wrong with the functioning of the brain - something which can be manipulated by chemistry, shock or surgery into a differnt more acceptable illness - managed by meds. Whether this person is then 'normal' is contentious. Who defines normal? What is beyond dispute is that these two groups are dangerous and deeply distressed and, when Lucid or 'in remission' beg to be cured. I would call these neurological illnesses or diturbances. No meds caused them. The symptoms appeared without any apparent cause. They affect all classes and types in our own culture and Medicine, no matter what it boasts, is baffled as to how to deal with them.

However the majority of the mentally ill I see and have seen, and the variety of experiences I've personaly had, can be traced to upbringing and social pressures. They are reactive. If anyone listens and is skilled enough to hear a story emerges that makes the reaction possible to trace - though this may take years. Meds are no good for these people. They may cause a short period of calm or lift a suicidally depressive state long enough for a therapeutic relationship to be formed and such a sort period seldom does the damge I know is of such concern to you. (I'm thinking a MAXIMUM of 3 months. 6 weeks would be better, none is the ideal. The best that can be done in a therapeutic relationship is to help these people see the madness of the society they live in and the part they were, in particular, affected by. However one must do this without imputing 'blame'. Yet nobody who has been in mental health care forlong blames anyone - they simply trace cause and effect. Cause isn't blame but society still doesn't understand that. I wish psychiatry would educate society as much as it 'treats' individuals...
Feb. 23rd, 2004 03:52 pm (UTC)
'Minor' and 'Major' Tranks
otherwise known as anti-psychotics are now causing much concern here. Not for the effects on the brain but on the heart and respiratory system. They quickly cause serious problems and in the most sensitive have caused cardiovascular crises and death. Of these thorazine and thoriadazine or melleril, largactil etc etc are being phased out or, when used, ECG's are routinely taken, weekly for the first few months. GP's on the whole are turning against psychiatry and psychiatric drugs in larger and larger numbers - but are given little support and get stick from sufferers, relations and the psychiatric profession. It ain't going to be easy to change these 50 year habits of label and dose.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


Judith Lautner
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