We Need To End The Stigma Around Mental Illness VIDEO.
Way to go, Rick Mercer! I’ve been dogged by depression my whole life, but that hasn’t immobilized me and I think I get along quite well most of the time. It does make daily activities a challenge at times and it is a constant struggle. The top administrator at St. Joseph’s hospital in Comox told me a few days ago that anxiety and depression are the leading reasons for hospitalization. We often think of illness as a quality of the individual. We think of it as idiosyncratic. We acknowledge that environmental degradation can cause illness, but we seldom think that illness can have social roots. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that much illness is social in origin, ‘mental’ illness particularly so. We drive each other crazy all the time and the anxiety caused by uncertainty over mundane aspects of our lives combined with the certainty of death is a killer. I think that the incidence of mental illness, distress and anxiety is highly underreported. After all, no one wants to be labelled mentally ill. That label carries with it profound consequences as the video shows. Who wants to face the rejection and opprobrium that comes with a diagnosis of mental illness?
3 thoughts on “We Need To End The Stigma Around Mental Illness VIDEO”
Thomas Szasz in the ’50s thought is was a “myth,” i.e. entirely socially defined, with no organic causation at all. That’s extreme, but we do have a lot of disorders now that didn’t exist a few years ago, and homosexuality is no longer a psychiatric disorder in the DSM. It’s probably stigmatized because of fear, also because of social pressure to limit access to the sick role, which does impose a burden on the well.
Stigma seems to be losing some of its effectiveness – it was razor sharp in the gemeinschaft, but today we’ve already seen it all and can’t be shocked by less than the truly horrific. So it just keeps people out at the margins while having little of its former didactic value.
Most stigmas really should die out, but I don’t know if they will.
I have a lot of time for Szasz even though he was a little bombastic and probably a real pain in the ass. I’m also impressed with R.D. Laing’s work, especially Sanity, Madness and the Family, a study of how ‘schizophrenia’ is an outcome of family relations. Of course their views are not popular because they go against the whole of psychiatry and the general world view in our culture where we dichotomize the normal and the pathological. I don’t think we can overcome the stigma of mental illness in a culture whose morality is so dependent on ranking people according to ‘worth’ based on the capacity to accumulate goods and services. Thanks for your post.
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