A large meme recently went viral around the internet bringing up the idea that we should treat mental illness as we would a physical illness. The meme basically equates telling someone with a mental illness that they’re just not trying hard enough or putting in enough effort with saying the same thing to someone with a physical wound, like from a gunshot for example. Is this right? Is it safe? Is it correct? I don’t know, what do you think?
The implication would be, for example, that someone can’t perform an activity, do chores, or participate in something – not because they are physically unable, but because they are “mentally” unable. Something along the lines of, “Of course you didn’t do the dishes, you poor dear, you have depression.”
It’s not as simple as the meme makes it appear. Mental illness manifests in a variety of different ways, everything from schizophrenia to depression. The symptoms can be mild, or they can be extremely severe, it’s a wide spectrum and treating some people along that spectrum in the same way you would as if they had a physical illness might actually do more harm than good.
That being said, there are some instances where mental illness can truly be as debilitating (even more) as a physical ailment, in the sense that it can prevent someone from participating in life, just as the meme does show. It can hinder and halt ones life, not allowing them to experience or partake in “normal” activities as everyone else does. There are cases where it can be, and there are cases where it can’t, so in my opinion, the meme is both correct and incorrect. With physical ailments, many do not have a choice, while with mental ailments (in some cases) that individual still has a choice. Despite their difficulties they still have the opportunity to use “power of the mind” to overcome their issue, for lack of a better term. Sometimes actions like this can help, but it can also be helpful to understand when to be pushy, or when to understand.
At the same time, physical ailments can be overcome in this manner as well. A lot of rehabilitation and physiotherapy work depends on the strength of will of the person doing it. In the realm of science, a lot of new and crucial information has shown us just how important consciousness can be when it comes to healing. If you want to do some research on that, I suggest you start with a researcher like Dean Radin, or the Institute of Noetic Sciences.
Another issue I’d like to bring up is the fact that it is often believed that severe mental illness is something that “normal” people cannot relate to. It is perceived to be a disease of the mind that is completely different and separate from what we label as a “healthy” mind. There are many instances where children have been labelled as having a mental illness and encouraged to take harmful medications when what is perceived to be a “problem” might actually be a gift, where they actually have a very “healthy” and more “evolved” mind.
We know a lot about the brain but again, we know very little about it, most likely not even a fraction with regards to the processes involved in mental illness, or anything for that matter.
Furthermore, a big problem with mental illness is the fact that a chemical imbalance in the brain (the hypotheses used to explain the cause of various types of “mental illness”) cannot even be observed or measured in a scientific setting. We’re basically in the dark and assume we know the cause. As a result, we end up treating these types of illness with harmful medications – medications whose effects we don’t fully understand.
Mental illnesses are still very poorly understood, and remain under the watchful eye of people who are making billions of dollars from supposedly treating them. Is this a biological problem, or is it an emotional, perceptual problem that leads to changes within a persons biology? Is it both? Is it in some cases one and in some cases the other? I don’t know.
It’s quite ironic actually, because the only imbalances we know of in the brains of people called mental patients are the ones inflicted on them by the psychiatric drugs. How ironic, we make a false claim that they have biochemical imbalances and then we give them biochemical imbalances – Peter R. Breggin, MD (taken from the film Generation Rx)
There is also a sufficient amount of collusion between drug manufacturers and the FDA, who literally hide evidence about the detrimental effects psychiatric drugs can have on a person. For (one small out of many) example(s), American psychologist Lisa Cosgrove and others investigated Financial Ties between the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders (DSM) panel members and the pharmaceutical industry. They found that, of the 170 DSM panel members, 95 (56%) had one or more financial associations with companies in the pharmaceutical industry. One hundred percent of the members of the panels on “mood disorders” and “schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders” had financial ties to drug companies. The connections are especially strong in those diagnostic areas where drugs are the first line of treatment for mental disorders. In the next edition of the manual, it’s the same thing. This type of thing is seen in multiple areas within the medical industry, among others.
“The DSM appears to be more a political document than a scientific one. Each diagnostic criteria in the DSM is not based on medical science. No blood tests exist for the disorders in the DSM. It relies on judgments from practitioners who rely on the manual.” – Lisa Cosgrove, PhD, Professor of Counseling and School Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. (source)
The very vocabulary of psychiatry is now defined at all levels by the pharmaceutical industry,” Dr. Irwin Savodnik, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California at Los Angeles (source)
It’s also noteworthy to add that a tremendous amount of scientific research now confirms the power of thought and perception alone. A good book to read on this topic would be “The Biology of Beleif” by Dr. Bruce Lipton. He gives a clear picture of how thought functions in this manner, and provides many great citations. We’ve written about it before, you can check out this article for more details.
You can change your DNA/brain using the power of consciousness, and there are many people out there who will tell you they’ve done it.
As you can see, there are many things to discuss and ponder and it’s not as simple as this meme makes it out to be. It’s hard to know, many people have also abused and used their “mental illness” label as an excuse. So, again, I believe the meme is both correct and incorrect.
Sometimes we have to look within, understand other’s feelings, how they perceive the world, and why they are sensitive to things others might not be.
Again, part of the problem when it comes to criticizing someone’s mental health is a lack of empathy and knowledge, and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes, mental illness can be extremely debilitating and something that might be out of the person’s control, like a physical wound. And sometimes it’s not.
Artist Robot Hugs created a comic that displays what it would be like if we discussed physical illnesses in the same way we do mental illnesses. What are your thoughts on the meme? Feel free to share in the comment section below.
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