Regarding The Stigma of Mental Health

Within the mental health movement community, there is a stigma attached to mental health, as odd as that may sound. Little wonder, too. What with mental health insurance parity, social security disability payments, Medicaid, and Medicare, receiving a “mental illness” diagnosis can be a little like winning the lottery. One is thereby set for life in the sense that all one’s needs are taken care of, and there is no need to ever seek gainful employment again. Thing is, some people still have a few qualms about taking a permanent vacation from life for one reason or another.

The government itself, President Obama last June, and Michelle Obama just this month, are talking about fighting some stigma directed against the “mentally ill” which has to do with some stigma against seeking “mental health treatment”, as if that “mental health treatment” were the be all end all of existence. Why? Because they would be treating people who don’t think they are “ill” against their will and wishes. The fact is people are not rushing to receive this mental health treatment, not because of stigma, but because they don’t feel they are “sick” and they don’t want “treatment” for some “illness” that they feel they don’t have in the first place in the majority of cases.

The mental health industry has some notion that approximately 1/4 the population of the USA should be diagnosed “mentally unhealthy” or “mentally sick”. 2/3 of this population aren’t keen on the idea. The government therefore must convince this population that they are “sick”, that there is nothing wrong with being “sick”, that they should receive treatment, and that there is nothing wrong with receiving this treatment either. If they can’t convince them, maybe they can convince everybody else. If they can convince everybody else, it doesn’t matter whether they are “ill” or not, so long as they are corralled into treatment. What they can’t have is the freedom of choice that would allow one to decline such treatment and that comes of full citizenship.

You see where so-called serious so-called mental illness is concerned the mental health industry throws up its hands. Treatment has been basically a confirmation of failure across the board. Once you’ve got people convinced that they are beyond the pale of “health” so-to-speak, and you’re a quack doctor, you’ve more or less won the game. You’ve got all these people that you can spend your entire working life humoring, and for this you get paid a rather respectable salary. Recovery no longer means recovery of “sanity”, or of stability, or of “health”, recovery is now a matter of religion, in other words, this false god meaning all things to all people.

At this point, pretending to be “ill”, and receiving taxpayer money, becomes confused in jargon and reality with entitlement. Just consider, suddenly the misfortune of diagnosis would be confused with the honor of a bestowed title, and the afflicted is in a better position than the person who has only his or her wits to rely on. Benevolence and malevolence become indistinguishable. The person who has been crippled by misdirected charity would be mistook for the person who has been crippled as the result of a debilitating accident. The malinger can’t be malingering because the malinger has experts who call his or her malingering a disease, a lifelong incurable disease.

Some of us used to have a different sort of movement. We had a movement for liberating people from the mental patient role. A person who is no longer a mental patient is no longer “mentally ill”. Today you have a mental health service “consumer” or “user” movement. Need I point out that there is little liberation in that “consumption” or “utilization” until it ceases. “Consumption” can’t be eternal because death, sooner or later, is going to intervene. I’m one who still thinks it is easier to cease to consume one’s “Illness”, harm, and oppression than it is to let the system destroy oneself. What do you get out of that system? People saying that there is some kind of stigma involved in avoiding mental health treatment, that is, in NOT assuming the mental patient role. I tend to disagree with this appraisal, but then I’m no longer a mental patient, having gotten out of the system long ago.

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2 comments

    1. If you are “mentally healthy”, more power to you. Ditto, if you are stark raving mad. Especially if you are impotently so. If there is no “stigma” attached to your “mental wellness”, I guess you don’t have to become “mentally sick” to lose that “stigma” (nor call in a surgeon, for that matter). I’m not prejudiced against you, your “mental health”, nor your “stigma”. “Mental health”, “mental illness”, and “stigma” are figures of speech. Prejudice is a fact of life. You, too, I imagine.

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