mental health care

Imaginary Disease Awareness Week

I found out subtly, almost by accident, chancing upon an announcement in the local student newspaper. Once again it is Imaginary Disease Awareness Week. Just in time for Halloween I suppose some of you must be thinking. It is as if the 13th hour had struck, and you don’t know what is going to happen next.

The regional Imaginary Disease Coalition has a series of events going on to mark and celebrate the occasion, logically enough. I imagine a few sighkiatrists, doctors who specialize in imaginary diseases, are going to take part in some capacity. It is important that people realize the seriousness of imaginary diseases, otherwise, one sighkiatrist or another might be forced to go to bed without dinner.

Converts to the imaginary disease religion are evangelical about educating people on the tenacity, veracity, and staying power of imaginary diseases. Sighkiatry, the priest caste of the imaginary disease faith, have come up with a BSM (bullshit manual) which is perhaps best described as a field guide to imaginary diseases. Through this field guide, they keep the real world bustling with imaginary afflictions.

The imaginary disease business is booming, which helps explain the importance of Imaginary Disease Awareness Week. More and more people are stepping forward with a claim to having an imaginary disease and, of course, Sighkiatrists, being imaginary disease salesmen first and foremost, are pleased as punch. Actually, sighkiatrists are imaginary disease treatment salesmen, but disease and treatment are rather like love and marriage in myth and song. It is very difficult to sell treatment to people who haven’t first bought the idea of having a disease.

We’re halfway through Imaginary Disease Awareness Week, and I didn’t know it was even going on. What could be wrong with me? I must be afflicted with a serious imaginary malady, huh? You’ve got to be careful. What did I say? Imaginary diseases are everywhere! The imaginary disease closet is being evacuated, the plague is out of the box, and there isn’t much room for people without some compulsive tic or prosthetic begging gimmick in the world anymore.

The good news is, seven days down, and Imaginary Disease Awareness Week is history. As Tony Soprano might add, “Forget about it.” To which one must reply, “If only imaginary diseases thought the same.” One thing you can be sure of, people will be bellyaching until the cows come home given the nature of imaginary diseases. The bad news? Once Imaginary Disease Awareness Week is over, it is only the beginning of Imaginary Disease Awareness Month that has elapsed. You might just consider it a big festival that climaxes with Halloween night, and continues on through Christmas, and beyond.

Combating “Stigma” As A Selling Point

If you want more people claiming to be “mentally ill” in the world, there is a sure fired way to get them, and that way is to fight “stigma”, the “stigma” attached, by the way, to making that claim. This, at a time when currently the USA “mental illness” rate is estimated to range from somewhere just under 20 % to 25 % of the US population. We need, in other words, more mental patients like we need more Lyme’s disease to make Swiss cheese of more people’s brains.

What is the highest health care cost in the USA? The cost of mental health care. Why is this so? Because of campaigns to end “stigma”. “Mental illness” is a very popular “illness”. The state is paying for it to be so. What the state is not doing is getting people out of the mental health system (i.e. “mentally well”). This is because it is, in point of fact, not a mental health system at all, it is a “mental illness” system. You don’t push approaching a 1/4 of the population of the USA into treatment, for their “illnesses”, however illusory, if you want people to leave that system. “Mental illness” represents a cash cow to all sorts of people.

There’s a slogan out there that goes, ‘It’s okay not to be okay’, which is kind of like saying, ‘It’s cool not to be cool’. Suddenly all these tinted shades have gone completely transparent. A contradiction is no longer a contradiction. A horse is a goose, a snake is a cow, a duck is a bear, your enemy is your friend, etc., etc., etc. Illogic is no longer illogic. Got it. You get these slogans because there’s money to be made in mental health treatment, and somebody is out to make it. When we talk about mental health treatment here, it is important to note, we are talking about treating people claiming to “have a mental illness”. There is no money to be made in treating people who claim to “have mental health”.

There is also, to provide a corollary, no known “stigma” attached to “mental health”, except in so far as there is a “stigma” attached to “mental illness”, giving the person who makes the claim of having a “mental illness” access to a steady funding stream denied to the person claiming to “have mental health”. We can’t manufacture “disability” payments without at the same time manufacturing “disabled” people to receive them. Manufacturing “able” people, enabling them, would be working in the opposite direction, that is, on getting more people back into the work force, and on lessening the numbers of people claiming to have a “mental illness”. This, unfortunately, is not the direction in which we are headed.

The World Health Organization has, if alarmingly, announced more than warned that depression is rapidly overtaking heart disease as the number one cause of disability throughout the world. A heck of a lot of people are unhappy. If we pay people to be unhappy, of course, that is not going to mean you’ve got less unhappy people in the world. If you keep people from being employed because of their unhappiness that is not going to make for less unhappy people in the world at large either. If you build a business around people’s unhappiness that is not going to make for any fewer unhappy people in the world as well.

Obviously, we are waiting on some kind sea change here that may be a long time indeed in arriving. Could we make a business out of facilitating happiness and contentment, in a material as well as spiritual sense, we might be getting somewhere. “Mental illness”, or rather it’s treatment, may be selling like hotcakes, all the same, were that it could be “mental health”, or non-treatment, that was selling instead; then the little pandemic of “mental disorder” that we are stuck in the middle of at present might show signs of letting up.

Food for thought then, for the decades ahead: how do we get people out of the mental health system and back into their communities rather than expand that system, and, thereby, manufacture more people who see themselves as being “in need” of treatment. I certainly don’t think we are going to get there by pretending to be combating a “stigma” attached to receiving treatment.

Mental Health Treatment and Work: The Gateway To Corruption

Mental health treatment and work has become a gateway to corruption. The parenthetical existence that it supports and fosters are coming close to bursting the parentheses entirely. Certainly there is a limit to humanities inanity in this matter. If so, the species has yet to reach that limit.

The industry propaganda, driven as are all things in this industry, by pharmaceutical company profiteering, is obsessive. “Mental illness is real, it is real disease, and it is brain disease.” Given this profit making equation, if “mental illness” is in the genes, the drug industry booms. If “mental illness” is in anything else, it can be ignored, there’s less profit in going there. Cha-ching. Nuts is to the bone.

Blaming violence on “mental illness” has led to a great increase in the population of people claiming to have “illnesses” of the mind. Not by itself, mind you, there is also the great ‘anti-stigma campaigning’ going on north east west and south. It’s now okay to be nuts says the propaganda. Of course, if it’s okay to be nuts, it’s also okay to have fewer rights than other human beings, citizens even.

If I reach into this hat here, we will find out what the answer is. Ah ha! Hiring mental patients in mental health work. Now there is no need to leave the mental health treatment world whatsoever over the course of multiple lifetimes. Your children’s children can get diagnoses and employment in the mental health care, er, “mental illness” system, and nobody is any the wiser.

We’ve got job security. We’ve got market expansion. We’ve got an illusion to foster and maintain as long as is humanly possible. I guess that means until extinction then. The artificial crutch business is booming. They say 1 in 4 people in the USA has a diagnosable “mental illness”, and if you buy that garbage, brother, sister, I’ve got a few bridges to show you.

The serious “mental illness” business is something for us to get serious about indeed. That’s where the money is, and that’s also where the greatest failure rate resides. Failure here is the reason for so many human success stories. Somebody has to look after all the failures. Where, in fact, would we be without them. Slumming it, of course. Instead we have the negative prognosis, the downward spiral, and the deteriorating outcome.

The needy people business needs needy people in order to prosper and grow. Without needy people, social service people are out of a job, therefore, the more needy people the better. We’ve got a bureaucracy to maintain after all. Housing, feeding, therapy, the works, we’ve got it all covered. You can get work working with the jobless. No need to get nostalgic over the dwindling GNP. That’s why we have developing countries.

Pop Goes The Mental Health Industry


Mental health, on the part of mental health workers and mental health consumers, constitutes an obsession, a fixation to the exclusion of other, if not more, equally important matters. Self-absorption, let me stress, need not consume the major portion of any one person’s time, and taking the matter a little further, it need not consume the major portion of a person’s life either.

This fixation, this obsession, has resulted in a staggering population boom in the numbers of people receiving taxpayer monies for what are suggested to be psychiatric disabilities. One book I chanced upon recently made the claim that the mental patient population has increased 3-fold since the 1990s. Mental health (i.e. mental illness treatment) literature increasingly puts the figure of people in need of mental health services at somewhere approaching 20 % of the population, and even, in many instances, nearer 1/4 of the population.

Biological psychiatry, the other equally obsessed side of this equation, ever strives to be blind to its own connection with the discredited eugenic theories of the past. If self-absorption is biological in nature rather than the result of conscious decision making, job security is assured. The mad doctoring profession must equally be the result of some sort of magical archetypical throw of the dice. Fortunate indeed, in other words, is he or she who can forge a career out of “caring” for the less fortunate.

The failures of psychiatry are glaring. Not that long ago there was talk about a war on “mental illness”. At the present juncture in time, it appears as if that war against “mental illness” has been won by the “disease”, or the “disorder”, if you prefer, rather than by the mental health profession. The “mentally ill archetype”, at least for the present, is with us to stay. This war on “illness” has degenerated into a war on “stigma’. Funny thing, as in the war on “mental illness”, “stigma” seems to be winning.

The struggle against “stigma”, in point of fact, flies in the face of the struggle against “mental disorder”. As this “stigma” is seen as being directed against people possessed by a “mental disorder”, asking them to forsake their precious “mental disorders” is seen as a more precarious task than asking others to give up their “stigmas”. If state subsidies are to be seen as entitlements, these subsidies entitle people to their “mental disorders”, and their respective faiths in those “mental disorders” as well, gay sera sera. To suggest otherwise is to “stigmatize” people blessed, or damned as the case may be, with psychiatric difficulties.

In actuality, the “mental disorder” gene is still proving to be as elusive as the purple cow of legend. Mental health treatment, on the other hand, is big, big, big business. You are not going to have a small amount of “mental illness” when “mental health”, its treatment, is such big business. Desperate people, I suppose the theory goes, require desperate measures. Of course, the one thing desperate measures don’t do is to alleviate peoples’ desperation. On the other hand, if we throw more money on the fire, the fire will grow, we can pass the buck, and blame, of course, the disorder for being so pervasive.

The real problem here is that the industry itself needs treatment because, if unreason is a disease, it constitutes a disease. Perhaps you’ve heard the old adage: “A fool and his money are easily parted.” Well, this adage is especially true when mental health treatment is doing the parting. That said, the fool here is not so much the mental patient as it is the taxpayer who is footing the bill for the patient, the mental health worker, and all mental health industry fellow travelers. I won’t say the cure is within sight. At this point in time, the solution remains a hoot owl on the branch of a tree in the depths of the night.

So You Want To Be A Mental Patient


I recently crossed paths with a Huff Post piece entitled 5 Real Ways To Combat The Stigma Around Mental Illness.

Stigma, here, means territory, doesn’t it?….

Okay, let me back up a little space, and let’s look at these 5 counter stigmatism measures and strategies mentioned.

Numero uno. “Make sure “going to the doctor” includes going to a therapist, if needed.”

Just to clue you in here, by therapist the author means mental or behavioral health professional specialist. Let me modify the above statement by saying that if you don’t want to be treated as nutso when you go to see the doctor, perhaps it would be a good idea NOT to request such a therapist.

It’s a good thing we don’t have 5 organs of evacuation, isn’t it?

This brings us to number two. “Train community leaders on how to screen for the signs of depression.” One could broaden this statement to include all sorts of nutso. Is your neighbor nutso? He or she should be screened, shouldn’t he or she? The more screening there is the more possibilities for nutso there are, and so on.

With number 3 we’re at a loss from the beginning. “Emphasize mental health, not mental illness.” Mental health in this case is something all mentally ill people have. Go figure…

Hmm. I wonder if all mentally healthy people have a mental illness?

Alright. Number 4. After you’ve called in the head shrinker or the behavioral therapist, after some trained community leader has found you out with a sanity test, after you’ve started to emphasize the health of your illness… “Recognize that friends and families can be powerful allies.” When it comes to being nutso, friends and family are always a big “help”. To make a ‘how much wood could a woodchuck chuck’ out of the matter, friends and family can always help a nutso notso much. Or it is that they can always help a notso nutso much? Anyway, whatever it is they can do, they’re there for you, kiddo.

Number 5 is the most curious of the bunch. “Own it.” By this the author means acknowledging that we are all effected by mental illness (i.e. nutso-ness). If only mental wellness were so influential, huh? We might then have many more people around are who were notso nutso, but you’ve got to deal with what you’re given, and if that’s nutso, well, there you go. Anyway, if you buy nutso, it must be your nutso. Got, er, own it. There are a heck of a lot of gullible people out there in this big world of ours, or not so big as the case may be, and what some them are gulled into is absolutely nutso.

If only it were notso.

I had a pet mental illness once, but I let it go. I imagine somebody else has it now. On the other hand, if it died out there on the road somewhere, I wouldn’t be sorry. I can only take this moaning over road kill business so far.

This Huff Post piece says some 18.6 % of the US population are “mentally ill”. There are other sources that give a higher figure. The Kim Foundation, for instance, puts the figure of people with mental illness at 26.2 %, or more than 1/4 of the population. In other words. if nutso is common, notso nutso is pretty common, too.

While you are mulling the matter over under your thinking cap over there, buddy, maybe there are better things to be than nutso.

Yes, Virginia, there is life outside of the mental health system

One knows that the actions presented in a play are not, strictly speaking, reality. The conservative end of the mental health patient spectrum may have found their calling in the mental health field, but for the rest of us, it’s just not our calling. Expanding the mental health system bureaucracy, I will refrain, for the moment, from comparing it with a cancerous growth, is an aim that just has too little appeal in so many ways.

I guess I will be going against the grain of professional opinion when I say this, but I’m going to say it anyway. People are made into mental patients, they are not born that way. I would like to go further, and to say, as well, that people are made into mental health workers and professionals, they are not born that way either. I have a ghastly sinking feeling every time I consider people who think that “mental health” is the be all end all of existence.

There can be little doubt, in this day and age, that many social problems are being misconstrued health problems. Pretending that these social problems are health problems is not going to answer them, but it is going to make a big problem even bigger. How’s that, you might ask. Certain groups would now place the numbers of people needing the counsel of the mental health profession in the USA at slightly more than 1/4 of the number of people in the USA.

This problem is not new. The numbers of people being serviced by the mental health industry have been steadily rising since the middle of the 17th century when locking up people who were different first came into vogue. Should we say that 1/4 of the nation is in need of this service, well, obviously we’ve got the job security matter under wraps. We’ve gone so far as to convince approaching 1/4 of the population that there IS something fundamentally wrong with them.

Once upon a time, and this is no fairytale, these gigantic mental asylums were places where people were swept under the proverbial rug so to speak. Fast forward to 2015, if we are not warehousing people in warehouses, we are doing so in nursery schools for adults. Nursery schools are not exactly the places where people learn to be responsible adults. No, that’s way over there, beyond high school, when and if it comes. Here we have a bunch of adult toddlers playing at being adults in the hope of one day being adults.

Of course, as has been suggested, perhaps toddlerdom is their eternal mode of being. Some people do feel entitled, after all, every time a disability check lands in their mailbox. Who could blame them? Who, indeed, besides all those people sweating it out on a 9 to 5 throughout the work week? I guess no ability checks they might receive can compete with that one. Can you imagine? Money for nothing. Anyway, one is given that long pause in which to consider the variety of positions in which one could be buried.

The distance between acting and reality need not be so far that it can never be broached. The adult who acts like a toddler is not, all pretense aside, a toddler. One can clap, snap fingers, whatever, and still not dismiss the illusion. When the smoke clears, nobody needs to wait it out with the casualties. When the casualties are not casualties, all the more profound. There are realities in which playacting is not recognized as such. Such realities as are the meat and potatoes of bureaucrats. It is, I would hope, never too late to wise up. The sinking ship industry can get along without you.