mental illness awareness week

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.

May Is Mental Health Fraud Unawareness Month

Officially designated Mental Health Awareness Month way back in 1949, ever since the month of May might unofficially be more aptly referred to as Mental Health Fraud Unawareness Month. May is the month in which people pretend that there is such an animal, despite no evidence to speak of, as “mental illness”, and that mental health treatment, the animal’s obverse, in some fashion would help alleviate this theoretical disease and philosophical abstraction.

When mental health awareness has something to do with the acknowledging of medical conditions where there are no medical conditions, well, you should be able to see what I mean by fraud. Psychiatry has, with it’s DSM, for some time been categorizing misbehavior, that is breaking rules unwritten into law, as illness. Nobody is going to end violent crime by medicalizing it. Simply put, misbehavior is not pre-crime, and crime is not disease. To treat them as such, and to call it awareness, is similar in nature to calling a blindfold reading glasses, and vice versa.

The worst of the mental health frauds to come out Mental Health Fraud Unawareness Month concerns the fact that a large amount of energy is directed during this month towards labeling and treating children for imaginary diseases. The first of the month in fact contains a designated National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, and in some cases, Week. Generally speaking this means that the mental health treatment of children is promoted in a big way. The problem is that before you “provide” a child with mental health treatment, that child requires a “mental illness” label to justify such treatment.

What would be preventative, where mental health authorities are concerned, is rather more causative than anything else. You’ve got one statistic that dramatizes the failure of organized psychiatry more than any other, and that statistic says that fully 1/2 of all lifelong mental cases were diagnosed by the age of 14 years old. Diagnose more children “mentally ill”, and you are going, of necessity, to get more lifelong cases of “mental illness”. Cease and desist at labeling children, and the lifetime “mental illness” rate will shrink correspondingly. The word used to describe children, much more appropriately than “ill”, particularly where there is no actual physical disease, is innocent.

Another matter that is, of course, going to addressed during Mental Health Fraud Unawareness Month are anti-“stigma” campaigns. When you’ve got people incorrigibly malingering in the mental health system, their sense of entitlement gives them much good cause to campaign against “stigma”. You can’t really be maintained at tax-payer expense when there is no reason for doing so, and what is being called “disease” supplies some people with that rational. The issue that is ignored here is that prejudice and discrimination, the matters underlying the concept of “stigma”, actually stem from the law that allows for non-consensual treatment rather than from any real disease that can be pinpointed and isolated. End non-consensual psychiatry, and you’ve just erased the entire rational behind the so-called “stigma”.

Mental Health Fraud Unawareness Month makes it all the more urgent for those of us with some kind of inside knowledge on the subject to educate the general public about mental health fraud and abuse. Although there is, at the present juncture in time, no Mental Health Fraud Awareness Month, the damage done by so called Mental Health Awareness Month would seem to make such a designation all the more urgent and necessary. Lives are being destroyed by that mistreatment which goes by the name of mental health on a daily basis, and until we recognize it for what it is, even more lives are going to be lost. When we start saving lives, rather than throwing them away, you can bet that the “mental illness” rate will start to contract rather than expand as it more typically does. That’s got to tell you something. Mental health fraud is no way to treat a person you care about.

Mental Illness Unawareness Week

P.T. Barnum used to exhibit what he called the Fiji Mermaid. This Fiji Mermaid was rumored to be the torso of a monkey sewn onto the tail of a fish, but for the sake of argument, we will call it a mermaid. Some children have imaginary friends, some people, especially adolescent females, fancy tending pet unicorns, and some people even go so far as to claim to have a mental illness. I would suggest that there are similarities in each and every one of these attitudes and perspectives.

Why do I bring this subject up? Because since 1990, when the US Congress legislated it an officially designated day, in recognition of efforts by the National Association on Mental Illness (NAMI) to label family members “mentally ill”, imprison and drug them, the week that started yesterday has been known as Mental Illness Awareness Week. This is the week when NAMI and other organizations would educate people about “mental illness” and those human beings, although some people have doubts about their sapient status, sometimes characterized and stereotyped as “the mentally ill”.

If you believe the literature some people call propaganda, it, what is termed “mental illness’, is real, it is brain disease, and 20 % of the population of the USA has it. As you can imagine, all these stats are relative. NAMI goes a little further in claiming that fully 26.2 % of the population has it (i.e. “real” “brain disease”.) In other words, we’re a really “sick” nation, or, at least, better than 1/4 of the citizens of this country are ailing tremendously. Uh, their “brains” are ailing tremendously anyway. Good thing it can’t kill you. A true statement as long as it isn’t a gun in somebody’s hand, cocked, loaded, and aimed at the temple of his or her head. Oh oh.

I’m not sure having a day so designated is such a good idea. Why, you ask? Because, if 26.2 % of the population is “brain diseased”, advertising “brain disease” in this fashion represents a quick way to increase your incidence of “brain disease” significantly. Why just next year it could be 27 %, 28 %, or even 30 % and beyond. 1/4 of a nation is a lot of people with “brain disease”. Can we sustain such a hit on 1/3 of the nation as we’ve now got on 1/4? Nobody is yet suggesting that the numbers of people suffering “brain disease” is anywhere near leveling off, much less going down.

My suspicion has always been that there was an element of fixation to a lot of this “mental illness” business that so many people claim to possess, that is, if anyone wants to have one of these “brain diseases”, there is plenty of literature on the subject, and plenty of opportunities to learn all there is to know about being the proud owner of a spanking new “brain disease”. Unlearning is the problem. There just isn’t a whole lot of literature on how to live life without a “mental illness”. Should a person grow overly fond of their “mental illness”, there’s no getting rid of the matter, menace to society or pussycat.

For this reason, and as a much needed antidote and remedy to “mental illness awareness”, I suggest we designate the same week Mental Illness Unawareness Week. I feel certain that if many of us set out to unlearn about “mental illness”, you would see a sharp decline in the numbers of people suffering from such debilitating “brain disease”. If we were to unenlighten people on the subject, I feel certain, it’s incidence is sure to go down. It might help if you think of it as an empty glass case sparing that poor mermaid of much public ridicule and humiliation, and imagine the flap of her tail fin, as swimming out to sea, she disappears into the distance.

I don’t know if we can vaccinate the populace against the epidemic of “mental disorder” that is sweeping our nation in this fashion, but there is sure as heck no harm in trying. If everybody took a few minutes of the day out of every day this week to forget about “mental illness”, maybe we would be getting somewhere. Mind you, I’m not saying “mental health” is any more “real” than “mental illness”, but if whatever isn’t “mental illness” advances, I will call that progress. If I use my imagination, I can see nearby warehouses of suffering humanity emptying out and fallen into decay. Given further forgetfulness, any day now, the idea of “mental illness” will be a thing of the past, relevant only to the diligent historian, intent on reminding us not to repeat the mistakes of our forbears.

When it comes to forgetting, 7 days is a good start, don’t you think? 7 days without “mental illness” would be quite some feat. Who knows what kind of forgetting could follow those 7 days. We’re on a unlearning curve here, and its pretty spiffy. If we could forget “mental illness” maybe we could forget war and hatred, too. Famine also. Stupid and wasteful research projects as well, not to mention ridiculous bureaucracy, with it’s tons of paper work, and for such bad reasons. Get back to one to one I always say. Perhaps we could reform our education system through forgetting to boot. How easy it would be to forget ‘no child left behind’. We could forget to deprive folks of housing. We don’t have to remember any social disturbance until those 7 days are up, just imagine. We’ve got this “mental illness” thing licked.