12 November 2009

Stigmas on Mental Disorders

There is a huge stigma on mental illness and on mental health professionals in much of the western world, which gets in the way of honest discourse and helping people who are suffering from mental disorders. There is the attitude that psychology is an attempt to justify, rather than understand, and that mental disorders are a sign of an underlying character flaw, as opposed to a disorder or disease. Essay moved to Weaving Wyrd.


  1. Yes. *Thank you*.

  2. Yes.

    I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2002. I also had "treatment" which exacerbated the PTSD. I find a lot of doctors just want to throw chemicals at people and while that may be useful for immediate stabilisation, it is particularly counter-productive for a disorder like PTSD where eventually you have to feel these things and process them and work forward. I am doing a Hel of a lot better than I was seven years ago but the first few years following my diagnosis was not fun due to stigma from "friends" and "family" and being inappropriately medicated and put in unhelpful forms of therapy (and in coercive treatment at that).

    Not to hijack your blog, but thank you. I also think the mental health issue is huge among (Name Preferred Term for Spooky Woo Person Here). On a regular basis I have to do reality checks and I've often wondered if the woo is so much brainhacking for self-preservation. I think it is entirely possible to be spiritually gifted and have a neurological or psychiatric condition, and I think in many cases the spiritual journey is to rebuild the broken spirit. Nonetheless, it would be nice if people would learn the facts about mental health as opposed to treating folks as if they are incompetent and everything they say is delusions, because they have a diagnosis. I'm glad other people get it.


  3. Thank you.
    Mental illness runs rampant in my family, PTSD, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar mood disorder, etc. I am the only female not medicated that is older than 35. And the only reason that I'm not is because of my spiritual practice.
    I have all these little "quirks" that years ago were diagnosed major depression and medicated.
    I took drugs that severed both my connections to my deity of choice and my creativity, just to feel,well, disconnected from everything else.

    I just stopped taking the drugs.
    Which means now some of my days are a little bluer, and I have to check my reality on a constant basis. But I've worked through the primary causes for most "quirks" and am still working the process of health, in all aspects emotional, spiritual, mental and physical. And I'm now in a position to help others do the same.

  4. This is an excellent post, and very relevant to the topic of your blog in general.

    People who are involved in certain spiritual practices sometimes suffer from these conditions, which others, if they become aware of them, often use as "evidence" for why all that mystical, magical, spiritual stuff is complete bullshit. After all, if so-and-so admits to having mental health issues, that must mean that they're just delusional about all the spiritual experiences they've had which don't fall neatly into line with accepted primary source material and general opinions, right? It's easy to dismiss unpopular opinions as simply springing from insanity, after all.

    But just as mentally healthy people aren't always right about everything, never delude themselves or never act out of fear, anger or other irrational feelings, those with mental disorders are not always wrong, delusional, looking for attention or acting from a place of irrationality.

    I take an anti-depressant for MDD. I'm not ashamed of that fact. The difference between how I function when I'm on versus off the drugs is so dramatic that I know it isn't that I "just need to get my shit together" -- at least, not any more so than most people do. It does mean that in order to have anything close to a normal life I *need* that medication.

    That has been hard for me to accept. I have asked myself why; I don't feel as if someone taking medication for arthritis or Lyme disease is indicative of a lack of moral fiber, so why do I view taking anti-depressants in that light? The answer, of course, is because of the stigma associated with mental illnesses and the tendency, even among people who ought to know better, to believe that it's all a matter of a lack of willpower, laziness or immaturity.

    This isn't to say that every mentally ill person is so easily treated or is never responsible for their behavior, but recognizing that often, behavioral issues have as much, if not more, to do with simple brain chemistry than anything supposedly lacking in someone's character would go a long way towards improving our general view of mental illness.