Maybe we need to start stigmatizing for not having a mental disorder?

I note, among my parenting peers, a sort of prissy superstition about kids and mental illness in the form of "if we don't speak it aloud it won't happen to us, and if we listen to YOU speaking it aloud that's like saying it too."

Individually and collectively we're horrified by it. If it happens in our own families we hide it, and therefore rarely hear other parents discussing it about their own children. Until, of course, it happens to us.

But it is obviously NORMAL if Half of Young Adults Have Mental Disorder.

I know, I know: big Pharma is pushing this so everyone will buy pills, everyone's a victim, everyone wants easy answers, labelling is a crutch, what happened to discipline and self-determination...

Humbug. Mental illness has always been part of the fabric of being human. Shame and stigma around the outer edges of mental behavior - as well as our tendency to mistake certain manias and obsessions for virtues - keep us from seeing just how normal it is for the brain to wobble.

It's an organ. It interacts, more than any other physical system, with the world. It learns, it changes, it responds to the society and circumstances of its time and place. Its vulnerabilities are also its strengths: we humans often respond to the world in miraculous ways. We create art, we shelter babies, we invent unthought of things, we stare down dangers - these require a nimble mind. A risk-taking and highly responsive mind also at risk for malfunction, just as complex machinery fails more often than a simpler tool.

But recovery, too, this is part of the picture. Some mental illnesses can remit completely (eating disorders and depression among them), sometimes through retraining the brain and living a lifestyle to suit one's temperament, there's relief. Even schizophrenia can be ameliorated and eventually remit later in life. Mental illness isn't a life sentence of misery and being normal ain't all it's cracked up to be.


  1. I agree that mental illness is VERY real but I have a hard time believing that HALF of young adults suffer from it. I get annoyed when people who don't have an illness claim to have it. It trivializes those of us who actually do suffer from illnesses.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts