What does "mental illness" sound like to you?

Up until now when I said "mental illness" I meant real, organic, brain function broken sick. Like schizophrenia and depression and Alzheimer's. I mean the brain is ill.

But recently I've realized that some people hear "mental illness" and think that means NON-brain-based illness.

Uh, oh. This incoherence is a disaster: it really is important that we all use the same words to mean the same things. Insurance companies are fighting over this, saying EDs are not biologically-based disorders. 12-step programs want to see EDs as addictions. A certain treatment center that does not play well with others has come out and said EDs are NOT "mental illness" because they ARE "medical" and not "mental."

Oy. I guess the term "mental illness" has little meaning.

So I am now resolved to call eating disorders: "brain disorder." Just like schizophrenia and depression and Alzheimer's and bipolar. Brain disorder.

You can argue with me about whether I'm right, but at least we'll all be arguing about the same thing!


  1. As a parent of a child with mental illnesses ...Tourette's Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder ..and a step daughter to someone with schizophrenia ...and a daughter to someone with alzehmeiers ... I do find them categorized as DRAMATICALLY different. Alz is a medical condition ...not a mental illness.

    It is a physical damage to the brain. As the brain is damaged, the dementia becomes worse. It may have behavioral manifestations, but it is NOT a mental illness in any way shape or form.

    As a patient with an eating disorder, a parent, and daughter of someone with mental illness ... there is a distinction ...and the distinctions need to be clear ...

    not for sociatal clarifications ... or stigmatisms, but for research purposes. As well as genetic tendencies that are passed down from generations to generations.

    Does it matter? Yeah, it matters.


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