Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Mental Illness?

Okay, so I was writing this paper for a class, and then I was like, hey that would make a cool blog, so here it is in all its random glory (although I'm not sure if I agree with everything I wrote, if that makes sense, not like you're going to read it all anyways):

Psychological disorders are an unlucky combination of multiple factors, much like physical injuries. However, unlike physical injuries, those suffering from mental illness often wish to hide their troubles because of the stigma associated with their problems. One of the reasons for stigma associated with psychological treatment and therapists in particular is that, for one, some therapies have been grounded in unsound research (and the gospel of empiricism demands that treatment theories have tangible research backing them), and for two, many people are unfamiliar with therapy, have a slight fear of it, and sometimes react to the idea of therapy in anger or defensiveness.

Some therapies are not scientifically proven to help clients. This poses a problem, as insurance companies and consumers wish to know what they can expect from services. While backing by science is important to people in the world, it is useful to keep in mind that science does not know all. The second issue of stigma associated with mental illness can be solved by requiring a yearly (or for adults, penta-yearly) mental examination, much like physical examinations are administered now. This would give mental examiners such as psychologists and psychiatrists more work to do, and it would increase insurance premiums (I'm sure it would be good for the economy somehow).

I'm afraid that somehow I have gotten off-track from the original topic of what my perception of mental illness is. Mental illness is a mysterious, exciting, and sometimes (well, actually mostly) tragic phenomenon. I like many others romanticize mental illness into an other-worldly abnormality that can enable people to do great and horrible things. I am reminded of great artists who suffered from mental illness – Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Emily Dickinson, Blake, Dostoevsky, Van Gogh – all these people suffered tremendously yet no doubt experienced poignant aesthetic highs. I know it sounds cheesy, but it's almost like their illness wasn't really an illness, it was a fuller life, and one with more meaning than the normal lives of the mentally healthy. Maybe in my desire to be different in a capitalist cookie-cutter Mormon society, I envy the mentally ill, who are genuinely different from myself and the status quo (without being pretentious or non-conforming for the sake of being non-conformist). But, paradoxically, the mentally ill probably envy me in my mental health (unless of course they're manic). The only solution is for me to voluntarily extend myself into the realm of insanity and then, after becoming disillusioned with one of my vestiges of romanticism and idealism, to despise and pity the mentally ill, while wishing the depressed could just quit being such objects, waiting for others to act upon them. In the world of psychology we're always stressing how the mentally ill don't have character flaws, they just have a “chemical imbalance” in their brain. Yeah right. Then who are the people with character flaws, if not the mentally ill (who account for supposedly the majority of the population?)? I'm going to dare to say that some people in therapy aren't really ill, they're just jerks or lazy people. Not all of them, but some. And what is the cure for lazy people? Let them be lazy and see where it gets them. If being lazy and selfish gets more attention than being hard-working and selfless, where is the future of desirable people? Intrinsic motivation... that's all I have to say.


herb and gary said...

interesting words.

i had an evil clone once.

does that make me bipolar disordered?


Thirdmango said...

That's a cool class to be writing that kind of paper for.

Now to my thoughts, or my mental illnesses. The one problem I see in making people have yearly or penta-yearly visits is it would give way to people actually tthinking they were mentally ill, we live in a world where if you tell people they have something they'll believe you and take it a couple of steps further. You tell them we need to test you and you'll think you're ill because they think you're ill. It's the sheep mentality. I do think it would be good for the economy at first but it might grw into an epidemic we wouldn't be able to fix.

You know what I like about living in the cookie cutter mentality, is that it gives way for more pronounced off shoots. In other words, when you find someone who in the cookie cutter land is different, they're a lot more interesting because they were able to mold themselves within it and become something cooler. Being someone who definatly is outside the cutter and hoping not in a pretentous way though I could be classified as such, it's always really interesting finding others who've broke forth from the mold, but haven't gone into an extreme. Such as the one who because of being in the cookie cutter goes to the other extreme and rebels. Those that can embrace the impact but still be different are those that seem the most interesting to me.

I like how you've romanticized mental illness. But the thing to think about is that we are all mentally ill in some form or another, it's just those who are able to embrace it in someway and make something cool out of it that we are immidiatly drawn to. Even the person you think of when you think of someone who is the most mentally stable person has some sort of mental illness somewhere in there that they deal with. For instance and I'm not the perfect candidate for this as many of my mentallities are pushed forth easily, but this is merely to show how it can be embraced instead of a hinderance. I found that I have the ability to stick with something for very long periods of time and not become bored. In what might be considered the wrong side of the spectrum of this I will latch onto a television show on dvd and watch an entire season within a days time, without feeling I need to do something else. On the flip side I can take that and use it for my homework and spend hours on it, such as video editing and do it all in one day and make it work. I'll do both, mind you, I don't get rid of the other and keep the second, I do both and enjoy both. My long lasting patience for something is evident in that.

Wow, this has been long enough for me to make my own posting about it. Heh. Obviously I have a lot to say on the subject as I love to delve deep into the human psyche. But I shall stop there. Good posting, good thoughts. Keep it up.

Nectar said...

In my opinion mental illness is a disconnect of the rational part of the brain from the real world. Sometimes there are physical causes of the disconnect, and sometimes it is a kind of defense mechanism to avoid dealing with real problems that seem insurmountable.

Mental illness can be mild or severe. Having had an aunt who was severely mental ill, and having a brother who is mildly ill, I have no romantic notions of mental illness. These people are isolated from the world, and are incredibly lonely. Sometimes they are so isolated they don't realize they are lonely, or are protected from understanding they are lonely. If you visit a mental health institution you will see what I mean. The severely ill don't enjoy life, but they may have some enjoyment of their fantasies. Their minds resist coming back to the pain of life.

There does seem to be some connection of certain types of mental illness and great creativity. Perhaps their refusal to view life as the rest of us do gives them a unique and creative perspective.

Perhaps some of the stigma of mental illness comes from the belief that it runs in the family. If your family members have it, then you might have it, or your children might have it. Natural selection says you might not be a good candidate to propagate the species.

I read an interesting novel about a mentally ill person and gained some insights into mental illness. I tried to talk about it with my family, but no one wants to talk about it. The mental illness of my mother's sister is a very painful subject for my mother, and she avoids the subject.

Some people in therapy are there because they realize that they have a difficult time coping with reality. If they want help they may just need to be shown how to cope, or they need emotional support while they deal with issues. I wouldn't call them jerks or lazy.

By the way, one of my sisters is a therapist.

Whistler said...

Wow thanks for the comments :-D I feel so validated...

h&g - having an evil clone wouldn't make you bipolar. If you had another personality, it would be dissociative disorder.

3rdmango - point taken. I was just trying to think of some way that laypeople could increase their exposure to therapy or psychometrics to decrease their fear of it, although I suppose a yearly exam might increase apprehension. And it's true about how smaller differences are more noticable when similarity abounds. And quirks (or mental acne as I like to call it) have their pros and cons - for instance, I really like analyzing things, myself included, but sometimes I can over-analyze myself to the point that I'm doing meta-meta analysis (analyzing my analyzing, etc.).

nectar/greenvisor - I'm actually going to be volunteering at a mental insitution for this class, so I'll have the opportunity to disillusion myself. I think most people know someone who is mentally ill or who struggles with anxiety or depression (even if werf doesn't know it). The issue with jerks and lazy people is that we all know they exist, and I think some of them may use therapy or mental illness as an excuse. The real problem with my logic here is labeling people as "jerks" or "slackers," and in using those pejorative words, evaluating them, when in actuality people only do lazy or mean things.

Shazer said...

Good post...good paper. I hope it recieves an A. I like the way you did it. You'll have to check out my next post sometime.

Shazer said...

Quoting an entire piece like I did...usually isn't my style either. But, in order to get Maxwell's point across with the true essence of what he was talking about....without leading people down too much of a long road (like just giving the link to lds.org) I had to quote the entire thing. There are a lot of nonmembers who read my blog...that needed to hear what was posted. And like I said, I didn't want to scare them off by just directing them to lds.org (a lot of them have no idea about the church...Maxwell's talk is a good starter I think). I probably shouldn't have posted the whole piece...and maybe I'll change that. But as is...I think it is very effective...and every word should be taken and lived....especailly to the practicing LDS psychologist/psychiatrist/counselor/social worker, or what have you. So I apologize for quoting the whole thing...but, well...I did. Not much to do now besides wait for the hair to fly when others read it.

Nectar said...

I don't mean to sound like I actually know what I'm talking about. And I don't mean to diminish what you know. Looking at what I wrote I can see how I could have come across that way.

I'm now a little confused about something else. Do you consider anxiety and depression to be mental illness?

Nectar said...

By the way... I think you gave away, in today's 100 hour board post, another alias that you use.

Whistler said...

I have no idea what you're talking about... ;-)

Thirdmango said...

If it makes you feel any better, I still have no idea. Well I guess if I thought about it I do considering I would just take those I didn't know, that would leave me with about three or so names. Hmmm.