July 29, 2015 at 3:41 pm
Perhaps the answer is to stop diagnosing people. Mental “illnesses” have no validity and reliability: pseudo-illnesses like bipolar and borderline PD have no proven biological or genetic basis or cause, and cannot be reliably identified by different psychiatrists. If we understood people’s “mental illnesses” as what they are: individualized problems in adapting to life challenges, or severe difficulties in handling feelings and relationships, rather than as false “illnesses”, I feel the stigma would be much less.
And unfortunately, in America, seeking help for a mental illness can perversely lead to a worse outcome, because being labeled as mentally ill and given too much long-term medication can cause the poor outcomes people fear.
“Mood disorders are biologically-based mental illnesses”, the psychiatrist announced authoritatively, surveying the 15 young-adult patients in front of him. “But while these illnesses might be biological, it doesn’t mean you can’t manage them effectively.”
My mind reacted explosively: How the fuck could you possibly know this, you pathetic excuse for a mental health “professional”? What actual evidence do you have?!
I desperately wanted to shout at him. But I remained silent, slouching backward in my chair in the mental hospital’s group therapy room.
After concocting a suicide plan that almost succeeded, I had been involuntarily committed to this hospital for my own protection. But I was now becoming a captive of a different kind: a prisoner of psychiatry’s hopeless ideology.
This is the story of my time in a mental hospital – what it taught me about myself, about my fellow human beings with “mental illnesses”, and about the web of lies that is American psychiatry…
When the psychiatrist said that BPD could not be cured, I felt furious. If I had a gun, I would have liked to shoot him right there and then. I imagined how satisfying it would be to put a bullet through his forehead, see his chair topple over onto the ground, the blood spilling everywhere, and for there to be one less idiot psychiatrist able to medicate patients into oblivion. It made me think of the opening scene in the movie Casino Royale…
This experience influenced my thinking about BPD and other so-called “mental illnesses” being invalid diagnoses…
That’s weird, my experience in a psychiatric hospital actually convinced me that depression and bipolar were real medical conditions. It’s hard to deny something that’s staring right at you. I can imagine that some of the other patients had similar fantasies about shooting people who disagreed with them, just like you, Mr. Dantes. In case you didn’t know, that could be considered abnormal. Perhaps a sign of unresolved (and potentially explosive) anger issues.
Whether mental illness is under- or over-diagnosed is probably a good question, but to question its very existence seems odd, especially for someone who’s been diagnosed with bipolar. Is it fear, denial, shame, or all three?
Suicide is an extreme reaction, and considering the very strong will to live in our evolutionary chain, it’s also considered abnormal. Do you think your suicidal ideation was something that is prevalent in the general population? But it’s really just a symptom of a bigger problem, like drug addiction is usually a symptom of a mental health issue.
The brain is a marvelous organ, but it is negatively affected by many things. Violence and poverty are just two things that can change the way our brains work, and along with our DNA, create mental illness. And usually, it’s a life-long struggle to manage these conditions. Once your brain experiences bad things, there’s no going back. But just like with cancer, medications can bring about a type of remission.
It’s also weird how you allegedly advocate for less stigma about mental illness, yet you don’t believe it exists. What is that, cognitive dissonance?
If a psychiatrist labels or has labeled you as BPD, or if the voice of people calling you borderline is stuck in your mind, I encourage you to tell them something like this:
“The BPD label you’ve called me is a simplistic checklist of distress factors, factors which anyone under stress for long enough can experience to different degrees. There are no reliable genes, brain-scans, or other biomarkers which can identify so-called BPD. In fact, BPD is in no way a reliable classification; it is an “illness” fabricated out of thin air without a basis in real science.
There is therefore no proof that I have an illness like you say, or that there is anything innately wrong with my brain; most likely, I am reacting in a perfectly logical way to the stresses I’ve gone through. There are other, better ways to understand my problems, and I do not accept the false label of BPD that you are putting onto me. If I get enough help, I can fully recover and live the life that I want.”
Say, Mr. Dantes, would you happen to be a Scientologist?