The Genesis of a Modern Myth?


Relevance at Best Contingent

“By the middle of the 19th century it was also generally accepted that the superintendent of any properly run lunatic asylum should be a physician. But the terms mental illness and mental disease survived, partly because they clearly implied that what had previously been called madness or insanity was medical territory. The doubts about causation also survived, even within the medical profession itself. Indeed, the school of psychoanalysis that emerged at the end of the 19th century regarded all mental illnesses as entirely psychogenic disorders to be treated by psychotherapy; and until the 1930s mental disease remained largely uninfluenced by the physician’s pharmacopoeia and, apart from general paresis, could not be shown to be accompanied by any cerebral pathology, macroscopic or microscopic.”
Taken from The British Journal of Psychiatry, 2001, 178:490-493

The introduction of an economic, intellectual and pragmatic framework for ‘mental illness’ as an arm of pharmaceutical (and other) medicine produced an accompanying plethora of previously ‘unnoticed’ ‘illnesses’ that became fully instated within our culture. Language is so creative – as it multiplies sounds and formations on screen or paper so it also multiplies products of its representations in the world. Thought creates reality.

The industry of ‘mental illness’ has been a resoundingly successful one – the reach of its empire has spread to at least one in four members of our society.

Those of us unfortunate enough to be ‘diagnosed’ (= described and over powered) with the ‘illnesses’ of severe’bipolar I’ and ‘schizophrenia’ will suffer a 1 in 15 chance of death by suicide. This is comparable with suicide rates of approximately 11.5 per 10,000 in the general population (over twice of these are by men).

The problem with this statistic is that it is presented as a description rather than as a prescription. However, it is a description that is inadequately explained and one that is thus too easily slipped from the lips of the well to the ears of the vulnerable, only to become a self fulfilling prophecy.

‘Functional Mental Illnesses’ are presumed to be brain disorders that erupt in the human brain and disorganise the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of the victim such that their conduct becomes altogether ‘unacceptable’ to those around them. ‘Chemical Imbalances’ are spoken of, ‘excessive Dopamine’, etc., etc.

Medicines are needed to keep the ‘illnesses’ at bay. These suppress active symptoms and in the case of ‘severe’ ‘illnesses’ also inducing depression, obesity, anxiety, irritability, potential liver damage, kidney damage etc etc.

The medicines are prescribed for life and are described as preventing ‘relapse’. In the majority of cases for schizoid and bipolar illnesses there is no clear knowledge or understanding of the cause of the ‘illness’ nor why the medication ‘works’.

Those taking it could explain. Mostly it simply shuts down dopamine production (to any useful degree) and leaves its subjects in a state of lethargic numbness, where nothing matters much any more. Life loses its colour, taste, texture, taste, sound – subjects stay around to be polite and because some part of them keeps hoping that someone, something, somewhere, will switch the life machine back on and release them from the dungeon of death to which they have been sentenced.

They don’t work because, were they fortunate enough to have a career in the first place, the consultant has probably tacitly encouraged an early pension (say – 20 or 30 years early). They have few friends because word has got round and, anyhow, it’s all too obvious, the weight gain, the poverty, the slurred speech, the slowed intellect.. They live in squalor because they can’t even motivate themselves to keep things decent. Having been turfed out of acceptable society they learn to be unacceptable.

If their first or second brush with the mental health services ended in a ‘section’ they were in all probability treated, at the most delicate, critical, vulnerable, sensitive time of their lives since birth – in the most brutal, shaming, humiliating. insensitive manner they have ever experienced. No one will allow of the possibility that they have been seriously harmed by the experience. Their subsequent collapse into a pattern of ‘illness’ as described above will be regarded as proof of the appropriacy of arrogant stupidity as protocol behaviour toward those with highly sensitised needs.

Happily at last the issue of inhumanity is being heard in the right places. However, it continues unabated in those same places, or was so doing last time I checked.

Perhaps it is time to grant to art the power of discernment when it comes to the treatment of life. Humans have an inventive capacity to produce tools to assist them in their lives and to mend those tools, to boot. These same tools should not be turned upon the lives without very careful reflection. Too little is spoken of aesthetics these days – the best of all human endeavour is … beautiful, graceful, economic, balanced, effective, satisfying.. : would that describe a bad scientific hypothesis?

Thanks for listening 😉

2 Comments »

  1. 1

    Re : Genesis etc. … Strike me, Janie, what a powerful chord you have sent reverberating round cyberspace. To me it is melodious, harmonic and symphonic all at once. It speaks without forked tongue of the disease that Modern Psychiatry has become.

    • 2
      gracelol Says:

      Gordon, I’ve just tried phoning you and there’s no answer – surely you didn’t go to hospital after 1.47pm? I’m quite baffled!
      Thinking of you,
      Janie


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