“Mental Distress Is Not An Illness”


Philip Hickey, PhD, of the valuable blog Behaviorism and Mental Health, explicates the fuzzy distinction between “disorder” and “illness” when it comes to mental health, through a thoughtful review of Ronald Pies’ public statements on the matter.

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  1. Thanks for posting. In a way this goes back to what Szasz was arguing. He actually wanted to stick to established definitions of words so that a concept, like mental, couldn’t rightly be said to be “Ill” or “Sick” since concepts aren’t actual things.

    Simalarly, when pressed to explain why human distress is determined to be disease/illness, proponents have to fall back on this distinction or re-definitional view. Distress by definition isn’t disease or illness although distress may accompany these.

    This is a foundational assumption. One’s view on whether human distress is a normal part of the lived experience or something that should be viewed as illness or disease will shape your arguments and points of view for this entire debate.

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  2. simply put – here illness means out of some of your control [biological component] and disorder means within your control or failure to cope with trauma. The former is taken more ‘seriously’ than the latter and PD is viewed as hopeless and often ‘untreatable’ despite service rhetoric. It is the diagnosis psychiatrists themselves fear the most

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