Is Mental Illness Real?


From The Guardian: Conceptualizing emotional distress or suffering as the result of a biological, genetic illness may be stigmatizing and inaccurate, and may lead to the use of harmful or ineffective treatments.

“There is an implicit suggestion here that mental health problems have to be viewed as being equivalent to physical illnesses if they are to warrant society‚Äôs care and funding. This may inadvertently cement prejudice, given the contested nature of mental illness. Mental health problems are no less real, no less disabling, for occupying a peculiar space between inner and outer, meaning-making and meltdown, the inner world and the environments that shape us.

Rather than clumsily trying to squeeze people‚Äôs distress into different boxes, and attempting to convince the public that these reflect illness processes, as with flu or cancer, we must shift our focus to one that validates the lived experience of people who are suffering, however they choose to understand their pain.”

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  1. Rather than “disease model”, here you have “distress model”. I see the “distress model” as another form of suggesting “mental illnesses” (cough, cough), “mental health problems”, or whatever, are “real”. I find it curious that the author connects this “distress” to social and economic conditions without coming to the obvious conclusion that they are the source of this “distress”. “Chronic distress” would be a lot less “chronic”, in my book, if it was linked to the social conditions in which a person finds him or her self. Change those conditions (duh!), and you relieve the “distress”. Don’t change those conditions, and you just have another excuse for permanent therapy. I’m not yet convinced the author isn’t an advocate, with so many lurking in the woodwork these days, of therapy addiction.

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  2. This article makes it clear that it considers “mental illness” to be “real,” despite some seeming disclaimers. It talks of “acute psychosis” (rhymes with “thrombosis”) and “medications” saving lives.

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