For years, those who do not meet the social criteria of their surroundings have been termed as “mentally ill” or “insane”. Since the definitions of mental illness have changed so much over time, how do we know that an illness today wasn’t just a personality trait yesterday?
The DSM is the bible of psychology. It contains specific criteria that helps mental health professionals to classify individuals into certain groups. Treatment of such individuals is based on the results of the findings of the mental health professionals who use this manual. In other words, lives of individuals can be altered simply by answering a question as the individual interprets it rather than as the book or mental health professional interprets it.
What’s the purpose of this classification system? In order to medically treat someone, they have to have a condition. You can’t just be medicated with no reason for it put on paper. This classification allows for the existence of “disorders” and “illnesses”. If there is an illness, there is a treatment for it. What if your behavior is so bizarre that there isn’t a classification for it? Your behaviors that are classified will be used for the treatment plan until a disorder fitting your behaviors is created based on specific elements.
In the course of my work in the mental health field, I came across many people who were considered “mentally ill”, yet they wanted no treatment. The fact that they didn’t want treatment only made mental health professionals consider them that much more ill. But, were they? If we all have the right to the pursuit of happiness and these people were happy as they were and no danger to themselves or others, why force them to receive treatment? I’ll jut let you ponder the answer to that, but I can tell you that in those instances, it’s all about the number crunching.
If you are termed as “mentally ill” (for the record, there’s not a soul on the planet who couldn’t meet some kind of diagnostic criteria), does it make you feel like less of a person. Do you consider that you have something wrong with you? Why not consider your illness as a wrongly named unique quality?
I’m not saying that people who are a danger to themselves or others shouldn’t try to do something to help themselves. What I am saying is that many times what is considered to be someone’s mental illness is the very well that they draw their creativity from. It is the very core of what makes them special in their own way. Why not consider your own talents and how your mental illness impacts them. Would you be who you are without it?