Why are the strengths and abilities of those who are sensitive called “mental illness?”

malI’d like to know why these adaptive and ultimately healthy qualities of many of the most creative leaders or people in the world is considered an illness? Why? Perhaps it’s time to view the adaptability of these creative people as the healthy ones.

I find the argument that these features are illness just plain short-sighted.

See Nassir Ghaemi on Stephen Colbert (CLICK THROUGH TO SEE VIDEO)

I tried to embed this video but I couldn’t manage signing up with vodpod and figuring out how to do it. So please go see it on Colbert’s site.

Nassir Ghaemi, a psychiatrist wrote a book recently called,  A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness.

More about this book in Newsweek’s Daily Beast: Madman in Chief
Was Richard Nixon too normal? Abraham Lincoln exceptionally deranged? Why we should look for a little bit of crazy in our leaders.

Why do we continue to call highly desirable and creative traits a sickness?

Maybe such people need some special supports but this does not mean they are ill. Once upon a time in other cultures shamans were the most revered members. Initiation and support from elders was a key part of such people’s education. I’m not sure we’re dealing with anything at all different here. What is different is that we have no appropriate support for most of these people. Perhaps the “mad ones” have an important role to play. Why pathologize such an important part of the human experience?? Why not honor it instead as part of the wonderful diversity that is our human existence. Why not learn how to appropriately support and nurture the creative and healthy goodness of such people.

Remember Martin Luther King said:

“This hour in history needs a dedicated circle of transformed nonconformists. Our planet teeters on the brink of annihilation; dangerous passions of pride, hatred, and selfishness are enthroned in our lives; and men do reverence before false gods of nationalism and materialism. The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.”

—Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’ve posted that a few times with this video:

Again I ask, maladjusted? Or properly adjusted for this mad mad world, that we might heal it?

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About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters