The “mental illness” paradigm—an insidious cancer

1parisThank you to Paris Williams! I had a very similar response to the article he writes about here, but did not find the energy to write anything…so happy he did. I am glad now to share both his article from Mad in America and the one he’s responding to: The Problem With How We Treat Bipolar Disorder. The second one, while brilliant, I could not share without commentary. Again, thank you, for doing that, Paris, also brilliantly.

From Mad in America, by Paris Williams:

For those of you who haven’t read this recent story in the New York Times, I highly recommend it. It is essentially a woman’s (Linda Logan’s) rich and moving autobiographical account of her struggle with “bipolar disorder.” The main message that I imagine most people will take away from this story is that the current mental health care system has some real problems — especially with regard to the often cold and dehumanizing way that “patients” are treated—but that the general paradigm from which this treatment model has emerged is simply not to be questioned. In other words, Linda has clearly adopted the “mental illness as a lifelong brain disease” paradigm and has personally identified as someone who has such a “mental illness.”

Anyone who knows my work will know that I have a real problem with this paradigm, believing that it generally causes much more harm than benefit (though I don’t discount that some people do believe that they experience some benefit from it). So, what is it then about this story that grabbed me? I recognized that if we read Linda’s story while holding a different paradigm (i.e., a different basic set of assumptions) than what she intended, then this story reveals in plain sight what I believe are some of the most fundamental issues at the heart of this epidemic of “mental illness” that so pervades our society. (continue reading here)

Paris Williams has written a book that was featured on Beyond Meds in the past that is well worth reading.  “Rethinking Madness: Towards a Paradigm Shift in our Understanding and Treatment of Psychosis”

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