Once again this week (not in this forum) I’ve run into the triumphantly ignorant mindset that mental illness and neurological problems aren’t diseases, that people with these problems are not worthy of medical attention, that anyone who hasn’t triumphed over head problems by sheer force of will and/or approved religious or 12 step methods is a weakling, and that people with mental problems are making up stuff.
These people are almost exactly equivalent to those who think that homosexuality is a choice. Somewhere between that and the people who don’t believe in germ theory because germs are really small and you can’t see them.
I can identify a few fallacies that keep recurring when I run into this mindset. Most of them are variations on generalization. They are:
- Mildly neurotic people annoyingly claim mental problems as an excuse for their behavior, although they could in fact be less annoying pretty easily. Therefore, everyone who has bigtime head problems is also doing this and should just stop being weird already.
- My own experience with drug addiction/neurotic behavior/weird mental blocks was resolved with 12-step groups/just getting over it/moving to a different town and therefore any other person’s head problems, no matter how different or how much more extreme, should be solved this way too. Otherwise they’re not trying.
- Drug companies make a lot of money selling lifestyle drugs, and often create new ailments or over-market medications. Therefore, anyone who takes medication for any neurologic or psychiatric problem is making a mistake, because nothing sold by these companies is useful or necessary.
- I knew someone once who had a lot of head problems and she tried a lot of things to fix it and nothing worked and she didn’t get better and was really annoying. Therefore no kind of medical or psychological intervention works and people with mental problems are tiresome losers.
- People with head problems are choosing this lifestyle to get sympathy and because it agrees with them somehow, and they’re using medications as a crutch instead of choosing to be healthy, like me. Therefore they are weak and worthy of scorn.
- Problems that affect behavior and personality should not be treated as diseases or treatable problems. They should be treated in the old-fashioned way as character flaws and sins, and people who exhibit them should be punished, shunned, shamed, and mocked. Only deluded softies and hypnotized idiots believe otherwise. Nothing like this has ever happened to me or anyone I like, the problem can’t be seen with the naked eye, and I keep being told by authority figures who annoy me that it’s happening. Therefore these problems don’t exist, and I’m a unique and beautiful snowflake for standing up to this nonsense. I know this is true because a loud person on the radio said so.
This is all medieval horseshit. I’d like to find the source of it, because it’s both pre-scientific and new. It’s as though someone merged L. Ron Hubbard and Bill O’Reilly and treated this mutant as a medical authority.
Admittedly everyone is insane to some degree about mental health, the way everyone is insane about food and sex and education. But this shit is just off the map. It’s aggressively proud ignorance. I want to collar all these people and take them to a “Scared Straight” tour of the local mental health facilities so they can see how bad it gets.
“Bipolar” isn’t your moody ex boyfriend who used that as an excuse for the time he fucked your sister. It’s people driving from San Diego to Maine for no reason and changing their name eight times along the way. “Phobia” isn’t that woman at your office who hates spiders. It’s someone who has to spend two days in her room if she sees one. And “depressed” isn’t the showy Goth you went to junior college with who wrote sad poetry in large black letters. It’s people who can’t get out of bed or clothe themselves or do anything except wish they were dead for years and years on end. This shit is real, assholes, and it kills and ruins lives.
Shitting on the people it’s happening to just because their lives are outside your cramped imagination is quite literally adding insult to injury, and you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. You should also put down the talk radio and read a fucking book now and then.