The Anti-’Stigma’ Feint
by lunatic fringe
The notion of “stigma” is one of the biggest piles of crock in the mental health literature world today. I can hear the gasps and strenuous objections coming from some of its most devoted adherents already, but that’s my learned opinion on the matter. Why do I see the notion of “stigma” in this fashion? Let me explain.
In the Niagara Falls Review under local news there is this report, COLUMN: Stigma prevents mental health sufferers from reaching for help.
One in five children, youth and adults will have a mental health illness in their lifetime. Seventy per cent of these individuals will begin having their mental health problems during childhood or adolescence. Yet, only about one-third of all these people will reach out for help with their mental illness, even though we know treatment works.
This article talks much about a Mend The Mind website all about this “stigma” and campaigning against it. I don’t think that website’s existence lessens the significance of anything I am going say on the subject.
First, this one in five, or 20 %, of the entire population includes a lot of people who are only marginally affected at best. The “illness” here, if that’s what you want to call it, is by no means long term. It’s going to evaporate anyway. Calling them “mentally ill” is something of a stretch to start out with. Then they say that 70 %, 7/10ths, almost 3/4ths, of this figure caught their “disease” as children or adolescents. It goes onto say that only 1/3, or around 33.3 %, of this 20 % group seek help.
Alright. I feel well off enough is well off enough if well off enough is left well alone. ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, social anxiety disorder, and childhood bipolar disorder are just ingenious ways that the psychiatric profession has found to make money pathologizing childhood. Pathologized children have a major tendency to grow into pathologized adults. Little wonder then that from psychiatrized kids we often wind up with psychiatrized families.
Much of the above 20 % figure deals with what amounts to little more than the mental health equivalent of the common cold. The numbers of people labeled seriously disturbed or “mentally ill” generally comprises about 5 % of the entire population. This is primarily people who have been labeled schizophrenic, bipolar, and clinically depressed. People labeled schizophrenic, for example, are calculated to make up about 1 % of the population.
This “stigma” complaint is actually about the selling of biological medical model psychiatry. The mental health treatment offered generally tends to be biological psychiatry, specifically the belief and theory that psychiatric disorders stem from biological conditions requiring drug maintenance. Such psychiatrists like to point to low recovery rates as their excuse for drugging people. This depressing recovery rate is due to their primary method of treatment, specifically drugging. Countering “stigma” is now offered as an explanation for the suppression of approaches other than, and any criticism of, biological psychiatry.
You mix a little bit of confusion about the very real and devastating prejudice and discrimination that people who have had their lives disrupted by psychiatric incarceration face, and you can imagine the outcome. This counter “stigma” movement actually endeavors to replace very real and legislative efforts to correct those deficits with facile and superficial measures that are doomed to failure. This is because the unstated aim of the counter “stigma” campaign is often not the ending of prejudice and discrimination. The real aim of the counter “stigma” campaign is to drum up more business for the psychiatric treatment and the drug making industries.