14 August 2009

"Call it a sickness if you must"

In an article today Jody Paterson writes:
Think of the creative gifts that mental illness has given us over the centuries.

Would Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woolf have set pen to paper in such compelling fashion if not for their mental illnesses? Would Van Gogh have painted with such passion and insight? Or Beethoven written with the same power?

Call it a sickness if you must, but the truth is that the world is a much better place for having people with mental illness in it.

I do not call it a sickness. Nor do I accept the term 'mental illness'.

So many people with 'mental illness', as diagnosed so conveniently by the mental health industry, identify themselves as nothing more than differently-abled or as ab-norm-al, where 'norm' has an ever-narrow and never-specified definition, by virtue of all that it is not.

How easy it is for governments to collude with the mental health industry and to write people off by virtue of their newly acquired labels. How convenient it is for the mental health industry to then disgorge their hordes to 'treat' the people it has so labelled with the latest fashionable 'disorder'.

Society needs people who differ from the norm. Society needs nonconformists. But what does society do instead? It pathologizes rather than embraces them and so society goes without the benefits of their sometime genius.

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