Wednesday, May 27, 2015

If we do not agree are we mentally ill?

Mental hospitals in USA

Sean O'Torain. 
From the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders we read (see below) that there is now a mental illness called "oppositional defiant disorder." As my mother used to say: "In under god what will they be coming up with next?" Of course it is a class question. The people that run these types of manuals and clinics are paid to find a way of describing any kind of illness as having nothing to do with the affects of living under capitalism. 
Until I was in my early 1920's I was always in some kind of mental crisis or confusion, one day up the other day down. The problem was I could not find my place in the world. I could not find my role in the world. I was rescued not by any bourgeois "scientific" manual, but I was rescued by having the luck to live near Derry in Northern Ireland. In 1968 the people of the Bogside carried out their uprising against the Northern Ireland state. It sucked me in like iron filings to a magnet. I found my place in, my role in, the world. It was to organize and fight capitalism. It was to develop and base myself on my "oppositional defiant disorder." I rejoice in my "oppositional defiant disorder." And I thank the people of the Bogside for showing me the way. 
I have a problem with my memory due to the affects of transient ischemic attacks, small strokes. I was sent to see the doc in the local hospital. Luckily it is a public hospital with a high proportion of doctors who are dedicated to their science and caring for people and prepared to think outside the bourgeois box. He diagnosed me as being as "sane as himself." Then he went, now this was the doc who was testing me for my memory, and forgot to post me on the report of my memory tests. We had a good laugh about that. I gave him a copy of my book The Donegal Woman, this got him on to reading Joyce's Finnegans wake. I have not seen him recently so after Finnegans Wake I do not know what kind of a state he is in. Of course if anybody had "oppositional defiant disorder," it was wee Joyce. The man himself. And his buddy Van Gogh. Long live "oppositional defiance."
See below where the Stalinists used this crap too. It is good that Stalinism is gone. Now to end capitalism. 

From the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 
Is nonconformity and freethinking a mental illness?  According to the newest addition of the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), it certainly is. The manual identifies a new mental illness called  “oppositional defiant disorder” or ODD. Defined as an  “ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior,” symptoms include questioning authority, negativity, defiance, argumentativeness, and being easily annoyed. 
The DSM-IV is the manual used by psychiatrists to diagnose mental illnesses and, with each new edition, there are scores of new mental illnesses. Are we becoming sicker? Is it getting harder to be mentally healthy? Authors of the DSM-IV say that it’s because they’re better able to identify these illnesses today. Critics charge that it’s because they have too much time on their hands. 
New mental illnesses identified by the DSM-IV include arrogance, narcissism, above-average creativity, cynicism, and antisocial behavior. In the past, these were called  “personality traits,” but now they’re diseases. And there are treatments available. 
All of this is a  symptom of our over-diagnosing and overmedicating culture. In the last 50 years, the DSM-IV has gone from 130 to 357 mental illnesses. A majority of these illnesses afflict children. Although the manual is an important diagnostic tool for the psychiatric industry, it has also been responsible for social changes. The rise in ADD, bipolar disorder, and depression in children has been largely because of the manual’s identifying certain behaviors as symptoms. A Washington Post article observed that, if Mozart were born today, he would be diagnosed with ADD and  “medicated into barren normality.”
According to the DSM-IV, the diagnosis guidelines for identifying oppositional defiant disorder are for children, but adults can just as easily suffer from the disease. This should give any freethinking American reason for worry. The Soviet Union used new  “mental illnesses” for political repression.  People who didn’t accept the beliefs of the Communist Party developed a new type of schizophrenia. They suffered from the delusion of believing communism was wrong.  They were isolated, forcefully medicated, and put through repressive  “therapy” to bring them back to sanity. 
When the last edition of the DSM-IV was published, identifying the symptoms of various mental illnesses in children, there was a jump in the diagnosis and medication of children. Some states have laws that allow protective agencies to forcibly medicate, and even make it a punishable crime to withhold medication.  This paints a chilling picture for those of us who are nonconformists. Although the authors of the manual claim no ulterior motives but simply better diagnostic practices, the labeling of freethinking and nonconformity as mental illnesses has a lot of potential for abuse. It can easily become a weapon in the arsenal of a repressive state. 

3 comments:

Stephen Perkins said...

It's hard to know sometimes if truly possess mental illnesses or not. For many people it is pretty clear cut. Others are on the fence. And a 3rd group is mentally healthy. One thing is for sure. The stress induced by living under capitalism has caused people to experience episodes of mental illness, some for prolonged periods of time. There seems to be growing numbers of people with PTSD from a variety of circumstances. Then again you're right. Personality traits have evolved into diseases or conditions. If you want the medications you have to accept the labels for insurance purposes. The pharmaceutical companies and psychiatric industries do make a lot of money off of the increased diagnoses. Hopefully, patients are deriving some benefit from the medications.

Stephen Perkins said...

It's hard to know sometimes if truly possess mental illnesses or not. For many people it is pretty clear cut. Others are on the fence. And a 3rd group is mentally healthy. One thing is for sure. The stress induced by living under capitalism has caused people to experience episodes of mental illness, some for prolonged periods of time. There seems to be growing numbers of people with PTSD from a variety of circumstances. Then again you're right. Personality traits have evolved into diseases or conditions. If you want the medications you have to accept the labels for insurance purposes. The pharmaceutical companies and psychiatric industries do make a lot of money off of the increased diagnoses. Hopefully, patients are deriving some benefit from the medications.

Sean said...

Thank you Stephen for your comments. They made me think more about this issue. I think that in this period with capitalism in the saddle and pursuing their offensive with brutal madness, the emphasis is to identify every problem we have in our head with mental illness. There is is money in it this way. Drugs, doctors etc. I like the way you look at the issue and see that there are a number of aspects to the issue. Their are material conditions in which we have to live and work. The old saying: "As mad as a hatter" I think this came from chemicals that affected workers who worked making hats. Trying to pay the bills when we do not have enough to pay the bills: that also can make us snap. I use the expression about myself sometimes that I loss it. Meaning I get out of control. So far luckily this has been only for a temporary few minutes and then I can get back to an acceptable balance again. But what is an acceptable balance? Acceptable to who, for whom, for how long. It is not an easy one.

I was brought up in a small village in Ireland. There was a man there who was not much into washing. But he had what was known as "hands for anything" that is was a very skilled worker. But he would never speak to anybody and late at night he would walk through the fields on his own talking to himself. I was sent on a trip to a zoo when i was 12. I saw a great silver back and came back believing that Darwin was right. The word got around that I "believed that we came from monkeys.' For some time is was scorned at and laughed at. Then this man who had hands for anything, who would not speak to anybody, who did not like washing, who walked the fields at night talking to himself stopped me in the street and gave me a book in a paper bag and walked on. It was Darwin's Origin of the Species. I still have it. This man was looked on by the rest of the village as being as "mad as a hatter." It is a complicated question as you say Stephen and so very related to society and the phase society is going through at any time and our place in society.

Sean.