‘Mental Illness is a Myth’

What is mental illness?

Mental illness is a myth. Psychiatrists are not concerned with mental illness and their treatments. In actual practice, they deal with personal, social and ethical problems of living (Szasz, 1972).

This is a question that has crossed my mind on many occasions.
‘What is this?’
‘What is happening?’

Thomas Szasz, a sociologist makes a radical proposition that mental illness is just a way of categorising people based on their behaviours – should their behaviours be ones that society disapprove of.

I have taken this to mean that, should you as an individual, not follow the norms of society and behave in a way that society deems  ‘normal’, you will then be categorised as having one illness or another.

The article I am reading goes on to explain this in a way that seems to hit the nail right on the head!

If you talk to God, you are praying; if God talks to you, you have schizophrenia.

If the dead talk to you, you are a spiritualist but if you talk to the dead, you are a schizophrenic.

There is obviously controversy regarding this topic and this particular opinion. Edwin Lemert was very keen to stress that certain labels such as paranoia are constructed out of social processes and relationships, rather than being based on a medical basis. This then ties in with self fulfilling prophecies…

‘Fred is uneasy around people, which in turn makes people uneasy around Fred. After starting a new office job, Fred is invited to the staff Christmas party which he declines feeling as though the night would be an ordeal. Staff feel relieved and do not invite Fred to future social gatherings, assuming that Fred will not want to go. Fred is aware of this night out and feels excluded. Fred then reacts to this by isolating himself more and more and avoiding going into the staff room completely. This then leads to staff talking about Fred covertly, to prevent any further reactions from Fred, however, Fred is aware that people are talking about him. Fred then feel paranoid whenever he is at work.’

Lemert (1972) would argue that this is not paranoia born out of mental illness but based out of reality as Fred is being talked about. If Fred then leaves his job due to this paranoia and starts a new job, his experience will follow him and may then result in a vicious cycle. Fred may go into a new job and not have the confidence to start anew, thus he will be repeating past experiences.

 

Is mental illness based on medical opinion or social norms?

 

Cunningham, J & Cunningham, S (2013). Sociology and Social Work, Null Learning Matters (pp 20 – 22) 

Imposter

I am here. 
I moved,
to the big City. 

I am there. 
I made it, 
to the classroom. 

Here I am, studying. I am undertaking one of my biggest challenges – a BA (Hons) degree. I have been sitting in various rooms, listening to people talk about their experiences. 

Then a feeling that has always been well known by me, was given a name and a whole lot of things suddenly made sense. 

I should not be here.
How did I get here,
did they make a mistake?

I am not smart enough. 
What if I fail,
what if…?

Imposter Syndrome… So many things fell into place when I heard that term. As though before it had even been briefly explained, I knew it. I had met this feeling before, I KNEW it. 

 

The philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote: “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”

( https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/19/fraud-impostor-syndrome-confidence-self-esteem )

Hope

I had a jar of hopes – a literal jar that I would fill with small pieces of paper with my hopes written down.

Today, the wind sent the jar flying and it smashed. All my hopes that I have not read since I wrote them down, scattered all over the floor. I have debated for a long time, ‘when would be the right time to open the jar and rediscover my hopes?’ Maybe fate saved me from coming up with an actual answer.

I hope CBT will be my cure (2011)
I hope we don’t stay long (2011)
I hope Grandad comes home today (2011)
I hope to be brave (2012)
I hope to get on a bus today (2012)
I hope to get my head around maths (2012)
I hope my first day at Franklin goes well (2012)
I hope to know what I want (2015)
I hope to travel (2016)
I hope to make all the changes that I need to make (2016)

And then there is this:
I stopped hoping. For some reason, at some point hoping didn’t seem to be enough. My Grandad is dying, my Nanna is dead. (No date)

Dementia’s

There is no good news where this illness is concerned.
I often wonder if there are people who have as little information as I, who are too scared to Google but still want to know.
I have spent some time today looking through a reliable website, gathering the basics.

For the me from a decade ago, here you are. There is no good news, there is no preparation – there is only ever this day.
One day at a time, my love. Just one day at a time.

http://www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/about-dementia/types-of-dementia/ 

You can have more than one type of Dementia at a time (mixed Dementia).
Alzheimer’s
The most common – usually develops over several years. Some of the early symptoms may include;

  1. Trouble remembering recent events, familiar faces and names
  2. Frequently asking the same question repeatedly
  3. Misplacing items or putting them in an odd place
  4. Being uncertain about the date and time
  5. Being unsure of where they are and getting lost
  6. Not being able to find the right words
  7. Having a low mood, feeling anxious and irritable. Losing interest and self confidence

Symptoms later on may include;

  1. A larger decline in remembering things and having trouble making decisions
  2. Communication and language skills become worse
  3. Trouble recognising household appliances and familiar faces
  4. Day to day routines get harder to complete
  5. Changes to sleep patterns
  6. Possible hallucinations
  7. May become unsteady on their feet

Vascular Dementia
The second most common type of Dementia – caused when blood flow to the brain is restricted. Possibly by a stroke or several miniature strokes over time. Symptoms may include;

  1. Trouble with their thinking skills – struggling to process information, planning, reasoning and poor attention skills
  2. Personality changes – depression, perhaps becoming more emotional than ‘normal’ and becoming less interested in things
  3. Problems with their movements
  4. Bladder problems – most common in the elderly

In later stages, people may need help with eating, dressing and toileting.

Dementia with Lewy Bodies
This type of Dementia is caused by small round clumps of protein building up into nerve cells in the brain. Some of the symptoms can also be found in Parkinson’s Dementia. Symptoms can include;

  1. Change in alertness, attention, confusion
  2. Change in behaviour, very unpredictable and can change from hour to hour
  3. Slow movements, muscle stiffness, tremors
  4. Frequent visual hallucinations that are very well formed and realistic.
  5. Sleep disturbances
  6. Fainting, unsteadiness and possible higher risk for falls

In later stages people may need help with dressing, eating, moving and toileting.

http://www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/about-dementia/types-of-dementia/ 

Education

1918-1939

Reading
Writing
Mathematics
Science
Home Economics

2016/2017

English
Mathematics 
Science
Art and Design
Citizenship
Computing
Design and Technology
Geography
History
Languages
Music
Physical Education

After some random thinking, I was curious about what the differences were regarding education we received and the education our grandparents received. It is these topics that pop up in my mind that I wish I had thought of years ago, when I could have gotten a more in depth personal answer from those closest to me.

“You never stop learning.”