Maybe there would be no stigma

I’m reprinting a comment I left on Depression Time’s blog post End The Stigma: Prejudice Still Punishing The Mentally Ill.

While it’s waiting for his approval, I thought I’d reprint (and expand) my response here.


I have a hard time with the proposition that those who are aware of the destructiveness of man and feel this truth of what is really going on in their hearts, minds and bodies are the ones who are labeled mentally ill and are forced to seek ways to fit in society better than they do.   We are told to go get medicine or treatment, but we can’t even share our concerns that brought about these feelings we struggle with.

Because we can’t be blind, deaf and dumb to the insane social demands and be co-conspirators in widespread planetary destruction, we are labeled mentally ill. We are called mentally ill for seeing truth and not liking it and not wanting to participate in the same ignorant, selfish ways as the socially acceptable ones.

And yet, we may not have a model of what constructive actions to take instead. We certainly develop a lot of unhealthy behaviors to cope, but that doesn’t make the PERSON ill. So many people confuse behavior with the person. We all do good things and we all do bad things, but nothing that we we do makes us intrinsically good OR bad. I’m not a good person because I use healthy behaviors any more than I would be a bad person if I used unhealthy behaviors.  I’m just a person that sometimes behaves with kindness and compassion as well as a person who sometimes behaves in destructive ways…as any and all of us are capable of.

But dividing up people into ‘normal’/mentally healthy and abnormal/mentally ill does just that – it defines the PERSON as unfit, unsuitable, morally reprehensible and to be shunned (while denying the existence of such traits in themselves).  What most people don’t realize is that the line between the two is thinner than they realize. And as we can see with the changes to the DSM V, people can fall into and out of this standard of ‘normal’ any time the manual changes.

I don’t think we need to lift the stigma of mental illness. I think we need a radically different paradigm to define the problems of modern living and to find creative solutions to solve them. And there are some therapists who actually believe that, while maladaptive behaviors can be harmful to the individual using them (and those around them), they actually serve a positive purpose.

I’m with Thomas Szasz on this one:

“Mental illness” is an expression, a metaphor that describes an offending, disturbing, shocking, or vexing conduct, action, or pattern of behavior, such as schizophrenia, as an “illness” or “disease”. Szasz wrote: “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; If you talk to the dead, you are a schizophrenic.”

~ Thomas Szasz, The Myth of Mental Illness

“Only after we abandon the pretence that mind is brain and that mental disease is brain disease can we begin the honest study of human behaviour and the means people use to help themselves and others cope with the demands of living.”

~Thomas Szasz, Coercion as a Cure

I also have trouble with the ‘brain only’ treatment of someone who is suffering from difficulties in coping with the demands of modern living.

There are many holistic body modalities, some of which have been used for thousands of years and some have been discovered only recently, that have been supported by science.

“The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM) is a pioneer and leader in the field of mind-body-spirit medicine.

As an accredited provider of continuing education for health and mental health care professionals for over 20 years, NICABM is at the forefront of developing and delivering programs with “take home” ideas, immediately adaptable for practitioners to use with their patients.

We offer programs in brain science, treating trauma, mindfulness meditation, and other cutting-edge topics in mind-body medicine. Through expert interviews highlighting the latest ideas, we equip practitioners with innovative and effective techniques to use with clients.

The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine supports the integration of mind-body and behavioral medicine with Western medicine. NICABM does not advocate the use of alternative and/or complementary medicine in lieu of conventional medicine. NICABM supports the thoughtful consideration of the research and efficacy of behavioral medicine and, where appropriate, the application and integration of these treatment modalities.”

These treatment modalities include but are not limited to EMDR (EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Somatic Experiencing, Somato-Emotional Release, Myofascial Release, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy.  Even if you can’t obtain any of these modalities, Yoga is one type of body modality that can help and is often affordable and accessible.  And so is mindfulness meditation.

There is even a scientific study from Japan about Nature therapy has remarkable preventative benefits against anxiety and increases immunity to disease.

Five million years has passed since a subset of primates recognizably became human. Because we have already spent more than 99.99% of our evolutionary history in natural environments, it is thought that we are essentially adaptive to nature. However, we live in a society characterized by urbanization and artificiality, despite our physiological functions still being adapted to nature. We conducted experiments involving 420 subjects at 35 different forests throughout Japan. As a result, these subjects sitting in natural surroundings showed decreases in the following physiological indices compared with the urban control group: 12.4% decrease in cortisol level, 7.0% decrease in sympathetic nervous activity, 1.4% decrease in systolic blood pressure, and 5.8% decrease in heart rate. This shows that stressful states can be relieved by forest therapy. It should also be noted that parasympathetic nerve activity increased by 55.0%, indicating a relaxed state. The results of walking experiments were also similar. Li et al. demonstrated that immune functions are enhanced by forest therapy. Middle-aged employees volunteered to participate in these experiments. NK (natural killer cells) activity, as an indicator of immune function, increased by 56% on the second day and returned to normal levels. A significant increase of 23% was maintained for 1 month even after these subjects returned to urban life, clearly illustrating the preventive medical effects of nature therapy. We expect nature therapy to play an increasingly important role in preventive medicine in the future.

There’s also a tremendous restorative benefit in creative endeavors like the arts as seen in PTSD Spirituality’s post, Art and Craft can heal Soul Wounds.

Artwork enables the healing of PTSD soul wounds.  The process of craft allows for the continued polishing of our souls.  PTSD inflicts blemishes and fractures upon our soul.  Those wounds to our soul are meant to force us into isolation and then kill us.  Those soul wounds are meant to make us sever healthy relationships and seek out porn, drugs, reckless sex, booze, and oblivion.  Artwork, in any of its manifestations, helps to heal these wounds.  The artist engages life on both the physical and spiritual levels and endeavors to translate that experience into an expression others can comprehend.

I think more people need to know about these other resources.

You can’t just resolve human problems in a body designed for a life in Nature and restored by creative endeavors by just targeting the brain alone. I’ve listened to many of NICAMB’s webinars, employed Nature therapy even before I read that article and have incorporated art, and photography into my own life and my own husband is a practitioner of a holistic treatment modality and I know I’ve experienced life-changing benefits from incorporating them into my healing journey.

I’m even making many dietary changes too, though my discussions for nutrition will have to be part of another blog post.

I don’t see anything on NAMI’s website that includes new trauma treatment trends. I wonder why. They only use medications, pyschosocial, ECT and TMS. Can the NAMI people talk to the NICABM people? Psychosocial therapy takes a long time, medications are only partially effective for most people, ECT is rather risky and TMS…well I only know Depression Time’s experience and that of John Elder Robison’s (he used rTMS for his Asperger’s).

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the human body responds to these holistic treatments and it would be a revolutionary experience for the planet if more and more of the decision-makers really understood that.  Instead of focusing on the what’s wrong, we can help ourselves in ways that truly do work and where we can improve our overall body and mind and would free up our time, money and energy to be spent productively elsewhere – like in creative problem solving.

About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
This entry was posted in activism, anxiety, Art, Compassion, Complex-PTSD, Creativity, depression, EMDR, Eye Movement Densitization and Reprocessing, Healing Through the Arts, Hope, Meditation, Mindfulness, neuroscience, Self-directed neuroplasticity, Soul wounds, Thomas Szasz, Trauma, trauma recovery, Yoga. Bookmark the permalink.

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