27. mrt, 2013

Mental illness

We have been writing some stuff about mental illness.

I do not know if the word is right. Do we mean that the mind can be ill? If so it is a medical affair, needing diagnosis and treatment. It does not have to be so. In many cultures persons displaying certain forms of mental illness are met with awe and deference.

There is something saintly about mental illness, the person having it being nearer to God than most of us, and therefore able perhaps to bring ourselves nearer to God.

There are other ways to deal with the problem not all of them nice. People with mental illnesses have often been subject of abuse and maltreatment. They used to be locked up or banned from society. Compared to that, the medical approach brought a huge progress in our understanding and accepting the problem.

Medical science appropriated the field and psychiatry was born. Progress indeed, but it brings along its own problems. Those who used to be called names like alienated, lunatic, unadapted or insane, now became patients, which lends extraordinary powers to their doctors.

We advocate a model of emancipation: care is more than medical treatment, which often offers no cure, especially with personality disorders, which continue all through life.

Care should aim to increase the autonomy of the careseeker, enabling him or her to make their own decisioins and live a decent life in dignity, just like most of us.

Picture: Callas in the famous madness scene from Lucia di Lammermoor, by Gaetano Donizetti.