What’s the Real Deal with Mental Illness?

by | Jan 14, 2011

If you had to define mental illness, what would you say?  Or even more importantly, depending on your answer, what is the cause of it?  Not sure?  Where could one find a definition?  There is a book called The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is the “bible” for psychiatrists as they use it religiously for the purpose of diagnosis. A new edition (DSM-5) is due out in the near future and one would think this book would have a perfect definition of mental illness.  Not only does it not have a good definition, the lead editor of DSM-5, Allen Frances, is quoted in an article as stating,


“There is no definition of a mental disorder.  It’s bullshit.  I mean, you can’t just define it…”


Without an exact definition, how is it possible to find a cause and how can you treat something so vague?  How do you know such a thing even exists?


When you go to the doctor with symptoms, he tells you that you have such and such and it’s caused by this and that and it’s treated with medication specifically for your diagnosis.  There are conditions that have no cure, but they have a predictable course, can be managed effectively and there is knowledge of its cause.  The DSM just groups symptoms together to create a mental disorder to which a code can then be assigned.  There is no information in this book regarding causes of mental illness, only symptoms.  Additionally, there is no blood test, urine test, or any other kind of biological test anywhere to prove there is something in need of mental treatment.  


The article explains, “Illnesses are defined wholly by symptoms patients present.”


These symptoms are only those of non-optimum behavior.  We observe non-optimum behavior on a daily basis, therefore, where is the evidence that mental illness exists?


It used to be that the term mentally ill was limited to mean crazy people like those talking to themselves in the streets and those acting irrationally, oblivious to the world around them.  That definitely fits the definition of non-optimum behavior.  However, the symptoms of mental illness, today, have been broadened to fit under the umbrella of ANY non-optimum behavior, including what is considered normal for that age.  This, in turn, allows for wholesale diagnosis of everything from moodiness of a teenager to mathematics disorder, followed by treatment with dangerous mind-altering drugs with unknown long-term side effects.  It would make more sense to look to see where the symptoms are coming from and check out things such as diet, allergies, toxic things in the environment, etc.


Without any clear-cut definition of mental illness and no resources to find its cause, one would ask, “does mental illness exist?”


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