Are people with mental health problems being let down by representatives?


6:36 pm - February 13th 2011

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contribution by Richard Shrubb

“I have a dream…” said a great man, speaking of equal rights for the sons of slaves in his country. Joining in the fervour, another great man said “Say it out loud, I’m black and I’m proud”. Others in the same movement frightened the US government with talk of armed insurrection.

I had a dream. I dreamed of people seeing my education, skills, background and personality and a long way down the list, that I have mental health problems. So in 2005, fresh faced from university yet jaded already from discrimination because of a neurochemical imbalance in my brain, I joined a movement which I thought would change the minds of the public about mental illness.

I made the decision that I would be open about my mental illness, and campaign to change the world.

But I don’t see enough progress or drive in the movement to wish to continue baring my soul to other journalists in the name of the stigma. My antistigma martyrdom operations ceased.

There are some fine lobbyists and ambitious politicians in the movement – some with contacts books that would make any top level networker puce with envy. Alas, lobbyists are the interface between us farm animals and the men – the pigs, who drink with the men in Orwellian terms.

The antistigma movement is led by Time to Change, which while as famous as Cancer Research UK, has pennies for the tenners in the latter’s wallet.

By direct comparison I see a short series of subtle adverts on TV showing a man in a dark place. I see web advice to martyr your career by admitting your mental illness.

I see progress reports of the percentile by which mental health discrimination is being nibbled at. 5 years and 10% is the target of Time to Change. 10% of what?

There are around 50 people willing to talk to the media in an attempt to tackle stigma through Shift Speaker’s Bureau. I was of that number. I still feel it is an effective way to change public opinion, and I applaud those who remain.

But without an effective and charismatic leadership to a movement, not just an individual campaign like Shift, our reputations die in agony for nothing.

There is no feeling of ‘we can change this’, no hysteria that gets us over our daily drudgery of being the stigmatised underclass. We’re putting our reputations on the line and no one gives a monkey’s cuss.

No one is there to lead from the front and throw proverbial left hooks at the media and public figures who routinely tell the world that to be a schizo is to only be fit for Broadmoor.

Where is the Mental Health movement and why aren’t they fighting for us more loudly?

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Reader comments


“Where is the Mental Health movement and why aren’t they fighting for us more loudly?

Well, Richard there was a well organised mental health user movement during late 1980s to the late 1990s. There’s still pockets of user involvement. MIND never really speaks for mental health users and mental distress that’s why dynamic orgs like Survivors Speak Out was formed in the late 1980s. The mental health user movement has had an impact to a certain extent on mental health such as advocacy, user involvement, patients’ councils, education and so on. Orgs like Hearing Voices Network has done much work countering reactionary ideas on voice hearing, National Self-Harm Network, Shout magazine, Bristol Crisis Service for Women campaigned to dispel myths about self-harm. WISH (Women in Special Hospitals) organised and supported women in secure settings. Some of these orgs still exist some don’t. Asylum (fighting for a democratic psychiatry) m still exists as a magazine which was set up in around 1987, and certainly for me gave me the info I need re mental health user movement when I was leaving the psych system in 1989.

Mental health user movement debated, discussed and challenged stigma, stereotypes and vilification of people experiencing mental distress. Rather mirroring the Left the mental health user movement has weakened substantially (many had illusions in New Labour…. wrongly…).

You ask “where is the movement”? You can’t rely on lobbyists or politicians because real change comes from below. Like the user movement in the 80s and 90s it was based on grassroots organisation in the mental health system, paternalistic groups like MIND aren’t radical enough and neither will they ever be. You need to build alliances with like minded shrinks etc (Phil Thomas, Pat Bracken and so on), local advocacy groups (some still exist but with all the cuts to services some will disappear 🙁 and reaching out to people in the community by leaflets, newsletters, elists and so on.

If you want to change peoples minds re mental health it takes more than the media (tho’ I would much prefer to see someone who has experienced the system than Marjorie Wallace!!) It’s part of a solution not the whole. You need a political strategy to be heard and that’s what the MH user movement had in 1980s and 1990s.

If you want to contact me as I was active in the MH user movement for 10 years near enough, involved in various campaigns and struggles then contact me via my blog as happy to give pointers and any help I can

http://harpymarx.wordpress.com

BTW: Richard, here’s an article I wrote re Time to Change http://harpymarx.wordpress.com/2009/01/22/mental-distress-time-to-change/

3. Alisdair Cameron

HarpyMarx has it pretty much spot on. Time to Change is all well and good but ain’t proper involvement or activism, not by a long chalk : a cynic might say it’s very handy paid-for advertorial and brand-awareness-raising for MIND and rethink, which, let’s not forget are also service providers…They may maintain they’re on the side of service users (and you can choose whether or not to believe that) but they are corporatised big concerns at the end of the day, and I would strongly argue that they most definitely do not speak for service users, nor have a mandate to do so.
I think you’re looking in all the wrong places, Richard.
Oh, and you want effective and charismatic leadership? Whoa: the user movement has sen way too many self-appointed saviours in its history.”Effective and charismatic” sounds way too Blair-like for me, and I’d be very,very wary of this desire of yours.

4. Alisdair Cameron

Oh, and hear,hear HarpyMarx when you say

I would much prefer to see someone who has experienced the system than Marjorie Wallace!!

Likewise the celeb angle especially the likes of Alastair Campbell using MH as a means of trying to cleanse his appalling reputation.

5. the a&e charge nurse

Just watched the experiment on the time-to-change site – an attractive man places ads for on-line dating agencies and to advertise a nice room share.
The initial interest is very high – then falls away dramatically (in both spheres) when he replaces the ads but this time mentioning he has a mental health problem (nature of the mental illness is not actually disclosed)
http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/

The experiment certainly raises some uncomfortable questions about perception of mental illness although I guess a similar effect might be achieved citing cancer or other serious physical illnesses instead?

I have no idea what the answer is but I do know that resources for services are being cut back in some regions – for example there are plans to reduce the number of beds in Camden & Islington by about a third (from 302 beds to 207).
http://www.islington.gov.uk/DownloadableDocuments/CouncilandDemocracy/Pdf/changing-mental-health-hospital-services-consultation-document-web-version.pdf

Inevitably greater numbers of patients with acute problems will rely on services in the community so I think now is a good a time as any to think about how negative stereotypes might be countered?

I have weighed up the benefits of disclosure v concealment for many years. I have done both, with both having negative and positive outcomes. I think you right that the public understanding fuelled by media sensationalism has got worse toward serious mental health probs but is definately more ok about depression. I think partly society has wholly surrendered understandings of and solutions for mental health to the pseudo scientific. You even do it in this piece equating your experience to neuro transmitters and chemical imbalance. The problem with this approach is that it abnormalizes what are usually rational responses to the traumas of life. Starting from this humanistic position is more likely to build the understanding and tackle the stigma that so badly needs to happen.

7. Marion Brockie

If I could help, I would. I cry when I see people incapacitated by those chemical imbalances in their brain.

I have watched a son in sheer torment and have been relieved for chemical intervention but I knew it did not cure his illness. That son was eventually diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. I am sure you all know how ‘helpful’ such labels are!

That son was relieved of his inner torment when an aneurysm erupted in his brain (frontal lobe) when he had just turned 30. He is now paralysed, in a wheelchair and can barely communicate yet, ironically, he is content in the care home where he now lives; a state of mind that eluded him before.

More research is required into the workings of the brain; it controls our body after all and it is hardly surprising that it gets il too.

I would not wish severe mental health illness on my worst enemy – not that I have any.

8. So Much For Subtlety

“I had a dream. I dreamed of people seeing my education, skills, background and personality and a long way down the list, that I have mental health problems.”

Any evidence they are not already doing this? The difference between fighting for the mentally ill and fighting racial minorities is that being mentally ill actually does have an objective cost in the marketplace. Employers are unlikely to want to employ people who impose extra costs on them. So there is no way that absolute equality can be obtained. That parallel is entirely false.

“So in 2005, fresh faced from university yet jaded already from discrimination because of a neurochemical imbalance in my brain, I joined a movement which I thought would change the minds of the public about mental illness.”

By neurochemical imbalance, do you mean schizophrenia? Not all discrimination is wrong. Nor is it always illegal.

“There is no feeling of ‘we can change this’, no hysteria that gets us over our daily drudgery of being the stigmatised underclass. We’re putting our reputations on the line and no one gives a monkey’s cuss.”

As long as there is an objective, incurable medical condition behind this, there is no way to change this. Nor should anyone try. A stigmatised underclass? It looks to me like the rest of us make enormous adjustments for the mentally ill which costs us billions. How more melodramatic could you get? How are any of you putting your reputations on the line? Mental illness is an illness. It is not a moral flaw.

“No one is there to lead from the front and throw proverbial left hooks at the media and public figures who routinely tell the world that to be a schizo is to only be fit for Broadmoor.”

Who does this any more? Which media or public figure makes this claim?

I suspect your answer already lies within your own arguments – the stigma we place on those with mental health issues rather depletes possible representatives.

There have been some notable exceptions in the media – Stephen Fry and Ruby Wax being two examples. On the political front though we have been less fortunate. Sure Alastair Campbell bravely stood up to be counted, but he is very much in a minority.

The stigma will only fade as more ‘celebs’ and politicians stand up to be counted. Why should depression, phobia, alcohol dependency, eating disorders or OCD exempt you from office.

10. the a&e charge nurse

[8] “the review determined that media representations of mental illness promote negative images and stereotypes — in particular, the false connection between mental illness and violence. Many other studies have found a definite connection between negative media portrayals of mental illness and the public’s negative attitudes toward people with mental health issues”.
(Coverdale, Nairn, & Claasen, 2002; Cutcliffe & Hannigan, 2001; Diefenbach, 1997; Olstead, 2002; Rose, 1998; Wahl, 1995; Wahl & Roth, 1982; Wilson, Nairn, Coverdale, & Panapa, 1999).
http://www.ontario.cmha.ca/about_mental_health.asp?cID=7601

I’m bipolar II and I’m generally quite good at concealing my depression after 20+ years. I don’t do this out of shame, more because I find sympathy fucking annoying.

Hypomania is less easy to conceal but I’m quite fortunate that I generally pass for ‘excentric’ rather than mentally ill (being into science fiction helps).

My OCD is now almost entirely under control due to the medication I take.

I don’t want a charasmatic leader though, nor do I seek company. I’m not part of some ‘community’ and nobody has the right to speek on my behalf.

Frankly, I find other people with mental illness annoying.

‘The initial interest is very high – then falls away dramatically (in both spheres) when he replaces the ads but this time mentioning he has a mental health problem (nature of the mental illness is not actually disclosed)’

Why SHOULDN’T someone discriminate where dating is concerned? Mental illness is indivisibly part of someone’s personality and therefore a legitimate factor in whether you’d become romantically or sexually involved.

@8 – So Much For Subtlety

You make the assumption that anyone with a mental illness is unable to function in the workplace without costing his/her employer money. This in itself is a prejudiced remark. Just like any illness there is a scale of severity, and someone with a mental illness can be quite capable of being a productive and valuable employee whilst managing the difficulties that arise from their condition. When the gatekeepers hold narrow prejudiced views however, the chances of proving your capabilities whilst being honest about mental illness are slim indeed.

However this issue isn’t just about discrimination in the workplace, you’re living in a fantasy land if you think that mental illness isn’t an incredibly taboo and stigmatised reality that has a deep and long-lasting impact on someone’s life.

“Mental illness is an illness. It is not a moral flaw.”

Easy to say isn’t it, but the point is that general attitudes do not regard mental illness as just another illness, it comes burdened with spurious and unfounded notions about the individual who has the illness, who is largely perceived to have a character flaw.

“By neurochemical imbalance, do you mean schizophrenia? Not all discrimination is wrong. Nor is it always illegal.”

What exactly are you saying here? Are you advocating discrimination against someone purely because they have schizophrenia? On what grounds? My partner has a friend with schizophrenia who is a highly educated, articulate and capable woman and devoted mother, would you advise me to tell my girlfriend to have no more contact with this schizo?

“A stigmatised underclass? It looks to me like the rest of us make enormous adjustments for the mentally ill which costs us billions. How more melodramatic could you get?”

There is a wealth of anecdotal and socially researched evidence of the stigma that people with mental illness have to live with. What enormous adjustments exactly are you speaking of? The modest fraction of your taxes that go on mental health services? Do you analyse social issues in anything other than monetary terms? The stigma is very real, believe me, and so deep-rooted that even people you regarded as friends turn their backs on you simply because you reveal you have a mental illness, even though you’re still the very same person. Melodrama? If only it were, but sadly that’s a widespread day to day reality for those who suffer from a mental illness. Stigma isolates, marginalises and disempowers people who, given a chance, have plenty to offer both socially and professionally.

@12 – Shatterface

“Why SHOULDN’T someone discriminate where dating is concerned? Mental illness is indivisibly part of someone’s personality and therefore a legitimate factor in whether you’d become romantically or sexually involved”

Fine so long as it’s fair and balanced, but the point of the entire Time to Change campaign is that when it comes to mental illness, attitudes are not fair and balanced but prejudiced and skewed. A mental illness doesn’t have to have a negative impact on a relationship at all, but when ignorance and distortion prevail in common perceptions, invariably someone will be dismissed before they even have the chance to show who they are and what they have to offer. That’s not just discrimination, it’s prejudice, and it won’t change without awareness raising to challenge the stereotyped and warped assumptions that people make about those with mental illnesses. Despite its limitations, I applaud the Time to Change campaign for bringing these issues into the public consciousness.

As someone with a mild history of mental illness (actually, considering how it comes, irritates me then goes again, mental cold would be the best analogy), I was unaware I had representatives. Could I suggest that they ask me whether I want them in future?

The entire premise of this piece is that we need representation – but most of us don’t. Like Shatterface I prefer to deal with my problems on my own.

Basically, the way I see it is that we don’t have an association for physically ill people (although we do for particular problems) – so why are mental illnesses always grouped together?

12
When we make a choice about who we date it is because we have the knowledge of who we like and don’t like, this is normally referred to as ‘discernment’. Discrimination, on the other hand, is about making judgments and choices based on no knowledge, other than heresay and negative stereotyping.
As @13 points-out, mental illness is a broad-term relating to many types of symptoms and can be mild to very severe. However, discriminatory judgements don’t make this distinction as @8 illustrates.
As far as spending on mental health services, it is ironical that people with MI in underdeveloped and developing countries, who don’t have access to the modern medicines used in the west, do better than developed industrial countries (WHO) The current hypothesis for this phenomonen is that people with MI in those countries are assimilated into normal society which involves working.
I wonder how many people work with sufferers or have them in their circle of friends.

16. So Much For Subtlety

13. pangolin – “You make the assumption that anyone with a mental illness is unable to function in the workplace without costing his/her employer money.”

No I make the assumption that someone with mental illnesses is unlikely, on average, to function as well as someone without and hence will cost money. They may be able to function, they just won’t, on average, function as well.

“This in itself is a prejudiced remark.”

Actually it is reality. I am sure that with the help of the moderators here you can make sure no one acknowledges that reality, but in the wider world, there is no fighting it.

“Just like any illness there is a scale of severity, and someone with a mental illness can be quite capable of being a productive and valuable employee whilst managing the difficulties that arise from their condition.”

I am sure. Just not as productive or valuable, on average, as someone without. What is more this is one area where Equity has made things worse. If someone comes to interview and reports that they have mental health issues, you would be foolish to try to follow it up. So you cannot know if they have major issues with other people, or minor issues that are not important. You simply have to find some other reason not to hire them. Everyone would be better off if we were all allowed a free and frank discussion of what problems people have.

“When the gatekeepers hold narrow prejudiced views however, the chances of proving your capabilities whilst being honest about mental illness are slim indeed.”

Indeed. Especially when the employer will likely be introduced to a world of pain no matter what they do. The sensible thing to do is not to give them a chance. Of course, you can’t do so openly, but any sensible person will find some other reason not to hire someone. Why take the risk?

“However this issue isn’t just about discrimination in the workplace, you’re living in a fantasy land if you think that mental illness isn’t an incredibly taboo and stigmatised reality that has a deep and long-lasting impact on someone’s life.”

I disagree. We all know people with mental health issues. I am beginning to think that there is no regular poster here who does not have some given the number admitting to it. It is not taboo or all that stigmatised. Who here does not have a relative with some sort of mental health issue?

“Easy to say isn’t it, but the point is that general attitudes do not regard mental illness as just another illness, it comes burdened with spurious and unfounded notions about the individual who has the illness, who is largely perceived to have a character flaw.”

I disagree with that too. The government is trying to ignore reality and push for a politically correct fantasy, but most people have a pretty good idea about mental illness. Just because it does not agree with what we should think, according to the lobbies that have captured the government’s ear, doesn’t mean they are spurious.

“What exactly are you saying here? Are you advocating discrimination against someone purely because they have schizophrenia? On what grounds? My partner has a friend with schizophrenia who is a highly educated, articulate and capable woman and devoted mother, would you advise me to tell my girlfriend to have no more contact with this schizo?”

No. I think that people ought to be allowed to discriminate. But the two sentences were next to each other but not related. To discriminate against (or even for) people with mental health issues is only sensible. It is allowed in the right circumstances. In fact it is required in some circumstances. As it happens I would advise anyone who spends a lot of time with someone with schizophrenia to be very careful. Is that discrimination? Sure. Is it illegal? Probably. But I cannot comment on this specific person because I don’t know them.

“There is a wealth of anecdotal and socially researched evidence of the stigma that people with mental illness have to live with.”

Such as?

“Do you analyse social issues in anything other than monetary terms?”

Sure. But money is a good measure first measure. We care. We care a lot.

“A mental illness doesn’t have to have a negative impact on a relationship at all”

Again you miss the point. It doesn’t have to but the chances are quite strong that it will. You can’t constantly look at one end of the bell curve and ignore the rest of it. For most relationships, most of the time, it will have an impact.

17. So Much For Subtlety

15. steveb – “However, discriminatory judgements don’t make this distinction as @8 illustrates.”

Point out any part of my comment that was discriminatory.

“As far as spending on mental health services, it is ironical that people with MI in underdeveloped and developing countries, who don’t have access to the modern medicines used in the west, do better than developed industrial countries (WHO) The current hypothesis for this phenomonen is that people with MI in those countries are assimilated into normal society which involves working.”

A more sensible hypothesis is that the WHO is full of cr@p. Admittedly much of the Third World has escaped the explosion in over-diagnosis that leads to the nonsensical 1-in-4 figure. But in most Third World countries you can and do find the mentally ill roaming the streets with no help whatsoever.

“I wonder how many people work with sufferers or have them in their circle of friends.”

I would think everyone.

@16 – So Much For Subtlety

“No I make the assumption that someone with mental illnesses is unlikely, on average, to function as well as someone without and hence will cost money. They may be able to function, they just won’t, on average, function as well.”

No one person is an average. One individual will be high functioning, another won’t. To write off all people with any semblance of a mental illness before they walk through the door because of a blanket stereotyped concept of what is ‘average’ is prejudice, pure and simple. That’s the very essence of prejudice, sticking everyone together in a category and assigning a generalised (and false) set of traits to them. Ergo, you are being prejudiced.

“We all know people with mental health issues. I am beginning to think that there is no regular poster here who does not have some given the number admitting to it. It is not taboo or all that stigmatised. Who here does not have a relative with some sort of mental health issue?”

Knowledge of the prevalence of mental illness does not equate to an absence of stigma or taboo, that’s a completely fallacious argument. Taboo shows itself in terms of open discourses – formal and informal – concerning a subject (and naturally it’s a lot easier when it comes to the anonymity of the internet, which helps matters). Likewise stigma manifests interpersonally. One might know someone with a mental health issue, but that does not mean one will be prepared to have an open, non-judgemental, discursive relationship with that person. Despite the fact that these problems are common, sufferers experience a great deal of rejection, even from friends and relatives, which only serves to compound the issues and isolate the individual in question. That is the reality for those on the wrong end of such stigma.

“As it happens I would advise anyone who spends a lot of time with someone with schizophrenia to be very careful. Is that discrimination? Sure. Is it illegal? Probably. But I cannot comment on this specific person because I don’t know them.”

But you already have commented on this specific person, within the same paragraph, because once more you are piling every individual with schizophrenia into the same pile and pinning on the label “dangerous”. That’s a complete misconception, highlighting your ignorance of the condition. And you say there’s no stigma? You’re proof of it yourself.

“Again you miss the point. It doesn’t have to but the chances are quite strong that it will. You can’t constantly look at one end of the bell curve and ignore the rest of it. For most relationships, most of the time, it will have an impact.”

I haven’t missed the point one iota. The point is about interpersonal discrimination on the basis of mental illness, I’m saying that every individual is different, but if one rejects someone out of hand on the very basis that they have a mental illness, they are displaying prejudice and will never have the chance to get to know that individual and potentially will be missing out on a fulfilling relationship. When you state: ‘chances are quite strong…’ and ‘most relationships, most of the time…’ you are merely making sweeping statements, which yet again display your utter prejudice towards those with mental illnesses.

Until you learn to stop treating people with mental health problems as a homogeneous group, with static traits, whilst attaching faux-statistical probabilities to them (which you can’t justify) you are the one who is missing the point, not to mention the reality that sufferers have to face in society. What you express is the very fabric of prejudice, and with every attempt to justify your views you only underline the fact and expose your ignorance of the individualised reality of living with mental illness.

19. So Much For Subtlety

18. pangolin – “No one person is an average. One individual will be high functioning, another won’t. To write off all people with any semblance of a mental illness before they walk through the door because of a blanket stereotyped concept of what is ‘average’ is prejudice, pure and simple. That’s the very essence of prejudice, sticking everyone together in a category and assigning a generalised (and false) set of traits to them. Ergo, you are being prejudiced.”

But it isn’t. It is a blanket policy that is enforced on employers by well meaning but stupid government regulations. You cannot know if someone with a mental illness is a problem or not. You cannot ask. It will be very expensive if they are. The rational decision is not to hire. It is not prejudice if it is a reflection of the reality of the situation.

“Knowledge of the prevalence of mental illness does not equate to an absence of stigma or taboo, that’s a completely fallacious argument.”

A good thing I am not making that argument. It is hard to argue that people who love other people with mental health issues are unfairly biased. The mentally ill are not some Other. They are us. We all know they are us. They are literally us, or our aunts, or cousins, or brothers or grandparents. We all know this.

“One might know someone with a mental health issue, but that does not mean one will be prepared to have an open, non-judgemental, discursive relationship with that person.”

Actually I disagree. This is precisely what the majority of us do.

“But you already have commented on this specific person”

I don’t think I have actually. Are you confusing the author with this other person?

“within the same paragraph, because once more you are piling every individual with schizophrenia into the same pile and pinning on the label “dangerous”. That’s a complete misconception, highlighting your ignorance of the condition. And you say there’s no stigma? You’re proof of it yourself.”

The group labelled schizophrenic is more dangerous as a whole than the group of the healthy. It is impossible to deny. Even if some members within that group are not much of a risk. I don’t claim everyone with schizophrenia is dangerous, I point out the obvious fact that people with schizophrenia are more likely (and unpredictably) to be dangerous. The reality of the situation is not a stigma. It is a fact.

“I haven’t missed the point one iota. The point is about interpersonal discrimination on the basis of mental illness, I’m saying that every individual is different, but if one rejects someone out of hand on the very basis that they have a mental illness, they are displaying prejudice and will never have the chance to get to know that individual and potentially will be missing out on a fulfilling relationship.”

If one rejects someone simply because of the label you may be right. If, on the other hand, someone wants their children to have the best genetic start to life, as pretty much everyone I know in the Chinese community does, and they reject someone with a disease in their family that has an inheritable component, as this one does, they are not being prejudiced. They are prioritising their potential children’s genes, and maybe making a bad choice, but they are not irrational and they are not prejudiced. They may be missing out on a fulfilling relationship but they may not give that a relatively high priority.

“When you state: ‘chances are quite strong…’ and ‘most relationships, most of the time…’ you are merely making sweeping statements, which yet again display your utter prejudice towards those with mental illnesses.”

Except they are true. We can argue about the risks and hence the degree it is true, but it will remain true no matter. That is not prejudice either.

“Until you learn to stop treating people with mental health problems as a homogeneous group, with static traits, whilst attaching faux-statistical probabilities to them (which you can’t justify) you are the one who is missing the point, not to mention the reality that sufferers have to face in society.”

Well I am doing one or the other. I can hardly be doing both. You need to get your criticism straight.

16, 17
I don’t think you would recognise discrimination if it hit you in the face.

I hope you don’t mind but I am going to use your posts as reading material for two students of mine who are currently looking at stigma and discrimination.
Discrimination, as against discernment, is the act of making statements and taking actions based upon beliefs rather than facts. The bigot is someone who, despite evidence to the contrary of their beliefs, will dismiss it rather than consider and reflect.
.People with schizophrenia are less likely to be violent than those who don’t suffer from it. However, when there is a violent crime involving a sufferer, the media make much of it.
In fact most child murders are committed by men, are we to judge that group in the same way? Thought not.
I have two patients who are in full-time employment but require medication to maintain them, their employers are unaware that they have a mental illnes because it does not get in the way of carrying-out their job.
This is my last reply to you on this matter because it’s quite clear that you have fixed false beliefs that are not open to reason or evidence.

21. So Much For Subtlety

20. steveb – “I hope you don’t mind but I am going to use your posts as reading material for two students of mine who are currently looking at stigma and discrimination.”

Not at all. Glad to be of service.

“Discrimination, as against discernment, is the act of making statements and taking actions based upon beliefs rather than facts. The bigot is someone who, despite evidence to the contrary of their beliefs, will dismiss it rather than consider and reflect.”

That’s nice. Irrelevant but nice.

“People with schizophrenia are less likely to be violent than those who don’t suffer from it. However, when there is a violent crime involving a sufferer, the media make much of it.”

Actually I don’t believe either of those stories is true. The media largely ignores the mentally ill unless some spectacular incident takes place.

“In fact most child murders are committed by men, are we to judge that group in the same way? Thought not.”

Well yes, actually, we do. One of the reasons why so few men want to be, for instance, primary school teachers is that we do judge all men by the actions of a few.

“I have two patients who are in full-time employment but require medication to maintain them, their employers are unaware that they have a mental illnes because it does not get in the way of carrying-out their job.”

That is interesting. Good for them. If they can perform their jobs with minimal medication, all for the better. But I don’t see the relevance. Their employers would still be unlikely to have employed them if they had known.

“This is my last reply to you on this matter because it’s quite clear that you have fixed false beliefs that are not open to reason or evidence.”

Produce some evidence or some reason. Judging people without either is a sign of a bigot.

@19 – So Much For Subtlety

For goodness sake, does one have to wheel out a dictionary definition of what prejudice means? Well here goes:

prejudice noun 1 a biased opinion, based on insufficient knowledge.

You constantly make statements including assertions of ‘fact’ and ‘truth’, but not once have you backed up these assertions. Do you take yourself to be some absolute authority on mental illness? These are your generalised assumptions, stop parading them as factual, they are not. Your dogmatic views do however fit the above definition like a glove, as these are your biased opinions, and you clearly are bereft of the knowledge to give them genuine credence.

Ergo you are prejudiced.

You refuse to concede this (by claiming your opinions as factual and ‘impossible to deny’ and continually circumnavigate the challenges by using all the diversionary tactics in the book whilst constantly shifting the goalposts.

Ergo you are a sophist.

Ironically you responded to steveb with this gem:

“Produce some evidence or some reason. Judging people without either is a sign of a bigot.”

Which is a fair reflection of your entire comment output on this thread I’d say.

Given that you sidestep and misinterpret every challenge put your way, this discussion has reached an impasse, so I’m no longer wasting my time or yours.

23. So Much For Empathy

* this discussion has reached an impasse, so I’m no longer wasting my time or yours *

That’s just as well, I reckon So Much For Subtlety needs to get back to the Pro-Eugenics literature he enjoys so much.

I’m wondering whether he was spawned from George Orwell’s worst nightmare.

Whilst we’re on the subject of mental illness, a symptom of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is an inability to display empathy. I think So Much should look into it. With the right help So Much, you might, in time, be able to actually give a cr*p about a disadvantaged human being on the fringes of society.

24. So Much For Subtlety

22. pangolin – “prejudice noun 1 a biased opinion, based on insufficient knowledge.”

And yet there has been no lack of knowledge displayed by me here. You all may want to ignore it and deny it, but reality exists.

“You constantly make statements including assertions of ‘fact’ and ‘truth’, but not once have you backed up these assertions.”

No one has yet asked for any evidence. Which I take to be an implicit admission I am right. We all know the truth here. It may be politically incorrect to say so, and it offends people when their cognitive dissonance is interrupted, but the fact no one has offered any counter-evidence or dared to ask me for mine, shows underneath it all, we are basically on the same page.

“Do you take yourself to be some absolute authority on mental illness?”

As does the fact that faced with a truth you don’t like you resort to ad homs.

“You refuse to concede this (by claiming your opinions as factual and ‘impossible to deny’ and continually circumnavigate the challenges by using all the diversionary tactics in the book whilst constantly shifting the goalposts.”

As does the fact that you refuse to deal with my arguments and reach for the classic textbook “solution” to dealing with cognitive dissonance – accusing the other person of a disjointed argument when the reality is you simply do not want to understand a simple and clear argument that offends your world view.

“Given that you sidestep and misinterpret every challenge put your way, this discussion has reached an impasse, so I’m no longer wasting my time or yours.”

And so at last we get to sticking your fingers in your ears and going “I can’t hear you”. Classy.

@ So Much For Subtlety

Despite Pangolin’s best efforts you seem oblivious to the fact that the distressing and demeaning consequences of widespread prejudice is a regular feature in the lives of people with mental health problems.

In my professional capacity I’ve dealt with countless clients and service users, all with a diverse spectrum of disorders, and all from a variety of social backgrounds. You’re absolutely right that the mentally ill are all around us, however you seem to miss the point entirely that these individuals themselves consistently report stigma at a variety of levels in society, including that from ‘aunts, cousins, brothers or grandparents’. The results of stigma include being patronised, called names, being assumed to have diminished ability and responsibility, being ignored, rejected, bullied or even assaulted. My clients have universally disclosed this prejudice and stigma as an issue which compounds their problems, deteriorates their confidence, and makes them feel increasingly isolated in society. You may feel you know the ‘facts’, but your opinions don’t accord with any of my clinical experience.

If you know others with mental health problems who you treat with respect and understanding then good for you, but please don’t assume that this is what the ‘majority’ do. I suggest you locate your local MIND, volunteer, and spend some time talking with the service users, I guarantee their personal experiences of stigma will provide an alternative perspective to your inaccurate assumptions.

@24 So Much For…. errr Modesty, Decency….

Me: ““Do you take yourself to be some absolute authority on mental illness?”

You: “No one has yet asked for any evidence. Which I take to be an implicit admission I am right.”

“there has been no lack of knowledge displayed by me here. You all may want to ignore it and deny it, but reality exists.”

So that would be a yes then, you do consider yourself an authority. And no, that’s not an ad hom it’s a question asking if the basis for your arguments are simply your own assumptions. To quote you, yourself: ‘You need to get your criticism straight.’

“the fact that you refuse to deal with my arguments and reach for the classic textbook “solution” to dealing with cognitive dissonance – accusing the other person of a disjointed argument when the reality is you simply do not want to understand a simple and clear argument that offends your world view.”

Your argument is simplistic for sure, but certainly not consistent. I could counter that you’re the one doing exactly what you just accused me of doing, but what would be the point? Your cognitive dissonance wouldn’t allow you to accept it.

“And so at last we get to sticking your fingers in your ears and going “I can’t hear you”. Classy.”

Whereas you display so much class in baiting me back into a response. What was I supposed to do, roll over and tell you you’re right and I’m wrong? I don’t agree with you, I’ve openly considered and engaged with your arguments, but we’re clearly diametrically opposed and this has reached an impasse. The fact that you can’t resist a spiteful parting shot suggests that your intentions aren’t just to debate but to dominate and lash out. I thought you were prejudiced before, now I can see that you’re arrogant too. Classy.

Of course you’ll follow up to this with another whirlwind of sophistry, claims of omniscience and withering put downs, which will only serve to underline the kind of person you really are, but go for it, the last word is yours. But whilst you’re at it, since you will insist on having the last word, include something entirely lacking in all your previous posts….. evidence to back up your opinions.

Ok So Much For Subtlety, let me get this straight. If anyone disagrees with you they’re suffering from cognitive dissonance? And no-one has asked you for evidence because they all secretly know you’re right and speak the gospel truth? Does the phrase ‘delusions of grandeur’ mean anything to you?

So… erm…. evidence?

Oh and please respond to ‘Doc Jock’, I’d love to hear how you spoke with the MIND group and quashed their deluded beliefs that they’d experienced stigma and prejudice in society. Must be paranoid eh?

Don’t keep us in suspense for long, we’re all itching to read your compelling and “impossible to deny” evidence!

Night night!

28. thewildweasel

I admire the author for having spoken out in an industry that is based on public perception, and completely understand why he has had to stop.I have cyclothymia, a form of manic depression – I don’t like the newer term ‘type II bipolar affective disorder’ as it confuses people who are not affected by the condition, I prefer ‘manic depression’, they have an idea of what I mean then.

I have had md for over 20 years now, and I have always felt that I shouldn’t hide the fact. I don’t shout about it, but, if the topic of mental illness comes up, I’ll talk about what I have. Often people are surprised that I work full time and I’m as far up in my career as anyone else who has my training and experience, have never been sectioned, have never self-harmed, and am not suicidal. I know that by my having and treating and talking about my illness as being a normal part of my normal life, and still being a regular member of society, has changed the stereotypes people have held against mental illness and that they will be more accepting in future. I have also had a few friends show that, in fact they weren’t, which has meant that the majority left have shown me they accept me as I am. So… Is it worthwhile to be open about your own mental illness? I think so, but talk about it as a normal part of life, as it is in my own.

29. So Much For Subtlety

25. Doc Jock – “Despite Pangolin’s best efforts you seem oblivious to the fact that the distressing and demeaning consequences of widespread prejudice is a regular feature in the lives of people with mental health problems.”

Because …. I doubt it exists. Show it does before you draw conclusions.

“In my professional capacity I’ve dealt with countless clients and service users, all with a diverse spectrum of disorders, and all from a variety of social backgrounds. You’re absolutely right that the mentally ill are all around us, however you seem to miss the point entirely that these individuals themselves consistently report stigma at a variety of levels in society, including that from ‘aunts, cousins, brothers or grandparents’.”

Does it occur to you that perhaps the mentally ill are not the best people to judge these matters? You know, being mentally ill. Does it occur to you that people who are struggling may well find it easier to blame other people than look to themselves?

“My clients have universally disclosed this prejudice and stigma as an issue which compounds their problems, deteriorates their confidence, and makes them feel increasingly isolated in society.”

Universally? Really?

“You may feel you know the ‘facts’, but your opinions don’t accord with any of my clinical experience.”

Any reporting of clinical experience that ignores the massive effort the rest of us make to help the mentally ill and privileges their narratives uncritical is a little lacking in something don’t you think?

The suggestion that self-interested lobby groups are objective reporters is odd.


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