Mental Disorders are Not Simple “Brain Illnesses”
This letter writer to the Florida Times-Union had me agreeing until this ill-formed paragraph:
If there is blame, let’s blame those professions that delay mental illness recovery. Let’s educate the churches, which call mental illnesses sin or demonic possession; the medical professionals who do not screen for mental illnesses; the therapists who do not teach the necessity of treating brain illnesses like other serious medical problems; the lawyers and judges for not protecting access to proper mental health care; and the educators who do not teach our nation about suicides — the plague that claims 30,000 American lives every year.
Sorry, mental disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder are not simply “brain illnesses,” without any significant psychological or social components that must also be treated. They are complex disorders that involve genes, biology, personality, social development, environment, relationships, and a whole lot more in most people. Buying into the simplistic and discredited model of “brain chemical imbalance” isn’t something that’s beneficial for research or public advocacy or policy.
It is far, far more common for people to receive medications-only from primary care physicians for a mental disorder than it is for them to receive psychotherapy-only from a therapist (on something like a 100 to 1 basis).
So while I agree greater education is needed across the board, for everyone, on mental disorders, blaming entire professions in such broad generalizations (as another writer did earlier blaming all of law enforcement for not being sensitive to people with mental illness) isn’t really helpful either.
Less blame, more action.
Grohol, J. (2007). Mental Disorders are Not Simple “Brain Illnesses”. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 9, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2007/10/26/mental-disorders-are-not-simple-brain-illnesses/