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.



View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 6 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.

    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 26 Oct 2007
    Published on All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2007). Mental Disorders are Not Simple “Brain Illnesses”. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 18, 2014, from


Recent Comments
  • Sybille Stahl: The difference between me telling my children that Santa Claus is real and telling them that Jesus is...
  • Tara: “Love and intimacy don’t blossom by trying to pull it toward us or manipulating people. ”...
  • Emma: What a tragic loss of such an amazing soul. I wonder what would have made the difference for him between life...
  • Lilly: Jane, you realize that the genetic markers for schizophrenia were only found this year, right? Before that...
  • owl: Mid life crises.
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code

Users Online: 7251
Join Us Now!