"Mental Illness" and Mad Pride

Okay, I just discovered the Mad Movement.

I read the article the New York Times wrote on the movement in May and was fairly inspired, but for various reasons involving school finals and my time-consuming relationships, I didn't look into it that much.

Silly me.

The Mad Movement seems just as diverse as any other movement these days, but I really like what's at the heart of their cause. They want to make mental illness, in all its incarnations, something people aren't ashamed of. Something they're, in fact, proud of.

They see madness as simply another way of thinking, another way of interacting with the world. There can be benefits, they say, to extremes of experience or unusual perceptions of reality. People should be proud of their uniqueness. To find out more, check out MindFreedom International, The Icarus Project, and Liz Spikol's blog.

Remember how I said I was going to post more about my feelings on mental illness? Here it is.

I don't like the term "mental illness." I recognize that it has some use in acknowledging the chemical components of things including depression and bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. I can see how people want to call them illnesses because they need to be taken seriously and treated. They're not just character flaws or quirks. Yes.

But they're not like bronchitis or a common cold. They can't be cured with antibiotics and they're not going to go away on their own. Maybe they're like viruses: herpes, which flares up every now and then or AIDs, which is always kind of there and you have to treat it or you'll die. I see the analogy, but I think the term "illness" is too suggestive of some outside source or influence that's coming in and mucking up the body.

"Mental illnesses" are internal. Yeah, it's a body malfunctioning, but it's malfunctioning because it just does. There's no little microscopic whatever causing it. The malfunction is, in a way, an integral part of the human being housing it.

My depression is a part of my personality. It's integral to how I deal with things. What I feel is who I am, and to call that an illness offends me. I am not an illness.

I like the term I found on MindFreedom's website. They called it "Creative Maladjustment" after a Martin Luther King, Jr. speech. I'm down with that. Yeah, I'm maladjusted, but it sometimes lets me feel things more deeply than other people. This can give me insight that other people miss out on. That's pretty cool. I know that some of the same brain systems which lead me to get depressed (and to have ADHD) are also the ones that allow me to be empathetic, and well spoken, and productive.

So, uh, from now on I've got a creative maladjustment, not a mental illness. Okay?

Side Note: The NYT article was in the Fashion and Style section? What?


Brisbane Escort Girl said...

"creative maladjustment"

Oooh! I like that! :)

Just stumbled across your blog. I hope you don't mind me reading along. :)


Unknown said...

Hey, that's why it's here! I hope you like what you read. :-)

C.S. Lewiston said...

Every time I hear the phrase "mental illness", I wince. Every time I hear the phrase "the mentally ill", I want to spit!

What you've written here should be required reading in every medical school.

Unknown said...

Thanks, I'd love it if doctors were taught not only how to recognize and treat body parts, but also how to question the language and history of the very medical system they're joining. Wouldn't that be nice?

On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

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