The Mental Health Minute

Articles and news about mental health issues

Opinion: “Dogma on mental illness is a threat to progress”

Here is an opinion piece I found on Welcome Trust   that I found interesting.  It seems that the stigma against mental illness is so ingrained we may not realize that we are reacting negatively.  Here’s the article to read.  Won’t you leave me a comment with your opinion on this topic?


11 July 2011.

By Professor Nick Craddock

Man with approaching depression

It is commonplace for people to hold very firm views about the nature and causes of mental illness, based on hunch, ideological perspective and anecdote. For example, some believe all mental illness is explained by adverse social circumstances; others think that it simply reflects a lack of ability to cope with life’s stresses.

While many people are very supportive of the need for better understanding of mental health, even highly intelligent and otherwise open-minded individuals not infrequently hold dogmatic but ill-informed views about mental illness.

This thinking extends to biological scientists, Nobel Prize winners and even members of grants panels. Many naive views seem to be based on extrapolation of knowledge of situations of relatively mild mental distress. However, this extrapolation does not work. Consider the common assumption that all depression is the result of inability to deal with life, a character weakness. While this view might be of value for mild depression, it is woefully inadequate for severe depression accompanied by stupor or delusions – situations that can be life-threatening. In contrast, few people would be comfortable making similar generalising assumptions about the causes and management of severe cardiovascular disease (for example myocardial infarction) based only on their observations of people who get breathless on exercise.

Within the scientific and lay press, psychiatric illnesses are discussed in a more heated, opinionated and less helpful way than non-psychiatric illnesses. An example was the media furore surrounding the report that rare structural genomic variants are more common in cases of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than controls. Despite voicing of all the caveats about the complexity of causation and importance of environmental factors, there was great disquiet voiced from some commentators that ADHD was referred to as a “genetic disorder”. Had similar wording been used about heart disease or diabetes, there would not have been…[read more]

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July 12, 2011 - Posted by | Mental Health | , , , ,

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