No, You Don’t Have a Disorder, You Have Feelings

In an article in Aero magazine, Lisa Marchiano writes:

“… the misapplication of the biological model of disease has led us to pathologize ordinary emotions.”

“The London Times recently carried a story about an avalanche of self-harm among British school children. According to the article, “school nurses are dealing with panic attacks, self-cutting, overdoses and eating disorders rather than the nose bleeds and minor accidents of a decade ago.” The government is responding with calls for additional resources for mental health in schools, but will this address the problem? Writing in the British Medical Journal’s blog earlier this year [also see NHS antidepressant prescribing—what do we get for £266 million per year?], UK psychiatrist Derek Summerfield noted that anti-depressant prescriptions have increased from around 9 million in the 1990s to 64.7 million in 2016—without any convincing improvement in mental well-being.

Summerfield deftly characterizes the self-reinforcing tendency that comes with the medicalization of emotional pain:

When the medicalization of everyday life and the commodification of “mind” is professionally endorsed and taken up by wider culture, the language of psychological deficit is inserted into the public imagination. People come to see themselves not as normally stressed, but as “ill,” with negative emotion recast as a mental health problem. As more resources for mental health services are called for and provided, more are perceived to be needed, an apparently circular process, a dog chasing its tail …”

Read more here.

 

No, You Don’t Have a Disorder, You Have Feelings
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