Everyone can now have a mental diagnosis: adjustment disorder, phobias, character disorder, borderline, paranoid, eating disorders, sleep disorders, the list goes on and on. Are they necessary? Not really! Do all of these diagnostic labels lend to our greater understanding of the problems people suffer through their lives? Absolutely not! If anything, the opposite is true. Labeling and medicating are distancing, objectifying and suppressive.
Why the proliferation of diagnostic categories?
The pharmaceutical companies provided monetary support to 56% of the doctors who wrote the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual-IV, the bible of the mental health industry. (Cosgrove, et. al. 2006) These financially influenced doctors are creating new diagnostic categories, and they have rewritten the definition of depression and its suggested treatment.
Mental health and mental illness need to be seen and understood on a continuum. None of us are entirely healthy or entirely unhealthy. Nor do we exist in isolation. Our relationships with people in our lives–mom, dad, family, teachers, peers, friends, intimate others–significantly contribute to our health and to our illnesses. Particularly important are parents in those critical developmental years when our sense of self–our self-esteem, our self-worth, our confidence and self-confidence–are developed. During this time an unconscious blueprint of how we view and relate to others is established. This influences and affects us throughout life.
Few are aware of these unconscious psychological patterns.
Regarding psychopathology, most of us do not fit neatly into a pigeon holing diagnostic category. We will experience depressionand anxiety off and on throughout our lives; we will be paranoid and suspicious at times; we will feel disconnected and detached from those around us at times; we will feel paralyzed and immobilized at times, and certainly we will feel terrified at times. Should we then be medicated because we are going through the difficulties of life? Taking a pill provides no understanding or insight to unconscious influences, influences that affect every aspect of our being.
Symptoms now have labels, and these labels now have pills. The danger and damage of these medications is the blunting of our entire emotional system. These symptoms must be viewed in a context of one’s entire life. Do not label yourself. Do not accept a psychiatric label for they are profoundly categorizing, mechanistic, reductionistic and simplifying.
We spend our lives avoiding the pain that eventually brings us into the need for clinical psychological treatment. It is the pain of our situation that enables us to change. To numb the pain or numb the depression is to destroy the opportunity for understanding.
Everyone has a right to experience life in its fullest with opportunities to feel pain, loss, mourning and suffering. Going through these experiences makes us stronger and wiser and more at peace with our lives.
A pill negates this possibility.
Everyone also has the right to pursue health and well-being. Achieving emotional well-being can only be accomplished by accepting that to be alive is to be emotionally damaged. Such damage is not a diagnosable condition needing medication but can be resolved by engaging in a process to understand and ‘free’ the self, thus the need for psychotherapy.