Print

Print


Irina Rempt wrote:

> On Thu, 13 May 1999, Eli Naeher wrote:
>
> > It certainly does
> > seem as if the incidence of mental illness is unusually high on this list,
> > which makes me even more inclined to think that "mental illness" is simply
> > societally legitimized prejudice.
>
> I think you may be right. The other possibility (that conlanging is a
> symptom of mental disorder) doesn't appeal to me.

Nor should it.  This line of argument is baseless.

> I've never been under treatment for mental illness (I know I'm not
> unique, but we may be a minority), and it strikes me that nearly all
> the *Americans* have - I read once that 80% of American adults and
> 60% of American teenagers have, sometime in their life, been treated
> for mental disorder. Is it really a cultural thing, that is, is the
> threshold for actually going to see a shrink so much lower in the
> United States than in Europe, or is it that the absolute incidence of
> mental illness is higher in the United States than in Europe?

I don't think that "mental illness" is the appropriate term here.  Manymany
Americans go see shrinks who aren't "mentally ill."  They may
have emotional problems, or be under a lot of stress, or be going
through a divorce.  Going to a shrink is not necessarily a sign that
one is "mentally ill."   They bandy that term around way too much
in the medical profession, and I find its application  to "depression"
or "anxiety" to be slightly offensive.  When I think of "mental illness"
I think of psychosis.  I'm sorry, but neurotics aren't "mentally ill" in
my books.  Neither are people who are taking medication to rectify
a chemical disorder like general anxiety or depression.  Forgive me,
and maybe I'm misusing accepted vocabulary, but I will have to be
unfit for work before I'm "mentally ill," thank you... a threat to myself
and my community, unable to function cognitively or socially.  Maybe
I'm just too old to be able to hear the term "mental illness" and think
this is as routinely fixable as, say, asthma or irritable bowel disorder.
I've suffered from both, acutely, so don't anybody jump all over me
for that! <G>  You might as well say that migraines are a symptom
of "mental illness."

I also think that before you make generalizations about the general
state of mental well-being in American drawn from statistics about
people going to therapists, bear in mind that America has a huge
population, and within that a large number of well-to-do people.  Add to that
the
commercial notion that you can solve your problems by getting
some wonder drug like Paxil or Selexa that is heavily marketed.
Lots of therapists in America just help people find ways to cope
with stress, and going to get that kind of counseling is fairly
easy and unstigmatized for a lot of flush Americans.

Maybe Americans just talk more about their therapists and
Europeans don't.  Me, you're not getting a word out of me
on that topic!  <G>

Sally Caves