Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Problem With Boundaries.

There’s an ad appeared on my Flag Counter page. It says:

Somebody you know has a mental health problem.

And it goes on:

Do you want to start the conversation?

This ad seems to be directed at me personally, and ‘Mental health problem’ is a sinister sort of expression. It suggests danger; it suggests a creature out of control; it suggests the need of segregation. I’m sure I have the odd neurosis or two, but as I understand it, neuroses aren’t considered mental health problems; they’re merely psychological aberrations as defined by the canon of academic opinion, and are treatable by psychotherapists if they’re bad enough to warrant treatment. Psychoses, on the other hand, are considered mental health problems, and are treatable by psychiatrists.

So who decides where the boundary lies, and is that boundary firm and trustworthy?

*  *  *

I read a news report today, about a Pakistani soldier who was stoned to death by a local mob for crossing a boundary. He was a Sunni Muslim, and had allegedly been having a relationship with a Shia woman. They threw rocks at him until he bled to death.

It seems to me that setting boundaries can sometimes be more dangerous than having mental health problems. It’s sometimes hard to decide who the real crazies are.


Madeline said...

I don't know if it's the same in the UK, but in the US both neurosis and psychosis are considered mental health problems. But it doesn't matter much anyway because we're all crazy over here.

JJ Beazley said...

Maybe it's a matter of semantics - whether 'mental health' is used in a general umbrella sense, or in a more clinically specific one. My little reading on the matter certainly indicates that neurosis is seen as a psychological aberration treatable by therapy, whereas psychosis is seen as a psychiatric condition requiring more extreme treatments like medication.

I think perhaps we're a little more conservative in our use of the term 'mental health' over here. Americans seem to be more accepting of mental health problems than we are. It doesn't go with the stiff upper lip, don't you know.

And you're certainly not all crazy. I know at least seven who aren't. Can't speak for the rest.