I think religion carries most of the responsibility for stigmatizing mental illness

It just occurred to me recently that religion is probably the biggest player in stigmatizing mentally ill people. To me, a naturalist, mental illness is just like any other illness - why would anyone think badly of a sick person? Seriously, people don't stigmatize people who suffer from cancer or kidney disease, do they? Why think badly of people for having another aspect of their body go haywire?

The only possible reason I can think of that people would be judgmental of mentally ill people is that those judging believe a person's "self" is something separate from his body. I'm surprised I hadn't thought of this before.

When going through rehab after a serious head injury I heard many conversations about other people worse off than I was. One conversation that particularly stuck with me was about a man who been in a car accident that damaged the frontal lobes of his brain. The conversation I overhead was actually frightening to me. Two of his family members were talking about him. One said to the other that Bob (I don't remember his name so he's Bob) got angry a lot and tended to use a lot of profanity and at other times acted sullen and childish. His other family member responded that Bob needed to get right with god - as if poor Bob's problem was a crisis of spirit rather than a result of the damage under the plate in his skull. It also made me very sad. That wasn't a very loving attitude to have towards Bob.

I encountered this attitude a lot, as if the "soul" is real and responsible for the mind and that because of this one could simply decide not to have mental problems. It's a real bitch when you are faced with brain damage and idiots who think you can just will yourself better. I think this idea of a soul separate from the body is responsible both for people's weird idea that once your hair grows back after brain surgery you're all better and the idea that mentally ill people are bad and choose to be sick.

Tags: illness, mental, souls, stigma

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I know two fundamentalist Christians, a husband and a wife. At one stage, the husband was having severe anger problems - flying off the handle, punching his fist through walls, etc. He was sent to see a Christian psychologist, someone associated with the church. After some questioning about his family and background the psychologist determined that the cause of the problem was that his grandfather had been a Freemason, and now God was revisiting the sins of the [grand]father upon him. He was told to pray.

When his condition did not improve and he started fitting, we insisted he see a real doctor. Turns out he had a brain tumour.

His wife, then began having stroke like symptoms. She was examined thoroughly but there was nothing physically wrong with her. She was told her problem was psychological. Distressed that anyone in the church might think she'd been possessed by demons, she took an overdose rather than follow the advice of doctors to seek psychiatric help. Fortunately she survived and has now relented and sees a psychologist - but I suspect it is a psychologist approved by the church.

Meanwhile, the husband underwent several surgeries and was put on anti-depressants to manage his moods. When he felt they weren't working, he'd just self medicate with more. He became suicidal and made plans to kill both himself and his wife. After speaking to him, he admitted he had a terrible secret that was tearing him up inside. He wouldn't tell anyone what it was. I arranged for him to see a top psychiatrist, a Christian (but not a fundamentalist), no waiting time, free of charge. He declined.

Believe me, I've seen what this ridiculous attitude towards mental illness does to families and it makes me feel physically ill.
This is a sad story. It hurts to know that millions of people are being mistreated by themselves, family members, and society at large just for being sick.
You cannot medicate everything Funk_O, the problem is that our brain is more complex than that. The brain is where your actual being of self is inhibited, we still know very little about our brain in this sense. However, medication does not work for everyone! In fact, medication is more commonly used as a placebo together with real therapy. Few patients actually become well on medication only. Without the support of a therapist or a psychologist the condition might actually worsen.

Cognitive therapy for example, has proven very effective for curing depressions and the like, and there doesn't need to be a medication picture involved at all.
The idea that the mind and brain are one will never win by virtue of having been "proven." If there's one thing evolution has shown us, it is that no amount of hard evidence will sway the entire populace. Rather, the information must win out within the academic community, it must hold its ground for countless decades, and eventually the flag bearers of the old guard must sink slowly into cultural insignificance.

Great ideas never win; they just wait for competing ideas to be forgotten.
People do have a poor appreciation of how the mind works. These are the same people who refuse to believe in learning disabilities, and believe that individual problems are from a lack of will.
Ahhh, yes, the same people who think autistic children just have bad and permissive parents.
I was quite shocked to read the above...But in the end,it makes total sense.
Religion has such a way fo screwing over people's lives and perceptions of reality and they don't even realize it!
A friend just directed me to this article which talks about pastors denying the existence of mental illness.
I have dealt with a word loss problem all my life. I have even sought help for it. Where I was told that I simply need to pay more attention!?! Not that this is relevant to your discussion. At least not on a religious stand point. But, how people brush off problems as if they have no bearing...
I have days where I can not remember my daughters name, my pets names and can't complete sentences. Than I have other days that I use very structured sentences with rather large complex wordings and I have no idea where I learned them. I have learned to go through each letter of the alphabet to capture a word I am in need of. But, there are times it simply does not help. Ironically, I remember license numbers, complex passwords with a multitude of varied characters and so on. I can remember events as if they happened yesterday. But, what is most embarrassing is I watch a new movie via the Blockbuster movie mail-outs each night of the week. If you were to ask me what I am watching, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I can’t even go into a music store to purchase music. I can’t remember the name. I would probably remember the ISDN code of a book, but, not the name to the music.

I can definitely sympathize what these people are going through. I have dealt with this all my life. I have been accused of being lazy or, have been told; “We all go through this”, and all sorts of ridiculous things. I am a very proud individual, that takes pride in my intelligence. Why would anyone figure that I decide from day to day to pretend stupidity?
There is not one song that exists that I know the words too. And, I love to Sing! Some day, I hope while I am still living, someone will have a name or, have studied my issue/problem/imbalance.....

This is my first post. I found this discussion quite stimulating. I am a proud atheist. Hope to indulge in more topics of discussion.
That sounds like what people with ADD go through. If you haven't been diagnosed with it, it may be worth getting that checked out. I only learned that that was what I am living with at the age of 44 (now 45). I only wished that it was known when I was much younger.

Individually any of those problems might not seem much, but a whole collection of those problems happen, it is more likely to be.

A couple of other indicators are, if you often have thoughts that seem to race in your head, or when you find that you get overwhelmed.

Also, many ADDers often have sloppy housekeeping, but not all.

Even if you don't have this problem, it is often undiagnosed, especially among women.
Found some similar sentiments from the Wacky World of Scientology here.

It's all "manifestations of spiritual turmoil". All you need is an "auditing session" or two or three or more, available at very reasonable rates.
My father is a depressive but I can't get him to seek treatment.

While he's no longer overtly religious he still clings to the idea that there is some sort of nobility to his suffering and that taking medication would be "cheating" in some sense.

It's a sort of unhinged stoicism.

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