The Evolution of the Stigma Against Mental Illness
My mind is sick. My thoughts need a transfusion and my dreams need open surgery. Try and tell me that the cure is to think positive thoughts and take deep breaths.Try to tell a leukemia patient that they are not trying hard enough and see how quickly your PhD becomes the laughing stock of your colleagues and her family files a multi-million dollar lawsuit against you for malpractice after her quick and painful death because positive thinking did not solve the rapid mitosis in her blood cells. If I die with a rope around my neck and oxycodone screaming throughout my veins, my family will ask why you did not cure me and you will say that I did not try to survive, that you can only encourage me, but ultimately it was my decision to die. So I ask you today, why do you say I am mentally ill if you do not treat my condition like an illness? Why not just tell me now that it is my choice? Let me write my will before I begin to try less and less, before I give up and choose to go to a death that I voluntarily came to you to prevent.
The anecdote above depicts the frustration of the mentally ill with the stigma against their disorder and the ideology that it is their own fault. It describes the condition of a group of people continuously told that their ailment is inferior to that of a person with a physical disability and discusses the situation of these oppressed to people ignorant of the plight of the mentally impaired. When thinking of the stigma associated with individuals whose minds are “sick”, these individuals are seen as different from the norm. Stigma is defined as “an attempt to label a particular group of people as less worthy of respect than others.”
Stigma against the mentally ill is not just a contemporary issue, it has been seen in the various civilizations around the world. Ancient Greece, one of the oldest societies known to mankind, has shown a multitude of signs of having stigma against...