The Nuances of “mental illness”


First and foremost, “mental illnesses, ” please. Plural. As with physical illnesses, there are many, and they range from minor to severe.

And, as with physical illnesses, people do, or do not recover, though most do. And, as with physical illnesses, people’s responses are as varied as the illnesses, themselves. Some of us excel in spite of illness, and some of us despair, and every variance in between. Some small few will go on to win a Nobel or a Pulitzer, or any of a number of other prestigious honors, and some will become homeless, and every step in between.

For far too long societies have stereotyped “mental illness” as a generic “it,” just as we stereotyped women and ethnicities of our choosing. We are curious beings, we humans.

And for all the many years we were stereotyping women and ethnicities(of our choosing), members of those groups were succeeding on a par with society members not subjected to the degradation. And when we began to acknowledge our prejudices, suddenly we noticed abilities and talents we long denied, and the achievements of women and ethnicities began to appear in the media, and we proudly acknowledged them, without conceding full equality, not just yet.

One day we will stop stereotyping mental illnesses, and realize once more, just how wrong we were.

Harold A. Maio8955 Forest StFt Myers FL 33907khmaio@earthlink.net239-275-5798 Advocate, andFormer Consulting EditorPsychiatric Rehabilitation Journal

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