That’s my usual reaction to Allen Frances, and I think he hit the nail on the head again with this, or at least parts of it. I have no knowledge and really no context to understand what goes on in our prisons, but I very much do understand the tension that has developed over time as psychiatric illness has become fashionable. I see relatively well people tossing around diagnoses that can also be completely devastating and I think to myself, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
It makes sense, though, that people push away the severely ill because we all have this impulse when faced with illness to separate ourselves from it in some way. You see it in the blaming and shaming that happens with heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. And I would guess that you are also seeing it when someone who thinks they’re depressed sees someone whose illness is so severe that they are psychotic; if such a condition is given a sufficient moral taint then we can all believe that we aren’t vulnerable to such a thing, prescription for Prozac aside. And maybe most people aren’t, but that won’t stop them superstitiously dehumanizing the people who are.
(Via Dr. Dinah Miller)