Dec 8, 2010

cont. from previous post

The third section is about schizophrenia and why people diagnosed with this illness in developing nations (i.e. third world countries) have a better prognosis than those living in the most industrialized countries of the world.

What I found fascinating in this chapter is the following - it is believed by Westerners that if the people view mental illness like any other disease (and I've seen this line repeated time and again in frum articles and comments to articles) this will remove the stigma. After all, if mental illness is not the choice of the sufferer and does not come from supernatural forces, the sufferer is not to blame. It's simply a matter of faulty genes or some "imbalance" in the brain.

"Unfortunately, as mental health professionals and advocates for the mentally ill have been winning this rhetorical and conceptual battle, they've been simultaneously losing the war against stigma. Studies of attitudes in the US between the 1950's and 1996 have demonstrated that the perception of dangerousness surrounding the mentally ill has steadily increased over this time. It turns out that those who adopted the biomedical and genetic beliefs about mental illness were most often those who wanted less contact with the mentally ill or thought of them as dangerous and unpredictable."

Why is this so? "The problem, it appears, is that the biomedical or genetic narrative about an illness such as schizophrenia carries with it the subtle assumption that a brain made ill through biomedical or genetic abnormalities is more thoroughly broken and permanently abnormal compared to one made ill through life events."

The final section is called "The Mega-Marketing of Depression in Japan," which is about a huge drug company wanting to develop a new market for its products and how a marketing campaign was carefully planned and executed which introduced the Japanese to this illness and most importantly, to drugs to treat it.

It's pretty scary to read that this and other illnesses and the drugs to treat it are not coming from doctors without a monetary incentive but from a company whose only goal is to increase profits. The Ritalin producers are doing soooo very well, aren't they ... It's equally as scary to read how we are manipulated, and how our ideas about very important things are shaped by people hired to shape our ideas! And then we see these ideas regurgitated in our frum publications as though they are Torah Mi'Sinai ...

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