Monday, October 11, 2010

More on stigma of mental illness

The psychiatrist, Gariane Phillips Gunter's, MD, latest blog on Healthy Minds. Healthy Lives. has a video of her in which she argues that mental illnesses are "not your fault" because they are “biological illnesses, just like having high blood pressure, diabetes or cancer". She believes her crown as Mrs United States 2008 gave "her a greater opportunity to be a voice across this great nation for patients with mental illness and their families".

Reducing stigma is welcome but should not be based on a speculative biological theory of mental illness. As mentioned in the previous post, such a theory could actually increase stigma, as it doesn't really promote understanding of mental illness. As I keep saying, please do not misunderstand me. Of course, our thoughts, behaviour and emotions have their origins in the brain, but if that's all that Dr Gunter's saying, it's merely tautologous. However, she's making a statement about how we understand the world and it's not right.

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