A brief look at some myths surrounding the topic.
|When discussing the issue of mental illness there are many myths associated with the topic. But I think it is important to remember that they are only myths and have been proven to be false. Throughout this paper I will discuss some of these myths and attempt to accurately and competently explain the reasons they should be viewed as simply myths.
The first of several misconceptions about mentally ill people is that they are “strange” or “weird.” Most people imagine the individual who sits alone in the corner talking to him or herself. Another image is of the person who seems to have lost touch with reality. An example would be the thirty year old homeless man who thinks he is a living comic book hero. The fact is that the majority of mentally ill people are not much different then you or me at least with regard to outside appearances. Not all cases of mental illness are as severe as others.
Another misconception is that mental illness is incurable. Some view the battle to overcome it as being hopeless. This is because these people lack the proper understanding of the subject. In my opinion many of the “weird” behaviors are actually encouraged by the rest of society. Treating a person recently released from a mental institution with distrust can make the recently cured person wonder if there is still something wrong with them. They may revert to the types of behaviors that they feel society expects of them. To put it another way the person in question may be trying to simply fulfill the social role that they are being told they belong in.
The fact is that studies have shown that seventy to eighty percent of hospitalized mentally ill patients do recover and are capable of living a fairly normal life. This is of course considering that their treatment was adequate and received in time. The same studies also showed that patients, even the most severe, showed improvement after time as long as they received the proper and professional help they needed. Another important factor with the recovery process of these cases was positive support from friends and family. This is similar to what was mentioned before regarding the influence and impact of the mentally ill person’s surroundings. In these cases of recovery the person was accepted instead of distrusted. They were encouraged to function like everyone else instead of being told they were “different” and needed to act the way “different” people do.
Appearances play a big role with society’s way of defining who is and is not mentally ill. This idea is directly related to the myth that people with a mental illness can be clearly distinguished from “normal” people. We can attribute this mainly to the image portrayed about mentally ill people by the media, movies, and television. This has allowed many of the listed myths to grow and spread.
All of these myths spoken of throughout this paper have had a direct impact of the recovery and treatment of mentally ill people. The problem is that these myths create more serious problems by discouraging people from seeking help. The more we analyze these myths and the people they refer to, the more we find that they are not true and that mentally ill people are not so different then you or I.