Unmasking Mental Illness

Recently, Tom Cruise, an internationally famous movie star, had the following odd interchange with host Matt Lauer while on the Today Show to promote his new movie, "War of the Worlds". To put the quote in context, Mr. Cruise had made headlines earlier in the month by suggesting that actress Brooke Shields was wrong to take antidepressant medications after she suffered a postpartum depression.

Lauer: Aren't there examples, and might not Brooke Shields be an example, of someone who benefited from one of those drugs?
Cruise: All it does is mask the problem, Matt. And if you understand the history of it, it masks the problem. That's what it does. That's all it does. You're not getting to the reason why. There is no such thing as a chemical imbalance.

The interchange is odd because Mr. Cruise's statement flys in the face of today's popular wisdom. Not a day goes by where there we aren't exposed to one or more messages or advertisements that suggests that chemical imbalances cause things like depression and that depression can be remediated with psychiatric medication. Certainly if you are visiting this website and viewing the advertisements that may accompany this article, you may be seeing such messages now. Literally millions of people have been prescribed such drugs, and many have had the experience of benefiting from them (although to be fair, there are also many who have felt that the drugs have not helped, and some who believe that drugs have harmed them). How can it be possible that Mr. Cruise could know something that the rest of us don't know? Whats up with him?

Cruise is a self-identified member of the Church of Scientology, which has a long and well publicized history of being very critical of Psychiatry for reasons known only to them. It is a reasonable assumption to make, then, that in making his assertion that psychiatric medicines only serve to cover over mental illness problems, that Mr. Cruise is speaking on behalf of his church.

Psychiatric Stereotypes

If you go on to read the full transcript of the Today Show interview (available at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8343367/), you see that a particular and rather prejudiced image of psychiatrists emerges. In this image, psychiatrists are accused of promoting: 1) drug addiction and over-medication (in the case of ADHD and the stimulant medicine Ritalin that is often prescribed for this condition), 2) Lobotomy (the surgical destruction of the frontal lobe), and 3) Electroshock therapy. Psychiatrists are accused of holding patients against their will and subjecting them against their will to both lobotomy and electroshock therapies. This is a pretty negative picture.

The thing about this picture is that, while there are substantial elements of truth in it, it is a quite exaggerated and unrealistic picture of how modern psychiatrists function.

To start with, lobotomy is a historical procedure developed prior to the availability of modern psychiatric medication. It is no longer in use. It was never universally embraced as a "best practice", and when it was used, it was used to quiet otherwise very difficult to manage psychotic patients. This doesn't excuse the procedure, but it does help explain how it came to be.

Electroshock therapy (electro convulsive therapy, or ECT) is still in use today. However, modern ECT bears little resemblance to the techniques crudely depicted in "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" many years ago. The technology driving modern ECT has improved vastly from the old days; The current profile has been smoothed, and anesthesia now used to prevent body convulsions. The reason the technique is still in use is because it often produces good results in cases of otherwise-treatment-resistant depression and psychosis. Patients whose severe depressions did not otherwise respond to medication or other therapeutic techniques and who would otherwise remain in severe mental pain and at a high probability of suicide have been helped by ECT. The procedure is associated with some memory loss, but otherwise can clear up or reset moods. Exactly why it works is not entirely known, but it does work. It is never used against a patient's will.

There is a real and distinct possibility that too many of today's children are diagnosed with ADHD. However, that this may be true does not subtract from ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, sometimes otherwise notated ADD when hyperactivity is not present). ADHD is a very real brain condition, and some subset of the children who receive the diagnosis do have it. One of the better treatments for this condition happens to involve the use of a psychostimulant drug, Ritalin, which is highly similar to drugs of abuse such as amphetamine. At the right dose, Ritalin has a 'paradoxical' effect on the ADHD brain. It focuses it instead of making it high. Correspondingly, ADHD children prescribed Ritalin are better able to focus in school and elsewhere. Ritalin is certainly an addictive medicine, and one that some children have abused. However, that this is so is only regrettable. It doesn't mean that the medication should be withdrawn from use. These substances are available by prescription only precisely because they have abuse potential. Many helpful medications have this abuse potential. Should we never prescribe pain patients Morphine or anxiety patients Valium for fear that we would corrupt those patients utterly through such practice? Such a solution seems to my mind a way of throwing the 'baby out with the bathwater'.

But is is possible that the drugs really don't work? What if they are only dangerous, and have no real therapeutic potential as claimed? That seems to be the position Mr. Cruise has taken. To read his testimonial, it is hard to doubt his sincerity and belief that psychiatric medications have no upside. How can we go about understanding the deeper question here of whether psychiatric drugs simply mask mental illness (as claimed) or whether they can help fix that illness. The answer to this question can only be made in the context of the theory one has with regard to how mental illnesses are caused.

Many Theories

Here is my first important point. There isn't simply one theory of how mental illness is caused. There are many. And more than one of them are scientific at the same time.

We can illustrate these different views by pointing out the difference in world-view between two types of mental health doctors, Psychiatrists and Psychologists. We can start by pointing out the obvious:

Q: "What is the difference between a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist?"
A: "Oh, about $75,000 a year".

Rim shot, anyone?

Despite the fact that the two fields share a common subject matter (mental illness), they have some distinct differences. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have the MD degree, while Psychologists are doctors of philosophy, education or psychology with the Ph.D., Ed.D., or Psy.D. Degree, respectively. Psychiatrists' primary training occurs under the influence of the medical model which emphasizes a rigorous biological explanation for illness more often than not. In contrast, psychologists training occurs under a different, more "psycho-social" model that emphasizes the ways that people tend to be products of individual differences in personality and social experience. Today, both fields recognize the vital importance of the factors studied by the other, and strive to operate under the "Bio-Psycho-Social" model. However, historical tendencies and inertia persist in biasing each group towards their respective competencies. The long and short of it is that psychiatrists tend to emphasize the biological underpinnings of the illnesses they treat, while psychologists emphasize the psychological and social underpinnings of the illnesses they treat. A psychiatrist might tell you that depression is caused primarily by a "chemical imbalance" and she'd be quite factually correct in making such a statement. At the very same time, a psychologist might tell you that depression is caused primarily by "irrational thinking" and she'd be quite factually right too. Both statements are true because there is more than one way to look at the truth of what causes depression.

Many Causes

If it isn't enough for you that different professionals see the same phenomena thorough different lenses (and therefore come to different conclusions about how they are caused, and how they are best treated), there is another layer to the problem as well. My second important point is that individual mental illnesses can have multiple causes. This diversity of causality is reflected directly in the five-axis diagnostic method used by all doctors and health professionals working in mental health.

Some mental health disorders are more clearly driven by physical determinants than others, but then you have other disorders that seem to require both physical and psychological causes, or which can be caused by psychology alone. Go figure. Schizophrenia for example is known to have a strong genetic and thus biological cause. However, there are a bunch of people out there in the world who have all the genetics for schizophrenia but not the disorder. So there may be a variety of more psychological and environmental things that have to occur to 'release' the disorder into its maturity. For example, drug abuse is one of those things being looked at today. Anxiety disorders seem to occur more easily in populations of people who carry a gene for 'neuroticism' (a tendency to be emotionally reactive). However, not all people who have this biological background go on to develop anxiety disorders. Instead, there is clear evidence that social skills and environmental variables and experiences must be present in the formation of the problems. Ditto for many forms of depression.

What about depression. Do medication treatments for depression simply mask the real causes of depression? What causes depression anyway. The answer to these questions will depend on who you talk to, and also what sort of depression you are talking about. It is not mere semantics to say this. There seem to be distinctly different types of depressions. Some are more clearly physically caused (endogenous or organic) than others.

If there are different causes of depression and some of those causes aren't purely physical, then why is antidepressant medication helpful for so many people? Why should a physical manipulation of body chemistry (which is how drugs achieve their effect) influence a problem if that problem wasn't caused in the first place by physical means? Here is where the problem gets really interesting.

It's All Connected

My third important point is that people are not unconnected collections of physical and mental and spiritual things. Rather, they exist holistically. Every part is connected to every other part. Sure, the leg bone is connected to the hip bone – but the 'body bone' is also connected to the 'mind bone' as well. It's all one thing from the perspective of the person who is suffering a mental illness problem.

All of the parts of the person are implicated in causing mental illness, and they are all connected together. You can manipulate all of a person's parts by by moving any one part. For example:

You can give a depressed person an antidepressant drug (with their permission of course), and thereby influence that person's brain chemistry. This will change the types of thoughts that this person tends to have (from very negative and self-depreciating thoughts to more positive or at least neutral thoughts). This will also influence what the person does; they might stop sleeping all day for instance, and take up a more normal activity schedule, or be more willing to go out with friends.

You can manipulate a depressed persons thoughts (via Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT, with their permission of course). With continued CBT practice, depression tends to remit and activity levels can increase as well. It is very likely that brain chemistry changes occur as well, although they are difficult to measure.

You can manipulate a depressed person's behavior by encouraging them to exercise physically. This activity increase, if sustained, typically will have a positive effect on depressive behavior and mood.

Even when mental illnesses are known to be more physical than environmental in terms of causation, there are still ways to improve functioning through the use of non physical therapies. For example, CBT is currently being studied as an adjunctive therapy for Schizophrenia. No one would suggest that therapy alone would be any use at all, but recent data suggest that proper antipsychotic medication plus a specific kind of therapy helps patients to function better than medication alone.

This idea that all the parts of a person are connected together is not limited to mental health. Rather, it very much applies to physical health as well. Consider the following chain of events:

1.A lack of exercise (a behavior) helps causes heart disease (a physical problem) in a susceptible man.

2.The news of heart disease is depressing, and the man becomes depressed (a biopsychosocial problem).

3.Both the heart disease and the depression can be addressed medically (via pills and surgeries), behaviorally (via exercise programs and social support), psychologically (via psychotherapy that promotes behavior and thinking-style changes) and spiritually (via prayer).

Thought some of these therapies for depression and for heart disease will work better for people than others, there is no reason to suggest that any particular avenue of therapy is somehow 'wrong' or shouldn't be used. They all can have some benefit. Each approach can be compared to a lever useful for helping to move the total person back towards the healthy place he or she should be.

Conclusion

We're in a position to answer the main question now, "Does medicine mask mental illness?". The answer would have to be "No", but there is a qualification as well. Medicine (both as a world-view, and as a physical intervention) is a perfectly legitimate (and indeed very important) way of thinking about and treating mental illness. While medicine does not mask mental illness, neither does it address all aspects of mental illness. Mental illnesses do have non-physical aspects, and can be caused by non-physical causes. They can also be helped along through the use of non-physical treatments.

Even in some particularly physically-caused problems like schizophrenia, medicine is more successful in treating some symptoms than others. Hallucinations fall away in the face of good antipsychotic medicines. However, delusions are far harder to get to go away. This is perhaps because delusions are a function of memory and learning, while hallucinations are entirely dependent on distorted sensory inputs. Antipsychotic medicines can change brain chemistry, and thereby lower the level of distortion on sensory inputs, granting temporary relief from hallucinations. However, because they don't directly impact memory, they are less effective on delusions, no matter how 'irrational' those delusions might be.

Both medical and psychotherapeutic treatments for depression (specifically Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression, or CBT) produce a reasonable antidepressant effect when depression is mild. When depression is severe, drugs may reach the patient before psychotherapy, or the patient might not be capable of participating in therapy. However, assuming that all other things are equal, where medical and psychotherapeutic treatments for depression differ tends to be in how long lasting they are once treatment has stopped. The antidepressant effects due solely to CBT for depression supposedly lasts longer than the effects due solely to medication. Consider why this might be so: Medications effect how the brain operates in the moment, while CBT teaches a set of coping skills and strategies that gets fixed into memory. When medicine is withdrawn, whatever forces existed prior to treatment that moved that person into depression are free to start at work again. However, when CBT has been taught, new and permanent skills now exist that help the at-risk person fend off new instances of depression. The antidepressant effect one can have from drugs can be extended simply by not stopping them in the first place, but the point remains the same.

Psychiatrists know all this, of course. No charges of conspiracy need be raised to suggest why some psychiatrists continue to practice exclusively via a medical mindset. Much simpler explanations are available. First, they may be dealing with a kind of inertia created as a result of a primarily biological education. Second, they may perceive that there is a resource issue involved in treating non-medically (and they've be right: (psychotherapy is harder to get reimbursed by health insurance than medicine). Third, they might perceive that their customers are less interested in non-medical treatments (and they might be right there too). Non-medical treatments are not advertised on television and on the web, so patients might not know to ask for them. Also people just tend to chose treatments that appear easier and less demanding when given a choice of possibilities. For a variety of reasons, more people are open to taking a pill to fix their ills than they are to committing to rigorously retraining the way they think and act via multiple hours of psychotherapy.

It isn't clear that Mr. Cruise acknowledges the influence of medical and psychological causes of mental illness. Scientologists appear to have their own theory of mind, and in my reading, that theory of mind appears to be incompatible with a scientific world view based on empirical studies in the life sciences. If, according to Scientology, Brooke Shields developed her postpartum depression because there was something wrong with her spirit (or "thetan" as the Scientologists call it), and not because of brain chemicals and hormones that had gone out of balance after pregnancy (e.g., the medical model), or because of the stress of the transition of being a new mother, and the physical strain of keeping up with an infant (the psychological and psychosocial model), or the combination of these two explanations (the biopsychosocial model), then of course it would appear to a believer that psychiatric medications would only be masking the 'true' problem. It appears to me that this is the case and the explanation for Mr. Cruise's odd remarks.

So the answer to the question "Do drugs mask mental illness" (or any illness really) comes down to how you believe that illness is caused. If you believe in the brain, and in hormones and neurotransmitters, in early learning and social influences on behavior, in the power of social support, and in general, in the explanatory power of rational and empirical scientific explanations of illness, then you have to answer the question by saying something along the lines of "No, drugs do not mask mental illness, but neither do they address all aspects of mental illness". If you believe that religious explanations of mental illness (e.g., demon possession, body thetan parasites, or other soul problems) are more true than scientific ones, well, then, you may end up agreeing with Mr. Cruise.

What do you think?

Comments
  • Jennifer

    I think mental illnesses is all of what Dr. Dombeck writes causes by the full connection of physical, mental, biological, cemical,ect. I think it makes sence to say the best therapy would envolve something that touches on all aspects in the persons life. CBT would help to modify how the person handles the stress going on in there life, but its true it is not always offered. I just am going off anti-depressent I don't even know if it really was depression? I know I really never was offered anything else to help me, I would be open to some sort of CBT if I knew how to get it? Now I still have all the same stressers in my life as before and no coping skills either. Medication although may help some people with the symtoms I don't think it should be the only thing addressed.. Thank you Your site is very helpful.. Jennifer

  • Carol

    Traditional Chinese Medicine addresses the entire person spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. Each treatment influences the whole individual landscape of that person's imbalances wherever they may exist within the energetic sphere. Diet is a vital component. The individual is led to discover how spiritual, mental, emotional concerns influence the physical body. Quantum physics now shows us what the ancients knew - life is energy. And everything we think, feel, do has a significant impact on our energy field. Environment both interior and exterior influences this field. The holistic approach never fragments as in many others so-called healing techniques but brings clearly into focus the root of imbalance and restores balance. This is true harmony. And true healing! It works!

  • Poetdowns

    I was switching channels amid the electronic wasteland of tv, and i caught part of Mr. T.C.'s comments. Now, #1 which i kept waiting for this screamingly obvious question to be asked, is at least twice T.C. emphaticly stated: I know the history of psychiatry. You mean you've taken the time and effort to study and research psychiatry, and it's various schools of thought thru history i mean what was the focus of your research? Or, is it that you "know" because you read something L.R. Hubbard wrote in a book? And would that be his science fiction books or his Scientology book(s)? If the latter, do you know where Hubbard got his information -does he give references and sources? Have you ever researched Hubbard himself? By which i mean material(s) not found in the Scientology library. Let me explain something to you T.C., via autopsies we have discovered that there is blood in certain vessels of the brain. And in this blood there really are chemical compounds, like Oxygen for example. Basic biology shows us that the nervous system uses electrical impulses, which in their journey have to cross synapses, which is done by forming certain other chemical compounds. My point is, i don't think you're stupid 'cause you sound well-spoken and show a decent vocabulary. But you sounded like an idiot. No chemicals in the brain? I'm sure somewhere there's a person who would let you observe an autopsy, possibly let you borrow a microscope and draw some CSF fluid. I've done my own research into Scientology back in the day death threats -and attempts- against members who wanted to leave, actual deaths of members who left, Hubbard pretending to be dead (to avoid authorities, accusations, lawsuits, what have you) to the world and to his own "church" while secretly staying in contact with his wife. Now, i have no axe to grind i'm simply a very good researcher with a gigantic curiosity. So when i don't know anything about a subject/topic that catches my eye, the first thing i do is start digging around to learn as much as i can. You would do well to take an unemotional and very close look at the hands in which you have placed your soul, your eternity. Poet

  • N. de jesus

    Mr. Cruise can only speak for himself. I grew up with a mentally ill mother who did not get treatment until she was about 60 years old. He does not need to talk about mental illness if he has not experienced it, either directly or indirectly. Once my mother was treated with medication, she was a completely different person until the day she passed away. Due to my experience I am joining the mental health field to help those children and families who might be in the siuaiton I was in when growing up. Mr. Cruise needs to explore the mental health issue further before giving erroneus advice to people who might be in need of receiving mental health treatments.

  • Randy

    Mr. Cruise does get it half right. The best that can be hoped for with some mental illness's is a mask. I will take my meds to mask my ills that knowledge can not repair. Knowledge and understanding does not make my childhood memories go away. It is truly an infantile suggestion that getting to the root of a problem cures it. I know why I am the way I am. Scientology can not make me feel better, only worse by harping on it. My doc understands that my past is better off masked (since I am coping well) than exposed and dealt with.

  • Neil - West Vancouver

    Nothing in what I am saying should detract people from trying medication to see if they will experience relief from symptoms. My sister has had schizophrenia for 30 years and since the beginning has been on medications from a psychiatrist supposedly extremely knowledgeable in all the available medications (drugs). These have had no impact on improving her symptoms and certainly not in effecting a cure. I feel that the drugs (for her) are a placebo to sooth the conscience of the psychiatrists, pharmaceutical companies and public at large, that meaningful progress is being made. They wish to sooth their conscience and that of the public and keep the pandemic of mental illness swept under the rug. As to “current profile has been smoothed, and anesthesia now used to prevent body convulsions” – notice the cover-up language of Mark Dombeck, Ph.D., profile has been smoothed. What are the studies proving its effectiveness beyond the base rate of non-treatment? Psychiatrists need to adopt a higher level of honesty about their ineffectiveness to treat this widespread disease before meaningful advances will be made.

  • barbara

    I'm told I'm bi-polar - after seeing many Dr's over the years - being on medication for most of those years - I can tell you , from experience that medications don't work for me . Every suicide attempt I made was while on medication. I admit I isolate myself- I have to - I am scared I'll "freak out" when I'm with others. I think people "mean things" that they don't mean at all. Two of my friends that haven't deserted me as of yet swear I have different personalities -my husband included. It's a living hell everyday. I won't try medications again - as I said I became worse while taking them. Thanks

  • Drew Terry

    Avoiding pain! That is it, the root of all the psychiatric drugs, the endless defense above of the psychiatric profession, the unending parade of self-help and professional help books that are released daily, all of which claim to be this or that or something that they hope will connect with you on your next depressing trip to the bookstore in the never ending quest in which we are all engaged. Quest? For what? Enlightenment? No. Nothing nearly so sinister and existential as Enlightenment. That would be so complicated and fascinating that we would already have an established guru and entire library of books if that were the key. The key is so simple, so deceptively familiar and so obviously right in front of each and every one of our faces every single waking and sleeping minute of every single day of our lives that we go right by it. Never give it a second thought, no way, can't be that easy. We all know that we are trying to avoid pain, right? Too simplistic? That is exactly the point. That is why no one gets any of it. One of the primary defense mechanisms, especially in our narcisstically pathological (read: alchoholic) family histories in our beloved country the USA, is to intellectualize to death each and every suggestion, statement, idea, diagnosis, talk-show, book, interaction, insult, look, stare, wrong food at the drive-thru - everything! Why? To keep our mind off the overly simplistic problem which is at the root of it all. Our minds are intelligent enough to make sure that every thing we do, collectively and individually, #1 priority is make sure that we avoid pain at all costs! Everything else flows from pain avoidance - all dysfunctional behaviours, psychiatric episodes, ADHD, Personality Disorders, everythihng! But we make sure to deceive ourselves, in ways that are inconceivable to you even while you are doing it, so that we don't allow ourselves to see! Sound crazy? Well, now you may be starting to get it. Read anything by Alice Miller and then read "Reclaiming Your Life" by Jean Jensen. Then, open your eyes. If things do not seem any different, then wait a while and read it again. We have all been asleep our entire lives since the first time any of us suffered any kind of trauma in childhood. Sleeping for that long, it takes a while just to rub the sleep our of your eyes. But it can happen. Just have faith. Drew Terry (I AM NOT affiliated with any medical, mental or otherwise self-help industry or profession in any way. I am a businessman in my fifth year of psychotherapy, still doing the work each and every day).

  • Brad Ferguson

    I believe that both have great potential. One focuses on the Thomas Szaza's medical model, the other on thought, behavior, and perception/cognition. They are both striving to treat mental illness. When I think Tom Cruise steps out of line is the way he presented his argument. It is obvious that he is passionate about his beliefs. Where he makes the wrong turn is when he denounces psychiatry despite research findings. For instance, we (mental health workers) may diagnose a child with ADHD and place him/her on stimulating medication (according to stimulation theory, those who suffer from ADHD are understimulated and need the stimulation provided by Ritalin, etc.). One may also take an approach of behavior modification, and social factors contributing to hyperactivity/impulsivity without the pharmacological "crutch." I do agree with Cruise's point that we are somewhat creating more problems by going straight to medicine instead of therapy. Some people may respond well to the medication, some may not. Some may respond well to placebo, some may not. I am an advocate of therapeutic methods first and foremost before medicinal interventions. I think the forst step would be to educate the public about mental health and show that there are other ways to treat mental illnesses rather than psychotropics.

  • Sophia

    I saw the interview with Tom Cruise on TV. My initial impression at that time without much immediate thought as to the topic at hand, brought to mind the Movie he was in, “Magnolia” At that time I thought I thought his performance was great, but seeing him most recently in the news I was forced to wonder if somehow that character he played so well perhaps had not been particularly difficult for him, or perhaps he couldn’t shake the attitude he had portrayed. I was just so struck by a sense of smug arrogance, beside which the topic of discussion paled. Do most people really want to rely on medicines to make their lives more tolerable for everyone involved? Cost aside, the humiliating search for help and answers aside, the idea of having to rely on medicines, remembering to take them, remembering to refill them, the follow up appointments, and hassles with insurance companies (should one be fortunate to have this coverage) is, I am sure, something the vast majority of people involved in this activity every day, would much prefer to avoid if possible. Medication is not quite the “instant fix”, those outspoken, uninformed individuals would like everyone to believe. There is no magic cure for whatever it is that ails those who seek help what medications can do however is give the individual enough breathing space to adjust their focus and see a little more clearly how to begin to address previous thought patterns and behaviors which were detrimental to both the person and others around him. Years ago when my children were young I finally sought help for what was eventually labeled AD-HD. Perhaps it is so, others might not agree, but call it what you may, being able to have this medicine not only helped my quality of life, but I don’t want to think how my kids might have turned out being raised by someone as inconsistent, confused, and easily frazzled as I was at the time. I am sure I would have resorted to some other form of self medication had this help not been available. Alcohol is a ready source, and everyone knows how effective that method is. Perhaps Mr. Cruise might want to look into a more insidious addiction, narcissism, addiction to self.

  • Angel

    A good friend of ours was suffering for depression for years. The doctors prescribed medications, and he took them for many years. He had a bad reaction to the medication and both kidneys needed to be removed. He was able to get a kidney donor and receive a new kidney. Drugs can be dangerous! It can help, I am not against them, but in his case, he lost both his kidneys from the medication. That would give you a reason to really be depressed. On a personal level I grew up with a mother that suffers from Schizophrenia, and it was a living hell. I had to deal with extreme stress for many years because of her abusive behavior. I used to suffer flashbacks, where I could go years as this totally wonderful person, but something could trigger a flashback from all the abuse I received as a child and I would get overly sensitive and cry. I realize that's perfectly normal. But somebody told me, that I was mentally ill because I was a little depressed? I mean what about people who lost a loved one, then they found out they had cancer. Wouldn't they cry? Isn't a little sadness ok? Or what about the victims on WW2 in the concentration camps, some of those people were depressed. I am sure they were not mentally ill. It's a normal reaction to be depressed if anybody was experiencing that. My real question is anybody that is depressed...are they a mentally ill person? I can't imagine all the people in WW2 that went into the concentration camps being mentally ill. Or a child that grew up with a parent that was abusive, and later on in life occasionally depressed because of the past, considered mentally ill. Or a person who got the doctors report and in that report they said they had terminal cancer. It's only normal to cry in extreme situations. But this person insisted that I was mentally ill because I was a little depressed because of my childhood? What do you think? Is she messed up with her theology? Are all burn victims, cancer patients, or children of abuse, that had a few bouts of sadness considered mentally ill. Personally I think the person that told me that was a little ill herself, but I need confirmation...seh clearly told me that anybody that was depressed was mentally ill. I knew my mother was...but it's ok to cry if you are under extreme circumstances that's normal...and it goes away after a while you know....it should...if it continues and never does...then I would say that could be a mental illness...but I am a very happy girl...I am away from my mother though. I don't know why, but whenever I got around her she was just so cruel. I know she didn't know what she was doing but she would try to always discredit me. I realized I gotta get away from this abusive relationship, because if I don't it's my own fault. You know when I finally severed the relationship with her....any symptoms of saddness and depression left. I am a very happy person now. I just wish I could help her but only God can. Her abuse for that long was just unbearable.

  • Anonymous-1

    This is a direct quote from my own blog. I have had patients, doctors (Neurologists, Psychiatrists), theologians, and teachers read this and they all agree. I HATE TOM CRUISE WITH A PASSION THAT CONSUMES MY CHEMICALLY IMBALANCED REMNANT OF A SOUL. Now, before I begin, everyone who has ever read and understood this weblog has a higher grade equivalent than Tom Cruise. I write, on average, at a college junior-senior level (and I'm 17). Tom Cruise didn't finish high school. I realize this backlash is more than a little behind the times, but as I surfed looking at reasons to have Mr. Cruise, and numerous other Scientologists, locked in prison for the rest of their lives, I found absolutely no websites or blog entries, and very few forums not started by yours truly, that give a patient's view of severe mental illness. My diagnoses are: Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified Marked difficulties in interaction with others. Elective Mutism. Normal to high cognitive functioning 85+ IQ. This is the easiest to deny, but its classification of disorders is cruiseproof. I mean foolproof. Ironically, Tommy boy brought this classification of disorders to the forefront with the movie "Rain Man." Bipolar Disorder, Type 2 Major Depressive Episodes, Mild Manic Episodes This disorder is actually more prevalent in adults than in the adolescents who get the publicity. It is thought to be caused by an imbalance of seratonin, and has been corrected with lithium since Plato. Paranoid Personality Disorder Cynicism. Sometimes Delusional. No HIGHLY TESTED THEORETICAL, chemical cause, unlike bipolar disorder. Why did I include it then? Because some mental illnesses, namely personality disorders, are not yet known to be chemical Psychotic Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified Hallucinations, delusions of persecution, disorganized thought processes. Definitely caused by an imbalance of dopamine seen in one to two percent of the population. I have had 2 EEG's, a CT scan, and an MRI that show these symptoms. Blaming "thetans" in the face of evidence and treatments that have worked for most people most of the time is stupid and evil. My meds work most f the time. A VAST MAJORITY OF THE TIME. Granted there are some hippocracies in psychiatry. It is rare for a person with above average cognitive functioning to be diagnosed as schizophrenic. Thats why I am PD-NOS, I am up there with John F. Nash, Joanne Greenburg, Eduard (son of Albert) Einstein. There are fewer schizophrenics in mental institutions than ever. If you told an educated person with an illness to not take their meds, they would laugh in your face. What makes Tom Cruise any different?

  • Mishal

    I think mechnized life has promoted mental illness to the great extent.

  • Anonymous-2

    You know, I've had the exact opposite experience. I've been told I'm schizophrenic, without explanation, without any testing or examination. And without the doctor being able to remember my name. In fact, she made several different diagnosis, but never spoke to me more than 15 minutes at a time. Never tried. Just said "I want you to take these pills" . Never once bothered to answer any questions I had about them. Then I went to a doctor who said I had Asperger's Syndrome, which is a Pervasive Development Disorder. It's not treatable by chemicals. None of them are. The symptoms might be, but Of course, I was never given anything I'd consider a valid proof of the diagnosis. I asked the doctor for more examination. He said 99.9% of his patients just come in and say ok. I objected to his trying to persuade me with that method, he denied he was trying to persuade me. I walked out. Doctors who are mistaken are one thing, but I don't need to be flat-out lied to. Maybe he wasn't intending to deceive, but failing to recognize that saying 99.9 percent of your patients do one thing is an attempt at persuasion? That's flat out irresponsible. So yeah, you can make fun of Tom Cruise for dropping out of school and ignore him, but I hope you can agree that there are abuses and errors in the mental health care field.

  • Managed with Medication - and Happy About It

    Being able to successfully manage my depression with medication has shown me, however, that medication is an imperfect replacement for the natural biological process. As any diabetic will tell you, insulin shots help them manage diabetes - the shots don't return them to the their pre-diabetic selves. My depression medication has allowed me to live and hope and laugh again, but definitely at a price. I manage the side-effects with other medications as well as naps and dietary changes. So, having Tom Cruise say that pill-popping is a quick fix... well, he hasn't walked a block (never mind a mile) in my shoes.