Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The mental health conspiracy – Part I

There are any number of reports coming out telling us that more and more people suffer from mental health problems, but it may be time to question whether this is the case, and perhaps as importantly, whether there are any nefarious reasons if this is the case. There seems to be a three pronged approach to mental health in general, and to the more moderate forms of mental illness, depression, anxiety disorders and the like. The first is an ongoing advertising and marketing campaign to encourage social acceptance of mental health issues, generally along the line of suggesting that everyone has some degree of mental distress at some point in their life and that there should be no social stigma attached to it. At first glance this appears to be nothing but a good thing. The more people accept mental health the more likely those who are ill are to do something about it. We will come back to that. The second prong is the increase in focus on specific groups within society who are viewed as being more at risk, particularly adolescents, new mothers, people involved in stressful situation such as marriage break up and so on. Again this appears to be a good thing. Psychologists have established that certain groups, at certain times are more prone to suffering mental illness so focusing attention and highlighting mental health care to those groups makes good sense perhaps.

Then we come on to the third prong. This is somewhat more troubling as it stems from an rather strange and worrying new phenomenon. More and more there are cases of children being placed on social services watch lists and in some cases being taken into care ostensibly because the mother is described as being mentally ill. The mother is generally then assessed as suffering from either depression, stress or anxiety and is typically referred for a combination , of counselling and drug therapy, on the explicit understanding that this is a condition of being granted the children back. Now, this is a rather different situation to the other two strands, but this allows for the possibility that perhaps there is more to the other two than meets the eye. Taken as a combined approach the three prongs can be seen to be establishing that mental illness is socially acceptable, that it is prevalent amongst many disparate groups of both genders and all ages, and that getting help with mental illness is of benefit to families. Again this could all be seen as a positive thing, until you begin to look at the treatment of mental illness.

In the UK most mental illness is treated by a combination of neuro-chemicals, psychoactives and cognitive or talking therapies such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) or neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). The way that these therapies work is by adapting and changing thought processes through linguistic techniques, and through deep relaxation techniques, rather similar to hypnosis techniques. It is interesting to note that many pharmaceutical treatments for mental illness have a side effect of making the recipient more susceptible to suggestion, or effectively more easily hypnotised. So, we have a situation where more and more people are being diagnosed as being mentally ill, and a recognised treatment regime that is designed to make them more susceptible to suggestion and more compliant. Wouldn't it be terribly paranoid to try to link these in any way? But then, paranoia is a mental illness, so perhaps I should be good and report me mental illness to my GP because it is socially acceptable, and then, for the good of may family and friends, I should be good and take my medication and attend my therapy sessions, and then maybe all of these bad thoughts, all of these fears will go away and I'll stop worrying about the environment, and the wars around the world, and the corruption in government and corporate business and everything else. Wouldn't that be nice?