Mental Illness Imaginary or Real Disease

Mental illness is a very real condition, brought on by many factors; both emotional and physical.  Also, a segment of society is biased towards those who suffer from this disease; because of that fact, this article attempts to address the issue of; “Is mental illness real or imaginary?”

Why would a person, one that certain groups of society question; ever claim to be diagnosed with: schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, (OCD), or labeled with a personality disorder?  This is a notion of some people, which may cause one to think twice before making that claim, at least in public.  Even though mental illness could be imaginary, is it really? According to professionals in the field of mental illness, case studies would indicate that mental illness is very real.

An article written by Bobgan & Bobgan, Mental Illness Is Not a Disease, states, “The terms mental disease, mental illness, and mental disorder are popular catch-alls for all kinds of problems of living, most of which have little or nothing to do with disease.” The article indicates that according to research psychiatrist(s), the term used to refer to one afflicted with this condition is, “nonsensical, a semantic mistake”. The authors continue to argue, “Although a medical problem or brain disease may bring on mental-emotional-behavioral symptoms, the person does not and cannot rationally be classified as “mentally ill.”  Some religious groups have termed the disease, or existence of such a condition, to be a matter choice in behavior.  In other words, one can choose to have a mental illness or not.

There exists a report from the government concerning prisoners “faking” a condition allowing special medications, accommodations, and considerations for those diagnosed with mental illness, (U.S. Prisons and Offenders with Mental Illness [USPOMI], 2003).  Attorneys have found this to be a hindrance in their attempts to argue for a client what justice should accept; mental illness is a disease.  Even though a psychiatrist’s duty is to apply a degree of care that is generally expected by society, courts usually consider that the diagnosis of mental illness is not an exact science.

 However, it is apparent that when a patient that has been misdiagnosed with a physical ailment, in lieu of a valid mental disorder; this could cause them to actually harm themselves due to the feelings of not being understood.  People know themselves better than any physician who deals with, (perhaps), 50 patients per day.  Statistics indicate that the number of prisoners incarcerated have been known to follow through with their threats of self-injury, even to the point of suicide. (USPOMI, 2003)  

Thyroid disorders can cause a wide variety of physical and mental ailments. Should a patient’s complaint be ignored, until a physical ailment is eliminated? There have been court cases where a former patient is suing for the improper diagnosis and treatment of mental illness.  Courts do not look favorably upon physicians that do not hold their profession to the highest degree of accountability.  

The question of mental illness being imagined by the people affected by this deadly disease, including family, friends, and doctors; does seem ludicrous.  Should one consider the history of mental illness being considered witchery, evil spirits, or curses, one would believe that perspectives have changed with the progress of humanity.  Even though mental illness could be imaginary, it is not.  According to professionals in the field of mental illness, case studies would indicate that mental illness is very real.  As productive members of society we should educate ourselves to avoid tragedy for the next suffering mental patient.  Is mental illness a choice, imaginary, or real?  Could it possibly be a “sickness of the soul”?  Regardless of theories or opinions the facts speak for themselves.  Mental illness does exist and it is very real.