Thursday, August 11, 2005

You're ALL crazy

Well, not all of you. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, just half of you are nuts. bonkers. wacko. touched in the head. lacking a few marbles. two nickels short of a dollar. coo-coo. missing a few screws.

OR maybe it's just this survey that isn't playing with a full deck. Funded almost entirely by the govt (the rest by pharmaceutical companies), one of the lead researchers and professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, Ronald Kessler, remarks rather passively and without irony in an interview with NPR that reactions to life's ups and downs (moving to a new city, ending a love relationship, etc) qualify as mental disorders.

How depressing.

In an article published in the Harvard Gazette, Kessler says:

"No one would be surprised to find that 99.9 percent of the population has had a physical illness sometime in their life," he points out. "Physical illnesses are often mild and short-lived; the same is true of what we call mental illnesses. But what our study shows is that these disorders have an impact on Americans as common as physical maladies such as diabetes and heart disease."

But what about "disorders" that are the analogous to emotional hiccups, like curricula dementia? Mental hangnails, like homeschool legislation anxiety? Common colds of the spirit, like dealing with unsupportive family? The good professor laments:

... many people turn to nonmedical treatments without proven benefit. About one out of three patients relied on sources such as spiritual advisers and Internet groups. "You wouldn't rely on your priest for treatment if you had breast cancer," commented Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, major supporter of the $20 million survey.

$20 million??? Now THAT is insane.

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