21 February, 2016

Retrospect—Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill

[Reviews from HexWhyZed are not in any way timely or culturally pertinent, just the impressions from a dimly-lit island in the distance and the flotsam jettisoned along its shores. They may also contain spoilers—you have been warned.]

It is a righteous fury I feel, and damn, it feels good.

I've always been an overtly sensitive person, emotions roiling just beneath the surface before erupting in sometimes inappropriate exhibitions of feeling. I was often chastised for this while growing up, creating a sensitivity to the condition of being sensitive. I've also had Depression for most of my life, and ten years ago I developed a chronic pain condition.

Invisible illness is inherently difficult to empathize with; humans believe what they can see, with the exception of old men in clouds and miracles burned on toast. Hearing voices? "Just ignore them!" Depressed? "Just decide to feel better!" In pain all the time? "Surely you're exaggerating." This is likely in defense of the fear each of us has of losing control—of our thoughts, our feelings, our very bodies.

While this fear may rationalize the segregation, imprisonment, and torture of the mentally ill throughout history, it does not excise the responsibility we bear regarding such treatment, especially its present persistence for profit. The origins, evolution, and current practices of "mad medicine" are the unsettling subjects in Robert Whitaker's Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill.