Wednesday, November 30, 2005

One in 10 pre-schoolers may be suffering mental illness

Picture taken 16 Nov 2005, 5:28pm.

So reports, Adrian Angold, associate professor of psychiatry at the Duke University Medical Centre in North Carolina. It was once thought mental illness was triggered by growing up and therefore a problem encountered during adulthood. Prof. Angold said yesterday he was, 'genuinely surprised' that the study had shown the same rate of mental illness in preschool children, as young as two to five, as in older children.

I love stuff like this. Whilst the language of modern psychiatry or psychology was not around when I was young, I vividly remember the terror and fear that surrounded my growing up. The disabilities I have lived with all my life now have a language that I clearly understand and with which I am able to articulate the problems I live with. What amazes me is that psychiatry is only just now discovering this!

It is amazing how many problems do not exist until some expert says they do. It is also amazing how much we are still ruled by paternalistic attitudes where individuals are not believed until some expert makes the astounding discovery that a problem exists.

Incredible, too, is that so many problems are called mental illness when they are not that at all. To be mentally ill one must have a disease of the brain of some form or another. And whilst it has also been shown that the brain is affected by harsh words and treatment in childhood this is a far cry from the brain being diseased. It seems to me that it is perfectly reasonable to have a fully functioning brain and yet to experience dysfunctional activity within the brain. In this case mental disturbance might be a far better term than mental illness.

But, of course, it is a sign of our times that things must be cast as dramatically as possible in order to have credibility and, indeed, stand some chance of a little help. I am not sure this isn't a part of the victim mentality that surrounds so many of the problems people encounter these days, like alcoholism. As an alcoholic I will never believe it is a disease, it is certainly a problem related to all sorts of life issues, but a disease? I think not.

In ten years time an expert will discover that unresolved problems in childhood can lead to alcoholism in later life, as can any unresolved chronic problems, but then I am not a scientific expert, just an alcoholic.

The profit motive

Picture taken: 20 Nov 2005, 3:59pm.

So long as the profit motive and Globalisation reign supreme, human disaffection and dysfunction are going to increase. I wonder what the difference is between Eurofreeze and Phillip Green, both indulging in the pursuit of wealth and profit, one illegally, the other legally - or at least with a nod and wink from UK law?

Human life is held in little regard generally, though perhaps a little better than animal life. I wonder if life will ever be regarded of worth in and for itself? It hasn't happened yet in all the annuls of history. Our technical sophistication manages to camouflage our personal and psychological naivete, but never quite hides it. History is littered with war, oppression, greed, hatred and intolerance. As a general social/political/economic model we haven't tried love yet, that is still the domain of hippies and loonies, perhaps it's time.