This has come a bit in the thread featuring JuneBug, and I wanted to get your opinions specifically on the type of mental illness that comes about due to a chemical inbalance in the brain.
There is a very big distinction made between mental illness and brain injury (from external trauma). Is this distinction valid? Should a chemical inbalance be considered a physical injury, even though it comes about for no obvious reason?
I ask because I wonder, if no such distinction was made would there be less stigma attached to having this type of injury/illness?
In the same way that being born with one lung is the same injury as losing a lung - insofar as the current state of the person in question is "missing a lung" - then no, no distinction should be made between a mental illness caused by external trauma and mental illness caused by internal misfunction. My iPod is broken in the same way whether I
sever the cable on the hard drive or the manufacturer severed it. The problem set is the same; the solutions for fixing the iPod in either case are all the same. The origin of the malfunction is immaterial.
But I'm not sure that there would be a reduction in social stigma frankly. There will still be people who think that the person is being 'punished' for some ill-defined reason; there will still be insensitive clods out there that simply shun abnormalities out of irrational fear; there will still be people who will refuse to treat someone with mental illness as a person, choosing instead to treat them as charity cases. In short, I suspect (but do not know) that the number of people who stigmatize the mentally ill in accordance to how
they acquired the illness is small.