Once Insane, Always Insane

The negative effects of psychiatric labelling were highlighted in a famous experiment conducted by the American psychologist David Rosenhan in the early 1970s. Rosenhan asked “healthy” volunteers to fake hallucinations in order to be admitted to different psychiatric hospitals across the United States. After admission, the volunteers were instructed to behave normally and to tell staff they were now fine. Despite acting “normally”, all the volunteers were diagnosed with a mental illness, and only obtained release from the institution after agreeing to take antipsychotic drugs. The experiment is widely interpreted as showing that once someone has been diagnosed as insane, their behaviour is usually interpreted as further confirmation of madness, no matter how sane it might appear in other contexts.

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Have any of you felt like that? No matter what you do from the point of diagnosis on, you will always been seen as mentally ill?

I know I have wondered about what I would have to achieve in order to be seen as sane, someone who has completely recovered fromQuote on mental health: Don't let your struggle become your identity.   www.HealthyPlace.com all mental health issues. How long does that take? What does that look like? Who gets to decide?

I can easily argue that I did recover from a mental illness once. When I was 16 years old I was diagnosed with chronic depression (Dysthymia) and at 22 or 23 years old I was told that I showed no signs of a mood disorder. I was then told the same thing in August 2014. But with that came a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Traits. Did I recover or did I just switch?

I feel that when it comes to mental health recovery there is the constant weight of sliding back into the disorder constantly hanging over our heads. This is why I have found such comfort in seeing myself as Mad then as sick. It’s easy to be myself. It’s not easy to be sick. But, not seeing myself as sick could be see as part of my sickness; a delusion if you will.

I can think of a few examples from my live where even when I behaved as others did I was not viewed or treated the same way because of my mental health diagnosis. I became angry once at a “friend” who betrayed my trust. When I confronted her she reduced my legitimate anger as a symptom of poor mental health.

With mental health it is hard not to feel damned. I think it is society that keeps us sick, not the disorder we’re told is an illness.





7 thoughts on “Once Insane, Always Insane

  1. I feel like no matter how much I recover, I’ll never fully escape the assumptions that I’m crazy. I have major scarring from self-harm, and the scars won’t go away. I’m always going to face people’s judgment for that, and that frustrates me. I’ve seen it mostly in medical settings–the docs and nurses take me seriously until they see my scars or until they see I take an antidepressant (it’s for a sleep disorder, kthx), and then I’m just attention-seeking or drug-seeking, or they start implying that my illness is psychosomatic.

    It happens in public, too, but at least in those settings, most people know it’s not polite to say anything. But you see the lingering looks the first time a new person sees you in short sleeves, and you can feel a shift in the way they relate to you.

    I think mainstream psychiatry is responsible for a lot of this “mental illness is forever” BS. They’re so rigidly devoted to the chemical imbalance theory, despite a lack of proof. And if something’s wrong with your neurochemical production, then it’s permanent. You have to take medication forever–like a diabetic, they tell you, leaving out that some diabetics don’t, in fact, need lifelong medication. It’s a myth that benefits them–you’re brainwashed into dependency, and they benefit financially.

    And I’m far from the only person who’s affected by this, and it makes me really angry. I wish there were more I could do to change it, but I don’t know how. It feels like psychiatry is a hurricane, and I’m just one small voice screaming into it.

  2. I totally agree that once labelled it is hard to shift that label. But I have to disagree with your suggesting you are insane (or not sane) My understanding of the word insane is that it doesn’t actually apply to most people with mental illnesses, and what I know of you it seems to me that you are likely very sane. The term insane is a legal term to apply to someone who couldn’t determine right from wrong at the time of committing a crime. I guess I’m saying this because I think we get enough labels in life without those that don’t apply. I hereby lift that one off your shoulders. 🙂

    • I don’t believe I’m insane 😛 Others do though. The actually meaning of terms like crazy, insane, freak, psycho, I feel like no one actually understands the historical and present day meaning. They just throw the terms around! Thank you for the reassurance though. There are still times where I think I’m going out of mind more.

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