There is nothing shameful about having a mental illness.

Do you think this applies to all mental illness? Just some? Or none at all?


I don’t know, do you count personality disorders as mental illness? If so, I think people with antisocial personality disorder should be ashamed. But then, if they could feel shame they wouldn’t be sociopaths.

No. But I don’t think you need to be “out” or anything, but denial isn’t healthy. It is especially bad when people avoid taking medications or having therapy when their behaviors affect their lives, and more importantly the people around them.

I believe more strongly in biological bases for mental disorders than most people (the general population assumes nurture more often). So in a sense, people can’t help it. But that doesn’t mean that they are excused in all cases, so then I think these people should be ashamed.

Personality disorders are definitely mental illness. Their defining factor is that they are considered more permanent and harder to treat. The entire Cluster B (dramatic, emotional or erratic disorders) sounds like a pain the ass to me, I have only dealt with 1.5 of them. E.g. you can’t really help being Borderline, but stop having kids and inflicting it on them, that’s shameful.

Why? Is this independent of any particular action they may or may not have taken? Are you just automatically assuming that everyone with some form of antisocial personality disorder (which is more complicated than just “sociopath”, you might do yourself a favor and become better acquainted with the subject before you make statements like that) has done something past your inherently subjective idea of what is or isn’t shameful behaviour?

And on that note, OP, the answer is of course it applies to all of them. For the same reason that there’s nothing to feel shame over having any particular illness of the body. Having any sort of illness associated with shame implies that the person with it is to blame for it. And frankly, it doesn’t do the person in question any good to bear the burden of the illness, and have others heap blame on them for having it on top of that. What kind of asshole wants to do that to someone anyway?

The shame needs to be removed, so more people can get the help they need. Too many folks are SUFFERING, because they don’t want to bear the label. Since it’s called “MENTAL” illness, they think it’s something in the MIND that should be controlled, but they are too weak to handle it.

If you break your leg, it isn’t a sign of weakness to see the doctor, get x-rays, and wear a cast while it heals. If you are depressed or anxious, you’ve got something biochemically unbalanced in your brain neurotransmitter soup, and medication can correct this.

You wouldn’t try to THINK a broken leg better; there’s no reason to feel you must THINK your way out of depression.

My kneejerk reaction to the OP, based on nothing other than my own experience and how I feel right now was:

Only if you refuse to treat or manage it.

Well exactly. There’s no shame in having a mental illness, but there can be shame in how you respond to it.

I’m concerned because this frequently-trumped out analogy no longer makes sense to me.

If I break my leg, I can see the bone jutting out of my skin. I can get an X-ray and see the fracture. The treatment is pretty straight-forward.

Mental illness is not this way at all. A person can reasonably argue with another about whether or not they are depressed or anxious. Even professionals can be confused. And there is no objective way to know if someone is “cured” or not. You often can’t even rely on the sufferer’s word, because their perspective may be off. They may even enjoy what’s happening to them, oblivious or indifferent to how crazy they appear to others. The more they insist they are fine, the crazier they look.

And then there’s the issue of deciding where disease ends and personality begins. And if the personality is disordered too, what then? How do you define “normal” for such an individual?

I read the most recent thread about depression, where poster after poster kept exclaiming “Why would anyone feel ashamed?! It’s not a big deal!” I guess I’m heartened to see this attitude expressed, but I can’t help but feel it’s a bit…fake. How many times a day do people use the insult “crazy” or variants thereof? How unashamed would these people be if they were the ones diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder or any of the others? In other words, it sounds like something that is easy to say, but it’s harder to actually believe. Especially when it comes to yourself.

I’m not saying people should or should not feel ashamed. I just don’t like oversimplication. Not everything is biochemical in nature–just find the right drug and everything’s gonna be alright. Not all mental illness can be easily analogized to physical injuries or diseases. That doesn’t make them any less “real” or “unshameful”, but it does make them different.

If you’re the kind of person that likes the idea of something more objective and measurable (not surprising since I know you’re a scientist), perhaps it would help to know that there are rating scales meant to give a more objective measure of many forms of mental illness (although this tends to be done more for research than for patient care, I know there are some psychiatrists who do use these rating scales to gauge how their patients are doing).
Two major examples are PANSS for schizophrenia and the the Hamilton Scale for Depression.

The longer we use science to learn about ourselves and the world around us, the more we learn that what we had previously thought to be demonic possession, lack of willpower, or sheer perverseness turn out to be biological in origin.

I think many people prefer to think that everything about who they are is determined by their own individual actions and decisions, and that they couldn’t possibly be derailed by something less than a brain tumor or a pick ax to the head. Yet, I don’t see any reason to believe that the mind and the brain are separate entities, which means the mind - and hence, ourselves - are only ever the sum of the biological and chemical processes of the brain. If one of them goes awry, even subtly, it changes our personalities.

Yes, individual decisions and actions have consequences for our brains, but individuals also have pre-dispositions to addiction, depression, and panic disorders. So, I think shame is counteractive. Better that we speak with compassion, better that we give the benefit of the doubt, and better that we educate ourselves and continue to further our knowledge of how our own brains work than we feel bad or tell others to feel bad because of a physical problem with how our brain works.

It IS shameful when you act like an asshole.

Been there, done that - but being on the receiving end this year has made me resolve to not date overly depressed and/or self-absorbed bipolar men. Ever.

Ideally no, but mental illnesses can cause you to act in embarrassing ways, which will make most people embarrassed.

Cancer that causes incontinence is going to make people embarrassed too. Ideally it wouldn’t but sadly these things do.

What about situations where the response to a mental illness is a symptom of the illness? Depressed people often refuse treatment while under the very vivid impression that their thoughts represent reality and they don’t need treatment.

Schizophrenics also respond very poorly to reality, but somewhat appropriately to their distorted reality.

If my depression makes me run away from my family because I think I’m worthless and that they all hate me, should I be ashamed I ran away? Is that behavior a part of my illness or is it the way I reacted to the illness?

I don’t like VOW’s analogy either, but I think his point about seeing a doctor is still valid. Even if you don’t classify your mental problem as a disease, you should never be ashamed of asking someone for help.

Of course not, but as people said, it’s how you deal with it. If you refuse to do anything about it, yes, it’s something you should be ashamed of. Or even worse – those who just use it as an excuse to be a jackass, or fall back on it when they mess up. (I can’t help it, I’m ill!) Those type of people make me want to kick puppies.

I am a bit ashamed of my mental illness when I let it show through (freaking out in public a little.) But I’m also ashamed because lately in the news, there have been quite a few people with the same mental illness as me, who have killed people.

I promise you though, I’m not dangerous, I’ve never killed anyone, and I never will. :slight_smile:

I hope my confessing all this won’t make me look bad in the eyes of my forum-mates.

Ya know, if you used a few more randomly-capitalized words you would be more convincing.

On this we agree. It is different. I guess people use to disease model to explain mental illness because it underscores the fact that the mentally ill person is not to blame. But mental illness is its own special kind of hell.

I try, when given the opportunity, to fight against this stigma. I’m not ashamed that I have chronic psychological disorders. I’m proud of how I’ve responded to them. I wish more people were comfortable about getting their issues out into the open.

And yeah, we say ‘‘crazy’’ all the time. I’ve embraced crazy. I’m a fucking nut. That’s just a part of who I am.

I can see how being open about one’s problems would be good around close intimates.

But in general? I dunno. Do I really need to know if my coworker is depressed? I guess it might be helpful to know on the chance that it affects her personality and job performance. But a yeast infection can also affect someone’s personality and job performance. I would consider this TMI. Just knowing she is under the weather is all I need to know.

That’s kind of how I view my own problems. Am I perpetuating stigmas by maintaining my privacy? Probably. But the truth is that for most people, it is TMI. And I’m not going to do anything but make my life more frustrating by spilling my guts to people who won’t really understand anyway.

Lakai, I think what people are describing is when others refuse treatment that can get help and in turn, use their denial as a weapon and excuse. I think that’s completely different than, say, a schizophrenic who is to paranoid to see a therapist. That truly is a facet of their condition and one they can’t help. If you can’t break through something like that, what else is there to do?

That said, I agree with others that it’s nothing to be ashamed of, yet we often feel that way regardless. As a fellow sufferer of psychological disorders, I d my best to treat and overcome my afflictions. However, I’m still embarrassed from time to time when the symptoms inconvenience others, interrupt my partner’s life or make anyone uncomfortable. I’m sure folks with physical issues feel the same way about whatever out-of-the-norm intrusions they face, as well.

I also embrace the terminology surrounding this illness. It seems only right to demystify it as much as possible and to bring a sometimes lighthearted approach to an otherwise serious subject. Just my opinion.

It took me a long time to get help (had symptoms of depression/bipolar since childhood) for several reasons. In hindsight it makes me very frustrated, because I’m sure it’s damaged some of my friendships and relationships.

First, it was the 70s when I was a kid. Nobody was really thinking about mental illness and children. Plus, our family was not exactly in a stable situation; if you could point to anyone who needed therapy, you would certainly point to my stepdad or my mom before you got to me.

Later, when we got out of that situation, we had problems with my brother, who was acting out. So we had to prioritize. Money/energy was limited. Are you going to pay attention to the kid who is almost impossible to control in a school setting, or the kid who cries at school, spends most of her time alone but gets good grades? Bit of a no-brainer…

Then when I decided to study psychology in high school, I became so focused that I didn’t even think that I might actually have problems of my own. I had several mini-breakdowns in college, usually relationship-triggered, but thought nothing of it. At the time it seemed everyone else was having their own drama too.

It wasn’t until I was five years into my first professional job when I started on medication for depression. The only person at work I told was my supervisor. Fortunately she was awesome, but I also think she had the suspicion that my job was just making my condition worse. She was right; I left 2 years later.

Now, after over 10 years of meds, therapists, psychiatrists, etc. I am starting to get better. But at the same time, I do still face some difficulties. Sometimes, people think because I am “better”, I should be perfect or something. One friend in particular has a dad whose bipolar is really well-controlled (but then, he has had it since shortly after Vietnam; I would hope they would have it under good control by now!). She seems amazed that I am not quite as consistently well as he is.

I also have to be careful how much I talk about my condition, as a couple of my friends get pretty awkward about it. I don’t think they think I’m crazy, but I think that they may not trust my current recovery as much as I do.

The media does irk me at times, when they seem to indicate that bipolar automatically equals crazy. Even when I was unstable, the worst things I ever did were yell at people, and once I kicked over an end table. I never hurt anyone, or myself. I don’t have hallucinations or hear voices. I’m not dangerous. I take my meds, do my therapy, and try really hard to be a good and pleasant person. I’m not always successful, but I’m trying. :wink:

I wonder if societal opinion will get better over time? Several disorders seem to be increasing in frequency among the population, which you would think would lead to increased awareness. But I agree, the fact that others can’t necessarily “see” that something is wrong with you (like a broken leg or something) makes it difficult.