All through my studies i have always thought Dr. Szasz was completely wrong in say that there is no such thing as mental illness, that it is just a label put on people that are different from ourselves.  But, studying developmental psychology i am beginning to wonder if there could be some truth to it.

The background: psychologists are finding that the brain is not fully developed by the age of 21 (on the average for most).  And most mental illnesses are not showing until the age of 22 (again thats the average, illnesses like schizophrenia, bi-polar, borderline personality disorder and so on).

The Theory: Knowing that the brain is not fully developed until the age of 21 could it be that what a mental illness is is just different brain development, or abnormal brain development?

If this theory is tested and proved this would show that Dr. Thomas Szasz was accurate in his assumption that mental illness is just merely a label, and that there is really no such thing, it would really be just different brain development.

What say the court? ideas and opinions? Im trying to contact Dr. Szasz himself to find if he has conducted research about this and his theory.

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Im not speaking of growing out of a mental illness. Once the brain is fully developed, it wouldn't change anymore so growing out of it wouldn't be possible. And yes, it would still stand that if someone is dangerous they would have to be separated to avoid harm to themselves or anyone else in society.

This would be a rather logical view point, but what is the evidence to support it?

That's just it.  There isn't any! I haven't found a study that could show any support for or against this.  As far as i can tell this is an original theory formulated by yours truly.

from a occult standpoint this is a perfectly valid argument, and one i would support. And if i remember right he was at a medical center in New York i think? maybe not NY.

Thomas Stephen Szasz is a psychiatrist and academic. Since 1990 he has been Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the State University of New York Health Science Center in Syracuse, New York. so says the infamous Wiki.

I very much agree with this. There are, no doubt, cases where there are definite problems in brain or neurological development that would undeniably cause someone to have altered functionality justifying a label such as "mental illness".

However, through observation and thought experimentation, I believe that many cases of mental illness are labeled such due to an individuals difficulty conforming to society as it is prescribed to us in the Western world. We're taught, from a young age, to perform well with in a surprisingly narrow set of social rules. We're taught essentially one path for achievement, unless we're lucky enough to have parents or someone in our lives with enough influence to teach us alternatives.


If someone has ADD or ADHD (such as myself) and it can be shown that it is caused by a "chemical imbalance" (obviously a popular idea, just by reading on this forum) so what? Isn't it possible that it's only labeled an "imbalance" because I am not functioning well within the constraints given? In other societal structures, I might be a shaman as Sat-Sekhmet points out. Or I might be an artist or inventor, sponsored by a well to do person, and valued as a contributor to society, like they did in ancient Greece or Da Vinci's days.

Today we value a certain kind of worker and nothing more. In the vast diversity that is biology on this planet and within the Human race, is it reasonable to expect that everyone will fit within this mold, or even within the rigid educational system we're forced through? I say it's an impossibility.

To address the OP, you ask "The Theory: Knowing that the brain is not fully developed until the age of 21 could it be that what a mental illness is is just different brain development, or abnormal brain development?"

That's two different things, "different" and "abnormal" so we would have to clarify. As I, and other posters, have questioned, what is normal and abnormal and under what conditions are the judgments made?

Your question does bring to light the idea that we humans likely have a wide variation in brain development during our childhood and teen years, into early adulthood. Then, of course, the "final product" as it were, would necessarily have a wide variation in outcomes.

So then, we as a society and psychology as a profession tends to set standards as to what normal is. Are those standards even completely valid?

So yes, I do think that "mental illness" as being different brain development is reasonable and likely fairly obvious. It would be marvelous if someone brought these ideas more mainstream, giving the idea of variation some merit in popular thought.

Actually society's constraints are not so narrow as I have experienced them to be. We indeed do have many levels of what is considered normal, then we have ill. As far as being a shaman whether it be in the dim past or in the present being 'different' didn't cut it. You had to demonstrate your power. You do today. I don't know why people want to think that because they are mentally different perhaps they would have ended up as a shaman, a leader or a medicine man. All of those rolls meant if anything one had to have exceptional mental stability and control. After all if you could not foretell events and read signs you weren't very effective now were you? 

Now as far as people with ADHD go I do have some experience in training them in meditation, crystal gazing and giving readings. What I have found is that due to their illness they cannot focus for periods of time in order to do what needs to be done. Now those that I taught were great in other areas, but I did have to make certain whatever tasks were of short duration as they could not focus overly long. Needless to say this limited their ability to do certain types of workings.

dude, its chemical imbalances, i should know it runs in my family and my mom has to deal with it herself. when the wrong chemicals fire off in the brain or your brain isnt firing off the right signals because of chemical imbalance it creates major to minor issues with emotions, comprehension and other things.

people can develop past the age of 21 through advance studies brain function can improve by small things like puzzles, exercise and stimulation to your brain cells.

there are studies and information all over the internet and that your doctor and other professors of physiologic study can give you of how if you catch Alzheimer's early on that simple actions can improve memory. as well as certain fruits and amino acids can improve memory.

i have adhd, its not because im mentally stunted, its because of chemical imbalance. when im overstimulated or too focused into something or have no clue as to why im feeling the way i do...its because my chemicals in my brain arent firing off properly, they even teach this in high-school biology.

it helps me to change my diet and eat organically and stay away from chemically altered man made foods and drinks. it also helps to drink one cup of caffeine a day to calm my mind. yoga and meditation help as well.

but with things like my moms hypothyriod disorder which causes her intense mood swings and unrational thought she has to be medicated. in the last three years shes been on a gluten free diet low sugar and all organic foods. it has helped her to the point where she isnt taking as much medication.

me i havent been on anything for 10 years for adhd. sure i still overthink things, but with help from rational advice and staying away from triggers when i can, im doing great.

mental illness is real, if you meet my uncle who has severe schizophrenia you wouldnt doubt it, when he isnt on medication to help balance out the chemicals in his mind he is far out there to the point you become seriously worried he will hurt himself or someone else.

just something to think about....

blessings to you and yours.

you completely misunderstood what this post was about. please reread the post a few times then try again.

What exactly is considered 'normal' brain development; as opposed to the 'different' brain development?

There was a post by Stonewolf, about the 'scales of mental illness' and that maybe mental illness is merely an uncontrolled 'extra sensory perception'

(I'll see if I can find the link)

And most mental illnessesare not showing until the age of 22 (again thats the average, illnesses like schizophrenia, bi-polar, borderline personality disorderand so on)."

It's actually very common for the symptoms to develop at the onset of puberty, I've had to learn a great deal about bi-polar disorder and even schizophrenia (as bi-polar disorder can develop into schizophrenia) because my son is bi-polar his signs began at puberty, which is not uncommon. I understand you stated on average but from what I've researched and from what I've learned from multiple psychiatrists is that mental illness often appears during puberty, as the body is going through many changes during that time. Also many forms of mental illness are believed to be passed on genetically as well (as with my son, his father was also bi-polar/psychotic). If I remember correctly the father to male offspring when a mental illness is present presents a very high percentage for passing on mental illness. Although, I know not all mental illness is genetic as in parent to child etc. but there are high percentages that appear to be genetically linked.

I have not studied the theory of brain development but I do know studies have been performed and patients are treated for chemical imbalances but that does not rule out that some could definitely have brain development issues, another thing to note is severe emotional trauma can also trigger mental illness as well, such as some severally abused children growing up to be psychopaths etc, while others who suffer no trauma still develop psychopathic etc. tendencies.

The brain is very complex no doubt.

again, the age of 22 is the average age. Yes sometimes psychologists can diagnose earlier should the symptoms be pronounced enough and enough to confirm it.  And like i said to another already, i wont go into the nature vs. nurture debate cause that is a whole other can of worms that could last for years and years.

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