Today is a special day because I get to publish an anonymous (to you) post from a reader who, probably rightly so, takes issue with the term “mental illness.” She comes from a nursing background, so it’s not like she is just making this stuff up 😉 Enjoy!

It’s this whole thing of the term “mental illness.” That term has so much “negative baggage” attached to it. Immediately most people conjure up the bizarre images of medieval to the 1900’s days of Insane Asylums (Jane Eyre and the Secret Mad Wife) to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

So, I say, maybe it’s time for a new term. Instead of “Mental Illness,” let’s call it “BCI” “Brain Chemical Imbalance.”

The majority, if not all, people with mental/emotional abnormalities usually have problems with their brain chemistry. That’s why psychiatrists today are really “specialized” pharmacologists who prescribe the new meds we now have to help regulate brain chemicals. It’s a tricky job as everyone’s brain is a tad different. So it can take awhile to get the right Rx combinations and dose.

Many people have a problem when they hear “Mental Illness.”

In my generation (I am the older generation now!) we, or at least my family , never openly discussed any health issues, period. That was private information. Perhaps we were a stoic group (German heritage) or just what society did at that time (and some still do.) But today, and especially with all the personal online media sites, many are sharing their personal health, family and work situations on the Internet.

So back to “BCI” and today’s society. From my 70+ years of observations, I see, feel so much more stress/anxiety in today’s world.  I never felt that stress raising kids in the 70’s and 80’s. We did live a calm, comfortable,  [relatively] problem free life for 35 years.

The Health Continuum

But from my Nursing training, I see physical and mental health (I even like “mental health” better than “mental illness”) on a continuum. “Normal/good” are in the middle of it. At one opposite end are the worst stages of either physical or mental health and the other end are the best, most healthy stages.

For physical health:
Terminal illness (incurable) is perhaps the worst, while Olympic athlete is at the best end.

For Mental Health:
Catatonic Schizophrenic is worst and ultimate optimist is at the best end, perhaps.

Most, if not all, of us fall somewhere in-between. We all go through life with some sickness, surgery, high blood pressure etc. We all go through life with some sadness, even depression at times, anger, anxiety. We all have different levels of physical and mental stress at different times in our lives.  STRESS is a definite part of this mortal journey.

Mortality was designed with problems. This ends the Sermon for today.

What do you think about replacing “mental illness” with “brain chemical imbalance”? Do you think it would take? Would it reduce the stigma of “mental illness”?

One thought on “Is it time to retire the term “mental illness”?”

  1. Chemical imbalance still seems a little too harsh for today’s safe space crowd. How about High Brain Pressue (ya know like high blood pressure)? Or maybe just Brain Flu or Brain Cold or Mental Malady or Mind Mishap. Alliteration is a bonus. 😉

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