Medicalization Mental Health

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The use of medication in treatment of mental illness has increased at an alarming rate. According to a compilation of data by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in the United States alone, between 1986 and 2005, mental health expenditure for prescription drugs rose from 7% to 27%(2009). This has correlated with the decline of psychotherapy--i.e. talk therapy-- as residential care expenditures have fallen from 22% to14% and inpatient care from 42% to 19%. These statistics suggest that the modern mental health system is moving away from working with people on a personal basis and moving towards blindly treating mental disorders similarly. This is further shown by how medications such as Depakone and Tegretol…show more content…
In the MMHS, this dehumanizing process has taken on new heights as shown by the increasing statistics on mental disorders. The WHO claims, as of 2001, 1 of 4 people suffer from mental disorders. Of the around 450 million people who are currently suffering, there are people whose feelings, thoughts, and emotions would not have been considered disorders several years ago. For instance, Conrad and Slodden(2013) state that there has been an increase in the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and bipolar disorder. Along with increasing the number of diagnoses, this medicalization facilitates dehumanization in the MMHS. In this medicalization, normal anxiety, stresses, and depressions are considered to be mental disorders requiring treatment. This way of thinking effectively ignores and disregards the “political, social, and economic factors” which influence mental illness(Szasz, 1990). As ‘‘human difficulties are scientifically transformed into medical diseases’’, people 's experiences and suffering is more overlooked. Without consideration of these experiences, it becomes easier for people with mental disorders to be dehumanized. Even though the MMHS may have good intentions in its medicalization of certain behaviors, because of its disregard of the factors involved in mental illness, it…show more content…
Its “creation and dissemination” can be considered “one of the major success stories of the modern age” as millions of copies have been purchased, not only by medical officials but also by lay people(Gambrill, 2014). Furthermore, all mental health practitioners are required to use this book for the diagnosis of mental disorders. However, the DSM-V’s classification system is a very dehumanizing part of the MMHS. As aforementioned, there has been an increase in the medicalization of behaviors in the MMHS. This has correlated with the expanded, more general classification in the DSM-V and even incorrect diagnoses of mental illness. As of 2010, it was found that at least 1 million children have been misdiagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(Elder). The National Alliance on Mental Illness(NAMI) has received reports of how this has prevented many people from moving on with their recovery. This more general classification system dehumanizes patients once more by ignoring factors which influence mental illness. Furthermore, the classification system--either intentionally or unintentionally-- establishes expectations of a “normal”, limiting expression. Also, this classification system vilifies mental illness, as shown by the entering of mental classifications such as “bipolar” and “ADHD”, as adjectives

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