Thursday, 5 September 2013

Yea, but WHY? aka part two

**For the purposes of the next few paragraphs whilst talking about 'physical illnesses' what u really mean is communicable diseases. Obviously there are other illnesses, for the sake of simplicity in narrowing it down. Anyway....**
I said I'd come back to this. But I lost my train of thought a little.
Anyway this photo popped up on my fb a while ago and I figured it was as good a starting point as any.
There are several similar images around...The combating of stigma through comparison of physical and mental illnesses and how they're treated/perceived.
And it's a pretty powerful tool. I mean physical illness is something everyone can relate to and can understand to a greater or lesser degree. I guess it comes back to the whole causality thing, there are certain things we accept as basic facts when it comes to physical ailments. But it's not always been that way, and there are times in the past where people with simple physical illnesses WERE treated with the same fear that many mentally unwell people experience nowadays. Without doing any real research (sorry!) The ostricisation of lepers or the crosses on the doors of plague victims spring to mind. These two reactions also sprung from fear, the fear of contamination from diseases that at the time weren't understood. In a time before the development of germ theory, which we all largely accept now, theories such as that of miasma prevailed. And with no clear knowledge or understanding of how to avoid or cure such diseases fear for personal safety was a natural reaction.
Since then the works of scientists such a pasteur, lister, koch amongst others have led to huge improvements in medical knowledge and public understanding. None of us enjoy being ill but the most common everyday illnesses tend to cause irritation more than fear. We can isolate, view, name and in many cases kill avoid or eliminate the pathogens responsible.
With mental illnesses however we're stuck at s point much earlier in the journey. Our knowledge base is increasing and there is a lot of research bring carried out and several different theories from experts. But a) this is not so much in the public domain and b) nobody really KNOWS. And don't you just hate that? Is terrifying right? Easier to just lable mental illnesses as 'individual choice' and move on. The problem is its pretty terrifying from the inside as well. It's certainly not unusual for sufferers to entertain similar ideas, to blame themselves, or even to embrace their illness as a lifestyle choice (think pro-ana/-mia).
Unfortunately the nobody knowing bit is not something I have the power to influence, I can however help to share what we DO know on this little part of the Internet. For a start over the next few weeks I'll be dropping in 'fact box' type posts, focusing on specific conditions. Obviously my own knowledge is also limited and whilst I'll try hard to be accurate I will also be pointing the way to more in depth specialised resources.
For now I'll leave you with a couple if general Links to time to change and mind. :).