News for July 2011

Stigma

Let me start by saying: I really dislike the phrase ‘mental illness’. It automatically paints a negative image of the person diagnosed. It feeds a stigma that society desperately needs to put behind us.

Stigma is defined as “a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation.”

A stigma is a mark of disgrace or infamy, a stain or reproach.

Take a minute to let that sink in; a stigma is a mark of disgrace. Therefore, to stigmatize a group or a person is to disgrace them. In most cases the only ‘crime’ these people have committed is being ‘different.’

Why do stigmas exist now, especially, with all the knowledge at our fingertips? Unfortunately, how society treats those that are different has not changed much since the earliest days of humanity.

Despite all the intellectual advances, we have made as a group; we have not overcome the fear of things and people that are not like us. Currently we still seem to find it easier to see and hate what is different from to see and embrace what is the same in each other.

References:

“Stigma.” Random House Dictionary. 2011,. Dictionary.com. Web 25 July 2011. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/stigma)

Edited: July 25th, 2011

Mental Illnesses and the Young

Recently I received an email from a friend from school. This was someone that I had not talked to in over fifteen years. In the email, they told me about their young child who was diagnosed as bipolar last year. The conversation has made me think about children who are diagnosed with one form of mental illness or another.

While mental illnesses are difficult on anyone, they are especially difficult on children.

Kids with mental illnesses are seen as very different because their behavior pattern does not fall within the ‘norms’ that society has arbitrarily set. Often time’s children tend to be mean to other kids that are different from them in some way. This is often not out of malice, but more often, it is a result of not understanding why the other kid is not like them.

Another challenge for children understands their mental illness. Understanding mental illnesses is difficult at any age largely in part because of the stigma attached to them as well as the complexity of the human mind.

Further complicating matters is the fact that often times children; as many adults, are afraid of things they do not know. This fear can cause the child to hide from or deny the problems they are facing.

If fully educated adults, who have studied the brain for decades still, do not fully understand mental illnesses, how do you explain it to a young child? You have to explain it to them in a way they understand, which entails simplifying a complex item. However, before you can do that, you MUST understand it yourself.

Edited: July 15th, 2011

Transference

Transference in its simplest terms is the unconscious projecting of emotions for one person on to another person/object. Transference can be destructive to relationships because it can result in you entering into a relationship based on the feelings you are projecting on to the person.

This often results in you believing that you feel about the new person the way you did about the original person when in fact if not for the transference your feelings toward the person would be radically different. This also can lead to not just you getting hurt but the other person being hurt.

I fell into this trap in 2007 after I had to let go of someone that meant everything to me. I transferred my feelings for this person onto a second person. Unfortunately, the person was nothing like the first person.

For months I deluded myself into believing that the person I was dating was ‘just like’ the woman I had to let go. I was desperately trying to hold onto something I had already lost. In the end, I was devastated, because I went through the loss again. However, shortly after things finally fell apart all the way, I realized what I had done to myself all those months.

I should have realized much sooner what I was doing since the original person would never have hurt me as the person I projected her onto did.

Edited: July 3rd, 2011

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