Mental ‘health’

One of the things that peeves me is the term “mental health.”

How does one define the state of (physical) health? Perhaps “being able to conduct one’s usual business without pain, fatigue, or discomfort.”

In other words, “adapting to and being able to carry out social expectations”. Like work, family life, social interactions, etc.

But this is patriarchy. Capitalist patriarchy in which everything we do is completely artificial and externally dictated. Being able to adapt to life in a patriarchy is perhaps the opposite of health.

It’s like trying to adapt to life in the Chernobyl disaster area. Sure, many animals and people can do it and have done it, but how “healthy” is it?

When a human, especially a human female, is unable to adapt to social demands in “acceptable” ways, I don’t see anything “ill” about it.

I’ve read similar thoughts elsewhere, such as on VeganPrimate’s blog. But it stands repeating: what is “unwell”, “unhealthy,” or “ill” about being unable (or even simply unwilling) to conform to an unnatural lifestyle and meet often impossible standards?

So, no. I don’t think that any of the “mental illnesses” that females exhibit are actual “illnesses.” I think they are completely natural and normal reactions to the lifelong trauma we experience by virtue of being born female.

Depression is normal when you live in a 24/7 warzone. So is PTSD (which, it also stands repeating, is absolutely nothing like “being lobotomized”). Who wouldn’t have anxiety over the constant threat of rape, if nothing else?

From there, it’s almost easy to see how the mind can fracture even further and become schizophrenic, dissociated, obsessive-compulsive, etc.

Ergo, I feel the term “mentally ill” is sanctimonious and in fact antifeminist when applied to women. Failing to function at the level demanded by patriarchy is hardly an illness when you are female.

Here’s Carolyn Gage’s series on the subject, specifically about the overdiagnosing and medicalizing of “mental illness” :
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10

(For the record: If you take psychotropic drugs and they make you feel good, go for it. I personally prefer marijuana, which is also a drug. The point I’m trying to make is, outside of this completely unnatural patriarchy, we would not be told we are crazy and/or made to drug ourselves; we might not even have our ‘mental illnesses’ to begin with.)

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8 Responses to Mental ‘health’

  1. nuclearnight says:

    Its always really bothered me how many women are invested in diagnosing other WOMEN as crazy when this shit is obvious.

    It reminds me of how often prostituted women get treated like shit by radical feminists that should be UNDERSTANDING of what they go through, instead they get told to brush their hair, look prettier, don’t show how you’re fucked up or we won’t be able to USE you.

    The truth about male violence is pretty ugly but its not gonna change unless IT is confronted.

  2. You, and others, might want to check out The Icarus Project (www.theicarusproject.net) Last I checked they had NO radical feminist presence, but it would be nice to bring one there. I haven’t been to the site in years, but they sometimes have interesting discussions on their message boards.

  3. rebel13 says:

    The point I’m trying to make is, outside of this completely unnatural patriarchy, we would not be told we are crazy and/or made to drug ourselves; we might not even have our ‘mental illnesses’ to begin with.

    That’s a great point and I think it isn’t made often enough.

    What I’ve come to is, I *do* live in this completely unnatural patriarchy and I *have* suffered trauma and abuse. And I dunno about anyone else, but *my* mental illness makes me feel bad. It makes me unhappy and not able to accomplish the things *I* want to accomplish — whether that’s what other people want me to accomplish or not (usually not 😉 ). Working on my unhappiness in ways that work for me has made me *better able* to do my feminist lifework (or at least to start figuring out what that might be). It has reduced my stress and helped me change some of my behavior patterns that were hurting me and hurting people I care about. I’m a woman, I count, and I deserve to address my own suffering as much as anyone else does.

    So while I don’t think feminists ought to walk around diagnosing each other, engaging in namecalling, or dismissing each others’ experiences and perspectives, I also worry that statements like this:
    Depression is normal when you live in a 24/7 warzone. So is PTSD (which, it also stands repeating, is absolutely nothing like “being lobotomized”). Who wouldn’t have anxiety over the constant threat of rape, if nothing else?

    could keep struggling women from seeking whatever sources of support, solace, learning and change may be available to them, because they think there’s no point when everything in the world sucks so bad. I thought that for a long time. But on the contrary, what I’ve discovered is that there’s so much for us all to be doing, it’s worth at least questioning lives that are unhappy and unproductive, in our own estimation, to figure out if maybe there are ways some of our troubles could be addressed.

  4. “It’s like trying to adapt to life in the Chernobyl disaster area. Sure, many animals and people can do it and have done it, but how “healthy” is it?”

    LOL! so true.

    To do well under patriarchy you have to adapt *to*it. The better adapted you are, the sicker you must be. For women this is particularly true. The *lengths* women are expected to go to to keep up their appearance, or their house, astounds me. I see mothers in the morning taking their children to school will a full face of make-up and I *know* they must have got up at 6am to do it. Get Some Sleep FGS. I know women whose houses are immaculate.. but how much of their daily energy does this absorb? How much of that energy and money could be spent on squirreling away an escape fund, or developing their minds. I’m not annoyed at them. I love many of such women.They’re lovely people, but gah.. they can’t be healthy.

    Have you ever seen the movie “Lord of War” with Nicolas Cage. I found it interesting (and truthful) that Nicolas Cage, the psychopathic arms dealer was very comptent, professional and powerful. And his drug-addled mess of a younger brother was a waster… with a conscience.

  5. In case anyone thinks I’m accusing them of being crazy, well I kind of am, in a way, but they’re certain I’m crazy. IF there was a witch-hunt here I’d be the first to go.

  6. ball buster says:

    Oh yes, society punishes women for not being well adjusted in their oppression. I love the Chernobyl analogy, too. It’s fitting in a lot of ways – like how what men create is ultimately unsustainable. Eventually it blows up in their face, and we get stuck with the consequences. But before, during, and after, we’re left to struggle to survive in whatever way we can.

    There’s no way to expect women to end up becoming functioning adults brimming with self love, in a culture that is both hateful and abusive to us from day zero. I keep seeing how “women should” do “this or that” and the world would be better, but let’s face it – there’s a reason why women aren’t doing the more healthy and natural ABC, and the root of it is the male-created male-dominated power structure.

    Dismissing women as crazy, dishonest, or downright evil has been done to death. And adding insult to injury are when men act like concerned trolls so they can tell women how she’s “not right” and how to think and what to feel and that the male perspective of reality is the only one that matters. No wonder women have actually *gone crazy*. Men make us that way.

    CBL, I’ve thought the same thing. If the burning times come back, I’m hosed for sure.

  7. Sargasso Sea says:

    …, I’m hosed for sure.

    See y’all at the bbq! 😐

  8. Daisy C. Turtle says:

    Thank you for posting this! I read all 10 parts Carolyn Gage’s mental illness series in 1 day!

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