Of Two Minds

I recently read an article which indicated there was a link between smoking and serious mental illness like schizophrenia.  The article indicated that there was a substantial increase in the smoking habits of people diagnosed with schizophrenia against a control group of people without the illness.

So clearly if you increase the amount you smoke you will end up with a mental illness.  Or is it that the mentally ill smoke too much?  Some would say the results of two very different kinds, but that’s a poor attempt at a pun.  Schizophrenia isn’t exactly having multiple personalities, and yet somehow this  idea  was played out in the article.  As though the misinformation was acceptable if it prevented people from smoking.

The fact is some of society seems to be far more comfortable maintaining the myths around mental illness.  In this article it was clear that smoking must be stopped and if we use mental illness as a scare tactic, well that’s okay.  Let’s not worry about how this impacts those with mental illness.

Of course there are cultures where those who have a mental illness are considered to be special in a sense of having gifts.  Gifts at allow these people to open up spiritually in a way that others simply cannot.  And these gifts aren’t a bad thing.  Some cultures support the individual who happens to be going through a rough patch and then when the person is “well again” life goes on as if the person had just recovered from a minor bout of the flu.

Years ago, in Western medicine, someone with mental illness was to be fears, locked away and all sorts of harsh treatments were attempted to cure.  but we are modern people, we are compassionate people so surely we don’t treat the mentally ill this way any more right?

Well if you don’t consider the strong stigma that exists around mental illness then perhaps.  And then again perhaps not when you consider language that we use and the way we consider people who are depressed as being weak.  So you tell me, how far have we come when it comes to mental health?  Especially when you compare how we deal with people who have been diagnosed with cancer versus those who have been diagnosed with a form of mental illness.


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