Dr. Robert Gallon: Redefining Mental Health
At a time when mental health is under deep scrutiny, Dr. Robert Gallon challenges the widely held notion that mental disorders are medical diseases in his new book Nine Dimensions of Madness by proposing: 1) An alternative system of viewing mental problems as varying dimensions of dysfunction; 2) The origin of these problems are a complex interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors; 3) The current concept of mental illness facilitates a disguised form of social control.
Berkeley, CA, December 17, 2015 (Newswire.com) - There is increasing skepticism in the science community about the validity of the psychiatric diagnostic system. Each new iteration of psychiatry’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (currently 5) describes a wider range of human problems as medical illnesses than the previous one. Are human trials and tribulations really known diseases to be diagnosed, treated by psychotropic drugs and, perhaps, require hospitalization? Or are mental disorders just attempts to describe the ways in which humans can be dysfunctional?
My new book, Nine Dimensions of Madness: Redefining Mental Health, challenges the disease model of mental disorders, but many recent books do that. I offer an alternative with profound implications for treatment and even the mental health professions themselves. I describe nine dimensions of dysfunction. We all range from exceptionally functional through adequate and then increasingly dysfunctional. There are no breaks between normal and abnormal and the disorder labels merely mark the level and types of dysfunction along the dimensions.
As with every human attribute, a small percentage of people are severely impaired on each dimension. They need our professional help to survive and thrive, but it isn’t medical help. Drugs and institutional safe harbors may be necessary, but not because these people have diseases. Many others of us are unhappy, anxious or ineffective in solving our problems. These people, too, merit help if they wish it. But they shouldn’t have to be called mentally ill in order to get it.
There is a paradox in how we talk about seriously dysfunctional people that my book tries to banish. Many well-meaning people try to erase the stigma of labels such as schizophrenia while at the same time calling these people mentally ill. We also go about taking away people’s rights on the basis that they have a brain disease that takes away their essential humanity. We separate us from them as if there was an unbridgeable gulf between the sane and the mentally ill. In my view, human beings bear an indivisible humanity that can’t be broken into the normal and the abnormal.
—Robert L. Gallon, PhD
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North Atlantic Books