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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

What are your conceptions of those with mental illness?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (30936points) June 9th, 2010

Are people with mental illness shuffling, mumbling residents of special psychiatric wards of hospitals? Are they the homeless you see sleeping on sidewalks?

Are they functioning members of society with special medical needs? Can they hold down a job?

Are they somewhere in between or all of these things?

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28 Answers

marinelife's avatar

All of the above.

poofandmook's avatar

Anyone can have a mental illness, whether you can tell or not. And if someone has a preconceived notion about what people with mental illness look like, they are ignorant and would probably be in for a rude awakening if they found out how many people they are close to clinically suffer some form of mental illness.

ucme's avatar

Been there done that got the tee shirt, literally.Having worked with & on behalf of those suffering from Alzheimers, I can say without fear of contradiction that they & their immediate families have my immense respect & sympathy. Such a debilatating life altering disease that can & does strike at a relatively early age, forties not being unheard of. So yeah, for those unfortunate but resilient individuals, I have & indeed was privileged to share time with them.

bunnygrl's avatar

@marinelife, @poofandmook GA <hugs> and @ucme GA too and I think you’re amazing <hugs> thank you for saying that, my friend’s Dad has altzheimers <hugs>.
ps: <waves arms> over here, I’m one of “them” clinical depression, panic attacks, joint pain like hell hates me, and my daft little job is only part time but I manage and even made employee of the month once lol xx

Facade's avatar

They can be anyone. I don’t have a prejudice against people with mental illness. That would be like me hating Black people.

perspicacious's avatar

You really have no concept, do you? The spectrum is wide for each illness, and the spectrum of illnesses is even wider. This is a subject that you should read about if you are really interested; it’s not a QNA site question that you can expect to in any real way be answered here.

Axarraekji's avatar

My opinion: I recently came to the conclusion that there are many, many people with mental illnesses; however, only the dangerous, mentally ill people are cause for concern and action.

The mind is powerful, and we have the knowledge to withstand a great deal, to learn to be resilient. Unfortunately some people’s minds come broken from birth, or break over time.

I work in an Alzheimer’s/Dementia unit and I am amazed that the mind just collapses into nothingness, yet the cardiovascular system, as well as the other major body systems, keeps the body alive.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@perspicacious : I didn’t realize there were questions that were off limits here, and I heartily disagree. My question is about opinions and preconceptions not technical knowledge.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

There’s a huge range of what a person with a mental illness can act like. There are those whose mental illness is so severe that they cannot function in normal society; unfortunately most of them spend most of their time in hospitals or end up homeless. Some self medicate with drugs to avoid the unpleasant side-effects of medications. Then there are those who lead perfectly normal lives. I have bipolar depression and, although I used to joke that I was “getting the crazies sucked out” in my therapy sessions, I don’t by any means consider myself a crazy person. In fact, most people are incredibly surprised to hear that I have a mental illness, since I seem completely normal; I don’t let my illness get in the way of my personal life, having a healthy romantic relationship, and achieving a near 4.0 average in college.

The important thing is to have an open mind about mental illness. I don’t think the old stereotypes of mentally ill people should really hold up anymore, since it’s really not that uncommon to have an illness.

perspicacious's avatar

@hawaii_jake This is a subject of which I am self educated; I am not a mental health professional. If you simply want to know Flutherites’ notions about mental illnesses, here are my answers to your six questions:
1. Most of my initial notions I no longer hold due to knowledge attained during the past ten years.
2. Some of them.
3. Some of them.
4. Some of them.
5. Some of them.
6. Some of them.

DominicX's avatar


Seriously, there’s a huge range. Everything from ADHD to Alzheimer’s to my uncle institutionalized with schizophrenia. “Mental illness” is also applied much more loosely these days than it ever was in the past.

JLeslie's avatar

I would say the mentally ill come in all shapes and sizes and in every walk of life.

Depending on how broadly you define mental ilness, probably everyone has been mentally ill at one time or another.

partyparty's avatar

Mental illness comes in all shapes and forms. It could be you, it could be me. Given the right (or wrong) circumstances we can all, at some point in our lives suffer a mental illness.
There but for the grace of God

BoBo1946's avatar

@hawaii_jake my friend, a mentally ill person should not be treated any different than anyone else. We ALL have problems….

True story…when i was very young and coaching and teaching, had some things that were really bothering me. My dad was mentally ill (A World War II vet..landed on the beaches Normandy D-Day) and it prayed on my mind, that i might inherit his disease. I studied a lot of phycology to get an answer. Finally, decided to see a phycologist. Attended several sessions with this man…and he probably helped some..not much.

But, one night I was out running the bars looking for chicks…and met this girl and we started talking and she knew this phycologist…she told me that he was a real “nut case!” He got mad at his wife and ran the car into the house. loll..

So, the moral the story, again..everyone has problems…no matter who they are…maybe the people who are classified as mentally ill are really the sane ones!!!!!

anartist's avatar

@hawaii_jake my dad was there at D-Day too. He had nightmares about it the rest of his life.
He never discussed it with ANYBODY.

BoBo1946's avatar

@anartist neither did my dad!

YARNLADY's avatar

I’m with @marinelife and @JLeslie on this one. Everything you have mentioned in your question can apply to some people, at different times. It’s all relative.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

We’ll always be “outsiders”, some of us are better at being economically useful than others. If not for a first class education and family influence, I’d likely be living in a cardboard box somewhere, or worse.

The general population doesn’t like odd behavior. The better we are at “faking” correct behavoir or being invisible when acting outside the norms, the more successful we are.

anartist's avatar

Temple Grandin was such a magnificent barrier breaker for autism.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@anartist There are only a few of us who can function at her level. She may be setting up unrealistic expectations in the general population for how all people in the autism spectrum should interact.

Jabe73's avatar

I would say that most likely everyone is “mentally ill” at some point or another in life, no one is “perfect”. Phobias are considered “abnormal” and yet most people have something they are afraid of. I don’t believe there should be any ideal model or personality for a person to be considered “normal” or emotionally healthy. Does this mean introverts are mentally less healthy than extraverts? Conservatives mentally less healthy than liberals?

There is no such thing as the ideal way to be so who is anyone to judge anyone else or by looking at the mentally ill as “them” when that could be anyone at any time depending on circumstances in life.

MissA's avatar

I’ve wondered about the ebb and flow of ‘mental illness’ in society. In reality, if you can manage to stay within the herd of lemmings, you’ll find a way to survive and possibly flourish. If you sidestep those parameters, others begin assessing you as being different.

Society requires different things from us in specific eras. Therefore, what might be tolerated or even smiled upon at one time, might not be in another.

Just an observation.

anartist's avatar

There but for fortune—Phil Ochs
[he later hanged himself]

mattbrowne's avatar

Today the vast majority of people with a mental illness are not in psychiatric wards of hospitals. Most lead a relatively normal life and many are treated with medication for example when suffering from schizophrenia, depression, anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive behavior. The same applies to various forms of dementia. Sometimes families are caretakers.

Mental retardation is not the same as mental illness. In the 19th century many medical institution did not make this distinction which led to horrible situations.

Coloma's avatar

Yep, the world is full of the functionally mentally ill.

I have experienced and witnessed some of the most suffering with narccisistic types and OCD types.

My ex husband was a raging Narcissist with, what I believe, some pretty severe anti-social traits as well.

Took me years to figure out what I experienced in that relationship.

I have a friend that had to leave a relationship with an OCD person, his perfectionism and rigidity was very damaging to her self esteem.

Forget the institutionalized severely mentally unwell…hell, the most damage occurs with the regular messed up but still functional types. lololol

Crossroadsgrl's avatar

Yes, Coloma…mine too. A raging Narcissist. He’s the one accusing ME in Court, attempting to use the test results to take the kids and not pay child support. As I’ve stated before, ive had ADHD since age 15, but as a 41 year old, now consider it a gift. And yes, it took me years to figure him out too.
As it turns out, we will BOTH be taking the tests to see who I guess is MORE “mentally ill” than the other. Pitiful .
Just a lot of intolerance, that’s all.

snowberry's avatar

When I have the time and energy to devote to a relationship, I always try to make sure I understand who they are as a person and what they are saying. People often do not say what they mean. It takes time to understand. It often takes energy to have compassion.

Even more so with the mentally ill as well as with the mentally challenged.

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