T.M. Luhrmann throws light on some interesting new research concerning mental illness. In effect, the British Psychological Society has announced that mental illnesses are not distinct entities, not diseases in the same way that we think of cancer, for example. Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and other disorders surely contain biological aspects, and it helps some people to consider them illnesses, but they are not biologically defined in the same way hypothyrodism is for example. Furthermore, the report declares that it is vital that those with distressing symptoms have access to talk therapy. I think this could usher in important changes in psychiatry - hopefully there will be more funding and support for social and psychological interventions, as well as pharmacological ones.
The report says that there is no strict dividing line between psychosis and normal experience: “Some people find it useful to think of themselves as having an illness. Others prefer to think of their problems as, for example, an aspect of their personality which sometimes gets them into trouble but which they would not want to be without.”