Diagnosing Everyone

There are those of us who are in the mental health arenas, either professionally or as laypeople, who have varying degrees of knowledge of a variety of mental health disorders. Once you have access to this kind of information, you can fall into the trap of diagnosing everyone you meet or know as having a particular mental disease or disorder.

Some of these people are doctors, therapists, coaches, patients and/or curious bystanders.

It’s easy, once you get access to a certain amount of information, to consider yourself an expert, as you start to diagnose everyone you come across as having a problem.

In some cases, learning about certain mental disorders can be very valuable, such as dealing with someone you know personally, maybe intimately, who may (or may not) suffer from a mental disorder or disease.

Having a good understanding about how someone might react in certain circumstances can help you understand and deal with them when the face challenges or tend to react in ways that don’t seem normal to you.

This can be very helpful in helping you to determine if someone is “safe” to be around or have access to intimate details of your life, especially if they can have a negative effect on your life. You have every right to determine who has access to and influence in the life that you live.

Early detection of certain personality types, and of people who may be toxic, abusive, or potentially dangerous, is hugely advantageous.

Even so, diagnosing everyone is an unhealthy approach to building community and it keeps people separated by categorizing traits, which may not be signs of a mental disease or disorder at all.

This fits perfectly into the judge matrix.

The judge matrix keeps us separated from our peers because we can quickly determine what we do not like or approve of in someone else as we categorize those around us, placing individuals in a box of likeminded folks.

Doctors, therapists, counselors, and professionals in all trades do this; it is a widely accepted (and promoted) practice, but it not a high-vibration activity.

Admittedly, it may be an effective way to manage and filter through a wide variety of people and may enhance your ability to focus and save countless hours of discovery and therapy, it is unjust, and not conducive to promoting individuality, freedom, peace, and harmony.

The judge matrix destroys community, fosters separation and dissention, and is harmful to the potential expansion and evolution of the human race.

If you must diagnose clients as part and parcel of your day-job, or must attempt to diagnose someone in an effort to keep yourself safe from potential loss or harm, then do so, but do not let your judgment spread to your circle of influence, or the community at large.

Diagnosing others is judging them based on a very limited amount of data, and you cannot know a person well enough be evaluating a short list of “red flags.”

Mental disorders or diseases are not the only way we categorize, diagnose, separate, and judge others. This applies to all categorizations which separate people into groups.

It is socially acceptable to sort people by gender, health status, age, height, color of eyes or hair, income, political views, religion, race, physical location or address (or lack of physical home address), media preferences, even the clothes they wear, and the cars they drive, amid a nearly endless list of categories to judge and separate others by.

Judging others is not good medicine.

One of my personal heroes said, “Judge not, lest you be judged.” And is akin to, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

Unless “Judge” is part of your job title or job description (or necessary for personal protection) then it should be avoided. Even so, if you are required to judge, keep it focused on only the areas when and where it is warranted, and try to celebrate the differences of anyone else.

Judge if you must, then move on, loving and accepting others for who and what they are, regardless of their individual characteristics. Don’t take judgment home or to your community.

After all, aren’t we all just doing the best that we can with what we have?

I know I am.

And I love you just the way you are.

Imprison the Mentally Ill

I was having a discussion with a client who was creating a program to assist the homeless. Now, I have a particular view about the homeless, because my brother is responsible for helping many of the homeless in Washington D.C. Even with plenty of services, shelters, food, clothing and training offered to support them, you still see them sleeping in alleyways and panhandling on the street corners, or holding Will Work for Food signs at intersections.

Having the privilege of serving the State of Washington for over a decade in law enforcement (2 years in juvenile) I am (as well as all the other multitudes who support the law enforcement community are) aware that an uncomfortably large percentage of the criminal population consists of individuals with mental health issues, placing an inordinate strain on the legal system.

imprison-the-mentally-ill-criminalize-mental-health

The mentally ill, who do not have access to the necessary treatment and/or medications overpopulate the jails and prisons, as well as probation and parole systems, also contributing to the homeless population.

Though it may sound Hitleristic, we here in the United States forcibly sterilized over 30,000 mentally ill patients in the first 40 years of the 1900’s while they were incarcerated or in State mental hospitals as an approach to decreasing mental health issues over time.

Prior to 1960 just under 600,000 mentally ill patients were able to find the help they needed at State run mental hospitals. Over the next 40 years, State mental hospitals had kicked over 500,000 mentally ill patients to the curb. Now the legal system is left as the only available resource to deal with nearly 1 million sufferers of mental illness, basically criminalizing them for their respective conditions.

There exist many programs to assist the homeless… Why hasn’t it occurred to someone that the segment that is the most neglected – having access to the least amount of service or support – is not the homeless (though their numbers are often counted here), but the mentally ill?

In my opinion the crime is not mental illness, even though we prosecute, house and feed them in our jails and prisons, as they accumulate a rap sheet a mile long. No, the crime is forcing individuals with mental health issues to acclimate to the revolving door of our criminal justice system.

I am not convinced that having the State pick up the bill and expand their mental hospital services and facilities is the answer. I believe society has turned its back on those unable to adequately deal with their mental health issues and has forced them to be lumped in with the criminal element and I believe it is up to us to find – and provide – a solution to this growing problem.

There is indication that without a lengthy criminal history and institutionalization, that many of these suffering from lack of mental health treatment could become productive members of society if afforded the opportunity to engage in treatment and proper therapeutic intervention.

Yes, this would be an expensive undertaking, though I believe privatizing the care and treatment would be a more cost effective alternative than wasting 110-times as much by allowing State or Federal bureaucracies to deal with the problem.

I believe we – you and I – as well as our organizations, non-profits and churches could deal with this problem, creating an effective alternative for those dealing with mental health issues as an alternative to imprisonment, just as we are making progress with the issues of homelessness.

What do you think?