Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Who is in denial?

Most people think of the “mentally disordered” as a delusional lot, holding bizarre and irrational ideas about themselves and the world around them. Isn’t a mental disorder, after all, a distortion in thought or perception? At least, that’s what we tend to think, and many would agree that realistic thinking are considered essential to good mental health.

Ok, example, as an average individual I may hold cognitive biases in certain key areas like: a) viewing myself in unrealistically positive terms; b) believing I have more control over my environment than I actually do; and c) holding views about the future that are more positive than the evidence can justify. As a typical person, I depend on these happy delusions for my self-esteem to function through a normal day.

So where does the difference lies?

Actually depressed individuals have more realistic perceptions of their own image, importance, and abilities than the average person. While it is generally accepted that depressed people are negatively biased in their interpretation of events and information, depressive attitude only suggests that they are often merely responding rationally to realities that we, the average person cheerfully denies.

These people with paranoid disorders can sometimes possess a certain unusual insight and in their every delusional system, there exists a core of truth—and in their pursuit of imagined conspiracies against them, they often show an exceptionally keen eye for the real thing. It's funny how those who may have interacted with them are taken aback as they find themselves accused of harboring some negative opinion of the person which, secretly, they actually do hold.

So how does one convince a depressed person that “everything is all right” when her life really does suck? How does one convince an obsessive-compulsive patient to stop religiously washing his hands when the truth of what gets left behind after “normal” washing should be enough to make any sane person cringed with horror?

But what do we do? We teach them to develop irrational patterns of thinking. Patterns that would help them view the world as a rosier place than it really is. Yes it may be counter to their belief, but it can be justified because what defines a mental disorder is not unreasonable or illogical thought, but abnormal behavior that can cause significant distress and impairs normal functioning in society. To treat them is to restore them to a level of normal functioning and satisfaction, even if it means building perception that are not precisely “rational” or “realistic.”

Yes, we “normal” individual think it is easier to think of the mentally disorder as lunatics running about with bizarre, inexplicable beliefs than to imagine them coping with a piece of reality that we can’t handle. It is us, who routinely hide from the truth about ourselves and our world because we thought it may help to explain the human tendency to ostracize the abnormal. It is because we have grown dependent on our comfortable delusions, because we can not handle the harsh cold of reality.

Nuff said.


Angry American said...

Sometimes, I find myself in denial of being in denial that I'm denying anything is wrong, or that I was mistaken. As long as I can keep myself at a somewhat even keel between what is and what isn't while I'm searching for answers I'll be happy.

Odette said...

just don't try making sense of the world , becoz the world doesn't make sense and we better leave it at that.
and to one degree or another, we are all insane, hahaha!!!

Tracey said...

You know what MIL told Paul? Take 2 aspirin & you will be better!!!!!!!!

Amy said...

great post odette!

your comment back to AA is funny...i agree, we are all a little insane lol!

mum....2 she for real?!?! lmao!


Odette said...

you mean her mom didn't know what Paul has? or she simply denies it?
I bet, you were glad to see her go,hahaha!
much love,

Odette said...

hey, i've been straining my neck looking for you in FB as i have so much crop to harvest!
hope you're feeling ok...

Tracey said...

Odette, she is in denial big time! xxx

Sid Brechin said...

Just because your paranoid doesn't mean everyone isn't out to get you.

Ever notice complexes are named after famous people. Oedipus Complex, Napoleon Complex never Jojo the village idiot complex. ( I think they are waiting for me to get famous to name that one ;) )

Tracey & Kirst: Doctors think they are God just because HE told Moses. Take two tablets and call me in the morning.

Denial is a River in Egypt and Senile is an item on your to do list if you ever Visit Egypt.

Someone has smiled. My work here is done.

Mimi said...

Without my bff Denial, I would not be able to function!
Hugs, Mimi

Odette said...

you never cease to be funny! and just what complexity do you have? you are the most grounded person i know!!!

Odette said...

Hi Mimi!
so how was the shopping? did your kids get what they needed?

Jenni @ nest to keep said...

Hi Odette,
I hope you are having a good week! About this post, I kind of agree, but I mostly don't because...I was diagnosed with moderate OCD several years ago. I have also been blessed to know others who suffered from all sorts of mental illness~ bipolar, schizophrenia, OCD like myself...My life became a nightmare because I WASN'T seeing myself clearly at all. What I was fearing was ridiculous and now that I am doing better, I can see that. But before, the fear felt so REAL you couldn't convince me otherwise. Along with this, I struggled with (and still do) trusting that the front door really is still locked when I walk away from it and that I've sufficiently washed my hands...I drive myself crazy sometimes! I guess what I am saying is that in my own way, even though OCD is not a "psychotic" mental illness (a clinical term, not meant to be offensive!), I was suffering and do suffer from a distorted reality of sorts. What I fear will not happen, no one will die if I don't wash my hands until they are raw, and the doors and windows do not unlock after I check I making any sense? The truth literally set me free, but it was so hard to see it!

I do understand though what you said about trying to convince someone who is depressed that everything's great when it's really anything but! That is a difficult line to walk! This was actually a really thought-provoking post! Sorry I wrote you a book! :)

Odette said...

I think we are writing to each other's blog at the same time, Lol.
Jen, I just want to emphasize in my post that there is no place for indiscriminating againt those with mental disorder. and that, perhaps we have the ability to cope, because we live in denial that what you fear exist. but that doesn't mean it's not real - we just looked on the bright side though and not dwell on our fears.
No, i am glad you have written a story, coz the essence of reading our friend's blog is to share our own views with each other.
thank for sharing yours...


Brilliant post hun!!
You and Amy are banging them out!!!
Sid and AA you guys are so funny!!!!!
My comp is in the shop for up to ten days, having to borrow this one is painful, as i have to always hand it back. Limited time is like withdrawals, i miss the blogs, the chat, the intellect the giggles at hand.
I miss you guys


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