(Original post by edanon)
REGARDLESS of whether or not it's nature or nurture, i agree with CPJ that we are all just individuals on a spectrum of mentality/behaviour. There is no "normal" person and so no one intrinsically needs to be treated.
"Mental illness" however is a usefull term to describe a state of mind that makes someone feel personally unable to live their life as they see fit.
There are no two people the same on this planet and so everyone is different. It's only when that difference becomes too severe for the individual to function in the society they live in that we may call it a "problem".
Although society may try to cater for every type of person, you still need to fulfill certain requirements if it means you're not going to encounter problems. This goes for physical difference as well as mental.
A person with bi-polar may be more comfortable living with it than being spaced out on medcine. They may, however decide that it is a problem and want help for it.
So mental illness is really something the individual should decide they have.
That's a pretty retarded and ill-thought out concept. What if someone progresses to the stage of illness where they no longer have the capacity to make such logical judgements about their own health. Schizophrenics often have a complete poverty in the ability to accept overwhelming evidence against their condition: i.e. "The TV is not talking to you. Here are reasons why, how do you dispute these reasons?" will only be responded by "THE TV IS TALKING TO ME. IT TELLS ME TO DO THIS, THIS AND THIS. I AM NOT ILL, I HAVE A MISSION TO DO." (obviously these behaviours differ, but this is a common one for paranoid schizophrenics, none-the-less).
So according to your theory, the person above should just be left to drown in their psychosis for the rest of their lives.
In your post, you addressed one of the major issues of Clinical Psychology/Psychiatry. "How do we decide who is ill and who isnt?". Obviously this is something that has plagued the discipline since the early 19th century. Yes, there is no "normal" person as you say, but would you do an experiment using a 1 participant sample and say it extrapolates to the entire population? No, you wouldn't. Hence the discipline bases its catagories of illness based on statistical deviation of behaviours. Incredibly roughly speaking, you get tons and tons of people, quantify their behaviours, and average it out to get the "normal" person on which to form comparisons. You then assume that mental abnormalities are statistically deviant and will therefore significantly differ from the comparitive model.
Then based on a shedload of clinical experience, understanding and logic, you determine whether or not a person does meet the definitions of mental illness (which introduces various catagories such as level of suffering, observer discomfort, potency of beliefs etc etc).
You used an example of Bi-Polar disorder. Yes, someone may try medication and find themselves spaced out, but others may try it and it makes the world of a difference thus improving their quality of life by miles. Many other alternatives are then open to them. It's only if their condition deteriorates to the point where they are at harm to themselves or others when forced treatment should occur.