Pseudo-science, finger pointing and stigma: Irish attitudes to mental health.

Volatire

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Evidence continues to grow that the vast majority of mental illness is biologically based, with definite genetic and developmental components. The more research is done, the stronger and more compelling the biological markers are being found to be. Even puzzling and distressing disorders such panic attacks turn out not to arise from a healthy individual's exposure to stressful environments, as many people supposed. In fact, it has been known since 2001 that panic disorders are of largely genetic origin.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn1185-genetic-basis-for-panic-attacks-revealed/

Xavier Estivill’s team at the Centre for Medical and Molecular Biology in Barcelona was studying families with a history of problems such as panic disorders, agoraphobia (fear of public places) and social phobia. The researchers discovered that a small region on chromosome 15 was duplicated in 90 per cent of the affected family members.
Eating disorders too, have turned out to have distinct genetic markers

http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.16121402

Anorexia nervosa is a complex heritable phenotype for which this study has uncovered the first genome-wide significant locus. Anorexia nervosa also has large and significant genetic correlations with both psychiatric phenotypes and metabolic traits. The study results encourage a reconceptualization of this frequently lethal disorder as one with both psychiatric and metabolic etiology.
Schizophrenia's biological origins are being uncovered

https://www.broadinstitute.org/news/7823

“For the first time, the origin of schizophrenia is no longer a complete black box,” said Eric Lander, director of the Broad Institute. “While it’s still early days, we’ve seen the power of understanding the biological mechanism of disease in other settings. Early discoveries about the biological mechanisms of cancer have led to many new treatments and hundreds of additional drug candidates in development. Understanding schizophrenia will similarly accelerate progress against this devastating disease that strikes young people.”
Despite growing hard scientific knowledge, and unlike cancer and other genetic diseases, mental illness is stigmatised, particularly in Ireland. It is seen as a sign failure. If the individual concerned is an adult, this is personal failure. If the individual is a child or young person, then it must be family failure.

https://www.stpatricks.ie/stigma-associated-mental-health-issues-still-prevalent-society

Survey from St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services indicates that 65% of respondents say that being treated for a mental health problem is viewed by Irish Society as a sign of failure.
Even supposedly "educated" (I know) Irish people express backward, unscientific and primitive opinions when it comes to mental health. A popular but particularly disgusting view is that mental illness is caused by "bad parenting". We would be disgusted rightly if the parents of kids with cancer were labelled as "bad parents". Yet parents of mentally ill kids face this slander on a daily basis.

Sadly, this culture of superstitious scientific ignorance has informed public policy. The consequences, I believe, have been fairly devastating to Irish society.

  1. mental illness portrayed as an intractable social issue instead of a biological one
  2. underfunding of mental health services compared to lavish funding for other, more "physical", disease
  3. culture of blame and finger-pointing means lack of support and even attacks on families
  4. damaged career prospects of sufferers due to stigma
  5. lack of trained staff and therapists
  6. lack of interest in effective therapies
  7. huge negative economic impact due to lack of effective treatment even though they exist
  8. main impact is on the young, not on the old (unlike cancer, a mainly old persons' disease).

What will it take to change these backward and unscientific attitudes?

We rightly demonise creationists, neo-nazis, racists and those who insult the physically disabled. My view, for what it is worth, is that civil society needs to demonise those who express barbaric views on mentally ill people and their families.
 


ShoutingIsLeadership

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Fair play for starting an interesting thread.

Now, does this mean that you will stop abusing people who are 'left wing', or are they fair game?
 
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Volatire

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Fair play for starting an interesting thread.

Now, does this mean that you will stop abusing people who are 'left won't, or are they fair game?
Lefties can be offered a truce on this thread provided they behave. Elsewhere of course leftism will continue to be stamped out wherever it is found. :)
 

Mick Mac

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Excellent thread. Good job and what a way to start a conversation.

It's almost too good for a place like this but we all have a few steps to contribute to this issue and following up what you wrote in out daily lives.
 

Cruimh

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https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ending-addiction-good/201506/child-abuse-prepares-lifetime-mental-health-issues

How Child Abuse Primes the Brain for Future Mental Illness | TIME.com

Lists child abuse-related psychological conditions

Abuse-related conditions

The negative impact of child abuse on adult mental health has been documented for over 150 years, and, over the last thirty years, in particular, numerous research studies have documented the link between child abuse and mental illness in later life. At present, there is no single diagnosis or condition that describes the psychological effects of child abuse. When in contact with mental health services, many adult survivors of child abuse find themselves diagnosed with multiple psychological conditions, many of which have considerable overlap.
The psychological impact of abuse on a child depends on a range of factors, including: the type of abuse, the severity of abuse, the relationship of the child to the abuser/s, the child's family environment and their relationship with their parents or other caregivers, and whether the child has previous experiences of abuse, or a history of support, care and love. These factors can soften, or exacerbate, the impact of abuse on a child's psychological wellbeing, and the likelihood that they will develop mental illness later in life.
Below is a list of a range of psychological conditions that are associated with child abuse. Please read on to find out more about them.

https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubpdfs/long_term_consequences.pdf
 

GDPR

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Facing fear and prejudices face on takes immense bravery in coming out and saying yes one has problems and needs support and understanding. Educating people is an inmortant step in this. Progress has been made and having been through some nasty panic attacks and been quite open about it, I recognise there is progress. Great and well researched OP. The simple fact of friendship and showing love is as important as any medication.

Sent from my SM-A320FL using Tapatalk
 

Prester Jim

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There is a genetic component to many forms of mental health and there is an environmental component too. Mental illness is complex and the many forms of it can have a variety of root causes.
For instance it is now thought by many experts that psychopathy could be a result of having a particular gene and an unhappy or abusive childhood.
Many personality disorders like borderline might have a genetic component but they are thought to be more heavily a result of neglect or abuse.
It is simplistic to think that it is either one or the other, we are complex organisms and many illnesses have complex causes.
 

Volatire

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Facing fear and prejudices face on takes immense bravery in coming out and saying yes one has problems and needs support and understanding. Educating people is an inmortant step in this. Progress has been made and having been through some nasty panic attacks and been quite open about it, I recognise there is progress. Great and well researched OP. The simple fact of friendship and showing love is as important as any medication.

Sent from my SM-A320FL using Tapatalk
Thank you for your kind words on the OP.

Apparently CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) has become very successful for anxiety and depression type disorders. Good news for parents in particular because nobody wants to put their kids on medication. Ireland, of course, has a dire shortage of trained CBT professionals.
 

Wagmore

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Evidence continues to grow that the vast majority of mental illness is biologically based, with definite genetic and developmental components. The more research is done, the stronger and more compelling the biological markers are being found to be. Even puzzling and distressing disorders such panic attacks turn out not to arise from a healthy individual's exposure to stressful environments, as many people supposed. In fact, it has been known since 2001 that panic disorders are of largely genetic origin.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn1185-genetic-basis-for-panic-attacks-revealed/



Eating disorders too, have turned out to have distinct genetic markers

http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.16121402



Schizophrenia's biological origins are being uncovered

https://www.broadinstitute.org/news/7823



Despite growing hard scientific knowledge, and unlike cancer and other genetic diseases, mental illness is stigmatised, particularly in Ireland. It is seen as a sign failure. If the individual concerned is an adult, this is personal failure. If the individual is a child or young person, then it must be family failure.

https://www.stpatricks.ie/stigma-associated-mental-health-issues-still-prevalent-society



Even supposedly "educated" (I know) Irish people express backward, unscientific and primitive opinions when it comes to mental health. A popular but particularly disgusting view is that mental illness is caused by "bad parenting". We would be disgusted rightly if the parents of kids with cancer were labelled as "bad parents". Yet parents of mentally ill kids face this slander on a daily basis.

Sadly, this culture of superstitious scientific ignorance has informed public policy. The consequences, I believe, have been fairly devastating to Irish society.

  1. mental illness portrayed as an intractable social issue instead of a biological one
  2. underfunding of mental health services compared to lavish funding for other, more "physical", disease
  3. culture of blame and finger-pointing means lack of support and even attacks on families
  4. damaged career prospects of sufferers due to stigma
  5. lack of trained staff and therapists
  6. lack of interest in effective therapies
  7. huge negative economic impact due to lack of effective treatment even though they exist
  8. main impact is on the young, not on the old (unlike cancer, a mainly old persons' disease).

What will it take to change these backward and unscientific attitudes?

We rightly demonise creationists, neo-nazis, racists and those who insult the physically disabled. My view, for what it is worth, is that civil society needs to demonise those who express barbaric views on mentally ill people and their families.
Well intentioned but don't buy any of it.Have great sympathy for anyone suffering fron mental distress but science' attempt to explain it or beyond pathetic. Often, the "cure" has been worse than the condition.I'm with Shakespeare on this, namely, there's more in heaven and earth than are covered by your philosophy(not verbatim).In some areas we can only know that we don't know. Mental illness is one such area
 

Volatire

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Well intentioned but don't buy any of it.Have great sympathy for anyone suffering fron mental distress but science' attempt to explain it or beyond pathetic. Often, the "cure" has been worse than the condition.I'm with Shakespeare on this, namely, there's more in heaven and earth than are covered by your philosophy(not verbatim).In some areas we can only know that we don't know. Mental illness is one such area
Obscurantism in my opinion. In fact incredible progress is being made.
 

odlum

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Ireland was a happier place when we had the institutions. It's since we let people who are sick out or free to roam things have gone downhill.
 

Wagmore

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Obscurantism in my opinion. In fact incredible progress is being made.
much mental distress has its origins in the realm of the
spiritual.Science is always going to be the proverbial eunuch at the orgy in this regard
 
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It should be noted that genotype does not always express itself as phenotype. A study involving families exhibiting a specific mental issue is probably going to always find a gene in there, but that doesn't eliminate the possibility of environment being a causal issue - and, more importantly the possibility of a mix of the two. It's always possible that a parent with a genetic issue subconsciously creates an environment wherein their offsprings' vulnerability is encouraged aither passively or in a more subconsciously active manner.

There re many people with mental health issues who have family members who never suffered any. It's a complex area.
 

Ardillaun

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I'd be a little farther out on the nature-nurture spectrum but I'm not sure that an entirely genetic etiology would help things. The families might be blamed even more then.
 

Socratus O' Pericles

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What do posters think of PTSD which can happen to soldiers, victims of assault, accidents and so forth? Surely this Syndrome isn't genetically marked?
 
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I'd be a little farther out on the nature-nurture spectrum but I'm not sure that an entirely genetic etiology would help things. The families might be blamed even more then.
Well, that gets things into a sort of dark direction.As a family we are are waiting test results for the MSH6 gene. Father-in-law has just recovered from a bout of colo-rectal cancer. It was caused by that gene. It's regressive,but if I happen to have it, then it is all a major risk for the kids. OK, science is on it. The medics will be looking for any expression of it as a phenotype and it is brilliant that the kids should now receive very early notice of any manifestation of it.

The question is whether at some stage there will be sufficient processing power to process all details of our individual DNA as to be able to confidently say to potential and prospective parents that the combinations of their genes might have possible, probable or even certain outcomes. Would legislators step in at that stage and say "no".

The ethical questions raised are serious.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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No
I'd be happier with a more nuanced expression of potential biological markers. If medical scientists have studied a cohort of people who have suffered with mental illness then they are simply more likely to notice the genetic predisposition marker.

It may be that the entire population would have that marker but environmental factors haven't affected the entire population so the conclusion might require some finer level of detail.

People can suffer from what is a clinically diagnosed mental illness and can recover. This might mean that environmental factors are the trigger to the genetic marker and that the genetic marker can also be switched off with positive environmental conditioning to counteract the depression or panic attacks and so on.

You would need a large control group without negative mental health issues and for them to be free of the relevant genetic marker to draw full conclusions about the cohort with the issues.

My money rests on the human being such a complex beast that even people with the genetic marker defined as a mental health threat can go through life unknowing of the marker and without mental health issues.

Take the example of serotonin and the various chemical changes in the brain associated with depression or ebullience.

is a genetic predisposition marker enough to overcome the natural functioning of endorphins in the brain?

Regular physical exercise actually trains the body to produce endorphins and enhanced feelings of wellbeing.

I would be suspicious of saying that a genetic predisposition would overcome that. Someone who is an athlete and used to training could have that genetic predisposition and yet be fine.
 

Politics matters

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Lefties can be offered a truce on this thread provided they behave. Elsewhere of course leftism will continue to be stamped out wherever it is found. :)
In fainess, it tends to be conservatives who disregard those who are suffering from depression and other mental illnesses.
 

Mick Mac

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What do posters think of PTSD which can happen to soldiers, victims of assault, accidents and so forth? Surely this Syndrome isn't genetically marked?
No, but perhaps the tendency to be impacted by the events is.
 


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