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What causes mental illness?

That answer is huge—genetics, brain trauma, emotional trauma, drug exposure/intoxication, bad habits and learned behaviors. The concept of mental illness itself is an ever widening one, incorporating more and more behaviors that used to be thought of as odd or eccentric. We are living in an age in which pharmaceutical companies have much to gain by encouraging us to feel inadequate or “mentally ill.” Mental illness itself is a theoretical construct which attempts to address almost all behaviors which fall outside of the “norm.” Sometimes we are too quick to diagnose ourselves and each other with an “illness” instead of taking the time to understand the context of the unusual or self-defeating behaviors we see. “Mental illness” is a medical model term, which I have problems with—it pathologizes human responses to emotional pain. It invalidates our grief, sadness, anxiety, and to some extent, our individual differences. It suggests there is a safely defined norm that we should all remain within, when in fact, so many of our world’s great history makers fall far outside of the bell curve…. If we look at the experiences of people in the Bible from a modern psychiatric orientation, we would find ourselves diagnosing lots of illness, and to what benefit? Calling emotions and behaviors “illnesses” objectifies the human experience that is being expressed.

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