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11 November 2007 @ 08:37 pm
Theatrical Muse: Week 204: Question 204  
Name: Dr. Sid Hammerback

Fandom: CSI: New York

Word Count: 1155

Sometimes the appropriate response to reality is to go insane. (Philip K. Dick)

Many years ago during the eighteenth century, if you were insane, then it may have been considered that you had come to such a state because your morals were weak or invalid. During that time, and before that, if you were mad enough there was a good chance you’d be sent to a nice big crazy hospital, where you would be restrained, perhaps, and abused, probably, quite a lot. Back then it was the world of pious individuals, of God fearing, all inclusive persecution of those who were different from the norm. If people were sent to bedlam style institutions just for speaking differently, or having fits which they couldn’t control, then I fear to think what they would have done with someone as outrageous as me.

The way we deal with mental illness nowadays, is done on a highly more informed basis than it was done way back in the eighteenth century, and before. Despite this, I still have some issues with how some mental health professionals function, and how some people are diagnosed and treated. In my work as a Doctor, and now as a Medical Examiner, I see occasionally the effects of misdiagnosis or the wrong kind of treatment on someone’s mind that has become on the edge. It can hurt, clearly, being told you’re fine when you’re a manic depressive, or being given the wrong medication when really, you should be taking something else to control whatever is wrong with you. People like that, well, the truth is, they do end up on my table, because they have died either because they killed themselves, or killed someone else and somehow ended up murdered as well, afterwards. This doesn’t happen always, clearly, but it has been known to occur, and when it does, seeing the glaring mistake of how a mentally ill person has been treated, it does make me sad.

The question then is asked, what makes us go insane in the first place? Is it reality or is it something based within the body, the mind, all those wonderfully tickling chemical reactions which can, indeed, go wrong in people, causing terrible ramifications with the way they are able to lead their life. First off, the term insane has fallen into disuse in the medical world especially, because we are now more knowledgeable about what causes people to act bizarrely, or in a way not according to generally accepted normal types of behaviour and human development. In the past, where people of varying slight to severe mental illnesses were grouped together under one heading, we now know that there are many different types of conditions that cause things to go wrong in the brain. These range from things like obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, to clinical depression, postnatal depression and epilepsy. Each has its own set of symptoms and diagnosis criteria, and the severity of a specific condition can vary. No longer are people all considered the same, or similar, when they are mentally ill, and thus, the treatment for the specific type of condition, can differ from person to person as it passes from strength to strength.

Faced with the world, some people will fall into mental illness because of it. Stress and trauma can cause depression that would not surface under happier conditions. A certain event or loss may cause in a person, dramatic changes, which are partially because of their life, and partially because of their brain. We can not really be resistant to mental illness, like how we fight off infections, so it is debatable, as to whether the environment started some of these problems off, or was there always an inherent susceptibility within the brain in the first instance anyway? Some studies even indicate that people can have a predisposition to some mental conditions through their family history, and this is a valid point. The world can cause us to become mentally ill, through events and actions received or experienced, or we may already have some underlying weakness which will lead us to have such a problem. Family may even lead us to being diagnosed with a mental illness.

Whatever it is, however, I think on a whole, living life, being alive, it is now generally accepted by society that some people can be mentally ill, without losing function in their life. No longer do all types of people have to be grouped under one heading, and put in an institution so they can disappear from the everyday stream of life, so as to not trouble those who are considered “normal.” Mentally ill people, they are just like people who are so called “mentally healthy”, as, after all, they are humans, and they function. If you are depressed, then you are depressed, you are not given a death sentence it is not requisite that you are sent to an asylum. Yes, some people do require psychiatric care in a professional, hospital environment, but we have progressed, as a society, far beyond shipping hordes of people with something “wrong” with them, off to society imposed imprisonment. Especially when many of these people, all those years ago, and even more recently, had done nothing wrong except been different, when they could not help it!

I am not trying to construct an argument against a multilayered point here. I believe, personally, as a person who deals with the ramifications of people’s actions every day, in the death and destruction of someone else, that people should have access to help if they need it. I don’t mean simple, cold blooded murder here, for that is a different matter, entirely. No, I am referring to all the deaths I see, that could have been prevented from just a bit more help, or the right treatment at the right time. I do believe that the world can cause some people to become mentally ill, but that is not the whole reason or the whole cause, for all people, indeed. I also think that first and foremost, it doesn’t matter what kind of ill you are, mental or physical, or whatever, you should have the right to be treated normally, and to lead a normal. I should know, I dealt with depression after my wife’s death, and I did feel suicidal for a period of time after her passing, and the passing of my two sons. Even now, I am better, but sometimes, it harks at my door, that big black dog, that terrible crowing bird. For me, myself though? I have the memory of all that I have lost, and however the way this has sorted itself it, those memories make me continue, they push me through to another day. The world is a good place whether it brings about the worst or the best in people. Honestly, I think life is brilliant, however it occurs, however it suffers or succeeds, really I do, and I will consider this true always.
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