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Defining and Labeling Mental Illness

The existence of mental-disorders has necessitated extensive studies for quite some time now. This owes to its undesirable impacts to the patient and the community. Because of mental illness, several kinds of inequity and ill treatment have come up in the society. Previously, the incidences of mental-illnesses were identified as the result of some wicked dealings in an individual. Of late this notion has been persieved as null and void. This condition should be treated as any other ailment, as it has a variety of medications, or measures helping in the taking care of the disorder, and its pertinent unfavorable impacts. Therefore, this paper will draw attention to the subject of mental illness, particularly based on the argument of Scheff, Szasz and Goffman that, mental illness is a social construction.

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In their study, these researchers showed that being mental-ill can be understood as functioning in a social-construct. This is because it displays several demographic profiles in regard to the person suffering from it. For example, a lot of individuals suffering from this ailment are blue-collars in the community or youthful jobless males. These are a few of the social groupings that suffer from mental-disorder. The information above is courtesy to several previously accomplished researches.

“The social construction of mental illness calls for the notion that the condition is subjectively judged. This means that the ability to diagnose if an individual is suffering from mental-illness or not is significantly dependent to the perspectives of people (Hamber & Rock, 2003)”. This idea specifically applies to individuals around the patient (families, doctors, associates and companions), who basically judge the person as a result of his/her actions and behaviors. “It rests upon the derivation of what is normal and what is socially acceptable on the individual’s behavior and is increasingly difficult because it varies depending on individual views” (Hamber & Rock, 2003).

As per the authors, mental-illness is more and more becoming a tag formerly certified by diverse persons depending on their perceiving a particular conduct as being usual or not. This is applicable to conducts considered as not conforming to the norms of a community being abnormal than how other individuals conduct themselves. The unfavorable results of the disorder as a result, starts manifesting after the person is labeled by those around as a patient even if there is no diagnosis to prove this has been done. Additionally, the authors reinforce the claims of this argument in their works. Some individuals do generate an impressions or perceptions in regard to mental-abilities of other people. The influence is accredited to be the key aspect on why people are tagged to these conditions. Consequently, this disorder has been described basing on a person’s conducts based on the actions of people around, its absolutely difficult to come up with techniques for curing it since the setback is found on the discernment of other people not on the conduct.

On the other hand, Goffman emphasizes on the effects instead of generalized incidences and labeling of mental-disorders. The work of this author again puts significance on the responsibility of treatment centers in treating the conditions. Goffman assumes that mental illness is established to be present in a person when the person is taken to a psychiatric-ward. Though, the hospital is not regarded to as, a place for administering bio-medical curing. On the other hand, they often worsen these conditions in admitted patients. The reason for this is that, instead of administering of effectual treatment-programs, these places have overtime been viewed as places where patients are left to act madly as a result of cultures in the hospitals or as result of admittance in an atmosphere where they are regarded as individuals who belong to psychiatric wards. This is again, must be stressed as judgments being centered on discernments of others on an individual because of remedial commendation or findings.

The work of these researchers have achieved noteworthy censure in regard to mental-health conditions of patients and on how these conditions should be appropriately dealt with by the community and the authority. Since there is a belief that mental-illness is created and arbitrated based on social construction, there is a tendency to ignoring its medicinal properties. “With this, the biomedical approach therefore becomes weak in endorsing treatment to the illnesses because of the presence and belief in the social construction of the illness” (Stuart, 2003). As a result of the social construction, “it has been viewed that mental illness is viewed from different perspectives, depending on the attitude of a particular group or sub-culture regarding the individual’s mental condition” (Stuart, 2003). Consequently, the situation makes the determination of needed effectual medication hard to come by, as the state has been made subjective. This condition when seen as a mental-construction could unavoidably bring about lack of optional effectual treatment. With individuals tagging others as mentally disordered, a big propensity is present that, the subjectivity appearance can bring about misinterpretations within social norms.

“An interaction approach sees mental illness not as a disease or medical condition, but as a social construct; a label or social status conferred on some individuals by others (e.g. psychiatrists), who have the power to do so” (Stuart, 2003). People who have this approach center on the labeling practice in case an individual is described as mentally-ill. For instance, in a certain pseudo patient research, people conducting a study on mental illness got admitted to a mental-hospital when they claimed to hear voices. Upon admission, they noticed that, workers of the hospital interpreted their conducts as indications of mental ailments.

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List of references

Hamber, B., & Rock, B. 2003. Mental Health and Human Rights: In search for context, consequence and effective care. Rethinking rights, 1 (1), pp. 72-91.

Stuart, H. 2003. Mental illness: an overview. World Psychiatry, 2 (2), pp. 121–124.

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1. StudyCorgi. "Defining and Labeling Mental Illness." December 12, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Defining and Labeling Mental Illness." December 12, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Defining and Labeling Mental Illness." December 12, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Defining and Labeling Mental Illness'. 12 December.

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