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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

You might be nuts!

In all seriousness, let's be clear that "nuts" is not a technical medical term. And mental disorders aren't funny...unless they're in the movies.

Still, are you at work right now? Maybe you're on vacation, or in an airport gate area waiting to board your plane.

Look around you. Are there three other people besides yourself?

If you do not have a diagnosable mental illness, according to the National Institutes for Health, one of the other three probably does.

That's right, the NIH says that one in four adult Americans has head problems.

I don't think mental illness is funny or anything, but I have to wonder how much of these are mental diseases that have always plagued Americans, but just weren't diagnosable before. Or are these mental illnesses that are fashionable to have, the way it's fashionable these days for celebrities to go to rehab seeking cures for everything from saying stupid things to lacking publicity?

No doubt there is abundant mental illness in the U.S. But one-in-four people? That's an awful lot, my layman's brain tells me.

Anyway, I'm sane as the Phantom of the Opera. I hope all you one-in-fours get the help you need, especially since I sit in a cubicle quad with three other lovely, perfectly together people, whom I'd be completely comfortable turning my back on while they happen to hold kitchen knives.

***Editor's Note: Yeah, I'm "editor" in this case. Don't skip the prior post. I'm curious to get your take(s) on the headlines.***

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  • I tend to be very skeptical of such things. I've seen people diagnosed with this and that syndrome who were just having a bad day. I mean really, who hasn't had a day or two where they have been depressed?
    You also have to wonder how many of these overlap and are counted as separate people? For instance, a bi-polar person who was also diagnosed as suffering from depression, and ended up in a home because of Alzheimer's.
    If look at people hard enough, we could all be diagnosed as crazy.
    Just my opinion.

    By Blogger BobG, at 1:55 PM  

  • BobG, good point. I'm feeling crazy as I type this response to you.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 1:56 PM  

  • I would believe it if their mental health list also includes anxiety, depression, and "excessive worry that my butt looks big in these jeans."

    By Anonymous Karmyn R, at 3:32 PM  

  • Ha! Karmyn R., my crazy would be obsessing over my deceptively pudgy face.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 3:43 PM  

  • Did they include major Hollywood Celebrities in that study? Cause if they did the celebrities probably skewed the results quite a bit. haha

    By Blogger Jay, at 5:08 PM  

  • Good point, Jay. I could see Hollywoodies throwing off the results.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 5:49 PM  

  • I guess 1 in 4 does sound like alot... but I've known 3 people who shot themselves in the head and another who's funeral is at the end of the week, thought at first a car accident is now being considered suicide.
    Also know a few others who've needed meds at different times for assorted mental issues.
    Wait... oh noooo... what do all these people have in common??? They knew me? Uh oh. ?
    Seriously, the suicides true, and knowing others who have suffered.
    But still I guess 1 in 4 is alot.

    By Blogger CrystalChick, at 7:02 PM  

  • In Australia the figure is quoted as 1 in 5, but it comes with the extra comment "at some stage in their lives", so it's not 20% of us, or in your case 25%, walking around with a mental illness, it's much less at any given time because one person may have problems now, and another will have problems later, but not at the same time.

    By Anonymous insomniac, at 8:57 PM  

  • Hi, nice blog. I came over to visit from Jali's house.

    Insomniac makes a good point. If the figure means that 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 have had some sort of depression, anxiety or whatever at some point in their lives, then I think the number is surprisingly low. Most people have probably been scared to speak in front of a crowd, or been sad over a loved one's death, or emotional because of hormones or medical reasons, whatever. So what? That's normal. On the other hand, if 1 in 4 are completely insane right now then I'm pretty skeptical about that. On a related topic, I think it's a shame that so many people would rather (unsuccessfully) medicate their symptoms than deal with the root cause of what's bugging them.

    By Blogger Anne, at 3:03 AM  

  • Figures for the UK currently come out at one in four at some stage in their lives.

    As one of those ones (SAD) - it's liveable with. Particularly if the other three don't start acting all stupid!

    Despite what the papers like to report, most damage caused by people experiencing 'mental health problems' is self-directed. There really aren't all that many knife-wielding (or gun-toting as you're in the States) 'mad' people out there.

    Particularly not compared with the other three in four gun-toters!

    By Blogger Bronchitkat, at 7:00 AM  

  • Particularly bearing in mind some of the headlines you ripped in your previous post!

    By Blogger Bronchitkat, at 7:03 AM  

  • Maybe it's all in their head?

    Ha ha! Get it?


    By Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy, at 9:40 AM  

  • CrystalChick, you are like a black cat. Kidding. I'm sure you didn't drive anyone to end it all. No doubt, it's just a bizarre coincidence.

    Insomniac, when you throw in "at some stage..." then I agree we could all fit in there. I'm sure at some stage in my life I've been a little crazy. Maybe not certifiable, but I'm sure I've been there.

    Anne, thanks for coming over. Come back often. And I agree. If it's "right now" for the U.S. figures, then that's a little scary.

    Bronchitikat, you make a good point about the causes and environmental factors. But I don't think the gun-toting is as big a factor as you might think. Then again, I don't know how news about the U.S. is being reported in the UK. For our problems and growing pains though, it's not like this entire country is Dodge City. On the contrary, violent crime rates have continued to drop steadily - at times more slowly than others - for close to 10 years. In that same period, private/personal gun ownership has increased in the U.S. So we could argue that there isn't necessarily a direct or even simple correlation between gun ownership and violent crime.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 11:18 AM  

  • ThirdWorst, where are you doing standup? I wanna be there ;>)

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 11:19 AM  

  • I'm at work so I stood up and took a look around. I'm pretty sure out of the 8 people I can see at least 6 of us have suffered from one if not all of the following. Panic attacks, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder. However, I don't think any of us have a very serious case that could be life threatening. Who knows when someone will just flip and cross the sanity line though!

    By Blogger Knight, at 11:25 AM  

  • I wonder if these totals include children who are medicated by their parents? One in four is probably low in that demographic, because it seems that every other child is taking medication because their parents can't....wait, I probably shouldn't finish that thought.

    I don't know anyone in my immediate circle of friends who has any mental health problems. Other than needing the occasional smack upside the head for being stupid.

    By Blogger SWF42, at 12:24 PM  

  • SWF42 these numbers would be more believable to me if they included children. But they don't. They're for American adults only.

    And I have those friends too. Actually, I'm one of them. I need about one smack per week to keep in line.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:32 PM  

  • I know which one of the four is crazy - AND she is on meds!

    However, I don't believe in meds...I just don't think science has figured out the body's chemistry as well as know? And I'm not a huge Jesus freak, if you know what I mean..

    Going off to read your prior post!

    By Blogger Tiggerlane, at 3:54 PM  

  • Tiggerlane, I hear ya. I'm not jumping on the Scientology bandwagon or anything close, but I do wonder if we need as many meds as seem to be popular these days to keep our heads straight. I don't think we do.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 9:33 AM  

  • I'm beginning to think that 1 in 4 is not a bad estimate. I know a few chemically-imbalanced people. I think historically people have just been functional enough to get by. They are "the cat lady" or "Mean Ol' Mr. Jones." Now there's a medical label for it.

    On the other hand, the richer our world gets, the worse we treat our bodies. Bad physical health, bad emotional health, bad mental health all seem to be on the increase.

    By Blogger katrice, at 10:21 PM  

  • I wonder how many of the mentally ill at NIH were responsible for this study? And are they trying to tell us something? And if they are, what are they really saying, e.g. The NIH is driving me crazy?

    By Blogger The CEO, at 8:42 AM  

  • Katrice, your last graf raises an interesting point. Maybe a lot of this alleged mental health problem is due to how badly some of take care of ourselves these days.

    Monty, this could be classic "takes one to know one" on the part of the NIH.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 2:14 PM  

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