Sarah Acree on Depression: “It’s a mental illness, it’s a disease of the brain…”

This YouTube video from Sarah Acree came to my attention a few minutes ago…

Top 5 Things to NEVER Say to Depressed People

I wrote this in response to Sarah:

“It’s a mental illness, it’s a disease of the brain…”

Have you ever considered that this claim increases stigma for people suffering with feelings of hopelessness and despair Sarah? There’s evidence to suggest that it does.

See here and here.

I agree that education is very important.  Working to increase people’s understanding about what we don’t understand about the brain is critical in dispelling disempowering narratives about the causes of different types of human suffering and distress, I think.  Isn’t it bad enough that some people are unlucky enough to feel as terrible as they do?  How is forcing suffering people to take on the “sick role” in society in order to receive professional help in reducing their suffering not patently insulting?

There is a lack of evidence to back up the claim that you’re making about depression, mental illness and the brain Sarah. Are you aware that the former director of the National Institute of Mental Health refocused the NIMH’s research away from the “mental disorder” categories in the DSM four years ago. You can read what Dr. Thomas Insel wrote about this seminal event in mental healthcare here.

Definitive claims about the brain’s role in a “disease of the mind” are best viewed skeptically, especially when powerful entities in a multi-billion dollar business are actively promoting them. You believe what you believe about “mental illness” because of the vast sums of money spent on trying to cause you to believe what you believe, I believe.  Moreover, I think you believing what you believe about depression and the brain is more beneficial to your care provider than it is to you.

I implore you to consider reading accounts about “mental illness” not propagated by pharmaceutical companies Sarah. Please consider reading Christopher Lane’s Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness or anything by Robert Whitaker. There’s plenty of evidence in your video to suggest that you’re making the same mistake that I made back in 1998 after nearly killing myself. You can read more about that here.

I applaud anyone trying to make a positive difference for others, and that definitely includes you Sarah… so kudos to you for your courage and for sincerely working to help others in pain.  With that said, I still sincerely hope that you’re open to considering some of the ideas that I’ve written about here.


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