Tag Archives: culture

“We Were Born Sick, You Heard Them Say It”.

Looking at the cultural sociology of mental illness.  

Mental illness can be interpreted as the most solitary of afflictions to the people who experience it, but it’s the most social to those who experience its effects. It becomes difficult to draw and define specific boundaries around mental illness and distinguish it from eccentricity or mere idiosyncrasy. It’s nearly impossible to clearly differentiate  an obvious line of difference between madness and malingering, mental disturbance and religious inspiration. Erving Goffman sought to dismiss mental illness as a purely socially constructed category, limited as a mere matter of labels. By exploring the quintessentially individual act of suicide an expansion from Gothman’s mere labels can be  expounded upon. Suicide is directly linked with mental illness, by examining this relationship the most florid manifestations of mental disturbance can be observed.

Mental illness has been interpreted as a product of sociological factors, an ‘anomie’ or the failure of sociological order to adequately regulate the beliefs and behaviors of its members. It has often been questioned whether people should take the Thomas Scheff approach, whereby the medical model of mental illness is dismissed and replaced with the societal reaction model, wherein patients were the victims of psychiatry. Advances within the cultural sociology of mental illness encompasses the progressive abandonment of the prior commitment to the segregative responses to serious mental illness and the run-down of the state hospital sector, the collapse of psychoanalysis – replaced by biological basis, the psychopharmacological revolution, the so-called neo-kraepelinian revolution, and the rise of the DSM to the position of overwhelming importance  – worldwide.

Sociology demotes psychiatry to a belief in vague predispositions to nervousness or madness, with no proven bodily cause, promoting their lack of clear-cut laws pertaining to their biological research, dealing with symptoms, not signs.  Diagnosing a person’s mental illness becomes based on the judgments generated through their communications, their treatments based off their diagnosis lacking widespread specificity. Psychiatry relying on psychoanalysis also called depth or psychodynamic psychology, proposes that the mind is divided in conscious and unconscious parts and that the dynamic relationship between these gives rise to psychopathology (the study of the manifestation of behaviors and experiences which may be indicative of mental illness or psychological impairment).

pill-person

Psychoanalysis becoming paradoxical because it’s concerned with the notion that we are all ill – psychopathology is ubiquitous, varying between individuals only in degree and type. These norms discerned within psychoanalysis mediated by the intrapsychic mechanisms. Norms within society imply that an ideal notion of mental illness exists, although it would be limited by its susceptibility to be meaningful to those only in a culture who subscribe to their theoretical premises, emphasizing its lack of unity and ineffectual distribution on a wider scale. Cultural notions of mental illness also initially linked  early biological psychiatry immediately with the mad, the bad and the dim. Sociology further attacks the definitions given to mental illness, arguing that the inter-dependent constituents are not defined or explained in relation to their classification of impairment, disturbance, disability, disorder etc.

We were born sick, you heard them say it”. To reiterate the heading and these fantastic lyrics – I think that they reinforce the schema that is associated with mental illness and to an extant the relationship/pattern between cultural/environmental influences on the etiology of mental illness.

Lately I’ve been living in the daydream just behind reality’s veiled curtain. The unsuspecting whore of mental illness, my ability to be both a victim and a rational opportunist. The victim to the triggers that my mind shudders against, the twisted opportunist that seeks the deep dark insights pertaining to the inner turmoil and joy. It’s a pretty twisted sick cycle, but its ok at the moment. It’s more of an ongoing ‘normal in training’ session. I keep wondering if my psychiatrist will ever give me a ‘gold star’ or tick of approval or whether we are all merely the embodiment of an epic psychoanalysis that perceives all as ill. Relying on my psychiatrist as my state-licensed drug dealer who specializes in ‘mood-altering’ drugs, hoping to create a balance which has to be practiced every day. Do we take the early sociological stance that no one is mentally ill or abide by the strict categorizations of mental illness that are created and regulated by so few. Life is to constantly challenge all that confounds you, rejecting the notions of those who remain unsubstantiated and to remain skeptical of those wishing you to blindly follow their ideologies.

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Does The Term ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ Allow Sexism To Be Better Perceived?

Let me first define a ‘manic pixie dream girl’: A stock character in films noted for being shallow, quirky, feminine and providing inspiration for brooding protagonist male characters. It has been claimed that the term is merely a mendacious trope. The trope suggests that the girl has no interests or agency of her own. The MPDG concept suggests that the qualities of so many women are best employed in assisting a man. Does the use of MPDG allow women in movies to reproduce and exemplify the misogynist? Movies using a MPDG character allow women to be put into subgroups, ultimately impacting on how men will perceive women’s contributions. The concept becomes a trope because it creates women to be one-dimensional and having no interests or desires of their own, useful only for the male counterparts as inspiration.

The archetype of the MPDG needs to be retired, but do women start to relate and recognise counterparts and relatable aspects of MPDG within themselves? Have women started becoming serial monogamists, which have relationship after relationship, becoming a role and moving on? Some women wanting to be idolised as their partner’s muse and inspiration, the role becomes appealing. I’m starting to believe in some respects that ‘some’ women become the MPDG as a reaction created from stereotypes that have been given to them in the past and are still present in some aspects of society, women becoming a product of misogyny which has been directed at them.

I’m actually extremely interested if there is an analogy for a man that presents the same characteristics of the MPDG, allowing sexism (for once) to be recognised and present within male roles. Men are often conveyed as more one-dimensional (women are from mars etc), I’ve had many male friends and boyfriends that conveyed that they had nothing on their mind,  becoming a gender that doesn’t have an original thought or higher thought levels. I recognise that this is highly untrue, yet they are quickly stereotyped and put in the same mental and confining ‘box’ or parameters that are given to MPDG.

Maybe i should call the male representatives: ‘manic pixie dream guy’, he exists solely to help the female protagonist reach her goals. I honestly wonder why these terms are mostly coined to women, usually in a negative lighting. Is it used to try and impose negative connotations for behaviour that doesn’t conform to society? Either way I’m not a big fan of this terminology, I will admit that at times I have even acted like a MPDG, yet it was short-lived, I usually quickly reaffirm my individual identity, these out-dated terms need to be realised and discarded, surely society has moved past this point.

I would like to thank hazelnutpie for introducing me to the concept.

https://hazelnutpie.wordpress.com/