The Medical Model, @TimeToChange and the Importance of Picking Your Battles


Where do you stand? “Lulu is bipolar.” or “Lulu has bipolar.” The great debate has come to light again.

The World of Mentalists

Yesterday on Twitter, I noticed various people piling onto Time To Change, the campaign to end stigma against people with mental health problems. The objection people were raising wasn’t about the need to end stigma, but about the fact that they use terms such as mental health and mental illness. Time To Change was accused of perpetuating the medical model, with all that entails in terms of depicting psychological distress in terms of illness.

Seriously, people. Pick your battles.

Let’s get something out of the way. Is the medical model “true” or “false”? A while back I heard a clinical psychologist on Twitter confidently asserting that bipolar disorder “doesn’t exist”. She was clear that she wasn’t suggesting that people don’t experience cyclical patterns of low and elevated mood, and she wasn’t suggesting that this pattern couldn’t be corrected with medication. But it’s the category of bipolar disorder that…

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7 thoughts on “The Medical Model, @TimeToChange and the Importance of Picking Your Battles

  1. Experiences, I always try and say “experiences”. Or “has”. Depending on my Pride level I may also say “is” but only for myself because I want to own my awesomeness!

    • I love that. “Own my awesomeness”. And that’s what the whole “mad pride” is about. Finding that awesomeness. Not viewing it as an “illness” but as just being wired differently. If autism can be viewed in that light, I don’t see why affective disorders can’t.

      • That’s why I am in the Mad movement and identify as Mad 🙂 I have found more happiness and self worth by viewing my experiences as who I am and not as an illness.

        • I have to say, once I started really owning my thoughts and behaviors, I saw a significant difference. It’s not to say that I’m completely asymptomatic. I just saw a reduction in the frequency and sometimes the intensity of a lot of the negative behaviors associated with bipolar disorder.

          But, I started to enjoy the good things. High energy, intense feelings, deep thoughts, creativity and a whole different perspective on life and daily living.

          I’m happy that I have those things going for myself. And I’d like other people to feel the same way about their disorder.

        • So glad to hear!

  2. I always say I have bipolar disorder, because I have it, it doesn’t have me. I’m not an illness. I wouldn’t say “I’m cancerous”. That would just make me feel like shit. Really though, it doesn’t matter how people refer to themselves as long as it isn’t harming them in some way.

    • I agree that it’s a personal preference. I favor the “patient first” model, which encourages professionals to use language such as, “Lulu has bipolar.” I think it’s really important for society to view us as people, and not group us by labels. In time, I think it will start to get an important point across; everyone experiences their disorder differently.

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