Stigma caused by archaic bunk


noun, informal
   1) Humbug; nonsense.

Synonyms: Baloney, hogwash, bull, hooey.

My kids and I love to read together at bedtime. It’s fun and it often sparks meaningful conversation. Right now we’re reading The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain. In it, Twain’s characters relate stories of people being burned at the stake for witchcraft. One story was of a woman who was accused of poisoning a man who died shortly after she visited him. (He was deathly ill already.) I pointed out to my kids that the conclusion drawn from the man’s death was pure 16th century “bunk.”

1265152_638749559489030_365342525_oMost historians agree that witchcraft, demonology, and possessions survived as an explanation for the unexplained, including mental illness, right up until the 18th century; however, you might be surprised to learn that even in today’s 21st century world, some still attribute mental illness, especially depression, to being under the influence of Satan. That’s right, pure archaic bunk.

As I’ve said again and again (and again, and again, and again…), depression is an illness. Satan has no more influence over someone who has depression than someone who has cancer. Bringing Satan, demon possession, moral weakness, or lack of faith into the conversation about depression, or any other mental illness, further stigmatizes sufferers and their families.

Three or four years ago I heard Rosalynn Carter speak at the Carter Center about her work on behalf of the mentally ill. She said that much had changed in the 40+ years she’d spent as an advocate, especially in the area of treatment. The one thing that hadn’t changed? The stigma.


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