In my last newsletter, I mentioned the decision by the
Excellence Awards to name Medicines
for Mental Health
a finalist for 2008. This was exciting
for me personally, but I wondered what practical effects it would have.
Well, now I know. June book sales set a new record! Very good news
If you are reading this newsletter, odds are good that you know
something useful or interesting about mental illness, and how to cope
with it. Why not share your knowledge with the hundreds of people who
receive this newsletter? I am always looking for new contributors, and
would love to have more submissions from readers. So if you have been
thinking about writing an article some day, the time has arrived to
turn "some day" into "today!" Send me your article, and have your say
in the next issue!
Kevin Thompson, Ph.D.
P.S. As always, if you do not wish to receive email from me, please let
know, and I will remove your name from my list.
Do you have experiences you would like to share about how you have
coped with mental illness? Uplifting stories? Educational stories?
Email me with your idea, and if it makes sense, I will be happy to
include it in a future issue.
Funny stuff from around the Internet.
The Mental Hospital Phone Menu,
Hello and thank you for calling The State Mental Hospital. Please
select from the following options menu:
- If you are obsessive-compulsive, press 1 repeatedly.
- If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2 for
- If you have multiple personalities, press 3, 4, 5 and 6.
- If you are paranoid, we know who you are and what you want,
stay on the line so we can trace your call.
- If you are delusional, press 7 and your call will be
forwarded to the Mother Ship.
- If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a little
voice will tell you which number to press.
- If you are manic-depressive, it doesn't matter which number
you press, nothing will make you happy anyway.
- If you are dyslexic, press 9696969696969696.
- If you are bipolar, please leave a message after the beep
or before the beep or after the beep. Please wait for the beep.
- If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have
short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss,
- If you have low self-esteem, please hang up. Our operators
are too busy to talk with you.
- If you are menopausal, put the gun down, hang up, turn on
the fan, lie down and cry. You won't be crazy forever.
Just Who is the Crazy Person?
I was walking past the mental hospital the other day and all the
patients were chanting and shouting,
Thirteen! Thirteen! Thirteen! Thirteen . . ."
I was curious to see what they were so
about, but the fence was too high to see over. Then I saw a little gap
in the planks and looked through to see what was going on.
Some idiot poked me in the eye with a
stick, and they all started shouting,
Fourteen! Fourteen! Fourteen!..."
The Psychiatrist and Proctologist
Two doctors, a psychiatrist and a proctologist, opened an office in a
small town and put up a sign reading: "Dr. Smith and Dr. Jones:
Hysterias and Posteriors."
The town council was not happy with the
sign, so the doctors changed it to read, "Schizoids and Hemorrhoids."
This was not acceptable either, so in an
satisfy the council, they changed the sign to "Catatonics and High
Colonics." No go.
Next, they tried "Manic Depressives and
Anal Retentives." Thumbs down again.
Then came "Minds and Behinds." Still no
Another attempt resulted in "Lost Souls
and Butt Holes." Unacceptable again!
So they tried "Analysis and Anal Cysts."
Not a chance.
"Nuts and Butts?" No way.
"Freaks and Cheeks?" Still no go.
"Loons and Moons?" Forget it.
Almost at their wit's end, the doctors
finally came up with: "Dr. Smith and Dr. Jones, Odds and Ends."
Everyone loved it.
A Catholic Boy's Confession,
A little Italian kid goes to confession.
"Bless me Father, for I have sinned. I
have been with a loose girl."
The priest asks, "Is that you, little
"Yes, Father, it is."
"And who was the girl you were with?"
"I can't tell you, Father, I don't want
to ruin her reputation."
"Well, Joey, I'm sure to find out her
name sooner or
later so you may as well tell me now. Was it Tina Minetti?"
"I cannot say."
"Was it Teresa Mazzarelli?"
"I'll never tell."
"Was it Nina Capelli?"
"I'm sorry, but I cannot name her."
"Was it Cathy Piriano?"
"My lips are sealed."
"Was it Rosa Di Angelo, then?"
"Please, Father, I cannot tell you."
The priest sighs in frustration. "You're
lipped; Joey Pagano and I admire that. But you've sinned and have to
atone. You cannot be an altar boy now for four months. Now you go and
Joey walks back to his pew, and his
friend Franco slides over and whispers, "What'd you get?"
"Four months' vacation and five good
Send me your
favorite joke, funny story, or amusing picture, as long as
it is related to mental illness. Keep it upbeat, please! Jokes
involving mental illness are welcome, but jokes that demean mental
illness are not. If it's appropriate, I'll put it up on the humor page.
won't they Believe I'm Ill?
by Kevin Thompson, Ph.D.
Why are some people dismayed to learn that a friend takes medication
for a mental illness, saying, "It's all in your head?" The expression
is disdainful, because it implies a lack of willpower or toughness. The
question that should be asked is not whether the illness is real, but
what is the most effective combination of willpower, therapy, and
medication for treating it.
The volume of debate over how to deal
with mental illness depends on how severe and exotic the symptoms are.
Debate is less intense intense when
exotic, meaning of a type that most people never experience.
Hallucinations, for example, are understood by most to stem from
abnormalities in the brain. Whether the patient can cope with such
symptoms well enough without medication is something that depends on
their severity, but there is a general understanding that one cannot
make hallucinations vanish through willpower or talk therapy.
Debate is more intense when the symptoms
familiar. Someone who suffers from depression or mania can describe his
symptoms in terms that seem familiar. Everyone can relate to "feeling
sad" or "feeling hyper," so there is a natural tendency for the
listener to assume that he understands how the other person feels. This
belief can lead to thoughts such as, "Hey, I feel like that sometimes,
and I don't take drugs. If I can deal with it, he should be able to
deal with it. He shouldn't need drugs."
What the listener in this example does
is this: It is impossible to imagine an emotional state that you cannot
Let me repeat that: It is impossible to imagine an emotional state that you cannot experience.
That simple statement is profoundly
understand another person's emotions by comparing them to our own. We
have a "gut feel" about what it means to be happy or sad, which works
well enough in most situations. Yet the reality is that Major
Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder produce emotional states that
do not exist in normal human experience. Someone who does not suffer
from such an illness truly cannot understand what it is like.
So here is the answer to the question I
People who treat mental illness dismissively do so because
A) They are not capable of understanding
it in terms of their own experience
B) They are not willing to put aside
prejudices and transcend the limitations of their "gut feel" by
studying the subject
Sadly, the belief that the skeptical
understand what the sufferer feels can have a serious impact. The
impact can range from friction, to the destruction of friendships, to
creating insurmountable barriers to treatment.
The moral to this story is that people
from serious mental illness bear the burden of coping with disbelief
and obstruction from friends, family, and employers, as well as the
illness itself. They are well advised to exercise discretion in
disclosing the details of their illness, to educate themselves about
their needs, and to refuse to let ignorance and prejudice interfere
with their treatment.
You Looking for Writers?
If you are looking for articles on mental-health and medication issues,
for an online or printed publication, send me a note. I write for
various publications, and may be able to help.
MentalMeds News --
Copyright © 2008 by Kevin Thompson
May be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided material is
attributed to Kevin Thompson, Ph.D. at www.MentalMeds.org