Autopsy of a “Mental Illness” Epidemic

Autopsy of a “Mental Illness” Epidemic

By Maria Mangicaro

The 2005 widely publicized debate between Matt Lauer and actor Tom Cruise demonstrated the sheer “schizophrenic” nature of mental health advocacy itself.

The one fact advocates seem to agree upon is the number of people in the U.S. entering our mental health care system is skyrocketing.  Unfortunately, many advocates, experts and mental health journalists are at odds speculating on what is causing this epidemic of “mental illness” and what it will take to remedy the situation.

Many advocates see the insurmountable human suffering as a critical agenda and are especially concerned over the increasing mental health needs for our military veterans in the near future.

The fact that mental health advocates are at each other’s throats is complicated by conflicting research, skeptical published information, the stigma of mental illness, persuasive public lectures, selective  story telling from journalistic perspectives, money-making objectives, personal agendas, personal experiences and flawed interpretations.

Public opinion and the decision-making process regarding forced treatment are greatly influenced by a variety of mental health advocates, a few of which dominate the media more than others.

The internet is playing a critical role in the advocacy agenda for individuals considered to be suffering from severe “mental illness”, many of whom are among a marginalized population and do not have access to the internet.  Advocacy must be met with equal and fair representation for the voice of those who can not speak for themself and do not have access to what is being said on their behalf.

The conflict among mental health advocates is extremely questionable as many advocates are paid large sums of money for their work as an advocate.  The impact of best-selling books must also be considered as journalists do not hold the same credentials and liability as mental health professionals.

The topic of “mental illness” is very broad, there is a critical need for advocates to clearly define what it is they are advocating for and for whom.

“Treatment advocacy” must be defined, otherwise is it should be considered advertisement promoting the use of psychiatric medications.

The value of accurately assessing and treating the underlying medical conditions and substances known to cause psychotic/manic states is a common sense position for advocates to take.   It is unethical to advance anything less than best practice standards for individuals suffering from psychosis/mania.

Mental health advocates and invetigative journalists need to stop butting heads, bullying each other with opinions and put their heads together in order to make medical necessary, cost-effective treatment available to individuals suffering from psychosis/mania.

A good analogy to consider is the story of the Elephant and the Blind Men.


Once upon a time, there lived six blind men in a village. One day the villagers told them, “Hey, there is an elephant in the village today.”

They had no idea what an elephant is. They decided, “Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway.” All of them went where the elephant was. Everyone of them touched the elephant.

“Hey, the elephant is a pillar,” said the first man who touched his leg.

“Oh, no! it is like a rope,” said the second man who touched the tail.

“Oh, no! it is like a thick branch of a tree,” said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.

“It is like a big hand fan” said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.

“It is like a huge wall,” said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.

“It is like a solid pipe,” Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.

They began to argue about the elephant and every one of them insisted that he was right. It looked like they were getting agitated. A wise man was passing by and he saw this. He stopped and asked them, “What is the matter?” They said, “We cannot agree to what the elephant is like.” Each one of them told what he thought the elephant was like. The wise man calmly explained to them, “All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all those features what you all said.”

“Oh!” everyone said. There was no more fight. They felt happy that they were all right.

The moral of the story is that there may be some truth to what someone says. Sometimes we can see that truth and sometimes not because they may have different perspective which we may not agree too. So, rather than arguing like the blind men, we should say, “Maybe you have your reasons.” This way we don’t get in arguments. In Jainism, it is explained that truth can be stated in seven different ways. So, you can see how broad our religion is. It teaches us to be tolerant towards others for their viewpoints. This allows us to live in harmony with the people of different thinking. This is known as the Syadvada, Anekantvad, or the theory of Manifold Predictions.

The public is looking for answers to the “Mental Illness” Epidemic. 

Advocates need to work together to find best practice solutions.

What is causing the skyrocketing number of individuals to suffer psychotic and manic symptoms?

Is it being caused by Invisible Plagues, Toxic Exposure, Medication Mis-management?

Where can we find the solutions to our Mental Health Care Madness?

As an advocate, it is my belief that all individuals labeled with and treated for psychosis/mania are entitled to informed consent, accurate assessment and treatment options.

No individual should be forced to contract the services of facilities or providers without having the benefit of integrated care and integrative psychiatry.   In cases of psychosis/mania, determining the cause of the symptoms means an overall healthier life for the forcible “treated” patient and a movement towards Participatory Medicine in mental health care.

It is my hope that advocates from all organizations will support a United Advocacy Agenda in favor of Best Practice Assessment of psychosis and acceptance of participatory concepts for those labeled “mentally ill”.

It is my goal to create a clear and convincing position that carefully considers all other dominating perspectives on the treatment of psychotic symptoms.

I welcome comments, suggestions and constructive feedback.

Here is a list of some popular books that make a critical assessment of the “mental illness” epidemic and should be held to strict scrutiny:

The Insanity Offense: How America’s Failure to Treat the  Seriously Mentally Ill Endangers Its Citizens by E. Fuller Torrey

Invisible Plague:  The Rise of Mental Illness from 1750 to the Present by Dr. E. Fuller Torrey

Medication Madness: The Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases  of Violence, Suicide, and Crime by Dr. Peter Breggin

Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring  Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill by Robert Whitaker

Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America by Robert Whitaker

Brain on Fire:  My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness by Pete Earley


  1. Hi, I’ve changed addresses several times over the last few years and have noticed that living NEXT DOOR to people who use drugs appears to be the cause of a variety of serious and unpleasant symptoms including auditory hallucinations, headache, states of feeling unnaturally over-relaxed or over-agitated (without loss of mental faculties), severe fatigue, minor chest pains on the right-hand side, suspected excessive protein breakdown in the body resulting in ammonia overload, and very loud whistling sounds (a “buzz” you might say). Different drugs seem to cause different effects, i.e. cannabis appears to cause excessive relaxation followed by auditory hallucinations, whereas cocaine appears to induce headache, chest pain and severe fatigue. One of the drugs / cutting agents being used appears to cause burning of the scalp! I would stress that I do not use these substances myself and so I can only have ingested fairly small quantities, but it would appear that this is more than enough to cause severe problems. I’ve also noticed that small quantities of cocaine fumes forces me to have to urinate at short notice, presumably through a drop in blood pressure (GLA supplements reduce this tendency as does magnesium supplementation). I’ve also noticed that ornithine supplementation tends to suppress the auditory hallucinations, so presume that I have some sort of urea cycle disorder (as yet undiagnosed). Anyway, the net result is that living next door to drug users can be extremely unpleasant for people with certain types of mental health problems / symptoms, so I don’t advise doing so unless you really have to!

    1. Hello again, Just like to apologise for my previous comment. I’ve clearly gone too far on this. I know drugs are enjoyed by many people for stress relief and other reasons, so it’s wrong to be overcritical of them when they don’t cause any problem. Only the few are badly affected by them, it’s just that I happen to be one of them, that’s all. Please accept my apologies once again – I shan’t be making any more posts on this topic as my views clearly will be very unpopular with the many people who now use drugs recreationally without any problem.

  2. Definitely consider that which you stated. Your
    favourite reason seemed to be on the web the easiest factor to keep in mind of.
    I say to you, I certainly get annoyed at the same time as other folks consider concerns that they plainly don’t recognise about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing with no need side effect , folks could take a signal. Will probably be again to get more. Thank you

  3. I don’t know whether it’s just me or if everyone else
    encountering problems with your blog. It appears as though
    some of the written text within your posts are running off the screen. Can somebody else please
    provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them as well?
    This might be a problem with my browser because I’ve had this happen previously.

    Many thanks

  4. I don’t even know the way I stopped up here, however I
    assumed this put up used to be good. I don’t understand who you are however certainly
    you’re going to a famous blogger for those who are not already.

  5. I believe that is one of the such a lot
    important info for me. And i’m satisfied studying your article.
    However wanna commentary on some common things, The web site taste is great, the articles is in point of fact nice : D.

    Good job, cheers

  6. Dear Mariam, you are doing some wonderful work here. I have recovered from a long and chronic case of Bipolar disorder and put myself on an independent track of research- a lot of it is published internationally, in the frame of recovery mapping.

    My current interest in research is psychosis and its interpretation. Of course recovery is certainly among the key goals of all my work, whether in therapy/counseling or interdisciplinary research. I see that over the years you have documented a huge lot of things on your blog- it is quite remarkable indeed. I also wrote the story of the blind men in a different context. Please read it here, if you would care to-

    Additionally, I am very glad that you bring up the issue of advocacy so clearly. There is a lot of advocacy yes and most of it obfuscates the real issue and end up reinforcing the psychiatric versions of mental health.

    Am tuned to your blog so all your updates will keep coming. Best wishes from India.

    1. Hi Prateeksha,

      Thank you for your kind words and I will definitely read your post. I can tell it is very thoughtfully written.

      Such a valuable lesson in the story of the blind men.

      Maria M.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s