Institute director Lois Holzman issued a report today on a pilot study conducted by the Institute and The Social Therapy Group that investigates what people think about whether diagnosis helps or hurts when it comes to handling emotional distress, and what alternatives they use to feel better. It posted today at DxSummit (Global Summit on Diagnostic Alternatives) and presents findings from street surveys and public conversations conducted in the last two years, which include:
“To our knowledge, these surveys are unique. Our literature search, while not exhaustive, has turned up surprisingly few opinion polls on anything to do with mental health/mental illness at all—and none that do not use conventional illness labels like schizophrenia and depression (putting the horse in the cart, so to speak)..Disorder and illness are presumed. The field of vision is already defined. The options are chosen for us, not unlike US polls on electoral politics that offer Democrat or Republican as the only options—despite the fact that 42% of the American electorate identifies as independents, eschewing the political parties….To the extent that the existing research uses medicalized language…it preempts any consideration by the public of personhood, subjectivity, emotionality, social relations and social activities, and the role of the mental health institutional complex. How lay people think about these issues is critically important to how they currently relate to mental health and how they might participate in transforming it.”
A larger study is in the works and outreach is underway to bring on partners.