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Mental Illness and Being Dysfunctional

You are not dysfunctional because stuff happens to you and all around you. You are normal! 

by M. J.Joachim

Dysfunctional is a common theme in our society these days. Almost everyone we meet seems to come from some sort of dysfunctional family, or has been exposed to a friend overcoming the pain of being in one. The word itself conjures up a negativity that makes most “sane” people withdraw, pull back and shy away…not because they lack compassion so much, but more likely because of what it might mean if they truly can relate to such a thing.

It’s a fine line, one with a very sharp edge. To be touched by dysfunction is to be exposed to mental illness. It’s to walk the path of human weakness, a path no human can escape except through the essence of their own denial. Somewhere along the line, people crossed over, embracing their dysfunctional lifestyles, boldly announcing them to the world as if it were some courageous badge of honor – recognition of their bravery for attempting to overcome such a fate.

Yet, if we look at the words defining dysfunction: socially impaired, broken, flawed, unfit, defective, maladjusted, decayed – proudly claiming such a thing is nothing more than a farce, a way to seek attention and yes, deny one’s true worth within the community and society as a whole. It is also a money pit, waiting to be exploited by those who can profit from it. The overuse of the word dysfunction has created an entirely new phenomenon, providing people with an excuse to quit the game of life on various levels, and generating millions of dollars for those in the mental health industry. According to the Alliance for Human Research Protection, the American Psychiatric Association and pharmaceutical industry “…has invented and promoted diagnostic categories as the names of objective diseases without any solid way to validate them.”

Stuff happens, as the saying goes…welcome to the human race! You are not dysfunctional because stuff happens to you and all around you. You are normal! You can become dysfunctional if you let circumstances define who you are and what you are about, enmeshing yourself in the past, overcompensating through your future and ignoring the importance of your uniqueness in the world.  To give into such a thing so easily is not dysfunctional in and of itself. It is lazy. Laziness breeds other mind altering conditions, consequences of seeking the easy way out.

It’s not easy to fight the good fight. In fact, at times it’s downright torturous. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to fight it. We are all called to defend our honor against that which would destroy us. Whether it is the poor choices of others or our own bad decisions doesn’t matter…who we are is what counts. Labeling ourselves as dysfunctional is nothing less than a copout that diminishes our compassion for those who truly are mentally ill in our society, thereby inhibiting our efforts to help them and respond to their needs as effectively human people ourselves.


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©2011, 2012 All Rights Reserved Teresa DePoy