ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Those Who Accept/Don't Accept Treatment

By Jack Bragen
Sunday August 12, 2012 - 11:24:00 AM

There are two types of persons who have severe mental illness. These are the ones who recognize that they have an illness and who accept treatment versus those who do not, and who incorrectly believe they are not ill. After the second or third relapse that happens subsequent to quitting medication, it should be clear to a person that they weren't misdiagnosed. Or, if they were misdiagnosed to begin with, the diagnosis has become accurate. 

Some of the people are dangerous who do not accept the treatment which is offered. I know of a man who is now deceased and who was my friend, and who refused treatment. And this man ended up getting violent and throwing a heavy steel chair from a second story window. This could easily have resulted in severe property damage, not to mention the death or maiming of anyone who might be standing below. It was fortunate in this incident that nothing was below but the asphalt parking lot, since an innocent bystander could have been harmed, and also, I could have been blamed. 

How did this happen? I was denying the gentleman access to my apartment because he had been abusing and bullying me in my home for three weeks. He then came in through the closed window and began throwing objects. He also shattered most of the windows in the apartment. 

This man was an extreme example of someone in complete denial that he had a problem, and to support this denial, he was harmful and potentially deadly to others. This is the sort of thing that ruins life for all persons with mental illness, since most of us do not hurt anyone and will suffer as a result of rights being taken away. 

Having an illness that needs treatment, the lack of insight about, is considered a symptom. Having insight concerning one's illness may require time to develop, and for this to happen, the individual may need to be forced to take medication. And then, hopefully, at some point, the person's better judgment will return or may develop if absent to begin with, and that person will think clearly enough to develop that insight. The man I talked about in paragraphs above was someone who never "got it." He was too invested in proving himself right and the system wrong. 

Some people's psychosis makes them immune to suffering. The lack of the capacity to suffer causes a lack of the capacity to learn from one's mistakes. Taking antipsychotic or other medications can entail a great deal of discomfort. And yet, it is an action that a responsible person with mental illness must carry out. Otherwise, others will pay for a person's mistakes, and others will often be forced to clean up a person's mess. "Others" include family members who may care very much for their ill relative. 

Admitting that one has had a "wrong" belief or that one's actions were wrong is a sign of adaptability as well as flexibility. If someone's brain is excessively impaired by mental illness, it may prevent them from having the ability to correct their mistakes. When clarity is finally found, and this doesn't happen for everyone, the person may discover that they weren't perceived very well. A person can go back over their life and can find a series of mistakes that were created by ignorance. Forgiving oneself at this point is essential. If you don't have compassion for yourself, who will?