Are Freethinking and Creativity Really Mental Health Issues?

What would happen if our creative lives and businesses had to exist under the threat of a mental illness diagnosis?

“Dissent is essential for progress” – Thomas Eddison

“My work is more important than what you think of me” – Brene Brown

“Not everyone thinks the way you think, knows the things you know, believes the things you believe, nor acts the way you would act. Remember this and you will go a long way in getting along with people.” – Unknown

I recently read this article dated 16 November 2013, and it shook me to the core! It is entitled ‘Non Conformity and Freethinking Now Considered Mental Illnesses’. The film ‘The Matrix’ immediately sprung to mind. The article states that “In the last 50 years, the DSM-IV (DSM-IV Codes are the classification found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) has gone from 130 to 357 mental illnesses.” Some of the criteria for these diagnoses are apparently “”oppositional defiant disorder” or ODD. Defined as an “ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior,” symptoms include questioning authority, negativity, defiance, argumentativeness, and being easily annoyed. Other ‘symptoms’ include arrogance, narcissism, above-average creativity, cynicism, and antisocial behavior.”

I started to wonder what would happen to our lives and our businesses if we indeed became the watered down versions of ourselves, that it is suggested is required in some parts of the world, in order to live life free of the danger of being locked up, or at the very least medicated.

Another question also rises to the surface – exactly which sections of society would be targeted for these traits? As the article and attached video interview state, children are a primary target – maybe because of their inability to refuse treatment. Another concern is that a number of the people who are in positions of authority, and meant to be representing us, are exhibiting just such symptoms – so does it come down to ‘personality traits’ for them, but ‘mental illness’ for those that seek to question their judgement and possibly oppose them?

What is creativity?

“Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and valuable is created (such as an idea, a joke, an artistic or literary work, a painting or musical composition, a solution, an invention etc.). The ideas and concepts so conceived can then manifest themselves in any number of ways, but most often, they become something we can see, hear, smell, touch, or taste.”

The above definition would also include science as a form of creativity, so it begs the question – “Would creativity be permitted in certain profitable professions? For example, didn’t scientists come up with the ideas for GMOs, chemtrails, fracking and all the chemicals that are poisoning us today? If these particular ideas weren’t so lucrative for a selected few, wouldn’t they also be sectioned under the Mental Health Act? Or is it just creative people who challenge these already established organisations who would come under observation?

I believe that everyone is creative, though the predominant belief appears to be that creativity is confined to the arts – painting, music, writing, acting, dancing etc. However, there are brilliant and creative people in businesses of all kinds – their flashes of creative genius make a massive difference in people’s lives – both positively and negatively. What is important is that the people who work for the good of the planet don’t get their work suppressed, in the event that those who benefit most have the power to throw the mental health card in their direction.

A further question is “Who decides at what level creativity is deemed a mental illness?” Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t the people making the assessments be the ones that are already indoctrinated into the accepted belief systems – the ones that are trying to fit all of us into one box or another?

Creative geniuses of the future are already being medicated and their minds tamed just because they don’t think or behave the way ‘normal’ people are meant to think and behave. So many children are being diagnosed as troubled or broken, and their parents lead to believe there is something wrong with them, when what is actually wrong is the system. The system is outdated and many parts of it no longer apply, but there is so much money and time invested in it that it is easier to medicate the children, brainwash the parents, and keep everyone living in the past.

What would we lose?

There are already many countries around the world where sections of the community live under these types of pressures. Places where to be authentically you and speak out is too frightening a prospect. Places where individuality, creativity, fun and joy are stamped out each and every day. Places where a few people feel they have the right to dominate and control others – robbing them of their loved ones, belongings and sense of self. These are often soul-less places where expansion, adventure and new and exciting ideas are alien. Places were progress can rarely take place because there is too much invested in keeping things exactly the same, and where any positive creations are kept to the few and not shared with the masses.

If a system like this is abused then people will live in fear of being truly seen. The tallest poppy in the field syndrome, where they would be in danger of being cut down to size, so would hide their light. Only the very brave would challenge it. It would be like giving a child an outfit to wear and telling them they must wear it every day for the rest of their lives and not grow out of it. It would stunt growth and imagination and this would create limited choice.

My local market is a good example of what happens when a system is abused. When I first moved into the area it was wonderful, you could get absolutely anything there. However, in recent years what has happened is that one community of people got greedy, so when anyone vacated their market stall they took it over. Not a problem you would think, except for the fact that they filled the stall with the same kind of products that were on all their other stalls. There was nothing new to be seen and the market has gradually declined and become a shadow of its former self.

In Conclusion

I think that every person is unique and should be treated as such. Yes, there are people who are a danger to themselves and others and where action is necessary. However, I am sure we have all heard stories of people who have been targeted because they did something that other people judged as unacceptable, which just boiled down to a difference of opinion and not a mental health issue at all. In the not too distant past, unmarried mothers sometimes found themselves in this position. I believe that we need to be very watchful to make sure that systems like this don’t get abused.

All the time I hear about new inventions and ideas that are so inspiring and absolutely brilliant – to clean the oceans, solar panels for roads, using recycled wood to make shelters for the homeless, to name but a few. I look forward to many more years of equally brilliant creativity and imagination, and that will only happen if people have the confidence to be themselves and create freely without fear of recrimination.

Mental Health Stigma Has Reduced Greatly in Recent Decades

Mental health stigma is still very much alive many people would say. Personally, I do not believe the situation as bad as it used to be. I do accept that mental health stigma does exist. However, my belief is that it is not nearly as strong as it was when I was diagnosed with bipolar type 1in 1982. Today I see my friends experiencing major depressive episodes and manic episodes without being stigmatized.

I accept that some stigma is still attached to mental disorders. I believe that much of this is brought about by the media. Often when a person with mental health issues commits a crime this is often hyped up by the media. This is especially so in respect of serious criminal acts. Sometimes the media places strong emphasis on it. On other occasions the hype is of a more subtle nature. To me the media’s actions tends to suggest that people with mental disorders should be feared by the general public.

I believe that there are two major reasons why people with mental disorders do not face as much mental health stigma as was the case say forty years ago. Today many celebrities are speaking up about their mental disorders. They come from many different walks of life. They are describing how their manic episodes or major depressive episodes affect them. As celebrities comment people take notice of their revelations. This gives the general public a far better idea of the suffering a person with an episode of their particular mental disorder is going through.

The second reason is that otherwise ordinary people with mental disorders are also speaking out. Many so afflicted people are now being open about their disorder. Now, when a manic episode or a major depressive episode is being experienced friends and loved ones are aware of what the afflicted person is going through. They become much more understanding.

On many occasions special efforts are put into educating friends and relatives of an afflicted person about their disorder. This understanding by friends and loved ones can, and does, leads to them being much more understanding about what the afflicted person is going through. Sometimes they even recognize oncoming problems before the afflicted person does.

The internet holds many examples of celebrities and ordinary people sharing their experience of mental disorder. Recent celebrities who have explained their problems with manic episodes and depressive episodes include Catherine Zeta-Jones, Demi Lovato and Sinead O’Conner. A search of the internet will reveal any number of “ordinary people” who have learned to manage their manic episodes or their depressive episodes. This publicity has combined to educate the general public as to what a mental disorder is all about. This better understanding has served to greatly reduce mental health stigma attached to mental health disorders.

Relaxation Techniques for Mental Health

How much do we know about relaxation techniques?

A substantial amount of research has been done on relaxation techniques. However, for many health conditions, the number or size of the studies has been small, and some studies have been of poor quality.

What do we know about their effectiveness?

These techniques may be helpful in managing a variety of health conditions, including anxiety associated with illnesses or medical procedures, insomnia, labor pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and temporomandibular joint dysfunction. Psychological therapies, which may include relaxation techniques, can help manage chronic headaches and other types of chronic pain in children and adolescents. These techniques have also been studied for other conditions, but either they haven’t been shown to be useful, research results have been inconsistent, or the evidence is limited.

What do we know about their safety?

These techniques are generally considered safe for healthy people, although there have been a few reports of negative experiences such as increased anxiety. People with serious physical or mental health problems should discuss these techniques with their health care providers.

What Are Relaxation Techniques?

These techniques include a number of practices such as progressive relaxation, guided imagery, biofeedback, self-hypnosis, and deep breathing exercises. The goal is similar in all: to produce the body’s natural relaxation response, characterized by slower breathing, lower blood pressure, and a feeling of increased well-being.

Meditation and practices that include meditation with movement, such as yoga and tai chi, can also promote relaxation. You can find information about these practices elsewhere on the NCCIH Web site.

Stress management programs commonly include relaxation techniques. Relaxation techniques have also been studied to see whether they might be of value in managing various health problems.

The Importance of Practice

These techniques include the following:

  • Autogenic Training
  • Biofeedback-Assisted Relaxation
  • Deep Breathing or Breathing Exercises
  • Guided Imagery
  • Progressive Relaxation
  • Self-Hypnosis

What the Science Says About the Effectiveness of Relaxation Methods?

Researchers have evaluated these techniques to see whether they could play a role in managing a variety of health conditions, including the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Epilepsy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headache
  • Heart Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Menopause Symptoms
  • Menstrual Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Nightmares
  • Pain
  • Pain in Children and Adolescents
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Ringing in the Ears (Tinnitus)
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction

What the Science Says About the Safety and Side Effects of Relaxation Techniques

These techniques are generally considered safe for healthy people. However, occasionally, people report negative experiences such as increased anxiety, intrusive thoughts, or fear of losing control.

There have been rare reports that certain relaxation techniques might cause or worsen symptoms in people with epilepsy or certain psychiatric conditions, or with a history of abuse or trauma. People with heart disease should talk to their health care provider before doing progressive muscle relaxation.

Teeth Can Predict Future Mental Health of Children, Says Study

Archaeologists have used teeth since long to reveal information related to lifestyle, cause of death, and ancient civilizations. However, a recent study reported by the Daily Mail suggested that teeth can also give us information about the future. Researchers have found that teeth can predict the susceptibility to mental health disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression, in children.

The lost milk teeth of six-year-olds were scrutinized and it was found that children with thin enamel might be at the risk of developing attention deficient issues. Lead author, Dr. Erin Dunn, a psychiatrist at the Massachusetts General Hospital, said that while a discovery like this could be commonplace for archaeologists, it is extraordinary in psychiatry as it opens the gate to an entirely new outlook for screening mental health disorders, which are on the rise.

Differences in dimension and teeth quality better predictors of mental health

Dr. Dunn stated that it was something they had never seen or thought of before. Her team comprised anthropologists, public health practitioners, and archaeologists and she presented her work at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAs) in Washington.

The researchers asked 37 parents from California to donate the teeth of their 6-year-olds when they fell off. Each tooth was examined using high resolution imaging. This analysis was later extrapolated to study the behavior of kids. Compared to other biomarkers that a psychiatrist would look for usually, teeth quality and differences in dimension were found to be better predictors of mental health.

Scientists across fields need to work together

Dr. Dunn shared that it was important that scientists across fields worked together as it would add more dimensions to a research. She added that scientists usually had a tendency to get isolated and worked with people from the same field. For example, psychiatrists worked only with psychiatrists and psychologists worked only with psychologists. People generally refrained from moving across disciplines or exploring other related facets in a research.

Dr. Dunn stated that this study is a proof of the fact that there is a need for more interdisciplinary science and how more efforts can provide one with the opportunities to view things from different angles which might be completely unexpected.

Warning signs of a mental illness in adolescents and teens

Sometimes, it can be really difficult to tell if a child or teen’s behavior is a normal part of growing up or something else. If the symptoms lasts for weeks or months, it warrants a visit to a healthcare professional. Some of the warning signs of a mental illness are:

  • Feeling extremely anxious and worried all the time
  • Throwing tantrums and getting irritable
  • Having frequent headaches, stomachaches and other unexplained aches
  • Trouble sleeping with frequent nightmares
  • Low or no energy
  • Avoiding friends
  • Smoking, drinking or using drugs
  • Engaging in self-harm and other risky behaviors
  • Losing interest in things used to enjoy previously
  • Having trouble doing well in school or sports

Road to recovery

Good mental health is important for the overall well-being of children as well as teens, as these are their growing years and they shape the future personality of the child. For many adults experiencing mental health problems, the symptoms were present when they were growing up but were undiagnosed or ignored. It is therefore, important that a mental health disorder is detected early and receives timely diagnosis.