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demonstrated that there are central personality traits (such as warm versus cold) which are so powerful that they markedly color the meaning of other information in forming an impression of a given personality.Such labels, conferred by mental health professionals, are as influential on the patient as they are on his relatives and friends, and it should not surprise anyone that the diagnosis acts on all of them as a self-fulfilling prophecy.While the content of the question varied according to the appropriateness of the target and the pseudopatients (apparent) current needs the form was always a courteous and relevant request for information.
But that they affect the professionals attendants, nurses, physicians, psychologists and social workers who treat and deal with the mentally ill is more disconcerting, both because such attitudes are self-evidently pernicious and because they are unwitting.Indeed, it was the impression of the pseudopatients while living with them that they were sane for long periods of time that the bizarre behaviors upon which their diagnoses were allegedly predicated constituted only a small fraction of their total behavior.If it makes no sense to label ourselves permanently depressed on the basis of an occasional depression, then it takes better evidence than is presently available to label all patients insane or schizophrenic on the basis of bizarre behaviors or cognitions.It is commonplace, for example, to read about murder trials wherein eminent psychiatrists for the defense are contradicted by equally eminent psychiatrists for the prosecution on the matter of the defendants sanity.Based in part on theoretical and anthropological considerations, but also on philosophical, legal, and therapeutic ones, the view has grown that psychological categorization of mental illness is useless at best and downright harmful, misleading, and pejorative at worst.
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The first concerns the proliferation of community mental health facilities, of crisis intervention centers, of the human potential movement, and of behavior therapies that, for all of their own problems, tend to avoid psychiatric labels, to focus on specific problems and behaviors, and to retain the individual in a relatively non-pejorative environment.(The risk of distorted perceptions, it seems to me, is always present, since we are much more sensitive to an individuals behaviors and verbalizations than we are to the subtle contextual stimuli than often promote them.