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Joel Pigeau

Student in Languages,

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If one's mental illness could be cured by a single pill, would you choose to do so?

In the talk by Elyn Saks, Seeing Mental Illness, she mentioned that, if a complete and permanent cure was offered, she would take it.
I found this sentiment highly interesting for many reasons. I am a high-funtioning autistic person with Obsessive Compulsive disorder. My symptoms are not debilitating, but they have had a profound impact on the way I live my life. I'm no stranger to social rejection and high-anxiety.
That being said, if I were offered an complete and permanent cure for my condition... I can say that for my anxiety issues at least, I might be interested. However, despite the focus on a cure for autism in the public sphere, I would approach a cure for my autism with extreme reluctance. For myself, there is to deep a connection between what are considered to be clinical signs of autism and what I would consider to be my personality, my "self."
I suppose that this difference in opinion is related to our own individual experiences with the unique manifestations of our conditions. My own condition occationally strips me of control, but never in so stark a manner as discribed by Saks in her talk.
I would be interested in hearing others views on this topic.

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    Jul 3 2012: There are many in my family who are mentally ill. I have seen the debilitation these diseases cause, and I would not wish them on my worst enemy. CT scans now show lesions in the frontal lobes of untreated Schizophrenics. This is worse than an unusual and creative mind; this is a mind under attack. The illnesses of the mind elude treatment because the very center that we depend on for self-diagnosis, our mind, is affected. The person must take a terrific leap of faith and trust the healers, when their very reality is untrustworthy. Additionally, the medications we have today have significant side effects. I see others have noted the "flat" personalities that result. These medications are not a cure. They are palliatives (except for depression perhaps). I fantasize about the creation of a Nanite tribe that would map a brain, repair connections, and disentangle the terrible neuron loops that trap the ill in delusion. This would be a benevolent Nanite tribe of course, self-destructing in a final act of altruism when their work is done.

    If there were a magic pill to cure paralysis, would we be having this conversation?
    • Jul 3 2012: No, we wouldn't, because that isn't the same thing at all. The conditions and mentalities we define as mental illness are not nearly as simple as physical impairment and disability. They have a wide range of severity, effects, and implications. Not all who are mentally ill suffer. Some are simply inconvenienced; some find only difficulty in the unbending ways of society's baises; still others are happy in their conditions despite their limitations and difficulties. This is not to discount those who suffer and would gladly take a miracle cure. However, the issue is made nebulous and murky for these reasons.
      The reality of our current medications is indeed a sad one. The side affects of these medications are often unpleasant or even dangerous, and one must weigh one evil against another, trading symptoms for side-affects.

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