There has been some debate on a mailing list I am on about madness/psychiatric survivors/medical model and the best or the ‘right’ way of managing mental illness/mental health issues. It can get very contentious, and some people are vehemently opposed to one school of thought or the other. This is what I wrote in response:
For me the level of disagreement in the mad community about what the best/most acceptable/most useful way of dealing with madness is actually a good thing. This community is not monolithic, we are diverse and multifaceted, just like the rest of the population.
No person comes to madness on the same path. For some there is trauma and abuse, for others there is a less defined on ramp. In my mind there is also a place for biological components in some people. In some people, madness just is, and there doesn’t need to be a cause.
For this reason there can be no right way to manage madness. No one therapy or pill or school of thought will be the panacea. If you want to be a mad psychologist then that is awesome. There are some good clinicians who get it, and are compassionate and effective.
Painting the whole mad community with one brush is what average people do to us. It doesn’t work, and in the worst case scenario it means that some avenues of treatment or support get minimized because they don’t fit the model of the moment.
In the activist community I sense some of the resistance to people choosing the medical path. I say if you are really for choice and personal control over your life you should respect all the choices people make. If something doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t mean it can’t work for anyone else.
Madness is complicated. The responses should be as well.