anosognosia: Lacking insight that you are mentally ill
My inspiration (ramble?) for today’s blog was prompted by reading about the Elizabeth Smart case. Elizabeth Smart was the fourteen year old girl who was kidnapped a few years ago and subjected to daily rape by her captor. The article talked glowingly of how well adjusted she is these days because of the strong support by her family and the fact that “they believed what she told them.” In cases of trauma, a psychologist wrote, it is important to believe that what the victim is telling you is true. Believing Elizabeth Smart doesn’t look like that much of a stretch to most people. I wouldn’t give the family too much credit here for psychological insight. Of course what she told them is true. The supporting evidence is right there in the open.
Well, we all know that apparently this sage advice doesn’t apply to mental health. As faithful reader of this blog, Marian, points out, people “get” the origins of physical trauma, they don’t “get” the origins of mental trauma. There are many parents who believe in something called “serious mental illness.” I feel very sorry for their relatives who spend a lot of time in psychiatric institutions not getting better. I suspect they remain there because their voices are not heard by the people who count — their parents. The parent prefer to believe their relatives are seriously mentally ill, and rage is what they get in return.
What parent would sit by and let their child languish for years in an asylum? There is something very strange going on with parents who allow this to happen. They are washing their hands of their relative, but they don’t see it this way, of course. From the way many of them go on about how hard it is to see this happen to their troublesome relative, you’d think it was all about them. Yes, it is all about them.
The parents suffer from anosognosia, a refusal to admit that they are deluding themselves and are in need of help. The children are trying to tell them there is something wrong if they would only believe them, and the parents aren’t listening.