|Type of paper:
|Psychology Mental health Literature review
Mentalism, also referred to as sanism, refers to the discrimination against a particular mental trait possessed by a person. The term mentalism is commonly known, despite having different other definitions, which do not relate with the stigmatization of mental illness. Mentalism also means the art of performing magic tricks, which make the performer seem like he possesses mental abilities. In philosophy, the term refers to the objects of knowledge existing in the mind. Psychology uses the word to describe areas of study, which focus on the perception of the mind. Therefore, the term can bring about confusion, when used to refer to the stigmatization of mental health. On the other hand, sanism does not appear in the dictionaries. It is impossible to discuss something whose name does not exist. Therefore, sanism has always prevailed because people do not even name the word. Research organizations like the Mental Health Commission of Canada often refer to "mental health stigma" instead of sanism. Using one word to describe an issue tends to add more weight as people will easily identify with the word. For example, sexism or racism.
Morton Birnbaum coined the term sanism in the 1960s. He used this word in court, as he was representing a client by the name Edward Stephens. The client was a victim of discrimination against mental illness because he claimed that he did not receive adequate treatment. Advocate Michael L. Perlin picked up the word in 1980 and wrote extensively on it, for people to be aware of its existence. Judi Chamberlin began using the term mentalism in 1978. She first used the term in her book On Our Own: Patient-Controlled Alternatives to the Mental Health System. The Oxford English Dictionary does not contain the definitions of sanism or mentalism, in relation to the stigmatization of mental illnesses. Many activists and advocates have continuously used the term and it has gained popularity. This paper will expound on the issue of mentalism, give a critical review of the available literature, and provide recommendations. Critical Review
According to Poole & Jivraj (2015), social work literature has always gained popularity for analyzing of anti-oppression against issues like heterosexism, ableism or racism. They also note that the social work literature gives minimal attention to oppressions like mentalism, brought up by the late American activist and educator, Judi Chamberlin (Poole & Jivraj, 2015). According to her, many people, including ex-patients of mental illness, practiced mentalism. She referred to the stigmatization as negative assumptions, which people hold against mentally ill patients. Mentalism is a bit similar to oppressions like racism, as they both entail blatant discrimination. However, mentalists usually express indignities and small insults against mentally ill patients. People have the notion that the patients are incompetent, helpless, irrational and violent.
The article also notes that some people refer to mentalism as sanism. They also note that Morton Birnbaum, influenced by the work of black legal scholar Florynce Kennedy, first used the term sanism. Birnbaum wrote the article "The Right to Treatment" and it gave a detailed outline of sanism. However, about 50 publications refused to publish the article on their platforms (Poole & Jivraj, 2015). In 1960, the American Bar Association journal agreed to publish the article, and therefore people came to learn of the term. Michael Perlin, in 1980, used Birnbaum's word to describe the behaviors of discrimination, experienced in law. Perlin refers to sanims as a type of biasness, that respectable people express publicly. He stated that sanism made people feel that mental illness resulted from evil, demons or God's punishment. Therefore, mental illness was an assurance that the patients are different. He identified that such mythical beliefs resulted in discrimination, and for it to end, people needed to be educated on mental illnesses.
Strengths and limitations of research methodology
The study used a qualitative analysis method of data collection. The strength of this method is the ability to gather information from previous scholars who had written on the same issue. Through the methodology used, the researchers were able to gather a lot of useful information, which provide a clear and well-structured report for the readers.
The weakness of this methodology is the lack of current information. Most of the information written in the study dates back to the 20th century. The study does not entail any current happenings regarding the issue of sanism and mentalism. This reduces the accuracy of the text because society has experienced notable changes since the 20th century.
Gornley & Quinn (2009) identified that many scholars have embarked on the study of mental health discrimination in social work. According to the study, Goffman described stigma as highly discrediting. The article also broke down the process of stigmatization into three sections. These include stereotyping, labeling and disapproval activities (Gornley & Quinn, 2009). These sections relate to the discrimination and stigmatization of patients with mental illness. Labeling occurs when sanists refer to them as sinners, weirdos or hopeless people. Stereotyping occurs in that people have an inbuilt opinion of how the mentally ill people behave or act. For example, stereotypes view mentally ill patients as violent or irrational. The disapproval activities come in place when people do not approve any activity partaken by mentally ill patients. Some of the patients might try to involve themselves with everyday activities. Such a move will attract disapproval from the mentalists.
Strengths and weaknesses of the methodology
Like the first literature, this one also uses qualitative analysis. This method of data collection enables a researcher to capture all the information written by previous scholars, regarding a similar issue. The study has also given a broad context on the issue of mentalism, and this allows readers from different regions and diversities to relate to the research.
The weakness of the research methodology is that the researchers did not gather adequate information on the context of mentalism. The methodology of the study focused on the definition of terms, instead of giving an in-depth context of mentalism.
On the other hand, Thonicroft (2006) stated that focusing on stigma is very restraining. A focus on stigma reduces the spiky reality of the existent oppression and abuse of rights of the mentally ill patients. Focusing on stigma also prolongs the language and medical outsets made around mental health. The article also focuses that the pathology of mental illness is offensive as it incorporates injurious practices. These practices happen in everyday procedures have a high dominance in the treatment sections for the mentally ill patients (Thornicroft, 2003). In such a case, such practices do surpass discrimination because they cause harm and psychological torture to the patients. Such actions require intervention from legal officials.
Strengths and weaknesses of the research methodology
The study used both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection. The qualitative method entails the use of information written by previous scholars while quantitative analysis entails the collection of data using experiments, interviews or questionnaires. Using both methods of data, the collection provided a well-structured report, which contained both past and present information.
The weakness of the study is the lack of accurate information. The information collected on the methods of treatment for the mentally ill patients should have included the specific institutions' understudy, to increase the accuracy.
Social work and education tend to discriminate mentally ill patients. In the United Kingdom, the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work stated that it is important to protect social work from the dangerous and damaging practices of the mentally ill students. Royse (2000) and Morrow (2000) argued that there should be a delay in the acceptance of mentally ill students into social work. They also argued that social work educators should bar students with mental illnesses from graduating. In Canada, people also argue that mentally ill students are not suitable for the job environment. According to the study, statistics show that about 40% of students in North American universities have mental illnesses (Royse, 2000). This shows that even with the high levels of discrimination, the number of mentally ill students keeps rising. However, the behavior of discrimination against these students keeps rising, in social work education.
Strengths and weaknesses of research methodology
The methodology focused on specific study areas, which are the United Kingdom, Canada, and North America. Focusing on specific areas improves the accuracy of the results. The research also used a quantitative method of data collection, and this enables a researcher to collect current information, which is reliable.
On the other hand, covering a large scope tends to confuse both the researcher and the reader. The study area must not be too broad, as seen in this study.
Discrimination and stigmatization of mentally ill patients have reduced with time. Activists have worked effortlessly to create awareness to the public on mental illness. For example, the Ontario Human Rights clarified that mental illness is a form of disability, and patients face higher discrimination, as compared to other forms of disability (OHRC, 2000). The commission identified that there is a difference between discrimination, stigma, and sanism. According to the commission, discrimination and stigma make up a broad system of belief, which is ableist. Sanism is the combination of stigma and discrimination but in a more pronounced manner. The commission referred to Perlin's work and identified sanism as a conscious or unconscious notion, deeply rooted in institutions and structures. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that discrimination and stigmatization of people with mental illness are unlawful. Such legal actions have helped in minimizing the acts of sanism against mentally ill patients. The rule also includes the failure to integrate the mentally ill patients in the goods and services design. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act identified that some of such services are universities and schools.
Strengths and weaknesses of the research methodology
The methodology incorporates the qualitative method of data collection. The researchers used previous studies and works of literature to write on the issue of discrimination against mentally ill patients. This method of data collection provides a broad aspect of the topic under study.
The weakness observed in the study is the lack of use of qualitative methods of data collection. The study entails current happenings and experiences of data collection. In such a study, the researcher needs to collect data from people directly through interviews and questionnaires. These instruments would have enabled the researchers to have more detailed and accurate information on the current experiences of mentalism.
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