What is a “mental illness?”

Many mental health professionals, from around the world, are divided about the nature of what we call mental illness. Why? Because some look at the illness process as opposed to the illness origins. Mental health professionals such as psychologists and psychiatrists, in therapy, favor the origins model of mental illness: how did the mental illness come about? And they look at the history of the patients through therapy sessions, something that can be a long and painstaking process sometimes.

If we look at the process, then we only focus on the symptoms through which the illness operates and therefore it is unlikely that we will help people to recover. We can still attend to the symptoms with various methods and we will discuss these methods later.

If we look at the origins, then we are likely to help the people to recover because we go right to the source of the problem. Of course, some people are unable to go to the source of their problems, with their mind, simply because it is too painful or they are prevented from doing so by a variety of factors. But those that are able to revisit the trauma and resolve it in their mind often recover well.

In the year 2010, together with psychologist Dr. Bob Rich, who is a good friends, I begun to ask psychologists and psychiatrists what, according to them and looking at their patients’ history, was the likely cause of their mental illness.

From 250 psychologists and psychiatrists around the world the answer was TRAUMA. We quickly did some statistical analysis and found that about 80% of all mental illness is due to childhood traumatic experiences such as sexual abuse, verbal abuse, being bullied or witnessing a traumatic event The rest of it was made up of 15% adult trauma, or traumatic events experienced by adults: again sexual abuse, verbal abuse, being bullied at work , witnessing a traumatic event. The remaining 5% was made up of mental illnesses that for some reasons did not show origins. However, there could be explanations for this such as the fact that some people will not disclose having been sexually abused or abused in any way and some block the trauma out of their mind..

So it is that what we call Mental Illness could very well be people experiencing trauma that triggers a potential for the development of a mental illness.

Some people will develop different symptoms when they are affected by the trauma, according to their genetic make up. Others will be more resilient and not develop a mental illness after the trauma: what triggers Michael’s Depression, for example, is due to Michael’s genetic make up and nature of trauma and resilience. What could trigger Bob, after experiencing a similar trauma could be Bipolar or Anxiety, it depends from the genetic make up and resilience of the person.

However, we must remember that having a predisposition to develop a mental illness does not mean that the person will develop a mental illness as a natural consequence. Not at all. If there is no trauma, if people avoid traumas, then chances are that the person will not develop a mental illness.

Let’s look at all the children that have been sexually abused and molested by members of the Catholic Church. Will they develop a mental illness? Yes absolutely, the great majority of them have developed a mental illness with only the most resilient of them surviving the ordeal and coming out of it without developing a mental illness.

99% of the mental health professionals I interviewed (psychologists and psychiatrists) agree with what I am saying here. In addition, there is a study started in America in mid 1995 which is still ongoing today and this is called the ACE study. This study supports what I have written here.

Moral of the story if you have children try to ensure that they are not traumatized, particularly bullying at school can be a trigger for mental illness so that every step should be made by the parents to avoid this as far as possible.

GO to the link below which will take you to the ACE study, a longitudinal research study that supports what I have here written.

https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childabuseandneglect/acestudy/index.html?