Strange as it seems, the term “mental illness” has no legal definition and only vague and contradictory shades of meaning. Many words and phrases are used to convey the sense of it, but each has its’ own problems. Such terms as “insane”, “mental disorder”, “brain disorder”, or “brain disease” are used synonymously with mental illness, but they each come with their own set of qualifiers, distinctions, and connotations.
Insanity does have a legal definition: it means unable to enter into legal contracts. As to reference to a bodily condition, it is silent.
Mental Disorder is legally defined (in California, Section 2962 of the Penal Code) as: “an illness or disease or condition that substantially impairs the person’s thought, perception of reality, emotional process, or judgment; or which grossly impairs behavior; or that demonstrates evidence of an acute brain syndrome for which prompt remission, in the absence of treatment, is unlikely…. As used in this section does not include personality or adjustment disorder, epilepsy, mental retardation or other developmental disabilities, or addiction to or abuse of intoxicating substances.”
Brain Disorder has no legal definition and is usually used in exactly the same way as Mental Disorder.
Brain Disease is usually used in contradistinction to physical (somatic) conditions of the brain, such as brain tumor, Dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc. and refers to diseases of the brain which can only be inferred, that is, they haven’t actually been discovered yet by pathologists, but are assumed to be imminently discoverable.
Currently, psychiatrists are saying that all mental illnesses are the results of brain diseases, or “chemical imbalances” in the brain. At the same time, they say that the exact mechanisms of these imbalances and their link to specific behaviors or diagnoses has not been shown yet, but promise that these connections will be proven “in the next wave of brain research”.
The problem with this scenario is that these claims are more than one hundred years old, and the physical, observable signs of these “diseases” still have not been found in the brain of even one single person. And when we look at the way in which psychiatrists “discover” these “diseases”, we realize that they are simply describing behaviors and then asserting that these behaviors are manifestations of mental diseases – without attempting to make a causal connection between any behavior that supposedly showed the patient had a mental illness and a physical lesion or structural abnormality of the brain. They claimed that there was a connection, but have been unable to prove it, despite the amazing advances in methods for testing and analyzing physical information.
Rudolph Virchow, a Prussian pathologist, was the first to link an anatomical structural abnormality with the identification of a disease process. In 1858, he published Cellular Pathology as Based upon Physiological and Pathological Histology and for the first time clearly showed that all illnesses are expressions of cellular derangements. Psychiatrists still have been unable to prove that so-called mental illnesses are, in fact, caused by disease processes in the brain. For example, despite the fact that the term “schizophrenia” was coined in the early 20th century by psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler, there has never been an autopsy performed in which the condition of that name has been identified in the brain of the deceased. In other words, there is no such thing as mental illness, as defined by the traditional medical model of post-mortem examination.
This perplexing observation will be the subject of further examination in future editions of FEPTOPP medical news.