The War on Diagnosis

There is no question that in the mental health system peers and clinicians are divided on the issue of diagnosis. As a peer and a clinician I will suggest a bi-party solution to this age old divisive question in modern day mental health treatment.

At the root of it, this is an issue of language. As the intersectionality unfolds, it is about role and responsibilities to carry out treatment and ultimately, the condition or problem identified for the patient to transform into a less harmful pattern of thinking or behavior.

This argument builds upon a multi-dimensional lens for deconstructing the intersections that complicate the health systems in this country and internationally and mental illness as a category “different” than mental health.

Mental Health care as a category of medicine and psychiatry which supplants self-regulation to treatment, and eternally raises our hopes for a cure to something more complex than medication can fix in some cases and others moves patients towards greater solvency and a working agency of the self.

The evolution of Mental illness as a medical discourse, is in fact, a societal battle to evolve past our present day status quo in health and wellness. Psychiatry as a hegemonic apparatus functions at the micro and mezzo levels of society, once institutionalization now exists in the hearts and minds of those battling their struggles out in the community neo-institutionalization.

This historical analysis suggests we are working with an institutional framework for language to discuss and talk about mental health problems in the community context. Dated institutional language talks a lot about reform, recovery & getting “better” or adjusted. The issue here is that in the community that is ever evolving and shifting with the complexities of living people aren’t hoping to adjust or get better. People want to discover the solution to their problem and move on and live life. Unfortunately, the language of diagnosis does not allow people to move on. Diagnoses follow consumers. Sometimes forever.

Change the language; change the the way we talk about mental health.

Max E. Guttman LCSW

Max Guttman is the owner of Recovery Now in New York. Max provides psychotherapy, complex case management, community consultation, and self-management skill-building groups. His approach is based on evidenced-based practices (EBP). Max earned a master’s degree in Social Work from Binghamton University. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and a field instructor for both postgraduate and undergraduate students at Lehman College. He is also a social work supervisor and psychotherapist at Courtlandt Avenue Clinic in the South Bronx where he teaches students social work praxis in New York City. In addition to this responsibilities, he manages Mental Health Affairs, a mental health blog.

One thought on “The War on Diagnosis

  1. a person who doesn’t practice mutual support isn’t a peer, whether in the mental health field or any other. i use peer review as an example. when my supervisor at my last job asked me if i thought they did peer work I answered no, you do peer-informed work. “well, that’s what you think” they said. “well, you asked me” I replied. No offense meant but if we are to keep true to peer values we need to make sure Peers who are being paid as Peers practice as Peers. I enjoy working with clinicians and social workers. i especially enjoy working with clinicians and social workers who are person-centered and who have lived experience using mental health services.

    Liked by 1 person

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