Mental illness denial or mental disorder denial is a form of denialism in which a person denies the existence of mental disorders.
Both serious analysts, as well as pseudoscientific movements question the existence of certain disorders.
A minority of professional researchers see disorders such as depression from a sociocultural perspective and argue that the solution to it is fixing a dysfunction in the society not in the person’s brain.
Certain analysts argue this denialism is usually fuelled by narcissistic injury. Anti-psychiatry movements such as Scientology promote mental illness denial by having alternative practices to psychiatry.
Views of Thomas Szasz
According to Thomas Szasz there is no such thing as mental illness. He views psychiatry as a mechanism for political oppression. Szasz wrote a book on the subject in 1961, which is called The Myth of Mental Illness. There are also “Szasz followers”, people who agree with ideas of Thomas Szasz.
Views of Elyn Saks
Probing patient’s denial may lead to better ways to help them overcome their denial and provide insight into other issues. Major reasons for denial are narcissistic injury and denialism. In denialism, a person tries to deny psychologically uncomfortable truth and tries to rationalise it. This urge for denialism is fuelled further by narcissistic injury. Narcissism gets injured when a person feels vulnerable (or weak or overwhelmed) for some reason like mental illness.
Denialism in India
Mental illness denial in Republic of India is a common problem. Many Indians view mental illnesses as, quote: “touchy-feely, new-age hogwash”, even though 1 in every 10 Indians have a mental health condition in India.
Studies show that Overtrained (OT) athletes suffer from Major Depressive Disorder but many athletic trainers and psychologists deny this and as a result athletes are not getting proper medical treatment. Patients deny existence of depression and blame themselves for their inadequacies and try to overcome their inadequacies which can make the symptoms more severe. Their denial also acts as an obstacle for biopsychological approach towards OT.
In Popular Culture
In the animated TV series South Park, in the episode titled City Sushi there is a scene where Butters Stotch is wondering whether Dr. William Janus is having an incident of his multiple personality disorder, to which Dr. William Janus replies: “Come on, you think multiple personality disorder is real? I’ve been using that to scam this town for seven years.”