Quote by Alice Bolin
Working in the mental health field, it is easy to get trapped into thinking of people as diagnoses. It’s not uncommon to hear people talk about “that Borderline,” not the client who happens to have Borderline Personality Disorder. This reduces their humanity and makes them nothing but their symptoms.
It is easy to forget that diagnoses are labels we made up to help give us a short-hand for capturing what that client is experiencing. But this is a best estimation based on accumulated evidence, the science and the way we interpret and understand the mental health struggles people face.
This short hand is also shaped and influenced by the sociopolitical realities we live in and the labels are given by people who wield power, which almost never the people that are suffering with these issues. Listening to the experiences of the people who struggle with mental health and the system that can lead to change and improvements.
That is why PTSD was not in the DMS until 1980, because for a long time the individuals suffering the effects of trauma were seen as defective, weak, or abnormal. Instead, now we understand that their reactions and adaptations make total sense given the abnormal situations they had to endure and that they are incredibly strong as evidenced by the fact that they have endured.
And that is why Gender Identity Disorder was changed in 2013 to Gender Dysphoria, but still remains a problematic label because it still seems to suggest a pathology that the mental health establishment knows is not inherent to these people, but a result of the stress and trauma they endure living in a family and/or society that does not accept and validate them for who they are.
But people are so much more than their diagnosis or label and we do a disservice when we wield these labels to deny people service, question the validity of their experience or dismiss and marginalize them