There are two facts of life that most Americans call "The American Dream". One is
A society in which there are no social classes and that we are all free and equal
Individuals of that free society. The other is that those same individuals, in that same
free and equal society, all have the same opportunities of realizing their inborn talents
just as equally. To suggest otherwise means to go against this belief and can cause
antagonistic reactions from the people of this so called "free and equal" state.
Even if all Americans will deny there are any social classes within the United
States, it is a reality that all come to know and understand there is such a thing as
mental illness. However, there is still a social stigma added to those who suffer
from any form of mental illness, as well as those who treat them, within American
culture. Such names as "nutcase" for those who suffer from mental illness or
"loony bin" for the institutions that hold them, as well as "head shrink" for those
who help them are all common terms in society when discussing mental illness.
Despite the denial of social class and the blatant dismissal of mental illness within
our society, most Americans are shocked to find that social class within our
society does indeed change the way Americans are supplied medical help.
Denying the reality and substituting a fantasy does nothing to change the fact
that the lower classes of American society are impacted by their social standing in
regards to how they are treated within the medical community. The idea that social
"classing" in our society has any bearing on the diagnosing or treatment of mental
health issues, especially of the sick, go against our cherished beliefs. Physicians
and psychiatrists have a deeply engrained social philosophy that is sensitive to
such statements and yet, because of this way of thinking, a strong resistance to
social class and how the members of each are treated makes it difficult to even
explore the possibility of such questions.
The decision that a person should be treated for mental illness is ranked by class
nonetheless. In classes 1 and 2, class 1 being the most affluent, you have those
who live in better neighborhoods, highly educated or educated beyond high
school, professionals or business leaders or some who hold managerial positions.
They tend to get the better part of mental health assistance by being able to not
only afford to pay for a psychiatrist, but to also see them in a safe, comfortable
setting. These affluent members of society are more times than not treated with
psychotherapy instead of a drug induced docility. They also are more apt to get
longer psychotherapy treatments, more often, and to be treated by private doctors
rather than by public ones.
However, in classes 4 and 5, there is a huge difference. These members of
society are normally those who may have completed high school or barely have a
high school education, skilled, semi-skilled or unskilled workers in manual labor
and live in the poorest neighborhoods. These members of our society generally
are not directed towards a psychiatrist in a safe, comfortable setting to talk of their
feelings and, if they are, their sessions are shorter and less frequent. Instead, they
are forced or intimidated by those in an authorative position to take drugs to make
them more docile, called "medicinal straitjackets", or to have treatments to make
them more docile, such as a lobotomy or shock therapy. In sum, the perception
of trouble, it's evaluation and the decisions about how those should be regarded
are variables influenced in highly significant ways by a person's social class
standing in society.
We've seen how mental illness is treated within each class but how does each
class actually develop mental illness and what are the problems that accompany
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