Mental Illness: Real or Fake?

For this blog post I will be responding to an opposing view of my own related to mental health and illness. The opposing view I will be responding to can be found at this link:


This is Dr. Michael Cornwall and he does not believe in mental illness. Instead, he believes that when someone is dealing with human emotions that seem to be too powerful for that individual, that person is in a state of “madness”. Personally, I believe in mental illness, however I am always curious to hear other people’s opinions and points of view that are different than my own because I often find that I learn something new.

In this case, I actually did learn something new. I learned that many people base their opinions on their own experiences. I have never had any mental health issues, but I know many people who have, and therefore because of those experiences with those people, I do believe in mental illness. However, Dr. Cornwall mentions that he did experience his own “madness” at a point in his life, but still didn’t believe it was classified as mental illness.

This makes me wonder what the severity of his “madness” was. Maybe he didn’t fully experience a true mental health illness at the time? Maybe he was unaware that his condition needed some type of treatment and decided to tackle it on his own? I’m not sure what happened, but I do find it interesting that even after going through “madness” himself, he still didn’t believe in mental illness.

Mental Illness in Prison
Just as Dr. Cornwall does not believe in mental illness, there are many others out there that also believe mental illness is not real. These individuals or organizations could also believe mental illness is simply an excuse for bad behavior. Is this true? Are criminals hiding behind mental illness to avoid prosecution? Or is mental illness real and therefore being overlooked, particularly in prisons? This video illustrates some issues with mental illness behind bars:


This image shows a breakdown of the most common mental health issues among prisoners. As depicted, forms of depression, bi-polar disorder, and anxiety seem to be the most prevalent disorders for inmates. Medications are required for most, if not all of the conditions on this chart. Is medicating mental illness the answer?

Medicating and Treating the Mentally Ill


According to Dr. Cornwall, any medications or treatment of the “mad” should not be used if it causes any harm to the individual. I actually agree with that sentence, however what about electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)? This is a procedure that sends small electric currents through the brain with the ultimate goal of triggering a brief brain seizure in order to remake the brain chemistry.

Is ECT an effective treatment for the mentally ill? If so, should it be used in prisons for mentally ill inmates that do not get sent to treatment facilities? Dr. Cornwall also mentions how mental illness medications should not be forced, but what if the patient can only function properly with them, however refuses to take them? I feel that human rights overlap greatly with the topic of mental illness and medicating or treating the mentally ill. What do you think?

So, Do You Believe in Mental Illness?

Do you think mental illness is real? Why or why not? I personally think mental illness is real, but I do think that particular emotions can sometimes be mistaken for illness. The views of Dr. Cornwall did not change my opinion, however they did allow me to open my mind to other views and opinions in order to influence my own judgment. I do feel that I learned from Dr. Cornwall’s opinions and stances and I do feel that others can do the same. I may not agree with him, but I respect him for stating his opinion, as it can be seen as a controversial one.

Mental health and mental illness are such large components of society’s health today and I feel that the topic is crucial to the overall well-being of individuals, particularly inmates behind bars. Without treatment or medication, many mentally ill inmates experience life much differently, usually in a negative way. This video illustrates how this dynamic works behind prison walls:

What types of changes need to be made in the criminal justice system for mental illness to be more recognized than it is currently? I believe in rehabilitation and want to see those inmates or criminals with mental health issues be given the help they need. It will allow them to live happier and healthier lives, all while trying to become contributing members of society again one day. Has this blog post changed your views at all on the topic of mental illness? If so, I’d love to hear how. Leave a comment on this post, or send me a message through the “contact” section.


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