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Mental Diversity?

Mental illness  - sketch 2The Icarus Project is a network of people living with experiences that are commonly labeled as bipolar or other psychiatric conditions. They believe they have ‘mad gifts’ to be cultivated and taken care of, rather than diseases or disorders to be suppressed or eliminated. The Icarus Project is built around a belief that joining together as individuals and as a community helps to overcome alienation, and aids in tapping into the true potential that lies between brilliance and madness.

This group of activists has a membership of approximately 8,000 people across the U.S. and they are questioning reliance on medication and repression of behavior of those deemed “not normal.”  They want to change the treatment and the stigma attached to mental illness.  They call their actions, “Mad Pride,” and they choose to celebrate their unusual ways of processing information and emotion.  They fight the notion that mental illness is something to be rid of and argue their conditions can be made into “something beautiful.”

Read the story of Will Hall in this Newsweek article titled, “Listening to Madness.”  He tells his story and blames the humiliation of what he experienced and the failure of medication for his challenge to traditional treatment. Hall promotes the idea that mental-health diagnoses like bipolar disorder are “dangerous gifts” rather than illnesses.

The ‘Newsweek’ article asks, “After all, aren’t we all more odd than we are normal? And aren’t so many of us one bad experience away from a mental-health diagnosis that could potentially limit us? Aren’t “normal” minds now struggling with questions of competence, consistency or sincerity? Icarus is likewise asking why we are so keen to correct every little deficit—it argues that we instead need to embrace the range of human existence.

Do you think this community of ‘Icaristas’ (as they call themselves), is creating an atmosphere whereby we might accept or even embrace “mental diversity,” or is it instead endangering not only those who are mentally ill, but others?

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