Beliefs and theories about Mental Illness vary greatly throughout the eyes of professionals. Many view mental illness as a serious condition, while others take it less seriously and see it as a part of everyday life. Although many think doctors are always right, they underestimate the influence and power these physicians exercise based upon their own personal views and ideas. Illustrated in the article, Social Class, Ethnicity and Mental Illness, Ann Vander Stoep and Bruce Link try to show whether there is a relation between mental illness which is linked to ethnicity and people with diverse backgrounds.
In contrast, there is the view of Elaine Schowalter who is skeptical about doctors diagnosing mental illness and in her essay, Defining Hysteria, where she portrays her disbelief and doubts relating to hysteria. As a result, contradicting beliefs have lead to people being misdiagnosed and the mentally ill have suffered these negative consequences. Stoep and Link clearly show personal prejudices can lead to tainted results and answers impacting the mental health service policies. Because Jarvis was an accredited doctor with fifty- plus years experience, people were inclined to believe his data and theories about mental illness based upon social class and ethnicity. Edward Jarvis was one of the first physicians in America to practice psychiatry and to apply statistical methods to the study of health and social problems (1396). He had the credentials and education that assisted him in persuading others.
Jarvis long career and status made it even easier for him to manipulate his data according to his own beliefs. Jarvis had both the numbers and the methodology to test his assumptions, but he did not do so. The conclusions he drew from his survey played and influential role in shaping the public mental health policies throughout the nation (1397). This goes to show how Jarvis personal beliefs were able to alter the truth.
Jarvis was not the only one guilty of this. A notable physician/scientist, Samuel George Morton, also had his own prejudiced ideas. His beliefs reflected the relation between race and cranial capacity which were believed to mirror intellectual capacity. Even more recent, Dorothy Lewis advocates her viewpoints concerning adolescents.
Her personal opinion was that youths locked up in correctional facilities would tend to be more violent than those housed in a psychiatric hospitals. Like Jarvis, both Morton and Lewis also let their personal beliefs undermine their ability to perform unbiased research. Polluted perceptions about mental illness are clearly shown throughout Stoep and Links article. Jarvis biased beliefs have been detrimental to our society back then as well as today, being that patients went untreated. Stoep and Link state, Perhaps his own New World middle class, Protestant, agrarian values had blinded Jarvis, an erudite scientist, to the facts embedded within his own carefully collected data (1402). His power and personal values tainted the outcome of his research and experiments.
In the nineteenth century, there was limited research and information about mental illness as a disease; in fact, it was poorly understood by many, including doctors: The definitions of mental health status used by Jarvis are less clear. The psychiatric nosological categories of the day included insane lunatics and feeble-minded idiots. In the lay and medical literature, insane persons were described as melancholic, maniacal, or simple mad (1397). People were quite confused about mental illness and it was referred to and labeled many different names. Interestingly, Jarvis conclusions tended to gain credibility for the simple reason that he was educated and had over fifty years experience including high status in the field of mental illness. His background carried the day for him.
Just a few of Jarvis accomplishments noted by Stoep and Link include, Jarvis was the founder of American psychiatric epidemiology was his remarkable study of the prevalence of mental disorder in 19th century Massachusetts (1396). He was well educated with the knowledge to perform such research. Moreover he was, commissioned by the Massachusetts state legislature to undertake a thorough census that included the identification of all insane and feeble-minded persons within the state (1396-97). Obviously, this gave him more recognition and credibility in the eyes of the public.
Because people were inclined to accept his pronouncements, he told them what .