By Yvonne Smith – Why Mental Illness Labeling is Harmful

Editors note: This is an essay written by Yvette McShan taken with her permission from a Facebook discussion group. For a comprehensive treatment of this topic, along with many personal stories, check out

Labeling is Harmful because It Costs People Rights:

  • Parental rights
  • Right to bear arms
  • Right for employment in certain fields.
  • Social stigma.

Introduce yourself to a prospective mother-in-law with a mental illness label. Tell the police that you are X disease, and you want them to know. It’s dangerous being known as a club members of the DSM.

I do not hide that I am in recovery.

"I am One of Those People" caught at Alternatives 2010 in Pasadena, CA. to protest how mental health labeling is harmful

“I am One of Those People” caught at Alternatives 2010 in Pasadena, CA.

The DSM also makes your diagnosis other people’s business. The question is, what help do I need?  What do you need to know about me?  Knowing my label does not help with those questions.

Mental illness labeling is harmful because  it divides people.

Psychiatry’s Bible. the DSM, is just a long list of labels for emotional difficulties, with little or no clinical evidence that they are separate, organic diseases.

It is Mental Health Uncle Tomism to tell a 25-year-old he is going to have to spend the rest of his  life in poverty, on Social Security, because his feelings and behavior remind someone of a list of  symptoms in  the DSM.

This is not take away from the experiences of myself and others who have really lived thru  a hell of emotional and physical distress because of their situations or traumas.

The DSM is more of a financial book for the medical and chemical industry that allows them to charge people with labels for services and products.  DSM committee members are supposed to have a long distance between them and the chemical industry, but it’s all about getting more customers.  It has little to do with improving the lives of people.

I agree with Corinna West.  Read Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of a Epidemic or come to Mary Ellen Copeland “Wrap Around the World.”

Tell me, Someone, what good things have come about by your being continuously labeled. Look  at how much wasted energy is spent on trying to force people to accept labels, or have others redefine themselves in this way, instead of rights and the support that people want and need.

If labeling is harmful, have you or someone you know  been hurt?

Comments are closed.