Fearing the unknown : mental health in current day America
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Throughout American history, the issue of mental health has ebbed and flowed with importance and acceptance. Even though there is a consistent record of mental illness in history, stigma toward those with mental illnesses seems to also be a constant throughout history. Records of insanity, mental asylums and institutions, developing psychology, government ordinances and more permeate American history and help give a foundation in which to assess the progression of society’s attitudes toward mental health. In addition to searching through this history, one can also observe these changes of the depiction of mental illness in literature to help us understand why we view mental illness in specific ways. Due to its continual eminence, it is a curious fact that mental illness is often ignored, not understood or discriminated against. This introduction precedes a fictional story about those afflicted with mental illness, ways in which they are treated and ways in which some negative symptoms are attributed to mental disorders, but actually stem from other characteristics. The story will delve into how current culture addresses specific mental illnesses and stigmas associated with them. Moreover, this introduction will delve into the evolution of mental illness and will try to uncover the reasons why society views mental illness in certain ways. Through this search and analysis of history, literature and other theories, it becomes evident that while many Americans accept and help those who have mental illness today, there still exists a sense of discrimination against these individuals that stems from an intense fear of the unknown.