Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Madness and Capitalism

One overlooked aspect of madness is its capacity to generate profit. If you are already famous, and are prepared to become a spokesperson for the American/European party-line position regarding madness--that it is a biochemical disease requiring medical treatment--then you can make money off your madness (or off your sister's madness). You can sell your story directly, or you can generate publicity for the public persona you use to make money in other spheres of endeavor. If you are altruistically minded, you can donate your sources to a non-profit organization, and help generate money for them. However you do it, you can use madness to make money.

Of course, this is no surprise. The pharmaceutical, hospital, and therapy industries make a tremendous amount of money using the medical model of madness. In order for a hospital or doctor to get paid for treating someone, a doctor has to diagnose the madperson with a disease that is listed in the DSM-V. Doctors don't get paid if they do not select a qualifying diagnosis. Hospitals do not get paid without appointing a doctor to make a diagnosis. Diagnosis is also what entitles a patient or their insurance company to buy drugs. You can't buy a drug without a diagnosis. It's sort of like paying to join one of those exclusive clubs that serve lunch to suburbanites. So pharmaceutical companies also have a vested interest in the process of diagnosis. This is a sensible system to regulate the money that is made off of madness. And it has the public relations advantage of making all this profit appear to be motivated by the public good, by the sincere desire to help people. No wonder 1 in 4 people are--in the estimate of the National Institute for Mental Health--diagnosed or diagnosable with a mental illness! What a gigantic market!

1 comment:

  1. The hypocritical part is the most annoying, of course. Classic advertising: create a problem/lack, offer a solution. Except the
    "problem" lasts. Great post, Jeanne.