Theodore Millon on mental illness

millon_with_pipe.jpgTheodore Millon, one of the grandees of modern psychology (so old-school he’s smoking a pipe on his homepage) is interviewed on ABC Radio’s All in the Mind.

Misleadingly, the show is pitched as “Theodore Millon ‚Äì Grandfather of Personality Theory”, where in actuality he talks very little about personality research.

He mainly focuses on the wider topic of theories of mental illness, although this is not alien territory to Millon, as he has maintained a clinical focus throughout much of his long and distinguished career.

As well as discussing some of the developments since he started practising over half a century ago, he also talks about his own personal experiences.

I was particularly struck by one, in which he recounts how he spent several days living in a psychiatric hospital he was working at, to better understand the experience of the patients.

He soon became disoriented and started to doubt whether he was a doctor or patient, and had to phone a colleague to test reality.

I like to think the tale caused Erving Goffman a wry smile.

mp3 or realaudio of programme audio.
Link to transcript.

One thought on “Theodore Millon on mental illness”

  1. I spent some time in a mental lockdown after a “breakdown”. I was bored and the lunch/dinner area was always a mess, so I would take the time to clean it up. This was interpretted as a sign of my “compulsive behavior”. Feh. The people on the ward were for the most part really nice people, and few of them really needed to be in there. Most were simply folks who got tired of living on the street, and it was cold, so they would act crazy to get locked up for a bit.
    Yeah, the mental ward is a crappy, boring, stupid environment. In other cultures “crazy” people are simply treated with some deference and respect and allowed to work through it, and turn out fine. Here, we haven’t got a clue what to do with it in our society where if you don’t act perfectly “normal”, whatever that is, all the time, it is assumed something is wrong with you. Why it is considered “normal” to want to spend all your time working to have a big house and big car you can barely afford and be exactly like everyone else is beyond me, though.

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