A few months ago, I had writer Freddie deBoer on my podcast for an episode we called, “Does Glorifying Sickness Deter Healing?” We talked about his experience living with severe bipolar disorder and the dangerous ways in which mental illness has gotten wrapped up in our growing cultural obsession with identity politics. It’s almost like sickness, he argued, has become chic.
We spent some of the conversation talking critically about a New York Times article by writer Daniel Bergner about a movement away from medication and more towards acceptance. A movement that replaces words like “psychosis” with “nonconsensus realities.” This article, in Freddie’s view, was exemplary of the very phenomenon he was calling out.
A lot of people responded extremely positively to my conversation with Freddie. Others, not so much. One of those people was Daniel Bergner. So I invited him on the show.
Our conversation is not just a debate about how society should handle the epidemic of mental illness. It’s a model for how to disagree with someone productively, respectively, and honestly. It’s a reminder not only that it’s okay to come out of a conversation strongly disagreeing with someone, but that it’s of vital importance.
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