cure (mental health)Last updated
Many psychiatric conditions, such as depression or substance use disorder, are difficult or impossible to “cure.” Treatment can cause symptoms to decrease in severity or frequency but generally doesn’t cause the condition to go away permanently. If a person stops treatment, their symptoms can come back.
Claims that a certain treatment method can “cure” psychiatric disorders or addiction can give people unrealistic expectations of treatment or convince them that they no longer need to take necessary medication. In addition, calling therapies “cures” can be seen as giving all the credit to the clinician or therapist, when in reality patients and professionals will often work collaboratively to develop an appropriate plan. Therapy is not a passive process and requires a lot of work.
The term “cure” can be especially misleading and ableist in the context of developmental disorders or disabilities. Eugenicists have used it as a dog whistle in historical circumstances, seeking to “cure” societies of those considered “undesirables.” The advocacy organization Autism Speaks had the word “cure” in its mission statement until 2016.
- Information about mental illness and the brain (National Center for Biotechnology Information)
A condition for which there is a “cure” is no longer present in an individual’s life. Claims that a certain treatment method can cure psychiatric disorders or addiction can give people unrealistic expectations of treatment or convince them that they no longer need to take necessary medication. Using a frame of curing can be especially misleading and ableist with respect to developmental disorders or disabilities.