What Qualifies as a Mental Problem?

This post will come off sounding argumentative, but I don’t intend it that way. It’s based on a genuine curiosity. After reading the comments to my posts for the past few days, it’s clear that people fall into some interesting categories. This made me wonder who gets to decide when a certain way of thinking qualifies as a genuine mental problem.

For example, as many of you noted about your fellow posters, a common way of thinking goes like this:

“If you think Jack the Ripper was a doctor in his day job, and you think doctors are positive role models, you must support Jack Ripper and celebrate the killing of women. Die, you woman-hater!”

Is that a form of mental problem, or does the fact that it describes how the majority of the population forms political opinions make it good mental health by definition? That’s a serious question.

Suppose we give this way of thinking a name. Let’s call it ripperitis. Sometimes labeling things is enough to change how we deal with them. Perhaps having a name for the condition will allow scientists to get funding to find a cure. I hope so, because it would give me something new to say to end political debates.

“Well, Bob, based on your rant, I’d say you have a bad case of ripperitis. I hear they’re working on a pill that lets people like you appreciate the complexity of arguments.”

And then Bob would say, “If you think drugs are such a great idea, why don’t you go marry a cocaine dealer in a civil union?”

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