I am becoming just like all the Estelle’s in the world. Remember Joey’s agent on Friends? Box-dyed hair, blue eyeshadow, voice destroyed by years of chain-smoking and talking too much, and can name every man that Erica Kane has married on All My Children. I am on the road to becoming the next person in line at the grocery store to pick up Soap Opera digest (I actually did once…) During my lunch hour at work, me and a few unnamed co-workers sneak into an abandoned corner of the warehouse where we have pitched an old TV among the boxes of inventory to watch All My Children. It started as a way to relax and escape our cubicles for an hour but now I have trouble missing a day. So my secret is out. Next thing you know I’ll be drinking Manhattan’s and talking about the good old days when phone’s were used for talking and there was no such thing as fug.
So one of the current AMC plots is that Annie is locked in a mental institute because she killed her brother, kidnapped her daughter, stabbed Erica Kane, and now believes she is her daughter. But the twist is that we don’t know if she is really mental or if she’s playing her part to avoid going to jail. This is one of the better plots so far this year. The doctor in charge of “curing” Annie has focused her medical research on felons that do just that, fake being insane to avoid doing time in the big house. I understand this is a soap opera and the situations are exaggerated for the Estelle’s the world that need that extra dose of drama in their life to get through the day. But, in reality, I don’t doubt that there are criminals that do just this. Mental instability cannot be proved, can be debated endlessly, yet is treated as a medical disease that requires treatment. Perpetrated by the desire to avoid going to jail, felons could very well put themselves into a mental state that appears to require medical attention but in reality is an extreme case of fight or flight.
But the complete focus that must be placed on the brain in order to foul a medical expert with years of experience and research can be tolling on the brain. Could the brain even begin to believe that this mental instability is it’s true form? Ironically, Jezebel posted an article about just this. Norah Vincent is an author that voluntarily checked herself into three different types of mental treatment facilities in order to compare and judge the conditions and treatment methods of each one. The experience was so trying on her mentally that she actually began to develop a mental illness from living this experiment. It must also be noted the extent that Norah submerges herself into “research” for her novels. She previously lived as a man for several years for a book she wrote and, as a result, suffered a mental breakdown. This experience was what lead her to this new research. I don’t know if I should praise her complete mental devotion to her art or wonder why she would subject herself to such an identity crisis. Twice.
This could be a social trend due the prevalence of mental illness diagnoses today. This is a type of disease that is intangible. There are no x-rays or medical tests (that I know of – understand I am not a thorough or credible source) to prove if a person has a disease of this nature. This gives people a place in a medical environment to hide from the world and the consequences that go with it. I am NOT disproving the importance or existence of mental health issues, only that it is a new and developing science that some below-the-law people are exploiting. It is a side effect of this new diagnosis that was unanticipated; the ability the “fake” medicine. It sounds like the next plot line of Grey’s Anatomy.