With this in mind, I have been watching Ruby Wax and Jon Richardson this week on C4 Goes Mad and I am interested by Ms Wax's selection of people who are high achievers - these seemed the people most unlikely to be sacked if they disclosed their mental instability. While they have economic value and have competently disguised their frailty to date, they would seem to me to have every good chance of surviving mental illness and indeed retaining their jobs. It was a charming watch, but it didn't seem to actually examine what it claimed - it examined the people who can dodge the consequences of their condition, not those who are defined by it.
Cue Jon Richardson's programme on OCD, which was perhaps more realistic, with less of an agenda. It showed the cost of mental illness - and a form of mental illness, unlike depression, for which there seems remarkably little treatment available - to people in terms of their ability to work, and worse, their relationships with others. The guilt and sadness of having a child to whom a condition has been passed down was shown very clearly, and it was far clearer that these were people unable to control their condition.
What intrigued me most was that both conditions seemed to have a strong relationship with anxiety, though the illnesses that manifested were quite different in their symptoms. I hope to see more exploration of the questions of how anxiety can be dealt with on a social level - it was salutary to see JR working out his own salvation in terms of needing to live with people, even if they annoy him, and I would be interested to see other pro-social solutions. Although he clearly is quirky rather than ill, this, and the compounded success of employment for those who can maintain it, seem to indicate some de-medicalization and re-socialization of the treatment of mental illness is long overdue.
So I look forward to the World's Maddest Interview tonight.