The course of mental disease varies from single or rare attacks with complete remission, to severe, chronic psychoses with gross disorganization of mental activity and deterioration into feeblemindedness.
Significant mental disorder is clinically defined as a significant behavioural or psychological dysfunction that is associated with (a) present distress (a painful symptom) or (b) disability or impairment of functioning or (c) with a significantly increased risk of suffering death, pain, disability or an important loss of freedom. Another definition of mental illness is a non-organic, social-psychological disorder in which the individual is unable to protect his ego or social self sufficiently to participate in ordinary social life and obtain at least a minimal degree of social and psychological rewards.
In 2001, the World Health Organization reported that mental and neurological disorders - ranging from depression to Alzheimer's and epilepsy - affect 400 million people globally and are set to surge in the next two decades. By 2020, it was predicted that depression would jump to be the second greatest cause of death and disability worldwide, following ischaemic heart disease.
Any definition of mental illness is a complex and poorly delineated concept whose boundaries with normality (the sane), eccentricity (the odd) and moral culpability (the bad) are disputed.
Much of what is called mental illness by the oppressive society is healthy and at least semi-rational rebellion against conformity and against submission to and cooperation with oppression. The mental health paradigm and treatment system, including practitioners, patients, patients' family and friends, the mass media and pop understanding of mental health, are mechanism for controlling individual, in spite of good intentions. They are used to force submission, to enforce conformity and to imprison and destroy rebels and non-conformists. Women suffer the most, which is not unconnected from the vast majority of psychiatrists are men (86% in the USA). Male doctors will diagnose women as neurotic or psychotic twice as frequently as they do men with the same symptoms.