Not every person’s mental illness is defined as the same way as another’s, but they do share characteristics that lend themselves to diagnoses.
Allen J. Frances, MD was the chair of the original taskforce whose purpose was to write a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This is the go-to book for psychiatrists and other mental health professionals.
In much later years, he expressed that he wouldn’t have gone about it in the same way. What I understand to be his position in later years is that too many people are being diagnosed with all kinds of traits that are now deemed to be disorders, when in fact, they are not. The Annals of Internal Medicine: The New Crisis of Confidence in Psychiatric Diagnosis has an excellent article on this.
I think we know more than we used to about human behavior. I think people share character traits that we can use to categorize them. I think it’s a witch hunt though. Too many diagnoses and too much medication. That is true. Completely.
That said, it’s none of anybody’s business what I think about my mental condition. I can share my thoughts and you can accept or reject them, but either way, am I not a person with an illness? Am I a sicko who labels herself bipolar, or am I really bipolar? How would knowing the difference help you at all to show me caring and the love of Christ?