Humans are capable of creative thought. This means we can come up with ideas or thoughts which aren’t included in our genetics. Creative thinking has allowed humans to make progress in many fields such as physics, math, poetry, music, and more. The knowledge to build rockets or write symphonies is not “inborn”, it had to be created by our thoughts. Everything humans do, think or say can be explained with creative thought.
Thinking creatively is a binary property; either you can think creatively, or you cannot. When you’re born your genetics (hopefully) set you up with a mind which can think creatively. From that point onwards you and your mind’s ideas are “on your own”. There are no known theories which explain how genetics, hormones or neurochemicals give you specific ideas or tell you what to think. All our thoughts, feelings and behaviours come from our creative thinking.
Creative thinking is related to our ability to feel happiness or to suffer. In any given situation we can use creative thought to consider possible alternatives to our situation. We can come up with value judgements or preferences about which alternatives we would want or not want. Suffering is about having preferences or wants which we then don’t get . When we’re suffering, we can come up with ideas to deal with or cope with that suffering. Just like our ideas about rockets and symphonies, ideas on how to deal with suffering are not inborn; they must be learned and put into practice.
Human brains have the property of being “neuroplastic”. This means that the structure of neurons in your brain can change when you learn new ideas or behaviours. People can learn all kinds of bad ideas or harmful ways of thinking; this can physically alter the configuration of neurons in your brain. My understanding is that until recently neuroscientists thought that this neuroplasticity only lasted until the age of 25 or so. Now they think that even when you’re older your brain doesn’t lose the property of neuroplasticity. People do generally form most of their important ideas (for better or for worse) while they are growing up and are typically less likely to change their ideas once they are older. This isn’t because your brain loses the ability to learn new ideas, but rather because people are stubborn and learning new ideas (or improving your current ideas) takes a lot of work and introspection. Having bad or harmful ideas is a problem, but it’s a problem that can be solved through creative thought (learning, error correction, etc.)
In medicine, illnesses or conditions are defined based on a deviation from a clearly defined norm. For example, the norm for human eyes is to have photoreceptors which detect all variations of visible light wavelengths. When those photoreceptors are constructed improperly or are damaged in an accident, they lose the ability to properly detect certain wavelengths of light. This results in the medical condition of colour blindness. Note that for us to say that photoreceptors are constructed “improperly” it implies there is a proper way for them to be constructed. This proper way can be stated in anatomical and physiological terms and corresponds to the optimal structural and functional integrity of the human body .
Having bad or harmful ideas is a separate issue from a medical condition. Unlike with physical illnesses, there is no clearly defined norm which states the ideas that a person is supposed to have. Stating that someone’s ideas are a deviation from the norm involves rendering a judgement on how those ideas relate to the observer and the society in which they live . We cannot diagnose someone with a mental disorder by imaging their brain (or doing an autopsy) because mental disorders cannot be described in objective anatomical and physiological terms. Mental disorders must be diagnosed through a social process involving interviews with a person (and possibly their friends and family) in order to determine their beliefs and ideas. Those beliefs and ideas are compared against a subjective norm (the ideas people in society are supposed to have) to determine if they should be diagnosed with a mental disorder.
The process of diagnosing a mental disorder is subjective and based on social and ethical values held by the observer and the society in which they live. However, the treatment for these disorders is often described in terms of medical measures. Psychotropic drugs are often prescribed as “medicine” to help treat mental disorders. There are no known drugs which have been shown to improve human cognition or a person’s cognitive abilities. Psychotropic drugs work by inhibiting brain functions, and many of them (if not all) are neurotoxic. While inhibiting brain function can be useful for certain people who are suffering it cannot be a cure for bad or harmful ideas. Those ideas come from our creative thought and the only way to “cure” them is to correct errors in the ideas or to learn new ones. Simply describing psychotropic drugs as medicine (like the medicine you would take for a physical illness) without explaining how they inhibit brain function is misleading and unethical.
Note that there are physical illnesses of the brain which can inhibit brain function, such as hormone imbalances or Alzheimer’s disease. These are a separate class of issues from mental disorders.
Being transgender (or having gender dysphoria) can be labelled a mental disorder and is frequently referred to as a mental illness or condition. However, being transgender cannot be described fully in physiological or anatomical terms. It is based on ideas and preferences, not physical defects or deviations. Many people in our society have the preference for being seen and referred to as a woman, wearing women’s clothes and having a feminine name. The belief that certain clothes are “women’s” or that certain names are “feminine” is itself a subjective idea that comes from society. Different societies would consider different clothes “women’s” and different names “feminine”. The clothes and names themselves are not related (except in society’s eyes) to your physical sex. There is nothing stopping people of either physical sex from wearing dresses or being named Mary. When someone whose physical sex is female wears a dress and is named Mary it is considered normal. However, when someone whose physical sex is male has the same idea to wear a dress and be named Mary it can be considered a disorder . Labelling this person as “disordered” represents a stigmatizing judgement based on subjective social and ethical values. The ideas representing “gender” are socially constructed and are unrelated to physical and anatomical traits.
 Curiosity – Animal Rights Issues Regarding Software and AGI
 http://depts.washington.edu/psychres/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/100-Papers-in-Clinical-Psychiatry-Conceptual-issues-in-psychiatry-The-Myth-of-Mental-Illness.pdf - The Myth of Mental Illness, Thomas Szasz, 1960
 “For a person to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria, there must be a marked difference between the individual’s expressed/experienced gender and the gender others would assign him or her, and it must continue for at least six months.” -Gender Dysphoria is listed as a disorder in the DSM-5 (DSM-5 Fact Sheets)