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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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69 Responses

  1. Gentleman Cambrioleur
    Gentleman Cambrioleur January 9, 2011 at 1:35 pm |

    As a person with mental illnesses that are frequently [mis]characterized as inducing impulsive tendencies and a lack of empathy, I would like to say, THANK YOU SO MUCH for this post.

    People, when commenting about violence and crime, seem to draw a difference between “irrational” and “rational” violence, as if the former was infinitely worse than the latter. Random dude killing his girlfriend because she cheated on him = rational and to some extent excusable, other random dude with a mental illness killing a fellow bus passenger because he thinks the latter is the antichrist = irrational and bad. The thing is, mental illness *may* affect the ways in which violence is expressed, but it’s pretty poor science to point at it as the only cause. And these lines in the sand we draw between “good rational” and “bad irrational” violence are both arbitrary and terrifying, since they indicate that many people are only too willing to close their eyes on violence for so long as it’s perpetrated by the *right* people.

  2. miga
    miga January 9, 2011 at 1:53 pm |

    Thank you so much for this! I was very disturbed by all the people who were blaming the shooter’s crimes on his mental illness and leaving it at that, and was searching and searching for someone to speak out about this. Those of us living with illness or disability: physical, mental, or emotional deserve the same respect and due process of law as everyone else; not increased stigma.

  3. Mark
    Mark January 9, 2011 at 1:53 pm |

    The attempt to demonize mentally ill or emotionally disturbed individuals is nothing new.

    I just heard the Sheriff from AZ say, in response to a question from the audience, when he was a beat cop in 1960, they locked up the mentally ill. It sounds like he’d like to take all of these individuals and put them in prison or institutions, so that they are no longer a blight on society. That is so wrong. Because someone rants and raves, is delusional, or exhibits unusual behavior does not necessarily make them dangerous. I would agree if his intention was that they need to be escorted to or brought in to be >properly< assessed by mental health professionals

    I heard him rant about bigotry in Arizona and angry rhetoric from political pundits, what I think he said is just as wrong and inciteful as what he railed about, etc.

    I may be wrong, but it's just my opinion, that's all!

  4. Tori
    Tori January 9, 2011 at 2:07 pm |

    Thanks for this.

    I live in Arizona, and I see a lot of situations — local radio, social conversations, academic and classroom conversations, political advertising — where people are tacitly (and explicitly) rewarded for voicing racist, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, and pro-violence statements. They’re long-term, ubiquitous, pervasive, and largely unquestioned by a significant chunk of people. I’ve met several folks who’ve not only felt entitled to say such things but were genuinely shocked when I expressed skepticism or disagreement.

    And I sort of see “he’s crazy” used as a way for people to distance themselves from the crime. In other words, if they Other the person who committed an act of violence, they can delude themselves into believing that what happened yesterday is fundamentally different than anything a “normal” person might have done.

    It ignores the fact that a lot of intolerance and vitriol is being normalized.

  5. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable January 9, 2011 at 2:30 pm |

    Very timely, given the Jared Loughner crime. Thank you for your words.

  6. Miss S
    Miss S January 9, 2011 at 2:58 pm |

    “He’s crazy” is absolutely a cop-out, and I think most people would agree. It’s also a defense used by legal teams, and I think that’s part of the reason it comes up in discussions.

    Here in the U.S, we don’t have support for mental illness. Then again, we don’t have support for any illness. We don’t have much support for anyone. I just saw a story on TV about a man who repeatedly tried to get help for his paranoid schizophrenia, writing numerous letters to his doctors. They brushed off his concern, and it resulted in tragedy. As someone who has seen a few mental health professionals for anxiety, I’ve often been grateful that my disorder isn’t more serious because a lot of them have been completely unhelpful, egotistical, know it all pricks. There are good providers out there, but if you don’t have the resources to shop around, they’re hard to find.

    What do people mean when they say someone committed a crime because of a mental illness? They usually mean ‘psychotic’ or ‘psychopath/sociopath’ which I don’t even think is a mental disorder, but a personality one. If someone is ‘psychotic’ when they commit a crime, they probably do have a mental illness. Most people don’t lump mental illness together. ADD isn’t even in the same realm as paranoid schizophrenia to most people. ‘Psychopath’ or ‘sociopath’ to most people simply means lack of empathy for other living things.

  7. Miss S
    Miss S January 9, 2011 at 3:02 pm |

    Here, people use mental illness to refer to anxiety, depression, attention deficit disorder, etc, but I don’t think that’s how most people use it. I have generalized anxiety disorder, and when I see stories about gunman like the one in Arizona, I think ‘mental illness’ as in some type of delusional, psychotic, disorder, or ‘radical political asshole.’ They may not be mutually exclusive.

    mental illness does not typically put one on an island all their own, totally unswayed and oblivious to everything around.
    In some cases, it does. My friends mom was severely schizophrenic, and was oblivious to a lot of things. I can honestly say she was in her own world 90% of the time, and not as a result of culture. Which is why lumping all mental illness together isn’t very effective.

    I also think stories where children are injured/killed makes it damn near impossible to see the assailant as victim. It’s hard to have empathy with someone who took the life as a 9 year old. This is also probably why people assume someone must have a mental illness. They think what kind of person could take the life of a nine year old?. The answer is “someone who is deranged/disturbed.”

  8. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla January 9, 2011 at 3:10 pm |

    Thank you for this, Jill. Slate gets something right every ones in a (very rare) while.

    I cringe any time there’s an act of violence such as this. Being mentally ill, it tears me up inside every time I read the media, blogs, commenters, etc slander people with mental illness. It happens far too much on Feministe, so I’m glad you’re tightly moderating this thread.

  9. Megan
    Megan January 9, 2011 at 3:22 pm |

    I was watching Keith Olberman’s report on this tragic shooting. This was after they’d identified Loughner and looked at his Myspace and YouTube videos. All they seemed to talk about was his state of “psychosis” and his being “disturbed.” It made me so angry to hear the state of mental illness being directly connected to committing a violent crime. Rhetoric like that does nothing but perpetuate the fear of people with mental illnesses in our society, a fear that prevents those people being given the help and support they need. I just kept thinking, “What if Loughner had access to treatment via a comprehensive health care system? What if this could have been prevented by giving him a space in which he could express his feelings, be listened to and counseled?”

    The stigmatizing of people with mental illnesses has to stop. We can’t dismiss every school shooting or political crime as “oh, they were crazy, so that’s why they did it and all crazy people will do the same if made angry enough.” We can’t just ignore the problem until it erupts in an event like the shooting and shoves us deeper into fear.

  10. Amanda
    Amanda January 9, 2011 at 3:40 pm |

    Thank you for writing this article. I suffer from bipolar disorder. Every time I see that a mass shooter is believed to be bipolar or schizophrenic, I cringe. While mental problems are likely a contributing factor to violence, they are not the sole reason. There are many people who suffer from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia who do not go out and commit violent acts. Thank you for being a voice for those of us who fall into that category.

  11. Henry
    Henry January 9, 2011 at 3:47 pm |

    “People, when commenting about violence and crime, seem to draw a difference between “irrational” and “rational” violence, as if the former was infinitely worse than the latter. Random dude killing his girlfriend because she cheated on him = rational and to some extent excusable, other random dude with a mental illness killing a fellow bus passenger because he thinks the latter is the antichrist = irrational and bad.”

    I don’t think a value judgment enters into it at all. Irrational violence frightens people more simply because it seems random and unpredictable. That unpredictability is the key thing; when people can ascribe a clear motive to a crime it’s comforting because they feel as though they can at least plan against being in that situation (whether actually true or not). There’s no way to plan against “crazy” guy in public.

  12. Sarah
    Sarah January 9, 2011 at 4:11 pm |

    Here, people use mental illness to refer to anxiety, depression, attention deficit disorder, etc, but I don’t think that’s how most people use it. I have generalized anxiety disorder, and when I see stories about gunman like the one in Arizona, I think ‘mental illness’ as in some type of delusional, psychotic, disorder, or ‘radical political asshole.’

    “Radical political asshole” is a mental illness now? Who knew? It speaks a lot to the ableism in our society that anyone would classify being an asshole, or having a particular political opinion, as a mental illness. Just, no.

    Furthermore, it is not okay to single out people with a particular diagnosis like this. It is not okay to perpetuate hierarchies of “normal,” typical, non-violent mental illnesses vs. Scary Mental Illnesses. This is incredibly othering and oppressive, full stop. What particular mental illness is being referred to is irrelevant (except, of course, in that some people with MI clearly face more stigmatization and oppression than others). Some privilege checks are in order.

    I also have a problem with the ways in which poor mental health care gets brought up in this context. Not that it isn’t a legitimate issue of concern, but this is not IMO the right place for these conversations to happen. You can’t just say, “oh, if only Loughner had had access to mental health care.” First off, we don’t know for sure that he didn’t. We also don’t know if mental health care would have made any difference in his case. Plenty of neurotypical people commit violence, sheesh. This kind of argument also subtly demonizes people with mental illness. Yes, there are people with MI who want treatment and can’t get it, and this is appalling. And there are also people with MI who don’t want treatment, who have had bad experiences with psychiatry and meds, and that is also a legitimate choice. And many people with MI don’t get to make this choice at all, due to the social paradigm of People With Untreated MI Need Help (as dictated by able-bodied people) Or They’ll Kill Us All. Which is exactly what these kinds of discussions contribute to. While the kinds of sentiments expressed in #9 may seem progressive, they’re really just repackaging old stereotypes.

  13. There’s enough insanity to go around « My journey with AIDS…and more!

    [...] Goldberg in The Atlantic Jill at Feministe Slate’s Vaughan Bell with “Crazy [...]

  14. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable January 9, 2011 at 4:34 pm |

    Jill: but because the lack of appropriate care for mental illness is one way, among many, that mentally ill people are deprived of basic necessities, and are victimized by a culture that sees mental illness as scary as not as real/tangible as physical illness

    The stigma of obtaining medical care is another reason people don’t see this care. Even if you have the resources (i.e. access to quality therapists and the cash to see them), it can be incredibly difficult to make the jump. Some of the rhetoric (that is talked about above) becomes an incredible obstacle you have to surmount.

  15. bhuesca
    bhuesca January 9, 2011 at 4:36 pm |

    Jill, thank you so much for this post. I saw the slate article last night and was hoping it would be more widely distributed. As you opened the door re: crime & punishment – mental illness seems to come into sentencing the same way as it does into assigning motive/responsibility. The rhetoric of “X person must have done Y action because of Z syndrome -> X person is not as culpable/should receive a lighter sentence (if convicted)/ is not at fault for Y crime because of Z syndrome of mental illness.) Can we sever these? Should we?

    Anyway, as punishment was brought up, I’d love to see this addressed sometime- it seems that, like nearly every commenter before me has said, people go “the shooter must be mentally ill to do that. No one could do that if they weren’t mentally ill. But then – ‘well, that shouldn’t excuse the shooter from the same punishment”.

  16. Brooke
    Brooke January 9, 2011 at 4:42 pm |

    feministe, thank you so much for opening a safe and respectful space for this conversation. psychiatric disability has been on my mind since the shootings yesterday in tucson, which is where i am from (now living in san francisco). i feel frustrated by the ways that mental illness and “crazy” rhetoric is being deployed left and right in the media right now in relation to crime, and how mental illness is also being pathologized and conflated when it comes to criminalization. thanks again and i fully support this project.

  17. Miss S
    Miss S January 9, 2011 at 4:43 pm |

    ::Sigh::
    No, Sarah, I didn’t say that “radical political asshole” was a mental illness. In fact, I differentiated it from a mental illness with the word “or.” As in, I believe they are two separate things.

    .
    I think acknowledging that mental illness doesn’t mean just one thing; that there are different types; that most people with mental illness aren’t psychotic, are all important things. I don’t need a privilege check. I’m also not convinced that ‘white men who shoots innocent people for political reasons’ constitute an oppressed group anyway.

    As far as society being responsible, I think that’s true only insofar as not providing medical/mental health care. I’m not responsible for the delusions of another person, nor is society. I can’t help the fact that this person believed he was being persecuted by the government, nor can society. I do think that society has a responsibility to provide citizens with health and mental care.

  18. Ni
    Ni January 9, 2011 at 4:46 pm |

    The police hate the mentally-ill because of the sheer amount of time and resources they take up… And the prison system would be cheaper to run if 30% of the cells weren’t occupied by people sentenced for the long and dismal run of petty crimes that follows from being unable to function in society.

    But who’s going to treat them? Mental illnesses take years of medication, therapy, and sometimes supervision and in-patient care. There’s no profitable business to be had in that, especially as the mildly- to-moderately ill rapidly become unemployable.

    If you’re rich, of course, there’s therapy. Hopefully you get effective treatment before your life falls apart and you can still pay for it…

    If you’re poor, there’s homelessness, chronic illnesses, and death. Or maybe petty criminality, or someday you do something *really* crazy, and you end up in prison.

    Effective public healthcare systems can reduce the economic burden and the loss of productivity. Better still, they are the *right* thing to do.

    You’ll still get ‘crazies’ who gain access to guns. Only, far, far fewer of them – there’s always warning signs, there’s always opportunities to offer treatment… If it’s available, in a country with an effective public healthcare system.

    Is this a feminist issue? Like every other social issue, who do you think bears the burdens for all the things that happen every day and never make the news?

  19. Radfem
    Radfem January 9, 2011 at 4:49 pm |

    Regarding the sheriff’s comments, I disagree with those made about those who are mentally ill (and I’ve had that same discussion with police chiefs in my city) but I do agree with the comments about bigotry and violence. And I’m not pointing fingers at Arizona coming from California where there’s a lot of that same bigotry. It’s just not been legislated to the same point as Arizona…yet but it’s that same vitriol that comes when Whites become not only a population minority but face becoming a political minority as well. That’s definitely happening in California as well.

    And there’s been assassinations and attempts here anyway. The Nazis obviously thought it was a great place to protest. They tried in L.A. and got the crap kicked out of them there.

    My city’s human relations commission tried to put an item on the agenda to look into a resolution against what’s going on in Arizona and the city attorney vetoed even allowing them to discuss it at a meeting saying it’s outside their purview. But seriously if a human relations commission can’t discuss it, who can from a city government?

    Thanks for this.

    I live in Arizona, and I see a lot of situations — local radio, social conversations, academic and classroom conversations, political advertising — where people are tacitly (and explicitly) rewarded for voicing racist, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, and pro-violence statements. They’re long-term, ubiquitous, pervasive, and largely unquestioned by a significant chunk of people. I’ve met several folks who’ve not only felt entitled to say such things but were genuinely shocked when I expressed skepticism or disagreement.

    And I sort of see “he’s crazy” used as a way for people to distance themselves from the crime. In other words, if they Other the person who committed an act of violence, they can delude themselves into believing that what happened yesterday is fundamentally different than anything a “normal” person might have done.

    It ignores the fact that a lot of intolerance and vitriol is being normalized.

    I really agree with this. It’s the same in Southern California, especially the further east that you go.

  20. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig January 9, 2011 at 4:57 pm |

    I predict that pretty soon the outcry about the nine-year- old will fade. After all, her parents were Democrats, so she had it coming- or so the Republicans will say. (I wish I weren’t so cynical, but people make it so easy.)
    After thinking about it, I think the ‘mental illness’ bit is irrevelant. This guy is the same as Lee Harvey Oswald and John Wilkes Booth: all of them killed people for political reasons, no other cause. I can’t vouch for Oswald, but I’m pretty sure Booth was neurotypical.

  21. Brian
    Brian January 9, 2011 at 5:19 pm |

    So why do we always make the erroneous leap to “oh, that’s mental illness” when we’re faced with horrific acts of violence? I have felt myself do it before as a knee-jerk reaction, and i am aware that it’s wrong. Is it because the confusion we feel when we try to understand the motivations behind something so horrible? Or is it a way for us to distance ourselves from the darker, violent side of human nature, as if to say “I am not capable of that, so this categorization (i.e., “crazy”) means that i am protected/distanced from that shadow side of my own self”?” I really do want to know…

    Another pet peeve: it takes many, many years of intense, sophisticated training to diagnose anyone with a mental illness. I wish the Psychology/Psychiatry profession would get pushier about saying “Hey Random Pundit/Blogger/Website/Guy At A Party, you are not in any way qualified to make a diagnosis of another human being’s mental state!”

  22. Sarah
    Sarah January 9, 2011 at 5:27 pm |

    Sorry if my initial reading of #7 was incorrect.

    To clarify my own post, I certainly never said that white men who shoot people are an oppressed group (!). People with certain psychiatric diagnoses certainly are, however. Not all people with MI face the same sorts of stigmatization.

    Jill, I basically agree with most everything* you said both in #12 and the original post. Yet I still think there’s a need to be careful with our rhetoric, and make sure that we don’t fall into the trap of implying that mental health care, even “good” mental health care,” to the extent that such a thing exists, is a cure-all for all social problems, including violence. There needs to be some nuance to the discussion, which for the most part I think people here have done.

    *I don’t agree that lack of mental health care is just as relevant to this particular discussion as the demonization of people with MI. We don’t even know very much about Loughner’s particular situation. I also don’t like the “mental illness is the same as physical illness” paradigm, but that’s a whole ‘nother discussion.

  23. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin January 9, 2011 at 6:06 pm |

    As someone with mental illness, it frustrates me to no end how quickly people reach for it by means of an explanation when tragedies like this happen.

    I will say that there was a time where people who were severely mentally ill were institutionalized for a long period of time. I am not necessarily sure this was much of an answer even then, but nonetheless it existed for a long time. Then a decision was made by federal court order, I think in the 1980’s, to stop the practice. Unfortunately this meant that there wasn’t any tenable system in place to handle the problem. Many mentally ill people, particularly those who were poor and homeless, went through wave upon wave of incarceration or stints in state mental hospitals.

    It’s difficult to treat people with severe mental illness. They have to willingly agree to treatment and they have to agree to take their medication. And often the medications they take have unpleasant side effects. And still today, they are often in and out of hospitals and jails. But they are nonetheless still human beings and do not at any point forsake their right to be treated as such.

    I can’t speculate about the shooter of this tragedy beyond the fact that he seems like a supremely troubled soul. I wish someone had intervened long before now. Had my parents not gotten me the help I needed, I hate to think where I’d be today. I was fortunate to not be ill in this sort of fashion, but I was still in a tremendous amount of pain.

    Mental illness is still a strong societal taboo subject, particularly when tethered to violence. When we find a better way to handle those who may be inclined to lash out violently, then that characterization will eventually melt away.

  24. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable January 9, 2011 at 6:21 pm |

    Ni: If you’re rich, of course, there’s therapy.

    Just a quick note – therapy isn’t always for the rich. Students, especially, are often able to access quality care for cheap (I have 10 free cognitive therapy sessions through school and an additional 7 at $15 each), and many medications for mental health conditions are available in generics (I actually have coverage for drugs, so my generic Xanax came in at under $3 but without it, it would have cost $8). People at all income levels should look into their psychiatric care options if they feel that they need them, if only to know what’s available. The idea that therapy is for rich people is scary to me – while I am certain that this is true in some areas, it’s definitely not in others and it can be a sad misconception.

  25. Miss S
    Miss S January 9, 2011 at 6:22 pm |

    Jill, please delete if this is a derail.

    Ni, is there really less of a profit in mental health care than any other form of health care? I’m genuinely asking, because I’ve never heard that idea before. I assumed it was as profitable as any other form. Therapists and psychiatrists aren’t exactly cheap, are they?

    Brian- I think it’s mostly a way for people to have a reason for tragic events, especially senseless tragedies like this where innocent people are hurt.

    For me, it’s easier when a crime seems like a personal attack, ie. someone who has been directly wronged by another person retaliates. My 12 year old cousin and her mom were killed by someone who broke into their apartment for no apparent reason- no robbery or anything. It was the guy who lived above them, someone they spoke to when they saw. In cases like that, it seems like someone must have a disorder, to harm a person for no conceivable reason. The more irrational the crime seems, the more likely people are to assume mental illness.

  26. saurus
    saurus January 9, 2011 at 7:39 pm |

    Ni: The police hate the mentally-ill because of the sheer amount of time and resources they take up…

    But they also hate, fear, and oppress PWD (people w/ disabilities) for the same reason lots of people do: because they hold dehumanizing and cruel beliefs about PWD and their bodies. I don’t think it’s just a resource thing.

    And the prison system would be cheaper to run if 30% of the cells weren’t occupied by people sentenced for the long and dismal run of petty crimes that follows from being unable to function in society.

    I just wanna note – which may be unnecessary but I’ll cringe if I don’t – that there’s an important distinction between “unable to function in society” and “struggling to function in a society that refuses to invest, financially and socially and personally, in their survival, success and well-being.” As in, yes, many PWD are unable to function in society, but that’s because our society does not accommodate disability – not because being a PWD is inherently self-limiting. In case anyone’s brain was traveling in that direction.

    Mental illnesses take years of medication, therapy, and sometimes supervision and in-patient care.

    For some, yes. But for some, it can also take: spirituality, art, sex, no sex, healthcare, childcare, access to better and cheaper food, a society and environment that is accessible to PWD, money, etc. My point here is just that traditional treatment methods do not always work, especially in the way they are usually implemented, and often there are other paths and many conditions that need to be met in order to facilitate health. Even then, health isn’t always something that “takes years” and then is achieved – sometimes it doesn’t mean “being cured” or “getting better”, sometimes it’s just managing your disability, with no “ETA” in sight or existence.

    You’ll still get ‘crazies’ who gain access to guns.

    I think it bears repeating, for anyone reading, that shooting people doesn’t necessarily indicate a psychological disability, and having a psychological disability doesn’t necessarily indicate a predisposition to violence. When I say “necessarily”, that’s not a “politically correct” wink-wink-nudge-nudge euphemism for “usually it does, but there’s the occasional exception” – I think that violence serves as hammer, nail, and wood shavings within our current social structure, and scrutinizing a case as though violence is a self-contained anomaly within an individual’s mind is often missing the point. The question isn’t “How can we make sure PWD don’t kill again”, it’s “how can we build a community and ways of co-existing, of living and growing and loving each other, or even hating each other, without the use or employ or end-product of violence”. Violence is not the exception, it is the rule, and PWD – who are disproportionately victims of violence – could be the first to tell us that.

    Is this a feminist issue?

    I’m curious what the context for this question is? As I don’t identify as feminist that’s not a very important question to me personally, but I wonder how this *isn’t* a feminist issue?

  27. AtheistChick
    AtheistChick January 9, 2011 at 8:01 pm |

    I am sorry if this is a derail…

    @ PrettyAmiable: although people of all incomes often have access to mental health services, income matters a great deal to the quality of the service one may be able to get. As an uninsured college student, for example, I can get 3 free sessions at my university’s mental health clinic. People with insurance, including medicare/medicaid, are often faced with having only certain treatments covered, and a certain number of said treatments before the insurance company decides it’s about time for you to be all better now. Also, those who go to a community mental health center must contend with the overworked staff and sometimes underfunded facilities; this can cause really long waiting periods (over a month sometimes) for an appointment for therapy. It also means that the quality/frequency of the service may not be what the client needs.

  28. RD
    RD January 9, 2011 at 8:24 pm |

    First, there is actually HUGE profit in “mental health care” – to the point where hospitals that are sinking into unescapable debt are still making money off their psych wards *cough* St. Vincents *cough* (ding dong the witch is dead).

    Before I say what I have to say I want to show that I have every bit as much of a personal interest as anyone probably and more than most. I’ve been hospitalized upwards of eight or nine times (up to six+ weeks a few times), against my will (or signed just because otherwise i’d be committed involuntarily), and I’m in my mid twenties. As such I really don’t understand this “mental health care is not available” when it actually gets FORCED ON people. I’ve been homeless. I’ve done survival sex work. I got kicked out of my house for having symptoms of mental illness for fucks sake!!! I’m applying for disability after years of people telling me I should (wanted to avoid a deal with the devil and the nasty process I guess).

    I hate it too when violence gets equated with mental illness. But FFS, being a sociopath is different from being schizophrenic, bipolar, borderline, schizoaffective, agoraphobic, whatever. People with those mental illnesses are much more likely to be the victims of violent crime than to commit it. But not caring about other people, being superficially charming, etc. IS PART OF WHAT MAKES SOMEONE A SOCIOPATH. I don’t think this guy was a sociopath. But my understanding is that serial killers, the ones who do it cuz they get some kind of perverse pleasure from it, they are sociopaths. And I really, really, really think I am justified in thinking they are a danger to society when so often THEY PREY ON MY COMMUNITIES. In the context of the bodies being discovered on LI right around the IDEVASW…. like I said before, I don’t think they are purposefully evil so much as “wired” to be dangerous, which is not their fault. But FFS, I think I’m being charitable and reasonable there, not hating on the mentally ill.

  29. Jadey
    Jadey January 9, 2011 at 8:24 pm |

    There is also a problem (among so many problems) with the way that the “crazy” label is used as the ultimate discrediting ad hominem: we don’t have to engage with your beliefs or ideas because you’re crazy and therefore invalid. It’s a sloppy, shallow way of engaging with people whose beliefs we disagree with, unproductive at best and open to institutionalized violence at worst (depending on whose being labelled “crazy” by whom and in what social context).

    I’m not saying that the Arizona shooter just needed a venue for reasoned discourse and everything would have been fine or anything like that. Clearly there was more going on there. And, yes, I disagree that shooting *anyone* is a solution or a reasonable approach to *anything*. But I think my point is relevant in terms of how “crazy” gets worked into an everyday misconception that whenever people do things we find repellent or abhorrent, it is easier to superficially dismiss them as “crazy” rather than comprehend that people do what they do for reasons we might disagree with but which are nonetheless as complex and thoughtful (and equally simplistic and thoughtless) as all human reasoning. “Crazy” people aren’t different from the “rest of us”.

    Actually, aside from issues arises from organic brain damage, a lot of actual mental disorder is grounded in meaningful, rational, normal thought processes, but in extreme contexts. There’s a lot about mental processes that we still don’t understand, but at least we’ve figured out enough of the basics and heard from enough people who’ve experienced extreme psychological situations to stop being so damn mystified by it.

  30. RD
    RD January 9, 2011 at 8:26 pm |

    Oh and Ni, the police don’t just *hate* the mentally ill, they *kill* the mentally ill, all the fucking time.

  31. Iany
    Iany January 9, 2011 at 8:41 pm |

    Thank you for writing this.

    I have many thoughts on this but I don’t think I’d be able to word them so well as you and others have here. This culture of armchair diagnosis and blaming violence on mental illness makes me angry. I’m glad Dupnik said something.

  32. d
    d January 9, 2011 at 8:43 pm |

    I would say it’s a feminist issue. Both this young man and the Montreal Massacre killer had mental health problems true, but both chose to murder women (and the women’s followers) for the wrongs they perceived. Oddly, a large proportion of the progressive blogoshere also chooses to blame a woman for this.

  33. Athenia
    Athenia January 9, 2011 at 9:47 pm |

    Yes, because this shooting was potentially politically motivated, why do we jump to the mental illness conclusion?

    There is so much violence–domestic violence, for example, and we don’t immediately jump to “mental illness.”

    Perhaps we are trying to absolve the way we talk about politics?

  34. David
    David January 9, 2011 at 9:51 pm |

    It’s a human issue. Whatever reasons motivated that man to kill those people, the only fact that matters is that he had access to a weapon and the means to kill and injure them. The only thing that matters now, is that lives have been forever lost and damaged.

    I would hope that if anything comes out of this – people will be more careful of their language regardless of political affiliation. Left or right. I hope that people realize that violence and threats of violence have no place in a democratic and open society.

  35. piratequeen
    piratequeen January 10, 2011 at 2:20 am |

    Quoted for emphasis: in response to the “years of medication, therapy” comment, saurus brilliantly and eloquently noted:

    For some, yes. But for some, it can also take: spirituality, art, sex, no sex, healthcare, childcare, access to better and cheaper food, a society and environment that is accessible to PWD, money, etc. My point here is just that traditional treatment methods do not always work, especially in the way they are usually implemented, and often there are other paths and many conditions that need to be met in order to facilitate health. Even then, health isn’t always something that “takes years” and then is achieved – sometimes it doesn’t mean “being cured” or “getting better”, sometimes it’s just managing your disability, with no “ETA” in sight or existence.

    And it bears repeating that “unable to function in society” can be a tip-off that there is a problem with “society” and/or the definition of “function”, rather than the person who gets labelled.

  36. Shinxy
    Shinxy January 10, 2011 at 4:31 am |

    Sarah: Here, people use mental illness to refer to anxiety, depression, attention deficit disorder, etc, but I don’t think that’s how most people use it. I have generalized anxiety disorder, and when I see stories about gunman like the one in Arizona, I think ‘mental illness’ as in some type of delusional, psychotic, disorder, or ‘radical political asshole.’ “Radical political asshole” is a mental illness now?Who knew?It speaks a lot to the ableism in our society that anyone would classify being an asshole, or having a particular political opinion, as a mental illness.Just, no.Furthermore, it is not okay to single out people with a particular diagnosis like this.It is not okay to perpetuate hierarchies of “normal,” typical, non-violent mental illnesses vs. Scary Mental Illnesses.This is incredibly othering and oppressive, full stop.What particular mental illness is being referred to is irrelevant (except, of course, in that some people with MI clearly face more stigmatization and oppression than others).Some privilege checks are in order.I also have a problem with the ways in which poor mental health care gets brought up in this context.Not that it isn’t a legitimate issue of concern, but this is not IMO the right place for these conversations to happen.You can’t just say, “oh, if only Loughner had had access to mental health care.”First off, we don’t know for sure that he didn’t.We also don’t know if mental health care would have made any difference in his case.Plenty of neurotypical people commit violence, sheesh.This kind of argument also subtly demonizes people with mental illness.Yes, there are people with MI who want treatment and can’t get it, and this is appalling.And there are also people with MI who don’t want treatment, who have had bad experiences with psychiatry and meds, and that is also a legitimate choice.And many people with MI don’t get to make this choice at all, due to the social paradigm of People With Untreated MI Need Help (as dictated by able-bodied people) Or They’ll Kill Us All.Which is exactly what these kinds of discussions contribute to.While the kinds of sentiments expressed in #9 may seem progressive, they’re really just repackaging old stereotypes.  

    THANK YOU. You put it far more eloquently than I would have been able to. I was seething.

  37. The Inside Story » Blog Archive » Good Things and Bad Things

    [...] On the other hand. The news is still Doom and Gloom-ing us, giving new meaning to the term “nanny state” as they endeavour to prevent The Public from getting cancer, drowning, electrocuting themselves on Christmas lights, drink driving, paper-cutting themselves to death or otherwise dying over the holiday period. Meanwhile, over in the US an assassination attempt against a Congresswoman has churned up all sorts of muck – although it has inspired some interesting posts on insanity and violence over in the feminist blogosphere. Check it out. [...]

  38. Florence
    Florence January 10, 2011 at 8:38 am |

    PrettyAmiable & AtheistChick: Just jumping in to say that I have been able to secure great mental health care on a sliding scale fee regardless of my insurance coverage or lack thereof. If people are on this thread combing for resources, my advice is that you call private therapeutic practices BEFORE you call the community health center because you are likely to get a hold of someone who will work on a sliding scale system, or even a name-your-own-price system, and get higher quality care.

    /threadjack

  39. Roundup: The Giffords shooting and violent political rhetoric

    [...] Jill Filipovic points out that the “he’s crazy” explanation of Loughner’s actions both unfairly vilifies people with mental illnesses—who are no more likely to commit violent crimes than anyone else—and is a cop-out that cuts of any deeper exploration of the causes of violence. Certainly, some people with mental illnesses do commit crimes — but that shouldn’t really surprise us, since people with mental illnesses are people, and some people commit crimes. I’m worried, though, that “he’s crazy” will end up being the easy card to pull in the particular case of the Arizona shooting, without recognizing that, mentally ill or not, Jared Loughner participated in the same society as the rest of us, and was undoubtedly influenced by the culture in which he lived — mental illness does not typically put one on an island all their own, totally unswayed and oblivious to everything around. We need to take a good look at the culture and sub-cultures we’ve built in the United States; “he’s crazy” is a cop-out, and it’s irresponsible, and it doesn’t alleviate us of our responsibilities. [...]

  40. Aunti Disestablishmentarian
    Aunti Disestablishmentarian January 10, 2011 at 9:41 am |

    d
    I am right there with you on this. Haven’t seen anyone else talking about this, but I am sure they will soon.

  41. Congress, let’s go Back to the Future! « Pomp & Circumstance

    [...] before the tragic shooting of Rep Giffords of Arizona.  All we can say about that is taken from Feministe.  “Certainly, some people with mental illnesses do commit crimes — but that shouldn’t [...]

  42. miga
    miga January 10, 2011 at 11:41 am |

    And i’m SURE that had the shooter been non-white, non-male, non-(assumed)hetero, virtually NO emphasis for his motive would have been put on his mental status, and ALL upon his race/sexual orientation. For example, the Texas army base shooting- the man had a history of problems that went untreated, yet very few people afterwards rushed to nullify his actions as “that of a crazy person.” It was all “HE’S A MUSLIM. HE’S AFTER US! ALL MUSLIMS ARE AFTER US!”
    But when a white male flew a plane into a building, citing grievances against the government, the press and politicians easily wrote it off as “crazy person=crazy things. Nothing to worry about.”
    People in power don’t often care about motive when you are a minority, so they rush to the easiest conclusion to explain away your actions. This way they don’t have to deal with how they may be culpable, and can keep on with business-as-usual.
    p.s. if you read the Slate article, it says you have 3x greater chance of being struck by lightning than murdered by a stranger with schizophrenia. Mentally ill persons themselves are more likely to be victims of crimes than perpetrators. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center have a greater chance of being attacked by someone of your own race than by someone of a different race.

  43. d
    d January 10, 2011 at 11:55 am |

    Auntie Dis, go to Reclusive Leftist to read more.

    Pardon Jill, I hope you will allow this. Both your blog and hers are doing good work on this. I don’t mean to be disrespectful.

  44. Gentleman Cambrioleur
    Gentleman Cambrioleur January 10, 2011 at 12:35 pm |

    This shooting is on my mind, so I would like to add:

    People with mental illnesses don’t live in a self-contained bubble of crazy that has absolutely nothing to do with the world around us. We are just as influenced by the subliminal messages sent by our culture as able-minded people. If our culture values the life of a woman less than the life of a man – we listen. If we are taught that violence is a reasonable form of conflict-resolution – we internalize that. If a talk show host tells us that we have a God-given duty to grab our guns and defend our country, wrapping all that in nice little slogans about liberty and patriotism – some of us will act on the suggestion.

    For so long as we live in a poisonous atmosphere, I believe it is *impossible* to isolate any sort of “innate tendency to violence” as it relates to mental illness, because there are simply way too many external factors that come into play in the decision to resort to violence to solve a conflict. Some people talk about schizophrenia and sociopathy, but assuming that these do give people innate violent tendencies, then why is the case that we don’t see schizophrenic or sociopathic women (or queer people, or people of colour, or trans* people) committing mass murder all over the place? It seems to me that the prevalence of hate speech and dehumanization in mainstream political discourse, and a toxic white masculinity that relies on guns to prove “real manhood,” are much more obvious and dangerous culprits.

  45. Miss S
    Miss S January 10, 2011 at 3:55 pm |

    As such I really don’t understand this “mental health care is not available” when it actually gets FORCED ON people

    RD, I’m not sure where you are, but AFAIK, here in the U.S., someone has to be considered a direct threat to themselves or others to be forced into receiving care. My best friend’s sister who is bipolar was in really bad shape, but they couldn’t admit her anywhere because she wasn’t considered a threat to herself or someone else and she wouldn’t give consent. This was in spite of the fact that she was suffering from a severe drug addiction, in and out of jail, and was putting her newborn in harm’s way.

    I’m pretty sure Jill is referring to preventative care- therapy, affordable medication, etc. There is no national health care system here, so if you don’t have insurance through a job or state insurance, there isn’t much help available for you. It probably works alot differently if you live in a society with national health care. (You’re in Canada, right?)

    I agree with you on all distinguishing one mental illness from another. It’s just silly to lump them all together. I don’t consider sociopaths an oppressed minority or marginalized group that needs support.

    Shinxy- perhaps you didn’t read my reply but I made it clear that I didn’t believe that ‘r
    adical political asshole’ was the same as having a mental illness.

  46. RD
    RD January 10, 2011 at 4:25 pm |

    I actually live in the US. A lot of this happened when I had medicaid (then I moved and lost it, cuz policies are different from state to state). But even when I haven’t had medicaid, or any health insurance, I’ve still had “mental health care” forced on me (less of it, but it still happened)…some of the cost wound up getting paid by a different state program, and most of the rest of it was just dropped.

    I don’t know the specifics around your best friends sisters situation but it sounds like they disagreed with you that she was a danger to her newborn.

  47. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable January 10, 2011 at 7:23 pm |

    @AtheistChick, I thought I had mentioned that in some places you cannot access quality mental healthcare cheaply. I’m not suggesting that it happens 100% of the time – but it does often enough that people need to stop thinking of it as only a rich people solution and one that might be accessible to them if they need it. I needed it, cannot really afford it at regular people prices, but thankfully was able to find resources that were accessible. I’d hate to think that there’s someone like me that wouldn’t even look into it because of their presuppositions about price.

  48. pandagon.net - it's the eye of the panda, it's the thrill of the bite

    [...] “crazy” is only the beginning of the discussion.  It’s not the end.  I think Jill put it best: Certainly, some people with mental illnesses do commit crimes — but that shouldn’t really [...]

  49. Angela
    Angela January 10, 2011 at 7:44 pm |

    Not all mental illnesses are the same, no. But we do all get tarred with the same brush, and it’s wrong no matter what your particular flavour of MI is. Even the “scary” mental illnesses — the ones that accompany Horrible Crimes in TV shows (I’m thinking of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder mostly) — can’t be neatly separated from other MI. Any hierarchy of MI reinforces systems of privilege, and is also based on a misapprehension of the nature of mental illness. Psychosis and delusions don’t equal violent tendencies.

    I have one of those “scary” disorders, and another one runs in my family. Lots of people talk a good game about mental illness until they realise they know someone with bipolar disorder. Then they treat you like nitroglycerine — move suddenly and she might explode.

  50. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub January 10, 2011 at 10:11 pm |

    I’ll also point out that depression can be and has been cited as a “reason” for someone committing a crime. There was a workplace shooting in my neck of the woods about eight or nine years ago where that was the theory–the perp was “depressed” (I have my own thoughts about that but it would be derailing and it would also be me extrapolating and universalizing my own experience with depression). So no, depression isn’t scary like those “other” mental disorders, but there’s enough stigma and misinformation about it that it can adversley affect the people who cope with it–a reluctance to seek treatment, a strike against you in legal matters (either criminal cases, family law, or litigation), and can adversley affect your job prospects.

  51. Liz Barnes
    Liz Barnes January 11, 2011 at 2:11 am |

    I have bipolar disorder and am very glad to see this post. I live in the USA and am fortunate to have good health insurance. However, even with good insurance you can still face a mountain of problems when seeking good psych care. I am on Abilify and the drug is highly expensive even with RX coverage. I don’t mind paying it the drugs does wonders for me however in the rural state I live in finding a good psych doc is a struggle. The one I see now usually is a three week waiting period to just be seen and once you are in about an hour every time in the waiting room. At the university hospital and other hospitals it is either a six month wait or being told you have to go on a wait list. It is pathetic here. I don’t know what needs to change on a national level but here in WV we need good docs, therapists, social workers and their ilk to help the growing homeless population and people of all walks of life who need help. There was talk of opening another mental health center but one of the smaller hospitals who puts people on a waiting list is fighting it saying they would lose business to the new health center. I say to them look at the waiting lists and rooms to see it is needed. I wish the stigma wasn’t there and I totally agree with the commenter who stated when people find out you have MI, they get scared and look at you oddly like your head will explode that hurts the most. I have never been violent. I mostly feel low and take things out on myself. I just wish people would see we need their understanding not their hatred. Thanks Jill, it felt good to say this.

  52. KMayer
    KMayer January 11, 2011 at 9:00 am |

    when I refer to mental illness as a “brain disease,” the responses from friends/colleagues changes dramatically. People who would never demonize an epileptic for seizing, nor a diabetic or any other tangible illness, quickly label mental illness as something controllable. With meds and therapy, yes. But without, it is not afforded the same compassion. Thanks for this post; good luck with the trolls.

  53. Your Tuesday Random-Ass Roundup: Guns Down. « PostBourgie

    [...] Sargent reminds us that calls for civility usually don’t amount to much. And Jill Filipovic tells us that “he’s crazy” is a cop out.  [...]

  54. readings on violence and rhetoric
    readings on violence and rhetoric January 11, 2011 at 11:36 am |

    [...] Jill at Feminste has a good discussion of mental illness: [. . .] our culture so thoroughly ties mental illness to [...]

  55. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig January 11, 2011 at 12:00 pm |

    Sheelezebub: I’ve noticed that depression and stress in men tends to quickly become a lethal mixture. A lot of men try to take their families with them, and when men attempt suicide, they mostly succeed. I’d be far more scared if a man in my life developed depression then if he developed schizophrenia-but I would try to help in both cases.(Not at the risk of my own life, though.)
    For the record: I’ve been diagnosed with depression and anxiety myself, and I had a friend who spent some time in a hospital last year. But neither of us developed violent tendencies-although I did harm myself a few times. (Do self-inflicted bites count as self-harm?)

  56. Miss S
    Miss S January 11, 2011 at 2:48 pm |

    RD: Oops :) I don’t know why I thought you were in Canada. My apologies.

    I think it’s because my best friend’s mom had pretty much taken over care. The baby was left alone for hours, unchanged, unfed, and taken to drug houses. The grandmother stepped in, so perhaps the courts considered her as the caretaker.

  57. RD
    RD January 11, 2011 at 3:12 pm |

    Ok. Then I agree the baby should be taken away until she could care for it (by the grandma if she was still willing to do it). But I don’t necessarily agree she should be committed involuntarily.

  58. Sarah
    Sarah January 11, 2011 at 5:21 pm |

    I’ve noticed that depression and stress in men tends to quickly become a lethal mixture. A lot of men try to take their families with them, and when men attempt suicide, they mostly succeed.

    Let’s see. How many men experience depression (and stress) at some point in their lives? And how many end up killing not only themselves, but their families as well?

    But let’s ignore facts in favor of sensationalized fears! Men with depression and stress are Scary and A Danger to Women and Children! Urgh.

    This kind of sensationalistic and, yes, ableist, rhetoric is far more hurtful than helpful. How likely is it that men who grow up in a social environment which stresses that “men with depression and stress are violent and scary” will seek help for depression?

    No matter how you slice and dice the group of MI people, based on gender, diagnosis, or something else, it is ableist to make generalizations about us.* It is ableist to make absolute pronouncements on what should or should have been done to a particular person with MI. (Note the lack of agency awarded to the PWD here). Yes, even if that person with MI is your friend or family member or a murderer or whatever. We deserve bodily integrity and the right to self-determination, dammit. Yet I’m seeing feminists here and elsewhere blithely talk about how such-and-such person should have been institutionalized, or made to undergo therapy or a psychiatric evaluation.

    I’ve heard one story (which may or may not actually be true) that Loughner was asked to undergo a psych evaluation, and was kicked out of community college when he didn’t. Did that experience contribute to his sense of anger and isolation? I don’t know, but I do know, as someone who has been in somewhat situations, that being forced to undergo psych evaluations/treatment has really, really made me resent the people doing the compulsion. It has not been particularly helpful. I personally do make the choice to seek psychiatric care–but I want it to be a true choice. Not a forced one of the “do this or we’ll kick you out” variety.

    *I do grant a notable exception for “sociopathy” (aka Anti-Social Personality Disorder), which is basically a tautological, medicalized term for people who do terrible things and feel no remorse. Ah, you have to love the DSM authors.

  59. Jasmin
    Jasmin January 11, 2011 at 6:53 pm |

    *Sigh*

    I have a degree in Psychology, and it gets tiresome talking to people who learned everything they need to know about mental illness from Dr. Drew (of Teen Moms fame). I’m glad there are posts like this that include the fact that people with mental illness are more likely to be victims than perpetrators, and I’d also add that people with mental illness are overall less likely to commit crime than those w/o mental illnesses. Good call on the OP who noted the added intersections of race/ethnicity and religion–mental illness is never an explanation when the perpetrator of violence is a person of color, even though Black people have disproportionately higher rates of bipolar disorder and Asian Americans have disproportionately higher rates of mental illness in general, for starters. /End rant

  60. Arizona Link Drop « The Thread Needler
    Arizona Link Drop « The Thread Needler January 11, 2011 at 8:03 pm |

    [...] From Jill at Feministe: I’m worried, though, that “he’s crazy” will end up being the easy card to pull in the particular case of the Arizona shooting, without recognizing that, mentally ill or not, Jared Loughner participated in the same society as the rest of us, and was undoubtedly influenced by the culture in which he lived — mental illness does not typically put one on an island all their own, totally unswayed and oblivious to everything around. We need to take a good look at the culture and sub-cultures we’ve built in the United States. [...]

  61. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig January 12, 2011 at 12:32 am |

    Sarah: Look, men, ordinary neuro-typical men, are generally encouraged to be violent, even toward women and children. Add stress and/or mental illness, and a man will either turn his aggression on himself, or go out and find someone to hurt. And usually a man who’s experiencing economic distress and depression can quickly persuade himself that leaving his family in poverty is worse than taking them with him.
    So it’s not just mental illness, it’s a scary toxic social stew that men swim in every day of their lives. And then that stew tends to rebound horribly on women and children.

  62. Matt
    Matt January 12, 2011 at 12:41 am |

    Thank you, Jill, for writing a post expressing exactly what I was thinking when reading/watching all of the news. Watching the political right do an extrication dance, trying to sanitize the implications of vitriol from the tragedy by blaming mental illness for susceptibility to the rhetoric was infuriating. It was infuriating mostly because I knew it would work, because crime is “craziness” to society at large. No matter what statistics and experience has to offer.

  63. saurus
    saurus January 12, 2011 at 1:44 pm |

    Jasmin: *Sigh*
    I have a degree in Psychology, and it gets tiresome talking to people who learned everything they need to know about mental illness from Dr. Drew (of Teen Moms fame).

    I do think it’s worth noting that psychology is not exempt from ableism (or other -isms), to say the least. Some of the most bigoted and destructive ideas about gender, disability, sexual orientation, class etc – were taught to me as “scientific fact” (or “research shows that…”) during my psychology degree. Psychologists, and their research, can come up with lots of stats and conclusions that are ill-founded, badly applied, or just plain wrong. Not to say “throw it all out”, just that as a discipline it is affected by (and perpetuates) the same old hegemonies you find everywhere, including on Dr. Drew…

  64. RD
    RD January 12, 2011 at 2:45 pm |

    saurus:
    I do think it’s worth noting that psychology is not exempt from ableism (or other -isms), to say the least. Some of the most bigoted and destructive ideas about gender, disability, sexual orientation, class etc – were taught to me as “scientific fact” (or “research shows that…”) during my psychology degree. Psychologists, and their research, can come up with lots of stats and conclusions that are ill-founded, badly applied, or just plain wrong. Not to say “throw it all out”, just that as a discipline it is affected by (and perpetuates) the same old hegemonies you find everywhere, including on Dr. Drew…  

    Word. I’m not a psychologists but in my experience most of them are not very social justice-oriented. They are mostly pretty pompous and judgmental actually.

  65. The Shooting in Tucson « Stowaway
    The Shooting in Tucson « Stowaway January 12, 2011 at 4:33 pm |

    [...] Jill Filipovic on not using “he’s crazy” as an explanation for Jared Lee Loughner’s actions and again here on not curbing free speech even as we tone down rhetoric [...]

  66. Another Sarah
    Another Sarah January 13, 2011 at 10:42 pm |

    Thank you Sarah for saving me the time and psychological upset of writing a bunch of long angry posts by saying exactly what I was thinking. Ditto saurus. Thank you Jill for putting this post up to begin with especially since this isn’t a psychiatric survivor blog specifically but a feminist blog…thank you for getting it, for being an ally so us “crazies” aren’t shouldering the entire burden alone. And thank you Slate for same. When the shooting happened all I could think about was backlash, I had zero interest in mourning with the rest of the nation because all I could think of was, “now they’re going to say he needed help, and that this could have been prevented if he’d gotten treated in time, and you know what that means. More mental health screenings among youth, leading to more people being kicked out of school or forcibly locked up or both, because of the crazy=violent myth.” I thought again of Cho Seung-Hui, the Virginia Tech shooter, how his writing had been taken as a sign of violent mental illness and he’d been kicked out of the writing class as a result, how he’d been forcibly hospitalized, how I’d felt when I was kicked out of college and when I was forcibly hospitalized, how alone and angry and mistrustful I felt, and how media later said “if only he’d gotten help”. What helped me was the psychiatric survivor movement, going to psychiatric survivor support groups where I could finally be honest, say “I want to die and I want to take so-and-so with me” and know that nobody there was going to lock me up for my words because they’d been there and hated it as much as I did. Where I didn’t get a diagnostic label from some jerk with a degree who thought he knew me better than I did, for emotions that were just more extreme versions of ones common in popular culture.

  67. RD
    RD January 14, 2011 at 6:30 pm |

    The psychiatric survivor thing appeals to me…I’ve run into those shitty attitudes too (“I’ve found out you’re cutting and have been hospitalized, this means you’re a danger to other students”) and I hate what psychiatry has put me through. I have a friend who was really involved in the icarus project in nyc. But, I’m not against all mental health care always, I’ve gotten some help from meds before (the exception not the rule), etc. And idk, I can only get involved in so many movements at once or I’ll burn out.

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