I am this close to declaring that unless you are mentally ill, a person with a degree in psychology or a mental-health-related field, or a major part of the support network of a mentally ill person, you are not allowed to talk about mental health. The only thing that’s stopped me is that a lot of members of those groups are saying terrible things too.
General memo: if you only care about mental health care in the wake of a shooting, you seriously need to question yourself. There are far more mentally ill people who hurt themselves than mentally ill people who shoot up a school. Mentally ill people are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it. Only talking about mental health after a shooting implies that you don’t care about mental illness when we’re being hurt; you only care about it when we’re hurting neurotypicals.
Furthermore, there’s a certain cluster of disorders that people tend to conclude turns people into monsters: personality disorders, schizophrenia, psychosis, bipolar disorder, autism, probably a couple I’m forgetting. In the wake of incidents like the Newtown shooting, people will always talk about people with these disorders as if they’re Scary Alien Monsters Without Empathy Who Will Probably Hurt You.
First of all, we don’t know what mental illness Adam Lanza had, or even if he had a mental illness at all, so it’s a bit inappropriate to be demonizing people. Second, most people with these illnesses are not violent. (In fact, even the link between psychosis and violence is muddy.) Third, does it not occur to anyone that talking about how people with certain mental illnesses are Scary Alien Monsters Without Empathy Who Will Probably Hurt You makes it more difficult for people with those illnesses to get the support and care they need? If you think being diagnosed with schizophrenia will make you a Scary Alien Monster Without Empathy Who Will Probably Hurt People, you are going to drag your feet about getting diagnosed… and that means you’re not going to get the help you need.
To talk about some specific examples of fail (warning: these are really, really horribly anti-people-with-mental-illnesses. Read at own risk)…
I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother: No, you aren’t. I understand that it can be really frustrating and occasionally terrifying to deal with a child with mental illness, particularly one as virulent as Michael’s. But seriously, who the fuck compares their child to a murderer and talks about their “evil eyes”? And then fucking includes a picture of their child and the child’s name? (For reasons of preserving my faith in humanity, I’m going to hope it’s a pseudonym.) Why would you do that? I really don’t have a hell of a lot to comment on this that hasn’t been said better by Sady Doyle and Thursday, so go read those posts instead.
Piers Morgan’s Awful Guest: Okay, look, dude, preferring to be by yourself can be a sign of Asperger’s, but it can also be a sign of everything from social phobia to Avoidant Personality Disorder to just being a fucking introvert okay. Autism does not mean that you’re “lacking empathy,” it means that you are bad at reading social cues and intuiting things about others. You can still feel bad that other people are in pain even if you’re bad at telling when people are in pain. Autistic people might be lonely and anxious and even suicidal sometimes, but that probably has something to do with gentlemen like you assuming that autism can help explain why someone shot up a school. Also, I have no idea how you leaped from suicidal depression to shooting up a fucking school, but I’ve known a lot of fucking suicidal people and it has not occurred to one of us to shoot up a school, so maybe there is a different factor here.
Gunsville, USA: Apparently, a lot of shooters are on different kinds of medication, including SSRIs, tetracyclics, tricyclics, benzodiazepines, sedatives, Benadryl, and pain medication. This is sort of like saying “look! Some of the shooters took cough syrup, some took antibiotics, some took Vitamin C, and some took Viagra! Therefore cold medications cause shootings!”
I mean, Jesus. Who would expect that a disproportionate number of mentally ill people are on meds, or that discontinuing or switching medication might cause problems for some people?
The author diagnosed Adam Lanza and Holmes with “Medication Eyes,” which combined with the I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother person above, is starting to make me wonder if the DSM-V should include Ocular Delusional Disorder, the delusion that you can figure out someone’s psychiatric history by looking at their eyeballs.
It also includes the following sentence:
He said he thinks the main problem is that “crazy” people are no longer institutionalized because all of a sudden hey have “rights” to live under bridges and be as schizoid as they want to be.
1) Does… does this guy know how expensive mental hospitals are? Who is going to pay for locking up all the mentally ill people? I thought that the conservatives were all about Fiscal Responsibility and Not Universal Healthcare, but apparently that goes out the window when there’s a possibility of locking up mentally ill people.
1a) Takimag, aren’t you supposed to be libertarian? What exactly is libertarian about lifelong imprisonment of people who have done nothing wrong?
2) How is this going to work exactly? There are shooters who never had contact with the mental health care system… are you going to give everyone a complete mental health workup at age eighteen, repeat it each decade, and lock up the people who fail? Who are you going to lock up? Just people with psychosis or schizophrenia? All mentally ill people? People with mental illnesses that you believe turn them into Scary Alien Monsters Without Empathy Who Will Probably Hurt You?
3) Of course the prospect of being involuntarily imprisoned for life will not remotely make people reluctant to seek mental health care or more willing to lie about any symptoms that might get them locked up.
4) I don’t think “care in the community” was particularly well-implemented either, but that’s not because it’s a bad idea. It’s because they kind of forgot the “care” bit and just left people to their own devices. Caring for people outside of mental hospitals whenever possible is a good plan; not caring for people at all is not.
5) WHAT THE FUCK WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS OKAY TO LOCK UP PEOPLE WHO HAVEN’T DONE ANYTHING WRONG WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU