In recent months, we have suffered great loss and much tragedy from these mass shootings. Heartbreaking, frightening, completely devastating. What has bothered me in the midst of this heartbreak is the constant blame given to ‘mental illness’ as the main reason and underlying culprit of these horrific attacks. Not gun owner responsibility, not the actual reason why these individuals had possession of firearms, not investigating what really happened, not even the fact that some people are just evil. Because evil people, mentally healthy evil people, exist. They do.
But no. The initial reports always blame mental illness and attach it to these criminals who have committed heinous crimes. That furthers the stigma we are so desperately trying to educate people away from. Granted- there are some extremely ‘mentally ill’ individuals that exhibit criminal minds or behaviors. And yes- there should be better resources and options to treat them or help them or keep them and everyone else around them safe.
So, you think it’s ‘them’ and not you? You think you’re mentally healthy? Think again
How about these statistics:
Almost 50 percent of Americans (46.4 percent to be exact) will have a diagnosable mental illness in their lifetimes, based on the previous edition, the DSM-IV. And the new manual will likely make it even “easier” to get a diagnosis.
-Robin S. Rosenberg, Slate.com
That’s staggering. Our culture continues to talk about ‘mental illness’ as if its a severely handicapping disease that only affects a very small percentage of people, people that we should be ‘afraid of or wary of, or careful around’. These people are regarded as less than worthy, not the same as, of lesser importance- and it’s NOT ok. With the new DSM-5 manual, this percentage will increase, and more and more people will be considered ‘mentally ill’.
What is NOT adequately acknowledged or understood is the actual high percentage of people – people you know- who SUFFER from some kind of disorder or possible diagnosis that falls under ‘mental health’. People who don’t identify as mentally ill, but ARE nonetheless.
Do you get anxious about particular things or nervous about certain circumstances? You may have anxiety.
Do you get irritated when things get out of order and changed or messed up from the certain way you prefer? You could be suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder.
Have you experienced some type of grief and are having significant difficulties in getting back to everyday life? Maybe you are experiencing a circumstantial depressive episode – depression.
Do you have trouble focusing, you have lots of nervous energy, and you like changing things up frequently? You might have ADHD.
Do you see my point?? We ALL have SOMETHING going on however mild or severe it may be. 46.4% of us have a diagnosable issue. If we keep attaching mental illness to criminal acts and regarding mental illness as a horrible, scary, frightening thing- where is that going to lead us? We demand equal rights and protection for every other group imaginable. We demand understanding and tolerance and education, and acceptance, but not for ‘mental illness’. Why?
Why, when these horrible things happen, why can’t we look at the individual and not the disorder? There are a GREAT many emotionally unstable people who shouldn’t be carrying guns, but not all of them have ‘mental illness’, and not everyone who has a ‘mental illness’ is emotionally disturbed.
Evil exists. It exists everywhere. Mental illness does NOT equal evil. Is this really a gun issue? Is it really a bunch of ‘deranged people’ that are committing these horrible acts? Or are these seriously evil people, who may test as mentally healthy? We would argue that Hitler was mentally deranged, but in his time, would he have tested as ‘mentally ill’? There have actually been many studies and comprehensive medical and psychological biographies done on the evil dictator – most of which have concluded, ‘that he suffered from nothing severe enough to take the blame for his crimes’.
-Erica Goode, ‘Insane or Just Evil? A Psychiatrist Takes a New Look at Hitler New York Times -Dr.Fritz Reidlich, author, ‘Hitler: Diagnosis of a Destructive Prophet’
Are President Trump and Hilary Clinton mentally healthy?? We know that BOTH would be accused of being ‘mentally ill’ and yet those were the two who we selected to represent each party in the race for the highest position of leadership in our country.
I’m tired of the stigma. So I’m speaking up. I’m speaking out. I’m disgusted by both the right and the left and everyone else who adds to the problem of blaming ‘mental illness’ for criminal and unlawful activity. If we had better understanding and better treatment options available and better support systems – maybe this wouldn’t be a problem. Maybe we would be emotionally healthy. I’m the end- it’s a heart issue, not a law issue. People will use whatever they can as weapons to enact evil. Our only Hope is to change hearts…
So Stop it. Stop the stigma.