Saturday, January 24, 2015

Mental Illness and Violence

i also think it’s scary that we can’t distinguish between mental illness that is without violence and abuse that includes violence. Our media doesn't distinguish suicides that include violence towards others and those that don’t. Our media often covers suicides in a way that incites and valorizes the dead. Worst, our media conflates suicides with suicide-murders and covers both in a sensational way that encourages copy cats.

I think one key aspect of why we speak of these very different things in similar ways in how we categorize mental illness. We think all mental illness is the same and that all mental illness is violence. We don't distinguish severity or cause. As someone who has been dealing with mental illness my whole life, I’ve got to say -  Not all mentally ill people are violent. Not all mentally ill people hurt themselves. Not all mentally ill people hurt others.
The belief that persons with mental illness are dangerous is a significant factor in the development of stigma and discrimination (Corrigan, et al., 2002). [...]People with psychiatric disabilities are far more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violent crime (Appleby, et al., 2001). (via promote acceptance)

This conflagration is part of the process of stigmatizing mentally ill people. It's also dismissive of our work in managing our conditions.

If you hurt or abuse someone else while mentally ill that’s still on you and is your responsibility. If you can’t handle that responsibility, you need to be in intense treatment, probably a residential program. We, adults with mental illness, are responsible for managing our conditions with the help of trained medical professionals.  It’s a dangerous and irresponsible to be an adult choosing to engage in abusive/violent/dangerous behavior. You are putting yourself and others at risk when you go against your treatment plan or fail to perform your responsibilities in your treatment. It’s a completely different thing if you’re a kid and are being denied medical assistance by your guardians; that's not your fault or your responsibility as a child. I’m saying this as someone who entered foster care as a minor to GET access to assistance.

I really dislike being lumped in with violent people. I am not a violent person. I don't have that profile. Let me repeat: I am not a violent person. Being mentally ill doesn't make me violent. It's dangerous to put a non-violent person with violent people; I have felt unsafe during treatments because facilities put non-violent people with violent people.
“Research has shown that the vast majority of people who are violent do not suffer from mental illnesses (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).” (via promote acceptance)

Mental illness is not an excuse for violent or abusive behavior. Again: mental illness is not the cause of abusive behavior. Mental illness is not an reason to allow abusive behavior.
Even when mental illness or addiction is a factor, it is not the cause of a man's abuse of his partner (why does he do that?)

We never respectfully consider that this mentally ill person might have actually had some active choices about dealing with mental illness. This is extremely disrespectful: mentally ill people are capable of making complex nuanced choices. Respect that! Most of the mentally ill are responsible for our own treatment. While we do require support, we are not children. We work hard to support ourselves, manage our conditions, and help one another. Don't ignore or trivialize our work by dismissing the effort expended those of us who manage well and without violence. 

We really dismiss how much people consider and try to act with concern and love for others even when considering leaving their own life. For example, we easily recognize the cruelty of murderers who desecrate the body of their victims, meaning the family has an unpleasant burial that can’t be open casket. But we have no sense of the compassion for their loved ones that a suicidal person may have in considering means that won’t destroy their body. We attribute a woman's vanity for her choice to use pills that won’t destroy their body rather than love for those she leaves behind. Why do we do this? Open question: Why do we do this?