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This is a valuable article, but I am concerned about Professor Corrigan’s comments. Yes, people with mental illnesses are more likely to be the victims of crime than the aggressors but, as the article goes on to demonstrate, research lets us know that people with mental illnesses are also more likely to be perpetrators. The key issue is that these perpetrators generally have untreated or inadequately treated illnesses.
It’s also very troubling that Professor Corrigan overemphasizes stigma as a cause for unwillingness to seek treatment. As the mother of a daughter living with schizophrenia and as someone immersed in the community of families living with these disorders, I believe that this narrative misrepresents the reality of people living with psychotic illnesses. Most people in the depths of psychosis have anosognosia, a brain based inability to understand that they are ill; thus, there is no reason for them to seek treatment. People in positions of power like Professor Corrigan are doing a disservice to people with these disorders when they avoid informing the public about this condition. Here is a link to extensive research about anosognosia:
Faulty narratives about stigma actually harm people with severe psychotic disorders. I discuss some of these issues in this article:
Your response is accurate and heartening. It’s paramount to report that a person’s lack of access to treatment is not necessarily meaningful when their “lack of insight” influences their decision to go or not go. In popular media, This is rarely, if ever, noted in popular media as a factor.
The problem with violence by those who suffer from delusions is that, unlike violence rising from interactions with others, you cannot by engaging in appropriate interactions generally avoid it. I remember a case in Denver where a man, refused treatment at Denver General Hospital, ended up at the airport where he stabbed a perfect stranger because he was wearing a blue jacket. The reason given was that the believed the victim was posing as his social worker. From the victim’s perspective, he was subject to a sudden random attack with a knife.
I disagree with the jist of this article. The anti-stigma/consumer movement has held court for way too long. The human brain’s semblance of mind is created by a synchronicity of neural functionalities that allow human beings to behave in socially acceptable ways when it is functioning normally. To the contrary, we (and the criminal justice system most importantly) should not be operating on a presumption of sanity in cases of mass shootings and inexplicable acts of violence. We should, to the contrary, jump to the suspicion that someone has a serious brain health issue in these cases.
If journalist keep listening to the anti-stigma propagandists, we will never be able to snap out of the dysfunctional mindsets and public policies that are leading to these incidents. The anti-stigma brigade likes to blur the distinction between mental health (which applies to all of us), mental illness (which pertain to all of the 300-plus diagnoses in the DSM, and serious neuropsychiatric illnesses that involve psychosis – a potentially deadly neuropsychiatric state. Some advocates in my network will would like for them to have the mental illness terminology to themselves and we won’t even use that term. Neuropsychiatric illness with psychosis is potentially much too deadly to be worried about being considered a social lesser. Enough with their nonsense and proselytizing. Who should stigmatize mental illness that is not serious enough to cause violent symptomatic behavior.
Since there is a knee-jerk reaction to all shootings that the solution is to ban all firearms (an exaggeration, but not far from the truth.), there is an opposite reaction calling to ban all those with mental issues. So to take it to its extreme, all those with mental issues should be prohibited from access to firearms or anything else capable of inflicting harm: automobiles, crossbows, knives, caustic chemicals, pressure-cookers, sharp pencils, etc.
As a trained causal-factor analyst, I’m not satisfied that an exhaustive root-cause analysis has been performed to determine the underlying cause of the violence that’s become prevalent in the U.S. The answer won’t be simple, and I don’t believe we will find a single root cause. But I also believe that once we find our answers, the U.S. won’t like it. I suspect it will require changing of attitudes and some loss of freedoms, be it freedom of speech, freedom to bear arms, or some other
—-Mass Shootings and Mental Illness: How Can the Media Avoid Fanning the Flames of Stigma?
For a start, change your vocabulary:
—-Mass Shootings and Mental Illness: How Can the Media Avoid Fanning the Flames of Prejudice