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Mental Health Stigma Disguised As Fact

As if there where not enough reasons to dislike and not trust Fox New with their lies and sensationalism, here is another glaring example, and this one dose not involve politics, or anything about a person that is something that they have made a choice about.  No this one is about something that people have no say in whether it exist as part of them selves or not, it is about mental illness, and like is typical of Fox News it is shoddy "commentating" that fails to get all the facts behind it, in order to paint a sensationalist even fear inducing talking point.  In this case it falsely reinforces many stigmas that people with mental illness have to deal with in daily life and that keep meany from seeking the help that they need, or when they get it disbelieving that the problem is real.  They are lies that make people that already have a challenging road to walk feel all that much more ashamed, isolated and like social outcast and pariahs.  To be fair this is something that permeates society and media as a whole but in this case it is all that much abhorrent being that it is coming from a "news" source.  In this case from Bill O'Reily, on his show the O'Reily Factor.  Watch the clip after the jump.

The first point that I would like to make is that he says that mental ill people can be some what controlled, which makes it sound like those with a mental illness are some sort of wild animal.  Not only that but it totally discounts the fact that it is perfectly possible and common to be able to treat those with a mental illness (and in this case he is implying those with sever ones like bipolar) with a combination of an effective drug, and psychiatric treatment, making it able for them to live normal lives just like any one else.  Yet the way he puts it is the exact way of wording and thought that cause many to avoid treatment or become treatment no compliant because it clearly implies that it is not the person with the mental illness that is in control of them selves and their own treatment and by extension well being but that instead implies that the person with the mental illness is not in control of their own treatment but instead that those out side in the world at large are in control not only those immediately around them but society at large (which for many includes the drug companies) and it makes it sound like their doctor/s are in some sort of conspiracy to control them and make them some one that they may not be,  like one controls their dog or farm animals. Which is an idea that has done me no favors, this idea along with stigma made me not believe the first doctor that diagnosed me and in the end caused me to not only stop treatment but to stop seeing him all together, eventually leading to the depression that put me in the hospital.  It is also something that before I wound up in the hospital and many times in the fast (when I was depressed) kept me from seeking treatment.  More recently it was that idea and that idea that caused me to become treatment non compliant earlier this year and to go into a manic spell that took time and higher dosses of my medications to get me out of, and back to a point where I could again function normally, but all through these experiences I was no threat to any one but my self.  

He then goes on to make the point that people with a mental illness can be confined when they "go out of control" which is true but it is not something that should be taken so lightly, especially when the fact that out of control most often dose not mean a threat to others but a threat to them selves.  And it also dose not take into account that there are various levels of out of control and many of them do not require that kind of extreme intervention and in some cases removing of peoples basic rights.  A great example of being out of control but not a threat to others would be when I was hospitalized for my suicidal depression, I was out of control mentally,  I was not able to think rationally but instead purely emotionally and those emotions where not rationally related to anything that was going on in the world out side of my head, but those thoughts had planed out what I wanted to say to those that I left behind and how exactly i would go about killing myself, and I was literately a hairs wire away from doing it just waiting on that one little gust to blow me over the edge.  That is an prime example of being out of control and would/is considered out of control by those in the medical field, yet I was of no threat to any one other then myself. Yes I wound up in the hospital or as O'Reily would put it confined, which in away it is, but to say it in a way that makes it sound like any one that is or has ever been in that situation is/was an emanate threat to others is wrong and only build that much more stigma then there already is about being in a situation like that.  It is a stigma that makes me very reluctant to let anyone that dose not know why I was in the hospital, so any one outside of my family know why I was there, and the thought that they might know mortifies me because of all the negative things that society has placed on that sort of thing, and here we have a great example of one of them.

He then goes on to put forth more false implications that people with mental illness and especially those with sever mental illness like Bipolar, which many of you may know from my previous blog post is something that I "suffer" from.  Now nothing is further from the truth, those with a mental illness even those with a sever one are no more likely to commit violent acts then the general public. The only real medicating factor is substance abuse and that make things no higher then those of the general public that also have a substance abuse problem.  Matter of fact those with a mental illness are far more likely to find them selves a victim of violent crime then the general population with out one. So clearly this ticking time bomb implications is patently false and nothing more then uneducated and stigma filled sensationalism, but this false idea being spread creates a fear of mental illness and a fear of those with mental illness that can often result in discrimination, and people losing not only jobs, even though it is illegal it is also something that is very hard to prove.  But not only do that but they often lose friends and family when it comes out that they have a mental illness because those people now see them as some sort of threat even thought they are not one at all.

He then goes on to make the point that people with mental illness "used to be isolated" (like they are not isolated from society now) and that there where no "schizophrenic clubs or Bipolar clubs"  Making is it sound like it is bad that people with mental illness now have places to turn to (especially on the internet) where there are other people that understand them, understand what they are going through and the things that they have gone through in the past.  Yet it makes it sound like a bad thing instead of a good thing a thing that creates a support network and helps to ease the since of isolation, not only because of the stigma of mental illness but also because those with out it really have a hard time understanding it and often don't understand what the person with it is going through.

He then goes on to imply that the internet has opened up a Pandora's box because "There is horrendous stuff available to anyone"  making it sound like simply seeing violent things makes people with a mental illness unstable and more prone to violence, he then goes on say that it allows them to see their "violent fantasy up close and personal", making it sound like people with mental illness go online looking for such violent content.  Not only that but one again making it sound like people with mental illness are inherently violent and that they are just one image away from becoming killing machines! That is simply not true, many many many people with mental illness see the same violent stuff that permeates pop cutler (like movies, video games, TV shows and even the news) like every other person and they do not go out and commit violent acts.

He then goes on to say that "the only thing we can do to protect ourselves against the mentally ill is to be very alert" one again making it sound like those with a mental illness are a time bomb waiting to go off and that there is nothing that can really be done to stop that from happening, so the only thing that one can do is to be on the look out for them and if you find them to run as far away from them a possible.  This only cements the stigma that people with a mental illness should be avoided and treated like a danger.

This is something that makes me angry, yet upset and feeling ashamed and like an outcast at the same time, like I am someone that in many ways never will fit in and never will be understood, and that to try is to only make myself more of a target and to throw red flags of warning at people so that they know to run and hide from me.  That all they will see when I try to make points about why the stigmas that they and many others hold are not true will only be seen as the ramblings of a crazy person, of some one that can not be trusted, that is only trying to make themselves seem normal. Part of me hopes that, that is not true but a bigger part of me braces for the fact that it is, and that is the same part that makes it clear that I can not share this sort of stuff, with those in my life most especially because sharing it revels that I am one of them, one of the crazy ones, one of the dangers even though I am not one bit dangerous at all. I hope that changes one day but it seems that there is still way to much to overcome and that it is not changing at all.


  1. I think its fear plain and simple that causes such stigma against those that have a mental illness. So little is known about the brain, and what causes it to operate differently than usual, and that lack of understanding and knowledge causes fear to erupt.

    You're so very right about how he made mentally ill sound dangerous and animal like. If there wasnt such a stigma against having a mental health issue, how many more people would go to the doctor for help? I know of several people who acknowledge that they need help but wont go due to fear their boss/company would find out and fire them.

    Bill O'Reilly is a hateful mean spirited person, not worthy of your attention. Anyone with half a brain understands that for the vast majority of the mentally ill they are only dangerous to their own selves, not others.

    At this point in time the only people that society doesnt have an issue with making fun of are people who are: overweight, mentally ill, and transgender, gay and lesbian to a much lesser extent.

    Keep strong and know that this man is a blow hard, who isnt telling the truth.

    1. It is just so discouraging to hear such things from people that many many out there take what they say as truth, and I feel such a strong need to try to get the message out there, even if it is my own little anonymous way that what they are saying is not true. (even though I myself am afraid and even in ways ashamed to tell those I know personally in my life because it would mean reveling that I am one of those who are mentally ill)

  2. I totally understand your anger and your grief about what stupid O'Reilly said. i would be as well. Way way to many people believe what ever dross falls out of his mouth, and if he says that mentally ill people are dangerous, then they must be! Run! Flee! Hide the kids and the silver!
    I am very very very tired of unhappy, disgruntled old, white, men! Get a grip fellas, the world has changed, and is continuing to change, deal with it or go extinct!


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