For those who do not know this is 24 year old James Holmes. He is in police custody after he entered a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado in body army and plenty of guns. Possibly dressed as The Joker, Holmes went into a theatre playing The Dark Knight Rises and let lose a storm of bullets. So far 12 people have been killed and around 58 injured, some critically. He is still seen as a suspect and will be in court very soon.
Although personally the articles I have read have barely mentioned the mental health status of Holmes I did see manic depression and the ever prevalent psychopath beside his name at least once. They are possibly mentioning this more on the news which I always miss due to my work schedule.
I read this picture literally and then I also see what is underneath it which I think a lot of people are missing because they are super offended.
Yes, it is true that people of colour are criminalized and white people are psychiatrized. I 100% agree with the statement this photo is making and I’m very upset by it! Racial profiling is dangerous and degrading! Holmes should be treated no differently because he is white than if a black man or an Arab man had done this and those men should stand a chance at being labelled mentally ill also, not terrorist or thug.
Now, the second part that is making me upset, and the part I think majority are over looking (probably because they do not care and believe the stereotypes) is the age old, and I’m sure our favourite, people with mental health issues are violent and dangerous.
This is also a dangerous and degrading profile that many of us face on a daily basis from society. The same way a black man can be accused of murder just because he was nearby, the same an Arab mane can be detained without cause because he’s wearing a turban, our disorders can be placed on those who have done the unthinkable and taken a human or multiple human lives.
I’m very irritated that in the process of trying to show discrimination we are discriminated against.
I hope the victims, their families and friends are being supported at this time. I’m sorry this happened to your community.
Every time I turn on the television (especially) I’m reminded of what society thinks mental illness is all about…and I’m often not pleased with what I see, hear or read.
Many of the crime shows (CSI, Law and Order etc) depict criminals with mental illness, usually schizophrenia. These characters are murderers, rapists, thieves and all around horrible, scary people who should be locked away until they die. The male characters you’re made to hate and the female characters you’re made to feel desperately sorry for. The same goes for books, newspapers, movies etc.
There is little to no acknowledgement in the media about the crimes against individuals with mental health issues. Their perceived or actual vulnerability puts, especially women, at risk for violence.Those who are perceived as dangerous will also experience violence in and outside institutions.
When I was in university my professors would frequently say that we should write an essay as if the reader had no background in the topic we were writing about. This meant that it was my job as a writer to give accurate information for the reader to understand what I was writing about.
As creators of media it should be their responsibility to acknowledge their involvement in creating societies perceptions on everything from what we should be eating to who we should hate. It is irresponsible to think that media doesn’t play a role in shaping our beliefs or for the media to think it is not affecting us. Creators of media should never assume that its consumers can and will separate fact from fiction.
As consumers we have a responsibility to educate ourselves on issues we see in the media. We cannot take everything as truth. We need to be aware that we are always seeing one perspective on a topic and that there are many more out there for us to find. We need to be critical about what we watch, read and listen to.
Visit http://mentalhealthstigma.com/ for more information on mental health stigma and the media.
Here are some examples of negative depictions of mental health in our media:
Britney Spears created a huge buzz around mental illness and Bipolar Disorder in particular. At surface value I’m bothered by using language such as “disturbing behaviour”, the worry into the welfare of her children and the statement of how “she won’t get help”. This creates the belief that a disturbing behaviour is linked to a mental illness (not the result of celebrity stress), that we need to worry about children whose parent is mentally ill (can they parent correctly?) and the belief that those with mental health issues do not seek help.
Please see ” Making Bipolar Britney” for an amazing analysis on Britney Spears and Madness by Jijian Voronka (http://radicalpsychology.org/vol7-2/Voronka.html)
Sidenote: I saw her speak on this topic and it was amazing!
I hope I don’t even have to explain this one but we’ve all heard the stories of the person with mental health issues that commits murder or a murder suicide. This newspaper, from 1999, doesn’t even try to hide its outright discriminating message in the usual flowering writing! If you have ever been labeled with a mental illness you have most likely been called crazy and/or violent. This headline says that people with mental illness are….you guessed it! violent, crazy and be away.
This one infuriates me….Yes, you are looking at a headline from 2002 about a fire at a psychiatric hospital. This “witty” piece is just all types of wrong. This not only uses the stigmatizing word of a group of people being “nuts” but it tries to make it funny……
A good “assaultive and belligerent” person is one who takes their medication! This is an ad from the Archives of General Psychiatry, 1974, which still has truth to it today. There is a stereotype as to what is a good and bad mentally ill person. A good one takes their medication and a bad one does not (I would be a bad for abandoning meds altogether). Who you are as a person should not be decided on whether or not you chose to do a certain type of treatment. This ad also says that medication is the “first choice for starting therapy”. There should be many more options than medication for treating mental illness (but there isn’t). And finally this ad discusses race. There is a difference between white mental illness and black mental illness (all races for that matter) that is rarely discussed. This ad shows the negative association with schizophrenia and anger and blackness. For a critical race look into this ad check out http://michigantoday.umich.edu/2010/06/story.php?id=7776
This section will be ongoing as more recent examples are added and discussed!
Please feel free to share with me what you think of the examples of posted and share your own examples!