Stigma - The Coping Mechanism of Society.

by Sarah Myles

Our society has a mental illness.

Somewhere in the world, someone commits a heinous, horrific crime. It hits the media. Predictably, often before the culprit has even seen a doctor, assumptions are made about their mental health. Medical terminology is bandied about, slang terms are used in throwaway remarks – all as people instinctively try to externalise what has happened. Reduce it to something easily identifiable as different, so it doesn’t have to be looked at. It is society’s own coping mechanism, and it is achieved through stigmatising language.

When James Holmes walked into a Colorado cinema screening of a Batman film on 20th July 2012 and killed 12 people, injuring 58, he had barely been taken into custody before he was declared by a Police Commissioner to be “clearly a deranged individual”. Traumatised eye-witnesses and emergency responders repeatedly pointed to his appearance as an indication of his crazed state – he wore a gas mask, body armour and red hair dye. He was described as looking monstrous. Obviously, this man is a dangerous Batman-obsessive. Obviously, he’s not like the rest of society. He’s different, wrong, defective in some way.

It is human nature to look for reason and explanation – particularly following a traumatic experience. It’s how people process thoughts and feelings. If somebody has a clear motivation for a crime – be it revenge, money, passion, religious or political zealotry – society can accept it with greater ease. People can point to a particular act or event and say “That’s why”, and though it may be tragic and pointless, that reasoning allows communities to sleep better in their beds.

When someone has no clear or apparent motivation, how does society make itself feel better about their terrible actions? The criminal is demonised into something ‘other’. Something outside of the ‘norm’. The media rifles through their lives looking for that one thing it can point to and say “That’s why”. And it’s almost always a mental health problem.

The difficulty here is that, the media is almost always proved right. In those cases, there will almost certainly be some kind of evidence of mental health problems in their history, because mental health problems have contributed to their actions. But so have lots of other factors, which society doesn’t want to look at.

 Don’t about 1 in 4 of us also have evidence of mental health problems in our history? The language and assumptions used in these situations are problematic for those suffering from mental illness, because it creates an association with a heinous act. Anders Breivik of Norway murdered 77 people on 20th July 2011. His psychiatric analysis was controversial and flawed, but though he was ultimately declared legally sane (having the ability to distinguish right from wrong), Professor of Psychiatry Ulrik Fredrik Malt found him to suffer from several personality disorders and possibly paranoid psychosis. Well, global media, that’s not entirely dissimilar to me. Does that mean I am capable of mass murder? Of course not - because the mental health problems experienced by Anders Breivik are only one factor contributing to his actions. The whole of his human experience led him to that terrible day, and that is entirely unique to him. Unfortunately, that fact doesn’t make a catchy headline, or memorable soundbite, so according to the media’s manipulation of stigmatising language, if Anders Breivik has to sit in the ‘different’ section of society, I guess I have to go sit there with him.

And James Holmes – he isn’t like everybody else, right? He was, allegedly, in costume – as was half the audience he attacked. He is a huge fan of Batman – as was everyone in that cinema, attending a midnight screening. He was armed with weapons that he obtained legally – because, in the United States of America, people staunchly defend their “right to bear arms”. How many people in that cinema owned firearms, albeit left them at home? He had been a student at the University of Colorado – as had many people present. He had sought help for an unspecified mental health problem in the months prior to his crime, and we know that, statistically, several of the audience members in the cinema that night would also have had experience of mental health problems.

But the media doesn’t focus on the similarities, because that would shatter the careful picture they painstakingly paint to allow society to cope. And that way lies chaos.

Comments

Very good information. Lucky me I came across your blog by accident (stumbleupon). I've book marked it for later!
I savour, cause I found just what I was looking for. You have ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye
Great article! This is the type of information that should be shared across the net. Disgrace on Google for not positioning this submit upper! Come on over and visit my website . Thank you =)
Hey! Do you know if they make any plugins to protect against hackers? I'm kinda paranoid about losing everything I've worked hard on. Any suggestions?
Incredible points. Outstanding arguments. Keep up the good effort.
Great beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your web site, how can i subscribe for a blog website? The account aided me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered bright clear idea
Hi I am so thrilled I found your weblog, I really found you by mistake, while I was browsing on Aol for something else, Anyways I am here now and would just like to say thanks for a fantastic post and a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to go through it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read much more, Please do keep up the awesome b.
Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I certainly enjoyed reading it, you're a great author.I will make certain to bookmark your blog and will often come back later on. I want to encourage one to continue your great posts, have a nice weekend!
Every weekend i used to go to see this web page, for the reason that i wish for enjoyment, as this this website conations truly pleasant funny information too.
These are in fact enormous ideas in concerning blogging. You have touched some nice points here. Any way keep up wrinting.
Greetings! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading your posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same topics? Thanks a lot!
I go to see everyday a few web pages and blogs to read articles, but this weblog presents quality based posts.
Hi there, I read your blog like every week. Your humoristic style is awesome, keep up the good work!
Admiring the hard work you put into your website and detailed information you provide. It's awesome to come across a blog every once in a while that isn't the same out of date rehashed material. Fantastic read! I've bookmarked your site and I'm including your RSS feeds to my Google account.
Wow, incredible blog format! How lengthy have you ever been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is wonderful, let alone the content!
Hi there, I discovered your blog by the use of Google while searching for a similar subject, your site got here up, it seems to be good. I've bookmarked it in my google bookmarks. Hi there, just become alert to your weblog through Google, and located that it's really informative. I'm gonna be careful for brussels. I'll appreciate for those who continue this in future. Numerous other folks shall be benefited out of your writing. Cheers!
I love it when people get together and share ideas. Great site, keep it up!
I think this is one of the most vital info for me. And i'm glad reading your article. But wanna remark on some general things, The site style is wonderful, the articles is really excellent : D. Good job, cheers
Hey very nice website!! Guy .. Excellent .. Amazing .. I'll bookmark your web site and take the feeds additionally? I am glad to seek out a lot of useful info right here in the submit, we'd like develop more techniques in this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .
Usually I do not read article on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very pressured me to check out and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, quite great post.
It's actually a nice and helpful piece of info. I'm satisfied that you simply shared this useful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.
Excellent weblog right here! Also your site loads up fast! What web host are you using? Can I get your associate link in your host? I desire my site loaded up as fast as yours lol
Hi, this weekend is good designed for me, since this moment i am reading this great informative paragraph here at my residence.
My brother recommended I might like this web site. He was totally right. This post truly made my day. You can not imagine just how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!
I'm really inspired along with your writing abilities as neatly as with the structure in your blog. Is this a paid topic or did you modify it your self? Either way keep up the nice high quality writing, it is uncommon to see a great weblog like this one nowadays..
I'm really loving the theme/design of your weblog. Do you ever run into any browser compatibility issues? A small number of my blog visitors have complained about my blog not operating correctly in Explorer but looks great in Firefox. Do you have any solutions to help fix this issue?
You really make it seem really easy with your presentation but I to find this topic to be actually one thing which I think I would by no means understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I'm taking a look ahead in your next publish, I will try to get the hang of it!
I'm really enjoying the design and layout of your blog. It's a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme? Outstanding work!
I enjoy what you guys are up too. Such clever work and coverage! Keep up the excellent works guys I've added you guys to my own blogroll.
This site was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Thanks!
Hello, every time i used to check blog posts here early in the dawn, because i enjoy to find out more and more.
Right here is the right blog for anyone who wishes to understand this topic. You know a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually will need to…HaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a subject that has been written about for ages. Excellent stuff, just wonderful!
Wow, superb blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is great, as well as the content!
It's really a great and helpful piece of info. I am satisfied that you just shared this useful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.
I'm really enjoying the design and layout of your blog. It's a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme? Excellent work!
Greetings! I've been following your site for some time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Austin Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the good job!
I do not even know how I finished up right here, but I believed this submit was great. I do not recognise who you might be however definitely you are going to a well-known blogger if you aren't already. Cheers!
These are really wonderful ideas in regarding blogging. You have touched some nice points here. Any way keep up wrinting.
Generally I do not learn article on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to check out and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, very nice article.
I was curious if you ever considered changing the structure of your site? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or two images. Maybe you could space it out better?
I'd like to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this website. I really hope to see the same high-grade blog posts from you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my very own site now ;)
Hello, I enjoy reading all of your article post. I wanted to write a little comment to support you.
Hi there to every one, it's in fact a pleasant for me to visit this website, it consists of valuable Information.
Wonderful blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News. Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I've been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thank you
Someone essentially help to make severely articles I would state. That is the very first time I frequented your website page and to this point? I surprised with the analysis you made to create this particular put up extraordinary. Excellent activity!
You're so interesting! I do not think I have read through something like that before. So wonderful to discover someone with a few genuine thoughts on this issue. Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This website is something that is needed on the web, someone with some originality!
Hello would you mind letting me know which webhost you're using? I've loaded your blog in 3 completely different browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker then most. Can you suggest a good internet hosting provider at a fair price? Thank you, I appreciate it!
It's actually a great and useful piece of info. I'm satisfied that you just shared this useful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.
hi!,I love your writing so much! share we communicate more approximately your article on AOL? I require an expert on this area to solve my problem. Maybe that's you! Having a look forward to look you.
Hmm it appears like your site ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I'll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I'm thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I'm still new to everything. Do you have any suggestions for inexperienced blog writers? I'd genuinely appreciate it.

Post new comment