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The Forum > Article Comments > Black and white thinking: mental illness and the print media > Comments

Black and white thinking: mental illness and the print media : Comments

By Jenny Jones, published 7/4/2008

The media needs to stop portraying people experiencing mental illness as violent criminals and stop presenting them as the enemy of civil society, public order and themselves.

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Much of the Farr article is valid. There is a great deal of difference between depression and sadness or having a bad day. Depression often has nothing to do with outside influences; people with apparently everything to live for suffer from depression. Only depressives can ever know what depression is like.

A person genuinely suffering from depression does not use the illness as an excuse for crimes or any other behaviour; he/she is too depressed to be into anything criminal, usually lacking the energy to do very much at all. People using Ďdepressioní as an excuse are very unlikely to be depressed.

Anti-depressant medication DOES WORK.

Some people are depressed all of their lives Ė born that way, die that way. They can manage to live reasonably normal lives with properly prescribed medication. It is probable that studies claiming anti-depressants have no more use than placebos were studies that used people who were not clinically depressed in the first place.

Iím not sure where this author gets the idea that the media is any sort of villain on this issue. Who says Britney Spears and other public figures continually making fools of themselves suffer from depression?

Depression is a real and awful condition. People suffering from it donít need to listen to the media, ďa Melbourne based writer and editorĒ (though she is to be commended for raising this issue), or any other amateurs. The first stop is your GP who will, hopefully, be one good enough to keep you out of the clutches of the head shrinking industry with the judicious prescribing of a modern anti-depressant which can make life worth living.
Posted by Mr. Right, Monday, 7 April 2008 10:46:42 AM
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only someone who is rigid in their thinking, that is, black and white, would call themselves Mr Right, and then get it so, so wrong. this article is about the Mr Rights of the world.

From your post it is evident you know nothing about depression, nor social stigmatisation arising from what are often 'invisible' illnesses or 'disorders', otherwise you would not make such a comment. your comment serves no purpose other than to demonstrate your own ignorance. jenny raises a number of very valid points.

not everyone who has a depression diagnosis is lethargic and unable to get out of bed. lethargy does not define depression alone.

the world is full of voyeurs living precariously through the lives of others - exposing nothing but the fears and prejudices of a society gone mad (and by this i am not referring to the insane, but those who are regarded as sane in this world).

nice article jenny - glad someone is thinking and writing about an issue that has been with us in various forms throughout the ages...
Posted by shelley, Monday, 7 April 2008 12:41:48 PM
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nearly "all" people experiencing mental illness discover an unnerving "shame" in the face of the persecution that media "stigma" stirs.

I do not subscribe to "nearly all," and I do not subscribe to "shames," or "stigmas."

Both are false allegations.

I also do not subscribe to the "media stirs." The "stirring" takes place far earlier. It is based primarily in our universities, which either actively or passively teach prejudices, presently the one the author names, and pass them on to other aspects of society, government agencies, advocacies, education, writers, even well-intentioned writers, and through the media to the public.

And when education reverses itself, other aspects of society follow.

I am 70, in my youth we would have been trained (yes, by someone very similar to your author) to the "stigma" of rape, and from every aspect of society as well. Jenny Lloyd dare not attempt that in an article today, we reversed ourselves. Instead she directs that precise, identical prejudice as she has been trained, and feels fully comfortable in so doing, at me.

And you feel comfortable in passing her training on to present day readers. I am not comfortable in your lesson, but then, her claim is about me.

How false a claim it so it? Well, the majority of people dealing with a mental illness are rarely so identified, we are are too busy accomplishing to be defined by a health condition. We experience no prejudices as a result, we are measured by accomplishment, not private health record. Her words are directed at another, smaller, but far more publicized group, people whom society has stereotyped by illness, as earlier by gender, or by skin tone.

The words she directs were once directed at her. There is great comfort, if not fully appreciated, in directing a prejudice, rather than being targeted by it. I am certain she is comfortable in her task. The hairs on my neck bristle at her comfort.

Harold A. Maio
Advisory Board
American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation
Posted by HaroldAMaio, Monday, 7 April 2008 12:57:58 PM
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Shelley,

And you have the gall to criticise me!

Itís quite clear that it would be a waste of time to attempt any discussion with you; certainly not worth revealing any of my personal details just to prove something to someone who would not listen.

I just hope that anyone who has a problem with depression, and is prepared to get help, will consider what I have said and benefit from it without feeling the need to make assumptions about me just because of my pseudonym or, indeed, without bothering themselves with unnecessary and wild comments about someone they donít know
Posted by Mr. Right, Monday, 7 April 2008 3:37:37 PM
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i perhaps should have stated that my response was not entirely directed to you personally. and i could probably write in a less hurried and therefore more fluent style so as not to come across as so blunt.

i found it quite interesting that you labelled yourself mr right when commenting on an article on black and white thinking.

i guess i don't like to hear people labelling others with depression as 'not depressed enough' or 'not clinically' depressed. or that depressed people wouldn't engage in certain behaviour because they are too depressed. sorry mr right, i just don't agree.

i personally think that most medicos are not really that well equipped to deal with depression anyway (other than with their script pads)...

re voyeurism: i work in drugs and am very aware that people like to hear sensational stories about drug users and their perceived associated 'problems' and behaviour ('exciting' and 'fascinating' are 2 words people often use when making small talk about my job with me)... what some people choose to view as 'interesting', other people actually live as a life...

i wouldn't have called my comments 'wild' - however, and i apologise for causing offence...
Posted by shelley, Monday, 7 April 2008 3:55:17 PM
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Working in the mental health sector I have had the honour of getting to know many inspirational people who happen to also have a mental illness. All of whom feel very strongly about the need to reduce stigma in the media and community in general. Research has shown that many people with personal experience of mental illness believe the stigma they are subjected to is worse than the symptoms themselves. Everyone is different so of course there will be people who would rather stigma wasn't addressed in this way, but nobody can speak for all. So I congratulate Jenny on making an important point - there are far more who continue to rant on the other side.
Posted by SV, Monday, 7 April 2008 4:23:13 PM
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