Psycho: mentally-ill (Roget's New Millennium Thesaurus - 2007)
Media: 1. the means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers and magazines, that reach or influence people widely: The media are covering the speech tonight. (Dictionary.com Unabridged)
PsychoMedia:the combined effect of exploitation movies and biased news reports which stereotype mental health recipients leading to the implied conclusion that all people labeled mentally-ill are violent and deranged
How media-driven stereotypes are perpetuated:
widespread belief: the stereotype is argued to be true because it is widely held to be true
prejudicial language: negative value or moral judgement is attached to the stereotype
intentional exclusion: evidence that would or could disprove the stereotype is hidden or concealed
misleading generalization: the evidence is unrepresentative of the population cited as a whole
emotional appeal: the audience is persuaded to agree through emotion, not through logic or facts
PsychoMedia is a phenomenon peculiar to members of the media who are driven by the need to exploit and sensationalize. Employing psycho movie stereotypes the media cleverly equates depraved and demented movie characters as accurate depictions of "the mentally-ill," so whenever an article about mental health is reported in the news the media will generate an angle linking the story to violence. This justifies denying all people labeled "mentally-ill" their most basic constitutional rights. In 1956 a proposal was introduced in Congress to purchase one million acres of land in the Alaskan wilderness to warehouse "the mentally-ill" until the American public got wind of the American style Gulag and quickly shot it down. Repackaged versions of this proposal are currently swirling around Congress. Is history about to repeat itself?
MentalHealthStigma.com is committed to stopping PsychoMedia and is seeking any articles, pictures and/or headlines which expose PsychoMedia. Please identify when and where the article was released and help us stop PsychoMedia before PsychoMedia stops us! Thank you. firstname.lastname@example.org
Things we can do to stop PsychoMedia:
Document stigma in the media whenever possible
Send letters, make phone calls, or e-mail the offending parties
Ask your local, regional, and national leaders to take a stand
Support efforts to actively expose stigma in the media
Educate yourself - the elimination of stigma begins with you
"Stigma refers to a cluster of negative attitudes and beliefs that motivate the general public to fear, reject, avoid, and discriminate against people with mental illnesses. Stigma is widespread in the United States and other Western nations. Stigma leads others to avoid living, socializing, or working with, renting to, or employing people with mental disorders..." (Executive Summary: the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, Final Report, July 2003)
The pressbook for the 1957 movie, the Night Runner, offers the following suggestions: "This is the sort of picture that can gain real momentum from endorsement by governmental and community leaders. Dealing with a genuine and terrifying problem of first importance, it should evoke real praise from such leaders. For that reason you should arrange one or more special screenings to which you should invite law enforcement authorities, hospital officials, psychiatrists, newspaper editors, television and radio commentators, and officers of civic organizations which have a special concern with problems of mental health, delinquency, and criminality. Out of this list of guests try to get one or more of them to make a statement for publication that applauds the merit of this picture in dramatizing a really important problem of the day. Contact all law enforcement agencies, Federal, State, County and Municipal, and ask them to furnish you with all the 'wanted' posters they have in which the criminal being sought has a history of mental illness. Such psychopathic tendencies are generally mentioned on such posters. Tell the law enforcement authorities that you are willing to display these posters in your lobby. After you get them, mount them on as big a square of campo board as is necessary to carry them, print some heading over them, such as WHY ARE THEY AT LARGE?... Try to get the editor of some local paper to assign a reporter to do a special feature story, showing the percentage of former patients of mental institutions who have been guilty of various crimes following their discharge from these institutions. This story should cover some specific period of time, such as the preceeding year or the preceeding five years, and the chances are it will have to include some of the most lurid crimes in your community."With these suggestions in mind, consider the following excerpts from a recent New York Times editorial by one of the leading advocates of forced treatment, Sally Satel. Note the obvious correlation between these suggestions and this widely published editorial, mockingly titled, Prime-Time Psychosis. Note the praise of the television show Wonderland (a euphemism from the tales of Alice in Wonderland). Note the alleged "percentage of former patients of mental institutions who have been guilty of various crimes" and note the lurid narrative: "Television is finally portraying mental illness realistically... The National Alliance for the Mentally-ill says it makes patients look like 'killers, crazies and freaks.' But a show like Wonderland, with enormous potential to educate audiences about tragic clinical realities, could be one of the best things to happen to the severely mentally-ill.Most of Wonderland takes place in the bustling emergency room of an inner-city hospital. In the first episode we see a schizophrenic man who opened fire in downtown Manhattan. Doctors tend to a suicidal man who gashed both his arms and to a psychotic son who bit off his mother's finger... Numerous studies confirm that people with unmedicated psychotic illnesses are three to six times more likely than the general population to be convicted of violent crime (none of these studies are quoted because they were all funded by private interest groups). In fact, some medical schools reportedly will use the first eight episodes of the show to help teach students about severe mental illness, like schizophrenia and bipolar illness." (New York Times, 4/3/00); Seattle-Post Intelligencer, (4/4/00) What Ms. Satel conveniently forgets to mention in this editorial is that she is one of the leading advocates of forced treatment in the U.S.
Swastika: Cinema of Oppression by Baxter Phillips (1976): When the jackboot stamped across Europe, the cinema was one of its most important means of spreading propaganda. Mussolini called it his "best weapon." This book examines the horrors of the totalitarian cinema. It covers movies made under Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Stalin, and the Emperor of Japan to the brief period of McCarthyism in Hollywood. An absorbing book with riveting and rare illustrations of how oppressive governments used the cinema to spread their propaganda.
MentalHealthStigma.com illustrates this interplay between Hollywood and the media. It is an honest thought-provoking study about the subtleties of prejudice and discrimination and the awesome power of the media to regulate the public's perception of "mental illness". One scholarly work I recently reviewed was specifically written with the aim of encouraging psychology students to watch movies so that they can "understand psychopathology" and learn how people with mental illness behave. I couldn't help but wonder how African-Americans would react if such a book were written encouraging sociology students to watch movies so that they can learn how black people behave? Why does such an educated society still believe that these caricatures of mental patients are accurate portrayals of mental illness? Surely they must know that these are stereotypical depictions that are the exception and not the norm. Should we watch martial arts movies so we can learn how Asians behave? Should we watch gangster movies so we can learn how Italians behave? Should we watch terrorist movies so we can learn how Muslims behave? Why then should we watch psycho movies to learn how people labeled mentally-ill behave? Ironically, the two authors of this book, who are both doctors of psychiatry, conveniently overlook the fact that in a great majority of these psycho movies the psycho is actually the psychiatrist himself. Such as in the well-known Hannibal Lector series. Is this a Freudian slip? Surely they're not suggesting that we can learn how psychiatrists behave by watching these movies? Jen Stevenson, a New Times staff writer, points out in his article The Mind of a Killer that: "Crowds flock to see movies like Natural Born Killers, Seven, Copycat, The Bone Collector, or one of this week's most popular films, American Psycho. They thirstily devour newspaper articles and broadcast news spots highlighting every gory detail associated with the horrendous acts of violence perpetrated by these twisted individuals."Please note that this website is neither an endorsement, nor a denouncement, of psychiatry. This is an anti-stigma/anti-abuse website. This website is not intended to glamorize or romanticize "mental illness". It is however intended to counter the current trend by the media and so-called "advocates for the mentally-ill", like the Treatment Advocacy Center, to demonize "mental illness." And the culprit here is not the entertainment industry which routinely exploits "the mentally-ill" for the sake of profit. That's what they're in the business of doing... manufacturing fiction. The real culprit here is the media which makes every attempt to validate these fictional stereotypes when reporting the news. It would, of course, be ludicrous for me to suggest or imply that "the mentally-ill" don't engage in acts of violence. Certainly people labeled mentally-ill are just as human as everyone else and are subject to the same whims and quirks that "non-mental patients" are. But, it is equally ludicrous to over-emphasize rare bizarre incidents, suggesting and implying that "mental illness" is synonomous with violence. This website was designed to be informative and interactive. It is an attempt to provide an ongoing forum through the PsychoMedia Message Board for meaningful dialogue about the deadly consequences of this type of media propaganda. If the public were aware of how easy it is to receive a psychiatric diagnosis, they would not be so quick to believe these profit-driven stereotypes. In fact, based upon current trends and statistics, one-quarter of the American population will have received a psychiatric diagnosis by the end of this decade - and quite possibly one-third to one-half by the end of the next. The time has come for rational minded people who can still think for themselves to make informed decisions based upon the facts, not the fiction!
"If you believe the statistics, 77% of America's adult population is a mess. And we haven't even thrown in alien abductees, road ragers or internet addicts. But give the experts a little time. With another new quantifiable disorder or two, everybody in the country will be officially nuts." (Jim Windolf, Exec. Ed. of the New York Observer, "A Nation of Nuts," reprinted in the Wall Street Journal, Oct. 22nd, 1997)
DOES THE MEDIA REPORT THE NEWS OR CREATE THE NEWS?
On November 16th, 1999, in mid-Manhattan, an innocent young woman was savagely struck on the head with a brick by an unknown assailant. Although no one knew who the assailant was, and no suspects had yet been arrested, assumptions were made, based upon pre-conceived notions, and all of the local papers alleged that the perpetrator had to be a "mentally-ill", homeless person. In fact, the New York Daily News front-page headline read: "Get the Violent Crazies off Our Streets", including a two-page editorial entitled "Hospitalize the Deranged" which issued this ominous warning that echoed with a foreboding sense of impending doom:
"In our newfound complacency, we have forgotten a particular kind of violence to which we are still prey. The violence of the mentally-ill. The dangerous ones pursued by personal demons and likely to strike out in viciousness or fear. Anytime. Anywhere. It's time to end the madness. It's time to get the dangerously deranged off the streets for their sake and ours... There are crazies among us. Some of them are dangerous. A few of them are murderous. Get them off the street. Now!" (11/19/99)
Not only did this hysteria-inducing front-page headline bluntly imply that "the mentally-ill" are violent and crazy, but more disturbingly, it boldly implied that New York City's streets are reserved for a select few ("OUR streets", versus, "the streets"). As a result New York City's mayor subsequently ordered a full-scale round-up of the city's homeless and arrested all those who refused to enter the city's shelters. Even homeless people who had never had a history of "mental illness" became victims of this media-driven frenzy. When the assailant was eventually captured (and convicted), and it was discovered that he had never been diagnosed with or treated for a mental illness, and wasn't even homeless, none of the papers retracted their allegations nor offered an apology. In fact, the exact opposite took place. More media headlines began to appear demanding forced hospitalizations and forced treatment of "the mentally-ill". Eight months later a similar attack took place in Manhattan involving another young woman named Tiffany Goldberg which prompted a similar response from the media. And once again "the mentally-ill" were criminalized. Only this time when the alleged perpetrator, Bently Grant (who WAS homeless and DID have a diagnosis of "mental illness") was arrested, the front page headline screamed "We Got Him!" (New York Post, 7/21/00). Not only was there a so-called confession, but there were even so-called eyewitnesses who placed Bently at the scene of the crime even though he insisted that he was inside a record store at the time of the assault. And in typical fashion a New York Post editorial (reminiscent of the Daily News editorial "Hospitalize the Deranged"), had these inciteful words to share about people labeled mentally-ill:"Of all the billions that liberalistas have lovingly lavished on healthy men and women in the form of welfare checks, the same smug folks have been particularly stingy when it comes to the mentally-ill. You may call them wackos, crazies, nut cases, weirdos, but what we are really talking about are people who are in seriously emotional mayhem. For more than thirty years, the liberal agenda was to give bums a free ride rather than to pay for the care of people who are in a pathetic state of near or absolute insanity. So now these poor craven souls pick up pieces of concrete and bash in the skulls of innocents. Don't walk around the street minding your own business, because some sad nut might think that you're Satan and a brick will be part of your cranium."But sure enough charges against Bently Grant had to be dropped when the security camera of Virgin Records store placed him inside the store at the exact same time that the assault took place. Is truth in reporting no longer a marketable standard? And is sensationalism at any cost the new standard on which conventional media prides itself?
"Today, a single bizarre incident triggers an avalanche of news bulletins, special reports, live coverage and round-the-clock talk shows. "Experts" are paraded before anxious viewers to proclaim that the incident is not merely an isolated act, but the beginning of a terrifying new wave of crime." (Alternative Press, Volume 6, #2)
The most malignant stigmata inflicted by the media is the stereotype that "the mentally-ill" are more violent than the rest of society. This is not to say that people labeled mentally-ill don't engage in acts violence, certainly people labeled mentally-ill are just as human as everyone else and are subject to the same whims and quirks. This is to say that "the mentally-ill" are no more violent than anyone else, in spite of the consistently reported high-profile cases, like the Kendra Webdale and Laura Wilcox cases. The Nazi Minister of Propaganda, Josef Goebbels, made a brilliant observation during his career of stigmatizing "racial inferiors": "Make a statement often enough and it becomes a part of the common wisdom." So widely accepted is this media-driven innocuous propaganda that when I sent the following request for consideration to various media outlets shortly after 9/11, it wasn't even considered worthy of a response: "On Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, immediately following the attack on the World Trade Center Towers, while most of the offices around them were shutting down and "heading for the hills," the Director of Community Access's Employment and Training Center (a community service agency for "the mentally-ill" which is located four blocks away from ground zero) refused to evacuate and close it's doors, and instead, the center became a sanctuary of refuge for hundreds of stunned survivors who were frightened, confused and disoriented. Within minutes those very people whom the media typically portrays as violent and deranged were on the front lines offering support and comfort in this time of dire need. Even the NYPD and fire department personnel were directing debris-laden victims to the center. The cruel irony behind this story is that, with all of the heroes who were being recognized and honored on a daily basis following this attack, not one member of the media felt that this was a story worthy of recognition." email@example.com
Please do not confuse MentalHealthStigma.com with the proliferation of advocacy organizations who claim to be "advocates for the mentally-ill," but only allow their constituents to speak through them; don't believe that recovery is possible; believe that people who do recover were never really ill in the first place; infantilize their constituents and support and promote laws that deny people labeled "mentally-ill" their most basic constitutional rights (such as Kendra's Law and Laura's Law):
"an independent advocate does not have any conflicting interests, obligations or allegiances that can compromise his or her ability to effectively advocate for a stated cause, individual, or group."
I have been successful in maintaining the vision of Mental Health Stigma.com as a vehicle for independent advocacy by absorbing all expenses out-of-pocket, including all the research materials, books, posters and movies. Of course I've had to sacrifice my own needs and wants as I receive no funding of any kind from any governmental or philanthropic agency, and so I live just above the poverty level. Unfortunately, the belief that people labeled "mentally-ill" are entitled to the same basic human rights that all other human beings are entitled to is a very unpopular cause. Hopefully my sacrifice will not be in vain... The resource materials posted on MentalHealthStigma.com are archived items. They are a veritable history of the stereotyping, emasculating and the legal genocide of society's most vulnerable people. I've been very humbled to learn how naive it is to stand up for the American ideals of freedom, justice, and equality for all. This is indeed the "madman's dilemma." The ideals we profess to live by are not what we actually practice. It is difficult, at best, to remain optimistic under such circumstances. Our history books tell of a similar era less than two generations ago, when "the mentally-ill" were the first group of people to lose their rights in Nazi Germany, and within a decade everyone else had lost their rights. I can only hope and pray that Americans will eventually awaken from their slumber as the rights they naively take for granted are gradually being seized and forfeited. A contemporary Christian author of the time shamefully acknowledged his indifference to the plight of his fellow countrymen by writing: "In Germany first they came for the Communists, but I never said anything because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews and I never said anything because I wasn't Jewish. Then they came for the trade unionists and I never said anything because I wasn't a unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I never said anything because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, but by that time there was no one left to say anything!" firstname.lastname@example.org
"the unacknowledged consequences of these stereotypes is that Americans labeled 'mentally-ill' are routinely denied housing, employment, and ultimately their most basic constitutional rights."
WHO ARE THEY REALLY SPEAKING FOR?
Please note: This is a website about the media's practice of stereotyping "mental patients." If you are easily offended by the media's portrayal of "mental patients", then this is not the site you're looking for. If, however, you are looking for a first-person account that is not censored by organizations who claim to speak "forthe mentally-ill", be prepared to see and hear the undiluted facts. Because of the sleight of hand that cleverly takes place under the guise of advocacy, much of this information is either suppressed or distorted and is never seen by the general public. Consider the irony that the budget of cinemaniastigma.com is less than 1/1000th of 1% of the nation's "voice of the mentally-ill"and ask yourself why this well-funded organization is whitewashing the media's role in perpetuating these stereotypes? Considering that their constituents are routinely denied housing, employment, and their most basic constitutional rights as a result of these stereotypes, one is left to wonder: "Who are they really speaking for?" Is it any wonder that they are major supporters of the Treatment Advocacy Center, whose primary objective is to usurp the rights of the very people they profess to represent? In fact, a so-called anti-stigma webpage on their website even encourages their constituents to "have a sense of humor" and to embrace these stereotypes - in flagrant violation of their own opening statement which says that they are dedicated to: "fighting pervasive, hurtful prejudice and discrimination that exists toward people with mental illnesses..." email@example.com
Hollywood's psycho-drama "Gothika" poignantly sums up what PsychoMedia is all about. View the trailer for "Gothika" and hear the psychiatrist (Halle Berry) confirm the words of one of her patients: "You can't trust somebody when they think you're crazy!" trailer:
Dr. E. Fuller Torrey - the Nation's Leading Advocate of Forced Treatment - confirms the veracity of PsychoMedia
In a New York Post opinion column (October 28th, 2003), Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, the nation's leading advocate of forced treatment writes that: "the typical citizen is well aware that untreated mentally-ill individuals can be dangerous, whether professionals want to speak about it or not. All he need do is open his morning paper." Of course as the nation's leading advocate of forced treatment he is not opposed to such reports which routinely rehash the same high-profile cases in their effort to sustain the belief that all people labeled mentally-ill are violent and deranged - being the source of many of these reports himself. But in the classic tradition of "a Freudian slip" he admits, albeit using inverted reasoning, that all the "typical citizen" need do to be reminded of the dangerousness of the mentally-ill is to "open his morning paper." Not surprisingly, just about every single article I've ever read which attempts to equate violence with "mental illness," quotes Dr. Torrey and/or his colleagues from the Treatment Advocacy Center. He supplies the fodder for these reports, then conveniently uses them to support his claim that "the mentally-ill" are responsible for the violence in our society. And once again the good doctor is given the opportunity to present his oft-repeated statistics that "the mentally-ill" are responsible for 1,000 murders a year, or 5% of the nation's total yearly homicides. And although none of his statistics are supported by any figures from the Department of Justice, they are routinely reported by the media as fact. Unfortunately for "the mentally-ill," it is not against the law to fabricate such statistics - even if those statistics provide the justification for denying a whole group of people their constitutional rights. Even the Washington Post acknowledges that "many health groups accuse Torrey of using "misleading statistics." The irony here is that even if we accept - for the sake of argument - that 5% of the nation's yearly homicides are committed by "the mentally-ill," then who's committing the other 95%? Who's committing the other 19,000 homicides a year? The non-mentally-ill? Could Dr. Torrey's "misleading statistics" be motivated by the fact that he is the president of the TAC? A private interest group which is slowly chipping away at the Constitution. Why else would a not-for-profit organization be offering law students $1,500 to look for loopholes and to devise legal arguments which will further undermine the Constitutional rights of anyone labeled "mentally-ill"? This is the most subtle and malevolent threat to our national security because it is being fomented not by foreign terrorists, but by corporate interests operating under the guise of treatment and public safety. Who will they target next? Unemployed U.S. postal workers? High school students? The physically disabled? The elderly? Or is everyone fair game? firstname.lastname@example.org
PsychoMedia was coined to expose how the media fosters prejudice and discrimination against anyone who has fallen into the mental health system. It is an in-depth look at the way people who receive, or have received, psychological counseling and/or mental health services are labeled mentally-ill and are identified as being potentially dangerous psychotics. Because of widely accepted media stereotypes about mental patients and the long-standing practice of diagnosing violent criminals as suffering from any number of mental illnesses, the unavoidable conclusion is that mental illness is synonymous with violence. This, of course, is a convenient rationale for those who have a vested interest in mass producing "the mentally-ill". They will deny that such inflammatory and volatile labels routinely foster misconceptions, even though these labels are like sparks for the media that set off the ratings. Sensationalism sells. And a lurid tale of insanity run rampant is highly profitable for the media. These slanted reports, which would more aptly qualify as pulp fiction rather than journalism, justify denying mental patients their constitutional rights. Don't, however, confuse my indignant use of the term mental patient with the common media stereotypes. I'm not talking about fictional movie characters like Norman Bates or Michael Myers, or high-profile media cases like John Wayne Gacy or Aileen Carol Wuornos. I'm talking about your next door neighbor. Your girlfriend or your boyfriend. Your college professor or high school teacher. Maybe even yourself. If you're still not sure who I'm talking about, the next time you're on a train or reading a periodical look for the sympathetic, charismatic ads. Ads for depression. Anxiety. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (such as might have been caused by the Sept. 11th terrorist attack) Ads like:
Talk to your doctor about your fears and worries.Call 1-###-ANXIETY / 1-###-826-9438.
It is a free call.You will get free information about PTSD mailed to you.
Note the misleading use of the generic term doctor. Why the need to conceal the fact that the type of doctor being referred to here is a psychiatrist? Because people who see a doctor need not fear forfeiting their rights. People who see a psychiatrist do! In fact, mental patients are the only group of people in the entire United States against whom it is legally permissible to espouse containment, isolation, and even revocation of their most basic constitutional rights. You need not have ever committed a crime in order to forfeit all of your constitutional rights. All that is necessary is the threat of violence and a doctor'sexpert opinion that you are a danger to yourself or others. (It is not at all uncommon for anyone who has been labeled "mentally-ill" to be considered a threat of violence.) Contrary to popular belief, having a prior history of violence is not the determining factor in these decisions. Against any other group of people this would be considered a clear-cut violation of constitutional law. "People with psychiatric disabilities are the only Americans who can have their freedom taken away and be institutionalized or incarcerated without being convicted of a crime and with minimal or no respect for their due process rights." (Excerpt from a National Council on Disability Report, January 20th, 2000)
You might see such an ad right alongside an ad for cigarettes or alcohol. They're very unassuming. But please don't be fooled by their casual use of the generic terms mental health or mental hygiene (one cleverly disguised ad even uses the term medical illness to describe depression). What they're really talking about is mental illness. But by the time you find this out, you've already become, by default, a potentially dangerous psychotic. A college level education is not required to realize that people become overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety, depression, stress, fear, or any other number of universal feelings and emotions. But to categorize these all-too-human emotions as the symptoms of an incurable mental illness is not only deceptive, misleading and highly questionable at best, it is the practical equivalent of handing out a death certifcate. History itself silently bears mute witness to this fact. Concurrently, the psycho-genre movie industry is feeding the public it's daily dose of psychos, crazies and maniacs. And because stereotypes like these are generally associated with anyone who has been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, "the mentally-ill" have become Hollywood's favorite boogeyman and the media's favorite scapegoat. Mainstream media capitolizes on this endless supply of depraved and demented movie characters, as it blurs the line between fantasy and reality, to perpetuate the myth that "mental illness" is synonymous with violence.
Warning: Advocacy can be hazardous to your health!
stigma: 1. a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one's reputation. 2. a characteristic mark or sign of defect, degeneration, etc. (1989 Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language). Stigma is an attitude or belief that fuels discrimination and stereotypes a broad, diverse group of people, robbing them of the opportunity to live, work and thrive in the community because of unwarranted fears. An interesting point to be made here is that the word stigma is derived from the word stigmata, and according to Christian theology the stigmata which the Christian Messiah bore were a direct result of "the sins of the world"... therefore the sins, or the stigma, were not his sins or his stigma, but the sins and the stigma of those who needed a scapegoat. This psychological mechanism of blaming others for one's own sins, which psychiatrists call "projection," is described anecdotally in the Jewish Talmud in Megillah 25, which relates the story of an anti-vice crusader who accused the inhabitants of Jerusalem of committing the very same crimes of which he himself was guilty (Psychiatry and the Talmud, Vol. I, No. 1). Oftentimes the most vile forms of stigma are perpetuated by the very people who claim to be "advocates for the mentally-ill." These are the most dangerous forms of stigma because they are promoted under the guise of advocacy. Here is a classic example put forth by the Executive Director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, Mary Zdanowicz, who continues to promote the medieval belief that "the mentally-ill" are "plagued by demons":
"individuals with the severest forms of mental illness - schizophrenia and manic depression - will now have the opportunity to regain productive lives in their communities, free of the demons that plagued them as the result of an untreated brain disease... Kendra's Law will help prevent decades old scenes of these individuals huddling over steam grates in the cold, animatedly carrying on conversations with invisible companions, wearing filthy, tattered clothing, urinating and defecating on sidewalks or threatening passersby."
Upon reading this statement I marvelled that anyone would believe that "the mentally-ill" regularly defecate on city sidewalks (I have never seen such a sight), and I wondered if the people she was actually referring to are people who are so desititute and poor that they obviously talk to themselves because no one else will. And that Ms. Zdanowicz still promotes the medieval belief that "the mentally-ill" are "plagued by demons" is nothing short of alarming in this day and age. This is just a small part of the statement that was released by the Treatment Advocacy Center in Arlington, Virginia, following the passage of Kendra's Law in New York State, which, in my humble opinion, is an affront to Kendra Webdale's memory because it boldy implies that all those who will be bound by this law are capable of committing the same heinous crime that Andrew Goldstein committed (pushing Kendra Webdale into the path of an oncoming train). According to my 1989 Webster's Dictionary Kendra's Law is a classic example of scapegoating:
scapegoat: 1. one who is made to bear the blame for others.
The deception inherent in this law is revealed by the fact that this law would not have even applied to Kendra Webdale's attacker, because he was denied treatment at every psych facility he went to, even though he pleaded for help. In fact, when a newspaper reporter asked him why he did it, his response was: "Do you think I can get some help now." I can't help but wonder if what really pushed him over the edge wasn't a "mental illness," but the frustration over his apparent inability to get treatment everywhere he went, even though he pleaded for it. I've seen people lose it for lesser reasons. What an irony that the advocates of forced treatment have shamelessly exploited Kendra's death to further their own agenda, even though reports about Kendra indicated that she, herself, would have been against such a law. That would be equivalent to calling the death penalty, Martin's Law, because of Dr. King's murder, even though Dr. King himself was against the death penalty. Why do rare occurrences like the Kendra Webdale incident consistently make front-page headlines (for days on end), yet the regular occurrence of "the mentally-ill" killed by law enforcement officers nationwide are consistently relegated to pages five or six (whenever they are reported)? In fact, "the mentally-ill" are so often killed by police officers that as far back as 1996, some states have had to include a new category under their listings as the cause of death: "Suicide by Police." Of course, this is nothing less than the sanitized equivalent of "mercy killings." This is the picture that the media routinely portrays about people labeled mentally-ill. And this is the catalyst for CineMania. As the New York Post so casually stated in its July 21st editorial: "Dont walk around the street minding your own business because some sad nut might think that you're Satan and a brick will be part of your cranium." And as if to add insult to injury, the TAC boldly carries on this long history of stigma under the guise of "Treatment and Advocacy." How ironic that the word stigma is derived from the word stigmata... because that is truly an appropriate analogy for what it feels like to be stigmatized. It's like being nailed to the cross and being made to pay for crimes that you did not commit.
"A wide array of groups, including businesses, advocacy organizations, religious sects, and political parties, promote and profit from scares... A group that raises money for research into a particular disease is not likely to negate concerns about that disease. A company that sells alarm systems is not about to call attention to the fact that crime is down." (The Culture of Fear by Barry Glassner, 5/2000)