Comment Wars – Border Skirmish Edition

December 21, 2012


Casually objecting to the tiresome, if ever-so-slightly amusing title at FireDogLake, “Less an ideology than something that should be in the DSM-V” (a trivial posting, BTW), I posted the following comment:

“I’m guessing you’ve never been labelled with a ‘mental illness.’ I think it’s about time we lay that particular genre of all-purpose retorts to rest — one instance at a time, one person at a time, day by day, from now on. I’m ready to start doing my part. How ’bout you?”

An unremarkable comment on my part. And unremarkable lameness ensued:

Person1: “I have been labeled with a mental illness, straight out of the DSM-IV and I have no problem with the characterization.”


Person2: “So have I. Note that neither [Person1] nor I put the words mental illness in quotes–that’s because we know from hard experience that it’s bloody well real.”

Presumption building…

Person3: “Represent! I as well, (multiple ones in fact). Mr./Ms. dkmnow is suffering from Butthurt by proxy, very similar to Münchausen’s by proxy except that Münchausen’s involves actually seeing a health professional.”

Done. Full Blown Misrepresentation. In Three Easy Steps.


Person3’s all-too-familiar sneer was posted while I was busy writing my reply to Person2, as follows:

Decades ago, homosexuality was officially recognized as a mental illness. If it was a real illness then, why isn’t it an illness today? Likewise, Gender Identity Disorder has finally been removed from the upcoming DSM-5. Now, this will create significant funding problems for a large number of very vulnerable people, but at the same time, it will help to reduce the stigma that society has long heaped upon transgendered persons. But the question remains: Is GID a Real Mental Illness, or isn’t it? And this is hardly an uncommon question to ask about DSM-defined conditions. Virtually anyone who has studied the process of how DSM diagnoses are derived can tell you that such conundrums abound in connection with virtually every DSM label.

But this is peripheral to my point. I’ll put it another way. Is it ethical to condone and participate in a popular cultural behavior that entails using people who have been labeled with “mental illnesses” — be they real, imagined, or falsely assigned — by equating them with any or all of the biggest a$$holes in our vaunted “normal” society? Is this not an ill-considered and casually dismissive way of exacerbating the stigma already heaped upon those who suffer from mental illnesses?

Not clear enough? Okay. How about when several million of society’s least criminal, most law-abiding, and most uniquely vulnerable citizens suddenly find they are being categorically equated with mass-murderers by tens of millions of others, and, in addition to their pre-existing disadvantages, are now being routinely targeted with a terrifying escalation of slander/libel, discrimination, harassment, assault, and worse?

Or is the casual promotion of stigma and the sustaining of popular biases against any & all labelled “mentally ill” not really a Real™ problem? Perhaps you’ve gotten all comfy with the notion that it’s not your problem. I would hope that the gratuitously predatory media-driven fallout from the Sandy Hook incident might have shown you otherwise by now. “First they came for the communists…”

While you’re busy not standing out, one group is standing up. But after they’ve rounded up all the autistics, who will be left to stand up for you?

Do I have to show you my scars now?

. . .

Again, I yawn. What follows will not likely be of any consequence. Few will see any of it. I may check back in a day or so, but I doubt I’ll bother with any further replies. Still, it was pretty disappointing. Emblematic of our culture, and even of most who identify as mentally ill, apparently. We do as we’re told, math is hard, and Barbie™ can go on being proud.