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Zealotry and Rules for Discussing Mental Illness

I am lucky enough to have many people out there who love my writing, love my perspective and yes, possibly even love me. Sometimes these people contact me privately, sometimes publically, but either way, I certainly appreciate all the positivity.

On the other hand, there is a small, yet amazingly vocal, number of people who hate what I have to say, and yes, possibly hate me. These people tend to denounce me, and what I have to say, publically.

And honestly, I don’t mind the differing opinions. Disagree with a point I’ve made? No problem, that’s what the comments are for. But zealous, hateful stances on mental illness, treatments and psychiatry tend to hurt those with mental illness far more than it helps.

Mental Illness Zealotry

There aren’t a whole lot of mental illness topics I feel zealous about. Sure, I have plenty of opinions, but zealous? No, not really. (The possible exception is I feel pretty strongly people with a mental illness work with a doctor on a treatment plan. Outside of that, I don’t feel too terribly zealous.)

On the other hand, there are people and groups dedicated to one thing. Some groups want all of psychiatry and psychology to disappear (although I have no idea how). Some claim that mental illness doesn’t exist. Some are ardently anti-medication. And there are still others who actively pursue more specific mental illness causes.

The Reason I’m not a Zealot

The reason you don’t see me pushing one way or the other or recommending specific groups is actually pretty simple: we learn more about the human brain, mental illness and treatments every day, and I’m unprepared to “pick a side” when it makes much more sense to be in the middle. I also think that decisions on mental illness are individual and it’s actually rather ludicrous to generalize.

(I’m also pretty hesitant to be part of a group. Groups do odd things and once you’re a member, people assume you agree with everything the group does. I prefer to choose my own stances.)

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OK, You Hate What I’m Saying, and Want to Tell Me So

As I mentioned, the comments are for just that. Feel free to pose a counter-argument, cite a study or just generally say that you don’t agree. I have no problem with that.

What I do have a problem with, is people adding comments that are blatantly hateful or abusive to other commenters, groups of people, or yes, even me. Calling anyone “evil,” or “freaks” or cloaking hatred in sarcasm does nothing for you, me, mental illness or anything else. And it takes whatever discourse was going on, down to a level where everyone gets muddy.

Rules for Discussing Mental Illness

If you wish to discuss your point of view, whatever that may be, I recommend adhering to the following:

  1. Don’t bother being abusive. It’ll get your comment deleted; it’s HealthyPlace policy.
  2. Kill the sarcasm. If you have something to say, just say it.
  3. Don’t bother with hate speech. Yes, I get it; you hate a group of people. Try to discuss it like an adult. Here, I’ll help you, “I firmly disagree with XGroup because…”
  4. Simply saying something is wrong because “psychiatry is evil,” or similar, isn’t actually an argument. See #3 on how to reformulate your thoughts into something reasonable.
  5. Cite some credible sources. This one is optional but it will lend credibility to your argument.

Really what it comes down to is respect. Please respect the people and points of view expressed. That’s really all I’m asking for, and as we’re all adults, I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar Burble, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

13 thoughts on “Zealotry and Rules for Discussing Mental Illness”

  1. I found you today. I’m not sure what to say. Today was a good day? Took the meds, and a shower, went OUT of the house, I may even cook dinner 🙂 Thanks doll

  2. In reality mental illness are conduct deviation that harm any global functioning. The last neuroscience knowledges uncovered many enigma on their truthfulness. But it remains still a lot vague ground in this sensible matter. Therefore, attitudes and opinions in public about mental disability are often ambigous or debatable. The crucial role in this direction have socio-cultural features of environment where the mentally ill person live and work. The same should consider overcarefuly, when we ought to deal with psychiatric patients. Five rule that You Ms. Tracy have mentioned in above writing should receive with hospitality. While the hindmost recommendations on indispensable respect to these awkward people is highlight mesage on humane treating, as inherent need of everyone.

  3. Hi Heather,

    It can be hard to get out from under a label, I’m sure many people can identify with that, mentally ill or not.

    Remember though, you are you no matter what other people think. And there will be people who care about the real you.

    – Natasha

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