Mad Pride On ABCs Primetime Outsiders

or Jousting The Jabberwocky

ABC had a news show, Primetime Outsiders, on the Mad Pride movement last night. Unfortunately, in their zeal to present opposing viewpoints, they played the violence card. Perhaps they imagined they were presenting a more balanced show in doing so. I certainly don’t think this is the case. The show in so doing was pandering to the worst sensationalistic tastes of its audience. Where violence and mental illness are concerned this is often the case. This was supposedly a show about the Mad Pride movement. ABC did not have to place a little landmine in the center of it, and make it a show about violence, too, but that’s what they did.

I had a similar experience not too long ago when I was trying to conduct a symposium on our need for alternatives to conventional mental health treatment. In the discussion that followed the presentation a mental health professional managed to divert attention away from some of the main points I was making by using an example from among her clients. She mentioned some man who had paranoid delusions and carried a gun. Those things happen. I had made the point that recovery rates for people who suffered from serious mental illnesses are twice as high in the developing world as they are in the developed world and, therefore, the recovery rates in developed countries could be improved a great deal. This example was distracting attention away from those points I was making. It was as if we would have to do something about violence before we could raise the recovery rates in this country. I don’t think so. That’s merely finding another lame excuse not to do anything. When you don’t do anything you’re excusing unworkable policies and practices.

My suspicions are that anytime the Mad Pride movement gets into the mainstream media this playing of the violence card is going to come up. The news media, worried about its viewer ratings, wants blood and gore. Sex and violence sell, and if you don’t have one, they want the other. I’m already buckling down in preparation for another foray by studying those stats pertaining to mental illness and violence. It’s an unfair situation, but as people have put it before, whoever said life was fair. I urge other psychiatric survivors and mental health consumers in the Mad Pride movement to do the same. This is simply realism. Moves must be anticipated. They are not going to use the violence card on exponents of compliant behavior, but they are going to blame violence on advocates who embrace noncompliance, or in other words, other paths besides that of chemical maintenance. The set of people labeled with serious mental illnesses is that other category that they still cannot seem to integrate into the set that includes all homo sapiens. Deal with it.

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