I’ve Lost Count

22 03 2011

No really I have, or at least in the non-mathematical sense I’ve track of where I was.

Ok, the topic of choice for the past few has been about psychopathy and how it affects me (I have NPD so yes it is all about me thank you very much). Unsurprisingly, as is the wont of my brain, other topics surrounding the conversation get drawn in because they interest me, an example being the idea that Jeffrey Dahmer was a psychopath (he wasn’t in case you missed it).

It does seem that the current trend is to retrospectively diagnose historically significant people with various mental illnesses. An example would be the one I used about Mr Dahmer, it’s also been done with Hitler, plus various others. I’m… uncomfortable with some of this as I think that with more recent people, thanks to the media and the real rise in psychiatry/psychology, it’s more likely for pertinent information to be found. When we start going pre 20th century I think it’s a load of rubbish and should stop.

Now what’s the point in doing retrospective diagnosis? Do we care that people judged to be evil had a certain diagnosis? Do we care that certain people of excellence had a certain diagnosis? Umm, yes, as it happens, we do. The main purpose of doing this tends to be to show that ‘No you’re not alone’ or that ‘Look at the good people in your situation’. Sorry but that reason is a bogus journey and as it’s easy to bring people down as well as build them up it’s entirely possible to completely defeat the object in the first place.

I’m aware I’m rambling a touch but try to stick with it, trust me, it’s no easier for me than it is for you.

There is a question about the realities of evil. Ok, it may be seen that localizing this on those with a mental health diagnosis is a bad thing as it’s difficult to overcome stigma as it is. However, if you want to defeat something, you must understand it first. Why did Hitler do the things he did? Why did people follow him so readily into actions which can barely be comprehended in their true meaning? Why did Jeffrey Dahmer do what he did? Answering things like these may help us to improve the social care in society so that the occurence is less and less, regardless of what condition it is.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that the offhand comments on various people having a psychiatric diagnosis should be treated with extreme caution. Yet we should look into these people as deeply as possible in order to understand the human condition and so further the care for all. Imagine what that would achieve.

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3 responses

22 03 2011
Pandora

When my abusive, waste-of-a-not-insignificant-space father died in 2007, his wanker family started blathering on that he probably had a “mental problem”, as if that somehow excused his extraordinary violence towards my mother. So yeah, this trend pisses me right off too.

22 03 2011
nullfuture

Definately a waste of time trying to do it like that, if they don’t have extensive knowledge of mental health (from any direction) then they’re just pissing in the wind. I’d actually trust your thoughts on the validity of such claims as you have the vast knowledge (and analytical ability) I was on about.

Also, I’ve said for a while now, mental health is not an excuse for behaving bad, it may be a reason but definately not an excuse.

25 03 2011
Miss R

Excellent point Null. I still enjoy speculating the lists I see of historical artists posthumously diagnosed as bi-polar (that would be be heh).
As to attributing psychosis to historical people? Hmmmmm don’t buy it. as you said, Dalmer wasn’t psychotic, not was Hitler. Delusions of grandeur? Yes. Delusions and hallucinations? No.

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