Friday, August 2, 2013

Stigma Alert: NBC Nightly News: Ariel Castro, "The Face of Mental Illness."

If you live in Cleveland, Ohio like I do, you know the story of kidnapper Ariel Castro who held three women captive in his home for 11 years. It is a tragic story that has effected our community greatly. I would never justify what he did, and I will not argue that he does not have some form of mental illness. It is possible that he does. However, I do not agree with NBC reporter Brian Williams (or whoever his text writer is) saying that Ariel Castro is "the face of mental illness."

Again, this is just the media promoting stigma against people with mental illness. We can not say that the few people with mental illness who are violent represent mental illness as a whole. In previous posts I have written about the facts of violence and mental illness, namely incidents of violent crimes are low in people with mental illness and we are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. 

I don't understand why the news media can not report these stories without throwing everyone with mental illness under a bus. If he has been diagnosed with a mental illness and part of his illness led to criminal activity, you can report that. You do not speculate as to possible mental illness and you do not generalize that mental illness means a person is violent.

Is it any wonder that people with mental illness have to hide who they are even to the point of not seeking treatment? Everyone is afraid of us because of media hype like this and that means we are at serious risk for physical and emotional violence against us if we ever speak up. 

Ariel Castro is not "the face of mental illness." He is the face of his possible illness and his crimes.

The real faces of mental illness are the faces of many amazing people who contribute beautiful things to this world. 

Want to do something about this now? SIGN THIS PETITION to NBC asking for an apology.


Rev. Katie

P.S. For another blog post on this subject, visit Pete Earley's blog where he shows how Brian Williams violated the Style Book of the Associated Press which states how reporters should talk about mental illness.

1 comment:

  1. Signed! And I saw some of the stories too and ... argh. D: