I’ve taken to watching Marvel’s Jessica Jones over my winter break. I was maybe halfway through it before embarking on finishing off the first season in one day. I tell you, I’m wasted on school breaks. I’d been keeping my mind peeled for something to write about when, out of nowhere, this happened:
Now I’ve been absolutely fascinated by this show. It deals with some pretty heavy topics that a lot of shows on TV shy away from: alcohol and other drug abuse (AODA), assault, consent, mental health, and ethics to name a few. It also has a copious amount of black humor and sarcasm, both of which I generally appreciate in a show.
But one issue that’s been cropping up not just in Jessica Jones, but on the international scene as well, is the issue of mental illness and violence. This isn’t exactly a new topic of conversation, mind. The M’Naghten Rule of 1843 established that those who are deemed to be so cognitively “insane” as to either 1) not understand the nature/quality of their actions, or 2) not understand that these actions are ethically wrong, they would be classified as “legally insane.” This led to the idea of volitional insanity in courtrooms across the world.
Mind you, this isn’t directly talking about the Insanity Defense, although the concepts are similar. The M’Naghten Rule sought to impose a limit on the Insanity Defense. The Insanity Defense determines whether or not the person in question is mentally or emotionally competent to stand trial for their alleged crimes.
And now that we have that pretext out of the way I want to return to the topic at hand. I understand the remonstration of hating mental illness. Heck, I hate mental illness sometimes, too. Having unpredictable boughts of anxiety followed by dsythymic episodes is no walk in the park. Arachnophobia is, if possible, worse than my general emotional concerns.
But hating mental illness, or being uncomfortable with the subject, does not give anyone the right to blame acts of violence — however large — on people who experience mental illness. As I’ve been working in the mental health field for almost four years now (let’s not count my experience living as, you know, myself) I’ve stumbled upon a gigantic secret:
Everyone’s a little mentally ill. Whew, I’m glad that’s off my chest!
If someone hasn’t experienced mental illness, then I’ll be the first one to shake their hand and congratulate them with making it so far in life without a MI diagnosis. In all seriousness, mental illness is nothing to scoff at, or mock, or use as something on which to push the things we’d rather not think about.
If by some miracle you haven’t experienced MI, don’t be an ableist prick about mental health concerns. If you have experienced MI, still don’t be an ableist a-hole. Tearing down others because you can’t understand the enormity of human depravity is an incredibly low blow. Just stop, please, for all of our sakes. You’re only digging yourself further into a hole, and you’re harming those who are extremely vulnerable in the process.
But if you’re going to keep at it, then just keep me informed. I’d like to know when I’ll be able to retire some day.