I've had a lot of problems with the National Alliance of people eMbarrassed By a reLative's mentAl illness, or NAMBLA:
- How they strive to enforce politically correct speech. I'm supposed to be "a person with mental illness" not "batshit crazy."
- How they devolved from being the National Association of the Mentally Ill to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
- How their board of directors is now loaded with professionals, retaining only the one token consumer (mentally interesting person) as required by their bylaws, when it used to be all family members and consumers.
- How their idea of fighting the stereotypes of, and stigma associated with mental illness is by issuing press releases, and urging members to write to their local newspapers, complaining about TV commercials and sitcoms that supposedly mock us nutjobs.
- No, really. That's the sort of thing theywaste their time and money on.
- Yet when it comes to fighting one of the main causes of stigma, the mistaken belief that the mentally interesting are more likely to commit violent crime, NAMI is strangely silent.
Now they've gone too far.
This time NAMI is actively reinforcing the idea that I am a mass murderer-in-waiting. That all I need is something to set me off and I'll leave my home that's nestled up against US Forest Service land in a somewhat remote part of northwest Montana, put on a tinfoil hat, make an orgone blaster, and go on a killing spree.
Exactly how are they doing this? From the AP story on a recent mass murder:
Andrew Engeldinger's parents walked out of the front door of their Richfield home with an executive from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). They read a brief statement about their son; the man police say killed 6 people at a Minneapolis business on Thursday.
"Our hearts go out to the families of the people killed and those who were wounded in this tragedy. Nothing we can say can make up for their loss," Chuck Engeldinger said. The parents also detailed a difficult life.
"Our son struggled for years with mental illness. In the last few years, he no longer had contact with us. This is not an excuse for his actions, but sadly, may be a partial explanation," the father continued to read.
I don't like myself very much for having to use the details of this tragedy so soon in order to make a point, but I am just too pissed off. And I think NAMI's behavior is making the stigma worse. The mentally interesting have a hard enough time getting help because of the shame and how we're treated by the members of polite society, adding to the fear factor doesn't help matters. There were plenty of times when people literally backed away from me when I told them why they hadn't seen me in a long time: I was so crazy due to bipolar disorder that I qualified for Social Security Disability. Who is going to seek treatment if they are afraid of being locked up for being a violent criminal? Does NAMI really think telling everyone that crazy explains mass murder is the way to fight stigma? Or the way to get people to seek treatment? Exactly what is it supposed to achieve for the mentally ill? Or was it all for family members? Take your pick of family members: victims of the nutjob, other nutjobs, or both.
I never thought NAMI could get worse when it came to the myth of mental illness and violent crime. It is bad enough that NAMI sucks up to NPR and only bothers to call them out on politically correct speech – their president & CEO saying Juan Williams should have kept his feelings about Muslims between himself and his psychiatrist – while ignoring things like NPR's months-long disinformation campaign of reporting about Major Nidal Hasan's nonexistent mental illness, or repeating the misinformation that all five of the men in China who attacked and killed young children were mentally ill when only one of them was. To put the second example in perspective, one in five, or 20%, is consistent with the extremely large study done in China that found 17% of the population has the symptoms of a mental illness as defined in the DSM-IV.
NAMI is spreading fear, not awareness.
And, yes, untreated mental illness often leads to death; but it's the mentally ill who die from it, usually in the form of suicide, or the by any one of the many ways being homeless leads to an early death, or by doing something crazy, or by starving to death in Section 8 housing, or by being murdered. We are, after all, eleven times more likely to be the victims of violent crime than those who aren't officially crazy.