Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. ~Khalil Gibran
I don’t often comment on events in the U.S. on my blog, but the recent events in Boston have been making me think. My heart goes out to the victims and their families. I hope that the city of Boston is able to recover and move forward.
What worries me is the ongoing blame of Muslim people. I wish everyone could find a way to get along. Racism, classism, sexism and intolerance of religion divide us when we’re all so gloriously human. These divisions keep us from being the best of humanity. To the Muslim Americans out there, stay safe, and I hope you’re ok. And to Muslims across the world, not all Americans are afraid/ hateful of your religion.
Another worry and frustration I have is the casual idea that mental illness inherently causes violence. When in reality “mental illness” is a broad umbrella that includes diverse issues from anxiety to depression and bi-polar to schizophrenia. Have you ever seen the diagnostic manual that therapists/ psychiatrists use? It is huge and for good reason, there are many ways that the human brain can deviate from normal.
Most people with mental illness are not violent. Most people with normal brain chemistry are not violent. For example, people with schizophrenia are more likely to commit suicide than they are to commit violence with others. Here is some information from NIMH:
Are people with schizophrenia violent?
People with schizophrenia are not usually violent. In fact, most violent crimes are not committed by people with schizophrenia.7 However, some symptoms are associated with violence, such as delusions of persecution. Substance abuse may also increase the chance a person will become violent.8 If a person with schizophrenia becomes violent, the violence is usually directed at family members and tends to take place at home.
The risk of violence among people with schizophrenia is small. But people with the illness attempt suicide much more often than others. About 10 percent (especially young adult males) die by suicide.9,10 It is hard to predict which people with schizophrenia are prone to suicide. If you know someone who talks about or attempts suicide, help him or her find professional help right away.
People with schizophrenia are not usually violent.
I don’t have specific studies to back me up, but I am going to extrapolate here and say that most people with mental illness are not violent. And I would also venture to say that it is wrong to say that because one person in a group does something wrong to say that all people in a group are that way.
For example, I do not believe, that all Muslims are terrorists. Because that is a ridiculous assumption. Muslims are all human. There are good people and bad people as well as people in the middle. In any group of humans, there are violent people, kind people, and mediocre people. In the end we’re all just human.
Why do we feel the need to demonize one group or another when violence happens? That violence was created by the choices of the people who committed that act. It was not committed by an entire group of people at once.
I hope we can all follow Mr. Rogers’s excellent advice and look for the helpers. The people who stepped up and made a difference when atrocity shook us all.
© K. Klein 2013