Mental Illnesses and how to accurately portray them.

The mainstream way of representing mental illness is something I’ve never appreciated. With seem to go through roundabouts of treating mental illness as the only reason anyone murders or cartoonish way of showing villainy and romanticising it to the point mental illness has no meaning. It is an ailment that should be analysed like any other and that is what I hope to achieve. I shall be looking at three of the main mental illnesses that are usually portrayed in books, films and the media; schizophrenia, depression, antisocial personality disorder.

Schizophrenia irritates me. Not the illness itself, rather the stigma around it. I spent a long time being pushed around different department of the NHS with people trying to figure out what was wrong with me (FYI nothing, I’m just so quirky it freaks people out). The most recent one of these trips was to find out if I had schizophrenia, which confused, given I don’t hallucinate be it visual or auditory. So afterwards when I was told once again nothing was wrong with me, I did my research and the more I did, the angrier I became. For one schizophrenia does not involve a split personality, you have split personality disorder if you have a split personality. As well as this seeing visual hallucinations is very uncommon most hallucinations being auditory and while hearing these voices may lead to anxiety or paranoia the hallucinations have no direct control over a person’s actions. This comes from another symptom which are delusions, delusions of self-importance, people with schizophrenia often appear arrogant believing themselves to be above people. This is due to an unrealistic and blurred vision of the world. Both these symptoms together can often lead to a more intense paranoia, usually the person believing they are being watched or something similar. However, is an array of other symptoms are connected to schizophrenia including changing in sleeping patterns, becoming disorganised and distant, often very antisocial. These symptoms are often ignored given schizophrenia occurs mostly in 15 to 35 year olds.

Depression, as in clinical depression is very hard to describe. It is hardly sadness and more a sense of emptiness of the sufferer, an unable to enjoy anything that had once brought happiness. There can be physical symptoms too, such as feeling constantly tired, sleeping badly, having no appetite or sex drive. And this is constant, constantly being unable to feel and be asked to sleep or eat, to the point that some unlucky, unfortunate will not be able to take it anymore. And in the coldest and most unfeeling sense, this suffering, when done factually and medically correct is fun to write about, because suffering is the key to all emotions and this plain and simple delivers that scenario.

Sociopath or people who suffer from antisocial behavior disorder have a very accurate representation. Those who suffer from it are reckless and unpredictable often breaking rules and the laws repeatedly to prove that they can. They are also very manipulative and for lack of a better phrase, good at mimicking social interactions to make people trust them. All of this usually stems from isolation as a child or general childhood trauma. Despite what people usually think, this can be treated with therapy, but problem is that sufferers will often not wish to be treated and will only go under forced persuasion, i.e. court demand.

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