It’s a little-discussed truth that “mentally ill” does not apply solely to people who have been so diagnosed. Instead, and especially given the dearth of American mental health facilities and aid, plus the stigma that – when will we grow up? – attaches to those who seek help for themselves or their loved ones, we call someone mentally “ill” only when there is a prior diagnosis.
Let’s change that. Let’s instead use the expedient, all-purpose, “Who in their right mind would ….?” evaluation, which has the virtue of being accessible at any time. As opposed to experienced and insightful mental health professionals, who are (there’s that American health market again) thin on the ground.
However, just as juries once utilized a “reasonable man” standard and now take into account a benchmark labeled “reasonable person”, we do need to specify that the “who” needs to be a healthy adult of at least average intelligence and with a good dollop of emotional understanding.
While there are certainly more than enough examples of men tormenting men (the so-called Islamic State comes to mind, though nearly all of their latest victims have been women and children attacked at random; boys watching soccer; and educated women simply because they had, well, more education than the killers themselves), the following exemplars of “who in their right mind would…?” come from the copious files of non-Islamic men tormenting women and girls. It’s important that we recognize these as illustrations of the failure to do good thinking, not using one’s brain, and in fact, trusting a mind that is dangerously askew:
In the UK, one-third of female university students report having been subjected to sexual assaults or harassment. Who in their right mind does that to a fellow student?
Although his sentence is under review, a 44-year-old high school teacher has walked free after a judge decided he was sexually “groomed” by his 16-year-old victim. No one in their right mind would determine that a teenager possesses more power than an adult man intelligent enough to teach.
One woman decided to fight back after she was groped on public transport. Who in their right mind thinks it’s okay to touch a stranger, to appropriate that person’s body for their own use?
In a hospital, a male police officer punched and kicked a woman at the bedside of her chronically ill child, an assault his colleagues deplored as “horrific” – they gave evidence for the prosecution – after which he was acquitted of actual bodily harm. We can only hope an appellate court will hold him responsible for the victim’s more than 40 injuries, but no one in their right mind, especially a police officer, would make such an attack.
Then there are the numerous instances of women and/or their children murdered by a man related to them and whom they trusted, like here and here and here. Those murders are horrifying, and committed by someone who was not in his right mind . . . obviously.
Just the tip of the iceberg, of course, but you get the picture. There are a lot of undiagnosed crazies out there with whom 75% of the population (children plus women) have to deal every single day. Just because these offenders have not been diagnosed as mentally ill does not mean they aren’t. Their behavior speaks for itself.
We need to speak out and challenge the thinking that assumes that until someone has been formally diagnosed as mentally ill, they are mentally healthy.
Because no one in their right mind would . . ..