So, there’s this pattern. People hear about someone doing a horrible thing, or being systemically abusive to another person, or being bigoted, or being generally hateful, violent, or evil, and then express their disapproval by saying things like:
- She *needs help*
- He needs serious therapy
- I hope he gets the help she needs
And, that’s a horrible thing to say. Because mental illness is not the same as being an abuser. Having a mental illness is not a moral failing, and treating others horribly is not a mental illness. Conflating those categories hurts people badly.
Some people do need therapy, medication, or other forms of treatment. Some people who need mental health treatment are also terrible people, but that is not because of their mental illness. It’s because of their choices and values. And many abusers and other dangerous people are not mentally ill at all.
Many, many good people struggle with serious mental illness and depend on medical treatment. Similarly, many good people struggle with mental illness and have no access to treatment for various reasons (eg: lack of insurance, lack of safe providers, fear of losing their jobs due to stigma). These people deserve better than to have their struggles thrown up as a way to insult abusers.
Mental illness is real, serious, and horribly stigmatized. It is not the same as being an abuser, and it’s really important to stop equating the two.
People also do this to non-abusive folk they simply disagree with, putting a veneer or concern over an attempt to discredit their target. “They obviously have some sort of problem. I feel sorry for them, but they’re spouting nonsense” etc. Bonus points for “I know someone with (insert stigmatised illness here)/did a course on psychology etc and they have a classic case.”
In both cases it’s like once someone is put in the “mentally ill and needs therapy” basket any bad behaviour is entirely explained, and any opinions are entirely discredited, and they (and anything you dislike about them) can be comfortably dismissed, pitied, and ignored. See for example the response to unacceptable behaviour from someone within a community: if you can label them as mentally ill then you don’t have to worry any more about why they did it, if there’s some broader issue etc. They were just ~crazy~.
(I’m not sure I expressed myself very well here, sorry)