Stop the silence and end the violence of forced drugging. Become informed, speak out & be heard now!!!

Debunking "mental illness" / violence myth: Consensus Statement

[This Consensus Statement was published in an article titled "Violence By People With Mental Illness: A Consensus Statement By Advocates and Researchers", by John Monahan and Jean Arnold, Psychiatric Rehabilitatioin Journal, Spring 1996, vol.19, no.4. As of 1996, this important demystifying statement was signed by over 41 lawyers, advocates, psychiatric survivor-activists, and mental health professionals including some psychiatrists. Please send this to all mainstream media producers and editors who continue to spread the myth of the "violent mental patient", believe that "mentally ill" people are more violent or physically dangerous than "normal" people, and continue to sensationalize their news stories whenever people accused or convicted of criminal acts have a psychiatric history. This statement and other relevant journal articles were kindly sent to me by John Monahan, Professor of Psychology and Legal Medicine at the University of Virginia, a widely respected researcher and scholar , and founding President of the American Psychological Association's Division of Psychology and the Law.]

"Mental disorder and violence are closely linked in the public mind. A combination of factors promotes this perception: sensationalized reporting by the media whenever a violent act is committed by "a former mental patient," popular misuse of psychiatric terms (such as "psychotic" and psychopathic"), and exploitation of stock formulas and narrow stereotypes by the entertainment industry. The public justifies its fear and rejection of people labeled mentally ill, and attempts to segregate them in the community, by this assumption of danger.

"The experience of people with psychiatric conditions and of their family members paints a picture dramatically different from the stereotype. The results of several recent large-scale research projects conclude that only a weak association between mental disorders and violence exists in the community. Serious violence by people with major mental disorders appears concentrated in a small fraction of the total number, and especially in those who use alcohol and other drugs. Mental disorders--in sharp contrast to alcohol and drug abuse--account for a minuscule portion of the violence that afflicts American society.

"The conclusions of those who use mental health services and of their family members, and the observations of researchers, suggest that the way to reduce whatever relationship exists between violence and mental disorder is to make accessible a range of quality treatments including peer-based programs, and to eliminate the stigma and discrimination that discourage, provoke, and penalize those who seek and receive help for disabling conditions."


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