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Does characterizing inappropriate behavior as mental illness lead people to not take responsibility for their actions?

Asked by: MasturDbtor
  • Quite, especially when you learn how they are defined.

    Mental illnesses are defined, not by the purely objective means that would seem quite "scientific", like proving that there are parasitic bacteria in a body, but rather by the highly subjective means of what is 'normal'.

    The criteria for a mental disease is as follows (sourced from my class notes, which are based upon national, if not international standards):
    -Atypical (Literally meaning of 'abnormal' is statistically rare)
    -No set definition for 'rare'
    -Rarity alone isn't abnormal
    -Socially unacceptable
    -'Oddness' is okay unless it offends society
    -However, any behavior is offensive to someone
    -No set amount of offended people to determine social unacceptability
    -What prevents majority from stigmatizing minority?
    -Social standards of normality vary over time and place
    -Accompanied by emotional distress
    -Chronic emotional distress is not normal, but neither is a complete lack of distress
    -Maladaptive
    -Meaning of 'maladaptive': Being unable to change behavior to accomplish what you want to accomplish
    -Includes behavioral rigidity, addictions, overinhibition
    -Assumes that only certain goals are worth pursuing
    -E.G. Successfully finding new ways to get high until you die is not considered adaptive
    -Accompanied by distorted thoughts; being out of touch with reality
    -Seems obvious, but what is real?

  • A crime is a crime, no matter what the person is going through.

    At the end of the day, when the law is broken, especially in extreme circumstances, the people who break the law, should be dealt with effectively. I think it is absolutely morally wrong, that we do not properly convict people, because of mental illness. Saying that I do think when somebody with a mental illness is convicted of something, they should not be put in jail as the current system is. I believe people with illness' that commit crimes to do need the right treatment, but this is no way pardons them from what they have done. The sentencing should be just that of what a person not suffering a mental illness would recieve, just in a different type of facility.

  • The characterization "mental illness" is overused

    It could have been that a given person if he was told his behavior was unacceptable and that he needed to change would have, but instead people tell him he is mentally ill, he buys it and then believes he can't help it and it becomes an excuse for him to continue the behavior.

    We will never know for sure for a given case without a time machine, but psychology does know that a person's beliefs about themselves affects their behavior hence it's reasonable to think that this happens at least to some degree. Maybe instead of jumping to "he's mentally ill" first we should hold the person accountable for their actions and label them "misbehaving" or "inappropriate" first and impress upon them their responsibility for changing that.

  • Yes, mental illness characterization only enables more bad behavior

    Characterizing inappropriate behavior as mental illness only suggests that the behavior is not a choice. However the characterization has led people to excuse bad behavior. Think of it in realistic terms. Well if Adolf Hitler was mentally ill, was it acceptable that he ordered the massacre of many Jews? Or how about historical figures like Dong Zhuo or Vlad the Impaler who enjoyed torturing people to death? Were they mentally ill? If they were mentally ill, there was nothing wrong with what they did. After all they can not help it. When I hear this argument brought up it is merely used to excuse bad behavior. People should be required to take responsibility, mentally ill or not. Otherwise it is ok for some to steal, rape, and kill because they can not control themselves.

  • The mentally ill receive too much sympathy

    When they commit a crime. If you break the law, you go to jail, regardless whether you have bipolar or schizophrenia, which are unrelated to crime and violence. Characterizing the mentally ill as violent or criminal only serves to stigmatize the mentally ill, and bipolar and schizophrenia does not cause violence. Although mental illness can affect the way someone acts, it is not an excuse for crime and violence.

    Posted by: luvx
  • Even being ill

    Even if the person does have a true mental illness, they must learn to cope with in in such a way that is accountable.

    While it may not be their fault that they contracted it, it is their fault for whatever interpersonal or behavioral outcomes that result, most of the time.

    With that said, however, some people do go the extra mile to ensure that their illness does not bother others and still have a great deal of difficulty with it outside of personal relations. I'm one of those people, myself.

  • Mental illness is a condition.. Not a "choice"!

    Committing a crime, which ever it may be is a societal Issue which should be given as much respect as disrespect, equal. In each crime one can find an underlying "root" which was the cause of the crime. If nothing else which we should have learned out of the hiddious Studies completed throughout WW2, then it should be the Studies of human behavior. These Studies proove that "there is no "criminal Gene" born to the human being. No Baby is born "bad", regardless of how many Hollywood Horror Flicks try to emposter such.

    Crimes are committed by mental circumstance and all criminals are "mentally ill". If criminal people are "treated properly according to their ailment" then it does not "change what they have done" .... But it does change "how they react in the future" because the synopsis in their brain (where the mental illness has its home) is then "reprogrammed", ultimately leading to a much better handling of circumstance.

    Countries around the world which have learned thru centuries of cultural experience have since knowledge of such abolished the death penalty and life sentences are only given in very extreme circumstances and thus have created more solutions than problems by doing so.

    In our country the Jail cells are extremely filled and the inmates come out foremostly thinking 1 single thought... " I dont want to go back there"..(out of fear) .. HOWEVER what they should be thinking is "I dont belong there, because I understand what I did wrong"! When they come out thinking "I don't want to go back there" then they DIDN'T UNDERSTAND what put them there in the first place,( because their illness wasn't cured) they simply try to be smarter about it next time and not get caught, eventually they return! WHEN they leave "understanding why they did, what they did, they don't do it again"



    Of course they should pay restitution for their before ongoing crime, that is the punishment... To consciously understand what one has done wrong and then have to face it with a different mindset than the one the person had during the crime.

    Example: A Person who steals, does this out of motive of "not being able to differentiate what belongs to him or not,"... Has Foremostly lived under circumstance of "not having" sufficient during childhood... "lacking in basics during childhood is a cause for the kleptomania illness" and this illness can grow to the point where the criminal will steal candy bars first, then rob the cash register, then rob houses, then cars, banks until he gets caught.... A mental illness is actually as dangerous as "an addiction" to drugs and these things are steered by the "brain". Human brains "adapt" quickly. Where a mentally healthy individual will believe "it's terrible to take something that belongs to another", a mentally ill person will believe "it's ok for me to take this".

    Or are we seriously going to debate that a person who commits a crime is "fully sane"?

  • That Is Nonsense!

    First off, what are you talking about?

    Secondly, you have no clue what you are talking about.

    People don’t wake up each morning and say am I am mentally ill and therefore I am not responsible for my actions.

    Some people behave appropriately because of their personal moral code or understanding of the law. Moral codes vary by person, and having moral codes does not ensure that people will not break their own moral codes, which is one reason societies create laws, which are really standards that must be observed for the safety of everyone in that society, e.G., don’t break the speed limit, don’t shot your neighbor for taking a leak on your lawn.

    Many people in society do not respect society’s laws, so they break them; and many go to jail.

    Most everyone breaks laws every day, e.G., the speed limits. So, I guess even though they are responsible for their actions, it is OK. Driving at unsafe speeds is the number one cause of traffic accidents and deaths in America and most countries, along with driving while intoxicated or stoned. Motor vehicle crashes cost the US about $100 billion a year.
    Http://www.Cnn.Com/2010/HEALTH/08/25/motor.Vehicle.Accident.Costs/
    http://www.Webtrafficschool.Com/wts/content/Texas/The_Traffic_Safety_Problems.Html

    It is a myth created by TV and movies that lots of people get away with crimes because of the insanity plea. Just being mentally ill does not give you a “Get Out of Jail” free card like in the game on Monopoly; you must be adjudicated insane or not capable of understanding the consequences of your actions. It is very hard to prove that someone is insane and incapable of understanding the consequences of their actions.

    Very few mentally ill people actually get off on an insanity plea. This is a very complicated subject, and there are many states that do not allow the insanity defense against criminal charges, including Idaho, Kansas, Montana, and Utah. All four of these states, with the exception of Kansas, allow "guilty but insane" verdicts, which often provide for institutionalization in lieu of prison

    “Mentally Ill, but Insanity Plea Is Long Shot”

    “The standard is so difficult to meet that few defendants using the insanity defense in New York win at trial. Of 5,910 murder cases completed in the last decade statewide, only seven defendants have been found at trial to be not responsible by reason of mental disease or defect, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.”

    That is 0.001184 (7 divided by 5,910) as a decimal, which as a fraction is 1/844.

    “One eight-state study of criminal cases in the early 1990s concluded that less than one percent of defendants pleaded insanity and, of them, only a quarter won acquittals.”
    http://www.Washingtonpost.Com/wp-srv/local/longterm/aron/qa227.Htm

    And, that does not mean they walked free, in almost all cases, a verdict of not guilty of reason of insanity prompts a judge to commit defendants to treatment centers until mental health officials determine they do not pose a danger to anyone, which can be many years to life.


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