On Mental Health Stigma And Being Labelled A Psycho

23/01/2017 11:23 GMT | Updated 21/01/2018 10:12 GMT
Tadamasa Taniguchi via Getty Images

One thing I would say about having been accused of being a psychopathic manipulator are that most of the resources about psychopathy on the internet are badly researched and aren't peer reviewed. The only one I did like was by a queer woman who pointed out the ableist origins of "psychopathy", which was used to model a pathology of (and then shame) autistic children. Unfortunately, the third-rate articles inform the public consciousness and discourse around psychopathy and mental health, more than considered, reasoned reflection.

When I asked a friend for £210 back, I was wrongfully accused of being a "psycho evil manipulative woman." Another friend accused of being of the same ilk was bullied, mocked and abused relentlessly, in similar circumstances. In response to frequent claims that people who suffer with Borderline Personality Disorder and other severe mental illnesses are evil, manipulative, abusive and psychopathic, many people in the mental health community, begin the process of disavowal.

In our communities, the figure of the psychopath is invoked to all to often to characterise people with mental illnesses by people who are just too lazy to understand the diseases properly, especially when those they mock and scapegoat are in a vulnerable position. We must critically re-examine our use of the psychopath label, but it's hard to think of a time when being wrong has ever stopped the ignorant running their mouths. They don't seem like the type to sit and reflect at length on how they may be wrong.

The truly distinguishing figure of the psychopath is a lack of empathy. Which is exactly what is apparent in the sadistic, demeaning comments made to me mocking my full blown borderline episode as "a tantrum because your crush had a missus." It is somewhat ironic to be accused of psychopathy when I was the target of degrading comments which give the assailant their narcopathic fix.

The term 'psycho' is often a common substitute for genuine knowledge in the vocabulary of those who presume to know about mental illness. But psychopathy isn't even a real medical diagnosis. It is speculative. The DSM doesn't include it. So those who make such diagnoses are quacks, cod-psychologists. The people often accused of this behaviour often have severe mental disabilities.

The language of mental health and psychopathy has long been used to reinforce structural oppression like ableism. It is disheartening to see psycho used as a metaphor. I've experienced enough ableism. And enough is enough.