The Imaginary Table – Society and the Silencing of Mental Illness

The other night I was walking the streets downtown, heading back to my truck after a nice evening at local coffee shop.  I witnessed an exchange between a young woman and a clearly mentally ill individual.  The mentally ill individual had apparently flagged down the young woman in order to ask for assistance.  She complied, but it was clear that she was getting nervous as their conversation wore on.  Eventually she stammered that she could not help and she literally jogged away in her high heels, leaving the mentally ill person alone to talk with himself in the piercing cold.

We live in a society in which mental illness, while not celebrated, is treated as sacred by those of the left.  All are supposed to be welcome at the table and all are supposed to receive the help they need according to this train of thought.  However, there is a very curious dynamic.  While individuals have banded together to make such a cause, these same individuals place the onus on anyone else to actually see this through.  In essence, a contract has been drafted by the masses but is honored by none.

Some mental illness is considered more acceptable and approachable than others.  Depression is nearly universally understood to be a sympathetic plight.  More and more feel the same way about autism as the days go on.  The schizophrenic is feared nearly universally because of her distorted cognitions.  And, I don’t need to say anything about the antisocial.  I would argue that some stigma is deserved for those on the more extreme end of mental illness; after all, a loose cannon can still fire.  However, many neurotypicals make no effort to resolve this hypocrisy.  It is as if there is a social decree to be accommodating to mental illness but an individual decree to ignore such.

There may be a mandate for all to have a seat at the table when it comes to equality in society but this is an imaginary table.  Society has been consumed by its own desire to be seen as empathic when in reality, the empathy shown by the individual is conditional based on the acceptability of the mental illness in front of them.  This ultimately serves to drive the mentally abnormal out of sight and out of mind and must be intentional by the larger mass.

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