Madness is Not the Dramatic Horror Hollywood Claims

(I started writing this in December 2017 when I first saw the trailer.  The show has come out now, and I hear it’s even worse than I feared.)

Saw a trailer this morning about an upcoming TNT crime drama wherein the main ‘detective’ is a 19th century acolyte of the new science of psychology, tracking depraved murderers in New York.  The tagline on the Facebook ad was “Madness lies within us all.”

This tagline chafed at me.

Chafed until I had to go back and find the ad to make sure I quoted it correctly to write this post.

The show is about finding people who kill and torment people in the most depraved ways.  About cannibalistic pedophiles.  The show requires a ‘psychologist’ to find these monsters, and the tagline is supposed to thrill because of the horrible idea that the madness it refers to is a monster that kills, and THAT can be in all of us.

And that is exactly the kind of thinking that produces the stigma that results in both mistreatment of those struggling with mental illness, and in people not seeking help when they need it.  Because “I CAN’T have mental illness.  Because mental illness = madness and madness = murderous cannibalistic pedophiles or some similar level horror.  That’s not me.”


Mental illness, even including the ‘more extreme’ forms like schizophrenia, is an illness.  It’s something that you have.  It’s not something you are, and it’s not some hidden trap that’s gonna sneak up on you and blow up and turn you into some Mr Hyde.  It’s not something that is either huge and monstrous or else something you can sweep under a rug and ignore.  Mental illness is a physical illness and/or mental state that affects your mood and actions negatively.  Not being to get out of bed for a few days a week because you feel hopeless, overeating because it helps you feel safe, avoiding parties because the crowd makes you feel uncomfortable or losing track of how money works and spending yourself into huge amounts of debt are ALL signs of mental illness.  They are all VERY common symptoms that you can get help for and, shock to Hollywood, RARELY RESULT IN KILLING PEOPLE.

Any time you have issues that make it hard for you to function well in society or your life, that’s mental illness.  Deny it all you want, sweep it under the rug all you want, it doesn’t change the fact (or make it less impactful to your life or the lives of those around you).  It’s not fun, but a) it doesn’t define you, b) you can do something about it, and c) it absolutely does not dictate your behavior or doom you to some sort of violent actions.

Don’t listen to Hollywood when they try to scare you and perpetuate the extremely negative stigmas and stereotypes.  We’re all a little mad here.  Help each other, and get help if you need it.  Do something about it.  Don’t let the lies from Hollywood scare you.


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