As a therapist, I am often faced with questions from clients about what their “diagnosis is”. And when I ask them why they want to know it, or how will knowing it help them, they usually don’t know. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is very important to have a clear understanding of what is going on and be able to convey that to my clients. But what I often see/hear are people using their diagnosis as a shield, or as a label to identify who they are. If they are actively in treatment working through their issues to have a better quality of life, and want to advocate for others to have the same, I am all for it. If they are just throwing these labels around without any intent on getting help, then I believe that behavior has a negative impact on those who truly want help. Talking about mental health issues has become more mainstream; but with that openness comes more negative attention.
People sometimes exploit those with mental illness as a way to intimidate or demean them into submission. This behavior prevents people who need help from getting help, because they don’t want to be given the negative label of “mentally ill”. Stigmatization of mental illness has been around since the beginning of time. Even with all the progress that has been made, it still remains today. Unfortunately, the mentally ill aren’t the only group that gets marginalized and stigmatized.
The LGBTQ+ community, African-Americans, Latino-Americans, Asian-Americans, Jews, Muslims, Women, and Mexicans are some of the more frequently targeted groups. These groups have been targeted so much that the very category they are under becomes a “label” for those that hate. It gets weaponized by ignorant, bigoted people by what they say and what they do to these groups. I won’t provide a lot of examples because this is supposed to be a blog post not a manifesto!
But the real issues we should be focusing on is answering these questions: WHY? Why do you say or do harmful things to people in these groups? Why does it matter to you what they do or how they are? Why are you so threatened by someone who is different from you?…Yes you are…And why do you think you are better than them? What makes you so special?
I believe that everyone should be responsible for the way they think, feel, and act. I also believe that many of the people who are preoccupied with hate and bigoted way of thinking are the ones who aren’t taking responsibility for their own lives. There is undoubtedly an undiagnosed mental illness that lives inside most of them. In order to have such hate, and waste so much time expressing that hate, there has to be some serious self-loathing going on.
And I believe none of the aforementioned groups (“labels”) are the problem, HATE is the problem. People who carry this much hate around with them are unhappy people. They take out their life’s failures and frustrations on marginalized people. That’s low-hanging fruit, dude. They already have been subjected to that hate and bigotry. How about focusing on your own life, and putting that energy towards improving your quality of life; without negatively affecting others. This isn’t an inverse proportional arrangement. Better yet, try and get to know people that are different than you. You will find they are more like you than not. And heck, you may even like them. If nothing else, you will learn something.
If I have described you or your behavior then you are in the HATE category…and yes, I just labeled you.
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