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A R Devine: Madness gone politically correct – why is the media promoting mental illness as sanity?


Ever since large swathes of western society started demanding that humans with intact penises have as much right to be considered women as humans with vaginas, I’ve been wondering if madness has taken hold. In the past few months, I’ve stumbled across one article arguing that men have periods too and that it is ‘dangerous’ to assume that only women have menstrual cycles. However, the most baffling article I’ve read lately was about a trans-man, basically a woman with a lumberjack shirt and some stubble, giving birth. I’m sorry to be getting out the ‘hate speech’ so soon into this article, but the truth is that only women can gestate foetuses. Besides, it’s even harder to take seriously a trans-man’s claim that he really wants to spend his life as a male when he wants to have an experience that by its very nature is exclusively female.

However, nothing could have prepared me for this article in the Irish online newspaper in which the author, a member of a UK-based charity called Intervoice, demands that we cease to use the word schizophrenia because it is offensive to use a label that connotes hearing the voices of dead celebrities with being mentally ill. This is madness gone politically correct. What I find even more perplexing is that day in day out the media across the British Isles, including, promote the notion that society is undergoing some kind of mental health crisis because they mistakenly conflate fleeting bouts of feeling down or being anxious, the normal ups and downs of life, with being mentally ill.

Meanwhile, has now decided to promote the message that auditory hallucinations are just friendly chats with old friends and nothing to be concerned about. Of course the Guardian beat them to it a few years ago with a piece lauding the benefits of mental illness entitled ‘It’s time to listen to the voices in your head’. Whilst it’s great that some people have been able to deal with their psychotic delusions in a way that doesn’t negatively affect themselves or others, this isn’t the case for every schizophrenic or other sufferers of psychosis. In 2015, there were seventy-one killings by people listening to the voices in their heads in the UK, an increase of 92 per cent since 2009. The care in the community model which leaves people with dangerous mental health conditions living in mainstream society clearly isn’t fit for purpose. Not to mention the trifling fact that paranoid schizophrenics have a very high rate of suicide compared with the rest of the population. Just how can leaving them living independently in society be called ‘caring’ for them? Perhaps the Guardian or might consider writing a piece called ‘Please don’t listen to the voices in your head’.

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Andrew Devine
Andrew Devine
Andrew Devine is an Orwell Prize winning writer & blogger

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