People with Mental Issues are Witches

schizophrenic by ~omsplease

schizophrenic by ~omsplease

About a month ago, I read a post on BBW in which a girl from the Valley described the horrible way society treated her Paranoid Schizophrenic brother.

After reading it I started typing away, furious as I was, cause I needed to vent my frustration and share my opinion about society WITH society.

You see, besides being a great inspiration for most of my work, society and all of its ugliness is a very sensitive subject for me.

I come from a family in which Domestic Violence seemed to have a higher priority than raising healthy children. My sister was bullied terribly in elementary school, because, basically, we lived in a little town and she was a pretty child. I have a niece, who is epileptic and mentally handicapped and was always singled out and laughed at for her disabilities, even by her own family. When my Dysthymic Disorder kicked in in high-school, I have had years where I was accepted and years where I was the ‘weirdo’.

After all these experiences, when I finished high-school at age 17, I made it my mission to never be labeled as ‘the weirdo’ again. To give no one the opportunity to ever see one of my flaws. I became the ‘Perfect Human-being’ — according to what I thought society expected of me.

To get the looks, I needed money. To get the money, I rolled into crime, which was the ‘perfect choice’, because crime would also take care of the respect — or, rather, the fear.

After six years, my drive to fit in left me with a drug- and alcohol-addiction, a rap-sheet, a ‘double depression‘, scars on my knuckles, a broken nose, no real friends and a girlfriend who was doubting our relationship.

Although it were my choices that brought me all of the above, I suppose, due to my young age, you can understand my anger towards society.

If society had been a bit nicer with me growing up, I would’ve never been ‘pushed’ to make these choices — of course there’s the aspect of ‘a stable home’, but I didn’t realize that at the time.

My post and comments arguing my deep-rooted anger towards society gained a lot of support from other bloggers — and then, there was Duncan’s comment.

He pointed out to me that society reacts to ‘weirdo’s’ the way it does, not out of disrespect or a lack of care, but out of fear.

Example: When a random person passes a homeless person on the street, he/she covers the sight – for what we cannot see, does not exist – and passes by, but in a group, us human beings gather collective ‘courage’ and curse at the homeless person, or, if one is feeling like taking the alpha-role, spit and piss on him.

According to Duncan, it’s the group-dynamic that makes people behave like monsters towards those who differ from what is ‘normal’.

In other words: compared to the 16th century, we might have made giant leaps forward when it comes to technology, we even invented a couple of laws that ‘guarantee’ a more ‘harmonious’ and ‘safe’ way of living, but when it comes down to humanity, respect and open-mindedness, we’re still the same ignorant, murderous bastards we were during the witch-hunt.

witch-hunt by =miguellore

witch-hunt by =miguellore

The only difference is: we don’t kill anyone — hands-on, that is.

Honestly, I would prefer to live in the 16th century and be burned alive.

Back then, at least it was obvious who was being the asshole and who was the victim.

Nowadays, society burns and executes our mental being, our soul, and the damage they create is just as invisible as our illness.

For what we cannot see, does not exist…

Written by: Daan van den Bergh;
A 28 year old husband and father from The Netherlands. Over at my blog I share poetry, short stories, flash fiction and commentary in an attempt to pour society’s issues into the art of writing. Visit my blog at Daanvandenbergh.comFollow me on Twitter and like me on Facebook.

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51 comments

  1. […] me today, over at the powerful blog of Deliberate Donkey, and read my guest-post, called: “People with Mental Issues are Witches”, in which I discuss society in all its […]

  2. I agree, our society is conditioned to find the weakest, and to deliberately torture them. This is what we learn from kindergarden through high school. Our government leaders being poor role models does not help. They embezzle, have sexual affairs, use their power as a perch rather than as a responsibility, and they engage in wars just for the sake of greed.
    I was the class loser. My life was growing up with abusive, alcoholic parents. I held in what happened at home when I went to school everyday and still managed to not flunk any grades. It wasn’t easy. The ambulances and police cars were a large distraction. The whole town knew what was going on but no one investigated. This went on until I was kicked out at 17 and have been on my own since.
    Goog examples of how to treat fellow humans start at the top, and our top in the United States is crooked, greedy, and controlling. These traits trickle to the business owners, to their employees, to their children. All is influenced by the actions of a few. There can never be peace on this world because man has been raised up to be distinct. And in peace man would be equal. Some men/women don’t want equal, they want to be better. This eliminates the chance for peace. No one is on the same playing field.
    By being exclusive there is the feeling of being special and having power over others. Some wont give that up willingly. Liked your article, well done.

    1. Wow, I love your comment and I agree wholeheartedly. Your comment basically describes the source of all that is wrong with this world. Love it! Especially this phrase: “Some men/women don’t want equal, they want to be better.”

      Would you be willing to expand on that in a guest-post on my blog? If so, please contact me using this form.

  3. Well said, Daan. People are afraid of what they don’t understand, and don’t want to try to understand what they are afraid of. I’m glad you’ve broken the cycle for yourself.

    1. I sure have. Thank you for reading and commenting, Faith.

  4. You make an interesting point about group dynamic, Daan. The “power of the pack” mentality as one of my History teachers put it. I constantly am amazed that despite humans being primates/social animals, we seem all to willing to become herd animals…just go with the flow, in other words.

    People will do things that are morally reprehensible because they “weren’t in their right mind”, were “just following orders” or because “everyone else was doing it”. Why? What is it about the human psyche that so many of us seem content…nay, WILLING to give up our individuality and personal beliefs simply to feel a sense of peer attachment?

    I have not understood this, ever. I treasure my individuality more than anything (in relation to me, at least). I could live with being blinded, maimed, beaten or abused. Hell, I have lived through some of that. But if I somehow lost my mind, the part of me that is ME, I’d die. I can not, for the life of me, comprehend people who give their essence of self up so readily just to feel “accepted”.

    Thoughts?

    1. I honestly think it’s insecurity. Society programs people from young to fit into the stereotype: popularity, success, wealth, etc. We have to be better, we NEED TO WIN. As we are all programmed this way, the moment we ‘lack’ one of these features, or lose, we become insecure, because you have to admit: it requires a damn strong individual to be an actual individual in this world. To not become insecure or feel bad after you lost at something. We grow up with the hypocrite belief that failure is bad, when we, like many other species, learn by failure. We don’t walk out of our mother’s vagina, no, we fall 1000’s of times before we get it right. We first ramble not understable crap before we can actually get one word right, but society learns us that the moment we grow up, failure is not an option. And that’s the most retarded thing ever.

      I look at people as herd animals, and I often joke about it, too: “Of course, just follow the herd…” because we prefer the ‘security’ of the herd over our individuality. 90% of people will sell their individual ideas and (more importantly) IDEALS for a bit of “security” provided by a herd of “like-minded” people.

  5. “In other words: compared to the 16th century, we might have made giant leaps forward when it comes to technology, we even invented a couple of laws that ‘guarantee’ a more ‘harmonious’ and ‘safe’ way of living, but when it comes down to humanity, respect and open-mindedness, we’re still the same ignorant, murderous bastards we were during the witch-hunt.” – this completely said it all.

    1. Thank you, Oloriel. I’m happy you enjoyed reading my piece.

  6. twindaddy · · Reply

    I used to be extremely judgemental. It was brought to my attention by my ex-wife that I was doing it. After I had been broken and was able to see who I was, I made a conscious effort to change that.

    Since then, I see where I got it from. My father. He passes a judgement on damn near everyone that walks by. I went out to eat with him last week and noticed as he gave a look of disdain to a man who walked by covered in tattoos. He made passing comments about others and I just sat there wondering how he could think these people worthless without ever having said a word to them.

    It is fear, I think. We fear what we don’t understand. I’ve come to a point where, instead of passing judgement on things I don’t understand, I try to ask questions so I CAN understand. Am I perfect? Absolutely not. I still have work to do. But I’ve come a long way.

    Great post, Daan. As always. It takes a fair amount of strength to go through what you have and turn out into the great man you’ve become. Bravo to you, sir.

    1. It’s funny you mention a man covered in tattoo’s.

      The other day I had to go out and buy supplies (because we’re improving our house to make it more sellable) and as I was waiting at the bus-stop, a man covered in tattoos approached the bus-stop as well. Other people at the bus-stop stared at his tattoos, as he had them in his face and ears, etc. I noticed the people staring at him, but I didn’t pay them attention. On purpuse, to make them feel stupid, I said to the man: “Any idea when the bus comes?”
      The man looked at me, filled with joy and surprise, and answered with a song in his voice: “In five minutes I think!”

      After that I made some more conversation, cause I wondered if an ear and face tattoo hurt — as you put so well: “Ask questions”.

      It made me sad, though. That the man was so surprised that someone talked to him. Can you imagine how this man usually goes through life, just because he did something that he thinks is pretty?

      1. twindaddy · · Reply

        I have no idea. So many people associate tattoos with being a criminal it’s just sad.

        1. It also doesn’t help when you have people referring back to the Book of Leviticus where it says about not getting tattoos (because back then, I think, it was a symbol of worship to a god who wasn’t YHWH the God of Israel) and saying that if you’ve got ink, you must be a worshipper of Satan. And here’s me, with my ink, quietly getting on with being in a Religious community… Not that many of the Sisters know about my tatts or have seen them.

          1. twindaddy · · Reply

            I don’t get it. Ink is just ink. It means something different to each person.

            1. It is just ridiculous what some people will get a bee in their bonnet about. One senior sister was reported to say that she didn’t think it mattered what people did before they joined community, because you can’t expect people to live according to vows they’ve not taken (or promised to live by). This apparently shocked some others, but they did see the point.

              1. twindaddy · · Reply

                Some people’s horses are higher than others…

                1. The higher they are, the harder they’ll fall, we can only hope.

                  1. twindaddy · · Reply

                    Doesn’t seem to happen that way.

                    1. I know. Sometimes, life sucks.

                    2. twindaddy · ·

                      Indeed.

                  2. I love that saying. It has given me confidence during many fights. 😉

          2. No one should be judged for the color of their skin or whatever is on their skin. It’s art, nothing more than that and as TD says: it means something else to anyone.

            If any of your Sisters will ever judge you for your tats, I think they don’t belong there. Isn’t religion supposed to teach acceptance and forgiveness?

            1. The Sisters who’ve seen the tats think they’re pretty. And I know they don’t have a problem with them as there was someone else here for a time who had tats as well. It was my personal choice to put them in a place where they’re not easily seen, for two reasons – the main one being to do with protecting my skin from the sun and making sure the ink doesn’t fade, as I can’t afford to keep on getting them re-done. The subsiduary reason was that while I’ve got them, and can show them off if I want to, I don’t want them to be visible all the time. They’re mine, not any one else’s.

  7. The animal that stands out from the herd is the first to die. Wild horses will often exclude one of the herd if it is white because it’s so much easier for the predator to see it in the dark, marking it as the next victim.

    Non-wealthy humans have evolved to have this same mentality – the peasant who blends into the crowd is less likely to be singled out for torture by the resident Lord. We separate ourselves by sex, color, obvious markings (scars, deformities, tattoos, etc.) and any other differences to give ourselves a (false) sense of security. And superiority. And exclusivity. All fueled by a desire to one day be the resident Lord.

    I think it’s less about fear (we know mental illness is not contagious, fer-cryin-out-loud!) and more about greed and selfishness – we don’t want to be perceived as “weak” by someone who may one day help us up that elusive ladder that we call “success.”

    Those in power exploit this tendency to their best advantage, labeling the latest “monster” as a threat we must all guard against, be watchful for, etc. maintaining a low-level panic at all times. Not really any different than what the church did several hundred years ago to keep the peasants from thinking for themselves and overthrowing their rulers.

    1. I love how you compare humanity to natural behavior. Society has tried very hard to separate us from the animal kingdom, but we will always be instinctive creatures.

      It’s not the fear of it being contagious, it’s a fear of what we don’t understand, but yes, it might very well be a reaction out of preservation of the herd, or, in our case, preservation of wealth, possessions, opportunities and success. Because money equals happiness, right?

      Instilling fear on the population has always been a trick to keep “the herd” at bay. Terrorism is a continuous threat, although the chance of you being killed by a terrorist is 1 in 20 million, I believe? Yet the United States government sees it as a major risk and a great excuse to instill all kinds of violence upon the world.

      Many secrets are being uncovered lately and I believe this whole bubble the US government created will burst soon. The moment that happens, many people will be confronted with their own hypocrisy, and when that happens, that will be a giant leap forward to peace.

      1. Humans are a part of nature and if more people understood that, really understood that we are instinctive creatures, there would be all kinds of Good Things happening.

        We Americans have been sold the idea that Money equals Happiness, and if you don’t have money, Stuff works just as well and here’s a credit card to help you get it. It’s insidious and maddening to those of us who have opened our eyes and given a moment’s thought to who really benefits if we have a new car every year. Because we are so busy acquiring Stuff, we can’t be bothered to spare any attention for something we don’t understand or want to understand – time spent thinking is time spent away from our Stuff, and that is Bad. Very simplistic, but I see it around me everywhere I go.

        The “terror threat” is another diversionary tactic and it’s working very well here – just watch the news on any given night to learn who you are supposed to fear tomorrow. Lock your doors, don’t talk to your neighbors, don’t question authority, keep your head down and maybe you won’t be killed in your sleep. The wolves have the sheep surrounded, that’s a fact!

        People, when confronted with their own hypocrisy, tend to behave badly. I think there will be a time of increased violence before we finally get to the peace that older cultures enjoy. Our country is so young, and our leaders so arrogant that we are bound to fail before we succeed. It’s only a matter of time.

        1. I love your point of view, Sofia Leo. Would you like to elaborate on the Power of Stuff on my blog in a guest post?

          1. I would be honored!

  8. I’m so with you on this, if you don’t look disabled you aren’t and my abusive family took that attitude with me too. Just for the record, I have epilepsy, and another medical issue that no one would know unless I told them. Add in the C-PTSD…it just sucks that society judges so harshly (Gov. too) Don’t get me started on that!! lol

    1. Society is a cold-blooded killer, sadly.

      Thank you for reading and your comment and I wish you all the best.

      1. that it is. thank you for sharing this!

  9. Great post Daan. I did the opposite of what you did. To an extent. I became the model wife and mother. I hid my depression and anxiety by hiding in my home, eating to morbid obesity and drinking excessively. On the outside, everything looked groovy. On the inside I was falling apart. I still am, but I’ve identified my triggers and gotten help. My family is supportive although I’ve damaged my relationships with some of them. I’ll keep working to mend myself and my family.

    We are good people, even with our mental issues. I think it makes us better artists. Don’t you?

    1. Diamonds are forged by unbearable amounts of pressure, Renee. It’s no different with human beings.

      1. Yes Daan they most certainly are. I’m glad I found the gem that is you.

  10. It’s such a shame the stigma that mental health has. It’s perfectly acceptable to talk about taking blood pressure medication, but not anti-depressants. If mental health had a quarter of the awareness that other causes have, you and I wouldn’t have had childhoods like we did. We wouldn’t have become drug addicts. i wouldn’t have gone most of my life unmedicated.

    1. Well, of course, there is the very important factor of a stable home. If my parents would’ve tried a little harder to allow me to develop some self-confidence, then I probably wouldn’t have been so affected by society’s negativity and judgmental character.

      I definitely see your point, though, but parents make or break you. If the core is destroyed, society can’t do anything for you. If the core is solid, society has to work really hard to destroy you.

      1. Well, yes. I wasn’t saying that the was solely responsible. Parents are ultimately responsible for raising their children.

  11. “Back then, at least it was obvious who was being the asshole and who was the victim.”
    Very true. Nowadays, people have the opportunity to hide in groups – and let the ‘evil’ out in poisonous little bursts. Isn’t it cool to do that and still feel innocent… feel totally ‘clean’ when coming home in the evening?
    Yep, sarcasm.
    Great post, Daan – but I expected nothing less. 🙂

    1. I love your sarcasm, Miriam, and I completely understand what you mean.

      I see it here, too. People seem to be incapable of expressing their actual emotions, but instead grab each and every moment to stab a tiny knife betweens your ribs. Passive aggressive little bitches. And yes, these people go through life ‘believing’ they’re holy.

      Thank you for your continuous support and comments, Miriam. It’s much appreciated.

  12. Thought-provoking. Yes, the group dynamic will either lynch or liberate you. Sometimes it just leaves you alone. We learn the art of conformity from childhood. I watch my daughter and have seen how she has gone from expressing her opinions fairly openly, to ensuring that she holds the dominant opinion, however ludicrous. I try to teach her about the power of difference and the responsibility we have to act out of goodness, but it is a battle sometimes. Her pack behaviour is benign at the moment (she’s five and has learned that girls are meant to like princesses and pink *sigh* – not from me, I should add). But I take great pains to try to instil in her the beauty of doing and being the unexpected.

    In my view, the pack will maim the individual when the individual is perceived as threatening the norm. In Papua New Guinea, for instance, until recently, women who might have fallen out of favour with the community were often accused of witchcraft and burned in a spontaneous lynching. This happened as recently as February. How can this happen? Through a combination of factors, among them: poverty, alcoholism, entrenched patriarchal attitudes and a herd mentality. Thanks for the post.

    1. I see more and more parents trying to learn their children the power of individuality — it’s the only reason why I have some hope left for the future. I do the same with my son, he’ll turn 3 in october, so I still have a long way to go. 🙂

      The society we created is an interesting mechanism, and it isn’t built to last. The trick to keeping the strong individuals under control, was keeping them isolated. Yet the elite invests billions in technological advance. More and more people are threatening the norm and thanks to the internet, these people are connecting and gaining confidence to express themselves towards the ‘normal’, gaining enemies AND respect from people still within the norm.

      I believe strength and individuality will prevail. One day…

  13. Reblogged this on Sheva's Cross of Change Blog and commented:
    excellent blog & comments, sharing so others may see this , thankyou

    1. Thank you for reblogging my post! 😀

  14. Jaded Simplicity · · Reply

    Great Post Daan. I myself find that society does not treat people that have been diagnosed with some mental issue the same, but that is purely out of fear of the unknown. i feel that awareness must be raised with regards to these illnesses, as society will then see that it is very well controlled if treatment is obtained. i was diagnosed with Bipolar, Major Depression, Anorexia and OCD. With my medication keeping me “sane”, no one will ever know that I am a “freak”. I think that there is not enough information out there for the self involved and uneducated “normal” people of the world.

    1. I’m very sensitive when it comes to medicating those with mental issues. My wife suffers from PTSD and with her, it helps take the edge off, take the anxiety away, and she can focus on the core of her issues.

      I was diagnosed with Dysthymia and MDD (or: double depression) and I’m happy my therapist helped me fight through and observe the episodes without medication. He also helped me realize that there is no such thing as ‘normal’ and that the only thing that matters is happiness. Basically my therapy was all about removing the obstacles from my mind, so I could lead a life without holding myself back.

      The “normal”, uneducated, self-involved society is slowly decreasing in size, because of people like us raising awareness, but also because many of them suffer from mental illnesses, but are too afraid of the consequences to come out and say it. They live a life full of self-neglect, until the mental issue becomes a hardcoded physical issue and eventually collapse at age 40-50.

      Stay strong, Jaded, you are not a “freak”, if anything, you’re superior to the norm.

      1. Jaded Simplicity · · Reply

        Thank you Daan. I am happy to hear that you and your wife are both doing well. Stay positive. I will be happy if I can make a difference in one persons perception of what mental disorders are.

        1. By now, I think there are so much people with mental disorders, that if every mentally ill person changed one “normal” persons perception, we would’ve changed the entire world. 🙂

  15. Jaded Simplicity · · Reply

    Reblogged this on Jaded Simplicity and commented:
    I am very passionate about mental disorders as society does not understand and realize that everybody is just human

    1. Thank you for the reblog!

  16. What an absolute captivating post. You had me at been a bit nicer.

speak loudly, donkeys are sleeping

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