Thursday, 2 July 2015

Are all terrorists and Murderers mentally ill?

Last week the Channel 4 live satire show, The Last Leg, returned to our screens on the day of the terrorist attack in Tunisia and the murder in France. Josh Widdicombe asked a question which I'm sure some people will have found offensive but actually it is a question worth asking yourself. I paraphrase but he asked whether everyone who commits mass murder or terrorism is at least slightly mentally ill.



There is a stigma surrounding mental health. The immediate stereotype that the film industry has given us is people whose actions and thought processes are completely unacceptable or cannot be understood. By this measure, the question is right. For the vast majority of people on this planet, regardless of their culture, race or religion, the thought of killing one person is incomprehensible yet alone acts of terrorism or mass murder. But as we have previously discussed, we all have mental health and it is a spectrum not a simple mad or sane decision.

In the UK a person can be found not guilty through grounds of diminished responsibility or insanity. Adam Hills, the presenter of the programme, was quick to point out that by the above standard, everyone who commits murder would be mentally ill. If you agree with me that mental health is a spectrum, where do you draw a line saying he's guilty or he isn't. Where on the colour spectrum does blue become ultra violet?

In UK law we follow something called the M'Naghten Rules. It states that "to establish a defence on the ground of insanity, it must be clearly proved that, at the time of the committing of the act, the party accused was labouring under such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing; or, if he did know it, that he did not know what he was doing was wrong"

In short?
 Did the person know what he/she was doing was wrong? Did they understand what they were doing?

If the answer is yes - as it is for the terrorists who attacked the beach in Tunisia or the murderers - are responsible for their actions. For the little boy who killed his sister or whatever it was in EastEnders the answer is yes and no/maybe - this would be diminished responsibility and it would be unfair and unjust to treat him the same as someone who killed in cold blood. For someone who was completely detached from reality, the answer to both is no; even if they normally would know that murder is wrong. We as humans, have a duty of care to each other.

Considering how complicated mental health is, I find in shocking that when it comes to crime and responsibility we are lucky enough to have a division this clear. I am sure there will be examples that 'muddy the waters'.

Earlier this week in my new series on this blog, I answered the question whether being public on social media about my mental health is a good idea. Have a read of that article. Do you think terrorists or murderers like Ian Huntley (The Soham Killer) are as mentally ill as me? I go back to my point. It is a spectrum.                         Scroll down for more

That is the stigma of mental health. Where do you sit on the spectrum?



Moving back to my own personal story...

I have been a little better this week compared to rereading last week's post. 
It is actually quite impressive at how just being slightly more aware of your own mental health, how much better you can be and how much better you can interact with the world. From Falcon's 21st Birthday party through some dealing with some rather blunt people, I've managed to cope and move on in my own pessimistic way. Part of this was due to receiving the report from my first assessment which happened whilst I was off sick.



I sent it to my Dad first and panicked when he didn't read it and reply right away but actually it was all OK. The report in places glazes over and offers a very brief summary of events. In some ways it is a very eerie and out of body type experience to see yourself, as a person, being described through the eyes of another. It does however make me think, that if I was reading this report about someone else then I would definitely be more lenient, caring and forgiving to them then I am to myself. some of the report I feel strangely proud about. I'll wrap up this week with a quote from that assessment.

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I must say I found him friendly, engaging and far from self-centred. He was able to appreciate and take the position of others. I do think he might put on a defensive and overly jovial front to his difficulties where he minimises the severity of his difficulties. This may however emerge as a barrier to therapeutic progress.