We with them

In the movie, an extraordinary, elegant, but crazy villain always fascinates the audience. Clowns, Hannibal, and a series of antisocial and psychopathic villains have “supported” how many movies and TV shows. All mental illness adds a layer of mystery and special flavor to the character. In real life, psychological abnormalities are associated with criminals and evil. People with schizophrenia are afraid to stay away, and people with depression are blamed for their weakness. It seems that it is better to keep these mentally ill people far away in the “Crazy Asylum” to be responsible for public safety.

Now, think back, what is your attitude towards the mentally ill? Is it an attractive mystery, a guilty fondness? Or is it a dangerous hidden danger for the blameable object found in life? Although these views may seem quite different, they actually have the same psychological mechanism-otherness.

In society, people naturally form two collective concepts of “them” and “us”. “We” is a group of people who “I” agree with. People in this group often have similarities, which can be gender, ethnicity, or preferences. “Them” is the opposite of “us”. Be hostile and different. In the period of human beings and tribal societies, this alternative mechanism can ensure the collective survival, so that the race can continue. This phenomenon is still everywhere in modern society. In the arena, the different supporting teams have formed a collective difference between “us” and “they”. The slogan of the comparison is the loudest and tidy, and the quality is the most obvious after leaving. Now the concept of “us” is easier to change than in ancient times. In the provincial basketball games, people from different cities support the teams in different cities; in national games, the formerly hostile fans of each province unite against the fans of other provinces. In international competitions, the country has become the “us”. Who is treated as “them” changes with the focus of attention.

However, the phenomenon of “segregation” can easily cause social contradictions, which is obvious in people’s attitude towards mental illness. Psychological and mental illness is romanticized through literary processing. The drama added in order to win the eyeballs makes people with mental illness in literary film and television show an exaggeration that is incompatible with the world we usually contact. This exaggeration has opened the distance between the audience and the characters of the plot. For things that are far away, the public will put down more vigilance. We have a higher tolerance for these characters who live in a fictional world, anyway, they will not have a real impact on us, so we do not have to blame them with realistic morals. But off screen, the romantic color of mental illness no longer exists, and we can no longer easily forgive the evils of these charming villains. The exaggerated destructiveness of literature is magnified. At the same time, reports of property damage or casualties caused by people with mental illness have deepened the perception that this group is dangerous. Therefore, the combination of the sense of distance brought by this artistic creation and the frequent eye-catching reports of the media makes the public feel that the psychopaths are not “us” but “them” and a dangerous “them” who need to stay away.

In a group that one agrees with and wants to maintain, one makes individual sacrifices for the group. Group resources are limited, and if everyone wants to maximize their own benefits, no one will be satisfied in the end. Vicious competition will only accelerate the disintegration of the group and conflict with the purpose of staying in the group. To be able to find balance, members of the group choose to be tolerant within the group-for the benefit of the longer term in the future. However, the groups that have been turned into “them” have no benefits that can be shared by “we”. Moderation and kindness cannot expand the interests of “me”, then “they” do not need equality and respect. Moreover, if the object of alienation is dangerous, then “they” can be the object of which they should be hated. In Europe and the United States, the earliest AIDS was known as the “gay plague” and is believed to be caused by African countries. People in African countries think that the European countries, such as Britain, brought the disaster. This is because homosexuality was “them” that was not generally accepted by society at that time, and the geographical distance formed a natural identification boundary. The incurability of early AIDS is alarming. Out of their own protection, people have no burden to attribute the source of AIDS to other groups, and point the source of transmission to geographically distant places. And this behavior has also completed the process of alienation of AIDS patients.

Similarly, this classification of “us” and “them” has led to discrimination against people with mental illness. Media reports and literary renderings have portrayed people with mental illness as deviating from real life. This sense of distance alienates mental illness. In that way, mental illness does not require us to spend valuable time to understand deeply, and we do not need to spend energy to think about how to not offend patients. How convenient is “neuropathy”, as if all the disdain and speechlessness can be summarized. Over time, the deep-rooted nature of alienation has led us to fail to detect the existence of discrimination, and even the subject of otherifications will identify with this and deny ourselves. Mental illnesses that should have been treated the same way as physical illnesses, and even more seriously than incurable diseases such as cancer, are generally commented on and laughed at and ignored.

Fortunately, finding the problem is the hardest first step. In the category of mental illness, we still have a long way to go before patients can be accepted without prejudice by the general public like patients with physical illness. The discriminatory effects of such alienation are widespread and affect not only mental illness. I hope this article can provide you with a tool to find injustices around you, and thus slowly reduce more arrogance and prejudice.