Minding the Media Articles

Delusional Thinking 101: How Blaming Mental Illness Won’t Help Stop Mass Shootings

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Delusional Thinking 101: How Blaming Mental Illness Won't Help Stop Mass ShootingsWe’ve written in the past how there’s is a real delusional disconnect between the desire to act to stop future mass shootings, and people constantly pointing the finger at mental illness as being the root of the problem.

I say “delusional” because the leap of logic it takes to utter statements like, “mentally ill people only account for a small fraction of the gun deaths in America every year” and “the vast majority of those gun deaths are suicide, not homicide,” and then to blame such violence on mental illness is mind-boggling. I just cannot understand it.

Yet that’s exactly what Mel Robbins over at CNN has done. She says “don’t blame the NRA” for these shootings. I say, stop blaming people with mental illness too.

‘We Would Need a Monument 5 Times Bigger than the Vietnam Memorial’

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

need-monument-vietnam-memorial

We can do more to prevent gun-related mental health deaths. But probably not the deaths you’re thinking of.

You’re probably thinking of all those high-profile, media-driven mass shootings that apparently are becoming more and more common. You might even think the shooter’s mental health is a big component of identifying and preventing similar future shootings.

But the title of this headline isn’t referring to just those deaths. It’s referring to the estimated 300,000 people killed by gunshot wounds in the past decade that were due to mental illness.

And the reason so few people care about these deaths? Because the vast majority of them — more than 95 percent — are suicides.

Violence Against Women: The Washington Post’s Sad, Sloppy Journalism

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Violence Against Women: The Washington Post's Sad, Sloppy JournalismOne would hope that one of the last bastion’s of good journalism wouldn’t just publish some researchers’ thoughts on a topic without vetting the research they’re based upon. Not at the Washington Post.

In an article originally entitled, “One way to end violence against women? Stop taking lovers and get married,” researchers Robin Wilson and W. Bradford Wilcox decided to ignore all the other risk factors research has identified for partner violence against women and focus only on one of them.

In doing so, the scientists seemed to have purposely painted a biased, blurry picture of what we know about violence against women — especially in partner relationships.

Taking Too Many Selfies? Don’t Worry, It’s Not a Disorder

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Taking Too Many Selfies? Don't Worry, It's Not a DisorderA news article was recently published that described how the American Psychiatric Association had classified taking too many selfies as a new mental disorder.

The only problem? It wasn’t true.

Showing that far too many people don’t ever bother to check to see what kind of website they’re on, thousands of people tweeted and posted links to the fake news article. Nobody stopped for a minute to ask, “Hey, is this true? How come no other news website is reporting it?”

Don’t worry — taking too many selfies isn’t a mental disorder.

Police Missed Locking Up Elliot Rodger, Santa Barbara Mass Murderer

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

Police Missed Locking Up Elliot Rodger, Santa Barbara Mass MurdererOn Friday, a month after police were first alerted to Elliot Rodger’s odd YouTube videos and paid him a visit, Rodger took out revenge as he had promised on his “Day of Retribution.” Luckily for the rest of us, his “Day of Retribution” apparently lasted about 20 minutes. Which is a fitting end to a man who appears to have been at least a little bit narcissistic.

Unlike most mass shooting murderers, Elliot Rodger left us a 140-page manifesto where he lays out his complete life in detail. And while it’s clear from reading this document (part autobiography, part explanation as to why a “Day of Retribution” is needed) that here is a man who has some issues, it’s not clear exactly where those issues came from.

And more importantly, the document sheds little light on what led this man to commit such heinous crimes. He seemed to have had a life of little hardship — outside of being a bit socially awkward (and what teen hasn’t been there?). Most socially-rejected, lonely teenagers don’t go on killing rampages. So what made Elliot Rodger different?

And why didn’t the police pick up on this soon-to-be killer?

The Ritual Sacrifice of Amanda Knox

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

The Ritual Sacrifice of Amanda KnoxWhat do domestic violence, terrorism, the apparently renewable cold war and the repeat trials of Amanda Knox have in common? In a word, the devolution of humanity.

Knox, if you managed to miss the media storm about her, is the young American exchange student convicted, acquitted, then convicted again of the 2007 brutal murder of her roommate in Italy. She is currently living in her hometown of Seattle while awaiting yet another trial, an appeal to the Italian Supreme Court later this year.

Scapegoating ADHD — Because It’s Popular

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Scapegoating ADHD -- Because It's Popular

As if people with a mental illness didn’t have enough to worry about.

One of the favorite media topics to write about is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a potentially serious mental illness that affects millions of Americans. It causes them to not be able to focus on everyday tasks that most of us have little trouble with. Many people with ADHD can’t sit still, interrupt others, and can’t wait their turn. Others find any kind of task that requires sustained attention simply impossible.

In the modern world, with so many devices and services competing for our attention, ADHD is at the heart of a perfect storm for those afflicted. While most of us juggle our attempts at multi-tasking seemingly well, those with untreated ADHD have a hard time just getting started.

So it makes me wonder: why are so many journalists quick to pick on ADHD?

Military, Media Quick to Report Fort Hood Shooter’s Mental Health Status

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

Military, Media Quick to Report Fort Hood Shooter's Mental Health StatusThere’s no way to stop the rare mass shootings that occur in the United States. You may not like it, but it’s a fact no amount of laws or background checks will ever fix.

Every time a new shooting occurs, it’s a tragedy. No words can begin to describe the senseless violence of a mass shooting.

But it’s even more of a tragedy when the media — with the help of the military, in this case — is quick to report that an alleged suspect in such shootings was seeking mental health treatment for a concern. Especially when it ended up having nothing to do with the shootings.

Why No One is Talking About the Possible Overdiagnosis of Autism

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Why No One is Talking About the Possible Overdiagnosis of AutismWith the latest CDC figures out, it appears autism is now appearing in about 1 in 68 children in the United States. The disorder — now officially known as autism spectrum disorder — is being diagnosed at a rate that represents a 30 percent increase from 1 in 88 two years ago.

What’s amazing to me is that I couldn’t find a single media report that floated the idea that this increase represents an overdiagnosis of the disorder. While “overdiagnosis” seems to be the first thing suggested when the topic is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder’s (ADHD) huge jump in diagnoses over the past two decades, it’s not mentioned in any description of autism’s increase.

Why the double-standard?

Are Moods & Emotions ‘Contagious’ on Facebook?

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

Are Moods & Emotions 'Contagious' on Facebook?Some news outlets are blaring that a new study recently published demonstrates moods are “contagious” on online social networks, like Facebook. Parroting the tone and talking points from the news release on the study, it appears nobody bothered to read the actual study before doing their reporting on it.

However, it doesn’t take an empirical study to understand that our moods impact one another. If you’re depressed and you live with your family, your depressed mood is going to affect your family. If you’re manic and hang out with your friends, chances are some of that manic energy is going to rub off on them.

We would expect that same thing to occur online, wouldn’t we?

Barriers to Mental Health Treatment: Stigma or Self-Sufficiency?

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

barrier-mental-health-treatment-stigma-prejudice

While some media outlets are reporting that a recently published study implicates mental health stigma as one of the primary reasons for people not seeking out treatment, that’s only a part of the story.

Glossed over by most media reports of the study is that the study actually found larger barriers to treatment that pale in comparison next to the concept of “stigma” (or, more accurately, discrimination and prejudice).

Let’s take a quick look…

Overselling the Benefits of Mindfulness

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Bored to TearsJust a few days ago I realized I was bored with the Internet and my mobile devices.

Together they have contributed to my font of trivial knowledge. But it has been a very long time since I delved deeply enough into a topic to fully understand it, or to contribute to it with original ideas.

And perhaps most important, I have been losing my sense of nuance. All discourse seems to fall on one side or the other. Intellectually, I have been anything but mindful. In fact, the constant barrage of information, updates, and check-ins, and my 24-hour availability (and that of everyone I know) have turned me into a cognitive fight-or-flight machine.

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