“I’m not like you. I’m normal. You are mentally ill.”
–Dr. Max Bergman, Hawaii 5-O
I watch crime shows with my mother. We are currently working on the modern reboot of Hawaii 5-O, which is not without its flaws, but definitely is worthwhile. My favorite character is Max Bergman, the team’s ME, who cheerfully plays piano, drives a fancy car, cuts up dead bodies, and cosplays as Neo from the Matrix. In many ways, he is my type of person.
So when I heard him deliver the aforementioned line, it was not unlike getting punched in the stomach.
I am so tired of evil actions being conflated with mental illness, as though that explains it. Every time I hear it happen, it just cements the betrayal I feel from people I respect. I suffer from anxiety and depression–by far the most common of mental illnesses in my country–and it physically hurts me when people just offhand say “Oh, there must be something wrong with his brain.”
No. Forget that. I have something wrong with my brain. My brain is not right. Every time you say “You are evil because your brain is broken,” you are also saying “Only those with broken brains can be evil.” And that is wrong. You are wrong. And it is so very, very few steps from “only broken-brains can be evil” to “only broken-brains ARE evil” to “all broken-brains are evil.” And don’t tell me that won’t happen. Because it does.
And I just have anxiety and depression. What about those with autism, who are linked with serial killers and stalkers in the media so often? What about those with hallucinations, or psychosis? What about those schizophrenia?
We are people too. We are not different from you. We have the exact same capacity for evil as you. We have the exact same capacity for goodness as you.
If you prick us, we bleed.
Stop pretending otherwise.