Friday, January 30, 2009

Mental health advocates say calling Rod Blagojevich "crazy," "psychotic" offensive

From the Chicago Tribune:

In recent days, Rod Blagojevich has been branded as sociopathic, delusional, narcissistic, grandiose and psychotic, as well as cuckoo, crazy, wacko and off his rocker. And mental health advocates are upset about it.

The language offends many and blames mental illness for alleged criminal behavior, they say.

Ann Raney, CEO for Turning Point Behavioral Health Care Center in Skokie, said the center's board members were so disturbed about the name-calling that they devoted much of a meeting last week to talking about it.

"We need to be clear that unethical or confusing or bad behavior should never be construed as mental illness," Raney said.

On the contrary, statistics show that people suffering from mental illness are more likely to be victims of crime than they are to be perpetrators, said Fran McClain, program director for the Josselyn Center for Mental Health in Northfield.

What's more, a true diagnosis should be left to a professional, said Barb Maier, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness chapter in northern Cook County.

"No one should be slinging around pejorative terms, let alone diagnosing someone they have never met," she said.

Of course, this does not rule out the possibility that the governor is mentally ill.

"If he is, rather than prosecuting him and making him a criminal, what he needs is treatment," Maier said.