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Do Books Like This Perpetuate Mental Illness Stigma?

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So I was walking through the bookstore a while ago, looking through psychology and living books, when I came across “Dangerous Personalities.: It is a book written by a former FBI profiler (yes, like “Criminal Minds”) who basically warns us about the dangerous personalities of the people who may harm you. For example, we have the narcissistic personality, the paranoid personality, the emotionally unstable personality and the predator. The book also includes a helpful list of those personality traits and self-defense tips.As a person diagnosed with more than one mental illness, I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t know how to interpret this book. “Is this acceptable?” “Are there more people other than myself who feel uncomfortable on this topic?” I was never diagnosed with any of these traits, but I believe books like this perpetuate the stigma of mental illness. Now, your average Joe can identify anyone around him as having a “dangerous personality.” Without an education in psychology, a lot of the symptoms may seem vague. “Trust no one and you’ll never get hurt” is quoted for the chapter on paranoid personality, and oddly I strongly identify with this quote, and yet I do not have a paranoid personality. I am not dangerous. I can think of some people who would fit in “what’s mine is mine, and what yours is mine,” and yet they are not predators. They may not even have a psychological diagnosis.

I don’t like thinking this book will fall into the hands of ignorant people. I don’t like thinking this is how they think at the FBI. I don’t like that we label violent offenders before they have committed a violent offense (would that still make them a violent offender?). This book makes me wonder if shows like “Criminal Minds” perpetuate the stigma of mental illness, though I enjoy the show very much. This book definitely perpetuates the stigma of mental illness. And I’m sure there are several books like it, written by credible people.

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Originally published: November 20, 2016
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