Monday, May 10, 2021

Comments by Logan CW

Showing 4 of 4 comments.

  • I wasn’t aware that accusing someone of not understanding your argument is a personal insult, but forgive me. I am aggravated because i do not seem to have the privilege of being taken seriously here.

    I’ll break this down line by line, since you refuse to do any sort of critical thinking regarding what the implications of my points might be.

    “I made very specific points, such as the clear and severe consequences of Hannah’s suicide for others she loved, and the completely cold and pointless and totally UNGLORIFIED nature of Alex’s act.”
    I did in fact address these “specific points” by way of the following remark: “Alex’s suicide represents success on Hannah’s part. Suicidal teens don’t necessarily believe that the world would be better off without them. They believe that they would be better off without the world; they feel hopelessly misunderstood, and a suicide by dramatic means such as Hannah’s may be their final attempt to force others to understand the nature of their suffering.” But I suppose I need to explain myself further. The “clear and severe consequences” of Hannah’s suicide are WHAT IS DESIRED BY SUICIDAL YOUTH. They want their deaths to be as impactful as possible. They want to inspire regret in those who have wronged them, just as Hannah very successfully inspired regret in Alex. They want to convey the sentiment that they HAD to do this, because the people in their lives left them no further options. The suicides aren’t “glorified by some mysterious psychological mechanism,” they’re glorified because the pretense under which they are committed falls perfectly in line with the massive anti-recovery movement that can be found amongst people my age online. It is becoming increasingly common for mentally ill youth, especially those with personality disorders such as borderline, to respond to the suggestion of treatment as if it were an insult. They are suffering, and the world ought to feel the weight of their despair. What better way to lash out at an unaccepting society than to put your blood on their hands.

    Next. “Hannah would 100% meet the criteria for ‘Major Depressive Disorder.’ So you can easily say she was ‘mentally ill’ just by watching the show. What did you want from the producers? That she be ‘diagnosed’ during the show?” What I would have liked from the producers would be some portrayal of the symptoms, by which I mean the disordered thought processes that preclude a suicidal episode, rather than the revenge porn we’re provided with. Even the show markets itself by prompting the audience to keep watching to find out “who killed Hannah Baker.” Hannah Baker killed Hannah Baker, and she presumably did it in the midst of a whirlwind of conflicting thoughts and feelings. The audience does not get any insight to the sort of mental life that precedes a suicide. They are merely shown an act of direct retaliation.
    Following this remark you ask, “If being ‘mentally ill’ is simply grouping together unexplained ‘symptoms,’ how is that different from saying that a person, for whatever reason, is overwhelmed by the conditions of his/her life?” What? Are you trying to tell me that the obsessions and compulsions suffered by individuals with OCD are merely “conditions of their lives?” You sound like you are denying the very existence of neurodiversity and are rather trying to pin all psychological symptoms on some inherently evil society. We can observe very clear examples of symptoms that are purely circumstantial, symptoms that are purely endogenous, and several that fall somewhere in between. It is not nature vs nurture but nature AND nurture that result in the development of mental illness. Additionally, “without a somatic cause” and “unexplained” are not the same thing. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a determinist who subscribes to the notion that we lack free will because all of our actions are predetermined by chemical reactions in the brain. Mental events have causal effects as well, and mental events are not somatic. Just because we can’t explain mental illness in terms of bodily deviance doesn’t mean that we can’t try to explain it at all.

    I’ve ignored your protests about saying this show is ideal content for suicidal youth because I haven’t actually accused you of saying that in the first place. My original comment was this: “You and many other commenters simply lack the phenomenological authority to be championing this show as a good thing for suicidal youth. It is not. It does not encourage teenagers to seek help. It does not encourage better clinical practices or less insidious procedures regarding involuntary hospitalization (which I do agree, of course, are a real problem).” By “a good thing for suicidal youth,” I mean something that will impact SOCIETY in a way that will improve conditions for suicidal people, like I tried to emphasize with my point about failing to provide any portrayal of suicide prevention tactics or addressing the practical realities of the act. Furthermore, even if that WERE what I was originally trying to say, the fact that you deny your recommendation of the show to troubled teenagers while simultaneously lauding the show as “valuable” is deeply misguided. As I’ve already said: “It seems as if you’re suggesting that the show is still valuable because it allows older individuals insight into the dramatic opera of high school, regardless of how egregious its affects on that age group may be.” If a show about suicidal youth has a negative impact on suicidal youth, I simply don’t care how touching other demographics may find it. The suicidal individuals are the ones whose well being ought to be prioritized, and as I’ll remind you, the only thing that could possibly abolish my negative judgement is a sudden reversal of the testimonies from suicidal youth that condemn this show as callous and unrealistic.

  • Look, Steve, everything I’m trying to say is going right over your head. Actually, I don’t subscribe to the “chemical imbalance” theory, but that doesn’t mean that “mental illness” is some useless term we can throw into the garbage. The DSM categories are nothing more than our best attempt to group certain symptoms together. They do not represent any preexisting “diseases” caused by unseen entities. But it’s foolhardy to suggest that what we call “mental illness” is simply difficulty dealing with society’s demands. Severely depressed people do not have to have anything particularly stressful in their lives to feel depressed. Schizophrenic people don’t require a special tipping point that throws them over the egde, and individuals with bipolar disorder cycle through their mood episodes whether or not their lives are “good.” When I say mental illness I mean nothing more than symptoms that present in a psychological manner and have no clear somatic cause. People are impaired by these things, whether they’re chemical imbalances or not; whether they’re metaphysically pre-determined “natural kinds” or not. As someone with existentialist leanings I believe that we get to decide what mental illness is. I believe that mental illness is suffering that we cannot understand by any other means. I believe that mental illness is that which impairs one from living their life. It may be temporary or it may be chronic. It may be brought about by traumatizing events or it may seem to be inherent. Either way, we must develop a treatment system.

    And YES, the suicides are glorified, you’re simply contradicting me on this point. I’ll repeat myself: you do not have the phenomenological authority to tell me how this show affects mentally ill youth. Alex’s suicide represents success on Hannah’s part. Suicidal teens don’t necessarily believe that the world would be better off without them. They believe that they would be better off without the world; they feel hopelessly misunderstood, and a suicide by dramatic means such as Hannah’s may be their final attempt to force others to understand the nature of their suffering. Again, that is the message this show endorses. No one will understand your suffering unless you kill yourself. The show may indeed appear as a tragedy to those who cannot envision themselves as the titular character. But for those who can, this show provides a blueprint. I have observed the effects of this show on my age group, both in my personal life and in online communities. It is not a positive one, and nothing besides a reversal of the sentiments I’ve observed could convince me otherwise.

    JanCarol,

    I appreciate your comment, though I don’t feel that I precisely agree with you about the nature of “triggers.” When I say something is triggering, I only mean that it summons strong emotions that we perhaps were successfully keeping at bay. There isn’t a direct causal link between the trigger and the suicidal action. But the correlation is certainly there; if someone is more likely to be overwhelmed by their hopeless feelings, they are more likely to descend into a suicidal episode. Again, though, I appreciate the nature of your reply and of course agree with you concerning your qualms with the DSM and our societal perceptions of mental illness.

  • You’re missing my point. Hannah’s suicide had nothing to do with mental illness, and that’s the problem. Most suicides do not involve people who were in ideal mental health before a slew of unfortunate events ruined their lives. Most people who commit suicide have already been dealing with mental illness in some capacity or another, and their suicidal impulses are worsened with the occurrence of crises in their lives.
    I think you’re simply out of touch if you believe a television show or book is incapable of impacting someone’s decision to kill themselves. As a professional you should know that suicidal episodes have a sudden onset and the decision to commit suicide is typically made within half an hour of the original ideation. Of course, the show will not transform someone who wasn’t previously suicidal into someone who is. But for the masses of teenagers out there who have already been struggling with this ideation, such a show could easily trigger a suicidal episode. When I used to experience suicidal ideation, I would read Kurt Cobain’s suicide letter as inspiration. Suicidal people commonly look to the example of others when trying to formulate a plan or decide whether its “worth it” or not. And this show, without a doubt, suggests to teenagers that it is indeed worth it.
    If that’s the impact that the show has, I do not care whether or not it’s a good depiction of the issues faced by young people. If the show is going to capitalize off of them, it ought to be suited for them. It seems as if you’re suggesting that the show is still valuable because it allows older individuals insight into the dramatic opera of high school, regardless of how egregious its affects on that age group may be.

  • Steve,

    As someone who is twenty years old and has struggled with self-harm and suicidal ideation, and has additionally supported a number of friends with these same issues, I must say that you’re simply not understanding what makes this show so egregious. In a word: this show glorifies and encourages suicide. While it is true that teenagers are often faced with apathetic adults in reality, the show’s depiction of this issue only serves to reinforce the idea that troubled teens have no recourse available to them. It discourages the search for help, instead choosing to depict the cutting of a young girl’s wrists as the only way for her to achieve justice for what she has suffered. This itself is a massive issue: if the creators of 13RW truly cared about suicidality in teens they would have NEVER shown such a graphic ordeal. For many young people with self-injurous tendencies, depictions such as these are a sure-fire way to prompt an episode of self-harm. No, what the creators of 13RW truly care about is MONEY, and many people my age find this to be painfully obvious. They are playing into the insecurities of young people and affirming that no one could possibly understand them. Neurotypical teenagers may watch this show and be gripped by the injustices faced by the leading character; they may share posts on facebook pleading their peers to refrain from bullying, or fancy themselves a savior for deciding to talk to that weird kid who always sits alone at lunch. This show demonstrates a complete failure to address the root cause of suicide, which is MENTAL ILLNESS. Unfortunately, the tooth-and-nail struggle with mental illness is much less glamorous than dramatic re-tellings of rape and vindictive manipulations, so the creators of 13RW naturally chose the path that would lead to the most profit instead.

    I must say that I resent your remarks on involuntary hospitalization. My previous roommate attempted suicide whilst in the throes of an argument with me. She was emotionally abusive and delusional; accusing me of manipulations that I had not committed. The language she used with me was vicious and when I opted to defend myself, she began making suicidal remarks. After sending a friend to check on her (I was not in the building), I discovered that she had overdosed on one of her medications, Seroquel, and an ambulance was called. I will never forget the image of elevator doors opening to reveal my roommate being carted out of our room on a stretcher. The paramedics, of course, were not disposed to tell me whether she was going to live or die. She survived. The abuse continued, and I no longer speak with her.

    So, what would you have had me do? Submit to verbal abuse and threats of interpersonal violence in the interest of preserving her well-being? Am I responsible for her life? If she would have died, would it have been my fault? And if the overdose could not have been avoided, ought I not have sent someone to check on her and call for medical assistance? Was her hospitalization somehow more “traumatizing” than the impact of her death would have been? She was extremely mentally ill, suffering from BPD, PTSD, depression and anxiety, and some psychotic symptoms. 13RW is a mockery of my experience and the experience of so many struggling with mental illness. I cannot convey how absolutely dense it is of some commenters to insist that it “is that simple.” Suicide is a tragedy brought about by disordered thoughts and feelings. It is not the ultimate recourse in a society of evil teenagers who are hell-bent on destroying each other.

    You and many other commenters simply lack the phenomenological authority to be championing this show as a good thing for suicidal youth. It is not. It does not encourage teenagers to seek help. It does not encourage better clinical practices or less insidious procedures regarding involuntary hospitalization (which I do agree, of course, are a real problem). It encourages suicide and self-harm. It encourages martyrdom. To attack Dr. Michael for failing to recognize the “real” issues addressed by the show and suggest that he is misguided in his preoccupation with the practical side of suicide intervention is incredibly naïve.