Evil is not Madness


The Orlando shooting is a sickening tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victims, their families and those who feel traumatized and fearful as a result. At the epicenter of the Orlando massacre is prejudice, discrimination and hatred. What Orlando is not about is mental health.

It appears that whenever we see the face of evil in the world, the secular media make every attempt to sanitize it. They do this by denying that evil really exists. Instead they choose to offer a ‘rational’ explanation of what has happened and place the blame for the despicable acts that occurred on mental health instead.

It look less than 24 hours from the massacre of 50 innocent people in the Pulse nightclub for the world’s media to be running headlines that suggested the killer Omar Marteen was ‘bipolar’. If we look more closely at this description and even its presentation things are far from conclusive.

The initial story broken in the US media followed an interview with Sitora Yusifiy, the ex-wife of Marteen who suffered horrific domestic abuse at his hands. She reported, “A few months after we were married I saw his instability, I saw his bipolar, and he would get mad out of nowhere, and that’s when I started worrying about my safety.”

Yusifiy’s testimony was jumped upon and the term ‘bipolar’ has been included in nearly all subsequent coverage of the massacre. There have been no psychiatric reports, doctor’s assessments or disclosure of used medication to confirm this 'diagnosis'. The Tornonto Sun led with the headline: Orlando shooter was bipolar, 'mentally unstable' 'He talked about killing people all the time'. Interestingly more scrupulous news outlets like NewsweekUS reported the term in speech marks: ORLANDO GUNMAN OMAR MATEEN GREW HATEFUL, 'BIPOLAR' AND VIOLENT. This clearly indicates that the mental health term was conjecture and not fact.

Looking more closely at Yusifiy’s testimony she appears to be describing someone who was given to sudden and explosive rage. She makes no reference to the deep depressions that afflict the majority of bipolar sufferers, neither is there any mention or mania or its complex associated symptoms. It is also clear that rather than having the sort of diffuse, chaotic and fast cycling ideas typical to bipolar, Marteen had very real and consistent prejudices held firmly over many years. His acts were meticulously planned, far from being consistent with the activity of someone in the manic phases of bipolar.

The Orlando Massacre was tragedy enough. It was an act of hate against the LGBT+ community. Why would we now extend the pool of suffering to the 51 Million bipolar sufferers worldwide? The facts about mental health and violence speak for themselves "People with psychiatric disabilities are far more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violent crime (Appleby 2001)”. The reality of life is that, “People with severe mental illnesses, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or psychosis, are 2.5 times more likely to be attacked, raped or mugged than the general population (Hiday 1999)."

Are we going to stigmatize 1:4 of the population with a mental health issue every time evil rears its ugly head or can we just agree that evil exists? Let’s not compound suffering by propagating even more stigma, hate and prejudice in a situation that is already dripping with it.

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The Mind and Soul Team, 14/06/2016