Fox News Host Tucker Carlson: ‘We Need To Increase Stigmatization’ of Schizophrenia to Curb Gun Violence
A Fox News host has called for the increased stigmatization of certain mental illnesses as part of the solution to the epidemic of mass shootings sweeping the United States.
Fox & Friends co-host Tucker Carlson, who also founded the popular conservative blog Daily Caller, appeared on Fox’s America’s Newsroom on Wednesday. Carlson joined fellow Fox host Alan Colmes on a panel discussing Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis, gun control and mental illness with program host Bill Hemmer.
“The missed warning signs are clear now leading to the… massacre in the Navy Yard on Monday,” Hemmer began the segment. Alexis’ “descent into madness”– which included hearing voices in his head, paranoia, and severe insomnia– was known to both police and military officials, many media sources have reported.
“The one factor that connects so many of these mass shootings… is mental illness… clearly not being treated right,” Carlson opined. “And this possibly is the legacy of the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill 40 years ago.”
“Sadly, there’s a stigma attached to mental illness, and we need to remove the stigma so it can be openly discussed and people who need treatment can get treatment,” Colmes replied.
Later in the segment, Carlson refuted Colmes’ assertion that mental illness needs to be de-stigmatized.
“It’s apparently not enough to give people with severe mental illness a pill and hope that everything’s going to be fine,” he said. “Alan [Colmes] said we need to decrease the stigma around mental illness [but] the opposite is true. Certain forms of mental illness, I’m not talking about depression or PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder], but paranoid schizophrenia, we need to increase the stigma, which is to say we need to make it really clear that this could become dangerous. We pretend like it’s not dangerous [but] it is dangerous.”
“When I say stigma, I’m not talking about… [ignoring] it, I’m saying that people are afraid to talk about it, people are afraid to get treatment sometimes, people are afraid to report it because there is an unfortunate stigma attached to mental illness, which just like physical illness is something that should be diagnosed and openly talked about,” Colmes explained as the segment ended.
While it is not clear whether Alexis suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, individuals who suffer from the disorder also suffer from widespread misconceptions and prejudices. Pejorative words like “schizo,” “psycho” and “maniac” are commonly used to describe those afflicted with schizophrenia, even though many of them are capable of functioning in society. Schizophrenics are often portrayed as aggressively sadistic savages on TV and in movies. Ignorance also prevails among the general public, the majority of which falsely believes schizophrenics suffer from split or multiple personalities.
While it is true that schizophrenics often experience delusions and hallucinations, often have trouble controlling behavioral impulses, and can sometimes be prone to unpredictable– even violent– outbursts, most individuals with schizophrenia are not violent, nor do they commit violent crimes. It is much more likely for a schizophrenic to be withdrawn and want to be left alone. The exception to this rule are individuals with a record of criminal violence that precedes their illness, especially those with a history of substance abuse.
The stigmatization that Colmes seeks to reduce, and that Carlson seems to be advocating, can be devastating for those afflicted with schizophrenia.
“The stigma attached to mental illness is the greatest obstacle to the improvement of the lives of people with mental illness and their families,” warns schizophrenia expert Dr. Nadia Kadri, MD. Such stigma, argues Kadri, “is growing in strength and in its negative consequences.”
“Each of us… can do something to diminish or avoid stigmatization by mental illness,” Dr. Kadri adds. “It is just as important to ask what we can do ourselves to diminish stigmatization as it is to urge others to do something about it.”
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