Mean behavior isn't always mental illness

OK – I continue my streak of NYTimesing (lookee! A verb!) and post a link to an essay by Dr. Richard Friedman about how chronically "mean" people may not have a mental illness. They are just… well, mean.

Friedman raises an interesting point about how psychiatry and psychology try to explain away so much of people’s behaviors via diagnosis that people aren’t left any room to be "normal." Mean people don’t need to be lumped into a category of "anger disorder" or some crazy nonsense like that. Perhaps there are people who have extreme issues with anger and need to learn behavioral techniques to get it under control. But other people at their very core like to hurt, manipulate, and demean others. This is not a mental illness. This is a human, sinful nature.

The Worst Things To Say To Someone Who Is Depressed: 1-10

Most of the following stuff I've heard from my mother, but I've also heard some of the stuff from different people at different periods in my life, mainly in high school. I always got the “you're just looking for attention” spiel. I HATE that phrase. I can think of better ways to try and grab your attention without wondering if I should crash my car, jump off a terrace, or hang myself.

I’ll divide the list up by 10 to be published each week. Even I couldn’t sit down and read 98 of them at one time. But if you’re itching to see the entire list: go here . I’ll bold the ones that have been applied to me.

“People trivialize depression (often unintentionally) by dropping a platitude on a depressed person as if that is the one thing they need to hear. Which it is probably the last thing they need to hear. While some of these thoughts have been helpful to some people (for example, some find that praying is very helpful), the context in which they are often said mitigates any intended benefit to the hearer. Platitudes do not cure depression. Here is a list of the worse things you can say:

(I have heard 99% of these myself and all get under my skin, but have learned to try to take it with a grain of salt.)” 

Read the rest of this entry »