Bedlam Over Halloween

Before I start ranting, I have an update on the strange occurrences in my apartment.

After the box-tossing incident in the hall, I had another experience later on that night. My cats, who were on the bed, suddenly both turned, froze, and stared at the bathroom. I thought, “Oh no what now??”

The toilet flushed.

By itself.

Both cats, being brave little kitties, once again dove under the bed.  Times like these, I wish I had a dog.

Oh sure, it’s funny NOW, but think how you would feel when it’s late at night, you’re already tired and still a bit freaked out due to the weirdness of the past 2 days, and suddenly this happens!

It’s creepy from the get-go, seeing both cats freeze and stare like that. Because I know they are looking at something I can’t see.

I really hope it stays quiet now. But since I don’t know what it is or why it’s doing things, I am still somewhat unnerved. And while flushing a toilet is hardly menacing, it’s still weird.

This is not helping my health, either, as I am now having trouble sleeping (well, wouldn’t you??). My low-grade fever continues, though the stomach issues seem to have resolved for now. But I am glad that my doctor’s appointment is rapidly approaching. Maybe I can get some answers.

Feeling like crap AND feeling scared is not a good combination.

Anyway, on to the article…

bedlam: noun:  1.  (obsolete) Madman, lunatic  2. Popular name for the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem, London, circa 1529   3. A place, scene, or state of uproar and confusion
(Merriam-Webster online dictionary)

This article is not going to be amusing or funny, until the weird news part at the end.  But I hope it at least makes some people think.

I chose the word “bedlam” instead of “confusion”, “uproar”, or any other synonym, because this article is about the portrayal of people with mental illness (or developmental delays) through Halloween scenes and costumes.

The people who adhere to the concept that most people with mental illness or developmental delays are dangerous and scary are, to put it mildly, confused.

And I am in a uproar about it.

Yes, people who are mass murderers and serial killers are frightening – of course they are. No one disputes that. Someone in a haunted house attraction chasing people with a fake chainsaw is not offensive to me. But I am not writing about that.

According to “Serial Murder: Multidisciplinary Perspectives for Investigators” (U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, published results of symposium in San Antonio, Texas, August 29 – September 5, 2005), “as a group, serial killers suffer from a variety of personality disorders, including psychopathy, anti-social personality, and others.”

Personality disorders are mental illnesses, to be sure, but psychosis is not necessarily a part of their symptomology.

The report also states that serial killers do not meet the legal requirement for insanity, which is

“Mental illness of such a severe nature that the person cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality, cannot conduct his/her affairs due to psychosis, or is subject to uncontrollable compulsive behavior.” (The People’s Law Dictionary, Gerald and Kathleen Hill, 2002, as incorporated into the Law.com website)

So, it seems, clinically and legally, serial killers are not, on the whole, psychotic.  Consequently, to lump people with mental illnesses that feature psychosis (schizophrenia, for example) in the same group as serial killers is not accurate.

Yet this is exactly what is being done every time someone puts out a prop or dons a costume portraying a “crazy person”.

Part of the reason there is a perception amongst the public that serial killers are psychotic, in my opinion, is because people do not understand the difference between personality disorders and illnesses that feature hallucinations and delusions (like schizophrenia).  Another reason is the very human trait of trying to make sense out of nearly incomprehensible acts of horror, and…

~ We don’t understand why someone would do these horrible things, so it’s easier to just say “they’re crazy”.

~ We want to be able to identify someone who could do these horrible things, in order to arrest them or keep them from committing crimes in the first place.

Additonally, it makes for a more interesting news story or book if the killer did what he did because voices told him to or because he thought he was battling aliens.

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