Stop Blaming Mental Illness

The actions of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz in crashing the Germanwings plane, murdering 150 people in the process, has raised the issue of mental illness once again. It has been reported that Lubitz had suffered from bouts of depression and had hid his illness from his employers.  Almost every time there is some type of tragic taking of lives, people, including the mental illness industry, want to blame some form of disease for the problem.

I say, it’s time to cut the crap, and to start looking for the real underlying reasons for such tragic events. One can find some label of mental illness for almost every person in prison, but that does not mean that it is primarily an acute mental disorder that causes people to commit crimes.  Most peole in prisons, and all individuals who commit mass murder have what is labelled by psychiatry as a Personality Disorder.  This is a vague, but important group of emotional disturbances. What is most important about Personality Disorders is that they imply fixed patterns of world views and behaviour that are highly resistant to change. For the most part, without the recognition of the disorder, and a huge investment by both the individual and the treating therapists, they are not curable. People who have severe personality disorders with anti-social, paranoid, schizotypal or borderline traits should not be flying planes.   Labelling someone with these traits as simply being depressed avoids dealing with the severity of both the problem and the possible ramifications. It also puts the employer, even if the employer is made aware, in a difficult position.  One can’t relieve someone of duties permanently for being sick. People with these severe personality disorders may go in and out of depressed moods, but are never okay.  Implying that a problem is due to a mental illness also implies that if the person recieves treatment and appears better, that a return to normal duties is reasonable. Yet a person with a severe personality disorder of certain types, can switch very quickly with no obvious external indication from one emotional state to another.

Labelling people with complex problems and aspects of violence, rage or paranoid world views as having had “depression” puts us all at increased risk, and does nothing to recognize or resolve real problems.