Mental Illness and Celebrity

An interesting article went viral this week, comparing the media coverage, and public gawking at Amanda Bynes seemingly bizarre behavior, and Robin Williams suicide.

A quote I want you to read from the piece:

If it is indeed true that Amanda Bynes has both bipolar and schizophrenia, she faces an uphill battle. These are both diseases with high mortality rates, and devastating symptoms that are difficult to treat. And while she faces these illnesses, the entire world is watching. To have the audacity of laughing and poking fun as she struggles with these painful disorders is truly disgusting.

It’s all fun and games until someone dies, as was the case with Robin Williams. When celebrities have very public “breakdowns,” we find them entertaining, sensational, intriguing. When celebrities die from these illnesses, however, we grieve for them, celebrate their lives, and profess our sympathy for their struggle.

Amanda Bynes may be battling two illnesses that could very easily kill her. Why is she not receiving the same level of respect, tact, and compassion that we afford those who have already died at the hands of these same illnesses?

Are we only deserving of dignity and respect if we die?

I think this goes back to something I’ve written before.

When you do not see someone as a real person, it’s easier and easier to treat them in a less than humane way.

Perhaps it’s the death that brings home the reality that the “crazy celebrity” is an actual person, not a side show for our own entertainment. Unfortunately, we see this sort of behavior every where. Celebs, athletes, politicians, etc. aren’t real people with real lives, and potentially , mental health problems. They are non-people, the other. No one feels compassion for the other, so maybe we should admit that they are just as human as we are.

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