NPR host needs stigma rehab and training

I like social worker Jack Carney’s exhortation to the mental health community: “Don’t mourn, organize!” We can all do our part to raise our objections and concerns when we feel that our rights and human dignity and those of others have been infringed upon. A very simple thing to do is to write letters and submit comments through the social media. The aim isn’t necessarily to change the mind of the author, the idea is to get the opinion and information out there for others, perhaps for the first time, to read and contemplate.

Here’s my contribution to changing the world, for today. National Public Radio has a show called “Fresh Air,” in which Terry Gross interviews all kinds of major and minor celebrities. In the show I listened to, Ms Gross interviews Mike White, creator and co-star of the Home Box Office series Enlightened, in which Laura Dern stars as corporate executive Amy Jellicoe, recently returned from rehab and wanting to change the world.

Rossa Forbes comment #24
Good interview, as I expect of Terry Gross, but I would like to point out how Ms Gross is perpetuating stigma of the mentally ill. I was horrified to hear her say to Mike White, that he couldn’t possibly be the same as those people he ended up with in the mental hospital, since his was a case of anxiety. “It’s not like you were schizophrenic or mentally ill,” she added. STIGMA alert! Since a discussion of the gay rights movement and discrimination informed a large part of this interview, it’s ironic that Ms Gross tripped up over perpetuating the same stigma that Mr. White’s father rose up against. Remember when non-gays were judged on how “gay positive” they were, and appropriately pilloried if they weren’t? Well, I would like to know how “schizopositive” Ms Gross is and what her beliefs are about “mental illness.” She appears to believe that anxiety, especially among talented writers, is not associated with mental illness. In his response, Mr. White talks about reading Buddhist texts for the first time and learning how to strive towards enlightenment. Mr. White would have been in good company in the mental hospital, where no doubt many of the “inmates routinely read these texts and others as a necessary part of their spiritual journey. So, how about a Fresh Air interview with Paris Williams, author of Rethinking Madness, PsychCentral’s most recent book of the month. From the review: “Another major point Williams makes is that the core issues in madness are not a struggle with an “illness” experienced only by some, but rather a struggle with the existential issues that we all face, such as being caught between a fear of being separate and a fear of being overwhelmed or engulfed by connection.”