This in in response to a political cartoon in the Herald Nov. 7, depicting a mass shooter with no face wielding a gun. Arrow pointing to the brain labeled MENTAL ILLNESS. Arrow pointing to the gun labeled THE SYMPTOM. Having lived with a father with mental illness and a daughter who triumphs over it, I feel moved to respond to this misguided depiction.
The disease is mental illness. Yes. A biologically based no-fault brain illness. Indeed. The symptoms are NOT guns. The symptoms are in fact, delusional behaviors caused by biochemical imbalances in the brain, not a person's true integrity. The tools to carry out these delusions are the easy availability of guns, but guns are NOT a symptom of a biological disease.
Not all mentally ill people are white. Not all mass shooters are Muslim. Not all mentally ill people are violent and dangerous. Some people are truly evil, violent and dangerous and not mentally ill. Some people who are not evil are stigmatized as being so when in reality, they are exhibiting behavioral symptoms of a a diseased brain and judged by them not who they were before the illness onset.
It's a tough maze to navigate, but the differences must be identified so that this country will someday understand the differences between true evil, mental illness, stigma, biological symptoms and guns. For more facts about what mental illness is and especially, what it is not, contact NAMI.org.
Louis S. Guagenti