The president stress[ed] that . . . the majority of the mentally ill are not violent. He said his main goal in hosting the conference is "bringing mental illness out of the shadows" and encouraging those suffering to get help.
"We whisper about mental health issues and avoid asking too many questions," the president said. "The brain is a body part, too. We just know less about it. And there should be no shame in discussing or seeking help for treatable illnesses that affect too many people that we love. We've got to get rid of that embarrassment. We've got to get rid of that stigma."
Glenn Close, who has advocated on behalf of mental issues before:
"The truth is the stigma has hardly budged," Close said during a panel discussion on how to address negative attitudes moderated by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Close referred to studies showing the public doesn't want to have those with mental illness as neighbors, supervising them at work or taking care of their children and believe they are violent.
Basically, the problem with stigmatizing those who come out regarding having a mental disorder and making their lives miserable because of it is that no one will want to get diagnosed with or disclose any sort of mental disorder. Which is the more appealing option?
Let's relate this to sociopaths for a second (although they are allegedly untreatable, as of yet). I have experienced severe and adverse reactions from the publication of the book, which was a little surprising to me, as someone who lives in a society that is governed by the rule of law with constitutional and other legal personal protections against discrimination, with an impeccable record of never having been arrested or accused of a crime, no history of violence, and having managed to integrate well enough to be a contributing member of society in my profession and circle of friends. Apart from a few broken hearts and hurt feelings and an inability to feel true remorse for other small infractions, I haven't done much to deserve being treated this way. But I am currently not being judged based on my record. Rather, I have identified myself as having a particular mental disorder and am now suffering the consequences of the accompanying stigma. Should I be legally protected based on my diagnosis and be judged solely on my actions or not? If not, what are the implications for me or the incentives for anyone else to be upfront about this disorder? And what are the chances of other sociopaths being forthcoming in the future? As a recent commenter put it so aptly:
In some ways it's easier to be a sociopath because you report that you are unencumbered by guilt and are less fearful than most people. You have less need for validation if you do not score high in narcissism. But what may be difficult to understand is that the lack of empathy that protects you from feeling unpleasant things also creates a pretty significant blind spot because it is difficult for you to anticipate the level of rage and fear you generate in the general public. In the abstract, this does not present a problem, and likely even amuses you.
In reality, however, you have self identified as a monster and have essentially given those who sit at the top of these power structures the permission to dehumanize you. Why is this a problem? Because the "rules" that you feel do not apply to you in terms of maintaining social relationships now cut both ways. You might feel clever because you have escaped the obligations to conform because of guilt. But the other side of "coming out" as a sociopath is that now the rules that neurotypicals must follow in regards to their own behavior do not apply to you. You are stripped of your right to be treated as a human being because you have been reclassified as an "it."
With the recent advances in brain imaging, it is not unlikely that that state governments will begin legislating the mandatory testing of "at risk" individuals. You can't hide a brain scan, and it will be a mark of Cain that ethically challenged neurotypicals will use to discredit/ruin you should your voice somehow feel like a threat to these invisible power networks.
I've exposed my bias (I love someone who has sociopathic tendencies) which is why a scenario like this scares me. State identified Sociopaths could become to modern day governments what the Jews were to Hitler. Scapegoats. So if you think that you are a sociopath, please consider this blind spot with an eye to your own safety.
Will it take some time, resources, tolerance, and courage to properly integrate people with mental disorders into society? Yes. Will some disorders be harder to integrate and/or more detestable or less obviously beneficial to you personally? Yes. Complain all you want about how bothersome "special" accommodations for the mentally disordered may be, but as I once read, blind people could equally consider street lamps to be a special accommodations for the sighted who can't manage to walk around outside at night without them. And the problem with a tyranny of the majority (apart from ethical, practical, and evolutionary reasons that we might want to encourage instead of discourage human diversity) is that it's very difficult to predict when you might suddenly find yourself defined as a minority.
You can choose to disenfranchise people from society, if you want, but those decisions will have long-lasting and often unpredictable consequences. And the American President doesn't think it's a good idea either.