Get Out of Gaol Free

I do not think that a diagnosis of mental illness that absolves you of all responsibility for your own actions, it does not give you a get out of gaol free card or carte blanche to behave exactly as you wish for the rest of your life.  I have known people who, while they are genuinely mentally ill, consciously use their condition as an excuse for unpleasant, or even violent behaviour.  And their conduct is never questioned.  Not by the nurses who treat them every day, not by the consultant psychiatrist who sees them in ward round, not by the social worker who drops by every once in a while.  They are given tacit permission to act with impunity by people who should know better.  In the long term it does them no favours.  Mad versus bad is a tabloid generated false dichotomy.  They are not mutually exclusive.  It is possible to be both.  The only people  who notice what these individuals are really like are other patients who are abused and intimidated by them and the health care assistants who spend more time watching them than other members of the hospital staff.


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