Gems of ignorance from Quora

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One of the ways that I try to fight misinformation and stigma around mental illness is by answering questions on Quora.  For anyone who’s not familiar with it, Quora is a sort of free-for-all where anyone can ask or answer questions on any topic under the sun.  Some of the questions are blatantly absurd, but there are many that are really reflective of the lack of understanding in the world at large about mental illness.

Some general observations:

  • People seem very eager to attribute asshole behaviour to personality disorders they “diagnose” in others, in particular narcissistic personality disorder.  There seems to be a lack of awareness that while people with narcissistic personality disorder may exhibit asshole behaviour, by no means do all assholes have narcissistic (or any other) PD.  There is also much discussion about the psychoanalytic concept of narcissistic supply from these various wannabe Freuds.
  • Aside from believing they can diagnose those around them, a lot of people think they should be able to self-diagnose mental illness.  Really, what on earth do we need health professionals for when we can just do a quiz on the internet?

The real gems come in people’s exact wordings:

  • “Is shyness a mental illness?”
  • “Are patients of psychiatrists considered to be legal persons just as much as anyone else?”
  •  “How do you beat a person with BPD at their own game?”
  •  “Why do some people like being depressed?”
  •  “Is it possible someone with BPD will fake mental illnesses like depression to get attention from anyone?”
  •  “Is it normal for a depressed person to not want to feel better, and to actively make themselves worse?”
  •  “Can depression, if left untreated, lead to schizophrenia?”
  •  “Do people with BPD believe their own lies?”
  • “Is criminal behaviour a byproduct of mental illness?”
  • “Can 2 people with bipolar disorder be around each other?”
  • “Why is it wrong to say mental illness doesn’t exist?”
  • “Is hate a mental illness?”

Seems like we’ve got a long way to go in educating people about mental illness and challenging stigma.  I try to answer those questions I can find on Quora that contain a glimmer of reasonableness, but sometimes those are few and far between.  The truly ignorant I’m inclined to think are a bit of a lost cause.  I just hope that the lack of awareness on Quora is not actually reflective of the world at large, because that would mean we have a LOT of work to do.

 

You can find a follow-up to this post here.

 

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30 thoughts on “Gems of ignorance from Quora

  1. Luftmentsch says:

    Those questions were quite scary. To be fair, a lot of the internet is full of ignorance and hate about everything. But it is scary to assume that anyone you can’t get along with has a mental health issue or that people genuinely diagnosed with mental health issues are faking it to get attention.

  2. eirlysgwenllian says:

    I am on Quora too and also noticed very big, maybe even unhealthy a bit, interest in personality disorders and particularly NPD and labelling people with different pd’s and it always makes me wonder when I see it why it is so common on there. And gosh these questions you quoted are really truly ignorant, I’ve seen some, including some of these, too and it always makes me very worried. Is the whole world like this? How much will people have to fight to make mental illnesses at least basically understood by most of ppeople? That’s really sad to see, although some questions just simply make me laugh as they’re just so silly. There will always be this kind of knowledge immune people though, good at least that they ask questions, although if their lack of knowledge is so big, I doubt they’ll ever get how hard it is for an individual to struggle with e.g. bpd, or any other kind of mental illness.

    • ashleyleia says:

      I’m also puzzled by the fixation on NPD and other PDs. I wonder if it’s because people are trying to use it as an excuse to avoid thinking about how they themselves have contributed to the problem.

  3. updownflight says:

    I’ll have to check out Quora. The questions you listed are disconcerting, but really most of them are not really the asker’s fault. So little quality information is available to the general public about mental illness. I still think many TV shows, movies, and media outlets do a horrible or insufficient job. Stigma is expressed at the highest levels and not challenged sufficiently.

    I will check out Quora because it is encouraging that these people at LEAST ask questions. So many people suddenly act like experts with no knowledge at all.

  4. B says:

    I have a love hate relationship with Quora. The stupidity there is over the top but sometimes people genuinely need to be educated.

  5. Meg says:

    Something about the Quora web site has always scared me. I think it’s their belief that they can find and list answers to EVERYTHING, including, “What’s the meaning of life?” It creeps me out. You’ve just given me some other valid reasons to avoid that place!!

    But I’m guilty of diagnosing people as narcissists. My best friend and I both know a guy who’s a total narcissist. “Total narcy,” we call him. He screwed both of us over (and a third woman who we used to be friends with). From my perspective, I think it’s tempting to diagnose your enemies as a way of feeling superior to them…? Or maybe as a way of processing what they did to you…? I’m not certain, just thinking out loud here.

    But I see it from the other side, too, because I absolutely hate the association between immaturity and personality disorders and mental illness.

    ‘Cause, like, with immaturity, you’re going to see bad behavior. But someone with a personality disorder could’ve become that way due to having suffered extreme abuse or other atrocities at a young age, whereas immaturity is associated with simply not growing up and taking responsibility. And then mental illness is often caused by brain chemistry issues, but whenever someone acts immature, people say, “Oh that person must be mentally ill,” which makes all of us mentally ill people look bad. 🙁

    • ashleyleia says:

      It’s certainly is a free for all of stupidity, but it seems like there are some people asking questions because they’re genuinely trying to understand. I think the general public knowledge level about personality disorders is just as low as other mental health conditions.

  6. easetheride says:

    I’ve always been quite irked with how easily people just assign labels to others on the basis of one or two stereotypical behaviors that the disorder is “known for.” How many times have I heard people characterized as OCD because they are neat or “borderline” because they are involved in drama? These are a lot of the people I find on things like Quora or yahoo! answers. While I love that the internet is an endless batch of information, and so much can be learned, it also leaves room for people to just say whatever they’re thinking, whether their statement is fact or just blatantly mistaken.

  7. Brazokie says:

    The illusion that we control our brains still haunts me. I logically know that depression can’t be shaken off, or defeated through disciplined behavior. Yet I think I should. I still blame myself for having this. The general public around me having the same opinion does not help. Thank you for participating in this forum and answering these questions. It shows me also how some people seem bitter or impatient that people with depression do not get completely cured, or how long a bad phase can be. Chronic illness in general deserves more attention to be better understood, but western culture is too busy glorifying the productive and compliant. It is a complete shit storm in a country that pretends to be based on Christian values.

  8. recoveryetc says:

    Oh my goodness, and don’t even get me started on the questions about weight loss. For some reason they are always sent to me in the Quora email newsletter and I laugh at the answers that are given.

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