Incest is a mental illness?
Today CNN reports that Josef Fritzi’s lawyer is attempting to get him off with an “insanity” plea. His lawyer, Mayer, said: "I believe that the trigger was a mental disorder, because I can't imagine that someone has sex with his own daughter without having a mental disorder,"
If incest is, as Fritzi’s lawyer claims, a symptom of mental illness then it could change everything about how we view fathers (and mothers) who rape their children. Maybe we should consider that anyone raping anyone is because of a mental illness. Maybe we should consider that anyone killing anyone else has a mental illness, too.
Ooops… I think I agree.
Strange as it seems, I think I agree with Fritzi’s lawyer. He is obviously seriously mentally ill. But then I believe most of those incarcerated are mentally ill. That is however, quite different than being “insane” isn’t it?
What is “Insane” anyway?
Someone asked me this past week what it is to be “psychotic” which, I think, is what most courts consider the word “insane” to mean. Psychotic, if you have ever seen it, is clearly “insane”. It means that the sufferer has no ability to connect reality with what is happening inside their head. Reality for a psychotic person is what is in their head and it does not match what anyone else perceives. For instance, a woman who seriously believes she is the Queen of England but lives in a mobile home in rural Oklahoma.
While I do believe that Fritzi suffers from some kind of mental illness, I also believe that the world needs to be protected from people that dangerous.
How monsters are made
When we understand that abuse creates problems for people, emotionally, we understand how monsters like Fritzi are made. Something really awful must have happened to him as a kid to pervert his mind in such a way. He undoubtedly identified with his own perpetrator. What we know is that when someone is a Victim, they tend to choose one of three ways to manage the horror. They will tend to either remain in a Victim position feeling helpless and hapless (perhaps like Fritzi’s wife) or move in to the Rescuer role and take care of everyone else including their perpetrator (oh, well, I guess this describes Fritzi’s wife even better). Or thirdly they can become a Self-Protector, attempting to gain a sense of power and control by being dominating and over controlling or they can hide behind a wall of hardened emotions. All of these states can, of course, be behind dissociative walls themselves. At the extreme, all of these roles become mental illness. Rescuers are the co-dependant supporters of addicts, abusers and other irrational human beings. Victims become the suicidal depressed clients in psychiatric wards. Self-Protectors (at their worst) can become monsters like Fritzi. Our prisons are full of them.
But none of the above falls into the category of psychotic necessarily. Being mentally ill does not mean insane.
But to own our own safety we MUST protect ourselves against people who are unable for whatever the reason, to keep themselves from endangering others. When our illness becomes a danger to others, there is no choice but to be locked up. That owns our need for safety. Any jury that would find Fritzi’s illness as a reason to let him go, would have to be one that didn’t understand the need for keeping society safe from someone unable to manage to keep society safe from themselves.
Does “Mentally Ill” equal “Insane”?
What do you think? Comment below.
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