Teenagers can have mental health issues!


Adults, pretty much not: The journalistic rule is clear. We know the rule from this sub-headline in today's New York Times:

Helping Teens Struggling With Mental Health Issues

That headline tops a set of thoughtful letters concerning teenagers' mental health issues. In this way, the journalistic rule becomes clear:

New rule: Journalistically, teenagers can have mental health problems. But it seems that adults cannot.

Journalistically, adults can't have mental health / mental illness issues—and no, it isn't just Trump! Consider the way this report in today's New York Times describes David DePape:

BROWNING ET AL (10/31/22): A precise sequence of the break-in is still emerging, and a portrait of Mr. DePape is only beginning to take shape. People who have known him at various points in his life reveal a shy person who sought to improve the world, but also as someone whose life seemed to drift and whose behavior seemed strange at times, even unhinged.

The highlighted sentence doesn't quite parse. But according to people who knew him, DePape's behavior "seemed strange at times, even unhinged."

At times, his behavior seemed "unhinged"—even that! For the record, here is some of the behavior we seem to be talking about:

BROWNING ET AL: When Linda Schneider, 65, knew Mr. DePape for a couple of years starting in 2009, she was running an urban farm for low-income communities in the East Bay area. Mr. DePape would help her with her chickens and occasionally house-sit for her, she said.

At the time, Mr. DePape was living out of a storage unit in Berkeley and making hemp bracelets, said Ms. Schneider, who still lives in California. He had been using hard drugs but was trying to straighten his life, she said. She recalled him as being reliable, easygoing and painfully shy.

“He wouldn’t even have a bank account because he was terrified of talking to a teller,” she said.

By 2012, Ms. Schneider said she began receiving “very bizarre” emails from Mr. DePape in which he equated himself with Jesus Christ. She felt the messages were “somewhat dangerous,” she said, and she stopped communicating with him.

“This was a guy who didn’t have a lot of internal strength,” she said. “He’d follow anything a little abnormal in front of him.”

As of 2012, DePape had begun "equating himself with Jesus Christ." In the lexicon of the Times, this suggests the possibility that his behavior seemed strange at times, "even unhinged." According to the acquaintance they quote, he lacked internal strength!

It seems to us that newspapers like the Times go a million miles out of their way to avoid discussions of possible (severe) mental illness. 

Today, Browning at al. don't ask any of their interview subjects about the possibility that DePape had ever sought or received treatment for possible mental illness. Meanwhile, Charles Blow offers this thought about the endlessly bizarre behavior of Kanye West, which recently involved antisemitic stupidity:

BLOW (10/31/22): This is not about mental illness. Mental illness is very real and needs to be part of the conversation. But it doesn’t make you espouse anti-Black ideologies and antisemitism.

Mental illness doesn't make a person "espouse anti-Black ideologies and antisemitism?" On what basis does Blow claim to know that?

Is it possible that the Times could seek the counsel of medical specialists before they allow a person like Blow to offer such an assessment? That would seem like especially good advice in the current case, since West has said in the past that he's been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Back to DePape! In a report you'll never be able to find in the ridiculous online Washington Post, Davis and Bennett start by saying this:

DAVIS AND BENNETT (10/29/22): The San Francisco Bay area man arrested in the attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband filled a blog a week before the incident with delusional thoughts, including that an invisible fairy attacked an acquaintance and sometimes appeared to him in the form of a bird, according to online writings under his name.

David DePape, 42, also published hundreds of blog posts in recent months sharing memes in support of fringe commentators and far-right personalities. Many of the posts were filled with screeds against Jews, Black people, Democrats, the media and transgender people.

During October, DePape published over 100 posts. While each loads, a reader briefly glimpses an image of a person wearing a giant inflatable unicorn costume, superimposed against a night sky. The photos and videos that followed were often dark and disturbing.

According to DePape, an invisible fairy attacked an acquaintance and sometimes appeared to him in the form of a bird! The Post's reporters were willing to call these thoughts "delusional," but they too avoided asking DePape's acquaintances about any possible mental health / mental illness history. 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. Many journalists went to the finest schools, but on this scariest day of the year, they avoid a major framework of established medical science as Dracula shrank from the cross. 


  1. Our whole country has a mental health problem. Industrial society is hard af!!

    1. Hi, sir or madam.

      I have warn to say about eat it the punamaurtha cricket.

      Not to eat it the punamaurtha cricket.

      If eat it then you have it the bad smell it gas.

      One times lady and friend Smupa eat it the punamaurtha cricket.

      She then have it the bad smell it gas for 3.5 days.

      For this time she not have relation in bed with me.

      Not good my friend.




  2. Oh dear. Yes, we know, we know, dear Bob.

    Everyone who doesn't believe in wimmin trapped inside men's bodies is mentally ill.

    And those few who do believe in wimmin trapped inside men's bodies are good decent persons.

    ...in dear Bob's world...

    1. ...and by the way: we have no doubt whatsoever that dear Bob is a good decent person...

    2. Oh oh, Dimbot "Mao" seems a little obsessed with "wimmin trapped in men's bodies." Kind of the way certain Republicans were obsessed with homosexuality and were later discovered to be gay themselves. Hey Dimbot, first of all, what business is it of yours if someone wants to be a different gender? And secondly, do you know for sure that the parts of the human brain that are responsible for a person's sense of gender and sexual orientation cannot possibly be different than what certain body parts would normally suggest? If you do know this, please share how you know this. I have no idea myself. I just know that, whatever the facts might be about the brain and human sexual identity, it's none of my business what someone wants to do in terms of sexual identity/orientation.

    3. Mao was funnier when he pretended he wasn't an ass-kisser of the establishment elite.

    4. Mao is a chimpanzee trapped in a human body.

    5. Yo Mikey L!!

      Dude sometimes it be like what is goin down to day right? In the night shade is where there will be action. The action is what drives us to be good. As my mentor says it. It is better to be kind and good, than to not. Bad action is like a bad fart. You can't fool the people for too long. Just like you can't fool a nose when it smells the bad fart.

  3. The straw man here is that almost no one is saying that DePape is certainly not mentally ill.

    Restricting the discussion solely to his mental state is a way of deflecting from the environment in which DePape operated, the violent and eliminationist rhetoric emanating from right wing and QAnon sites, but unfortunately also embraced and promoted by some high-profile Republican candidates and officeholders, such as Trump and Marjorie Taylor Greene. There are clearly some out there who knowingly influence weaker or diseased minds, with the inevitable tragic result.

    It is a serious mistake for a media critic to ignore this.

    1. We shouldn't adjust our tough or colorful remarks based on what mentally ill people might do with them.

      If we do, start with Democrats constant references to older Republicans "dying off."

    2. Which is it, 2:22? “We” shouldn’t adjust our rhetoric or “we” should? You don’t think political officials, candidates, officeholders and media people ought to watch their language in a country awash with guns and mental illness? Don’t give us the “both sides” crap then. But look clear-eyed at the problem and don’t “both sides” it away either.

    3. I was referring to 3:32 in my above comment, not 2:22, which is my own comment. I cannot delete comments anymore.

    4. "Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd." Maxine Waters

      "I'd take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him." Joe Biden

      "We need to punch him in the face."

      "I'd like to punch him in the face." Nancy Pelosi

      "Don't let up. We need unrest in the streets."

      "I will go and take Trump out tonight" Maxine

      "Take him out now" Pocahontas

      "Show us where it says protesters are supposed to be polite and peaceful" Chris Cuomo

      "I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House" Madonna

      "Please, get up in the face of your congresspeople". Cory Booker

      "I want to tell you Kavanaugh, you will pay the price" Chuck Schumer

      "This is for Trumpers. Be careful. Walk lightly. And those of you who are soldiers, make them pay." Rep Cynthia Johnson

      "Does one of us have to come out of the elevator alive?" Kamala Harris

    5. You did not address my point, 3:57. “We” should either condemn all violent rhetoric, or none. You seem to want it both ways. So, you seem conflicted about it. You seem to be saying that the left engages in this type of rhetoric, but you are unwilling to analyze the problem that the right has with this kind of rhetoric. Whatever the left may or may not say does not cancel out violent right wing rhetoric.

    6. We can all learn about not using violent rhetoric from economically anxious Republican voters.
      When Trump gave that HUGE tax break to corporations and the rich, they were appropriately outraged on the inside, but on the outside they were so civil you wouldn't know it bothered them in the least.

    7. Is there anything more servile to convenience than “the science”?


    8. The left is much more violent than the right. Violence on the left is mainstreamed but on the right isolated among those with mental illnesses like schizophrenia and other types of psychosis including drug addiction induced. The left uses violent language and commits acts of violence ("the knockout game") in normal day to day living, and as recreation.

    9. Are you agreeing with the experts from that 2017 article or not, Cecelia?

      Has right wing rhetoric changed since 2017, at least parts of it, crossing the line and becoming more explicitly violent, rather than just ordinary “political” speech?

      Why don’t you want to examine those questions? Do you think they are worth asking? Do you think rhetoric matters? You were up in arms when there was a supposedly planned assassination of Kavanaugh. The attack on Friday was an assassination attempt on the Speaker of the House and ended up seriously injuring her husband. Any outrage about this one?

    10. mh, you wish to examine these questions, huh? Can we lose the predictable “Bothsiderism” term as a means to blow off what anyone else says?

      How attentive, rather than dismissive are you of the examination right under the masthead of this blog?

    11. Cecelia, I’m asking you, not Bob Somerby.

      Besides, what he says pertains to the “mainstream press and American discourse”, and he clearly takes that to include Fox News and other right wing sources, seeing as how he occasionally critiques them, just recently in fact.

      So what is your point? The “liberals are more violent” anonymous commenters are clearly engaging in bothsiderism, so it is appropriate to push back against them, since the problem cannot be seen as existing on only one side, and you were responding in that thread, you piece of shit.

    12. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/10/covid-response-forgiveness/671879/

      The Atlantic wants an amnesty for all the quasi-religious zealotry it demanded and hysterical rhetoric it employed during the mask and vaccine mandates and lockdowns during the pandemic.

      They wish us to acknowledge that they were wrong, but with the very best of intentions, and everyone else was misintentioned or stupid.

    13. "The left is much more violent..." You're delusional. The "knockout game"?? Are you joking? That had nothing to do with politics. And it was certainly not "mainstream." You're not only a racist, you're a moron. And as far as your absurd claim that the only violence on the right is from isolated crazies, boy, that sure was a lot of schizophrenics that showed up at the capitol on January 6th.

    14. https://twitter.com/profemilyoster/status/1587032027307679744?s=46&t=6OlUYnaGXr2dpIayPb3fFQ

      “Do you consider mask wearing and vaccine recommendations to be violent rhetoric.”

      Ahhhh…it’s an anonymouse-in-black flashing a neuralyzer.

    15. The stats are clear, right wing violence dwarfs that done by other political/ideological cohorts.

      Fuhrermore, political violence usually springs from oppression and is meant to bring attention to serious societal issues, whereas right wing violence is meant to enforce oppression, and to dominate.

    16. @6:33, Cecelia, are you just posting random links in order to pretend to participate in a discussion?

    17. All of the research over the last decades shows that the left is more violent, commits more terrorist acts, has a higher propensity for all crime in general including violent crime, espouses violence and terrorism as a legitimate tactic. The science we have is clear on these facts. There is probably something inherent in a violent person that attracts them to leftist ideology.

    18. Lol. Sure. Can't wait to see all that "research." Please proceed, governor.

    19. Another big lie...

    20. That the only Right-wing violence is committed by the mentally ill is tautology.

    21. Violence in general is bad, at least according to Dems. Those wusses!

      Political violence to overthrow or counteract fascism or other such oppressive regimes, generally are fighting the good fight - the Civil War, WWII, you know when we fought slavers and nazis.

      Republicans are right wingers, right wingers are fascist, so yes Republican violence is bad because it's goal is to oppress and dominate.

      This is bone simple stuff, if you struggle with it, that is on you, sit this one out.

    22. Anonymouse 6:54pm, I posted a link to the piece in Atlantis. Unfortunately, the link led to a firewall.

      I then posted a link to the same piece that wasn’t behind a firewall.

      Oh, and I linked to the post because after people dying alone, a generation of kids being left my behind, and the shocking entitlement of the author, the piece is entirely relevant to mental health in general and mental health today in particular. Which follows the blogger’s theme.

    23. Somerby’s theme is whether a person can be held accountable for things they say and do if they are (supposedly) mentally ill, not how mental health issues arise. Also, Kanye West and DePape are not of school age, so what happened during COVID isn’t relevant to them. And what does the author’s sense of “entitlement” have to do with anything?

    24. 6;:35,
      You're confused again. Research shows American citizens tend to commit far more criminal actions than immigrants. It's why Republicans love immigrants. Oops. Now I'm confused.

    25. Democrats pushing for equality good. Republicans being bigots bad.

  4. The terms mental health and mental illness do not mean the same thing.

  5. The implication that “mental illness” fully explains the choice of DePape’s target seems flawed, just as the choice of Dr Tiller as a target more than likely cannot be solely blamed on the mental state of his killer.

  6. "A precise sequence of the break-in is still emerging, and a portrait of Mr. DePape is only beginning to take shape."

    Somerby breezes past this sentence. How can the press diagnose DePape without all of the information? That would be irresponsible journalism.

  7. DePape is a normal Republican

  8. "Mental illness doesn't make a person "espouse anti-Black ideologies and antisemitism?" On what basis does Blow claim to know that?"

    Somerby suggests the paper should have fact-checked this before publishing Blow's editorial. But Blow is correct.

    This about it -- you cannot go around diagnosing anyone who doesn't share your political views as mentally ill. Nor can you decide that mentally ill people will not hold the same views as Republicans and Democrats or Socialists and Fascists or even Communists and White Supremacists. The extremity of one's political views doesn't determine mental illness.

    Mental illness is defined by diagnostic symptoms listed in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) of the American Psychiatric Associations (APA). It is not defined by the statistical unlikelihood of one's political beliefs or one's religion or one's biases and prejudices. People have the right to believe unlikely things without being persecuted as mentally ill.

    Do mentally ill people (in the sense of meeting actual diagnostic criteria) sometimes hold unusual or unpopular or even racist views? Of course they do. The problem is that so do people who are not mentally ill, which means that such views are not correlated with mental illness. Neither are delusions (such as believing in God, believing one has talked to God, believing in superstitions, seeing ghosts, seeing dead people, talking with spirits beyond this world, feeling that one has ESP or can predict the future, believing one has been abducted by aliens or was sexually molested, believing someone famous loves you, and so on. All of these delusions are held by normal people who are not mentally ill. Believing a con artist does not make someone mentally ill either. It just makes them wrong.

    There are many people with inadequate coping skills who have trouble leading their lives. They are not mentally ill because of that. There are mentally ill people who are similarly troubled, but that is not what makes them mentally ill -- it is those diagnostic criteria that define mental illness. People who have difficulty coping frequently also resort to drugs or alcohol to feel better. That doesn't make them mentally ill. The majority of adults (and some teens) in our society use alcohol and drugs that way, not always to excess.

    Blow knows more about psychology than Somerby does. It strikes me as ridiculous for Somerby to ask that Blow be fact-checked when Somerby routinely says incorrect things about mental illness in his essays. Somerby's tendency to want to blame mental illness for Republican wrongdoing is only one of the incorrect things he says regularly. Today he equates mental health problems with mental illness, when the two are quite different in definition. It is like saying that someone with a health problem (such as smoking or eating too much) is the same as someone with a disease or injury, a physical illness. Someone who is anxious or depressed because of life circumstances is specifically excluded from a diagnosis of major depression or an anxiety disorder (such people are depressed despite their circumstances not because of them).

    Somerby thinks that talking about how to help teens cope with their life circumstances (deal with their mental health) is the same as helping them with a mental illness. But being stressed at school is not the same as having schizophrenia (an actual mental illness). Somerby could know this with a bit of effort. But he is uninterested in understanding adults or teens better. He just wants to use labels to excuse Republicans. And that is not what mental illness terms and labels are for. It is an abuse of such terms, one that is called stimatizing people. It is frowned on by all mental health professionals, just as physicians today frown on use of certain derogatory terms to talk about physical illness and injury.

    Somerby has no business criticizing Blow when he doesn't know what he is talking about himself. And notice that it is no coincidence that so many of the people Somerby calls out here are black or female or gay.

    1. Being a bigot makes someone espouse anti-semitism and racist ideologies. If every bigot were mentally ill, we could just lock them all up and do society a favor. Unfortunately, too many otherwise sane people believe racist, sexism and homophobic crap, including Somerby.

  9. "they avoid a major framework of established medical science"

    The major framework of established medical science is that you don't diagnose someone without evaluating them first using standard diagnostic procedures. This is so important that it is part of APA ethics for professionals.

  10. Kanye West has admitted publicly that he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. And yet it isn’t clear that that caused him to say what he did. Blow spent the bulk of his editorial showing Kanye’s consistent anti-black ideology over the years, thus asserting that that is Kanye’s real self.

    Here’s a view by some professionals at least, who affirm Blow’s view about mental illness:

    “Almost all of the mental health professionals who spoke to Gizmodo about Ye’s behavior stated that mental illness does not induce racism, antisemitism, or any other type of hatred.“


    Additionally, this statement was made about Kanye:

    “Ye has always courted controversy and tried to get a rise out of everyone.”

    It’s also ironic that Kanye himself said this: “ITS CHEAP AND DISMISSIVE TO SAY I’M OFF MY MEDS ANYTIME I SPEAK UP”
    (From a deleted tweet).

  11. First Graders understand pronouns better than Republican politicians. Economics, too.

  12. Democrats up here arguing their violence is more saintly than Republican violence. That belief might explain why research shows violence is a normalized tool in the arsenal of the mainstream left while on the right rare and almost always involves severe mental illness.