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Why So Serious?: Stigma and Medieval Times

Blast From the Past: You know how some people always reminisce about the old days and call for a return to the behaviors and happenings of the past. Yeah this is not that, sorry millennials, even though we know you miss the 90’s. In fact this is almost the exact opposite. This may be why we fear a return to the past. Were talking about mental health in the middle ages.

Info-Graphic: Career options were slim especially for the mentally ill.

Psych Fiction: Batman’s the Joker may suffer from Bipolar disorder and two little known afflictions called Witzelsucht and pseudobulbar affect.

Other News: Need Help? Call 988, the suicide lifeline. Google’s director of mental health is out, at the wrong time. The Asian demographic is least likely to seek mental health care, why? Oregon youth face the worst state for their mental health. Is mental illness on the rise or are we just talking about it more?

Brain Fog

So it’s the middle ages and you are having a psychotic episode. Where do you go? Well in all honesty you better hope no where. Back in medieval times, mental illness carried a different level of stigma, I’m talking biblical proportions. In fact that was the way in which they attempted to treat it, with the bible. Now religion for mental health in present day discussions represents a strong coping mechanism.

However, the language and context of the bible may be a little dated. Regardless, long story short, if you suffered from pronounced mental illness, chances are you were either possessed or a witch/wizard. Unfortunately, Hogwarts was still a secret back then. Thus the only answers to the mystery of mental illness came from the church. Many families sent their mentally ill to shrines of saints or doctors. Many were driven into isolation and went on to lead lives of beggars. A lucky few earned their keep in other ways that suited their disabilities. Stigma back then and now are tremendously different.




Although these were not the only professions available, they were some of the most common. Of these professions the only one which naturally suited those with more severe or pronounced mental illness was the court jester. Oftentimes the castle would take in those with mental illness from the stance of “Christian charity.” In return the person with mental illness performed or staged their form of entertainment for the crown’s purposes. The person received lodging and sometimes wages. This most likely suited the luckier portion of those with mental illness. As stated before a large number of the mentally ill led lives of beggars. These were the original joker’s.

Psych Fiction

This villain from Batman has earned his keep in the minds of fans everywhere but the functioning behind his own mind may have fans wondering why? The jury is still out in terms of the official diagnosis but speculation chalks Joker’s main diagnosis up to bipolar disorder. Cited as evidence, includes parental abandonment issues and sudden mood swings or bouts of anger. Aside from this, experts note the obscure Witzelsucht meaning “addiction to jokes.” This diagnosis stems from not being able to read the room as the person will tell inappropriate jokes at inappropriate times. Lastly, comes the Joker’s pseudobulbar affect. This disorder causes episodes of sudden crying or laughter.

Other News

988Lifeline: The 988 lifeline has seen an increase in calls as opposed to their former 10 digit phone number. The system has seen an uptick of over half million. Here’s the story.

Google&You: This source details Google’s cut of their wellness and mental health director as the tech sector witnesses a wave in anxiety and depression.

Asia and Pain: According to this source, Asians are the least likely ethnic group to seek help for mental health and the source explains why.

Oregon Youth: Oregon is ranked as the worst state for youth mental health. This is why.

On The Rise: This article highlights the topic of whether mental illness is on the rise or whether we are just getting better about talking about it.

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