4 thoughts on “Mental Illness Crisis at 35,000 Feet

  • April 20, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Hi Gabe,

    Thanks for this article. I just have one concern; ‘mental illness’ can include a lot, and not all mental illnesses cause delusions. I feel that if you could be a bit more specific about which mental illnesses could cause delusions – e.g., delusional disorder, bipolar 1, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, etc. There are different types of delusions as well – i.e., psychotic delusions and ‘trait’ delusions, as seen in some personality disorders… if this makes sense. And please do not assume anything when you write about someone. I could agree that the passenger probably was in crisis, but it would have been difficult to really know what was going on in her mind by just observing her.


    • May 5, 2015 at 8:09 pm

      Thank you for your comments and for reading, M — I really appreciate it. I agree that it is difficult to truly know what a person is thinking. When she was attempting to open the cockpit and claiming that this was the bathroom door — I believed her to be delusion based on her words, actions, and ultimate reaction to being told she could not enter the cockpit and her refusal to believe that is was, in fact, the cockpit door she was attempting to enter.

      It is, of course, possible she was not delusional and that she was just attempting to illegally enter the cockpit.

      The only one who knows for sure is her. Perhaps she was a very good actor and was just pretending or perhaps my assessment was correct. There are no definitive tests for any mental illness — so best judgement is all I had to go on. My best judgement told me she was in crisis. That is what I observed and what I feel was happening.

      I sincerely hope I was correct — because the thought of being scammed by a woman trying to commit a federal crime just makes me kind of sad for humanity!

      Thank you and big hugs!


  • April 29, 2015 at 11:10 pm

    This is a great story, Gabe, and thank goodness you were there to diffuse the situation and help this woman regain her composure, manage her anxiety, and get to her waiting party safely.

    Why I’m commenting is about how the story was presented. On Twitter, it read, “Mental Ilness Crisis at 35,00 Feet” and the first few words were about a woman trying to break into the cabin door. My first thoughts were, oh great, more mental illness stigma, because this is what the story presented itself as. I clicked to find out it was actually about peer counseling–a righteous learned skill that not everyone can do.

    Perhaps if the story were presented as an example of peer support instead of the shock value “Mental Crisis at 35,00 Feet” it may diminish the potential of mental illness stigma….at any feet.

    • April 30, 2015 at 11:46 am

      Thank you Dori!

      I can’t disagree with your statement at all. I’ve passed it around in different forms, with different headlines — all in order to attract different readers. It is a difficult thing using social media, especially twitter, because the space is so limited. I am going to take your advice and recirculate with the peer support heading. ~Gabe


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