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Do People With Mental Illness Have To Be “Better?”

van goghI’m having some major feelings of inferiority right now you guys.

Look at how mental illness is portrayed in the media. Any mental illness. The default justification for our existence is always the outliers.

“Look at Temple Grandin! Look at van Gogh! Look at John Nash!”

Do we have to do great things in order to earn the right to exist?

The Darwinian in me thinks this makes perfect sense. There must be some reason these genes have survived, right?

There’s some truth to this. Autism genes (not necessarily autism itself) are linked to higher intelligence. Bipolar disorder is also linked to intelligence and creativity. One primary school of thought is that some amount of these genes are advantageous. But when you go too far in that direction, you get a disorder.

I¬†want that validation. I do. I want my Asperger’s to mean something.

Because if I’m not superior in some way, does that mean I’m inferior?

Do People With Mental Illness Have To Be “Better?”

Gwendolyn Kansen

Gwen Kansen is a mental health writer in New York. She likes food, karaoke, and smart-but-campy books & TV. She's hoping to capture a little sliver of life on here that might not be the first thing you'd see.

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APA Reference
Kansen, G. (2015). Do People With Mental Illness Have To Be “Better?”. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 2 Oct 2015
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