The romanticization of mental illness is when people think of mental illness more positively rather than how it should be treated. People do this for a multitude of reasons including: self-worth issues, influence, attention, and because they don’t see mental illness as something bad. Mental illness in itself is not bad to have, but to think of it as something positive is wrong because it’s not solving the problem. The reason some might romanticize or idealize mental illness is that they want attention and see it as relatable. It's hard for them to see it as bad, because they don't see disorders as disorders but rather than something that makes them special. It's hard for them to leave this mindset, because mental illness is what makes them unique.
They might feel the worse they are, the more authentic they are. They might see themselves as boring without their disorders; they could only see disorders as personality traits; they are fueled to stay this way because they get attention. Whether or not they actually have the mental illnesses that they are portraying, the fact they want attention so badly as to put themselves in harm's way shows there is a problem.
Social media can amplify this behavior because of the algorithm. The more they get attention the more they want to keep doing it. This is bad because it can lead to destructive and harmful behavior. People with this mindset tend to have negative trains of thought including:
Emotional Reasoning: Letting your feelings guide your interpretation of reality. “I feel depressed; therefore, my marriage is not working out.”
Catasthrophizing: Perceiving a global pattern of negatives on the basis of a single incident. “This generally happens to me. I seem to fail at a lot of things.”
Dichotomous Thinking(also known variously as “black-and-white thinking,” “all-or-nothing thinking,” and “binary thinking”): Viewing events or people in all-or-nothing terms. “I get rejected by everyone,” or “It was a complete waste of time.”
Mind Reading: Assuming that you know what people think without having sufficient evidence of their thoughts. “He thinks I’m a loser.”
Labeling: Assigning global negative traits to yourself or others(often in the service of dichotomous thinking). “I’m undesirable,” or “He’s a rotten person.”
Negative Filtering: You focus almost exclusively on the negatives and seldom notices the positives.“Look at all of the who don’t like me.”
Discounting Positives: Claiming that the positive things you or others do are trivial, so that you can maintain a negative judgment. “That’s what wives are supposed to do–so it doesn’t count when she’s nice to me,” or “Those successes were east, so they don’t matter.
Blaming: Focusing on the other person as the source of your negative feelings; you refuse to take responsibility for changing yourself. “She’s to blame for the way I feel now,” or “My parents caused all my problems.” (Lukianoff & Haidt, 2019, page 38.)
Once they start thinking this way it becomes a cycle and the longer they are in it the harder it is to get out.
But to get attention this way? Why do they wish to suffer? It’s because they are afraid of invalidation. If they stop suffering was it ever really real? They think this way because of the cognitive distortions as stated above, but society and social media amplify it. It's hard to talk someone out of this kind of mindset so they stay in it, and they only really get help when they're in crisis. then they can go to a mental hospital and talk to a therapist and get help but before a crisis happens there's no safety plan.
This is where treatment is lacking. Treatment for all sorts of issues whether it be mental or physical is almost always short-term. For example, medication a lot of the time medications can wear off, if people rely on medication it's harder to find the right medication to stay on because they always have to change the dosage, and if you forget to take your meds then it could negatively affect how they work. What we need to be focusing on is long-term solutions such as therapy and changing cognitive distortions.
The change in how media perceives mental health influences society’s outlook on mentally ill people. The more one surrounds yourself with negative media, you will become a negative person. The more attention you put into your thoughts the more they will become real. As stated by Friedrich Nietzsche, “When you look long into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you.”(McKay, 2020)