Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More psychosis in the news

See my original post on psychosis here.

I've been following the sad story that unfolded July 29th on a Greyhound bus traveling in western Canada. Without any apparent provocation, Vince Weiguang Li calmly and repeatedly stabbed Tim McLean to death before decapitating him, displaying his head to other passengers (who had fled the bus), and eating parts of his body.

When arrested on the bus, Mr. Li said "I have to stay on the bus forever." Since his arrest, Mr. Li has declined to speak; aside from acknowledging his guilt, he only spoke when asked by the judge if he wanted a lawyer. Mr. Li shook his head and quietly said, "please kill me." Mr. Li was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and has since been admitted to a secure forensic psychiatric ward. Though he declines legal assistance, Legal Aid Manitoba stepped up to represent Mr. Li.

Following the case, I've encountered many comments on blogs and news sites condemning Mr. Li's actions and calling for Canada to reinstate the death penalty in his case. Many are dismissive of "this mental illness BS" and point to the fact that Mr. Li knew what he was doing. (Of course he knew what he was doing, but he was not doing it in the reality we experience- he acted according to the demands of another world entirely.) They think he should be thrown in a hole or deported back to China after revoking his Canadian citizenship. There are also those who recognize that Mr. Li cannot be considered fully (or at least criminally) responsible for his actions and that we should reserve judgment until more facts come to light.

In my last post on this topic, I expressed sadness at the horrors that can befall the mentally ill, their families, and bystanders. This time around, I'm saddened by the intolerance and misunderstanding still prevalent in many people's perceptions of mental illness.

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