Thursday, April 5, 2012

Can Mental Illness Change the World?

The world we live in today is a far cry from the technological dessert of the past. We have access to cell phones, the internet, facebook, twitter, e-mails straight to our phones and every type of communication needed to keep people in constant contact. Good or bad, the advances in technology create an ever shrinking world, allowing access to people and ideas on the other side of the globe in mere minutes. All of these creations foster an environment of immediate satisfaction and global networking. There are numerous examples every day of the progress made with use of technology, but never has there been a world wide campaign as large as Kony 2012. As I am sure you have all seen Kony 2012 is a video detailing the atrocities committed by the Lord's Resistance Army, led by Joseph Kony. The documentary makes a call to arms of all people regardless of age, sex, race or ethnic origin world wide. What makes this video unique is the request for involvement from all its viewers. Every person can help; simply repost the video and spread the message about the abhorrent practices of the LRA. The Kony 2012 campaign takes it a step farther: "On April 20th, we will take the next step in the global movement to finally bring an end to LRA atrocities. We will move the conversation from the digital to the physical world, where this conflict is happening, where real change can be made. We will earn the right to be heard by our national and global leaders by serving our local communities. And above all, we will prove that our liberty is bound together" (Invisible Children: Kony 2012). By making it a global problem, individuals move from education to involvement and begin to see the enormity of the situation, not as an "African Problem", but as a human problem. 

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A few weeks after the release of the Kony 2012 video, creator Jason Russel was hospitalized for "brief reactive psychosis", basically a stress-induced mental breakdown. While a mental break down is not in the same league as schizophrenia or a severe case of bipolar disorder, it does have similar tenants. As shown in the readings and the class discussions mental disorders have a long history of appearing in highly intelligent and highly creative individuals. The Russ article says that people with affect laden states are more creative for two reasons: 
                            First, they have access to more cues that activate other nodes in the search process. More associations occur. Second, more emotionally salient material would get coded and stored when individuals were in an emotional state. For individuals open to affect, more would "get in", thus providing the individual with a richer network of affect-relevant associations" ( Russ 31). 
Using this information and the discussion in class, Mr. Russel fits the mold of a creative individual through his adept use of emotional materials mixed with relevant facts and a revolutionary use of multimedia to spread his message. While other people and groups have used wide spread media to inform the public, Russel's use is unique in that it does not address any specific demographic. His mode is also extraordinary in his desire to 'Make Kony Famous'. His goal to increase awareness attacks the problem merely by informing as many people as possible and using these large numbers to force international action. 
As mentioned in class, many attributes that quantify mental illness are, in moderation, desirable characteristics. Strict attention to detail is a valuable quality, but an excess of that leads to an anxiety disorder. Confidence and charisma benefits those that possess it, but a lack of confidence can result in a recluse and an abundance creates a narcissist. It is highly ambitious to hope to change the world, as Jason Russel hoped to do. Some may even say this type of confidence is fool hardy and unrealistic, however it is these creative and dedicated individuals that have changed the world. The possession of specific traits that make some people great while destroying others begs the question of the long term benefit of these traits. For example, if Russel did not believe himself special enough to affect wide spread change, would he ever have made the video? Was it his extreme dedication that led to his success, and eventually his undoing? Overall, if outliers of particular behaviors have positive effects, can mental illness really change the world? 

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure if the embedded link worked so here is another link of the Kony 2012 video


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