How Does Wikipedia Feel About Your Mental Illness?

by dpreyde

All the Wikipedia articles about common mental illnesses are illustrated by a photograph at the top of the page. I figure these must be indicative of how people interpret these disabilities, since Wikipedia articles can be edited by anyone. These photographs would also influence people’s attitude toward disabilities, since Wikipedia is a popular source of information (to the possible detriment of civilization).

Let’s see what we find.

Major Depressive Disorder


Us retards get stuck with photos of children doing things, but depressives get illustrated by a major work of art. How fair is that?

I’d expected this article to have a stock photo of a listless-looking businessman, but this is significantly better than that from an aesthetic standpoint.

Granted, I’ve never seen anyone with depression look anything like this. Most of the depressed people I know just lie on the couch all day with a thousand-yard stare, often while eating chips.

Anxiety Disorder


Again, this has been illustrated with a major work of art. This is vastly preferrable to how folks with cognitive disabilities are being conceived. However, mental illnesses simply aren’t this interesting. Not being able to leave the house for days at a time is boring as hell. About the most interesting thing that comes out of having an anxiety disorder is the vivid speculation about what strangers on the street must be thinking of you.

Bipolar Disorder


Well, this is just terrible. It’s clip art, for one thing, which is offensive on an aesthetic level. But also, there are so many people with mental illnesses who get accused of being dramatic. In this way their problems are minimized or ignored. Illustrating bipolar disorder with one of the most iconic illustrations from the theatrical world- a place of high drama and constant artifice- is deeply problematic. On stage, nothing is real; it’s all a performance. That is not the case with bipolar disorder.



This is a really hard thing to define, because it can manifest itself in so many ways, and there are professionals who question whether schizophrenia as we know it even exists.

That being said, I like this photograph a lot. It’s a cloth embroidered by a schizophrenic person, which is on display at the Glore Psychiatric Museum.

You should look up that museum on Wikipedia, by the way. It sounds fascinating.

Anyway, this is a moving, evocative and basically accurate image. I’m pleasantly surprised.

Anorexia Nervosa


People with mental illnesses fare so much better than us retards. I don’t know what to make of this. They get works of art and historical illustrations, and we get random photos of kids doing the darndest things.

Anyway, I have mixed feelings about this illustration. Boiling down an entire disability to one picture of a long-dead white woman seems awfully reductive. How many people with anorexia would look at this illustration and say, “Yeah, that’s me.”?

Maybe more than I assume, but I think in 2015 we can do better than pictures from Victorian medical papers.