Depression as manipulation

Long time followers of this blog will know that I have suffered from some fairly serious depressive episodes. You can use the search function to find out a bit more about that if you’re so inclined. Suffice to say, I’ve tried to off myself a few times and have landed in a mental hospital once. I have had periodic visits from the black dog ever since.

Now, I don’t share that to elicit any sympathy from you (thanks though). I share it because it really is the only way I can make the point I want to make without facing the severest of backlashes. There are some points – true as they may be – that for some reason people are only prepared to take from those who have suffered the problem themselves. That is an issue of itself, of course, and one to be discussed another day in another post perhaps. Nonetheless, I say the above for the purposes of making clear that, if experience is what counts when making this particular argument, then I am qualified to speak.

Some of you will be aware of a lot of chat that has been going on since the release of Vicky Beeching’s book Undivided. Now, I intend to make absolutely no comment or offer any review of the book here. Others have done an excellent job of that elsewhere. Notably, David Robertson has offered a review in the form of an open letter here. Other reviews are available.

I pick up on David’s because he also wrote a follow-up piece on some of the response he had received simply for disagreeing with Vicky Beeching’s theology and logic. You can read that here. I linked to it in my weekly snippets roundup. This is notable because in disagreeing David faced the most vociferous pushback – even being reported to his denomination as a child abuse sympathiser(!) – much of which was egged on by Vicky Beeching herself. This is a point she denies but it was noted repeatedly that she retweeted the accusation, which led to a pile-on from her supporters.

One of the tactics that Vicky has repeatedly employed is to insist that disagreeing with her position is tantamount to inflicting abuse on her because of her fragile mental state. She effectively argues that if you dare to disagree it will set off her depression, potentially leading to her suicide. In other words, anybody who dares demur, is either being mentally abusive or, worse, is directly responsible for killing her (or, at least, attempting to do so).

I found myself embroiled in a discussion where she made one such comment. It was not the most virulent example but does demonstrate the tendency:

Notice, anybody who ‘corrects’ here – so that is anybody who disagrees with her – is harming or damaging her mental health. In fact, disagreeing is deemed inherently ‘offensive’. These are, interestingly, not private messages but those sent to her public inboxes. In other words, disagreeing publicly with comments that she herself has made in public is harmful mental abuse. To disagree is to damage her fragile mental state, inflict harm and we all know where such things lead.

This is nothing short of utter manipulation. Let me speak about myself for a moment. I suffer from depression and have made serious attempts on my life. The idea that this now indemnifies me from all criticism just in case you make me try it again is nothing short of emotional blackmail. Don’t disagree otherwise I might kill myself and it’ll be definitely your fault! It is an absolutely appalling argument to make.

In this case, it is even worse than all that. As David Robertson noted here, Vicky Beeching insists that the online behaviour she has received caused her to seek out her therapist and doctor. He states:

So I went through her social media to see who had been attacking her and the answer is no-one.  There was plenty abuse and even threats – but they were all directed towards yours truly or the EA.  Not one to Vicky.  So was she upset at her own supporters?  Or was she triggered by her own post?  Or is the mere fact that I refused to agree with her enough to constitute bad online behaviour?

What you need to remember is that it was Vicky who made the original post on FB and who then went even further by ‘boosting’ it (this is where you pay to have your post advertised).  These are hardly the actions of a shy and shrinking vulnerable person who just wants to get on with their live without fuss!  So why is she complaining about the way she has been treated?  The only reason can be that she thinks even to disagree with her is abusive.

This is evidently true because she has said so in subsequent tweets (such as the one above). Disagreeing with her, according to Vicky Beeching, is of itself abusive.

The picture here is of somebody feigning the victim but doing all they can to maximise attention on themselves. Any time anybody disagrees with her, rather than answering substantive criticism, she simply claims that such causes her mental health problems and thus the one disagreeing is abusing her.

As I said during the course of that discussion:

Beware of those who put themselves out there in public – choosing to promote themselves and mounting campaigns (whatever they may be) – who then claim victim status whenever somebody disagrees with them. It is nothing short of emotional blackmail and out and out manipulation to use your depression to insist that nobody can disagree with you. It is worse still to use it to insist (or even imply) they are abusing you if they do so.

When others make this argument, they are written off because they can’t claim the same victimhood. Not that I want to be seen as a victim, but if people disagreeing with Vicky Beeching are causing her mental state to deteriorate, does that cut back given the language she has used to describe people – such as myself – who happen to disagree with her? If so, is she not mentally abusing such as me by disagreeing with me? If it does, where does that leave any discussion? Presumably only the most mentally fragile of us all can ever be right because only we stand above contradiction because to disagree with us amounts to abuse. This is nothing short of emotional blackmail and is illogical nonsense of the highest order.