A psychiatric aide trainee has admitted to getting an 18 year old patient to swallow nails while in the Allentown State Hospital. Four nails were removed from the patient’s stomach. Athena Marie Sidlar has pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment in the case and it appears as though she and her lawyer are going to blame it on bipolar disorder. That’s right — bipolar disorder made her feed nails to a patient in a mental health facility. Her lawyer claims she is “trying to battle her affliction”.
I think it’s past time that we start questioning where it is that we draw the line between sick and sane and who gets to draw it. Also, I don’t think I’m alone in saying that people really need to stop using the mental illness defense. With people citing their supposed illness as the cause for everything from simple assault to this and killing their mother with a hatchet, is it any wonder people errantly associate mental illness with violent behavior? I am certain that there are many people to whom the bipolar label and stigma has been attached that would rightfully take exception to this association and the terribly irresponsible behavior that perpetuates it.