Time To Stop Blaming Mental Illness For The Behaviors Of Toxic People

Far too often abuse is excused that the person has a mental illness and this is wrong, an abuser is no more likely to be mentally ill than anyone else is.

Abusers love that this excuse is applied to them as it then gives a reason for what they are doing. Typical excuses are they only shout at you because they were drunk, they only hit you because they were hit themselves as children, they are abusive as they suffer from depression, so none of their behavior is their fault.


They are responsible for their actions ALL of it.

a recent survey completed by survivors showed that the biggest barrier for leaving an abusive situation was because of threats and excuses made by the abuser.

Every single excuse is a lie. Domestic violence is not caused by alcohol or drugs or living in an environment where physical violence was an everyday occurrence.  According to Andrew Klein, PhD for the Battered Women’s Justice Project who completed a study  in regard to abusive partners showed they are no more likely to be mentally ill than the general population.

Lundy Bancroft, author of Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, says that believing abusers are mentally ill can be a “trap of misinformation,” that can lead, among other things, to victims believing their abusers will get better if they just get help for their mental illness.

“In my 30 years in the field, I’ve never seen significant lasting improvement from an abuser going to psychotherapy. If anything, things have gotten worse. He’s learned new ways to get inside the woman’s head or new excuses.”

Abuse and Mental Illness May Overlap

Nancy Erickson, an attorney who specializes in domestic violence legal issues states “I found that about half of abusers appeared to have no mental disorders. The other half had various mental disorders, including but not limited to psychopathy, narcissism, PTSD, depression and bipolar disorder.” However, she adds, “Domestic abuse is a behavior, not a symptom of mental illness.”

Bancroft says the characteristics of someone with narcissistic personality disorder are pretty spot-on when it comes to how many abusers act— “You go around using people and then blaming their negative reactions to you on them,” he says—though it still doesn’t mean the disorder is causing him to abuse.

“Too many abusers want to claim they have a disorder. They’ll claim they’re depressed, and the depression is making them do that. No disorder makes you call your partner demeaning and degrading names. They [the abuser] still have choices.”

What Can We Blame, Then?

There are some behaviors that increase the likelihood of abuse and this stems from those that grow up with a sense of entitlement, typical those who are narcissistic come under that heading.

Ultimately the abuser needs to take responsibility for their actions which most will not, they are quite happy to blame it on mental health conditions, which is damaging to those with those conditions who would never even think for one moment to abuse another person, they are too busy trying to work on themselves and improving their own mental health to then inflict harm that could lead to that person developing a mental health illness themselves.