Although Amanda Bynes’ reps and parents denied she has a mental disorder last year, after her bizarre behavior culminated in a stay at a mental health treatment facility, it’s impossible to deny something is wrong.
Just in the past few weeks, before Amanda was placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold for the second time, she was caught shoplifting, driving under the influence, stripping nude, dancing in airports and throwing fits across New York City. She also accused her father of sexual abuse before taking it back; she said the microchip in her brain caused her to falsely point a finger his way. And since we live in the digital age, all the while Twitter has been abuzz with her latest spree of crisis behavior — both directly from Amanda and from all those who’ve been watching.
And while it’s sad to watch, and undoubtedly hard to look away from the unfolding story line zipping across TV and computer screens, there’s one thing that we should not do: laugh.
Amanda Bynes is sick, just like those with cancer, Alzheimer’s, MS or any number of other chronic conditions. And that sickness is wreaking havoc on her body and mind. It is not a laughable or label-appropriate affair. “Amanda Bynes has likely had a difficult home life and is currently struggling with emotional and psychological issues,” says SheKnows Expert and licensed psychologist Samantha Rodman, PhD. “Responding to her as though she is ‘crazy’ minimizes the seriousness of the difficulties she is having, and also makes it seem like she is either at fault or laughable. Neither is the case.”
Amanda’s case is very serious. And because she’s a celebrity, we’re all invited to watch every time she sends out a tweet or the paparazzi snaps a photo. However, we’re never invited to laugh. Her behavior isn’t crazy or nutty or ridiculous. It’s a symptom of a larger problem that can’t be fixed overnight. And the more we laugh at these issues, the louder they’ll be broadcast under that air of “craziness” — which won’t help Amanda.
She didn’t ask for this illness, whatever it is, and she won’t ask for time and space to recover from it either. “Getting emotionally and mentally healthy is a long and difficult process,” says Dr. Rodman. “The best thing to do for Amanda Bynes is to give her and her family the privacy they need to cope with her issues.”
I can’t make photographers stop taking her picture, reporters stop covering her story or you stop looking at the media that’s literally placed right in front of you every day. But I will ask you to reconsider how you view a very troubled young woman. Making her outbursts into a spectacle for public entertainment is feeding her problem, and it’s wrong to partake in poking fun.
You wouldn’t laugh at any other person suffering with any other illness she can’t control, would you? So, please don’t laugh at Amanda Bynes.