Issue Paper Fall ’15

My third project of the semester was an issue paper where I developed on a topic (or issue) into a full discussion, with proposed interventions to help remedy the problem. Take a look at my project to learn more about how people who suffer from mental illness are stigmatized by us; society as a whole.

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Word Choices Matter When Confronting Mental Illness

Creative Détournement

A détournement (French for “rerouting”, “hijacking”) is a technique of a variation on previous work, perhaps artwork in which the newly created work has a meaning that is hostile or aggressive to the original. The original media work that is détourned must be somewhat familiar to the target audience, so that it can appreciate the opposition of the new message. Keep reading and below you’ll find the creative détournement I’ve created based on the social justice issue of mentally ill individuals being stigmatized by society.


Words are powerful, and for too long, the words to describe mental illness have been loaded with negativity and judgment. Words like “psycho,” “wacko,” and “crazy” can add to the stigmatization of people with mental illness. Stereotypes are barriers that can prevent people with mental illness from getting treatment and can create problems for them in all aspects of their lives. It impacts negatively on people’s ability to get jobs, to find housing, and to have social relationships. Words with negative connotations can also greatly affect how people with disabilities of all kinds are treated and can influence public policy.

Some of the terms used to denote mental illness commonly heard that they regularly pass without comment but those who deal with their illness live with it everyday as well as live with how people feel/think about it.

My creative détournement  represents the impact of stigmatizing the mentally ill and the result of lashing out through the use of firearms. News media coverage can sometimes if not always depict that individuals’ violent behavior is connected to mental illness. And if the behavior is essentially  violent; as in mass shootings, the offender must certainly have been sick. Take for instance,

  • Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer who shot and killed eight fellow students and teachers at Umpqua Community College.
  • Dylann Storm Roof who killed nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C.
  • Aaron Alexis, a Navy contractor and former Navy enlisted man, shoots and kills 12 people.
  • Adam Lanza forces his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. and shoots and kills 20 first graders and six adults.

People who all went on a shooting spree with firearms and were depicted by the media as mentally ill. People who lack the knowledge of what it truly means to be mentally ill and use condescending words freely are oblivious to the backlash and outrage that those who suffer from their illness endure. My détournement piece below depicts someone who is essentially living through a mental illness and decides to use a firearm to ultimately shut people up or stop them from the prejudice and stereotype because the individual can no longer take it. It is significant for society to choose their words wisely as to not offend anyone whether they suffer from a mental illness or not.


Technical Communications in its Entirety

1.  What role does technical communications play in your existing communicative life?

From my understanding, technical communication is to simply create easily accessible information for a targeted audience by any means of tools whether technological or not. As explained by Lannon and Gurak, we write and communicate more than ever using digital tools; we text, email, use social networking sites and so much more. My day to day technical communication takes place on my phone as I run two social media accounts, alongside with my sister for my mother’s retail business. Our mission on these sites is to inform our customers about the latest in our inventory and as for new customers, we persuade them to come shop at the store as they will be successful in finding what they are looking for. Most of my family lives back home in Nigeria and the typical way of getting in contact with them would be to buy a phone card and call them. But I now have this app on my phone called “Whatsapp” that allows me to text, send pictures, videos, or voicenotes to my family in seconds. Rather than having the call cut off on me this app makes it easier to stay in touch with my family back home.

2.  How can a technical communications perspective help you understand how you are connected to others through both technology and culture.

“Cultures differ over which behaviors seem appropriate for social interactions” and different cultures set aside expectations when it comes to communicating (Lannon & Gurak 5). Documentation or any sort of technical communication must be expressed in a way that can globally be understood so that cultures are all on the same page. Having a perspective in technical communication, I’ve now learned that technology is a tool used to reach cultures far and wide. Communicating within cultures can be difficult because it needs to be understood that not everyone is in agreement in the same things and communication needs to be appropriated in a way that everyone is happy. It is necessary to think before you speak as to not offend another’s culture. New York City is known as “the melting pot” and being born and raised here has connected me to learning an abundance of cultures. I am connected because of ads or signs made for everyone inhabiting NYC to understand or seeing documentation in several different languages. Even being friends with people that don’t necessarily have the same ideals as myself, I’ve learned to communicate with.