Perhaps one of the most talked about subjects in recent weeks, amazingly, was the story of the woman who was “caught’ by her husband having a sexual relationship with a homeless person inside the car, in the Federal District. Amid the pandemic, war, inflation and elections, social networks and part of the media decided to focus on the intimacy of other people’s lives.
The story bothered a lot of people from the beginning. I bring some questions that worried me: does it really matter for the public domain what each one does with his private life? Could it be that if it were the other way around, a man “caught” by his wife having sex with a homeless woman, would the repercussions have been the same? Is this a joke? I really liked the texts of fellow UOL columnists Nina Lemos and Luciana Bugni in this regard.
More: the fact that one of those involved was someone who lives on the streets made people condemn the woman even more, reinforcing a perverse social prejudice (in addition to “betraying” her partner, did she still have to choose this guy?) .
And very importantly: to what extent will all the exposure brought by the case not have profound impacts on the mental health of everyone involved? The “betrayed” husband who became a laughing stock, the homeless man who gained “publicity” and who perhaps still hasn’t understood the risks that social networks carry and, even more serious, the woman who starred in the episode and became the main victim of this sinister plot.
Manic phase of bipolar disorder
To make the situation even more cruel, this week a report from the University Hospital of Brasília, which evaluated the case, suggests that the woman is in the “mania” phase of bipolar disorder, that is, she is facing a mental disorder. It’s serious: the intimacy of someone who is sick has been leaked and spread to the four corners. I am concerned about the risk this person runs in coming out of the manic phase and actually understanding everything that has happened.
Let me explain better: in mania, the person may face a break in contact with reality (psychotic condition). Ideas of grandeur and power (I am superman and I can do anything), religious delusions (I am chosen by God to save the world), loss of criticism and uncontrolled impulses (spending without limits, giving gifts to everyone) and sexual disinhibition and increased libido (thinking and having sex with whoever comes along) are some of the symptoms that can arise.
In mania, the person can still be accelerated, euphoric, talk non-stop, speech is often lost (arborization), appetite increases, has difficulty sleeping, there is psychomotor agitation and intense restlessness, disorganized and inappropriate behaviors, difficulty staying focused and, what can make it very difficult to perceive that something is wrong: a feeling of happiness and well-being (why should I treat myself if I’m feeling so good?).
As with any psychiatric disorder, the presence of one or more symptoms and their intensity varies greatly from person to person. A bipolar disorder can start with either a depression or a manic phase. It is chronic, and the person can face one or several phases throughout their life.
Often, even those next to them notice that the individual is a little different, but has difficulty understanding what is happening. And the certainty of the diagnosis can only appear after an attitude that draws a lot of attention (like the one that was filmed and released without the slightest ceremony to the whole world).
Virtual lynching and risks
The episode is a good opportunity for us to discuss the virtual lynching, the exposure of the intimacy of others and the humor built by the networks on the suffering and illness of the other (in this sense, the case dialogues with the episode that happened with Jada PINkett Smith in Oscar delivery last Sunday.
Ffriendsfriends and specialists who accompany patients with mania who are coming out of a crisis know that one of the most complicated issues to deal with at this stage, in addition to eventual economic and social reparations, is the full awareness of what happened and the feeling of “demoralization” ( “How could I do this? What will people think of me? How am I going to face everyone again?”).
If this moment is already complicated for anyone coming out of a mania phase, what to think of a woman who was exposed and publicly condemned without having the slightest idea of what was happening? The whole situation reinforces the importance of close and intense support from family and friends as well as mental health professionals.
As individuals and society (with our social media) and as media outlets, we need to admit that we were wrong and publicly apologize to this woman. And that the space for the retractions is proportional to the “circus” that was created. It was shameful, inhumane, cruel and extremely dangerous what was done to her. I leave here on record my solidarity and empathy to all involved and their families.