Pilots, Patients and Public Peril: Framing Andreas Lubitz and the Germanwings Crash

April 10, 2015 3:36 PM

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Coverage of the Germanwings crash has focused primarily on two things: Mr. Lubitz's psychiatric history and how the system failed to identify him as a danger. This framing of the event reflects shifting cultural conceptions of the mentally ill and those who treat them. Any attempts to prevent such tragedies in the future would profit from an examination of unwitting distortions that pervade beliefs about both of these populations.

The notion that individuals who suffer from mental illness represent a danger to the public has a long history. Despite advances in neuroscience and public awareness of the causes of mental illness, the prevalence of this stigma has increased over the past half century. Between 1950 and 1996, those ...

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