One of the fun things about being a science fiction writer is to see the intersection between art and life and how that changes over time. I draw inspiration from the world around me, but sometimes the world begins to resemble my work.
Today I read a New York Times article about “targeted individuals.” These are people who believe that they are under surveillance and being harassed by secretive authorities. They find solace in finding other “T.I.s”, online and in person, and in the fact that they’re not alone in their predicaments. In the New York Times article on this topic, several psychologists say they believe people who claim to be T.I.s are suffering from schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.
Putting aside the sad state of mental health care in most countries around the world, I find it fascinating how people with mental illness are redefining the problem, saying it’s not in their heads, it’s a problem in society. In a way, it’s true. There is a stigma around mental illness, and society doesn’t do a good job of caring for people with mental illness.
I’ve struggled with this idea. As part of the promotional campaign for my novel, Broken Mirror, which features a mentally ill protagonist, I created a website and public safety announcement campaign about “mirror resonance syndrome.”
On the website, www.mirrorresonancesyndrome.com, a popup by a brainhacker collective denounces the illness as fake. They claim it’s a conspiracy to control neurodiverse people. In fact, Broken Mirror‘s tagline is “A fractured mind or a deadly conspiracy,” which could have been a quote in the New York Times article.
What’s next, self-driving murderous cars? I hope not.