The overall public reaction of rapper Kanye West’s hospitalization is a reflection of the negative stigma surrounding mental health in society. This is especially true in regards to celebrities. Kanye West was reportedly hospitalized on Monday due to a “psychiatric emergency” at his personal trainer’s gym (according to a Fire Department’s dispatch call obtained by TMZ). A correlation can be formed between the hospitalization and West’s recent political rants on Donald Trump’s campaign and the issue of race in White America.
At his San Jose concert, West expressed, “I’m a celebrity that’s not allowed to have an opinion.” It is easy to take away the human attributes of a person who is surrounded with success and replace it with a false perception of perfection. Celebrities do not have the privilege of freedom in individuality, or room to make mistakes in a world where the media publicizes their every move. West is passionate about the right to express oneself. The singer also voiced at his show, “at a ‘Saint Pablo’ show, no matter what your opinion is, you safe with your opinion here.”
Some sources have interpreted that his emotional state of mind is associated with his mother’s death in November of 2007. This November marks nine years since the death of Donda West, but the loss of a parent, no matter the amount of time passed, does not always help with immediate emotional healing. Links can be made between the singer’s vocalizations through his music and the death of his mother.
Countless Yeezy fans believe the debut of his song, “I feel like that” was a warning of West’s struggle with mental health. Earlier this year Kanye released the track to bring attention to mental illnesses. The music video shows him slumped in a bare room, both mentally and physically exhausted. The lyrics state, “While you’re fast asleep, do you experience nervousness or shakiness inside, weakness or dizziness?.. Trouble remembering things, feeling easily annoyed and irritated.” He sings, “I feel like that all the time.” Similarly, in a study in 1991, conducted by researcher Scharlach, his results suggest that grief-stricken adult children report troubles sleeping and getting along with specific people following the death of a parent. The bond between a mother and their child is not something easily forgotten when it is lost.
Social media users have reduced West’s condition to banter. A particular tweeter joked, “Kanye West has been eating his spaghetti with a spoon for years y’all just realizing he’s crazy.” The term ‘crazy’ is an ableist slur, according to The Thought & Expression Co, and should not be used to degrade others struggling with distress. Although West has voiced some debatable statements, including regarding racism in America, his situation should not be exploited or ridiculed. We must be more mindful and sensitive to the issue of mental health in society.