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Why Fans Think This Aspect Of Criminal Minds Aged Poorly

"Criminal Minds" remains one of the most successful shows in network television history. The CBS drama ended its monumental 15-season run in 2020; however, a highly anticipated revival is currently in the works for Paramount+ subscribers. With 323 episodes produced, there's always an enjoyable story for devotees to enjoy when they're missing the team at the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit.

The veteran crime drama was a huge success largely thanks to its unique take on crime-solving — focusing directly on the FBI profilers who use their knowledge of psychology to help find the perpetrator of a crime, or "unsub," as they are called on the show. Of course, using psychology to track down serial killers means that certain controversial aspects of the process were the subject of discussion among the BAU team. Here's one of those aspects that fans believe didn't age particularly well in the years since the series' original run ended.

Criminal Minds' approach to mental health has aged poorly

Societal views toward the discussion of mental health concerns have changed over the years, and in a long-running show like "Criminal Minds," older episodes may reflect some outdated views. Some fans have noticed that the series' take on mental health has aged a bit poorly.

On the subreddit r/CriminalMinds, user u/c-est-magnifique3 remarked that the show's approach to mental health has aged poorly. They cited a Season 2 episode featuring a detective who is obsessive about note-taking. Agents Jennifer Jareau (A.J. Cook) and Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) observe the detective's signs of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and call him "mentally unstable," treating him as unreliable.

The Redditor took issue with this, writing that they "think showrunners sometimes forget when they're writing a scene that not all mental health issues belong to the ~other~. That people within society function, exist and consume the media they're creating. [sic]." u/Interesting-Issue427 agreed, adding their professional experience to the discussion, remarking, "As a psychologist, while I understand that it's fiction, and creative license is [a] thing, sometimes, the inaccuracy is just too much." 

"Criminal Minds'" take on OCD may be harmful to the show's fans who live with mental illness, too. u/askingforafriend3000 shared some first-hand commentary. "I suffer from OCD and their portrayal of it is always awful," they remarked."OCD for most people means....relentless obsessions that you might have hurt or offended someone even though you never ever would – and tv shows that depict OCD sufferers doing the very things they are so afraid of but are statistically completely unlikely to do are very unhelpful."

Mental illness does not equal criminal behavior

According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, 2.2 million adults in American are affected by OCD, though it can be assumed there are many more people living with the disorder without a diagnosis. 

Mental illness does not equal criminal behavior. While many people who commit violent acts do struggle with psychological disorders (on both "Criminal Minds" and in real life), it's untrue that mental illness automatically means a person will engage in criminal activity. We'll always love "Criminal Minds," but it's disappointing to know a show so popular often perpetuated stereotypes about individuals living with psychological disorders.  

Media shapes our view of the world, and it's important that television shows remember this. A lot has changed in the world since "Criminal Minds" first premiered in 2005. We hope the upcoming Paramount+ revival is responsive to these changes and is more sensitive to those living with mental illness. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.