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    Hi
    I'm 18 years old and I'm in recovery from anorexia and depression.
    During my worst state I slept with a lot of people, which was completely out of character.
    I was wondering what everyone's thoughts were on whether people who have a mental illness have the capacity to give sexual consent?
    Thanks.
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    I think that's an interesting question...

    Personally, I'd say it'd depend on the severity and type of the mental health.

    (This might sound horrible) But for something like depression, then I think you're completely able to consent
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    Some mental conditions do prevent people from giving full consent (as in if the person does not have the full capacity to understand what sex is/if they should be doing it). Anorexia and depression do not.
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    first off, congratulations on your recovery! You are really a very strong person to have made it through that and at the risk of sounding cheesy I'm going to say I'm proud on you Nony!! <3

    Now about consent, it's obviously ambiguous and not as simple as yes means yes, no means no. We need only look at sex workers, they fake consent all the time even if they don't actually want to have sex. But saying that all sex that sex workers have is rape is also wrong because it muddles up when sex workers are actually assaulted and raped, with or without compensation, with work they do willingly if a little grudgingly.

    There are certain mental illnesses where it's accepted that the person in question can't give meaningful consent. There is a spectrum of mental illnesses obviously and it would be unfair to place a blanket statement on neurodivergent people, saying that every sex act they've committed is rape. Basically what I'm getting at with this is...Nony, do you think you had the emotional health at the time to be able to give consent? Contrary to what most people are saying here, depression can inhibit your ability to give consent. You felt pressured, by society maybe even by your partners, but only you can tell us if that's true.

    Some radical feminists believe all sex is rape, too.
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    There's a huge difference between making a decision and making a good decision. For example, someone who has a severe mental impairment (for example towards the lower functioning end of the autistic spectrum) might be coerced into sex by someone without really saying 'yes' as such, or understanding the implications of having sex.

    You understand what you're doing, you've made the decision to do it, and you're not being forced in any way. So yes, you gave your consent. That doesn't necessarily mean that it was a great idea to do it, but that's not your sexual partner's fault as, at the time, you were perfectly capable of knowing what you were doing and agreeing to it without being forced.
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    (Original post by Sunflower1919)
    Some mental conditions do prevent people from giving full consent (as in if the person does not have the full capacity to understand what sex is/if they should be doing it). Anorexia and depression do not.
    Surely, it depends on the depression and the person.
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    (Original post by xoxAngel_Kxox)
    There's a huge difference between making a decision and making a good decision. For example, someone who has a severe mental impairment (for example towards the lower functioning end of the autistic spectrum) might be coerced into sex by someone without really saying 'yes' as such, or understanding the implications of having sex.

    You understand what you're doing, you've made the decision to do it, and you're not being forced in any way. So yes, you gave your consent. That doesn't necessarily mean that it was a great idea to do it, but that's not your sexual partner's fault as, at the time, you were perfectly capable of knowing what you were doing and agreeing to it without being forced.
    This puts in to words exactly what I was struggling to say haha XD Wish I could give more rep.
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    (Original post by OU Student)
    Surely, it depends on the depression and the person.
    and who you're sleeping with... if you're sleeping with someone who knows you well and therefore knows you don't really want to, that's not okay... if you're getting drunk and sleeping with randoms/people you barely know then how on earth are they meant to guess you can't consent?

    in general I would say consent would only stop being consent if the person has lost touch with reality (e.g. psychosis), I'm sure there are circumstances where the mental health difficulties you experienced would effect your ability to consent but it wouldn't be common, just because your decision is coming from a bad place doesn't mean you aren't making it with the knowledge of what you are going to do, if so anyone who had a one night stand because of a break up could be considered unable to consent
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    (Original post by doodle_333)
    and who you're sleeping with... if you're sleeping with someone who knows you well and therefore knows you don't really want to, that's not okay... if you're getting drunk and sleeping with randoms/people you barely know then how on earth are they meant to guess you can't consent?

    in general I would say consent would only stop being consent if the person has lost touch with reality (e.g. psychosis), I'm sure there are circumstances where the mental health difficulties you experienced would effect your ability to consent but it wouldn't be common, just because your decision is coming from a bad place doesn't mean you aren't making it with the knowledge of what you are going to do, if so anyone who had a one night stand because of a break up could be considered unable to consent
    Thank you for putting it better than I can.
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    In my mid twenties... Recovered from anorexia, bulimia, depression and facing ptsd and anxiety at the moment.

    In terms of anorexia and depression my personal view is YES there is the capacity to consent... I too have been in bad places and slept with people I would not sleep with today. Does that mean I can now take back my consent? No. Does that mean my previous partners were rapists or sexual offenders? No. Was my experience equivalent to the time when I was forcibly taken whilst yelling 'stop!'. No

    In my experience a big part of recovery from these two disorders was taking responsibility for all maladaptive behaviours including promiscuity and impulsive behaviour. I promise if one never takes responsibility across the board one will never recover and will always be at the mercy of it.

    This is a dramatic example and only one case but my ex-best friend was a sufferer of borderline personality disorder and would sleep with many people and engage gangbangs and public sex as part of her impulsivity and idealization of people. Only to then throw rape allegations on them even if it was months or years later as a weapon when she switched into demonization mode or wasn't getting her own way or broke up with someone. She would claim she has never been able to consent due to BPD despite the fact that most of her partners she actively sought out, approached and seduced. She has sent 3 men to the police station in her teen years but never been able to prosecute due to having no evidence. I just about had it with her when out clubbing with friends she said that someone sexually assaulted her so I went up to the guy and started shouting at him and she was laughing the whole time. The guy punched me and friend told me she saw her quite willing give him a HJ in the seating area... After finding out she falsely endangered me I dropped her and she later made the guy her boyfriend! I say all this to say it is dangerous to say that mental health sufferers across the board are not able to consent because then that would completely ban all sufferers from having sexual contact and totally nullify the sexuality of all sufferers and would automatically criminalise anyone who participated with them including sufferers themselves.

    I can't speak too much for other disorders it is my personal opinion but if a person is undergoing delusions, psychosis or has an intellectual disability (i.e. still has the mind of a child) then no they are not able to consent.
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    My attention was drawn to this post as a friend of mine, who developed anorexia before she hit puberty (and therefore has the body of a 12 year old), has recently started sleeping with much older men who she has met on a night out. It is obvious when looking at her that she is not healthy, and so I can't help thinking that the men she is sleeping with are taking advantage of her.

    In my opinion, when somebody's mental health gets so poor that they are no longer considered competent by the health service they are under, then they cannot give consent.

    This does not mean, however, that we should try and further disempower people with mental illnesses.

    With the example of anorexia, the seemingly reckless behaviour of regular casual sex with seemingly unsuitable partners may be an attempt to regain control over a part of their lives, once the control of what they eat is taken away from them.

    From reading the above thread, it seems apparent that depression still isn't recognised as a serious disease (I assume this is from the casual use of the word "depressed" which we use as an adjective to describe how we feel on a day to day basis.)

    As a society, I think we must work on removing the stigma surrounding mental illness, and begin to recognise the severity of it as equal to physical illnesses.

    By doing this, it will enable us to speak more freely about these diseases, and the issues (eg consent) that surround them.
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    (Original post by roroyourboat)

    From reading the above thread, it seems apparent that depression still isn't recognised as a serious disease (I assume this is from the casual use of the word "depressed" which we use as an adjective to describe how we feel on a day to day basis.)

    As a society, I think we must work on removing the stigma surrounding mental illness, and begin to recognise the severity of it as equal to physical illnesses.

    By doing this, it will enable us to speak more freely about these diseases, and the issues (eg consent) that surround them.
    Wow. Okay well first of all you have no idea about me I was not casually depressed one bit I was out of work and education for 6 years solid with it and an inpatient for a year and a half in total not a day to day feeling it was the point of absolute non-functioning.

    How dare you imply that I am saying depression is not serious. Where did I say that? I said that I had to take full responsibility for my behaviour to recover including my sexual past. And also that withdrawing after intercourse should not be used a weapon and that saying people with mental health issues cannot consent across the board nullifies the sexuality of all people with mental health issues. There is a huge spectrum of psychological disorders affecting a huge array of people and one cannot possibly say that all sufferers are unable to consent.

    I was saying that anorexia and depression alone do not make you unable to consent. Coupled with delusions and impairment then yes.
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    (Original post by Anonymous)
    Wow. Okay well first of all you have no idea about me I was not casually depressed one bit I was out of work and education for 6 years solid with it and an inpatient for a year and a half in total not a day to day feeling it was the point of absolute non-functioning.

    How dare you imply that I am saying depression is not serious. Where did I say that? I said that I had to take full responsibility for my behaviour to recover including my sexual past. And also that withdrawing after intercourse should not be used a weapon and that saying people with mental health issues cannot consent across the board nullifies the sexuality of all people with mental health issues. There is a huge spectrum of psychological disorders affecting a huge array of people and one cannot possibly say that all sufferers are unable to consent.

    I was saying that anorexia and depression alone do not make you unable to consent. Coupled with delusions and impairment then yes.
    I was not talking about what you said, it was in reply to someone who implied that consent can always be given when someone has anorexia and depression.

    The main emphasis of my post was meant to be on the fact that I don't think certain mental illnesses get the recognition that they deserve. From my own personal experience, when I was in the worst stages of anorexia there were definite elements of what would be considered psychosis (e.g voices and hallucinations) and I don't think that is always well understood.

    I'm very sorry if you took offence to what I said, it was not meant to be directed at you in any way.

    I didn't mean to imply anywhere in my post that all people with mental health problems cannot consent, in fact I meant to say the opposite- that we cannot take away someone's control. Withdrawing someone's right to consent can be seen as modern eugenics, and this of course is wrong.

    I may have phrased what I wanted to say wrong and left it very open to misinterpretation. What I meant by needing to remove the stigma from mental health is mainly the removal of blaming the sufferer which is sometimes rife in our society.

    I'm sorry again for any offence caused.
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    (Original post by roroyourboat)
    I was not talking about what you said, it was in reply to someone who implied that consent can always be given when someone has anorexia and depression.

    The main emphasis of my post was meant to be on the fact that I don't think certain mental illnesses get the recognition that they deserve. From my own personal experience, when I was in the worst stages of anorexia there were definite elements of what would be considered psychosis (e.g voices and hallucinations) and I don't think that is always well understood.

    I'm very sorry if you took offence to what I said, it was not meant to be directed at you in any way.

    I didn't mean to imply anywhere in my post that all people with mental health problems cannot consent, in fact I meant to say the opposite- that we cannot take away someone's control. Withdrawing someone's right to consent can be seen as modern eugenics, and this of course is wrong.

    I may have phrased what I wanted to say wrong and left it very open to misinterpretation. What I meant by needing to remove the stigma from mental health is mainly the removal of blaming the sufferer which is sometimes rife in our society.

    I'm sorry again for any offence caused.
    NOBODY is saying that depression isn't a serious illness.

    What I do think needs to be considered is what consent actually is - and where you would draw the line between what is and isn't consenting.

    If you decide to have sex with someone, understanding what you're doing, then you're consenting.

    If you have sex with someone and don't understand what you're doing, for example if you're severely mentally impaired and cannot make decisions in general (including things like what to have for tea, never mind having sex with somebody) then it is unlikely that plausible consent can be given.

    But in illness like depression, although your thinking can be incredibly tainted, you are still giving your consent, and are capable of doing so. At the time you have sex, it is what you want to do - for whatever reason. Nobody is forcing or hurrying you, you are having sex because you have made the decision to have sex. Nobody else has made the decision for you.

    I don't doubt that there are many people who struggle mentally (heck, I have plenty of experience from various angles in my life) however the fact remains that - however poor the decision to have sex - consent IS given and should be taken as such.

    People might go out and have sex after a break up. Is that a good decision? No, but it's the decision that their mental state at the time commands, and it is a consensual activity.

    If you find that your life is so dark that you'd try anything to feel something and turn to sex.. Is that a good decision? Again, no, but it is one that you have made - therefore the sex is consensual.

    If you're mentally low and somebody else encourages you to have sex, despite you not wanting to, and they use your fragile mental state to their advantage then this is NOT consensual.

    Somebody would have to reach an incredibly dire situation, unless another mental impairment was in play, to be able to say that they were incapable of consenting.
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    mental health shouldn't be a barrier against giving consent, just like alcohol.
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    (Original post by xoxAngel_Kxox)
    NOBODY is saying that depression isn't a serious illness.

    What I do think needs to be considered is what consent actually is - and where you would draw the line between what is and isn't consenting.

    If you decide to have sex with someone, understanding what you're doing, then you're consenting.

    If you have sex with someone and don't understand what you're doing, for example if you're severely mentally impaired and cannot make decisions in general (including things like what to have for tea, never mind having sex with somebody) then it is unlikely that plausible consent can be given.

    But in illness like depression, although your thinking can be incredibly tainted, you are still giving your consent, and are capable of doing so. At the time you have sex, it is what you want to do - for whatever reason. Nobody is forcing or hurrying you, you are having sex because you have made the decision to have sex. Nobody else has made the decision for you.

    I don't doubt that there are many people who struggle mentally (heck, I have plenty of experience from various angles in my life) however the fact remains that - however poor the decision to have sex - consent IS given and should be taken as such.

    People might go out and have sex after a break up. Is that a good decision? No, but it's the decision that their mental state at the time commands, and it is a consensual activity.

    If you find that your life is so dark that you'd try anything to feel something and turn to sex.. Is that a good decision? Again, no, but it is one that you have made - therefore the sex is consensual.

    If you're mentally low and somebody else encourages you to have sex, despite you not wanting to, and they use your fragile mental state to their advantage then this is NOT consensual.

    Somebody would have to reach an incredibly dire situation, unless another mental impairment was in play, to be able to say that they were incapable of consenting.
    I probably misread what someone said...
    I agree with what you're saying, although (as you said) we need to clarify what consent is.
    Wondering what your stance is when a girl or boy is drunk or under the influence of drugs, and then consents to having sex?
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    (Original post by Anonymous)
    I probably misread what someone said...
    I agree with what you're saying, although (as you said) we need to clarify what consent is.
    Wondering what your stance is when a girl or boy is drunk or under the influence of drugs, and then consents to having sex?
    I will admit there are a lot of blurred lines. It's a case by case thing really!
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    (Original post by xoxAngel_Kxox)
    I will admit there are a lot of blurred lines. It's a case by case thing really!
    As famously stated by robin thicke :')
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    (Original post by xoxAngel_Kxox)
    There's a huge difference between making a decision and making a good decision. For example, someone who has a severe mental impairment (for example towards the lower functioning end of the autistic spectrum) might be coerced into sex by someone without really saying 'yes' as such, or understanding the implications of having sex.
    Even for some of us who are classed as high functioning, this is still a serious problem too. One of my parents concerns was that someone was trying to take advantage of me.
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    (Original post by OU Student)
    Even for some of us who are classed as high functioning, this is still a serious problem too. One of my parents concerns was that someone was trying to take advantage of me.
    Yes; but do you understand what happens (or might happen) when you have sex? And could you say no if you didn't want to do it?

    Anyone can be taken advantage of. I've been taken advantage of myself - trusting people when I shouldn't have - but I still consented and could have said no.

    Being taken advantage of isn't the same as not consenting.
 
 
 
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