42 thoughts on “What We Really Need To Be Talking About

  1. ken anthony

    The problem is even deeper. The mental health system has little to do with helping the mentally ill. It’s all about tapping into public money and jobs for people that have little or no skill in dealing with mental illness.

    We were better off burning witches.

  2. wodun

    Have to be careful about advocating the state lock people up for mental problems.

    Same with any mental fitness tests for owning a gun.

    The standard wont be the kid at the link, it will be something like have you ever been angry at someone? Humans are not robots, emotions are a normal part of our existence. Having emotions should not prevent gun ownership.

    1. ken anthony

      Yes, I was arrested once for doing nothing more than for raising my voice (not yelling) to a thief that had stolen some of my folks property. Went to jail and saw a judge before having it thrown out. It could have gone either way.

      You have to be very careful what power you allow the state.

  3. Larry J

    We face a serious issue. How do we prevent the most serious mental health cases from harming others while protecting overall liberty? The mental health industry has a long history of abuses*. Yet the wholesale closing of mental hospitals a few decades ago has been bad both for the patients (many of whom end up homeless) and for society. There are no easy answers here and anyone who says there are is a fool.

    *My wife is a retired nurse. Back in the 1980s, she worked per diem sometimes at a youth mental facility in Colorado Springs. Kids were kept there until their insurance ran out and then, like magic, were declared cured. It does help when so many in the mental health industry are quick to replicate the abuses of the former Soviet Union and tie political beliefs to mental illness. And then, they wonder why we distrust them.

    1. Larry J

      It does help when so many in the mental health industry are quick to replicate the abuses of the former Soviet Union and tie political beliefs to mental illness.

      Should have read, “It does NOT help when so many in the mental health industry are quick to replicate the abuses of the former Soviet Union and tie political beliefs to mental illness.

      One word makes a big difference.

      1. Mike James

        Not so much in this case, Larry. The context of your original post made your meaning very clear. I was able to insert “not” myself.

        It’s an excellent point you make. The very last thing we ought to be considering is bolstering the reach and authority of the mental health racket at this point in history, with 80-90% of the permanent bureaucracy run by Leftists.

  4. Brock

    As long as there are checks and balances, I don’t see how re-opening the mental hospitals is a bad idea. A patient could still have the right to have visitors or to communicate with the outside world via telephone (calling family, etc.). We’ve come a long way since the days of electroshock therapy.

    I know that the mother at this link, and other family members who have had to care for the mentally disabled, are fully aware of their inability to really control or care for a violent individual. My grandfather, God bless him, took care of my grandmother for 15 years while she descended into Alzheimers. There were no doubts about her condition.

  5. Bart

    I wonder how many people on this board have actually come into contact with or had to work with genuinely mentally ill people? I’m always shocked by the level of ignorance some display, like there is some kind of smooth transition from mildly quirky to full-blown detachment from reality, and we have to walk a tightrope in making determinations. Yes, there are borderline cases, but these are in the minority. The transition is usually very abrupt and unmistakable, and action should be taken without hesitation in those cases.

    1. Bart

      I think the big reason mental health services are such a disaster in this country is that the people making the rules have little if any experience dealing with actual mentally ill people, and are motivated by what they imagine it to be like. If you haven’t had to deal with it on a day-in and day-out basis, you just do not know what it is like.

      Brief contacts, in particular, do not give a full accounting, because the patients often can and do present a normal outward appearance for short periods when they know they are being evaluated. But they can only keep it bottled up inside for just so long.

    2. Larry J

      I personally have had little contact with the mentally ill other than a friend from high school. My wife is a retired nurse who did some work in an adolescent mental health facility and my youngest son is a psychiatric nurse practitioner in the Navy. We talk, but that’s no substitute for real experience. He’s deploying to Afghanistan in a few weeks and has told me (based on conversations with coworkers who recently returned from there) that the biggest danger he’ll face won’t be the Taliban but his patients, which will mostly be Marines and SEALs in very high-stress environments.

      There is no question that some people’s rights were abused in the past. There’s also no question that the wholesale deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill has been bad, both for the patients (who often end up homeless) and society. This is something that’ll need intelligent analysis to try and find a balance between the need to protect patients’ rights and society. Just because there were abuses in the past, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find a better solution than what we have now. The present system isn’t working well for anyone.

    3. Leland

      Bart,

      I actually had written a response to wodun (more serious than mine to Engineer). I’m a bit hampered with my internet connection, but I want to say I agree with your point.

      It’s true that mental health institutions were abused in the past. In much the ways witches were burned, a group of people would gather to confess that so and so weren’t fitting into a community because they had psychological problems, when really they had minor social defects. So we should be discriminatory.

      However, there are some clear exceptions today of people who desperately need a 24/7 health institution, but various laws prevent these people from being put in such institutions. My wife has an uncle that fits this example. The family has managed to get him in private care institutions, but he has to be moved around often, because he gets in fights. By private care, I mean what most people associate as senior nursing homes, which until the last 5 years were age inappropriate for him.

      I also have a coworker with a severly austic child. The level of care required has caused his wife to leave her job and put a strain on their marriage. Neither are capable of properly treating for their child, who needs more than just supervision. Now, as a child, its a bit more borderline of a case for institutionalization. However, a classmate of his this child shows some of the delimma. The classmate’s family was visiting with friends, the child got out of sight, eventually left the house, and found his way onto I-10, where he was hit by a car and killed. He wasn’t trying to commit suicide; it’s just something the child tended to do, if the parents let their attention slip for just a moment. They were lucky many times before but not this time.

      And neither case I mentioned is extremely violent. They are just examples of people who will never function in normal society, and will need 24/7 health care their entire lives. If you throw in some attachment disorders, and you’ll get a serial killer easily. Why say this? Because when a person cannot associate with society, and then fails to ever show an ability to bond with anyone, that person will have a complete disregard for human life. Killing a human is like killing ants. These people are readily identifiable, but getting treatment for them? It’s difficult.

      1. Larry J

        Regarding your coworker’s severely autistic child, I came across this article this morning. I’m not saying that all cases of autism will be the same as this person’s but reading a firsthand account of what it’s like to be autistic may be helpful. Because so many autistic people are non-verbal, the condition remains a mystery. A few have managed to write books that are very informative.

          1. Larry J

            I think I’ll buy a copy of that book. Like I commented over there, I saw a segment on “60 Minutes” many years ago about a young autistic woman who’d written a book about her condition. It might’ve been the first such book ever written and IIRC, that was back in the 1980s. I don’t remember the woman’s name or the title of the book. I wonder if she was the remarkable Temple Grandin. She has written several books on her experiences with autism, the first back in 1985. She has a Ph.D and teaches at Colorado State University. She’s world famous for her understanding of animal behavior and the design of humane cattle facilities. You can find her books on Amazon. Amazing stuff!

    4. B Lewis

      I myself suffer from severe mental illness (Major Depressive Disorder, non-psychotic — that’s ICD-10 296.33 if you want to look it up). While my case is completely manageable with NDRI and counseling therapy, I can tell you that in the pre-therapy days there were times when I probably should have been locked up. I was never a danger to others (MDD generally doesn’t work that way) but I was self-destructive in the extreme.

      Fortunately, I was raised in the Christian faith, and although I was a lapsed Christian during most of those years, I know for a fact that the merciful Deity, His mother, and His guardian angel were always there to prevent me from ever going too far in my self-destructive behavior. Today, thanks to the Catholic faith, the love of a good woman, my children, and 200 mg of brain candy per diem, I lead a normal, boring, bourgeois life.

      But not all sufferers are as blessed as I am. And of these, a good many need to be institutionalized. There is no reason a mental institution has to be a Cuckoo’s-Nest hell on earth. Options exist that allow those who cannot walk among us to be treated with the compassion and dignity they deserve.

      Such places are not cheap. And if we are to have them, we are going to have to figure out who will pay the tab.

      PS – I own guns, but only out of the necessity of defense of my home and family. If we lived in a civilized country, I probably wouldn’t have anything but a bird gun. I am not a collector or gun hobbyist. To me, a gun is just another tool.

      1. Larry J

        Yours is the voice of experience. I agree that we need to find some compromise on how to treat those who are a danger to themselves or others. Just because there were abuses in the past, it doesn’t necessarily mean there will always be abuses in the future. There could be some form of outside review of cases with no vested interest in the outcome to reduce abuses to patients’ rights.

        As for paying for it, we’re already paying plenty to keep a lot of mentally ill people in prisons. Those don’t come cheap, either.

      2. Leland

        About a decade ago, I had a coworker whose wife was a Manic Depressive. She was treated with medicine, but like many, she often tried to go without the medication. One day, the husband and kids came home to find she had taken her life. There was nothing particular that day to cause the depression, but investigating her pill inventory showed that she had gotten off the medication. She wasn’t a threat to others, but she did harm herself.

        I do think she was treated about the best that could or should be done in terms of regulation. She was very capable of understanding the personal risks, which is a key in determining who is responsible. She knew the risks, she took them anyway while clear headed, and unfortunately suffered the consequences during an episode.

  6. wodun

    No one thinks that people who belong in a loony bin should have access to guns but whatever legislation Obama and the Democrats come up with will go far beyond the examples people have talked about above. Their goal isn’t to keep guns out of the hands of crazy people, their goal is to keep guns out of the hands of everyone.

    As we have seen over the last four years, whatever legislation they come up with will be drafted in secret and will be largely unwritten at the time of its passage, giving unchecked powers to to government workers who will write the regulations.

    It is also very unlikely that whatever legislation is written would have been able to stop this event. There will not be any legislation making it easier to have people committed to a mental institution. Legislation will be geared toward restricting access to guns and this kid was not able to buy a gun, he stole one.

    1. Larry J

      If the legislation is aimed at gun control (as seems likely), then it isn’t even addressing the right issue. How to deal with the profoundly mentally ill is the real issue. The laws already make it illegal to sell guns to mentally ill people. Unfortunately, other laws like HIIPA (or is it HIPPA?) make it illegal to give information about a person’s mental health to law enforcement or to those legally selling guns.

    2. Daver

      A bit of a quibble–their goal isn’t to keep the guns out of the hands of everyone, just everyone without the right connections. As the Instpundit has pointed out, look how many of the gun controllers either have their own guns or have bodyguards with guns.

  7. Ken Murphy

    So glad I grew up before Aspie’s and ADD and ADHD started being regularly diagnosed. I shudder when I think what kind of life I would have had under the ministrations of the medical and pharmaceutical industries, and how it would have destroyed my gifts.

    Right now I’m scared at the demonization of the ‘intelligent different’ by the media and consequently a growing portion of our society. Making them pariahs is absolutely the worst thing to do – because the thinking can so easily become twisted into “If I can’t have a share in society (girlfriend, friends, job, &c.), then why should those who deny me that share?”

    Intelligent people respond to incentives just like anyone else. Challenge them and they will rise to that challenge. Kick them to the curb and you’ve got a mean smart dog on your hands. Too bad our educational system (and, frankly, society as a whole) has become hopelessly inadequate at cultivating the most gifted in our society for the benefit of that society. The consequences are all around us.

  8. Der Schtumpy

    In the midst of this it seems to me there was a gross misdiagnosis. The early reports and some still do refer to Asperger Syndrome. But what he was exhibiting at the end doesn’t fit ANY Asperger symptoms at all.

    This really looks more like Manic – Depression or even a drive to kill and take revenge.

    1. Ken Murphy

      Nevertheless – why was he incentivized to do this? Reports also seem to indicate that he could have been a phenomenal engineer or technician given the proper cultivation. Instead his life seems to have been put on a path of “drive to kill and take revenge”. I’d hazard a guess that there was no one in his educational life sufficiently competent to guide him through the educational trauma of public high school, that the mean girls let it be known that he was not dating material (perhaps with a gay rumor), and that an inability to find what he considered intellectual peers frustrated the heck out of him, further isolating him in his community without the skillsets to cope with that social isolation. (Military brats are much better equipped in always being an outsider in whatever community they happen to find themselves in).
      It’s all in the incentives.

      1. Bart

        These are the kinds of false rationalizations rational people make about irrational people. It assumes at the outset that the person in question was able to logically build up a sense of injustice and rage. That is generally not the case. There is no “why”. It is not connected by any logical sequence. Their thoughts are not your thoughts. Their perceptions are not your perceptions. They are adrift in a dreamlike world in which reality as most of us know it does not exist.

        Nobody can “guide” them through it as there is no road. This is a malady of the brain, which can become dysfunctional just like any other organ in your body. You can no more coax them into normal behavior than you can make a malfunctioning kidney start working by giving it a good talking to.

    2. Leland

      I think some of the answers will come as more information comes out about the mother. Unfortunately, most of it will be tainted by a gun control agenda, but there does seem to be some aspects of paranoia on her part. She lived a longer life and participated in society, so I think others will be able to recreate a description of the home environment by studying her behaviors in interacting with others.

    3. Larry J

      If you look back to what was reported last Friday, you’ll see that a great deal of it was little more than rumor mongering and uninformed opinions. I remember reading that he was the parent of a student at the school. We were told his mother worked at the school. We were given the wrong name. They showed us the Facebook photo of some guy with the same name. All of it was wrong, as it turned out. That’s why I posted last Friday that we should probably impose the 48 hour rule before making any politically motivated statements. Most of what we knew then was wrong. Quite likely, most of what we think we know now is inaccurate as well. There are some things – like what actually triggered him to kill his mother then go to the school and kill 26 other people – that we may never know.

      The 24-hour news outlets have a lot of airtime to fill and they know people tune in when something terrible happens. The news websites are no different. The talking heads and pundits babble on with nothing is known for sure. They talk to each other, they talk to so-called experts, they speculate and put on sad faces. It’s really little more than journalistic malpractice. There’s something to be said for waiting until you actually know something before broadcasting it to the world but that’s probably an obsolete notion.

    1. Larry J

      While your point is valid, there may be a “why” but likely one we couldn’t possibly understand. Like you said, we have no common frame of reference.

      1. Bart

        Like, “because my dog told me to”, or “because the Beatles told us to”. An irrational “why” is really not a “why” at all. It’s like asking “why did the dice come up snake eyes”, only even more random, because the dice don’t even exist except inside the person’s head.

        1. Engineer

          Not sure on validity with so much misinformation but saw one report the hard drive of his computer was intentionally damaged and left on the floor. If true sort of leads me to believe he had some sort of rational thought going and wasn’t just crazy cause he was crazy.

          1. Bart

            Assume for the sake of argument true. On the one hand, it could have crashed and he destroyed it in a fit of rage and shot his mother when she refused to buy a new one – delicate electronics tend not to last long with these folks, and she may have bought several before.

            On the other, people with such afflictions can often be highly intelligent – I’ve known three people afflicted with severe schizophrenia and they were all very high IQ, one just off the charts, one well up there, and one a musical savant.

            I can’t point to any specific study, but I’ve often thought there may be something to the effect that the more complex the wiring, the more likely you are to get a short. They’re not totally bereft of thought, they’re just unstable and unable to maintain coherence or concentration for very long.

        2. Larry J

          An irrational “why” is really not a “why” at all.

          Not to you and me but to him, it may have made perfect sense. That’s one of the problems with mental illness – it makes it difficult to impossible for people to make rational decisions because their very thought processes are disrupted.

          1. Bart

            All of the people I have known in that situation have spoken to me of things that they did which had an impact on me, or of things we did together, which quite simply never happened. Some are absurdly fanciful. Some are ordinary but just never were. I am under the impression that they have dreams, or something like them, which they cannot separate from reality.

            Not arguing with you, just trying to fill out a picture of my experiences FWIW to anyone reading. That’s what makes it so difficult to tag them as “evil” or any other characteristic which suggests rationality. The stimuli upon which they act may not even have genuinely happened. You can try to tell them things like this did not, or could not, happen, but they will not believe you because, to them, they saw it and heard it with their own eyes and ears.

          2. Bart

            Sort of like replicants with implanted memories of Tyrell’s niece. How can one cope with daily existence when one is not even sure which perceptions are real, and which are not?

  9. ken anthony

    Responding to actions should cover any mental illness issues. We don’t have to figure out if someone may harm. We just have to look at have they harmed.

    I seriously doubt many killers haven’t done something before their public debut.

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