Changing The System

A curious piece here:

In 2005, psychologists Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon at the University of Surrey, UK, interviewed and gave personality tests to high-level British executives and compared their profiles with those of criminal psychiatric patients at Broadmoor Hospital in the UK. They found that three out of eleven personality disorders were actually more common in managers than in the disturbed criminals:

  • histrionic personality disorder: including superficial charm, insincerity, egocentricity and manipulation.
  • narcissistic personality disorder: including grandiosity, self-focused lack of empathy for others, exploitativeness and independence.
  • obsessive-compulsive personality disorder: including perfectionism, excessive devotion to work, rigidity, stubbornness and dictatorial tendencies.

They described the business people as successful psychopaths and the criminals as unsuccessful psychopaths.

Personality disorder

Having helped to conduct a few normality screenings, I’m hardly surprised that some of these business people would not be perceived as normal. The organization MindFreedom International, of which I am proud to say I am a member, has done a number of these normality screenings in the past, and we haven’t found a normal person yet. This is not what concerns me so much here. What does concern me is this social division into successful for business people and unsuccessful for criminals. Also note that the criminals we are dealing with are not only people convicted of crimes, but people who have been labeled mentally ill.

I have long thought that what is in large measure wrong with today’s mental health system (and the same argument might be extended to prisons) is that it is perceived as a way of managing societies’ failures rather than as a way of helping unfortunate people enter the world of achievement. When bathos governs the operation of your treatment facilities, the revolution in lowered expectations has already proven fully triumphant, and every hope thereby is rendered a false hope. No wonder, given this situation, that what you get is less the brilliant blaze of a raging bonfire than it is the shameful blush of a dying ember. When it comes to the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the people stumbling about in this system of errors, they’ve been as good as stamped out.

How do we revive those hopes, dreams and aspirations? Well, first you get rid of that paternalism that would treat fully adult humans like children for as long as they live. Children are not especially equipped to deal with difficult and stressful situations, and the same can be said for people who have been treated like children. Part of this end of paternalism would involve paying people wages for work done, even if that work was done in a rehabilitation setting. Second, you provide good training opportunities and decent paying jobs. When a portion of the population is exiled from a middle class existence, as much of this population often is, that portion of the population becomes a problem population. Third, this provision also involves giving these people opportunities that are not available to the rest of the population. These opportunities would be provided not because this group had gained a monopoly of businesses through commercial predation. These opportunities would be provided because we realise, due to certain social barriers, some people need an edge if they are ever to advance, and to reach a situation on par with certain others of their species.

Not mentioned among these 3 steps was the step of providing other treatment options to putting people on powerful brain numbing drugs that result in near total disability, but this step is implicit throughout. We have a situation now where mental health professionals routinely ignore research results that have more positive outcomes than their own because those results disagree with their preconceptions. Negative results have a way of replicating themselves when change is not instituted. Negative outcomes in turn have a way of reinforcing ineffective practices, and ultimately, the resulting pessimism can become a kind of self fulfilling prophesy. Institute a few changes, here and there, and you will have a vastly different prospect for those people in treatment. Put these three steps I mention above into effect, for example, and I guarantee you, you are going to see an improvement in outcomes.