On Restricting The Citizenship Rights Of People With ‘Mental Illness’ Labels

Lawmakers, politicians, and some mental health professionals complain that our jails and prisons are  becoming holding cells for people labeled with “mental illness”. They call this detainment criminalization, and they look to jail diversion, mental health courts, and other such  methods to minimize the problem. There is another type of criminalization. This is the matter of adding every patient who has been hospitalized involuntarily, and even some that have been hospitalized voluntarily, onto a national criminal background check system. If that isn’t criminalization, tell me what is? Every time a violent crime is committed the name of anybody in this database is going to come up as a potential suspect.

There is much talk in certain quarters about some “stigma” or other attached to “mental illness”.  This “stigma” is thought to be whatever prevents a person labeled “mentally ill” from receiving the special treatment he or she thinks he or she needs or deserves on account of his or her conjectured “disease”. Countering “stigma” has become any man or woman’s excuse to convalesce for a lifetime. Anti-“stigma” campaigns accompany the biological medical model theory of psychiatry.  The biological medical model theory of psychiatry has a profoundly cynical attitude towards people’s natural ability to recover from the downturns and pitfalls of everyday living. These anti-“stigma” campaigners are fine with fighting the insults and abuses that occur on a mostly surface level, but when it comes to such matters as adding names to a criminal background check database, these campaigners grow curiously silent.

Opposition to “stigma” has essentially become a two faced lie supporting the prejudice and discrimination directed against people who have known imprisonment in this nation’s psychiatric institutions. People recover from the major upsets and defeats they’ve encountered in day to day living and they get on with their lives. There is no “stigma” attached to mental and emotional stability. There is a great deal of prejudice and discrimination directed against those people who have had their lives disrupted by medical model psychiatry. While prejudice and discrimination are real, “stigma” is a ruse.  “Stigma’ is the flip side of the psychiatric label. You don’t have one without the other. All the damage that takes place in the psychiatric system starts with a diagnostic tag. Become more lax about applying the label, and you save a lot of people from the damage that accompanies treatment, including “stigma”.

Mental health treatment has become an excuse for enacting laws violating the constitutional rights of certain citizens of the USA. According to medical model psychiatry these people have defective genes, and thus they must be somewhat less human than the rest of the population with their more capable genes.  This physical defect, in other words, prevents them from ever completely recovering their sanity, and behaving in a reasonable fashion. Given a less than fully capable  human population, our law makers feel obliged to restrict the freedoms of this population in the same way that they once restricted the freedoms of people owned by other people due to the color of their skin. As anybody and everybody is a potential candidate for the loony bin, this assault on the freedom of a minority is a threat to the freedoms that our forefathers were so intent on  preserving and defending for everybody.

When you  deprive people of the rights that our constitution grants them as citizens, you create a subordinate class of less than full citizens. You create a second, third, or even lower, class of citizenry. Doing so, you devalue the human beings who have had their freedoms so restricted to a place beneath that of other human beings who have not had their rights so restricted. If, as the Declaration of Independence states, we are all created equal, and endowed with inalienable rights, this would not be true if some of us were condemned by birth to a more restrictive existence on account of mutated and defective genes.  There is no more evidence that emotional distress and mental disturbances are due to defective genes than there is that racial distinctions are due to defective genes.  While we no longer keep slaves, once held to be a fraction of the value of a human being of European ancestry, we still keep people who have experienced the mental health system down by denying their basic humanity.

Many people who have known the abuses of the mental health system first hand realize the struggle ahead of them to achieve equality of rights will be a hard one. Freedom and equality will never come without  a ferocious struggle to attain them. People in power have a vested interested in keeping other people down. Institutionalization, labeling, drugging, screening, prejudicial legislation and intimidation are ways of keeping some people down and out. Keeping people down and out are the ways some people have of keeping themselves up and in. When people have been reduced to the state that some of these treatments and laws have reduced them to, there is only one direction to go in, and that direction is up. There is also only one way to achieve one’s personal aims and goals in this upward climb, and that is by attaching oneself in solidarity to the aims and aspirations of one’s fellows. So long as there is one person who is devalued as a human being, those aims for each and every one of us cannot be said to have been fully met.

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3 Responses

  1. Great post.
    Well written and to the point.

    Duane

  2. Right on. How pleased the dictators must be that they have the power to subjugate and drug those who would rise up against them.

  3. We need more people to come out and tell about the destruction of humanity by psychiatric labels

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