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Abolition Is Not Reform, Abolition is Emancipation

There are those who like to call the mental health system “broken”. There are usually two reasons for doing so. One is that a person would like to see more money pumped into the mental health system. The other is that they are encountering people they don’t want to encounter, and they feel that if the system worked, the sight of these people would not be disturbing them so.

I don’t call the mental health system “broken”. The mental health system is actually a “mental illness” system and, if anything, it “works” altogether too well. We’ve got a saying, “Children should be seen and not heard.” This saying leads up to a further, but unexpressed, saying, “Adult children should neither be seen nor heard.” What do we do with our adult children? There’s the loony bin. You figure it out.

If “mental illness”, as the late Thomas Szasz claimed, is a metaphor. “Mental health” is a metaphor as well. Bodies get physical diseases. Minds just get fuzzy, half-baked ideas, and illogical thoughts. The pursuit of folly though is not a disease any more than the pursuit of wisdom is a cure. We are free to chose either pursuit, or neither, as we wish. Of course, despite the fact that no disease has been found to explain aberrant behaviors, that doesn’t prevent people from speculating about “disease” as a cause.

If you’re going to call the mental health system “broken”, the first question one has to ask is what is the purpose of the mental health system. For example, is the mental health system there to “heal sick” people, to “fix broken brains”? If so, it has always done an absolutely lousy job not “healing” and not “fixing” them. I submit that the real purpose of the mental health system is to keep people with psychiatric labels out of other people’s hair. This, the system, considering the shots it has taken due to scandals arising from institutionalization, does sufficiently enough.

What is a mental hospital? Is it a place for “healing sick” people, or is it a place for punishing people who behave “badly”? While the nurses station found on most psych wards suggests the former, the locked doors found in nearly all of them says it is the latter. All you have to do is to consult the dictionary to get the idea that something is awry here. A mental hospital is a peculiar hospital, to say the least, but it is a particular prison. The distinction between the two depends upon whether you think it does a better job “healing the sick”, or punishing the misbehaving.

I echo Dr. Szasz in calling for the abolition of forced mental health treatment. The system, as meat grinder, as a destroyer of men and women, isn’t broken in the slightest. It does it’s job of breaking spirits, of swallowing up bodies, and of spitting out bones exquisitely well. I think, if they really and truly cared about their clients, more mental health professionals would be taking the same position. This destroying of people, by going straight at their potentials, and watching them fizzle, is a thing that should not be tolerated. Difference should be expected and encouraged, not suppressed.

This accent on perceiving a “broken” system is a call for reform, and this reform usually means one of two things. Either people think it is too hard to get people treatment, or people think the treatment they receive too harsh. I am against reform as reform is always piece-meal, and there’s no end to it. Reform always, and of necessity, leads to further reform. I support the abolition of forced mental health treatment. Prejudice and discrimination, so-called “stigma”, comes of force. End forced mental health treatment, and you will also be ending so many things that are wrong with the mental health system today. There is no reason, no good reason anyway, in my opinion, for persevering in the present farce of pretending otherwise.

Is “mental illness” underfunded?

One way to deal with a problem is not to pay for it . In fact, it could be a solution to all sorts of problems. Problems that are subsidized tend to thrive.

The man who probably did the most to end forced psychiatric treatment in the USA in recent history was a Republican politician by the name of Ronald Reagan. I think you’ve probably all heard of him. He helped deinstitutionalize institutions, first in California, and second in the rest of the nation, by defunding them.

 A little refresher 101 might come in handy at this point. We have had a mental health movement for some time in this country. This movement is actually a “mental illness” movement. (Review the first paragraph.)

First you have moral management with the introduction of asylums, then here comes Dorothea Dix contributing her part to the asylum building boom that immediately followed. At the beginning of the 20th century, there’s Clifford Beers doing his part for mental hygiene, supporting treatment, bashing illness, if entirely theoretical illness at that.

 The mental health movement wants the government to pay for mental health treatment. The mental health movement hit pay dirt with the Kennedy administration. The Kennedy administration came up with the community mental health system idea, and passed an act to get it started.

Depopulate state mental hospitals, and what do you do with all the inhabitants then? No Clue? Well, one thing you could do is create little mini-hospitals in communities throughout the country. Another thing you could do is treat the prodigal son or daughter returning from one of these institutions like everybody else. The Kennedy admin legislation decided on the first option.

I read once that a person is “mentally ill” until the insurance runs out, and I think this statement is relatively true. If necessity is the mother of invention, as the saying goes, when one is subsidized by the tax payer, working ceases to become a necessity.

 Today there is a movement directed towards hiring patients in the mental health system as para-professional mental health workers. I have a few issues with this approach. Namely, what is the difference between a disabled person and a non-disabled person in the mental health field? Stumped. Well, I will tell you then. Employment.

Employing people in mental health is not getting them jobs in other fields, nor is it getting them very far from the problem, that problem being the mental health system. If a person enters the system against his or her will and wishes, does working for that system really represent a significant improvement?

Unfortunately, mental health insurance parity is on the horizon for which I suggest holding your nose. What was I saying about necessity? I know, There are those people with jobs in mental health care. Maybe some of them might be able to do a little bit of good.  All I can say to  them is, “When are you going to get a real job?”

Violence Begetting Violence

Let there be no mistake about it, the violence bone is not connected to the “mental illness” bone. When we beef up our mental health police force, our mental health system, although the stated aim has something to do with quelling violence, the real aim is to make it look like we’re doing something about violence. This gesture is only cosmetic because any fool should know that 1. “illness” is not the source of violence, and 2. what is commonly referred to as “mental illness” is not literally “illness”.

Discontent is not “illness” officially until the guy with the medical degree gets around to calling it so, and this still doesn’t make it so. Rebellion and disobedience are now official diseases, but that doesn’t make them real diseases either. The big three, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depressive disorder are, when it comes to medical practice, actually three nonsense terms. Deviate from the straight and narrow, and you will be classified as diseased. Believe in the jargon, and you’ve found your religion. Science itself is a little more  skeptical and open minded.

Mental health treatment is actually about social control. The interests of the individual must be suppressed in favor of the interests of the state, according to the state anyway. Politicians, and the robber barons who own them, must always practice vigilance when it comes to preserving their precious status quo. Misfits, non-conformists, and eccentrics are not to be tolerated as they represent a threat to the way things are, and the way things have been. Authenticity itself, exposing a world beyond the uniform, also must be expelled from the life of the community. “Acting out” is only “acting out” where inauthentic “acting in” is the rule.

Pre-schizophrenic disorder (attenuated psychosis risk syndrome), as it is listed in the DSM-5 section 2, is now an official disorder to be covered by insurance. Anyone not schizophrenic already could be suffering from it. Catching the “disease” early is our new answer to massive acts of gun violence in our nation. Understated problem: If you’re doing a sweep for pre-schizophrenics a heck of a lot of potentially violent people are going to slip through your net. Catching people earlier is likely to result in 2 things. 1. You will increase the number of prisoners you’ve got. 2. The violence perpetuated by people who slip through the cracks so to speak in your prison walls will increase.

Technically this presents us with the ongoing dilemma we started with before we started trying to do something about our problem. Technically everybody in the nation is a pre-schizophrenic. If 1 in 4 people get shuttled into a head doctors office in the course of a year, that makes 1 in 4 people “sick”. Keep dreaming. Just because somebody has been caught by the mental health system, or even if somebody has sought “help” so to speak, this doesn’t automatically mean that that person is violent.

3 in 4 people in this country are not “mentally ill” in any given year because 3 in 4 people have not tried to engage in multiple acts of murder. Should he or she kill numerous people,  every armchair shrink in the nation will have this or that person pegged “coo-coo”.  The media, as it has of late, will be having a field day with the amateur, and professional, diagnoses being made. The obvious problem is that we are trying to call violence the result of “sickness”, and averse circumstance “disease”. Neither interpretation is particularly honest.

Dishonesty is the problem, and that hotbed of pure deception, the mental health movement, is the cause. Trading one bad circumstance for another doesn’t accomplish a great deal in the way of producing positive circumstances. Negative circumstances are more likely to provoke violence than positive ones.  Attributing negative circumstances to people with defective genetic material is simply avoiding the facts of the matter. We are all in this world together, even those of us the rest of us would try to shuttle off into the proverbial community closet. Someday, like maybe today, those  “statistics” are going to come back to haunt us.

Psychiatry Drumming Up More Business From School Children

An abstract in HealthDay News announces, Most Teens With Psychiatric Disorders Don’t Receive Care. By care the article means psychiatric treatment. Consider, did we replace the words psychiatric disorders with the words personal problems, and if we replace the word care with the word solutions, we would be saying something entirely different. The question is whether, given a kid with overwhelming troubles, would the mental health system help the kid resolve those difficulties any better than the kid going at it alone. I think there is a great deal of question as to the effectiveness and benefits in the mental health system for doing so. In so many instances, people who enter that system only get worse. This is particularly true when there was little to nothing intrinsically wrong with the kid in the first place.

Let’s look at these disorders and their rates. We’ve got two types of disorders we are dealing with here. We’ve got specifically childhood and adolescent disorders, and we’ve got disorders that have a potential to persist into adulthood. I submit that both types of disorder are, in the main, entirely bogus. Let’s look at the stats given.

45 % of adolescents labeled with a psychiatric disorder received some sort of treatment during the course of a single year. If “having a psychiatric disorder” is synonymous with “receiving treatment”, maybe it is not such a bad thing that 55 % of the adolescents given diagnoses no longer receive treatment. The person, for example, who is unable to back out of “receiving services” is a lifelong or “chronic” mental patient.

Most likely to receive mental health services

ADHD                                                          73.8 %

Conduct Disorder                                     73.4 %

Oppositional Defiant Disorder              71   %

Least likely to receive mental health services

Specific Phobias                                        40.7  %

Anxiety Disorders                                     41.4  %

Services received

School setting                                            23.6 %

Specialty mental health setting             22.8 %

General medical setting                         10.1 %

Where are the statistics saying that 55 % of the kids given psychiatric labels are going to hell in a handbag because they aren’t receiving mental health treatment? Where are the statistics saying that 45 % of the kids are headed for the pearly gates because they are receiving services? Mental health workers and drug companies do better when they have more students doing business with them, but this doesn’t mean that the students are doing any better in treatment than they would do outside of treatment.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder only officially reached the age of consent with the recently published DSM-5. Previously ADHD was  primarily a juvenile chaos. Mine may be a minority opinion but I don’t think of this milestone as particularly conducive to good mental health. Quite the reverse. Now that adult ADHD is an official disorder label we are likely to see much more of it than we have seen in the past.

Conduct used to be a grade on a report card. Conduct was then previously not a disorder. Certainly making it a disorder might make things easier for teachers. I definitely don’t think making conduct a disorder makes things any easier for school children. Should conduct disorder progress into out and out criminality, the child would probably have to put some distance between him or herself and the school system. Or get expelled. I imagine conduct disorder helps flustered parents get disobedient children back into school following suspension or expulsion.

Oppositional defiant disorder is sheer nonsense. It means a child is being rebellious. Children do become rebellious. In fact, they go through phases that include rebelliousness. The terrible twos and the teenage years are two such phases, but they are by no means the only periods in childhood and adolescence potentially beset with disobedience and rebellion. If the child doesn’t grow out of it, the good news is that there is no adult ODD. Not yet anyway.

Anxiety is human, not medical. Nonetheless, psychiatrists and drug company exes make money treating it as medical. Ditto, phobias. This is a particularly sticky subject because children are particularly prone to anxiety and phobias. Adults, given much more life experience than children dealing with such, tend to be less seriously affected. Anxiety and fear are symptoms of inexperience. Inexperience is a disease that can be cured fairly easily. I suggest that parents and teachers experiment with ways to cure their school children’s inexperience as that is part of the job description.

The good news is that 55 % of the teens in this study once receiving mental health treatment are no longer receiving services. The bad news is that psychiatric researchers want even more teens to receive services. Swallow hard and go figure.

Mental Health Treatment Is Not Gun Control

The drug industry mental health system propaganda machine is working overtime churning out statistics such as only 40 % of the people in need of mental health treatment are receiving it. These randomized stats beg a number of questions: how much of that treatment is forced, how is need determined,  how many of those people want treatment, do you mean “mental illness” or problems in everyday life, etc., etc., etc.

The government has decided the problem is a mental health problem and not a criminal activities problem. If we pump money into mental health treatment, if we beef up the mental health system, theory goes, we are doing something about massive acts of violence. I, for one, question the complete illogic of this absurd endeavor. The ghosts who commit atrocious acts of violence are not those sore thumbs who are going to get picked up by the mental health cops.

Excuse me, the real reason the government is beefing up the mental health system is to look like the government is doing something to deal with the problem after a series of massive acts of violence in this country. This is a cosmetic matter.  This is an political reputation strategy and a complete diversion. People in the mental health system are not responsible for violence in this country. In a word, they are innocent. They simply didn’t do it.

Mental health treatment, until very recently, has been mostly a matter of treating people who didn’t want to be treated completely against their will and wishes. If 60 % of them didn’t pursue this treatment, the only wonder is that the statistic is not larger. Criminals don’t have this problem. They are assumed to be friendly, unlike mental patients, with liberty from the beginning.

Murder is a criminal offense. “Mental illness” is a sensibility offense. We lock people up who have broken no official laws, but have displayed erratic behavior, because they offend our sense of propriety.  Also, it is thought that if we don’t lock them up, they will either manage to get somebody so offended as to do them violence, or they will manage, wittingly or unwittingly, to do violence to themselves.

The problem is that people are not really locked up because they are violent. Violent acts are criminal offenses. You’ve got people in both systems, that is, people who have been put in the mental health system by the criminal courts rather than by the civil courts. These patients are said to be forensic. They are not the rule, they are the exception. You could call them either “mentally ill” criminals, or, alternately, as is more conventional, the criminally “mentally ill”. Again, for people in the system, they are the exception, they are not the rule.

Beefing up the mental health system because of these few exceptions is not a good idea. Questions of conscious intent are not always resolved sufficiently by the courts. If a so-called “socio” or “psychopath” is a good anything, a so-called “socio” or “psychopath” is a good actor. One thing good actors are very good at playing is bad actors. People characterized as “mentally ill” are bad actors, otherwise they wouldn’t have gotten caught. They would have “slipped through the cracks” as the ruse goes.

Real gun control is a matter of seriously dealing with a culture of violence and reducing the proliferation of weapons of war. It is not a matter of blaming people in the mental health system any more than it is a matter of blaming people who belong to different races, religions or ethnic groups.  Curtailing the gun ownership rights of people in the mental health system is not going end massive acts of gun violence, nor is beefing up the mental health system. The problem is not “mental illness”, and pretending it is, is not the solution; the problem is violence.

Reflections On The President’s Mental Health Conference From A Grateful Non-attendee

President Barack Obama didn’t have a hare’s chance in hell of enacting legislation to ban assault rifles. He ran his second presidential election campaign on making a scapegoat out of people in the mental health system. Towards the start of his second administration there were three atrocious acts of mass violence perpetrated by lone individuals in this country. All of these atrocities were perpetuated by young male misfits on a failure track. Misfit, in politically correct campaign jingo,  translates “mentally ill”.

The president’s answer to massive acts of violence by maladaptive individuals was to throw a conference on mental health. What do you get out of such a mental health conference? All of these people claiming to be advocates for the “mentally ill” come out of the woodwork asking for more resources, essentially, more money. Theory goes, all these people who need therapy aren’t receiving it, and so we need more money so we can get more people into therapy. If we get enough people into therapy, we will also get a few of those guys with itchy trigger fingers.

Problem. We could end up getting a lot more people into therapy while missing many people who go onto commit massive acts of violence at the same time.  If you’ve read the news, on campus, “mental illness” rates are going up, presumably in response to student killings. Alright. The one gap that we haven’t been able to bridge in this construct is the gulf between mental health problems and violence. There isn’t a tangible link that touches everybody in mental health treatment, and yet everybody in mental health treatment is expected to pay for the gross misdeeds of a very few.

What if beefing up the mental health system doesn’t prevent a few lone and disappointed individuals from going out there and shooting up movie theaters, political rallies, and school houses? What then? Oh, I know. Time for another conference on the nation’s mental health. Seems we missed a few crazies. Okay, so long as crazed isn’t human somehow…Once crazed becomes human it ceases to be a behavior outside of the “norm” of everyday life. We don’t, after all, want a lot of people going around taking their frustrations out on the world with firearms, stress-reduction afternoons spent at the gun range aside.

I’m back to that point I keep making time and time again. “Mental illnesses” don’t kill people any more than guns kill people. People kill people. There is no “mental illness” demon that pulls the trigger in the absence of conscious thought. There is a body behind the weapon. A body at the mercy of a conscious entity. Murder is a crime. “Mental illness” is a confusion of terms used to describe what amount to wide range of problems people experience in their lives. Obviously, if violence is the culprit, somehow we’re investing our time and energies into an entirely wrong direction. Doing so is not dealing with the real issue, and that issue is the amount of violence that we are putting up with in this country.

Some gun fanatics have suggested that issuing more concealed weapon permits might be the answer to mass violence in America. We have even seen legislative initiatives in some states to allow concealed weapons in school rooms and barrooms. Thing is, soon as a concealed weapon carrier uses his or her weapon on a large number of innocent people, he or she becomes, in the eyes of the mass media, disturbed. Sure, “normal” concealed weapon holders might be able to put down a crazed gunman, but what if your concealed weapon holder snapped. I’ve heard these mental health advocates, so-called, say anyone and everyone is susceptible.

I think we need to address the real issue. That issue is violence in America, that issue is not mental health. The president’s attempt to bring ‘mental illness out of the shadows’ is going to send mental health back into the shadows. Mental health treatment is not mental health. It is a business, requiring a large number of people thought “ill”, to prosper. The danger is that by focusing on this business we will end up increasing both the numbers of people labeled “mentally ill” and the numbers of people committing massive  acts of violence. We have a violence obsessed culture, inspired by a violence obsessed entertainment industry, and as such, it is little wonder that we have much violence. Blaming violence on “mental illness” is missing the point. The problem is violence, the problem isn’t “illness”, and the solution isn’t going to come from medical science.

Crazy Is The Coming Psychiatric Police State

If you’ve been watching the news recently you should be able to see it coming. By it, I mean the Psychiatric Police State. The Psychiatric Police State is, partnering with Hollywood, President Obama’s answer to massive acts of violence perpetuated by a few lone gunmen. We’re going to beef up the mental health system in this country, and that’s supposed to prevent individuals from getting frustrated, and taking their frustrations out on crowds of people in a violent manner with gunfire. (Or, not.) If we can catch these gunmen before they start shooting, runs the theory, we can prevent atrocities from occurring. The way to catch lone gunmen before they go to war with the nation is to call them “mentally ill”, and to get them into a mental health treatment program.

Alright. One problem. Most of the people you’re going to be catching, as runs the rule with loony birds, are not going to be lone gunmen. They’re not even going to be threatening violence on people. They’re just going to be people pulled in by the round up of crazies. Crazy, slang for insane, is potentially violent by legal and legislative definition, that is, government proclamation. We got kooks. We got these kooks under lock and key by playing the potential for violence card. It’s all a ruse. By and large, they aren’t violent in the slightest, but they aren’t playing the game. Busted. Now there has got to be a great deal of irony involved in the state using violence to suppress hypothetical threats of violence.  This action isn’t about public safety, really, it’s about looking like you’re doing something about public safety.

There are any number of better things that our government could be doing. It is not really dealing with the causes of violence because it thinks that violence is produced by something called “mental illness”, and that violence is not produced by a man, conscious, with a gun in his hands. Malcontent, given the imperialistic aims of psychiatry, is interpreted as “mental illness”. Any child who rebels, especially if he or she is non-white, is now likely to receive an Oppositional Defiant Disorder label from the school mental health authorities. Just think, if this label had been around in King George’s time, and if he wasn’t such a case himself, maybe he could have had averted independence by having the leaders of the rebellion institutionalized in his own colonial version of Bedlam. ODD is not an adult disorder yet, but then we don’t have a King George any more either.

Failure is becoming increasingly common, especially when the measure for success is having something like 40,000,000,000 smackers. 20 % of the nation owns 90 % of the wealth. Where does that leave everybody else? Potentially, in therapy. The mental health system itself is a diversion from facing the real issues. If you don’t make a hell of a lot of moolah, you must be nuts. Money, money, honey; its the American way! Well, not so much any more when, as I pointed out, 20 % of the nation owns 90 % of the wealth. People are getting poorer and poorer while some big shot is doing his 18 holes, and getting away with murder at the same time. Expanding the mental health system, well, its happening, and with it, our problems are not diminishing, now are they? Yep, it would help if we opted for a solution rather than another problem but, where would we be if we didn’t make mistakes, er, I mean adjustments.

Give up? Okay. Well, I will enlighten you. Succeeding. Succeeding en masse, not just vicariously. Do you honestly think corralling misfits into mental health programs is going to help them succeed.? Look to results, look at outcomes. Nope, I guess not. Our mental health system has an atrocious record. It is a school for failure. In this school for failure, in fact, they have an expression for the training their most dedicated students receive, “learned helplessness”. Learning helplessness, despite the rhetoric, is not helpful. You, too, can learn to be a “burden to society”.  Sooner or later, the tab comes in, and it’s not just a tab rich tea partiers have to foot. The impoverished find themselves all the more impoverished paying for their impoverishment with monies they don’t have. Kind of like the nation, except the rich end of it. The mental health system, big government, is expanding, and the country is getting crazier, quite literally. Sure, it isn’t really a mental health system, it’s a “mental illness” system, and with a “mental illness” system, that’s what you have to expect.

Forced Mental Health Treatment–The Elephant In The Room

Not that long ago I left a comment on a Huffington Post blog. The blog was that of an East Anglia University student, Beth Seward, in the UK. The post was entitled The Elephant in the Room: The Stigma Around Mental Health. My comment, and I stand by it, was as follows:

The elephant in the room is not “stigma”. The elephant in the room is forced mental health treatment. If it were otherwise people wouldn’t be pretending, very intently in fact, to ignore it. Want to do something about prejudice and discrimination? Repeal mental health law. When you’ve gotten rid of forced treatment, you’ve gotten rid of much of the rationale for prejudicial mistreatment. Forced treatment outside of the mental health system is assault.

I will always admire the late Dr. Thomas Szasz for his dedication to the abolition of forced mental health treatment. I think all doctors of psychiatry should oppose forced mental health treatment, and I would like to see more psychiatrists express their doubts as to its effectiveness. I feel the same way about patients and former patients. I have heard the view expressed by some folks that the forced treatment he or she endured did him or her some good. This was never my experience.

Out of forced treatment we get two castes of citizens. Citizens with full citizenship rights, citizens who have not known forced treatment, and citizens with a portion of their citizenship rights violated, denied and ignored, citizens who have known forced treatment. Mental health law is that law that allows for the detention, and prejudicial maltreatment, of people who have broken no law. From this detention come permanent records that will follow that person around to the end of his or her days, and beyond.

Mental health law should be repealed. There should not be a law for locking up non-law breakers. I don’t think a person can be adamant enough on this point. Mental health law is a very real threat to the freedoms that Americans hold so dear. Nobody is immune from the diagnostic labeling bestowed by well, nor not so well, intentioned meddlers. To deprive the rights to some that we allow for others should be considered, and this is my point, criminal. By doing so, we’ve just made a rift between those citizens we consider worthy and those citizens we consider less worthy based entirely upon prejudice.

To quote from the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Forced mental health treatment jeopardizes people’s right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. When a person is detained in a prison masquerading as a hospital that person’s right to liberty is being violated. When a person is subjected to life threatening treatments in that prison that persons right to life is being violated. When a person’s opportunities are diminished due to such an experience, that person’s right to the pursuit of happiness is being violated.

The elephant in the room has been doing much damage, and yet so many people are pretending that everything is fine. Everything is not fine. We had the same problem when people were mistreated on account of their skin color. Now people are being mistreated on account of the psychiatric labels and the mental health treatment they have received. Forced treatment is mistreatment, now and always. Forced treatment involves depriving a person of his or her liberty. All the harm that comes to people in the mental health system comes from this one little exception to the laws that govern our land.  I think it about time we got rid of this loophole in the rule of law.