Let’s Have a Discussion About Mental Illness. Or Not.

the-persistence-of-memory-1931

One of the things that brought me hope after the past couple of years’ mass shootings was the pooling of state and federal resources to address issues of mental illness in this country. Oh, right, that didn’t happen. I try not to engage in too much political banter at the gun shop where I work, but it sort of becomes inevitable after a media-blasted “mass shooting.” Though I am not a psychologist, customers ask me about the root cause of all these incidents. Though I am not a politician, they ask me what I think the solution is. Since I’m a rational human being and a Catholic, I know that guns are inanimate objects that hold no moral properties. You can’t place blame on something that is soulless and dead. A gun can’t act of its own accord. Jokes about SkyNet aside, even an automated gun with AI would have to have some sort of human programming initially, thus being at some point, operated by man . . .

I generally respond to customers who ask with something like this: I believe the reason for the inaction on mental health issues is because the fault with mental health reform lies with both parties. Before a couple weeks ago, all I had to go on were stories from baby boomers. I frequently heard stories about “sometime in the 1970s when they let all the crazies out of the hospitals.” I’m sure some of you have heard similar accounts. I finally took interest in this and Googled it. Sure enough, the baby boomers were correct…sort of.

In 1975, there was a landmark case called O’Connor v. Donaldson. The case centered around a man named Kenneth Donaldson who was institutionalized in 1943 for a traumatic episode. He returned to his family after a number of years and lived a life of normalcy. Sometime in the 1950s, during a family outing in Florida, he made an off-the-cuff comment that he was afraid that a neighbor was poisoning his food. His father reported him to the authorities and back to the institution he went. Donaldson fought the case in court and won.

The ruling in this case was that:

a state cannot constitutionally confine a non-dangerous individual who is capable of surviving safely in freedom by themselves or with the help of willing and responsible family members or friends

That seems reasonable enough. You can’t confine someone to an institution who is merely different. This case probably saved many people who were “different” at the time from institutionalization. In the words of the court:

May the State fence in the harmless mentally ill solely to save its citizens from exposure to those whose ways are different? One might as well ask if the State, to avoid public unease, could incarcerate all who are physically unattractive or socially eccentric. Mere public intolerance or animosity cannot constitutionally justify the deprivation of a person’s physical liberty.

Again, reasonable enough. One can see how, without this ruling, people could have been unconstitutionally confined for being gay, transgendered, artistic, or even for making an off-the-cuff comment like Donaldson did. This was a unanimous ruling by a court comprised of liberal and conservative judges.

The thing is, a number of these mass murderers have made statements and engaged in eccentric activity that raised eyebrows. Seung-Hui Cho wrote numerous and (according to his professors) incoherent and psychotic short stories. He acted oddly in class. Nobody reported this behavior until after he shot up Virginia Tech. Jared Loughner and Elliot Rodger both made rambling videos, effectively manifestos that had been posted online, and nobody did anything. Were their professors and peers dismissing them as merely socially eccentric?

I’m sure that the judges didn’t foresee mass shootings when they ruled in O’Connor, although Charles Whitman shot up the University of Texas campus only a couple years earlier and he was never committed. I always wonder how they could have glossed over that one.

At this point in the conversation, I usually have to speed things along. I can’t take up too much of the customer’s time and vice versa. I usually end things with a parting thought:

I think it’s going to be a real sad and ugly day when we have to confront the issue of mental illness in this country.

It’s going to reveal a number of things. First, both political parties have failed on this issue. I’m sure that many of the politicians who spoke in favor of the Supreme Court ruling in O’Connor are either long dead or senior party leadership and as such, beyond the reproach of their respective parties. No junior politician wants to be the person to smear Reagan, Clinton, or whoever.

Then, if the Supreme Court ruling ever is even modified in the slightest, it probably will tear some families apart. Finally, and related, we need to really define what “mentally ill” means. I’m always reminded of an Ellen Degeneres comedy skit from the 1990s. In the skit she asks, “Remember when we just had crazy people?”

In our ever-increasing march towards acceptance, we have blurred the lines between mentally unstable and eccentric. I reproach my music students who describe themselves as crazy when they, at least clinically speaking, are not. For example, I had a student who liked to wear a lot of black and purple. She dyed her hair to match her clothes. She said, “oh, my friends and I are crazy.” No dear, you’re eccentric, not unstable. It’s not like you dye your hair and then try to murder the least popular member in your group as a sacrifice to Slender Man. You just dress differently.

Or think of it this way: if Miley Cyrus walks around in public without pants on, nobody cares. She’s “artistic.” She’s making a conscious choice to dress that way. If grandma is walking around in public without pants, she probably needs some help.

And there lies another point. It’s perfectly fine to question someone’s well being. At some point, someone has to say, “look, this person isn’t expressing their First Amendment rights, they’re mentally unstable.” If they are truly sane, they’ll probably be able to make a convincing case that they made the decision of their own accord and then explain why you’re wrong. Then you can both part ways, disagreeing, and saying nasty things about the other person behind their back, like most people in America do.

I guess most of it comes down to personal and familial responsibility. In the olden days of the 1970s and prior, people were more conscious if their disturbed family members were out and about by themselves. They felt personally responsible if their mentally disabled family member made a scene. They watched after them at home.

We had a family friend with a mentally disabled sister. She watched after her sister until the day she died. She did it out of love and duty. She didn’t reject her familial bond because it was inconvenient. Similarly, when the sister’s care became more and more difficult, the sister was placed in assisted living, where she could be monitored on a continuous basis.

When I was younger, I might have uttered the quip, “Dude, if you do that, I swear I’ll kill you.” I’m sure many of you said the same and never actually meant it. Today, I censor my speech out of habit and concern that it could be misconstrued. Also, there are people out there today who actually mean it. We might have to micro-manage ourselves to some extent. You are of course free to say, “I hate Robert Farago. I swear I’ll kill that guy if I ever see him.” But remember that you may get a visit from a police officer if Robert actually feels threatened and you may have to explain your actions. So, in the end, you might just stick to not threatening and just say why you disagree with someone.

We’re also responsible for our own mental health. There was a point a couple years ago where I was pulling 16-hour Mondays and 12 hour Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The work was something I enjoyed, but I realized that it was starting to exhaust me mentally. I realized that I needed to cut back. I wasn’t on the verge of snapping or anything, but I noticed decreased performance. I couldn’t begin to imagine the effects if I’d been doing work that I hated. I understand that the economy is awful. Work’s nice when you can get it. However, if your job is literally killing you, it might be time to move to something healthier. I think people are worked harder than ever these days.

One reason that Europe may have fewer mass shootings is better work benefits. Germany, for instance, gives starting employees around 32 days vacation time. By the time you retire, you can get up to 50-some vacation days. I don’t think more time off has made the Germans a lazy people. Americans are lucky if they get any time off. We all need a chance to crash and relax. I know some will cry “socialism!” at the thought of giving employees that much time off, but if there’s a choice between a purported slight decrease in productivity and a massive increase in stress and mental instability, I say, “Let’s all go to the beach and drink some beer!”

I am not a politician, a psychologist, a medical doctor, or an economist. I am not a philosopher or a sage. But I know that I don’t have to be any of those things to realize that we have completely failed at addressing the issue of mental health in this country.

comments

  1. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

    I usually tell people they need to get laid. Sex really clears the mind.

    1. avatar Joe R. says:

      + the rest of us, except the others are shy.

      Why the H_ LL is it that crazies with guns is what liberals and government goons want to fix. The government’s position on this is always “let’s not start with ‘magic’ that’s too easy, let’s start with Alchemy ‘impossible magic’. How’s about they just start with curing people who vote Democrat [a/k/a Communists].

      1. avatar lolinski says:

        Sex clears the mind, but like all forms of psychological relief (mainly drugs) it is only temporary. At the end of the day you have to confront your demons…after that I am not really sure, haven’t come that far yet.

      2. avatar Joe R. says:

        The “answer” is simple. Mind your own damn business and arm-up, you’re not getting rid of guns because you cannot get rid of the idea of guns.

        You can’t get rid of mental illness because you can only deal with it after-the-fact.

        Don’t let anyone bullsh_t you into thinking that you are protected (or worse) that THEY are protecting you by attempting to address this problem.

        Cops are their in minutes when seconds count, psychiatry is there in decades when the same damn second count.

    2. avatar Avid Reader says:

      I’m guessing that if any of these wackos had a sex life, it was confined to Rosie and her sisters.

  2. avatar Sian says:

    The social and legal stigma of mental health care is a real issue.

    Who is going to seek mental health for a serious problem when they know that it may permanently impact their rights and freedoms, much less their ability to find employment?

    1. avatar Scrubula says:

      Ding ding ding.
      I blame minimum punishment requirements. No firearms for the rest of your life just because someone and their spouse had an argument and went to a psychiatrist to get it resolved? No thanks, they will just keep fighting. Elliot Rodgers bitching about not getting laid? Who knows what they would have done if he was actually detained (and they couldn’t detain him even though he went to counseling, because it wasn’t a licensed practitioner).
      How about this. People who constantly make violent/threatening remarks about groups of people and who match well with the characteristics of previous mass murderers can be detained for a riskless psychiatric evaluation (no rights taken away at this point) and with the permission of parents/closest family member can be put through a mental health program if determined to be crazy. At the end of the program, there are still no rights taken away. All personal property remains that way.
      I suggest this because there is nothing we fear more than someone signing off on a piece of paper and stealing the second amendment rights of someone for the rest of their life. Obviously gun control has failed in every single instance of a mass shooter, and there are the other situations of mass murder with explosives, knives, etc too that shouldn’t be ignored.

      1. avatar Ben P says:

        Alot of good stuff said here ^.

      2. avatar Joe R. says:

        “How about this. People who constantly make violent/threatening remarks about groups of people [like some of the founding fathers] and who match well with the characteristics of previous mass murderers [like anyone who actually stood up to tyranny] can be detained [held against their will by people who took it upon themselves because they had a mouse in their pocket with a badge in its a_ _)] for a riskless psychiatric evaluation [again who asked, and who could offer firm empirical evidence as to effectivity] (no rights taken away at this point {ya, ok, you want to try a few minutes of it?}) and with the permission of parents/closest family member [who can first withstand the foregoing and prove with absolute certainty that THEY are not crazy] can be put through a mental health program [butterfly net people who need jobs] if determined to be crazy (no such clinical term, but there’s an example in there somewhere). At the end of the program [open ended counseling by the nameless faceless “they”], there are still no rights taken away [unless you really think about it]. All personal property remains that way [unless the thought of the previous makes someone hunt you and yours].”

        1. avatar Stu says:

          This is the spot on comment. How many people in history have (and are currently) been victimized by what are positioned as well meaning policies? I view forcing anyone to do something against their will (or under great duress from family/friends) as morally and spiritually wrong. One of the many idiotic and pervasive aspects of human nature is the tendency to alienate/villify/marginalize those that think differently from the prevailing groupthink. And yet ask the same people later about the eccentric and unconventional people that we later celebrate and thank for their contributions to society, be it in the fields of engineering and the sciences or in the world of the arts, and they’ll call those they called nutjobs previously, geniuses.

          Making progress in preventing mass killings and wanton violence would involve making healthcare more available and somehow people maturing a bit more and stop the stigmatizing of those that do seek help because things get to be a bit much. What gets me is just how pervasive “mental illness” is if you actually measured it by diagnoses and psych drug scripts written by GPs to specialists. I think the current number of Americans taking at least one psychiatric med is 1 in 5. Think about that…Yet because of our hypocrisy and judgemental harshness most of these people would not say, “yes I am mentally ill”. Do you take a psych drug? If yes, then you are mentally ill. Would you like that to be one of the criteria on the screening list for the type of scenario Scrubula lays out? I think we’d all say “no”. TTAG is probably a reasonably random cohort..every 5th comment I read reminds me that, yeah, a lot of people are mentally ill. 😉

          Let me also say that the entire mental health medication complex as run by big pharma is a pathetic sham and probably overmedicates the populace massively. And of course the sheer insanity of the DSM-IV and the sundry supposed maladies listed therein that are created by committee (thought leaders often compensated by big pharma) and diagnosed on a pathetically subjective basis (often with no more than a handful of sentences communicated between a family doctor and the patient). Of course mental illness is on a spectrum and it is real, but my point is how the business of medicine and the profit motive might also create illnesses that aren’t there.

          Generally it all boils down to brining US healthcare into at least the 20th century and adopting the type of system that pretty much every other 1st world nation uses. Most of those nations have less mass killings than we do and it certainly has nothing to do with the fact that the peeps can’t get their guns, right? Because a gun is just one type of tool to kill people with.

          I’m all for well funded single payer care paid for by our (individual and business) taxes. I’m sick of the middlemen. I’m sick of the games and constantly shifting game of “pick the plan” which asks me to predict the future. And the pick the right FSA amount to set aside (your company keeps what’s left BTW..hmmm who helped craft FSA legislation?). I’m sure a single payer opinion around these parts will brand me as a kook, but oh well.

  3. avatar Marcus Aurelius says:

    The mass shootings here in the U.S. have largely been perpetrated by individuals who weren’t part of the workforce and likely would not have been affected by increased time off.

    1. avatar B says:

      As far as my memory goes, the only ones to have a real job were the ones who shot up military bases. The 2 Hoods were a Major and a Specialist, the 2 Navy base shootings were a contractor and a truck driver. The rest were all College or dependant adult NEETS apparently incapable of functioning in normal society.

      1. avatar Indiana Tom says:

        Some of the mass shooters were dysfunctional to begin with. They had lots of time off.

      2. avatar Big Blue says:

        A lot of people associated with DOD aren’t doing real jobs, including many military and contractors; so I wouldn’t necessarily count them as exemptions.

  4. avatar bontai Joe says:

    I’ve known some people that were “different” and some that were “crazy”, and there is a definite difference, and I’m not a doctor either. Jimmy Stewart’s character in Harvey with his invisible rabbit was “different”. Charlie Manson is crazy.

  5. avatar LarryinTX says:

    Gee, where to start. Probably we should leave Charles Whitman out of this particular discussion, he was not mentally ill. Autopsy showed a massive brain tumor which caused unpredictable behavior in a decorated Marine who had led an unblemished life. As in, it really was not his fault, and also was not predictable in any way.

    Next, your quoted case is interesting, but I remember from the time that the case we heard of most was of an elderly woman who had been institutionalized for some 60 years without anyone ever claiming she might be dangerous, and she represented herself in court and demanded the right to live out her life on her own. And in following years, she did so, just fine, thank you very much. I was a teen living in Williamsburg, VA at the time, home of Eastern State Mental Hospital, which had thousands of locked-in patients and was probably the largest employer in the city. It has been steadily shrinking ever since, most of its current patients are children. The court case still followed exactly what you recount, that we can’t just lock people up for the rest of their lives with no reason. But we have now had a bunch of mass shootings which can be laid at the foot of that decision. Something has to be done, but that decision was and is completely correct.

  6. avatar Lolinski says:

    Problem is when people are ignored. Whitman tried to get help but was denied, later they found a tumor on his brain pressing against an important part of the brain.

    That and the whole “get caught being crazy and lose your rights” puts off many people from getting help.

    1. avatar Gunr says:

      “Puts off many people from getting help”
      I believe that is very true. I see a doctor often because of a medical condition, He often ask if I am ever depressed! There are times I am feeling a little low (not depressed) for various reasons, BUT, I never tell him that. I always say “I’m fine”
      I don’t know who my doctor might be in 5 years from now, but I do know that my medical records will live until after I take the “dirt nap”

  7. avatar Bill says:

    This is a very good article and thought-provoking.

    “I guess most of it comes down to personal and familial responsibility. In the olden days of the 1970s and prior…”

    I don’t think the author was suggesting that pining for the good old days is the solution. It isn’t. We can’t just sit around and complain that families aren’t taking responsibility. In fact, I think the good old days are just fantasy. Not long ago, depression and other mental illnesses carried such stigma that these health problems were rarely discussed generally, let alone discussed on a personal level.

    “One reason that Europe may have fewer mass shootings is better work benefits. Germany, for instance, gives starting employees around 32 days vacation time.”

    Here I think we are on to something. More vacation might be good and helpful, but we also could expand our “socialism” in a lot of other ways. We could allocate funding to teach kids about mental illness and coping skills beginning in elementary school and continuing through high school (at a level appropriate for their development). That would cost a lot of money. It’s worth it. We should make sure young people have ready access to professional mental health workers. That would take even more money. It’s worth it.

    Do we sit around and pine for the good old days, which were just as bad and probably worse, or do we accept hat government can serve vital roles in society, and that we as participating citizens probably need to pay more for expanded and improved services?

    1. avatar T M says:

      Those ‘good old days’ involved forced electroshock therapy, lobotomies, sterilizations, and the targeting of political and social dissidents as ‘crazies’, leaving them without human or civil rights as they became mere experiments of the medical establishment.

      As those who are supposedly dedicated to liberty and civil rights here, the idea that if we ‘still locked crazy people up’ that we would have less shootings is as morally repugnant as ‘if we just take everyone’s guns we’ll have less ‘gun crime”.

      If you locked up everyone that we thought was crazy, you’d likely nab many of those who would someday go and kill someone. This is likely true. But even if that accounted for 50% of the people you’d grab, are the rights of the other 50% justifiably forfeit?

      If you took away the guns of everyone you thought might be dangerous, by the same metric, would this not still violate the rights of the innocent, no matter what percentage of those individuals the innocent represented?

  8. avatar T M says:

    I went back and forth between agreeing with you, and being concerned at the second order effects of what you propose.

    So, one – good calling out (in a constructive way) the ableism inherent in saying “oh, I’m just crazy.” As you pointed out, the young lady and her friends, are eccentric (I’ve tended to run in the dark clothed, dyed hair crowds myself) and though we might use the word ‘crazy’ as a colloquialism, but they are not mentally ill or mentally unstable.

    Here is where I think you start to venture down a path that can have really dark underpinnings: looking back, mental health service in this country use to be a nightmare. An experimental, quasi-scientific enterprise that was used to silence dissent, dabble in eugenics, and enforce a social normative code that stifled individuality. However, there might be something to be said that the attitude of dismissing violent people as ‘not serious’ has had deadly consequences.

    While I think we should be trying to get people help (and in extreme cases, prevent violent people from acting out), let’s be careful that this doesn’t turn into another tool of the powerful to control the population, or that we don’t have a knee-jerk reaction that punished innocent people who maybe just need a little professional help.

  9. avatar former water walker says:

    Not a bad take on mental health. Rambling a bit. Except for the rationale of Germans lack of mass shootings. Most of “mass shootings” are NOT overstressed or overworked. They are crazy narcissists who can’t or won’t fit in. Like Holmes or the Isla Vista virgin. And the lack of German mass murder is more than made up by the unpleasantness of 1933-1945. I don’t have any answers either having worked at a mental health facility more than 30years ago…

  10. avatar JoelT says:

    Great article. I’ve often thought about those things myself. If we continue to say, “Oh, it’s mental illness, it’s mental illness! We have to try and fix that before you could even consider gun control (as some have said).” I ask, who get’s to define what it means to be mentally ill? How do you know if their standard is correct? Does having OCD make someone metally ill? What about ADHD? What about the vast majority of mentally ill people who aren’t violent? If all of those Law & Order: SVU episodes I use to watch are to be believed, those who are mentally ill are far more likely to be the target of a crime. Someone very dear to me was targeted in highschool because he was different, and was stabbed twice (once with an exacto knife in the back) and followed and nearly jumped by a gang as he was leaving work (he was still in high school at the time). Does he not have the right to defend himself, even though some might be tempted to call him mentally defective? Who get’s to make that call? If we continue to push for tighter and tighter criminal and civil liability on mental health professionals who don’t report on their patients, will that not instill fear to not take any chances and lead them to overreact? Reporting on someone as being a risk to themselves or others can potentially ruin their lives. They will forever be branded. Employment opportunities will continue to dry up. And speaking of employment, if we hold employers liable for employing the mentally ill in the work place (and something goes wrong), will that not disincentivize them to employ the mentally ill? Then where are they to go? The streets? Asylums? Stay at home on welfare? Being out and among the public tends to help them learn to cope as opposed to staying isolated.

    There are no easy answers, or one size fits all solutions. At some point we have to say that these are the risks that come with being a free society. Bad people will exploit those freedoms to do bad things, and we have to accept that we can’t stop them all and remain free. We can stop them all, period.

    As to the Vacation thing, NO. A BIG NO! I work a very physical job overnights, and I work with several guys who have been doing the job longer than I’ve been alive. In that time they have all built up 4 to 5 vacation weeks a piece, and that’s just in my department, there are many more of them through out the store. Do you know what it’s like trying to balance all of those vacations in the schedule? And there’s no one to fill in for them. 9 times out of 10, I, who has 1 vacation a year and makes under $8 an hour, get stuck making up all that extra work, and I can’t leave until it’s done. I get stuck working 10, 11, and 12 hour shifts. I almost never take my breaks (as they are not mandated) and go nonstop until I leave. My co-workers on the other hand take their breaks every night, and leave exactly 8 hours after they started their shift, whether the work is done or not. (They know I can’t leave because technically I’m the number 2 in our department, though it comes with no extra authority or benefits, just a lot of responsibility. It’s a roll I didn’t chose, but was given because they didn’t want it.) The work they do is terrible too, I often spend an hour or two each night just fixing it. When you challenge them on this, they will straight up tell you, “I don’t care, I’m union, they can’t touch me!” There is so many of them in our store in particular that it’s killing us. The should be transferred out and evenly distributed among stores so that it doesn’t burden anyone store in particular, but they can’t.

    1. avatar JoelT says:

      An additional note,

      I might also point out that our outgoing store manager failed to effectively spread out all of those vacations through out the year this past year, and ALL of them took ALL of their vacations at the end of the year, during the holiday season. The lowest store manager on the totem-pole drew the short straw and had to work overnight for several months to help us get it done. Those were some of the most stressful months of my life.

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        Dude, if you go through all that shit for under $8 an hour, you need some counseling. Start looking for a job, after you leave at the end of 8 hours. I got stuck once working 12 hour days 7 days a week for 3 months, but I was in the military so I couldn’t quit, and I was not close to $8 an hour. And I made everyone around me miserable, deliberately.

      2. avatar Geoff PR says:

        JoelT: Document, document, document.

        Unfortunately, for now the best you can do.

    2. avatar MamaLiberty says:

      Lots of good thinking here, Joel. As a retired health care professional, with a great deal of experience dealing with all kinds of people, I can assure you that nobody is able or qualified to determine who is or is not likely to commit murder – just for starters – and that no amount of nonsense attempting to keep them from obtaining guns is truly relevant to anyone’s safety. And that would be true even if guns were the most common tool used to harm other people.

      If anyone is truly too dangerous to own a gun, or any other impliment that can cause harm to others – including their own hands – then they belong in a cage or dead at the hands of their intended victim. Unfortunately, that can’t usually be determined ahead of time – which is why so many of us are prepared to defend ourselves.

      Life is risky. Life as free people is risky. Life as cattle kept “safe” by the rulers is much, much more risky. The old soviets just loved to take care of the “mentally ill,” remember.

  11. If you haven’t read “My Brother Ron” by Clayton Cramer it’s a good treatise on the subject of the deinstitutionalization that took place in the 60s and 70s, the promises made by the government, and the reality of what actually happened.

    http://www.amazon.com/My-Brother-Ron-Personal-Deinstitutionalization-ebook/dp/B008E0LRQE

    1. avatar Avid Reader says:

      OT, slightly-has anyone seen an update on Clayton’s medical condition?

  12. avatar scooter says:

    As a student of psychology and teacher of the same, the problem is certainly not sentient weapons and certainly is an inability to catch every disturbed mind. The “prophets” and the “manifesto” and the serial-type offenders ALWAYS seem obvious, especially after the fact. However, “lone wolf” types may provide less warning, and it should be understood they feel like nobodies who want to be REMEMBERED for their STATEMENT. Fame or infamy, they don’t care. They make their preperations quietly, and the signs may be present but subtle. Long story short, you cannot stop all of them before they start, but they all stop when faced with credible (armed) resistance, by good guy bullets or self-administered lead. Rarely do they allow themselves to be taken like the theater shooter who allegedly stated “I’m gonna be famous.”

  13. avatar Tom says:

    The recent laws and executive orders issued about mental health and firearms will create more problems, not solve them. People no longer have the privacy and confidentiality to seek counseling and help before something that could have been treated with a few sessions and medication before it became more of serious issue.

    1. avatar Indiana Tom says:

      I would agree. Getting mental health treatment has become very dangerous.

      1. avatar Adam says:

        Maybe it’s just as well if people steer clear of treatment. Can you name a single recent mass shooter who wasn’t already treated by a mental health professional and/or wasn’t on some sort of mind altering psycho-pharmaceutical? I don’t think you can. There seems to be a link between anti-depressant and anti-psychotic medication and homicidal behavior.

        I personally witnessed a depressed friend have a paranoid-delusional-manic-bipolar episode after too much tinkering with the medication. My friend was not a violent person, but I can see how a person with violent tendencies could turn into a murderer in the same circumstances.

        I don’t think mental health treatment is the solution to mass shootings, I think it is the cause of mass shootings.

  14. avatar rlc2 says:

    Excellent article. Whats even more shameful than the failure of either party to address mental health reforms in a meaningful way, is to hijack the obvious issue, both at State level in CA, and Nationally, and make it about “gun violence”.

    This is not just morally reprehensible at the base level, Difi and Pelosi scamming on it for ego and votes, but truly shameful when you think how many people in need, for example all those in the prison system and jails now, or living in bushes, who won’t be helped, while this stupid political stunt will end the same way as previous gun grabs have.

    This is one of the most non-obvious but truly disgusting ways the current version of “democrats” and progressives abuse the masses of those they profess to represent. No surprise really, when you consider their marxist-socialist roots, wrapped up in the kinder gentler “narrative” of progressiveism, v 2.0, that will ultimately fail just as the 30s version shriveled in the hideous expression of its real world applications in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Maoist Red China, and persisting today, in Cuba, Nkorea, and Venezuela….

    But hey, Hope and Change, and get your rad Che t-shirts here, kids. The Ruling Class and Apparatchiki got your best interests at heart, trust us!

  15. avatar LarryinTX says:

    To add to my previous thoughts (I was distracted by a pretty lady who lives with me), this question really is not that hard, unless you are of the opinion that somebody else should be taking care of your every need. I, personally, do not believe it is possible, under our system of rights and freedoms, to disarm every possible bad actor, whether criminal or mentally deficient. The answer to both is, and always has been, for responsible individuals to be armed and prepared to defend themselves. That was the answer to Columbine, VA Tech, Sandy Hook, even 9-11. If those terrorists expected half the passengers to be packing, they would have never even considered it. In every one of those instances, though, the law required possible defenders to be disarmed while doing nothing to protect them thereafter. We somehow, consistently, try to move in directions which cannot possibly affect the occurrence which causes us to act. Increased background checks because of Sandy Hook? Excuse me, the killer murdered his mother to gain access to her guns. I believe that regardless of the law, he was not then going to go to an FFL to see if he could pass a background check so that he could use her guns to kill little children. Passing laws does nothing to even slow down criminals, that is why we call them criminals.

  16. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    Interesting for a while, then wandered for the middle 50% or so, before finally falling apart toward the end with the European comparisons.

  17. avatar Guywithagun says:

    This “mental illness” issue is completely moot. There are crazy people, sane people and those somewhere in between. There isn’t a damn thing we can do about either type of people, nor should we as it is nobody’s responsibility to decide for others what’s best for them. If we all have the right to defend ourselves against craziness, then the problem will sort itself out. When the craziness starts, it ends… quickly. If we are forced into gun free zones, disarmed by laws, or otherwise have our right to self defense infringed, then there will be more aforementioned acts committed, PERIOD.

    You cannot prevent craziness. You cannot prevent crime. You can only hope to defend yourself from it. Sometimes, the best offence is a good defense.

  18. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Now here is a nugget that I really like from the O’Connor v. Donaldson ruling mentioned in the article:

    Mere public intolerance or animosity cannot constitutionally justify the deprivation of a person’s physical liberty.

    Did you hear that all of you out there (cough cough Paul McCain cough) who lambaste open carry “attention whores”?

  19. avatar James Miller says:

    There’s a number of factors linked to America’s deteriorating mental health than just time off but that’s definitely a factor. Today’s global economy demands more out of our workers than ever before with decreasing wages and little-to-no time off. Combine the “all work, no play” of our economy with our declining health caused by the stress of work and no time to sit for a home-cooked meal, we stuff our faces with anything that resembles food. We’ve entered a vicious cycle in society where individuals that used to enjoy vacations, pension plans and home-cooked dinners to becoming fast food-fed, over-medicated, timecard-punching cattle looking forward to our next EKG to tell us our heart is healthy enough to continue working…

    …and they wonder why people snap.

    1. avatar Stu says:

      Indeed.

  20. avatar Paco says:

    The problem with mental illness is that it’s 100% subjective, meaning no objective criteria for diagnosis.

  21. avatar Ben P says:

    Lot of good thoughts. Some people do have a mental disease that causes them issues living normally. I believe that the breakdown of the family and a decline in morals in society as a whole have caused a lot of the “crazy” lash out at everyone types. When society says anything goes, you get what you ask for.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      “When society says anything goes, you get what you ask for.”

      Very poignant statement.

      By the way Progressives / Communists who spout that really do NOT mean that anything goes. What they really mean is anything THEY want to do is okay but YOU can only do what they graciously allow you to do.

  22. avatar H says:

    Actually Cho had caused concern for a year and a half before the shooting. No teacher or advisor wanted to meet with him alone. The question is where was the concern by the institution and community for their fellow?

  23. avatar Stephen says:

    As far as the good old days go every generation looks back at antiquity in fondness and believe modern times are amis. Our lower crime rates either show that view to be false or crime stats are bogus. Mental illness is a sacrifice we must make for liberty. Either we deal with possible attacks by the homeless or mentally ill and live as free men or we allow a court to subjugated law abiding persons because they are different. I say be free and carry a gun. A life of dignity and nobility of spirit is not one without fear. Its the ability to face it and not subcome to fear.

  24. avatar Icabod says:

    When the changes started (ie “Empty the insane asylums.”) the arguement was that the new medications and outpatient treatment would be the solution. Tell someone that’s paranoid to take a pill.
    Turned out patients didn’t like to take meds and the treatment programs weren’t funded
    Looking at the shooters, most were known as odd, were on medication and had family that could have taken action. Cho or Holmes were identified as a threat but when he withdrew from school the case was closed.

  25. avatar Thomas Reed says:

    I am not sure how I feel about I feel about this topic. I have known crazy people that I would trust my life with a gun, and some people that have no business anywhere around a gun, EVER!

  26. avatar Rich Grise says:

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Knock it off with the mindreading and soothsaying and precrime and all that magickal thinking crapola, and simply hold people responsible for their actions. If someone, crazy or otherwise, goes to rob a store, the store owner should stop the robbery. If someone, crazy or otherwise, goes on some kind of shooting rampage, he/she should be stopped by the actions of their armed would-be victims. Of course, to implement this, we need full Constitutional Carry, and a return to Individual Responsibility. I dream, but if they’d try it, they’d find that it’s the right answer.

    Live and let live! An armed society is a polite society.

    1. avatar Debby says:

      I agree Rich, you hit the nail on the head.

  27. avatar Jo Mama says:

    Money, or the lack thereof, is central to this issue. Bloomberg could’ve saved a lot more children by giving his 50 million USD to the mental health system instead of the gun grabbers.

    In most cases, the families of rampage killers have recognized warning signs and tried to get them help, repeatedly. Mental health professionals are unable to give much more than a quick diagnosis and prescription-no treatment plan, requirements for follow-up appointments, monitoring, counseling, etc.

    Inadequate funding combined with the high burden for commitment is the culprit for our broken mental health system. With additional funding, comprehensive evaluations can be performed to identify and treat high-risk individuals. If both mental health professionals and family members feel an individual is capable of harming others, then they can be institutionalized and given regular evaluations to refine the treatment plan and justify further confinement. After release, progress needs to be closely monitored through regular follow-up appointments and input from family members.

    I’m astonished that people are actually dumb enough to believe that civilian disarmament is the solution to preventing mass shootings. While the true motives of the civilian disarmament advocates are ambiguous, I’m certain that saving lives isn’t one of them. The father of Elliot Rogers is the only one connected to a mass shooting who advocate improvements in mental healthcare instead of gun grabbing. I was truly disgusted listening to Mark Kelly (aka AstroDouche) blabber to Congress about the evil magazines when his wife, Gabby Giffords, was shot by a DELUSIONAL SCHIZOPHRENIC!!!

  28. avatar Sheepdog6 says:

    My father routinely says this…”A free society is by nature, a messy one.” To live freely we must occasionally clean up a few messes, and the mess we will create by confronting the issue of mental health in our culture will be a big one.

  29. avatar Debby says:

    I have a lot to say. For one I am a gun lover and have been for 30 years. I am also considered mentally ill. I did work hard like in your article and after 30 years of being employed I had a breakdown. (not a medical term) Your blaming violence on the mentally ill makes me ill. Everyone seems to have to have someone to blame other than the person committing the crime. People need to feel like they can discuss mental illness. You have cancer, I have a chemical imbalance. You feel free to discuss your illness but I am shunned like I am less then the cancer patient. That is what is wrong with mental health in the United States. The f’n stigma that you are bad because you are ill. And because of that, people will never seek help when they need it. But you’re obviously not bad because you have cancer so you run to the doctor and get treated. Well let me inform everybody of something. About 7 percent of the mentally ill are violent. Well guess what, 7 percent of the “normal” population is violent. Quit confusing violent people with the mentally ill.

    1. avatar Big Blue says:

      And bees kill more people than sharks. So what. People aren’t rational when it comes to perception of risk. It’s bewildering, but the sooner you get over it, the less frustrated you’ll be.

      Things that are unusual or more unpredictable are perceived as more dangerous and scary.

      So a dirty bomb attack is terrifying, but dying of diabetes? Eh *shrug*.

      It has to do with control and predictability mostly with some delusion. Dude gets killed at a bar in a fight? Well you know.. he probably had it coming right? Besides I don’t associate with those types nor get myself in that situation by being polite, etc. I’ll choose to be smart and avoid those situations! So I’ll be safe. After all, he was probably a criminal or something and deserved it. Right?

      A dude randomly stalking and killing you for no obvious reason? Holy @#)($@#)#@ shit. Scary. Could happen at any moment. Omg he’s a psycho killer!! Escaped mental patient maybe? OMG he’ll turn me into a human jacket like silence of the lambs!

      So crazy people are scarier than regular violent people; even if the amount of violence/harm is roughly the same.

      etc..

      1. avatar Debby says:

        Thank You Big Blue for the reply. You are 100 percent right. Great way to sum it up.

  30. avatar Debby says:

    http://globalnews.ca/news/1492649/gunman-shoots-pistol-whips-man-five-people-step-over-bleeding-body/ …Do you people really think this is Mental Illness causing this? You are so grossly wrong. Any person in the World that thinks this man got hurt because of the availability of a gun is ignorant. Anybody that thinks the technology of a gun is difficult where he won’t have the availability if you take mine away because of him is even more ignorant. As long as their is evil, devil, scum like this walking this earth, you will never get mine. Idle hands make the devil’s work.. even if you aren’t religious maybe you can see the wisdom in that statement. Get these punks a dad who teaches them good in life and productive things to do with their hands instead of crack twitching, picking moms who have them fetching their drugs and alcohol for them on the street corners. These people should not be allowed to ever walk our streets again Sorry everyone, this video followed by this article got me on a roll, but it must be because I am Mentally Ill. Want to talk about the struggles of that? It’s funny it is my two passions in life. Teaching about guns and teaching about mental illness. Wish I could.

  31. avatar frank says:

    I notice a lack of comments on a very real problem related to mental health and vlolence and that is the overuse of anti-depressant drugs. Treatments for controversial diagnoses of ADD, ADHD, etc are routinely given Prozac and other similar drugs which can cause violent or suicidal behavior as stated rght on the accompaning packaging. Nearly all the mass murderers recenty were on or had taken themsilves off them before their violent acts.

    1. avatar Debby says:

      Frank, My Psychiatrist said that problem is caused from allowing MD’s to issue psych drugs. She said they just hand out the drugs like candy and do not monitor the patients. She said they need to change the law that only psychiatrists can issue psych drugs and patients must be monitored.

      1. avatar MamaLiberty says:

        Debbie, I hate to break it to you, but all doctors, phsychiatrists and anyone else who is “allowed” to dispense these drugs, hands them out like “candy.” Drugs are the first and, all too often, the only treatment or solution offered to people with any sort of problem, and far too many people with no real problems at all. If they don’t like how they “feel,” give them a pill. The drugs mostly just mask the “feeling,” and usually help the patient avoid seeking any real resolution to the problems they actually have.

        What has to change is the choices of individuals, to take personal responsibility for how they “feel” and what they do – much as you seem to have done.

        Some drugs can be a bandaid, to help while real solutions are explored, but they can never “cure” any emotional problem and, almost always, make things worse over the long run if used for more than first aid.

        More regulation and tighter “control” of these drugs won’t solve the problems any more than prohibition has solved problems with anything else.

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