Psychiatrist: “Making Gun Violence About Mental Health Is Nuts”

http://www.jonathanmetzl.com/

Jonathan M. Metzl is the mainstream media’s go-to guy for sound bites about psycho-killers. Back in 2015, the professor of sociology and psychiatry and the Director of the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University wrote Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of American Firearms. Rehashed ever since, most recently in a Politico polemic, Dr. Metzl’s paper counters the claim . . .

that “gun violence” is a mental health issue. He points out that shrinks rival dentists in their ability to predict which patients will go postal (paraphrasing).

Yes, well, in the cases his paper references — Newtown spree killer Adam Lanza and Aurora mass murderer James Holmes — both killers were clearly crazy and known to mental health professionals. In fact, Holmes’ psychiatrist was so concerned about her patient’s [freely admitted] desire for violence she had him ejected from school.

Even though Dr. Metzl’s paper promotes gun control — an area well outside his wheelhouse but popular with his peers — he makes a convincing case that the vast majority of firearms-related crimes have nothing to do with mental health issues.

Mind you, that’s crime. Not suicide, obviously, which accounts for almost two-thirds of America’s firearms-related fatalities.

In the Politico version — I’m a Psychiatrist Get Me Out of Here. Making Gun Violence About Mental Health Is a Crazy Idea. —  Dr. Metzl once again wanders off the mental health reservation to call for civilian disarmament:

In the broader sense, asking us to diagnose mass shooters in isolation feels impossible without addressing the larger contexts that surround the rise in mass shootings in the United States, like the dramatic increase in civilian owned assault rifles and other weapons of mass casualty.

Many current analyses link this expansion to trends in mass shootings. As the New York Times recently put it, “the only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.”

Yet this expansion of guns in everyday life has gone hand in hand with a narrowing of the rhetoric through which U.S. culture talks about the role of guns and shootings. Insanity in the aftermath of mass shootings then becomes the only politically safe place to discuss charged issues such as gun violence prevention or strategies for public safety.

Sure. People are only focusing on the fact that Sutherland Springs spree killer Devin Kelley escaped from a mental institution as a way to deflect from a wider discussion about how to remove “weapons of mass casualty” from civilized society. A category that doesn’t include pressure cookers, apparently.

Psychiatrists are eager to help reduce gun violence. But when politicians ask us to predict the impossible, or reduce complex social phenomena into “mental health” issues, it’s often just an excuse for their own failure to address the problem.

Because the mental health professionals who “treated” Mssrs. Lanza, Holmes and Kelley (amongst other mass murderers) bear no responsibility for failing to intervene to stop the slaughter their patients inflicted on innocent life. Well, that’s one theory . . .

comments

  1. avatar Ralph says:

    Translation: “I’m a psychiatrist, so I don’t know shit.”

    And yet he knows enough to prescribe powerful psychoactive drugs to his patients. Interesting, no?

    1. avatar Klaus Von Schmitto says:

      “I’m a psychiatrist, so I wasn’t nearly skilled enough to be a surgeon”

  2. avatar strych9 says:

    “…the only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.”

    So much fail.

    1. avatar Mas Cool Arrow says:

      I can say with 100% certainty that all but 1 of the guns in my house have never killed anyone. The exception is a milsurp Mosin.

      It aint the guns.

    2. avatar DaveL says:

      Except guns have been plentiful for generations, semi-automatics have been around for over 100 years, gun control laws have gotten more, not less stringent inn that time, yet this plague of mass shootings seems to have arisen mostly since the advent of social media.

    3. avatar Big Bill says:

      Major fail: violent crime has gone down over the last few decades, while the number of guns has gone up.
      If, indeed, correlation were causation, his statement would be cause to have his credentials revoked, it would be so wrong. But it’s not, so he’s…
      Still wrong.

  3. avatar Don says:

    Because only a small percentage of mental health patients become spree killers, just like 0% of NRA members do. Logic, see?

  4. avatar pwrserge says:

    Gee… it seems to me that back in the day we institutionalized people who were a danger to themselves or others rather than just drugging them to the gills.

    1. avatar Andrew Lias says:

      Considering how many of the people in Chicago who kill other people have long, long criminal records before they do such yet serve very little time on average you’d think thConsidering we know that the at they would pay attention to that. But it’s a solution that’s not politically correct.

    2. avatar SkyMan77 says:

      +1… RSSI drugs play a big part in these tragedies…

    3. avatar Dr. William S. L. Bensen says:

      You hit the nail on the head. That’s the variable, that and a society/culture where nobody has a sense of community or belonging (we’re all becoming more and more isolated from each other).

      How many of you know your neighbor’s first and last names?

      There was a time when neighborhoods were actual communities, with block parties and gatherings. Now, we’re all so withdrawn and socially isolated, certain personality types don’t get the support and guidance they need, and are in essence, physically grown up but mentally children. Perspective and consequence are all but gone.

      Our society is to blame. Our community is to blame. Our depersonalized culture is to blame. Guns, are not. They are no more guilty than blaming type 2 diabetes on processed sugar or blaming obesity on starchy foods. Our actions is what makes those become an issue.

      We, humans, are the only variable to attempt to affect results in this world. Unfortunately, so many mental conditions and “disorders” now officially exist, it’s become far too lucrative to try to psychiatrically address the issues, but it’s better to prescribe frontal-lobe numbing pharmaceuticals.

      Mental disorders are a big part of this, but I would argue that the dangerous combination of mental disorder + wantonly prescribing relatively unproven and side-effect-laden drugs to be the real issue.

      Outlaw prescription kick-backs to doctors/hospitals. Require longer interim trials of prescription drugs before approval. If even 0.0001% of recipients exhibit psychotic fits of violence, then it’s back to the drawing board.

      1. avatar SkyMan77 says:

        +1… Many thanks for your insight Dr. Bensen…

      2. avatar ropingdown says:

        One indicator of the truth of your perspective is revealed in the way we treat serious mental disease. An example is schizophrenia. Here we rely on medication, though generally the courts cannot force medication on people. We also isolate and shun people with known schizophrenia. In contrast India generally believes a key is to pull the sufferer into the village community, making sure the person has a useful function so they feel a part of things. Sweden enforces medication, but also provides good access to courts and to therapeutic activity. In the US a sufferer either has a caring sufficiently affluent family, or they have nothing. If their family is dysfunctional they become to some extent a danger to themselves and us, and cycle through jails as a proxy for a psychiatric hospital.

        I think it is true that we do not have a gun problem, but an education, behavior, and responsibility problem. people who go on shooting rampages seem to almost universally forewarn us through domestic violence or written expressions of wish or intent. JMO.

      3. avatar Big Bill says:

        Some of your remarks on on the mark, others not so much.

        “Our society is to blame. Our community is to blame. Our depersonalized culture is to blame.”
        No, the perp is responsible for his actions. While he may have been influenced by outside factors, so were many more who chose not to commit crimes.

        “We, humans, are the only variable to attempt to affect results in this world.”
        I get that if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, but you’re wrong.
        One example will suffice: beavers build dams to affect results.

        “Mental disorders are a big part of this, but I would argue that the dangerous combination of mental disorder + wantonly prescribing relatively unproven and side-effect-laden drugs to be the real issue.”
        I, OTOH, believe that is a side effect of the belief that “mainstreaming” helps all concerned. It obviously doesn’t. If a person is dangerous without meds, then those meds need to be administered in a controlled environment. Far too many such people forego their meds, and the results are far too often disastrous to both the patient and society.

    4. avatar rt66paul says:

      We drugged them to the gills, then, but we didn’t allow them to leave.

  5. avatar Joe R. says:

    “Making Gun Violence About Mental Health Is Nuts”. MAKING ? ? ?

    “Making” Gun Violence About

    A N Y T H I N G

    Is Nuts.

    If you’d care to postulate why some of the more, shall we say, FING POS (D) areas of our great Nation are sucking 3rd World stupid due to evil POS (D) policies and churning out a steady supply of “dead-enders” at the same time president Ohole was importing new ones, that’s fine. It’ll be preaching to the choir, but fine. BUT MAKING IT __________________ (something) sounds like standard POS (D) manipulation [a/k/a: never let a crisis (made by the POS (D) and their minions) go to waste Ballerina Rahm Emmanuel].

    This falling out of the mouth of a ‘psych professional’ makes us want to chuck the whole industry.

    1. avatar Arizona Free says:

      It is interesting the overwhelming number of mass shootings were done by left wing liberals. Accept it, own it, deal with it. Heal thyself.

  6. avatar Defens says:

    The general field of mental health seems to be based on a shaky house of cards of assumed behaviors and interactions. Psychiatrists probably know that their practices are based on BS, but are in denial (see what I did there?) about it. It’s much easier to just disarm the entire population than say, DO THEIR JOB, and identify the nut cases at risk for hurting themselves or others – but as he just admitted, psychiatry is basically a bullshit pseudo-science, and you can’t really hold the practitioners accountable for actually doing anything useful.

  7. avatar BLoving says:

    Heh.
    I majored in psychology, y’know what was so easy about it? I could spout darned near any BS babble in a paper and get an “A” on it as long as I could explain that it reflected a subjects true feelings. 🤠

  8. avatar WI Patriot says:

    “Psychiatrist: “Making Gun Violence About Mental Health Is Nuts”

    OH, okay, well we know violence is linked to liberalism, and liberalism IS a mental disorder, so…

  9. avatar TommyJay says:

    I am perfectly willing to be convinced that psychoactive drugs do not cause suicide-spree-killing events. But someone will have to collect and present the data to me first. I do know that many of these drugs in the stomach of young men like Holmes and Lanza DO cause an increase in suicide “ideation” that increases even further, for a time, when they go off the drug.

    It doesn’t seem to be a factor in old farts like Paddock.

  10. avatar little horn says:

    the entire field of psychology is bullshit anyways. its not scientific in any way. its not reproducible or peer reviewable. you just have to take the Docs word for it. even a lot of what Freud “discovered” is hugely debated. personally i think Freud was a complete and utter pervert. no telling how many patients he molested while hypnotized.

    1. avatar Grumpy says:

      BS.

      First, you need to understand the difference between psychology and psychiatry, totally different fields and approaches.

      Next you need to review the 100’s of peer reviewed journals in the field. A quick review of Medscape or other online source might help you. There is actually some really good science there, that follows the scientific method, can be replicated, etc…

      There is also lots of personal opinion and agendas mixed in, clinical studies with absurdly small samples. etc… A well read person will most likely come to the conclusion that the issue is that the mind is very complex with an unknown number of variables. We can see some cause and effect, but we don’t know enough to predict with any accuracy on an individual basis not determine root cause of many sick bastards.

  11. avatar Jonathan-Houston says:

    So he throws his entire profession under the bus for being ineffective in these cases, then with scientific-sounding certainty makes pronouncements as to the culpability of politicians, the legal system, and even of guns themselves in contributing to mass shootings.

    He should have his examined.

  12. avatar BierceAmbrose says:

    Professor — In politics, someone who thinks declaring their discipline useless in addressing an issue, feels this empowers them to prescribe how other domains of which they are ignorant should address it.

    In their defense they have a surplus of both irrelevance and ignorance.

  13. avatar Slab Rankle says:

    Let’s not forget the one industry that’s most responsible for making violence glamorous and cool: Entertainment.

    Between the big screen, the small screen, and music, there has been such a grotesque debasement of our culture that such atrocities are, as I said, glamorous and cool. Ditto for ordinary “Chicago style” street crime.

    As for the psychiatric profession, the only difference between them and witch doctors is that by comparison witch doctors are harmless phonies.

  14. avatar Anymouse says:

    Talking about mass shootings is completely ignoring the root issues. We have nuts in our population who want to kill as many people as possible, often random strangers, in mass killings. The method isn’t the problem. Wave a magic wand to make all guns disappear, and these people won’t suddenly decide they don’t want to kill people. The guns aren’t controlling their minds. These people aren’t stupid, and several have been extraordinarily intelligent. They’ll figure out another way to kill lots of people. In Europe, we’ve seen people use large trucks to kill 50% more people than at Mandalay Bay (86). The Happy Land arson in 1990 in the Bronx killed a similar number (87). Oklahoma City bombers doubled the number (168). Few have resorted to hazardous materials, but there’s potential to increase casualties by another magnitude.

    1. avatar M1Lou says:

      Don’t forget the German Wings pilot that purposefully crashed his plane and killed 150 people.

  15. avatar Bob Watson says:

    I have worked as a self-employed computer consultant for the past 20 years. Most of my customers are mental health professionals, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers and a variety of Counselors and Therapists. My observation is, generally, they are well adjusted, pleasant people who are entirely convinced of their own intellectual and moral superiority. Additionally, they are astonishingly inept when it comes to the use of tools, mechanical or electronic.

    Outside of their area of “expertise”, they are like idiot children in adult bodies cruising through life on a thick cushion of cash. It is not necessary for them to know anything, learn anything or do anything for themselves if they can hire someone else to do it for them.

    Their pronouncements on public policy, criminal law or any matter outside of their profession have no more value than the whining of a developmentally delayed four-year old.

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      The intellectual smugness and arrogance of academia puts the mental health professionals to shame. In this vein I present Doctor Simon Chapman of NSW University Medical Faculty and “Adjunct Professor” Alpers. Both star members of Gun Control Australia and every journalist has them on speed dial for their pearls of wisdom.

      It should be noted an “Adjunct Professor” has little to no formal qualifications but someone thinks their experience elevates them to their lofty position. Often after much lobbying, or butt kissing. In the case pf Alpers, it is something to do with statistics.

  16. avatar W says:

    Crazy? You forgot the Navy Yard shooter (reported by Newport PD to the Navy as hearing voices). You also didn’t mention the Va Tech psycho (selective mutism). In Austin, Charles Whitman had a brain tumor, but a shrink told him that he was fine. He may have said, “all american boy.” Loughner was a psycho (paranoid schizophrenic). UCSB shooter was on ripseridone (schizophrenia).

    But you know, it’s best not to point fingers at any shrinks when their wards go postal. Doing so would make the shrinks feel bad or fear lawsuits.

  17. avatar Mark N. says:

    Distilled, his opinion amounts to this: “We can’t predict who will go off the rails and kill a bunch of people, so it is up to politicians to ban guns instead.”

  18. avatar Doesky2 says:

    I’m of the opinion that the main reason people go into psychology is to figure out what is wrong with themselves. Most of them are too damaged to figure it out yet alone being able to help a patient.

  19. avatar Bubba Watson says:

    Humans are violent animals. Guns make little difference in the level of violence as is proven by the fact that big populous crazy states California and Texas have vastly different gun laws but the same murder rate. Where there’s a will, there will always be a way.

    1. avatar Chris says:

      There’s the comment I was looking for, it’s a shame I had to scroll down this far to find it. The simplest explanation is that you can’t outlaw idiocy and criminal behavior. Guns are tools, and like all tools have their uses, both good and bad. Personal responsibility is a big thing that seems to be drifting by the day, in the end we’re only responsible for ourselves.

  20. avatar Kendahl says:

    Rather than confine violent criminals in prison and the dangerous mentally ill in hospitals, he would turn all of society into a combination prison and mental hospital. This is a great deal for government. The money they would otherwise have to spend on prisons and hospitals can go to politically advantageous handouts. It’s also a great deal for criminals who will not be held accountable for their crimes. It’s a bad deal for the mentally ill who will go without treatment and for the rest of us who will be helpless victims of the criminals and the crazies.

  21. avatar MLee says:

    In other words, we shrinks can’t do diddly squat about the mentally ill, so, to get us off the hook and blame something else, it’s guns. Trust me, it’s guns.

    Well Dr. Metzl go figure out what’s wrong with Shannon Watts and get back to us. Because other than that, I don’t care what you say, think or do.

  22. avatar joetast says:

    How’s this for the shit. A person I know very well, could not pass 4473 because of mental health. He was having m problems, family called M health, they OK’d him, back to his residence, 3 months later he kills roommate with machete. He’d didn’t need a gun.

    1. avatar Big Bill says:

      I’m not taking you to task, just saying you forgot to tell us if your friend was remanded to a mental health facility by order.
      If not, and barring any other disqualifying factors, he could have passed no problem.

  23. avatar Darkman says:

    Mental illness has very little to do with murder or mass murder. I’ve know people who are certified crazy with paperwork. Have never hurt anyone or anything. Kind.giving and hard working who just want a good life. I know people who are crazy as hell and don’t know they are. Some get by on medication and some talk it out. None of them have ever shown signs of anger or violence. The factor that makes the difference is evil. Very few murderers even mass murderers are crazy in any form of the diagnosis. They are generally intelligent with the ability to think and plan out their attacks. They often have a grudge or an axe to grind against someone or some group. They know they will most likely die. In their own minds that is a small price to pay for the completion of their mission. To remove the problem and right the wrong. Vengeance is strong when one feels slighted.People sometimes just get fed up with the shit and don’t care anymore. Nothing crazy just fed up. Mix in a little anger and a touch evil revenge and you gut yourself a murder/mass murder. No crazy, No mental problem. Just evil incarnate. Whether wth a gun,a car. a plane,a knife or with bare hands. It’s simply an act of evil. Not Crazy. KEEP YOUR POWDER DRY

  24. avatar Anonymous says:

    Yes, well, in the cases his paper references — Newtown spree killer Adam Lanza and Aurora mass murderer James Holmes — both killers were clearly crazy and known to mental health professionals. In fact, Holmes’ psychiatrist was so concerned about her patient’s [freely admitted] desire for violence she had him ejected from school.

    Don’t forget crazy Cho at Virginia tech. Or the workplace violence guy.

  25. avatar James says:

    Well I’m sure you know more about mental health issues than a trained psychiatrist, so please do go on.

    1. avatar joetast says:

      Does a trained psychiatrist do tricks or does it just sit there and wag it’s tail?

    2. avatar AE says:

      @ James he is not an epidemiologist, and since he has routinely made objectively false statements (gun murder has risen in a generation, when it has plummeted) what kind of expert is he at all?

  26. avatar Steve says:

    I do not own any assault rifles. However I do own a modern sporting rifle. Also I own a AR-15 for self-defense. I’m trying to think — if an assault rifle is used for self-defense. Is it still an assault rifle ??

    1. avatar joetast says:

      It’s a defensive rifle assault. ……….You should see a trained psychiatrist….. They salivate when you ring a bell

      1. avatar Darkman says:

        Actually it is an Anti Assault weapon.

  27. avatar cisco kid says:

    The real facts are that any criminal that just walked out of prison or any nut case (the latest mass murder) who just walked out of mental institution can simply go to the nearest gun show and buy all the weapons and high capacity magazines he wants no questions asked. This is pure insanity. All other civilized nations have vetted all gun purchases long ago as well as requiring safe storage to prevent theft and accidental child shootings which amount to over 10,000 a year which includes maiming’s and deaths. http://www.msnbc.com/the-last-word/the-toll-gun-violence-children

    True the latest nut case did not go to a gun show but if the Neanderthals in the U.S. Military had done their jobs and fed his record into the data base it would have made no difference as he simply after being denied would have bought an assault rifle out on the street or at the nearest gun show showing the insanity of living in the U.S. of Hey which has become the Nation of Right Wing Fanatics who put unrestricted gun ownership over the lives of the Nations people and even their children of whom over half were the victims in the latest example of mass murder and pure insanity in the U.S.

    Its interesting to note that when the Ignorant Right Wing Hill people scream about mass shootings in other Nations they conveniently ignore the fact that they have way less of them and when they do have them its almost always not private citizens that do the deeds (like in the U.S.) but the people who do them are sponsored by foreign governments that give them money and weapons which are out and out acts of war. Now there is the difference the Fanatics on the Far Right ignore every time.

    1. avatar Darkman says:

      Started stop. Had good rhythm. Then the facts(sic) started. MSNBC you got to be kidding me. 10,000 child shootings a year. Son you need help and a serious history lesson. Please take the time to research DER STURMER and compare it to your MSNBC,CNN,and other MSM outlets. Same Tactics…Same Objective.

    2. avatar Ad Astra says:

      So you accord ISIS and Al Quiedia the status of legitimate goverments.

  28. avatar Anonymous says:

    This trained psychiatrist is telling us that murder isn’t about psychology, it’s about the presence/existence of a gun. Which is retarded. Absolutely retarded.

  29. avatar Crabbyoldguy says:

    Freud was wrong. Has the entire field recovered yet?

  30. avatar EPoch270 says:

    I wonder if this “Dr.” would be ok if he was on a flight with a tow truck driver and the tow truck driver insisted on flying the plane. I mean driving a tow truck is just like flying a plane.

  31. avatar Durask says:

    You know what they say about psychiatry in medical school…

    Who goes into psychiatry? Lazy or crazy.

  32. avatar Rich M says:

    Our Society / Culture IS to blame. We are a “GOOD” people who have stopped teaching our children the principals and values that make us a “good” people.
    1) The 10 Commandments
    2) Golden Rule
    3) Personal Responsibility
    4) FEAR OF GOD.

    Someone famous and important once said, “We are only 1 generation away from losing our freedom as a nation.” He said it because he knew that unless we instilled “Goodness” into our children, they wouldn’t understand what was being lost.

    The whole self-governing democratic republic model set up by the founders and secured by the Constitution and Bill of Rights only works for a good people.

    History recorded that Ben Franklin emerged from the Constitutional Convention and was asked by a woman citizen, “What have you gotten for us?”. Franklin replied, “A Republic, Madam if you can keep it.”

    If our people stop being good people, we don’t deserve this republic and we will not be able to keep it. Guns have nothing to do with it. Doing the right thing. Being good to one another. Taking personal responsibility for our actions. Fearing that God will not look favorably on us when we are judged at life’s end. These things, the lack of them within us, have everything to do with it.

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