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View Diary: Stop Blaming Newtown Tragedy On Mental Illness (301 comments)

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  •  I have a problem (14+ / 0-)

    With the basic premise.

    If mental illness is not to blame for mass shootings (or individual murders), then the inevitable corrolary is that murder is the sort of thing that is expected of normal, well-adjusted people.

    So, unless you are going to argue that murdering innocent people is what mentally healthy people do, it pretty much means these actions are the province of mental illness. Not all types by any means, if that is what the author was getting at, but mental illness nonetheless.

    •  There is a difference between mental illness (4+ / 0-)

      and mental disorder. There is a reason that 'insane' has a specific legal definition.

      What these spree killers are, is evil; I say that not to invite a superficial condemnation of evil or that we sprinkle holy water upon them, but good and evil are never hard to define; they're only difficult to apply sometime.

      Evil. Noun. Something which is intended solely to cause significant social harm as defined by either the intent of the perpetrator or the consensus of the society in which he or she lives.

      It's a social construct, so it has meaning, and it deserves to be used in this way. This doesn't mean we just write these people off as irredeemable; it might be time to put to use the redemption conceit which is central to all evangelical (I use the word non-pejoratively here) religions: Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, Mahayana Buddhism, Bhakti Yoga, etc.

    •  You don't understand the definition... (12+ / 0-)

      ...of mental illness, and you seem to extend the burden of proof for an insanity plea to anyone who commits a serious crime.

      What I'm saying is quite clear cut: there is no international correlation between the incidence of mental illness and the degree of mass gun deaths.

      The Fall of the House of Murdoch -with Eric Lewis and all the latest Leveson evidence out now!

      by Brit on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 05:10:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you so much for this article. (4+ / 0-)

        I read it last night on the Daily Beast with great relief. I have been making many of the same arguments as David Barlow here at dKos. Unfortunately many here bandy about terms such as insanity and mental illness that they clearly do not understand and promote false information correlating psychological disorders with increased violence with no factual basis.

        If this is to remain a reality based community, it is imperative we accept facts that conflict with are strongly held beliefs. This article is a good step in that direction.

        It's the Central Limit Theorem, Stupid!

        by smartdemmg on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 06:00:36 AM PST

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      •  I think that there is a correlation between (5+ / 0-)

        the lack of treatment and services that the mentally ill suffer without this country.

        Our jails are filled with people who are mentally ill.

        There's no other place to put them anymore; and that approach only perpetuates the problem.

      •  Then, what IS the definition (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn, fuzzyguy

        of mental illness?  and how is the mental health profesion's definition of mental illness different from the legal definition in trials when NGRI (not guilty by reason of insanity) is invoked?  And what other terms do we need to use to talk about people who seem to have mental health problems?  Disorder, mental health problems, emotional problems, etc...
        And what are the links to the authorities for these definitions?

        I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

        by Satya1 on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 07:22:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Taken from Nat'l All. on Ment. Illness: (4+ / 0-)
          A mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.
          Mental disorders aren't 'strict' but are usually used to indicate a much lesser degree of impairment. NGRI or GBMI (Guilty but Mentally Ill) requires that someone have such a high degree of impairment that they are incapable of appreciating the criminality of their actions or that they are incapable of controlling their actions.
          •  Thanks (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mahakali overdrive, Brit

            Actually I kind of knew the answer but I wanted to impress upon the author that some of the language might help the diary.

            The fact is that "mental illness" is defined in different ways depending on what source one checks or the context one is asking from.  And all the other terms we hear, some found in the DSM-III, some in the DSM-5, are evolving or are imprecise and confusing.

            Here at DK we will do much better if we provide clear definitions to them when we discuss them.

            My spouse works in a high security hospital and her patients are there due to NGRI findings after they killed people.  Schizophrenia and depression are the most common culprits.  I also worked in a psych hospital for a few years, so I have some sense of this area.

            I get the author's main point.  The problem is the ready availability of guns in our culture.  I agree with that.  Yet I think our society's ignorance and neglect of mental health issues is both obfuscating that and compounding the problem.  I think we have to talk about it.

            Liza Long's article was a tragic joke.  Among other things, she didn't provide a diagnosis or any test information on her apparently twice exceptional child.  It only makes conversations harder.  I saw it get pushed by MSN even.

            The shooter seems to have had an undiagnosed illness or disorder that possibly compounded the danger.  We still need to understand how to talk about that.  This diary was a good start.

            I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

            by Satya1 on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 10:25:17 AM PST

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        •  My understanding (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Satya1

          is that the legal definition of insanity is that one is unable to distinguish the difference between right and wrong.  Thefore, some sociopaths, for example, are what society may consider insane, but would not legally considered such, as many of them DO understand what actions are generally considered right or wrong, but as they lack empathy, they simply don't care.

          And I find your lumping it all together kind of offensive, frankly, as it implies that my social anxiety disorder makes me just as dangerous as someone with antisocial personality disorder may be.

          •  That seems like a good definition to me for NGRI (0+ / 0-)

            I'm surprised you take offense.  You're misunderstanding my comment.  Other folks like Lisa Long are doing the lumping while condemning people (her own son...).  Unsorting some of the language is what some of us are urging to avoid the ignorant generalizations you're talking about.

            I'm just asking the question about how we're going to get clear definitions since we talk about mental health issues at DK:

            And what other terms do we need to use to talk about people who seem to have mental health problems?  Disorder, mental health problems, emotional problems, etc...
            And what are the links to the authorities for these definitions?

            I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

            by Satya1 on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 10:41:54 AM PST

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      •  I'm sorry, but anyone who kills 26 people (0+ / 0-)

        and then kills himself IS mentally ill.

        I don't give a flying FUCK if they're diagnosed as such, but they're sick in the head.

        Obviously other people with mental illness shouldn't be blamed or shunned because of this shooting, but claiming Adam Lanza isn't sick in the head is ridiculous.

        Disorder.  Illness.  Splitting hairs.

        While 20 kids are being buried.


        "A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and bulbous..........got me?" - Don Van Vliet

        by AlyoshaKaramazov on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 08:49:25 AM PST

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    •  thank you (3+ / 0-)

      massacres like sandy hook are, by definition, not sane behavior.  not rational behavior.  mentally well people just don't up and do that sort of thing after breakfast.

      Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

      by Cedwyn on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 07:35:20 AM PST

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      •  Nor do many (0+ / 0-)

        mentally "unwell" people.

        In fact, how are you defining "well" or "unwell?"  I have Social Anxiety Disorder, which is technically a mental disorder or mental illness, depending on the terminology you would prefer to use.  

        So unless you're seriously implying that someone with an anxiety disorder, like myself, is just as likely to be violent as someone with something more serious (though even the majority of them are unlikely to be violent toward anyone but themselves), then yes, we do need to stop saying "mental illness" is the cause of these things, especially when using it as a blanket term.

        •  of course not (0+ / 0-)

          "mental wellness" is used as a blanket term precisely because there is a range.

          no one is saying that everyone with social anxiety is liable to snap like this.

          but it cannot be argued that stable people do these kinds of things.

          Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

          by Cedwyn on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 10:28:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, but (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Brit

            the vast majority of "unstable" or "mentally ill" people would never dream of doing something like this.  That's my point.

            So just saying "Well, he was clearly unstable" doesn't explain why he did it, any more than saying "he had Asperger's" does.  The instability may or may not have been a contributing factor, but even if it was, there had to have been something else too.

            I think there's also a discussion to be had about what is considered "stable."  As discussed elsewhere here, the definition of "insane" by legal standards depends on one's ability to tell right from wrong.  So does someone with a mental illness who can still make that distinction count as unstable?

    •  Are you arguing that committing murder (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vacantlook, Brit, LilithGardener

      is de facto evidence of mental illness?  That argument would lead to a legal system where every murderer is not guilty by reason of insanity.
      It would mean that a person who is clinically psychotic and unable to distinguish reality from fantasy has no more protection under the law than the person who decides that the music is too loud and shoots up a car full of kids.

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