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

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  •  I see your point here (1+ / 0-)
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    but I have very strong views on mental health in the U.S., first and foremost, and I am going to take this a step further and state expressly that it's not right to use the broad header of "mental health" in this case because that does lead to a stigma. Fault the DSM for this or the Psychiatric industry, but for whatever reason, thought disorders -- including organic thought disorders -- which create disorganized or delusional thinking are lumped in with garden variety issues like generalized anxiety or seasonal depression. I think this is because the United States has stopped attending to a very specific set of psychiatric conditions which require more than just a Prozac prescription and a "see you in six weeks."

    Frankly, the U.S. is terrified of in-patient care for people with thought disorders, and given the gross history of abuse of these facilities and the failure of the 1963 Act to remedy these clinics as was originally meant to happen, followed by Reagan's economic gutting of these services entirely in the 80's, we are not in a good place.

    We have no psychiatric emergency services to speak of. We have a prison system which responds to 911 calls for emergency psych services, three day involuntary holds for anyone who meets a slender set of criterion in decaying facilities which are archaic, and people with psychosis are essentially left without a safety net.

    Now, combine that with a country with lax gun laws.

    And with stigmas against mental illness in general.

    There's a "hand's off" approach. Which is unethical. In Ms. Lanza's case with her son, she could afford to place him into a private facility, but she could not have done so without his consent, which apparently she was legally seeking or had already obtained. I want more on that.

    There's no question about why we have mass murders at the rate that we do. Here, we can look to historical data: undertreated, misdiagnosed, or ignored psychotic-type thought-disorders + mental health social stigma + ease of gun access + societies which value personal freedoms above all else = mass murderers. Something like that. You can move down the line basically from Manson to Klebold and Harris to Loughner to look at this. For whatever reason, I've always found it of interest.

    Granted, these are the outliers. The mass of gun violence occurs in the context of domestic disputes, burgleries, or are drug related. The first two could be disputed to not be premeditated, by and large, and committed by sane people. The latter is probably in a class of its own. The latter two are often interrelated. As I've not a clue how to stop domestic disputes or other interpersonal homicides like those which are "gang related" or happen during bar brawls, those which happen when so-and-so-caught-so-and-so-sleeping-with-so-and-so, I am not able to comment on these. But mass murders, psychosis-related violence, and drug-related violence each have their own sets of answers which would go a long way toward solving them, and guns are only one aspect of each of these. They are, to be clear, an aspect. Ignoring the full spectrum of the problem is deleterious because it really is negligent to do that when these issues are largely preventable.

    It is the outliers which gain the most media attention though, and which often involve the most brutal cases, like killing twenty children in cold blood.

    Stigma only occurs if the media perpetuates this without a counternarrative. While trying to offer mental health solutions, one ought to also support mental health destigmatization efforts AND explain the glaring difference between a kid with Asperger's and someone with a fulminant psychotic breakdown. The public is capable of understanding the difference. Most people are a little mentally ill or know someone who is these days ;) But most people don't know what a break with reality looks like as readily. And it sure doesn't look like it should be treated with a little SSRI.

    Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

    by mahakali overdrive on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 11:22:13 AM PST

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    •  I also have very strong views on mental health (2+ / 0-)
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      mahakali overdrive, rubyr

      I spent my adolescence living on the grounds of a psychiatric institution where my mother was the resident social worker. I've know many people with variants of mental illness and personality disorder.

      Like most health care services, there's clearly no doubt that the US needs more accessible mental healthcare. But that is, with all due respect, a distraction from the issue I'm focusing on here.

      To put it bluntly; If mental illness were the key factor in multiple gun homicides, other countries would regularly experience similar acts of carnage. But they don’t.

      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 11:46:09 AM PST

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