Thomas Szasz: Cho Enabler?

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It was probably inevitable that someone would take a whack at Thomas Szasz in the wake of the VT killings. Ladies and gentlemen, Jonathan Kellerman's essay about how 1970s crazies "shut down the asylums" and created a mental health crisis.

The libertarians were fueled by Thomas Szasz, an iconoclastic psychiatrist who was, and remains, an outspoken foe of virtually every aspect of his chosen specialty. Hungarian-born in 1920, and witness to vicious state exploitation of medical practice by the Nazis and the communists, Dr. Szasz pushed an absolutist dogma of individual choice, finding ready converts among members of the Do-Your-Own-Thing generation. Though his early essays offered much-needed critiques of the Orwellian nightmares that can result when autocracy corrupts health care, Dr. Szasz devolved into something of a psychiatric Flat-Earther, insisting in the face of mounting contrary evidence that mental illness simply does not exist. Currently, he serves on a commission, cofounded with the Church of Scientology, that purports to investigate human rights violations perpetrated by mental health professionals.

Sounds like a crazy person, right? Kellerman, in his wisdom, suggests the return of long-term involuntary committment.

If the Virginia Tech shooter had been locked up for careful observation in a humane mental hospital, the worst-case scenario would've been a minor league civil liberties goof: an unpleasant semester break for an odd and hostile young misanthrope who might've even have learned to be more polite. Yes, it's possible confinement would've been futile or even stoked his rage. But a third outcome is also possible: Simply getting a patient through a crisis point can prevent disaster, as happens with suicidal people restrained from self-destruction who lose their enthusiasm for repeat performances.

This is the psychiatrist's version of the Derbyshire gambit—if only the people around Cho had behaved exactly as I would have behaved, this tragedy could have been snuffed out! Except that Derbyshire wasn't arguing for the return of Bedlam. Kellerman does aver a little bit at the end of his piece ("Given the excesses of the past–husbands committing troublesome wives, involuntary sterilization of those judged defective–extreme caution is warranted."), which dilutes the impact (and the point) of his Szasz-bashing.

Worth reading: Jacob Sullum's long Szasz interview from 2000.

NEXT: Parasiris Granted Bail

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  1. “This is the psychiatrist’s version of the Derbyshire gambit – if only the people around Cho had behaved exactly as I would have behaved, this tragedy could have been snuffed out!”

    Uh, no, it’s the psychiatrist’s version of the Reason gambit – if only those muddle-headed do-gooders hadn’t passed those dumb laws, someone would have been able to Take This Guy Down.

  2. “…1970s crazies “shut down the asylums” and created a mental health crisis.”

    Hmmm. This sounds vaguely familiar.

    _________

    “If the Virginia Tech shooter had been locked up for careful observation in a humane mental hospital….”

    Yes, of course; be sure and get back to us when you work out an iron-clad definition of “humane,” won’t you?

  3. Wow, this Kellerman guy sounds like a major elitist asshole.

  4. What an idiot is Kellerman.

    “…the worst-case scenario would’ve been a minor league civil liberties goof.” This is only a minor goof if it is not you who it happens too…

    And if we had 32 (or would it take 3200) folks unecessarily locked up, possibly made worse or better, but either way deprived of liberty for some time and stigmatized for life (remember all those watch lists) – would that be enough to clamor for Szasz type reforms?

    If everybody were constantly monitored and involuntarily hospitalized at the first sign of a “threat” I am sure some shootings would be prevented. The armed insurrection that inevitably results would probably take more lives overall though….not to mention the cost to those hospitalized by “minor civil liberty goofs” along the way.

  5. Involuntary Commitment still happens all the time, and it’s not really a big deal.

    My sister-in-law tried to kill herself about a year ago; they locked her up for a couple days and sent her home. She tried again, so they locked her up for a couple weeks this time. When she got out, she was past the “crisis” and has been fine ever since. Without the commitment, she’d probably be dead.

    Cho was clearly nuts, and should have been locked up.

  6. In the early 1970s a group of people voluntarily admitted themselves to mental hospitals in various locales throughout the U.S. Most of them were mental health professionals of some sort. Upon entry they began to tell their new wards they were indeed sane. No one believed them. Indeed, their actions – such as notetaking – were interpreted as signs of their insanity. To get out they had to pretend to be insane and also pretend to get better. The findings from these efforts were publish in a paper (see the link below for a link to that paper) – it caused some consternation. Indeed, one of the hospitals where these events occurred demanded that they be sent new pseudo-patients so they could show how well they could identify them. Some months later the hospital claimed that they had identified a certain number of pseudo-patients. It turns out that none had been sent to the hospital.

    If they same thing were done today, that is eight individual psuedo-patients voluntarily committing themselves, how many of these psuedo-patients would be identified?

    I blogged about this here.

  7. As big a fan as I am of the alternate view on topics, I find Reason’s faves a bit odd.

    This week it is

    Szasz = good.

    R. Carson = bad.

    Szasz sees a problem with mental health practice and says “there is no mental illness.”

    Carson sees a problem with pesticides and attempts to change attitudes from “spray to the limit of your capacity” to “spray as little as you possibly can.”

    I would respect Szasz a lot more if his position had ended up looking more like Carson’s. And if he were willing to change his position based on new evidence, that would be even better.

  8. Grotius,

    You may find this interesting.
    http://www.dsm5.org/index.cfm

    In particular you should read the white papers to see how the profession is struggling with how to make diagnosis a more empirically driven endeavor.

    A summary of the white papers,
    http://dsm5.org/whitepapers.cfm

  9. Neu Mejican,

    I think one of the most significant problems with the mental health profession is that it has medicalized “normal” human emotions.

  10. I’ve read one of Kellerman’s lousy novels, and I think maybe he should check himself into a padded room.

  11. The problem with civil commitment is that it lasts as long as the appropriate experts think there’s a problem. Also, if someone poses a threat, whether he can be committed depends on whether his behavior can be assigned into some psychiatric category.

    Why not do some research on the old common-law device of the peace bond? If someone’s engaging in threatening behavior – regardless of his degree of mental health or lack thereof – require that he post bond and find sureties for his law-abiding behavior.

    Based on the research on the actual operation of the peace-bond system, did it trample on civil liberties? I am not familiar with the evidence, but I’d be interested in knowing.

  12. And if he were willing to change his position based on new evidence, that would be even better.

    What evidence would that be?

    Szasz has a strict definition of “illness”. I’ve never seen him be unwilling to acknowledge that people are wired differently. My understanding is that he simply refuses to classify those differences as “illnesses”.

  13. I don’t like the way Kellerman calls out those who make diagnoses from a distance, but than does the same thing.

    Other than the shooting, what evidence has been presented that Cho was a psychotic who would have been committable anyway?

    I haven’t seen any claims that he had delusions or heard voices.

    You have to do a bit better than “asocial mutism” and general hostility.

    The tapes [what little has been shown] make him seem pissed off, but not necessarily crazy. The whole “You made me do this,” bit could be exaggerated into paranoia, but don’t most violent people find a way to claim that their violence is their victims’ fault?

    You have to come up with a better plan than locking up all antisocial and hostile people before I’ll sign on. Shrinks examined this guy and let him go. On what basis would Kellerman do any different? Other than general weirdness?

    And I also don’t think we should take peoples’ civil rights, including the right to buy a weapon, away because Kellerman thinks their anger is irrational. “Irrational anger” always ends up defined as “anger I don’t personally agree with”, and that’s just not enough.

  14. How about this idea, this is a really tough problem that is not all one sided. Yeah, it was wrong what went on back in the day when people were sterilized and innocent people were locked up. No one would want to go back to that. But, that doesn’t mean Szazs wasn’t a nut himself. There really are mentally ill people out there who cannot help themselves. They are all over America’s cities living in total filth and misery. Go look at the homeless population in any major city and you will find loads of serverly mentally ill people, who would be better off committed. Some of the mentally ill like Cho are downright dangerous. What do you want? Do you want to go back to the old days or a more humane version of the old days and lock people like Cho up before they harm someone but risk innnocent people getting locke up or do you want to have what we have now where few innocent people are locked up but 1000s of mental patients live on the streets unable to help themselves and the occasional Cho is able to do some real damage.

    It is not an easy question to answer. But, people like Weigel shouldn’t sit around and pretend that the current system is not without costs. Maybe those costs are worth paying. Take that up with the familieis of the victims in Blacksburg. Maybe they are not but they sure as hell are there.

  15. “What evidence would that be?”

    Well that would be a longer post than I am willing to get into…but many conditions classed as mental illness (e.g., depression, schizophrenia) currently meet his stated criteria for “illness,” and yet he continues to hold that they are not illness.

  16. Can the mental health community properly indentify the people we apparently need to involuntarily commit?

    Can it ‘cure’ them?

  17. Can the mental health community properly indentify the people we apparently need to involuntarily commit?

    Sometimes.

    Can it ‘cure’ them?

    Practically never. All it can do is lock them up in a hopefully humane setting and try to make them comfortable. Basically, if you are mentally ill, the chances are pretty slimt that you will ever get better. It happens but not as much as it doesn’t. It is really tragic.

  18. Well that would be a longer post than I am willing to get into…but many conditions classed as mental illness (e.g., depression, schizophrenia) currently meet his stated criteria for “illness,” and yet he continues to hold that they are not illness.

    What exists at present that allows a person to walk into a Dr.’s office and have that Dr. definitively determine “depression” or “schizophrenia”. I’m aware of research that has tracked conditions such as this to brain chemical imbalances and whatnot, but that doesn’t help Joe Psychiatrist make a definitive analysis.

    When DSM-X defines depression as a “level of Y that exceeds Z in the brain, detectable via ABC”, then maybe we’ll be closer to agreeing on the word “illness”.

  19. Grotius,

    This is the Cochrane review of the issue

    “Compulsory community and involuntary outpatient treatment for people with severe mental disorders.

    * Kisely S,
    * Campbell LA,
    * Preston N.

    Department of Psychiatry, Community Health & Epidemiology, Dalhousie University, Room 425, Centre for Clinical Research, 5790 University Avenue, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, NS B3H 1V7. Stephen.Kisely@cdha.nshealth.ca

    BACKGROUND: There is controversy as to whether compulsory community treatment for people with severe mental illnesses reduces health service use, or improves clinical outcome and social functioning. Given the widespread use of such powers it is important to assess the effects of this type of legislation. OBJECTIVES: To examine the clinical and cost effectiveness of compulsory community treatment for people with severe mental illness. SEARCH STRATEGY: We undertook searches of the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group Register to 2003 and Science Citation Index. We obtained all references of identified studies and contacted authors of each included study. SELECTION CRITERIA: All relevant randomised controlled clinical trials of compulsory community treatment compared with standard care for people with severe mental illness. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We reliably selected and quality assessed studies and extracted data. For binary outcomes, we calculated a fixed effects risk ratio (RR), its 95% confidence interval (CI) and, where possible, the weighted number needed to treat/harm statistic (NNT/H). MAIN RESULTS: We identified two randomised clinical trials (total n=416) of court-ordered ‘Outpatient Commitment’ (OPC) from the USA. We found little evidence to indicate that compulsory community treatment was effective in any of the main outcome indices: health service use (2 RCTs, n=416, RR readmission to hospital by 11-12 months 0.98 CI 0.79 to 1.2), social functioning (2 RCTs, n=416, RR outcome ‘arrested at least once by 11-12 months’ 0.97 CI 0.62 to 1.52), mental state, quality of life (2 RCTs, n=416, RR homelessness 0.67 CI 0.39 to 1.15) or satisfaction with care (2 RCTs, n=416, RR perceived coercion 1.36 CI 0.97 to 1.89). However, risk of victimisation may decrease with OPC (1 RCT, n=264, RR 0.5 CI 0.31 to 0.8, NNT 6 CI 6 to 6.5). In terms of numbers needed to treat, it would take 85 OPC orders to prevent one readmission, 27 to prevent one episode of homelessness and 238 to prevent one arrest. AUTHORS’ CONCLUSIONS: Based on current evidence, community treatment orders may not be an effective alternative to standard care. It appears that compulsory community treatment results in no significant difference in service use, social functioning or quality of life compared with standard care. There is currently no evidence of cost effectiveness. People receiving compulsory community treatment were, however, less likely to be victim of violent or non-violent crime. It is, nevertheless, difficult to conceive of another group in society that would be subject to measures that curtail the freedom of 85 people to avoid one admission to hospital or of 238 to avoid one arrest. We urgently require further, good quality randomised controlled studies to consolidate findings and establish whether it is the intensity of treatment in compulsory community treatment or its compulsory nature that affects outcome. Evaluation of a wide range of outcomes should be included if this type of legislation is introduced.”

  20. But who is good enough to replace Jack Nicholson as Randle Patrick McMurphy in the remake of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?

  21. MP,

    The diagnosis of many diseases are fraught with similar difficulties.

    Besides, definitions based on narrow physical markers have different dangers. Sometimes people have the narrow physical sign, but no symptoms. Do we define them as having an illness?

  22. Basically, if you are mentally ill, the chances are pretty slimt that you will ever get better.

    Uh, no. Modern meds are frequently very effective. I certainly would not argue for enforcing their use however.

  23. Besides, definitions based on narrow physical markers have different dangers. Sometimes people have the narrow physical sign, but no symptoms. Do we define them as having an illness?

    What is the relevance of symptoms? Symptoms are potential indicators, nothing more. If I have a discreet medical condition that’s not presently causing me any harm, it doesn’t mean the condition doesn’t exist.

  24. “How about this idea, this is a really tough problem that is not all one sided.”

    Booooooo!!!!

    😉

    Peace, John.

  25. One of the reasons I like Reason so much is because it chooses to champion people whose philosophies and actions are quite obviously imperfect, instead of putting a person’s entire being on a pedestal. Szasz is one of those characters. Lest we forget that Szasz, for the extremist positions he takes on psychiatry (which I mostly disagree with) was a major advocate for removing homosexuality as an official mental disorder, which, I dunno about you, but I’m rather happy about.

    Few pundits are willing to actually take the reasonable stance of picking and choosing what opinions one supports and those that one does not. To that end, Kellerman is either a fool or a shitty writer.

    Maybe those costs are worth paying. Take that up with the families of the victims in Blacksburg. Maybe they are not but they sure as hell are there.

    Thank you for playing the emotional bait-and-switch game, John. I’ll bite: is the price of not having thousands of people locked up because some doctor “don’t think they is all right up in the head” worth the deaths of 32 people? Ideally, neither would have to happen, but we don’t live in an ideal world, do we? The slope between freedom and security is slippery, indeed…

  26. “What is the relevance of symptoms?”

    If you think that symptoms are not part of a disease, then disease has no meaningful definition.

    That discreet medical condition that is not presently causing you any harm is not a disease until the symptoms manifest. The prognostic sign that the doctor uses to assess your risk of developing the disease should not be confused with the disease itself.

  27. Thanks to this post, maybe we should look again at the Friday Funnies and those bloggers who insist Cho was ‘just nuts”

    Szasz makes us think about whether “just nuts” exists.

    The kid had inner demons, the school passed a bad law, the public school system itself is partly to blame, kids who are “cool” pick on kids who are “geeks”, he was autistic, didn’t get laid, a victim of our post industrial economy, and a self absorbed bad writer.

    But nuts? Nah!

  28. Thank you for playing the emotional bait-and-switch game, John. I’ll bite: is the price of not having thousands of people locked up because some doctor “don’t think they is all right up in the head” worth the deaths of 32 people? Ideally, neither would have to happen, but we don’t live in an ideal world, do we? The slope between freedom and security is slippery, indeed…”

    The price bigger than just Cho. First, how many people do harm that you don’t hear about? If Cho had only killed one or two people we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Second, what about the people who are left to walk the streets unable to help themselves? Are those people better off with their freedom? I don’t see our enlightened society is any better than the Victorians. Yeah, the Victorians locked the mentally ill up under horrible conditions, but that doesn’t sound much better than dumping them off on the street to fend for themselves.

  29. “That discreet medical condition that is not presently causing you any harm is not a disease until the symptoms manifest. The prognostic sign that the doctor uses to assess your risk of developing the disease should not be confused with the disease itself.”

    How does this work in light of the fact that many diseases are asymptomatic?

  30. Again I say; This all happened because the VT English department allowed Cho to believe he was a bright, literate, intelligent human being.

  31. ecimer,

    Truthfully, I think you might be right; the risk to our freedom is greater than the risk of the occasional Cho going bizerk. If that is true though, then people need to accept that fact and stop scapegoating the docs and the judge in this case. You can’t have it both ways.

  32. Yeah, the Victorians locked the mentally ill up under horrible conditions, but that doesn’t sound much better than dumping them off on the street to fend for themselves.

    If the Victorians only locked up those whom we’d call “mentally ill” I’d maybe agree. But they also locked up a lot of people who were not sick, not a danger to themselves or others, but merely different.

    As a former Southern girl child once dragged to therapists in hopes of curing sick tendencies like reading lots of books, I am very glad that such unfeminine behavior is no longer considered grounds for commitment.

  33. I don’t buy into Szasz’s or other hyper-skeptical outlooks towards mental illness (for reasons I can describe if anyone really wants to get into it), but Kellerman is an asshole who is content to and in some cases affirmatively wants to bring back the abuses of yesteryear.

    As he more or less concedes, there is no therapeutic aspect of inpatient psychiatric care that couldn’t be delivered in an outpatient setting. The inpatient aspect exists solely to control the actions of the patient, which can be justifiable when the patient poses a treat to him/herself or others. But that isn’t the standard that Kellerman wants to use – Keller is content to lock up those with whose thoughts are sufficiently “bizarre” or “disabling.”

    Long term inpatient treatment is simply a way to lock up the crazies that psychiatry can’t help effectively so “normal” people don’t have to deal with them. And not only does Kellerman admit it, he embraces it with a smug smile (see his comments on “3-square meals” and trivialization of “warehousing”), he cherry picks information from the VT case to – such as making an evaluation of the patient via news reports and gossip while denying that he is doing so and ignoring the evaluations of the mental health practioners that evaluated Cho directly – to suggest that it would have been averted if we were more enthusiastic about locking up the mentally ill. Asshole.

  34. “As a former Southern girl child once dragged to therapists in hopes of curing sick tendencies like reading lots of books, I am very glad that such unfeminine behavior is no longer considered grounds for commitment.”

    Be glad no one thought you were an addict. I knew lots of people in college whose parents found one joing in their dresser and ended up in years of “rehab” where whenever they told the counselor, “but I only had one joint I never had a drug problem” they were told they were in “denial” and punished. It is interesting that in a day and age when we are so loath to commit the legitimately mentally ill, we are very quick to lock up our kids in the name of stopping thier “addiction”.

  35. Kellerman’s problem, then, is that he completely glosses over what criteria a person should be compared against before being tossed into an asylum.

    That, I think, is the problem with much of the psychiatric community. They haven’t evolved out of the mental equivalent of evaluating diseases based on maladjusted humors.

    Seems to me that if there is a need to take away someone’s freedom because they present a danger to themselves or others, there needs to be a method of doing so that’s at least comparable to a court of law with a judge and jury.

  36. once dragged to therapists in hopes of curing sick tendencies like reading lots of books

    What did the shrinks tell you and/or your parents about that, Jennifer? Just curious.

  37. “As a former Southern girl child once dragged to therapists in hopes of curing sick tendencies like reading lots of books, I am very glad that such unfeminine behavior is no longer considered grounds for commitment.”

    Shenanigans!

  38. Psychiatrists will have to get a lot better at determining who is a danger to others. As to the “danger to themselves” bit, well, I don’t have any problem with suicide.

  39. “What did the shrinks tell you and/or your parents about that, Jennifer? Just curious.”

    Notice she doesn’t mention what the books were. Maybe if we knew that, her parents might not look so bad. The fact that the books in question consisted of the Satanic Bible and the Anarchist Cookbook and Jennifer had a large amount of nitrate fertilizer in her closet might be relevant to the discussion.

  40. Meanwhile, Quentin Tarantino remains at large.

  41. David
    In fairness to Derbyshire he did not say how he “would have” behaved, he said it’s how he hoped he would behave. From his original post:

    “It’s true-none of us knows what he’d do in a dire situation like that. I hope, however, that if I thought I was going to die anyway, I’d at least take a run at the guy.

  42. Meanwhile, Quentin Tarantino remains at large.

    And making increasingly bizarre self absorbed movies.

  43. Notice she doesn’t mention what the books were. Maybe if we knew that, her parents might not look so bad. The fact that the books in question consisted of the Satanic Bible and the Anarchist Cookbook and Jennifer had a large amount of nitrate fertilizer in her closet might be relevant to the discussion.

    No, actually, my mother’s complaint was “she reads the same books over and over again, and it’s sick to read a book when you already know how it’s going to end.” She was also upset that sometimes, when my friends would come over, she’d find us sitting and reading rather than, you know, doing stuff.

    What did the shrinks tell you and/or your parents about that, Jennifer?

    He said, and I quote, “Mmm.” Mom was the one paying the bills, and psychiatric whores know better than to annoy the johns who pay them. At the time I was too young to know that a non-committal “mmm” was psychtalk for “what a bunch of bullshit.” I thought it meant “yes, this is indeed a problem.”

    But he never, ever said “There’s nothing wrong with reading. Leave her the hell alone, stop telling her it’s a problem, and she’ll be fine.”

  44. Let me guess, Jennifer, when your insurance ran out or your parents got tired of paying, you were magically “cured”? That is ussually how it works with most teen therapist hacks.

  45. Still call shenanigans!

    Parents don’t pay good money, even to psycho-whores, because the child is reading unfeminine books. Something else going on.

    Nice try with the dig against Southerners.

  46. No doctor ever got a new Jaguar by saying, “Get out of my office; there’s nothing wrong with you.”

  47. Mediageek,

    “How does this work in light of the fact that many diseases are asymptomatic?”

    Lots of technical issues involved here, but for a disease to be asymptomatic requires that you define “symptom” in a particular way and “disease” in a particular way. If you define “disease” as something along the lines of “has condition X, with X being the presence of some known physical sign associated with outcome Y” then, when Y is not present but X is we can say that patient Z has the disease even though they are asymptomatic. For infectious diseases, progressive diseases, and diseases where condition X and outcome Y are nearly perfectly correlated, this approach makes good sense.

    For diseases where the etiology and the outcome are more loosely associated or conditional on other factors, (or less well understood), then we are better off defining the disease in terms of Y in the presence of X.

    Otherwise you have a problem with over-identification.

  48. If the Virginia Tech shooter had been locked up for careful observation in a humane mental hospital, the worst-case scenario would’ve been a minor league civil liberties goof: an unpleasant semester break

    Involuntary commitment is a variety of imprisonment. Would he be willing to say that locking a college kid up for assault for a few months is “an unpleasant semester break?”

    And does he really think that being involuntarily committed has no ramifications for the rest of your life? It shows up on a background check just like a conviction would.

    Yes, it’s possible confinement would’ve been futile or even stoked his rage.

    Ya think? I’d say that’s a pretty likely outcome, not just a remote possibility.

    But a third outcome is also possible: Simply getting a patient through a crisis point can prevent disaster,

    Cho wasn’t having a bad week; he was having a bad life. Anyone who thinks locking an asocial autistic up for a few months so people can play mind games with him is going to change his outlook on life for the better is an utter fool.

  49. It’s true-none of us knows what he’d do in a dire situation like that. I hope, however, that if I thought I was going to die anyway, I’d at least take a run at the guy.

    Derb’s other, nuttier pronouncements aside, I cannot comprehend the mindset of any man who would not agree with this statement.

  50. Let me guess, Jennifer, when your insurance ran out or your parents got tired of paying, you were magically “cured”?

    Pretty much. I don’t know why everybody keeps whining about how hard it is to find a cure for cancer, when all you have to do is say “Hey, sicky! Your insurance has run out!”

    Parents don’t pay good money, even to psycho-whores, because the child is reading unfeminine books.

    And parents always have their children’s best interests at heart, too. That’s why, if you ever have the urge to read about topics like child abuse, you have to go to the science-fiction section of your local bookstore.

  51. RC Dean

    what you said last. I actually pray that if I am ever in this situ, I will try to disarm the murderer, and if that fails, I will put my own body between the SOB and the stupid cowering liberals who will later talk about how mentally unhealthy the killer was.

  52. of course, I admit that I am not man enough to do so.

  53. wow! OK Jennifer. If you think good parenting is sci-fi, then I really don’t know how to respond. It has always been common in my life.

  54. If you think good parenting is sci-fi, then I really don’t know how to respond.

    I’m guessing your response will be consistent either with that of a troll, or someone with abysmally poor reading comprehension.

  55. Asymptomatic.

    An example: Chlamydia trachomatis.

    This bacteria does not cause any symptoms in 3/4ths of those infected with it. If it never leads to any of the negative outcomes that can be associated with it (pelvic inflammatory disease, chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy, sterility), then is the infection without the negative outcome a disease?

    It is usually consider one because chlamydia trachomatis is very contagious and when passed on to others, has a good chance (1/4) of leading to those negative outcomes.

    Should those who are infected with Chlamydia trachomatis be forced to undergo the simple treatment to lower the risk for others? Even though they may never experience any negative outcomes themselves?

    The issue Kellerman brings up is similar in many ways.

  56. NLLH- Let’s take a look at your premises. You assume, fist off, that Jennifer’s parents must have been rational and had a legitimate basis for concern. Since you don’t know her parents, I can only presume that your supposition is that all parents are rational and act only when there is a legitimate basis of concern. That strikes me as untenable at best. Do I need to draw your attention to the countless examples of parents acting stupidly that one can find with about 2 seconds of research? If that doesn’t work, allow me to point out that parents are humans. Humans are fallible. Therefore, parents are fallible.
    You also seem to assume that Jennifer’s assessment of the shrink as a whore is wrong. Again, since you don’t know this shrink, I can only presume that you find the idea of a shrink being a whore preposterous on its face. And that only works if you think that no shrinks are whores. Again, that premise is just untenable. Do some research here.
    Or just think more carefully. Jennifer hasn’t given us enough info to say yes or no definitively, but given that it’s plausible for a parent to be nuts and a shrink to be a whore, and given that Jennifer seems like a reasonably normal and highly intelligent woman, I put it in the “provisionally accepted” category.

  57. mllh, I mean.

  58. I guess I’m a troll then. Although I admit my reading comprehension is probably horrific.

    I’ve yet to encounter any parent who pays money solely because of unfeminine reading. There has always, in my limited experience, been something else involved.

  59. mllh:
    I’ve yet to encounter any parent who pays money solely because of unfeminine reading. There has always, in my limited experience, been something else involved.

    This is known as the inductive fallacy. An example: every cat I’ve ever seen is gray. Therefore, all cats are gray.

  60. “Jennifer seems like a reasonably normal and highly intelligent woman, I put it in the “provisionally accepted” category.”

    Shenanigans.

    ;^)

    Just kidding.

    Jennifer.
    Did the psych ever diagnosis you with a condition?

    It sounds like your treatment falls into the “voluntary” category. The coercive agents being your parents rather than the state or the psych. Psych provided a service to your parents in line with Szasz’s view of the profession.

  61. Cho wasn’t having a bad week; he was having a bad life. Anyone who thinks locking an asocial autistic up for a few months so people can play mind games with him is going to change his outlook on life for the better is an utter fool.

    I’ll bet Cho heard a lot of “Mmm” and was old enough

    to know that a non-committal “Mmm” was psychtalk for “what a bunch of bullshit.”

    Rather than scapegoating the psychs for not locking Cho up, maybe we should be scapegoating them for pushing him over the edge.

  62. #6

    I do not know Jennifer. I am just making observations based on my own life experience, which is, I might add, extensive.

    I just do not accept her premise as stated. As a rule, parents do not call in pychiatrists for “unfeminine” texts. I am not the only one here who has expressed interest in what those texts were.

    And I hold that, unless there were very unusual circumstances in her “Southern” upbringing, the juvenile Jennifer was probably a problem regardless of what she read.

  63. Anyone who works in a pharmaceutical mental hospital should kill themselves. Or get a new job. The VT guy flipped out because he didn’t get the psilocybin he needed.

  64. #6

    it is not the inductive fallacy

  65. Psych provided a service to your parents in line with Szasz’s view of the profession.

    You don’t know how to read. Szasz says the voluntariness lies with the patient, not the bill payer.

  66. “Parents don’t pay good money, even to psycho-whores, because the child is reading unfeminine books. Something else going on.”

    i call scccccchenanigans on your shenanigans. you’ve never met parents with strange bees in their bonnets?

  67. I tend to go with the idea that Mental Illness is highly over-rated and much more rare than we imagine. On the flip side there are instances when treatment is warranted and some people do much better with drugs than without them.

    It is further interesting to me that when insurance companies stopped paying for weekly shrinking treatments lasting for years on end the shrinks decided they didn’t need to explore every facet of your childhood in excruciating detail in order to cure you. It quickly became a wham-bam thank-you-Ma’am process as it is today.

    And just for the record, it isn’t that fargin’ easy to get somebody locked up for observation in the looney bin. Unless they’ve attempted suicide it is a long and involved process.

    Once locked up there is an up-to-three days for observation. At the discretion of the hospital, that can be extended to 14 days. That’s pretty much it for mandatory lock down without a court intervention.

  68. The VT guy flipped out because he didn’t get the psilocybin he needed.

    33 more victims of the War On Drugs.

  69. I was 6 years old when I was first brought to a child psychologist. In his after-action write up, he noted that I had a very short attention span. His anecdotal evidence for this was…wait for it…I wandered around the office looking at stuff and could not sit still for more than 5 minutes.

    Now, I ask you, what 6 year old sits still for 5 minutes at a time? What 6 year old does not “wander around” checking out his environment?

    Not matter, it was Ritalin for me. The psychologist also recommended that a screen be placed around me in my class-room so I would not be distracted by the other children. Now, I don’t know about you, but something like that is a sure invitation for a playground ass whoppin’, if you know what I mean.

    Fast forward 29 years. I have a fantastic job and am finishing up my own degree in psychology. I am a huge advocate of therapy. Hey, if you need to talk to someone, freaking talk to them. Having read Szasz, I admire his take on private therapy…two consenting adults talking things through. No fuss, no muss.

    I think Jennifer and others taking her point of view hit it spot on. Psychologists, just like every other profession, can be whores. There are good and bad, no doubt. Thankfully, the free market helps a bit in sorting them out.

    However, when you have psychiatrists locking people up on their whim…well, mostly only bad can follow. The free market cannot flush out the difference.

    This is a weird time loop enigma. 33 people would not be dead were Cho locked up. But, then again, how the hell would we know if Cho being locked up would have prevented 33 deaths if they never happened? Weird.

  70. Currently, he serves on a commission, cofounded with the Church of Scientology, that purports to investigate human rights violations perpetrated by mental health professionals.

    How about those perpetrated by Scientologists?

    Associating with known Scientologists is mental illness in my book.

  71. all cats are gray.

    Nice reference to “The Cure”.

  72. Clarification: I wasn’t reading unfeminine books; I was reading books, which are inherently unfeminine. Especially for a pretty child, which I was. Books are for people who can’t find boyfriends, you see.

  73. He said, and I quote, “Mmm.” Mom was the one paying the bills, and psychiatric whores know better than to annoy the johns who pay them.

    strong agree. go, jennifer!

  74. mllh-Yes, your statement is an example of an inductive fallacy. In this case, the problem is that your sample isn’t broad enough or large enough to be meaningful. Also, even valid inductive reasoning must come with a caveat, since some element of doubt is inherent in that type of logic.
    “As a rule based on my experience” does not count as a refutation of Jennifer’s particular case. I’ve been as clear as I can about this. If you still don’t see why your logic is problematic, I can’t help.

  75. Russ 2000

    it’s actually a ref which pre-dates “The Cure” by several centuries. “In der Nacht sind alle Katzen grau.” An old German folk saying.

  76. “Especially for a pretty child, which I was.”

    Why the hell didn’t you just go with it and become a dumb blond? Everyone loves a dumb blond. Who wouldn’t want to be one if they could?

  77. #6, because I offered no conclusions, just suspicions, suggestions, and concerns.

    And don’t even try. Please don’t.

  78. “I call shennanigans” is a conclusion.

  79. mllh,

    Yes, I know. But since we’re talking psychiatry, “The Cure” is a better reference point.

  80. Parents don’t pay good money, even to psycho-whores, because the child is reading unfeminine books. Something else going on.

    Is also a conclusion.

  81. Although if we were to use purely inductive logic, I’d be willing to pit my years of experience, and the years of experience of many, many generations, against Jennifer’s and #6’s very limited experience.

  82. Interesting post on Thomas Szasz and Scientology.

  83. Although if we were to use purely inductive logic, I’d be willing to pit my years of experience, and the years of experience of many, many generations, against Jennifer’s and #6’s very limited experience.

    Ah, arrogance…sweet arrogance.

  84. Russ,

    and perhaps a more musical one.

    Also, I can’t seem to find any legit origin for the German proverb. It just seems to have popped up sometime in the middle ages. Damn Folk Wisdom!

  85. I still want to know what those unfeminine books were.

  86. I still want to know what those unfeminine books were.

    Read my post at 2:41.

  87. After reviewing only a tiny portion of abuses that have and still do occur under banner of “helping other people”, I have absolutely no doubt as to the validity of Jennifer’s story.

    When nine year old girls get murdered by state health workers for gargling milk, I have no problems believing what Jennifer is saying.

  88. On what do you base the assertion that Jennifer and I have limited experience? Or the implication that yours somehow qualifies you to make judgments about what went on in one person’s life?

  89. Small nit, Kellerman is a psychologist not a psychiatrist.

  90. My reading of Szasz and of criticisms of same it that critics usually don’t quite get his pont.

  91. I have nothing to add, except that 98% of the people I have met have been at least 4% insane.

  92. # 6

    I did not, nor do not, make judgements about you or Jennifer’s lives.

    Deductive logic will not tell me that the sun will rise tomorrow. Decades of experience in seeing the sun rise every morning will, however inductively!, tell me that the sun will rise tomorrow. Deductive logic is extremely limited in its scope. Almost everything we “know” (and you may consult Hume about “knowing”) is induced.

    Your obvious defensiveness raises the hairs on the back of my neck. This is the result of human experience. Jennifer’s obvious dislike of psychiatrically-informed (-manipulated?) parenting equally raises the tiny hairs on the back of my neck.

    Experienced, i.e., old, people learn to sense, inductively, things which are unspoken. Anything which is extraordinary to our experience immediately draws our criticism. And since most of human knowledge is derived through induction, it would be wise to consider what those with greater experience suspect.

    Again, I say, “suspect.” I have not drawn any conclusions. I state nothing as fact. But the increasing defensiveness of you and your co-commentator merely reinforce my initial thoughts.

    There is always room for exception, but there is usually something more important than reading going on when a parent springs for a shrink.

    And the names of those books have still not been offered.

  93. “I call shennanigans” is a conclusion.

    My small nitpick:
    That’s a declaration.

  94. And the names of those books have still not been offered.

    Oh, for fuck’s sake. If it makes you feel any better: when my mother went bugshit upon discovering me and my friend Donna reading together rather than playing, I was reading the Trixie Belden book Donna gave me for my birthday.

    No, I don’t remember which specific one.

    Jennifer’s obvious dislike of psychiatrically-informed (-manipulated?) parenting equally raises the tiny hairs on the back of my neck.

    You think I’m wrong to dislike a psychiatrist who would apparently agree with my mother’s assertion that it is sick to read any given book more than once? Do you agree that it is, indeed, sick to read a book when you already know how it’s going to end?

  95. mllh, i admire your dedication to digging deeper regardless of the size of the hole.

    “The VT guy flipped out because he didn’t get the psilocybin he needed.”

    sure, cause there’s nobody who ever did mushrooms and then acted like a selfish fuck or murderous asshole.

  96. It’s not defensiveness, mllh.* It’s irritation at shoddy logic. Your defense of inductive reasoning (and your Hume reference, which does demonstrate that you know what I’m getting at) is nice. But I never said we should toss out inductive reasoning. I did say that inductive conclusions should come with a caveat. (The sun may not rise tomorrow. You don’t know that it will, but you have good reason to think so. OTOH, astronomy and physics provide more than enough evidence to deductively conclude that barring meteor strikes or the spontaneous end of existence, the sun will rise in the morning.) I also said that your reasoning was faulty, and explained myself. You have yet to address my criticisms of your premises.

    Your latest statements about your experience are (here comes another fallacy) an appeal to authority. Such appeals can work, if you can actually speak authoritatively. (If Steven Hawking were to tell me something about Physics,, I’d take him at his word.) But your experience simply does not qualify you to make statements about Jennifer’s life. And your experience certainly does not obviate the tendency of some parents to be nuts or some shrinks to be whores-regardless of how old you are.

    Incidentally, mllh, my experience in life isn’t relevant, since I’m not offering it as a basis for my statements. I would, however, caution you against making unfounded suppositions about what experience I have or don’t have. You simply have no basis for speculation.

  97. … the Derbyshire gambit – if only the people around Cho had behaved exactly as I would have behaved, this tragedy could have been snuffed out!

    Nice misrepresentation. But typical.

    Thanks to this post, maybe we should look again at the Friday Funnies and those bloggers who insist Cho was ‘just nuts”.

    ‘Nuts’ isn’t the same as having a disease. I happened to call him crazy – because he did crazy things, but which, if any, disease contributed to that I have no idea.

  98. Oh for fuck’s sake! You should have been committed for reading such things!

    Jennifer,

    for what it’s worth, I take issue not with the excuse given (and probably very honestly believed) by those who used psych against you.

    I take issue with people who have a hard time dealing with their kids, doctors who are all-too-willing to cooperate, and children who are all-too-willing to blame the medical profession as a whole (or even parents as a whole) because they got screwed.

    I’m sorry if I seemed too hard on you and your cohort.

    PS: I read Marx (I mean, everything!, even Das Kapital–the whole thing, when I was a teenager). My mother still looks at me funny.

  99. # 6

    You’re giving me a headache. If I’m older than you, and I’ll bet I am, then my knowledge of sunrises is more valuable than yours.

    So there! 57 years of authority! 🙂

  100. You are indeed older, mllh. And that’s still not relevant, for the reasons stated above.

    Congratulations on making it for 57 years, though.

  101. Thanks

    Plenty of you young idiots have tried to stop me.

    Anyway, I think I may have lost my train of thought in the course of this thread–I’m still rather upset at the death of Yeltsin–but I hope I have made some sense, at least at some point.

    If I have gone completely mad, then

    screw you babies! In 8 years, you’ll be paying me just for living!

  102. Read my post at 2:41.

    I think he wants titles.

  103. Anyway, I think I may have lost my train of thought in the course of this thread

    Old age, er, experience, will do that to a person.

  104. scratch the above, you read Trixie Belden? More than once?

    I also read Trixie Belden back when I was a little girl. And the Happy Hollisters, and the Hardy Boys.

    And for closers, I still have a mint condition Trixie Belden book….Do I hear twenty bucks? twenty two?

  105. Small nit, Kellerman is a psychologist not a psychiatrist.

    I might add that Kellerman isn’t big on drugging the brain addled either.

  106. FYI, a Google search on “I’m still rather upset at the death of Yeltsin” doesn’t yield a single hit.

  107. my mother’s assertion that it is sick to read any given book more than once?

    Depends on the book. Take the Bible, fer instance.

  108. “screw you babies! In 8 years, you’ll be paying me just for living!”

    subsidizing trolling…shit, i bet those “digital divide” types never considered this as a downside of encouraging internet use!

  109. Professor,

    I believe I read enough posts to make my choice. “mllh” clearly does not pass the Turing Test and is therefore the robot. I’ll have my full report on your desk by Thursday.

  110. Rather than scapegoating the psychs for not locking Cho up, maybe we should be scapegoating them for pushing him over the edge.

    That is a serious problem. Resulted in an attempted murder and some jail time for a chick I knew.

    For years she was as crazy as a pet loon. Her family tried to get her to voluntarily commit. No dice.

    Once she got out of jail she didn’t need any shrinking any more. No more arson, no more stabbings, no more attempted suicides, no more Valium, no more booze. Scared straight I guess you’d call it.

    It was an amazing and near instant transformation.

  111. If the Virginia Tech shooter had been locked up for careful observation in a humane mental hospital, the worst-case scenario would’ve been a minor league civil liberties goof: an unpleasant semester break for an odd and hostile young misanthrope who might’ve even have learned to be more polite.

    Yes, if you locked up this one misanthrope the result would have perhaps been a “minor league civil liberties goof.” But the policy prescription here is to lock them all up. If one person is “minor league,” what does that make 100,000?

    Also, how can you at once say that involuntarily committing Cho would at worst have been a minor civil liberties goof and also say that it might have “stoked his rage”? So, it might have led to, say, 50 dead? That seems like a “worst-case scenario” that is much worse than a mere “civil liberties goof.”

  112. scratch the above, you read Trixie Belden? More than once?

    Actually, that book I only read once. I didn’t much care for it (or Nancy Drew, either).

  113. So would only a Southern parent send their child to a shrink due to their reading choices?

  114. Note: I’m a regular poster who is going anonymous temporarily.

    I was top 10 student in high school. I excelled at several non-sports-related extracurriculars, and while I was nothing like a BMOC, I had a regular circle of friends. Due to a late in the year birthday I was one of the youngest kids in my class, and was a bit of a slow mover in school social circles. Still, by the time I was 17-year-old senior I was attending the occasional party, had downed a beer or two, gotten my learner’s permit and even managed to wangle a prom date with a cute 17-year-old blonde from the junior class. I had gotten to know her from one of my afterschool activities. By the time I had graduated, I was still a virgin, but at least I had kissed a girl.

    I received scholarship offers from nearly every college I applied to. Those schools ranged from some nice, small liberal arts schools to some nationally prestigious universities. I enrolled at what was probably my third choice, a decent enough school that gave me a much nicer financial aid package than the two above it on my list. I would be living more than a day’s drive from home, in a dormitory on campus. I was invited to join the honors program, so, ambitious nerd-boy that I was, I signed up for that. After my first two semesters I had a grade point safely over 3.0, and thought I had the college thing down. I wasn’t getting anywhere with girls, but I hadn’t been trying too hard on that front. Hitting the bars with the guys was plenty fun, and the only extracurriculars I had put myself down for was “binging and booting.”

    In my sophomore and junior years I ran into some trouble. Coursework was getting harder. My honors sections were no longer only in areas where I had a strong background, but in some disciplines I hadn’t had any formal exposure to before. As a high schooler I could attend class, take good notes, do assigned textbook readings, regurgitate facts to please my teachers and lock down an “A.” In my college courses the supplemental reading was as important, if not moreso, than the lectures, and I was not used to putting in the time to keep up with all of it. It wasn’t that I didn’t like to read. I gobbled down non-assigned books on a recreational basis just as I did before I matriculated. My poor time management was seldom a problem in high school, as a last minute burst of effort, combined with my natural ability, had always saved my butt from academic disaster. In college, I was soon to find that was going to be a neater trick to pull off. The demands of written assignments started to trip me up, and I had to plead for extensions, and wound up taking incompletes in some courses until I could get my work in. I dropped one honors class because I felt the workload required for a course outside my major was unrealistic . Eventually the honors program dropped me.

    I made a huge mistake by taking up a couple of extracurricular activities I had participated in in high school. In both cases a pal of mine who found out I had once been so involved talked me into signing up. One group made enormous demands on my time, while the other even required that we travel around our state and spend some weekends away from campus. I went into these with the idea that I’d be studying during the “down periods,” but I wound up pissing that time away. I got quite a bit out of those experiences, but I was really messing up my transcript. Eventually my scholarship was pulled, and I wasn’t making timely progress towards my degree. I wound up having to take some summer courses at another school in order to have some hope of graduating on time, and I didn’t manage to complete all of those.

    When I went back to school for my senior year, it was pretty clear to me that I would have to work like a dog to complete a full load and bring my cumulative average up to something respectable. The pressure weighed on me. I wasn’t able to completely banish my virulent procrastination, and I pulled more than my share of all-nighters before big tests or paper deadlines. We were having a hard winter, and a flu that was spread around college campuses by one of our basketball opponents got me. I had three bouts with it, or something like it, before midterms, and missed a lot of class. A recurring problem I had with sleeping through my alarm clock wasn’t helping me any. I even failed a course in my major when I overslept and missed a final.

    When I visited my family over spring break, I was a wreck. My midterm grades were going to be poor, and the folks, shelling out more for my education than we had planned at its outset, were not going to be happy. I’d already had lectures on buckling down and not wasting my potential, not to mention money. I woke up one morning in tremendous pain, as I had broken out in an awful head-to-toe rash. I had to be rushed to the local emergency room and shot up with some steroid or other. I didn’t have a history of allergic reactions. I never did get a clear diagnosis of what was wrong with me. Maybe I was bitten by a tick or something when I had taken a walk in the woods the previous day. Maybe the Indian blanket that covered my bed that night, a souvenir my brother had brought back from New Mexico, contained some irritant. Maybe that rash was a result of stress. Who knows? In any case, I managed to get back to school.

    Once there, I proceeded to fall to pieces. My attempts to get current with all my work exhausted me. I eventually gave up, and turned my attentions to other pursuits. I got back in touch with a girl at another local school who I had dated a bit, and made a big deal about her birthday. I rearranged the furniture in my dorm room several different ways. I decided that now was a good time to lose weight, and all but stopped eating. I dropped some courses I was flailing in, and even looked into withdrawing from school altogether. I had some off-campus friends I was spending a lot of time with, and was feeling one of them out as a possible source of a full-time job. Things came to a head when I volunteered to help organize a party co-hosted by our floor, and proposed turning it into a much larger event and charity fundraiser, complete with 17-page color-coded diagram and procedural manual, complete with codenames.

    I had totally flipped out.

    I had chats with our R.A., and with the dorm chaplain, who happened to live on our floor. (Yeah, it was a private school.) Somebody looked into my academic status, and found that I wasn’t carrying enough credits to be considered a full-time student, which meant that I was technically not supposed to be eligible for a dorm room. My parents were called. After a plane flight I’m sure they were happy to shell out for on short notice, not to mention burning personal days from work, I was confronted by them, my sister who also attended my school, and those I had confided in. I was convinced to voluntarily enter a psychiatric ward for a week’s observation. I put my foot down when the plan was to send me to the county hospital in a campus patrol car driven by a uniformed rent-a-cop. Instead I went to a private hospital near campus. My mumblings about not wanting to have a public record of a psychological commitment, since I might want to run for office someday was taken as evidence of “delusions of grandeur.”

    The school allowed me to withdraw for medical reasons, without any restriction on returning. No mention of psychological problems were on the paperwork, thank entropy.

    The upshot was that I was in a voluntary lockup for a week, was calmed down by psychoactive drugs and some talk-therapy, and released into my parents’ care. No judicial process ever took place. Everyone was very concerned about whether or not I had ever considered suicide. {I was a college student who had been assigned to read Camus and Plato’s Apologia. Of course I had considered the intellectual arguments for suicide. That doesn’t mean I ever wanted to follow through with that. Perhaps if I’m ever an 85-year-old with terminal liver-cancer….)

    Back home I went to an outpatient facility, once. After the initial interview, where the Doc in charge of admitting seemed to think that my admission of college-boy levels of alcohol use [nowadays called “binge drinking”] might be indicative of a substance abuse problem, we decided to do without further treatment. I hung around the house until I could get a job. After about a year I moved back to the city where I had been going to school and found other employment. When I had managed to arrange my life and finances sufficiently, I reenrolled as a part-time student. After three semesters I finally picked up my degree. As a “grown-up” paying my own way I got my best grades ever. Had I done so well over my entire collegiate career I would have graduated with honors.

    Why am I telling you this? First, because I can do so anonymously. I don’t tell anyone about my stint in the “booby hatch,” unless I am compelled to. I would tell the woman I loved, before I asked her to marry me. I don’t know what the best term is for what happened to me. In the bad old days we would have called it a “nervous breakdown.” It wasn’t a “psychotic break” of the violent kind. If anything, I was more social, garrulous and outgoing than I normally was. I wanted everyone to be my friend, and at least one girl for a sweetheart. I was only interested in enjoying myself, and had no desire to hurt anybody, least of all myself. But I was definitely not in control of my emotions, and acting without any good sense. Maybe all I needed was to leave school, lie on the beach for a couple of weeks, eat some good food, get a little exercise and lay off the booze. Follow that with a kick in the ass and a copy of the want ads. Repeat as necessary. Once I had been calmed down, that’s essentially what I got.

    My conclusions from all of this? Sometimes psychiatry/psychology can do some good. Not every student who cracks up is dangerous. Discreetly pushing a troubled young person into observation and/or treatment may be the best thing for him, but the fear of being stigmatized might scare them off that path. I could have avoided an involuntary commitment. The state my college was in had very strict standards for that, and unless it could be shown that I was dangerous I would not be locked up against my will. My school could certainly have kicked me out of the dorm, out of class, and even suspended or expelled me if I didn’t agree to take care of my problems. I don’t know how much of that our local state university could have done.

    Just so you know, I’ve never had a recurrence of any kind of psychological problems stronger than “the blues.” [Note: No, I have never experienced clinical depression, AFAIK.] I’ve done stupid things when I’ve had to much to drink, or when some woman dumped me, and the combination of the two was no picnic. I did get some counseling once to explore whether I might have a problem with alcohol. We concluded that, while I might have some tendencies in that direction, I should get educated about the difference between moderate use and abuse. Since then I’ve avoided drinking like a college-boy, and been the soul of moderation.

  115. Russ 2000,

    “Psych provided a service to your parents in line with Szasz’s view of the profession.

    You don’t know how to read. Szasz says the voluntariness lies with the patient, not the bill payer.”

    True. My mistake. Not a problem with reading so much as writing.

  116. “screw you babies! In 8 years, you’ll be paying me just for living!”

    Old assholes spouting on about how the world owes them a living makes me hope that Soylent Green comes true.

  117. Forcible incarceration for people who have not violated anyone’s rights should give anyone who believes in freedom pause.

    Did Cho make threats against anyone’s life when he was with the psychologist(s)? That would be the only reason I can see for involuntary commitment.

    As Phony Handle posted above, people sometimes let stress get to them and it comes out in bad ways. Involuntary mental hospitalization would mean that a lot of those people would never get a chance to get better – especially if they’re given Neuroleptics (Haldol, Thorazine, etc. “Major Tranquilizers). This class of drugs is among the most brain destroying as any ever invented – the “schizophrenic brain deterioration” a lot of psychiatrists like to talk about is actually the result of this. Combined with the facts that: these hospitals are very bad at figuring out who is really “sick” (see post above); have a great incentive (until the insurance runs out) to keep people locked up; and will often prescribe these drugs after a person leaves, means that there is a huge potential for involutary hospitalization to do significant, permanent damage. What might have been a minor bump in the road for someone becomes a lifelong problem.

    This is, to my view, one more reason to hate Scientologists. Thanks to those fucking avaricious nutjobs, everyone who questions the overuse of psych meds gets labelled with that brush. OTOH, for a good (non-Scientologist) criticism of psychiatry, see Toxic Psychiatry by Peter Breggin.(sp?)

  118. TWC wrote, That is a serious problem. Resulted in an attempted murder and some jail time for a chick I knew.

    For years she was as crazy as a pet loon. Her family tried to get her to voluntarily commit. No dice.

    Once she got out of jail she didn’t need any shrinking any more. No more arson, no more stabbings, no more attempted suicides, no more Valium, no more booze. Scared straight I guess you’d call it.

    It was an amazing and near instant transformation.

    That is a very Szaszian story, implying as it does that the mentally “ill” behavior was a choice.

    For anybody interested in Szasz’s ideas, I highly recommend Bryan Caplan’s paper “The Economics of Szasz.” A link to a free copy is provided here: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2006/09/they_called_me.html

  119. The only “evidence” of his being loony was his splended post-modernist prose, that rivals anything by a PhD in that field, and a little following women around.

    As I and others have mentioned, had he only written about Black women he might have gotten the help that he needed. Maybe not, since he was Asian.

    He did wacky in the perfectly accepted and coddled version of the Left, to include being an English major. His taking up of arms is nothing different than the living patron Saints of the Left, the Weatherman Underground.

    I predict again that he will be celebrated in a few short months and his play will be a movie.

  120. Forgetting Cho for a second, every day I pass a couple dozen folks voluntarily living on the streets of Hollywood, lying in their own filth and regularly being assaulted by various predators. My compassion for them as human beings outweighs my desire that they have the right to refuse hospitalization. We as a country have forsaken a segment of society that needs us most.

  121. Troll. Is that the “N” word for the internet? Since when did “troll” start being used so flippantly and for anybody that disagrees with the majority? I’ve just noticed it being used a lot lately at this site and was recently accused of being one even though I’ve been posting here at least 5 years.

    I’m just curious because it seems to have lost its original meaning and now basically translates to “asshole”.

  122. Troll. Is that the “N” word for the internet? Since when did “troll” start being used so flippantly and for anybody that disagrees with the majority?

    Huh? You call someone a “nigger” if he disagrees with the majority?

  123. Neu Mejican said,

    “Szasz sees a problem with mental health practice and says ‘there is no mental illness.’

    “I would respect Szasz a lot more if his position had ended up looking more like Carson’s. And if he were willing to change his position based on new evidence, that would be even better.”

    As far as I have seen from his writings, Szasz has ever only required a physical cause for “mental ailments,” in order to accept them as medical conditions. Divergence from the norm is not evidence of mental illness. Szasz had a lot of good to say about the voluntary relationship between an analyst and a patient, but no good to say about coerced confinement justified by the diagnosis of pychiatrists.

    Is it your contention that a collection of unorthodox thoughts and thinking patterns — absent any physical cause for the unorthodoxy — is a legitimate “illness”?

  124. Crimes of the “Military Industrial Complex” are millions of times greater than the crime of Cho.

    The abnormality of “Industrial Society” is millions of times greater than the abnormality of Cho.

    Criminality and Abnormality.

    Industrial Society has collectively killed billions of Animals and Trees [ Remember – plant and animal species developed over a period of millions ofyears]

    It has also killed most of Water and Air [ Please note – polluting Water and Air is equivalent to killing Water and Air ]

    The soil was not fertile when the earth was created. It became fertile – very slowly – over a period of millions of years. And look what man has done – He has covered millions and millions of hectares of land with cement and concrete. All the land that has been covered with cement and concrete has been killed.

    Man has stockpiled thousands of tonnes of highly radioactive nuclear material and nuclear waste which is going to remain highly radioactive and carcinogenic for the next thousands of years – and which has already leaked into the environment hundreds of times.

    There is an arsenal of 50,000 nuclear missiles that can destroy the planet several times over.

    What could be more criminal than this.
    What could be more abnormal than this.

    Lawyers and Judges are trying to catch a few criminals.
    They don’t realize the entire Industrial Society is criminal.

    Psychologists and Psychiatrists are trying to classify a few people as abnormal.
    They don’t realize the entire Industrial Society is abnormal.

    Industrial Society is collectively making billions of tonnes of weapons and explosives [of all kinds] every year – and then it wonders why there is so much violence in this world.

    Big Mystery.

    If you make billions of tonnes of weapons and explosives on earth they are going to be used on earth – they are not going to be used on Mars.

    The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

    The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

    Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

    Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
    Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
    Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.

    Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

    If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

    Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.

    When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

    There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

    People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

    Emotion ends.

    Man becomes machine.

    A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

    A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

    A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.

    Fast visuals/ words make slow emotions extinct.

    Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys emotional circuits.

    A fast (large) society cannot feel pain / remorse / empathy.

    A fast (large) society will always be cruel to Animals/ Trees/ Air/ Water/ Land and to Itself.

    To read the complete article please follow any of these links :

    PlanetSave

    FreeInfoSociety

    ePhilosopher

    sushil_yadav

  125. Speaking of loons with guns, the Phil Spector murder trial begins today.

    Review the experience that The Ramones had with him when he was producing Rock & Roll High School.

  126. Hey, sushil, if our consumer society is so friggin’ bad, what are you doing with a computer and internet access?

    Hypocrite.

  127. “Is it your contention that a collection of unorthodox thoughts and thinking patterns — absent any physical cause for the unorthodoxy — is a legitimate “illness”?”

    No.

    When I say that Szasz doesn’t change his view in the face of evidence, I refer to the abundent evidence that many mental illnesses meet his criteria of having a physical cause.

    As for your collection of thought and thinking patterns…

    Be careful not to fall into Descartes’ error.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Descartes'_Error

    Dualism leads to poor thinking on this issue.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dualism_%28philosophy_of_mind%29

  128. mediageek,

    What do you think I am using the computer for?

    I am not using it for fun.
    I am not using it for Business.
    I am not using it to promote Technology.

    I am using it for a cause. If the environment were not getting destroyed I would not need to spread the message.

    Want to know what a hypocrite is?

    Cho is a criminal? – Cho is abnormal? What about the rest of the people? Are they all normal? Do the custodians of Normality have any idea of what Normality is?

    Industrial Society has destroyed all Ecosystems – Plant and Animal species have been decimated – Is this normal?

    Living a consumerist lifestyle that would require 8 – 10 planets to sustain – Is this normal?

    Industrial Society has collectively killed millions of people in Wars in the last century – Is this normal?

    Raping and Plundering the planet in the name of progress and development – Is this normal?

    If you compare the crime of Cho with the crimes of “Military Industrial Complex” you will find it is like comparing the Lamp with the Sun

    The entire Industrial Society is abnormal, insane and criminal.

    sushil_yadav

  129. Wow. The Twilight Zone theme music just got REALLY LOUD all of a sudden

  130. I think Sushil Yadav needs to read this.

    http://fringe.davesource.com/Fringe/Politics/Unabombers_Manifesto

    “No social arrangements, whether laws, institutions, customs or ethical codes, can provide permanent protection against technology. History shows that all social arrangements are transitory; they all change or break down eventually. But technological advances are permanent within the context of a given civilization.”

  131. Cho became a killer – because he was a loner?
    Cho became abnormal – because he was a loner?
    Cho became a criminal – because he was a loner?

    What about the criminals of “Military Industrial Complex?

    What about the abnormals of “Military Industrial Complex”?

    They are not loners. They kill in groups – they kill in Platoons, Batallions and Brigades.

    And they kill Millions.

    If you kill one person they call it Murder.
    If you kill a few hundred they call it Terrorism.
    If you kill a few million they call it War.

    sushil_yadav

    Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

    PlanetSave

    FreeInfoSociety

    ePhilosopher

  132. Man, this is all so cheap. It’s easy to say “Hey, things might have been better if…” because there’s no way we want to think of things being worse than this. But short of a time machine, what’s the application?

  133. You might be interested in Szasz’s opinion about the Virginia Tech Massacre which can be found here, and is sort of a rebuttal:
    http://www.fee.org/in_brief/default.asp?id=1257

  134. In the wake of the latest massacre, I can only say it’s a terribly complex issue. Many people, such as Szasz, have advocated for the liberty of the mentally ills, but when the person suffereing from mental illness ends up in the street don’t they innevitably ‘lose’ their liberty? Such is the paradox here I think.

    I won’t comment too much on the issue of downright mentall illness denial or rampant conspiracy theories (itself often the manifestation of undiagnosed mental illness) but suffice it to say it’s a deeply complex issue.

    I think any decent human being can agree though that these people need ‘help’, not judgmental attitudes.

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