NPR ran a story about the push for new, broader scrutiny of people suspected of mental illness and violent behavior. The consensus of the experts Jon Hamilton spoke with? Don't expect any of this to work in terms of reducing events such as the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting.
"We're not likely to catch very many potentially violent people" with laws like the one in New York, says Barry Rosenfeld, a professor of psychology at Fordham University in The Bronx….
A study of experienced psychiatrists at a major urban psychiatric facility found that they were wrong about which patients would become violent about 30 percent of the time.
That's a much higher error rate than with most medical tests, says Alan Teo, a psychiatrist at the University of Michigan and an author of the study.
One reason even experienced psychiatrists are often wrong is that there are only a few clear signs that a person with a mental illness is likely to act violently, says Steven Hoge, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University. These include a history of violence and a current threat to commit violence….
On the flip side, you've got to wonder what the effect on run-of-the-mill interactions between mental health practitioners and patients might be. Those relationships are supposed to be based on trust and confidentiality, which will likely be harder to maintain if you think the person you're talking to just might be hitting the panic button under the table to alert the guys with butterfly nets.