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The Roanoke Shooting and Forcible Psychiatric Treatment

A psychiatrist argues that "a vast majority of these tragedies" could be prevented by more aggressive mental health interventions.

Fox NewsFox NewsReferring to last week's shooting in Roanoke, Columbia University psychiatrist Jeffrey Lieberman argues in a New York Times op-ed piece that "a vast majority of these tragedies are preventable" through earlier, more aggressive, and more coercive "mental health care." Since psychiatrists have never been good at predicting violence, this claim invites skepticism, and Lieberman never backs it up.

The closest he comes is an anecdote about a college student who "quit the football team, left school and went home" at the beginning of his sophomore year:

He was withdrawn, disheveled, talked to himself and was suspicious of his friends and family. His parents knew something was wrong and sought treatment. When a mobile crisis team was called to the house he refused to engage with them. Although he clearly was ill, he was not aggressive, so they told his parents to continue monitoring their son's behavior and to call if he became a threat to himself or others. The next day he stabbed his twin half-brothers with a kitchen knife, killing one of them and severely injuring the other. 

The implication is that the college student should have been treated against his will, even though there was no evidence that he posed a threat to others. If only that had happened, Lieberman suggests, the attack could have been prevented.

Even if we accept that counterfactual supposition, it is not clear how it applies to the "vast majority" of shootings with multiple victims. Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox, an expert on mass murders, notes that the perpetrators of such crimes typically do not resemble the college student described by Lieberman:

Notwithstanding a few high-profile defendants—such as James Holmes in Aurora, Colo., and Jared Loughner in Tucson, Ariz.—whose mental health issues are well-documented, no clear relationship between psychiatric diagnosis and mass murder has been established.

Mass murderers generally do not hear voices or suspect that they are being followed. More typically, they are miserable, but not to the point that they'd be hospitalized or lose their ability to purchase guns.

Vester Lee Flanagan II, the perpetrator of last week's shooting, fits that description. Coworkers described him as touchy, volatile, and perpetually disgruntled—to the point that his employer recommended counseling and ultimately fired him. But Flanagan did not meet the legal criteria for commitment to a mental hospital or for losing his Second Amendment rights. Legislators can expand those criteria, of course, but that would inevitably affect lots of abrasive oddballs who, despite their off-putting quirks, pose no real threat to others. As Fox puts it:

People cannot be denied their Second Amendment rights just because they look strange or act in an odd manner....

While there are some common features in the profile of a mass murderer (depression, resentment, social isolation, tendency to blame others for their misfortunes, fascination with violence, and interest in weaponry), those characteristics are all fairly prevalent in the general population. Any attempt to predict would produce many false positives. Actually, the telltale warning signs come into clear focus only after the deadly deed.

Yet Lieberman seems to think anyone who exhibits "bizarre and disruptive behavior" like Flanagan's should be forced to undergo psychiatric treatment, just in case. "We are reluctant to infringe on people's civil rights by forcing them to accept treatment," he writes, "even though we do just that for communicable infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and various sexually transmitted diseases." But unlike communicable infectious diseases, the conditions Lieberman wants to forcibly treat cannot be objectively verified and cannot be transmitted to other people. When it comes to justifying the use of force, those seem like pretty important distinctions.

Lieberman notes that 45 states have laws that "enable doctors to obtain a court order that requires severely mentally ill patients who meet certain legal criteria—if they are unable to care for themselves or are unwilling to take medication—to adhere to treatment." He calls for more aggressive use of such court orders against "a small number of people who have psychotic disorders, and known risk factors for violence, such as drug abuse and a history of violence."

It's hard to see how this prescription is relevant to the case at hand. Flanagan, after all, was able to take care of himself, and he does not seem to have been prescribed any psychiatric medication that he refused to take. So he apparently did not meet the criteria for a court order. Whether he was "severely mentally ill" or had a "psychotic disorder" is purely a matter of speculation. Even assuming that such a determination can be confidently made with a live person, there is no way to locate this purported condition in Flanagan's dead body or brain.

In any case, according to the American Psychiatric Association, "96% of people with serious mental illnesses never act violently." Presumably that is why Lieberman adds "known risk factors for violence" to his criteria for coercive treatment. It is debatable whether Flanagan had a history of violence. While his coworkers had alarming encounters with him, it looks like none rose to the level of assault. So far I have not seen any references to drug abuse. In short, Lieberman latches onto this case to argue that more use of court-ordered psychiatric treatment would stop the "vast majority" of mass shootings, but he does not even show how the policy he advocates could have stopped Flanagan, let alone most other murderers. 

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  • PM||

    Psychiatry seems disproportionately likely among the medical profession to attract authoritarian pieces of shit. Good thing that's not a qualification for being given powerful psychotropic drugs against your will.

  • Just say Nikki||

    Well, their job is to exert social control, not treat disease, so that makes sense.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Nicole, do you remember your dream where you have a sexual encounter with a Chinese woman?

  • Cyto||

    I'd say psychiatry is the least scientific of the medical sciences. True evidence-based practice is tough enough to come by in regular medical practice, but mental health care is notoriously based on the anecdotal and the experiential.

    Properly designing a scientific experiment is hard enough. But in psychology it is extremely difficult due to the nature of the subject matter. Many of the obvious experiments cannot be done due to the ethical concerns around human subjects. Many of the endpoints are quite subjective and open to researcher bias. In the best of circumstances it would be very tough, but the entire profession has yet to truly embrace science-based medicine. This exacerbates an already difficult situation.

    A recent study found that a large chunk of psychiatry papers published in major publications could not be replicated. This underlines the problem with the field. Even the best studies are fraught with problems - because the field is just not nearly as mature as other sciences.

    So yeah, I'd have a bit of a problem turning control over peoples lives to this group. Not that they aren't likely well intentioned. Just that I doubt that anyone is competent to the task at this point.

  • Karl Hungus||

    I'd say psychiatry is the least scientific of the medical sciences.

    Psychology is among the softest of the sciences, so I'd say you're spot on. I know if I went to medical school I'd devote myself to diagnosing and treating observable, testable physical conditions. If I wanted to devote my career to making people have good feelz, I'd become a psychologist.

  • Just say Nikki||

    Psychologists don't go to med school. Psychiatry != psychology.

  • Karl Hungus||

    That's the point I was making, albeit clumsily. Yes, psychiatrists are medical doctors, just like your GP, cardiologist, dermatologist, etc. But like psychologists (Ph.Ds), they devote their practice to the softest of sciences. To me, that seems a waste after spending all that time and hard work learning actual medicine.

  • ||

    Psychiatrists, being MDs, can prescribe. Psychologists, not being part of the MD cartel, cannot. Generally how this works out is that patients only see the psychiatrist once a year to check on the meds, often they see the psychologist more frequently for counseling.

  • PM||

    In fairness, psychiatrists are psychologists with medical degrees, so they do sometimes conduct important research and more science-based clinical work (with diseases like schizophrenia, for example). Even the best of them though seem to gravitate to the philosopher king model of psychology.

  • Scarcity||

    That study is about psychology studies, not psychiatry studies. Also, the vast majoriity of psychiatrists don't do therapy. They are medical doctors.

  • Jerryskids||

    Hmmmm...sounds like you're in denial about the science. Perhaps some deep-seated fears of someone poking around in your psyche, uncovering the deep, dark secrets of your subconscience, unblocking those repressed memories of what happened between you and your uncle that day in the shed, perhaps some latent homosexuality? Tell me about your mother. Did she feed you Miracle Whip and tell you it was mayonnaise?

    But seriously, when I was in school many of my classes were in the same building as the psychology and sociology departments and it was generally understood that most psych majors' interest in psychology stemmed from the fact that they were fucked-up in the head and wanted to understand how the mind worked. The problem is that their being fucked-up in the head led them to believe that they were perfectly normal and it was everybody else that's fucked-up in the head.

  • Karl Hungus||

    Hmmmm...sounds like you're in denial about the science . . . Tell me about your mother. Did she feed you Miracle Whip and tell you it was mayonnaise?

    When I was a kid - maybe 10 or so - I was having issus with my grades, paying attention in school. So, my parents took me to a psychiatrist. During one session, he asked me about my dreams and to descrobe some of them in detail. Even at 10, that alone was eough to make me question the very validity of this man's profession.

  • pan fried wylie||

    If anyone can cure a 10yr old or being 10yrs old.....

    Did you end up on ritalin, or homeschooling? Or just decided to do your homework to get everyone off your back?

    I went the "fail every class that grades homework, despite A's on all the tests, till old enough to drop out and start working" route.

  • Karl Hungus||

    Did you end up on ritalin, or homeschooling?

    I actually ended up on a drug called Cylert. One of the drug's side effects (for me, at least) was episodes of extreme and irrational anger.

  • pan fried wylie||

    Cylert ...... Cylons + Alertness.

    From the makers of Skynestra and Borgatrol.

  • hezamaru||

    Oh, that's definitely better than ADD. Deeeefinitely.

    I'm sorry you went through that. Too many kids have - if the drugs didn't produce extreme anger, the very principle would, and rightly so.

    If the contents of our dreams were indication of our sanity, I would've been locked away a long time ago, and I've known that a long time. Anyone who thinks they can glean some deeper meaning from a person's nightly reboot and brain RAM dump is peddling snake oil.

  • hezamaru||

    "The problem is that their being fucked-up in the head led them to believe that they were perfectly normal and it was everybody else that's fucked-up in the head."

    And in that regard... *They WERE perfectly normal.*
    WoooOOOoOOooOoo! (M. Night Shyamalan plot twist)

  • Brian||

    Psychiatrists and psychologists have a bias towards diagnosing something for anyone committed.

    I can't find a refence, but I read about a study where they secretly committed several, sane psychiatrists, just to see what they would get diagnosed with. All of them where diagnosed with mental conditions.

    Basically, any time the fake patients did anything, it was interpreted as the symptom of some mental issue. If one of them asked for pen and pape to write a letter to their mother, the diagnosing doctor would note "obsessed with mother," etc.

    These are not people you want to commit anyone you care about to, without their consent.

  • ||

    I'll let someone else do the talking for me by contributing this quote:

    "Aided and abetted by corrupt analysts, patients who have nothing better to do with their lives often use the psychoanalytic situation to transform insignificant childhood hurts into private shrines at which they worship unceasingly the enormity of the offenses committed against them. This solution is immensely flattering to the patients -- as are all forms of unmerited self-aggrandizement; it is immensely profitable for the analysts -- as are all forms pandering to people's vanity; and it is often immensely unpleasant for nearly everyone else in the patient's life." - Thomas Szasz

    This may or may not be totally true, but it surely hits the mark!

  • CZmacure||

  • Mint Berry Crunch||

    If Flanagan should have been forced to get psychiatric treatment, should we also force treatment on those Black Lives Matter women who interrupted Bernie Sanders? I think what they did counts as rude, bizarre behavior.

  • BigT||

    We should definitely be drugging the Sakharovs of the world. Right.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1983/12.....y-ill.html

  • Lee G||

    It's for your own good comrade

  • Just say Nikki||

    lots of abrasive oddballs who, despite their off-putting quirks, pose no real threat to others

    No real threat? My god, just think of how these oddballs disrespect the social order. I mean, why do you think we call them sick to begin with? They need to get with the program, stop questioning their existence and pay some taxes.

  • Jerryskids||

    It takes a village and nobody built that so if you ain't pulling your weight you're harming everybody else. It's the same logic that says drug use isn't a victimless crime - the argument that drug use costs society billions of dollars in lost productivity implies that society is entitled to your productivity. If you accept that, then why should some people be allowed to be ditch-diggers if they have the potential to contribute to society better as auto mechanics or sous chefs? Maybe we should have some sort of aptitude analyzer that assigns people jobs based on how they can best benefit society, maybe implants a career chip in the palm of their hand to keep them from running off and getting a job as a pizza-delivery boy if they selfishly want to pursue their own happiness.

  • pan fried wylie||

    slow down, who said they weren't paying their taxes?

  • Mr Lizard||

    Maybe make them wear a sticker of sorts. Maybe one that symbolizes the five tenants of sanity. Maybe some day round em up en mass, and politely ask them to on a train. Maybe take them away for treatment, maybe call it camping of sorts.

    You humans are so predictable.

  • Almanian - Trump's Woodchipper||

    You know who el.....oh......never mind.

  • Michael Price||

    Finally something that's unGodwinable.

  • ||

    So wait, a guy who makes money from dispensing "treatment" wants the State to compel "treatment." Huh, who would have thought?

  • pan fried wylie||

    Sounds legit. You must be delusionally paranoid or something, quirkyoddball.

  • JeremyR||

    This was a pretty big fear, growing up in the 70s/early 80s, as shown by the song/video Institutionalized by Suicidal Tendencies.

    It's especially scary now in today's political climate where SJWs seem to rule what is correct and acceptable or not. Or if you hold an unpopular opinion, you are ostracized, unable to work or hold a job because no one will hire you.

    It's a very small step to putting you in an institution.

  • Cyto||

    I grew up in the same era, and it is pretty startling. The left was pretty militant about freeing people from compulsory commitment at the time.

    Now I live with the consequences of that approach - with south Florida being a magnet for the homeless. We have people talking to street signs, people arguing with traffic.... even one lady who wanders around a main thoroughfare sans pants. These are clearly not folks who are "down on their luck". They are seriously mentally ill. So ill that they cannot really care for themselves or properly take advantage of various social programs and charities.

    I don't know if there even is a right answer, but there sure are a lot of wrong answers out there.

  • Cyto||

    I grew up in the same era, and it is pretty startling. The left was pretty militant about freeing people from compulsory commitment at the time.

    Now I live with the consequences of that approach - with south Florida being a magnet for the homeless. We have people talking to street signs, people arguing with traffic.... even one lady who wanders around a main thoroughfare sans pants. These are clearly not folks who are "down on their luck". They are seriously mentally ill. So ill that they cannot really care for themselves or properly take advantage of various social programs and charities.

    I don't know if there even is a right answer, but there sure are a lot of wrong answers out there.

  • Cyto||

    I grew up in the same era, and it is pretty startling. The left was pretty militant about freeing people from compulsory commitment at the time.

    Now I live with the consequences of that approach - with south Florida being a magnet for the homeless. We have people talking to street signs, people arguing with traffic.... even one lady who wanders around a main thoroughfare sans pants. These are clearly not folks who are "down on their luck". They are seriously mentally ill. So ill that they cannot really care for themselves or properly take advantage of various social programs and charities.

    I don't know if there even is a right answer, but there sure are a lot of wrong answers out there.

  • pan fried wylie||

    Wandering in traffic with no pants HAS to qualify for involuntary commitment. There's just nowhere to put them, right?

  • Cyto||

    I doubt it is a lack of facilities. She's been at the same intersection for at least a decade, so it isn't like nobody knows she's there. I think she's probably functional enough to get past the "danger to self or others" interview and that's that.

    Or maybe they put her in custody from time to time and she is able to function well enough to get released. Who knows?

    What I do know is there are thousands of people in my area who are on the streets due to various mental illnesses. Probably many more who are living out of their cars and flopping at various friends places who are likely being held back by situational depression or other less-debilitating mental problems.

    Strangely enough, I don't really see any coverage of the problem in the news. Well, except for the occasional "delinquent kids attack homeless man" story. We have something new here in the last couple of years: women with their kids sitting at the entrance to popular fast-food restaurant drive through lines looking for contributions. They are usually clean and well-dressed - very much the "it could be any one of us" sort of homeless that activists talk about but don't seem to show up in your area. WE also have professional looking women in parking lots. You'd think that families panhandling would be enough to move the needle, but I guess we'll have to wait for the next Republican administration for the news cycle to turn away from "the economy is great" and go back to "the economy is terrible".

  • sarcasmic||

    While there are some common features in the profile of a mass murderer (depression, resentment, social isolation, tendency to blame others for their misfortunes, fascination with violence, and interest in weaponry), those characteristics are all fairly prevalent in the general population.

    Which is why the general population should not be allowed to own guns! Duh! All reality-based people know this!

  • Almanian - Trump's Woodchipper||

    BAM! There it is - mic drop and all.

    When will you Teathugliracisthadistgunnuts wake UP??!!! PEOPLE are the problem! And only common sense legislation and regulation can fix it! It's only COMMON SENSE!

    duh

  • PM||

  • WTF||

    Of course, the killer was not in fact disqualified by a background check, but don't let that get in the way of the feelz.

  • PM||

    But that wasn't a reasonable background check! USE YOUR COMMON-SENSE!

  • WTF||

    Of course! If it was REASONABLE, it would have stopped every potential killer! Otherwise, it's just not REASONABLE!!1!!!!!!

  • ||

    And where might "common sense legislation and regulation" come from! May it be from the people who are the problem? Sure looks that way with the political nuts that we have. I'm sure none of us has heard the call to get rid of them all. This may just seem like an "Oh my God! I better take care of myself"! Just like where it is now!

  • Gene||

    Last week on his show, I heard Michael Savage pining for the good old days of forced long term institutionalization, so the progs and the wingnuts are in agreement?

  • Almanian - Trump's Woodchipper||

    Yeah, I've been listening to him on the way home (or on my computer at work) when I can lately.

    He's....an interesting one, this Michael Savage.

  • sarcasmic||

    LIBERALISM IS A MENTAL DISORDER!

  • sarcasmic||

    RED DIAPER DOPER BABIES!

  • Gene||

    He's something else alright, as much as may disagree with a certain sizable portion of what he says, he never fails to entertain.

    It's kinda like NASCAR... I listen mainly to catch it when he has his inevitable stroke...live on the air.

  • sarcasmic||

    I managed to get on his show once. This was back in Bush II's reign. He was talking about some expanded presidential powers to fight the terrorist boogeyman and I asked him "Would you trust President Hillary with those powers?" He sputtered for a moment, gruffly said "Yes," hung up on me, and went to commercial.

  • Swiss Servator, ...hat nichts||

    Oh God, do I wish I would have heard that...

  • Gene||

    He is the master of the quick dropped call.

  • BigT||

    "Last week on his show, I heard Michael Savage pining for the good old days of forced long term institutionalization, so the progs and the wingnuts are in agreement?"

    They want to lock up each other.

    I say YES!

  • SugarFree||

    This is one of the very few areas where I break with libertarian dogma. There are crazy people, some of them are dangerous, and I'm not sure waiting until they murder someone is the best way to deal with them. These are fairly inescapable ideas if you work in a job where you deal with the public and refusal of service requires a very high bar of violence or disruption to clear.

    But then I am very leery of how that sort of control on aberrant behavior will be exercised, so I circle back around and I'm just stuck.

  • PM||

    ...and I'm not sure waiting until they murder someone is the best way to deal with them.

    You don't necessarily have to wait until they commit murder, but you do have to wait until they do something. The implications to broader society of pathologizing particular behaviors and suspending people's rights on that basis are far, far, far graver than the threat of a mental patient completely losing it and killing someone.

  • SugarFree||

    Except when there are those incidents, they usually don't trigger any sort of punishment. A well-known local lunatic bit a librarian in Bowling Green, KY hard enough to take out a chunk of flesh. He wasn't even charged by the police, because, you know, well-known lunatic and all.

  • PM||

    I'm not sure if that's really a typical case. Given the number of mentally ill people that get the shit beat out of them by cops, I suspect it generally tends to go the opposite way if anything. Even at that though, you can have a trial, convict them of assault, send them to jail. At that point, is it a life sentence of forced treatment for them from that point forward? Short of that, there's probably not a whole lot you can do about them. And then we're back to the same dilemma: it's a slippery slope from pathologizing one behavior to another. I'd hate to get busted on, say, a DUI, and spend the rest of my life with my 2nd amendment rights stripped away and taking medication I don't want because of the state's determination I was mentally ill.

  • SugarFree||

    An official inability to defend myself is a lot of my problem, which isn't really the crazy people's fault.

    We had one recently that kept escalating his behavior and if he had shown up with a gun, 20 of us would be dead before a campus cop got here on his Segway. But if I brought a weapon to work, I'd be fired immediately.

  • sarcasmic||

    Your inability to legally take steps to protect yourself is an example of paving the road to hell with good intentions.

  • SugarFree||

    But at the same time, I just find crazy people really annoying. There's a Canadian schizophrenic that calls me around once a week trying to get me to buy his UFO photos. I'd gladly buy the guy who invented caller ID all the beers.

  • PM||

    Horrible policy there too, of course. It's hard to deal with crazy people at an institutional level without compromising everyone's rights, but easy to compromise everyone's safety by removing the self-defense component.

  • Michael Price||

    " Given the number of mentally ill people that get the shit beat out of them by cops, I suspect it generally tends to go the opposite way if anything. "
    Beating the shit out of someone and prosecuting them are too completely different things. One has a lot of paperwork associated with it, they other has none (because if asked he feel down the stairs or something). Plus I expect that the ones getting beat up are the ones that the police KNOW won't respond with significant violence.

  • Just say Nikki||

    He wasn't even charged by the police, because, you know, well-known lunatic and all.

    All the more reason to favor private prosecutions. State justice is fucking retarded.

  • SugarFree||

    We never could prove he released all those snakes in the parking lot.

  • TimothyZ||

    "well-known lunatics" are running the asylum buddy.

  • sarcasmic||

    Once government becomes proactive instead of reactive, then there are no limits at what kind of force it can initiate in the name of preventing something terrible. That's why libertarians draw a line at having government be reactive. Because the alternative is to pave the road to hell with good intentions.

  • SugarFree||

    I said I was stuck.

  • Karl Hungus||

    This. The few lives that might be lost because government didn't "do something" pale in comparison to the lives that would be destroyed if we empower the state to arbitrarlity institutionalize people.

  • AlmightyJB||

    It's interesting because we do know that some people with severe mental issues that are prone to arbitrary violent outburst but that does not seem to fit any of the recent shootings. So yeah, seems like you would just be taking away rights and solving nothing.

  • Karl Hungus||

    So yeah, seems like you would just be taking away rights and solving nothing.

    Of course, if I were to opine that this would maybe be the goal of such a scheme, I'd probably be considered "paranoid," and thus ineligible to own a firearm.

  • ||

    "But then I am very leery of how that sort of control on aberrant behavior will be exercised, so I circle back around and I'm just stuck."

    Wow. People have free will. It's so sad!

  • Swiss Servator, ...hat nichts||

    Yet Lieberman seems to think anyone who exhibits "bizarre and disruptive behavior" like Flanagan's should be forced to undergo psychiatric treatment, just in case.

    EPI HAS A RIGHT TO WALK FREE, LIKE ANYONE ELSE!

  • PM||

  • Number.6||

    You can't deny him his gambolling rights, man!

  • creech||

    Sure, let's just go back to the olden days when a person could be committed to a mental hospital by almost anyone with a grudge. I'm reminded of a primary race for mayor in a major Penna. city where the incumbent had his chief rival in the Democratic primary thrown in a mental hospital as the race heated up. Then, miraculously, when the election was over the "nutty" loser was released as sane after all.

  • pan fried wylie||

    at least they DID release him.

    #silverlinings

  • TimothyZ||

    Here's a link from a Cambridge study on the link between the behavioral control drugs, ahem, I mean cures for mental illness, and aggressive behavior: http://psychrights.org/Researc.....oS2010.pdf

    Perhaps five weeks ago, I saw how the mental health care system treats people. A schizophrenic fellow with a palsy, couldn't even hold a pen, had a brace on his leg and needed a fiberglass cane to walk. He starts going up to people and explaining that his evil wife is coming and he's really worried she might curse people. Soon, five security guards have him on the ground, knees on his back, and nurses are injecting date rape drugs...ahem... sedatives into him. (it's a date rape drug if we do it.) The man was as harmless as a fly. Can you imagine what would happen to us plebs if we mobbed, kidnapped a helpless person, threw them on the ground and injected them with drugs to no particular end?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "The next day he stabbed his twin half-brothers with a kitchen knife, killing one of them and severely injuring the other."

    "Twin half-brothers" is such a convoluted term, it makes the whole anecdote seem made up.

    He was so crazy, he even went after his twin half-brothers?

    So, we're not talking about his twin brother because if he was a twin, his twin brother wouldn't be his half-brother. You can't share a womb with a half brother unless maybe he was some kind of test tube baby.

    So, we're probably talking about his half-brothers, who are twins--amirite?

    Why not just say he stabbed his brothers? Apparently because he wants to emphasize how crazy this guy was and how badly he needed to be committed against his will. Again, that just makes the whole anecdote sound contrived.

  • Cyto||

    Sure, half-brothers could be twins. Fraternal twins could have two separate fathers. Mom would have been busy that week, but it is certainly possible.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It sure seems like a convoluted way to say something.

    Why not say he went after his aunt's sister-in-law's nephews?

    'cause that wouldn't make his sound sound crazy is an obvious answer--especially when you could have just called them his brothers.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "He was withdrawn, disheveled, talked to himself and was suspicious of his friends and family."

    The other thing to remember is that this describes every guy I've ever known after a rough break up or divorce.

    There's a special kind of stupid that happens to almost every guy after he gets dumped, and that special kind of stupid can be difficult to differentiate from depression and anxiety--especially when it's coupled with a lack of sleep and alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse, by the way, has been a standard remedy for post-dump "insanity" (AKA the blues) since before the first blues song was ever written.

    It's normal.

    People will typically become withdrawn, disheveled, start talking to themselves, and become suspicious of friends and family around the holidays, too. Especially if we're somehow tricked into spending more than a couple of days with the family at Thanksgiving or Christmas. I did it for a few days over the summer--forcing adults to spend more than a few days with their original families should be against Geneva conventions. That's enough to drive anybody crazy.

  • the wolf||

    I'm not sure which of Flanagan's employers would have wanted to instigate forced psychiatric help on the black guy complaining about white people.

  • Marvel Goose||

    ... and then we have the recent study that showed that 61% of all social studies papers in peer reviewed publications were unable to be replicated. Even if we had a study purporting to show a causal relationship between certain symptoms and mass murder, how could we actually believe it?

  • Rick Stewart||

    "known risk factors for violence, such as drug abuse"

    Since using illegal drugs turns you into a criminal, that must be 'drug abuse.'

  • ranrod||

    The current push toward gun control is being presented in a particularly dangerous and dishonest manner. It is being framed in terms of mental health and packaged in a way that almost guarantees victory for the advocates of control. The debating point proffered is, “How do we keep guns away from the mentally ill?”
    Obama is attempting to lift a longstanding ban on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) taking a position on gun control. In 1996, Congress made the appropriation of funds to the CDC conditional on the stipulation that “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”
    Raising the question of keeping guns from the mentally ill is not meant to promote discussion. It is intended to discredit and to silence anyone who answers it incorrectly.
    The tactic is particularly dangerous because those who should be defending the fundamental right of self-defense are falling over themselves to agree with the focus on mental health. On January 24, the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) reminded readers that it has urged “the federal government to address the problem of mental illness and violence” for over four decades. The NRA reiterated, “the time is at hand to seek means by which society can identify, treat and temporarily isolate such individuals [the mentally ill].”

  • ranrod||

    Part 2
    Before exploring the problems that attend the rhetorical coupling of gun ownership with mental health, however, it is important to note that the demand to keep guns away from the mentally ill does not refer to the sensible step of refusing to sell a weapon to someone high on PCP who screams, “I need it to kill my mother!” It refers to accepting the government’s definition of mental illness. It means agreeing to a government screening process that undoubtedly involves a federal database on people’s mental health.

    The NRA’s chief executive Wayne LaPierre fully embraces this violation of privacy. He told FOX News that the mental-health lobby and federal law had blocked his organization’s proposal to place the names of people “with potentially dangerous mental health problems” into a federal database. (Emphasis added.) In reality, of course, everyone screened would be entered into whatever database existed.

  • ranrod||

    Part 3

    First, the question makes several unwarranted assumptions. It assumes everyone has a common definition of mental health — the government one. It assumes that politicians who are zealously anti–gun ownership will use their additional authority to make gun ownership safer rather than obsolete. (On one day alone, Obama recently signed 23 executive orders bearing on gun ownership.) It assumes that government approval of mental “wellness” ought to be required to exercise a fundamental right. Most importantly, the question leaves all discussion of actual rights to choke in the dust while expediency is explored. Respecting the Second Amendment is no longer on the table. How to revise it is.

    Who is mentally ill?

    In an article entitled “Obama Taking Over Psychiatry,” Dr. Lee Hieb argues that government should not be the one to decide. She writes,

    The use of psychiatry against dissidents in the Soviet Union was one of the major human rights scandals of the 1970s and 1980s.… [E]stablishing a dictatorship that pretends to be a republic requires a stealthy way of silencing opponents.… What better way than to be labeled mentally ill?”

    Allowing the federal government to define mental illness, screen for it, and maintain a database does not necessarily lead to the psychiatric internment of dissidents. That is the most extreme possible consequence.

  • ranrod||

    Part 4

    More likely outcomes include

    gun control via a circuitous route;
    a federal database of highly personal information on people who have committed no crime;
    a further erosion of medical privacy;
    the loss of constitutionally guaranteed rights by anyone who seeks help for a mental problem;
    a cementing of the criminal and medical systems;
    a de facto ban on gun ownership for those whom the government deems hostile.
    Lawful gun ownership is not a disease. It is a constitutionally protected, individual right.… The president said that we suffer from an — quote, “epidemic of violence,” end of quote. Although there is too much violence in America, violent crime rates are at the lowest level in 50 years.

    State-controlled psychiatry is a terrifying weapon, especially when it is used to determine who has rights.

    Every individual should be able to be eccentric, different, and even self-destructive. As long as the behavior harms no one else, it is no business of authority. To screen people for potentially dangerous behavior is a form of pre-crime diligence that gives government an almost unlimited power over anyone it targets. It is a tool of social control, not safety.

    http://fff.org/explore-freedom.....tally-ill/

  • BambiB||

    These sorts of things are in the news because they make good copy. It's the old adage of, "If it bleeds, it leads". But are they statistically significant? Do more people die from rampages by the mentally ill than by drowning? Cigarettes? Car crashes? Medical misadventure?

    And yet, all of those deaths are preventable: Just don't allow people to swim, smoke, drive or see a doctor.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    All this being true, why does the Psychiatric community resist reporting its patients to NICS, thereby preventing them from legal access to guns?

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    All this being true, why does the Psychiatric community resist reporting its patients to NICS, thereby preventing them from legal access to guns?

  • Bill Goode||

    In all likelihood it was psychiatric drugs that caused Vester Flanagan to shoot the two news reporters last week. He may not have been in touch with a psychiatrist, but regular doctors prescribe psychiatric drugs as well.

    It actually states on the bottles of psychotropic drugs that consuming them may cause one to tend toward violence and / or suicide. It's inexplicable why these drugs are allowed on the market.

    And now this psychiatrist would cause more people to take them ??? What insanity !!!

  • MichaelL||

    They just don't care!


    My niece had an attempted(?) suicide and was in lock-down for five days. She would not be released from lock-down until her parents got off of the elevator! The Ativan and the counseling helped, but they sent her home without any medication or follow-up appointments. Without illegal Xanax, given to her by her parents, she would be just as bad, three days after discharge! Medical care of the mentally ill is getting worse, not better.
    .
    .

    Don't expect it to change. It is one of the most poorly paid specialties in medicine!

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