Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dr. Charles Krauthammer on James Holmes' Psychosis

Last night on The O’Reilly Factor Dr. Charles Krauthammer addressed the question we were discussing on this blog yesterday.

Why is it so difficult to commit a psychotic individual to a mental hospital against his will?

A former head of the psychiatric emergency unit at Mass General Hospital Dr. Krauthammer points out that in the old days a psychiatrist had far more discretion when it came to committing people he thought were dangerous.

He mentions Holmes and the Tucson shooter, Jared Loughner.

The times have changed, Krauthammer continues, because lawyers have gotten involved in the process to protect the rights of psychotics to walk free. Now it is nearly impossible to do so, given the risk of lawsuits.

To which O’Reilly adds, that, for this, we can thank the ACLU.


Dennis said...

As much as I told myself that I am getting too involved and that I need not let passion for the political take over my life I must remind people that one of the reasons why most of this happened was not lawyers, but the significant number of people who wound up in these institutions that did not belong there.
Giving any one person this kind of power is just asking for the corruption and abuse that always follows.
Disasters like this always lead to disastrous thinking driven by the event instead of logic and the needs to address the situation.
Why not provide information to the public as to what behaviors might, with the emphasis on might, be applicable? That way they might be able to help friends and family that contain someone that can be affected.
I will never understand the desire to trade freedom for a little safety. It always turns out that one loses more of both.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks for your comments, Dennis. I had some experience in mental health clinics in France and it was certainly not true that a significant number of the people who were locked up did not belong there.

People who have worked in the field in America can speak for the conditions over here, but I strongly suspect that the clinics and hospitals were not locking up normal people. To me that does not make sense.

I'm reading Clayton Cramer's article on deinstitutionalization on PJ Media, and might post about it later.

Dennis said...

Try: "Involuntary Mental Hospitalization: A Crime Agains't Humanity" by Thomas Szasz.

Dennis said...

I might add the work of Dr. Stanley Jacobson, PhD and Dr Richard Lefoy. An interesting paper, "Elderly Abuse:Cruel Mental Health Programs. It found that "In one study, 83& of people referred by clinics and social workers for psychiatric treatments had undiagnosed physical illnesses." "Another 42% of those diagnosed with "psychosis" were later found to be suffering medical illness." One might wonder why dementia and Alzheimer's disease are handled by psychiatrists when, as I understand it, should be the proper domain of neurologists?
Am I being overly careful to have my doubts?

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I am somewhat aware of these studies. That's why I have been emphasizing that psychosis is most likely an organic brain disease-- JP made the point yesterday.

Of course, psychiatrists are physicians and presumably can treat organic conditions.

I would agree that many so-called mental illnesses are really not mental illnesses at all.

The same applies to Alzheimers and dementia. By my understanding these illnesses are mostly treated by neurologists.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

For the record I was just reminded that Charles Whitman, the University of Texas tower shooter, was discovered, after his death, to have been suffering from a brain tumor.

JP said...

One issue with mental illness that was just discussed at a conference I attended was that "depression" can be caused by thyroid dysfunction.

Correct the medical problem and the "depression" goes away.

If you don't run the proper blood work, you won't find the actual underlying medical problem.

Plus, there is the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. I'm pretty sure that these two disciplines are closely related and that you often find physicians board certified in Psychiatry and Neurology.

Psychiatry is pretty medication-centered these days.

Lots of serious medical conditions will cause significant emotional dysfunction. Multiple Sclerosis comes to mind as a big one.

The problem is when people with biploar disorder or schizophrenia go off their meds because they "don't like the way the meds make them feel". *That's* when they should be involuntarily committed.

Some bipolar people miss their manic states because those states are apparently really fun for some people, so they go off their meds. Fun for them. Not fun for their families or society.

Also, one thing that is used by psychiatry these days is ECT treatments. That's right. Shock therapy. And you know what? It can work wonders for some people. I've seen excellent results from it. From cogwheel rigidity back to normal function. Pretty impressive.

We're committing far to few people "against their will" these days.