Saturday, September 21, 2013

Charles Krauthammer on Aaron Alexis

A former psychiatrist himself Charles Krauthammer is well qualified to take the full measure of the dereliction that allowed Aaron Alexis to go untreated.

His column about the Washington shooter is brilliant. It opens:

In the liberal remake of “Casablanca,” the police captain comes upon the scene of the shooting and orders his men to “round up the usual weapons.”

The “system,” such as it is, failed Aaron Alexis. By extension it failed his victims.

Krauthammer explains what happened:

On Aug. 7, that same Alexis had called police from a Newport, R.I., Marriott. He was hearing voices. Three people were following him, he told the cops. They were sending microwaves through walls, making his skin vibrate and preventing him from sleeping. He had already twice changed hotels to escape the men, the radiation, the voices.

Delusions, paranoid ideation, auditory (and somatic) hallucinations: the classic symptoms of schizophrenia.

So here is this panic-stricken soul, psychotic and in terrible distress. And what does modern policing do for him? The cops tell him to “stay away from the individuals that are following him.” Then they leave.

Such is the modern “enlightened” approach to mental illness. In the bad old days, before zealous civil libertarians set out to liberate paranoid schizophrenics from medical treatment, here’s what would have happened:

Had this happened 35 years ago in Boston, Alexis would have been brought to me as the psychiatrist on duty at the emergency room of the Massachusetts General Hospital. Were he as agitated and distressed as in the police report, I probably would have administered an immediate dose of Haldol, the most powerful fast-acting antipsychotic of the time.

This would generally have relieved the hallucinations and delusions, a blessing not only in itself, but also for the lucidity brought on that would have allowed him to give us important diagnostic details — psychiatric history, family history, social history, medical history, etc. If I had thought he could be sufficiently cared for by family or friends to receive regular oral medication, therapy and follow-up, I would have discharged him. Otherwise, I’d have admitted him. And if he refused, I’d have ordered a 14-day involuntary commitment.

Sounds cruel? On the contrary. For many people living on park benches, commitment means a warm bed, shelter and three hot meals a day. For Alexis, it would have meant the beginning of a treatment regimen designed to bring him back to himself before discharging him to a world heretofore madly radioactive.

Would Dr. Krauthammer have deprived Alexis of his constitutionally guaranteed freedoms? Not at all.

He explains:

That’s what a compassionate society does. It would no more abandon this man to fend for himself than it would a man suffering a stroke. And as a side effect, that compassion might even extend to potential victims of his psychosis — in the event, remote but real, that he might someday burst into some place of work and kill 12 innocent people.

You might be thinking that it’s all about the availability of treatment. It’s not:

True, psychiatric care is underfunded and often scarce. But Alexis had full access to the VA system. The problem here was not fiscal but political and, yes, even moral.

I know the civil libertarian arguments. I know that involuntary commitment is outright paternalism. But paternalism is essential for children because they don’t have a fully developed rational will. Do you think Alexis was in command of his will that night in Newport?

Q. E. D.


Anonymous said...

Lefty big media types don't care that the system failed a PERSON. Heavens, no. People are collateral damage in the war against stupid conservative white Christian people (read: the scary people) having guns. It's the guns, stupid. The mainstream talking heads went right for the guns. To be an aspiring media bigshot and say otherwise might make you ideologically suspicious. And they say conservatives are "reactionary" and "paranoid"???

The media's initial hysterical response to the horrifying events was itself horrifying behavior for such a vaunted, elite professional class. The pattern? Make the facts bend to the larger, necessary narrative. It wasn't a shotgun, it was an AR-15! It wasn't a shotgun, it was an AK-47! It was semi-automatic, wasn't it? Or fully automatic? No? Well, it should've been! Those are, after all, the scary weapons. Which testifies to the ignorance. If given the choice, I would gladly take a rifle round over all the lead coming out of a shotgun shell. That's messy. I can only imagine the carnage at the Navy Yard.

The Navy Yard narrative didn't fit their version of reality. Guns are bad. Guns kill people. Guns empower stupid people. The fact that this was a black man, suffering from psychosis, who passed a federal background check, who was in a de facto gun-free zone, in the nation's capital, is just not the way it's supposed to go.

Ultimately, Lefties aren't interested in the Second Amendment, it's history and what it's really about: empowering the citizen against federal tyranny (which includes ideological tyranny). For that matter, they aren't interested in the Constitution because it's a document that specifically limits what the government can do. That's a problem, because there's nothing that the government shouldn't be able to do, because there's so much it should do to ensure equality through policies that apply to everyone else but them (read: the ObamaCare exemption for Congressional staff). Such things seem innocuous until, as Margaret Thatcher said, they run out of other people's money. Then there is pain. Again, collateral damage. After all, the government knows what's best for you...

It's not about guns, it's an attitude about people. It's an elitist, academic, snobby view of average American people. It's that no citizen should be allowed to have a gun. Guns empower scary people, and in the Leftist mind all people are scary because all people (except them and those who agree with them) are racist, sexist, homophobic, intolerant, religious, militarist, mean, nasty, and everything else.

The Alexis incident is a tragedy, and a breakdown in civil, medical and military controls traditionally in place to protect society. Dianne Feinstein's post-incident statement is the same one-size-fits-all reactionary tripe that insults all law-abiding Americans and their Constitutionally-protected rights. They want psychotics to be able to roam the streets free from the threat of forced institutionalization, but want everyone else to give up their right to bear arms so these same psychotics can't get their hands on them. That is itself looney thinking, and something Krauthammer has been railing against since Connecticut. The response? Crickets. That's not the compassion they congratulate themselves for, that's contempt for the very people they claim to serve. The rest of us are viewed by the ruling class as being the cattle that must give up our rights so we're being nice to the marginal, criminal, fanatical, deranged parts of our society who refuse (or do not have the capability) to conform to our laws, customs and social conventions.

The government isn't building systems, laws and policies to help Americans -- "We, the People" -- live free lives. Instead, they're building a leviathan to control "They, the little people." Well, this Lilliputian says "Enough!"


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