Friday, November 10, 2017

Involuntary Commitment Phobia

No one can deny the fact that if there were no guns there would be no gun violence. Considering that citizens now possess something like 300 million guns the goal of ridding the nation of guns seems Pollyannaish.  

And yet, every time a mass shooting occurs, armies of anti-gun activists descend on the media to blame it on the NRA. Stricter gun control laws is their mantra. Obviously, the most recent shooter Devin Patrick Kelley fell well within the group of people who currently do not have a right to own a gun. The laws would have prevented it, if only the bureaucrats in the Air Force had done their jobs.

You do not have to be a Freudian to see that the war against guns, fought with self-righteous fervor by people who often have guns themselves, is at root a war against guys. In a nation that has been fighting, as Christina Hoff Sommers wrote, a war against boys… in the school system and the media… it makes perfectly good sense to think that the war against guns is the next step.

One commentator—whose name I forgot—even suggested that men who want to own guns were suffering from some kind of manliness deficit. Such is the reasoning that arises from the Freudian fever swamps. The next time marauding hordes are attacking the homes of the anti-guns activists, they can show off their manliness by waving their dicks at them.

And then there is the mental health issue. As soon as President Trump said that the Sutherland Springs shooter had a mental health issue, armies of mental health professionals jumped out of the woodwork to proclaim that people who are mentally ill are no more likely to commit mass murder than anyone else. If such were the case—don’t worry, it isn’t—then there is no way to approach the problem through what is called involuntary commitment.

Whether we were dealing with Jared Loughner, James Holmes, Adam Lanza or Devin Patrick Kelley, the solution to the problem is to commit such people involuntarily to psychiatric institutions… to treat them against their will. And yet, the psychiatric profession, influenced by the ACLU insists that these people continue to have the right to sleep on the streets and to murder people. If the NRA and the second amendment are responsible for the proliferation of guns, why not charge the ACLU with failing to protect citizens from people who suffer a brain disease and who are a clear and present danger?

D. J. Jaffe has researched the issue, but his most persuasive arguments do not involve statistical machinations:

If people with untreated serious mental illness are not more prone to violence, then leaders of the mental-health industry should explain why they lock hospital psychiatric units and put them under a system of heavy security, while liver units see no need for guards. Why do psychiatric nurses have to wear panic buttons while those in heart units do not? Why do we have to train police to handle mental-illness calls, but not allergy calls? And why do mental-health outreach workers go out in pairs for their own safety? It may be politically correct for mental-health professionals to publicly deny the connection between untreated serious mental illness and violence, but they lose all credibility when they do so.

The New York Times presents the facts. Jaffe summarizes:

In an article Wednesday on the mental-health implications of the Texas shooting, it noted that “22 percent [of mass killers] likely had psychosis, the delusional thinking, and hallucinations that characterize schizophrenia, or sometimes accompany mania and severe depression.” Well, less than 4 percent of the population has serious mental illness, which means that a disproportionate percentage of mass killers have a serious mental illness.

The evidence is clear. And the solution has been clear for quite some time now. It’s time that America wakes up to the damage done by those with all the right intentions. It’s time to make it easier to commit the mental ill involuntarily. For your interest, Jaffe has a number of policy prescriptions that ought to be adopted now.


Ares Olympus said...

It seems like a great idea to me, somewhat similar to the great idea that children should be taken away from abusive or grossly negligent parents, that is great in theory, and messy as hell in practice.

On the involuntary commitment side, it certainly exists as my sister was (largely) involuntarily hospitalized some 26 times from age 16 to 33, including 6 months in a state institution, and 6 months at a group home. But I guess once you get diagnosed, and especially after a suicide attempt, and you're on medication, its very easy for your rights to be taken away after that. I can see the impossibility of her situation.

There may be a war against boys and men, but it does seem like women's way of acting out, like hysterics they can't suppress, that attracts more attention than angry men who know exactly why they are furious, and who is responsible and what they deserve, but we have to wait until punishment is dealt via violence before we say its the men who are out of control.

And probably men are also more likely to resist involuntary commitment than women, so if we're going to lock up men for raging thoughts, we're going to need better treatments than drugs to fix them.

JP said...

"And probably men are also more likely to resist involuntary commitment than women, so if we're going to lock up men for raging thoughts, we're going to need better treatments than drugs to fix them."

I think that Stuart's point is to make sure that the people who are actually mentally ill with serious conditions like schizophrenia remain medicated in order to reduce the number of wackadoo events, caused by them being off their meds. The lack of connection with reality, coupled with paranoia/delusions, is extremely dangerous if coupled with violent outbursts or homicidal ideation.

The meds are not necessarily pleasant to be on, but the alternative, in certain cases, is complete carnage. The goal is to avoid the carnage by making sure that their brains do not go off the rails.

Jack Fisher said...

You can't involuntarily commit them unless they are a danger to themselves or others, and most of them don't pass the legal test for that. I did some volunteer work with the National Alliance on Mental Illness; it is heartbreaking to hear stories of parents who cannot keep their adult children properly medicated. And there are a lot of stories like that.

Ares Olympus said...

Thanks Jack for reminding us of the difficulty of helping people even when mental illness has been properly diagnosed. And there surely is no clear line between those who are a danger to themselves and others, and people who are not. And we already attempt this with laws that prohibit people with domestic violence from owning a gun.

I know the traditional male approach is to say gun laws can never work (even if paperwork is properly communicated), and what we really need is conceal and carry in every church and every post office, just in case someone else goes postal.

I might call such beliefs evidence of "mental illness" but perhaps a willingness to not carry a gun to protect myself, is considered "mental illness" by others who know this is a dangerous world and want to be prepared.

I'll still say the statistics are on my side - guns make homes less safe on average, and interacting with police also clearly a higher risk if you have a weapon and a low verbal ability. And half the problem to me is that people with the lowest cognitive ability are probably most controlled by their lowest emotions and fear, may be attracted to guns to feel safe and end up seeing what they want to see, and adding to the misery of the world by their own bad thinking as bad intent. Mass shootings are the exception, not the rule.