Monday, February 26, 2018

Mental Illness and Mass Shootings

We all want to know whether mass shooters suffer from more mental illness than the average citizen.  And we have been told that they do not. This factoid has been pounded into everyone’s mind so often that most people now accept it uncritically. It reminds us of the Big Lie… keep repeating it over and over again until everyone believes it. Naturally, the Big Lie is garnished with a few skewed facts, to make it appear to be an empirical fact.

And then, those who insist that mass shooters are not necessarily more mentally ill tell us that they want to protect psychotics from being stigmatized… as though that is their biggest problem.

Psychosis is an illness. It requires medical treatment. Among the problems that bedevil psychotics is that they often refuse treatment. Wanting to treat someone who suffers from an illness, probably a brain disease, is not the same as stigmatizing him.

Researchers Grant Duwe and Michael Rocque have crunched the numbers, analyzed the statistics. In a Los Angeles Times op-ed they explain that there is indeed a direct correlation between mass shooters and mental illness. (via Instapundit) To ignore it is to ignore the obvious.

At the broadest level, peer-reviewed research has shown that individuals with major mental disorders (those that substantially interfere with life activities) are more likely to commit violent acts, especially if they abuse drugs. When we focus more narrowly on mass public shootings — an extreme and, fortunately, rare form of violence — we see a relatively high rate of mental illness.

According to our research, at least 59% of the 185 public mass shootings that took place in the United States from 1900 through 2017 were carried out by people who had either been diagnosed with a mental disorder or demonstrated signs of serious mental illness prior to the attack. (We define a mass public shooting as any incident in which four or more victims are killed with a gun within a 24-hour period at a public location in the absence of military conflict, collective violence or other criminal activity, such as robberies, drug deals or gang turf wars.)

At times, it helps to read between the lines:

In a story that largely suggested mass murderers are not "insane," the New York Times cited research showing that, in fact, mass murderers are nearly 20 times more likely to have a "severe" mental illness than the general population.

According to our research, only one-third of the people who have committed mass shootings in the U.S. since 1900 had sought or received mental health care prior to their attacks, which suggests that most shooters did not seek or receive care they may have needed.

Thanks to the civil liberties lobby and the anti-psychiatry movement, America does not offer treatment to those who are suffering from severe mental illness. In that we are an outlier:

… the U.S. has higher rates of untreated serious mental illness than most other Western countries. Additional research shows that the gap is even larger for males, who have committed 99% of the country's mass public shootings.

But, at least they are not being stigmatized. When push comes to shove, we can blame it all on guns. We do not want to place any blame on the FBI or the Broward County sheriff. And we certainly do not want to hold the ACLU to account for the consequences of policies it has championed.


Ares Olympus said...
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Jack Fisher said...

AO, do you ever do any minimal research before poasting? That's rhetorical, of course you don't.

Mentally ill individuals can be held for treatment and observation against their will for periods of time up to 72 hours, to be reviewed by a court because of constitutional issues. The grounds are not overt violence but an actual or potential danger to themselves or to others. Mental health professionals have the obligation (in most states) to report credible threats of future violence to the police, as this is not protected by doctor-patient privilege.

Your entire argument, even if it were coherent, which it isn't, is rubbish.

Ares Olympus said...

Jack, yes, I understand the issues very well. My sister was diagnosed with mental illness when she was 16, and was hospitalized largely against her will 26 times (by her count), and so once you get into the system, your options become very limited.

But the harder problem is the people who are not diagnosed yet, they're the ones who can get the guns, and act violently, and little things like online threats like "I'm going to become a school shooter" can talk their way out of it if they're smart, mental illness or not.

Let's say there are currently 10 million adults out there who have undiagnosed mental illness of some sort, and most are they're managing their lives reasonably poorly, while some will let their resentment and self-pity play stories in their mind over months and years. And a only a small fraction will ever by diagnosed, and a very tiny fraction of those people will act out mass shootings in the next 10 years.

If our goal is to keep a maximum availability of guns, then the safe bet is to round up everyone who fits a profile that looks dangerous. And if we're only doing this to avoid mass shootings, it looks like a highly costly exercise in futility - we'll most likely still miss most of them, whether because they're good liars or know how to keep their mouths shut.

But if we're doing it for the well-being of the people, then we have to not treat them all like children who have to be controlled, but as people in psychological distress and unable to manage it, but can be helped.

And given we live in a country where chronic healthcare costs can break any average family's income, and no one wants to pay for it, the best we can hope for these days in mental health is that drugs can do enough.

Ares Olympus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ares Olympus said...

p.s. I see our delusional president feels confident he'd run even unarmed into the school, unlike the cowardly deputy. But at least he's taking up the fight to ban bump stocks so the delusional kids had some affect on him, even if it had no part in this last shooting. And maybe there will be more money added for mental health, hopefully to help the afflicted rather than just to imagine it'll reduce future shooters.

Redacted said...

"Most psychiatric disorders are highly heritable..."
--- wikipedia

Runs in families. Just sayin'. K?

Jack Fisher said...

AO if you find it acceptable that an armed peace officer decided not to actively intervene at the risk of his life where children are being murdered, that speaks volumes for your character, or, rather lack of. It's too dangerous? That's the point. The kids being murdered are in more danger than the armed coward hiding outside.

We know that the officer was a coward. What are you?

re your sister. always a bad idea to drag family into a public debate, since it declares open season. if your sister was hospitalized 26 times by the courts, its because she was off her meds, meaning, while she a minor under the care of family, it was the family who failed her. family = you. as an adult, as anyone remotely familiar with mental health issues among adults, short of hospitalization, if a patient doesn't want to take meds, meds won't be taken.

and if you claim to know all about mental health issues, why did you wrongly claim in the now-deleted poast that involuntary holds are grounded in violence?

Ares Olympus said...

Redacted, I see that:

I'll certainly agree once a family has a single person with diagnosed mental illness, that other member could also be evaluated.

Interestingly the biggest thing I learned from going to a family member support group is that learned helplessness is a huge danger, and patients who recover are the ones who take charge of their own diagnosis and treatment, especially things like feedback on how medications are affecting them.

And a patient being able to trust external feedback from family members is also huge, and won't happen if annoyed family members just threaten to call 911 whether a patient is not compliant enough at home. I never did that to my sister, but her husband and my brother both used this power over her frequently.

Not everything a person does is because they are mentally ill, but its easy to imagine that when you don't want to look in the mirror at your own bad moods.

Ares Olympus said...

Jack Fisher said... AO if you find it acceptable that an armed peace officer decided not to actively intervene at the risk of his life where children are being murdered, that speaks volumes for your character, or, rather lack of.

Nothing here is acceptable, but I won't heap more blame on someone who experienced something I've not experienced. How many soldiers in a battle retreated when they were needed, or purposely aimed badly because they didn't want to accidentally hit civilians who were too close.

I don't see shaming cowardly actions reducing cowardly actions. The best we can do is see why their training was insufficient to face the situation, and improve future training.

Jack Fisher said...

AO, evasions noted.

There are veterans here who are disgusted at your defense of cowardice.

And no reader gives a rat's ass about what you did or did not experience because that has nothing to do with that craven officer.

Anonymous said...

AO, your credibility on this blog vanished a long time ago. I no longer believe anything you write here, including personal stuff about your family.

Anonymous said...

AO: “I won't heap more blame on someone who experienced something I've not experienced.“

That’s B.S. You blame others endlessly.

Ares Olympus said...

Anonymous said.. That’s B.S. You blame others endlessly.

Feel free to call me out sometime and we can discuss specifics and see what we really know.

Anonymous said...

AO is back to his old habits of trying to take over someone else's blog. Most of us have the decency to make our point and not make it about us.

Ares Olympus said...

I can't tell if Anon6:22pm and Anon9:27am are the same person, but somewhere I learned that constructive criticism should be specific so I requested that. Like this, while I'm sure I fail these standard often enough myself. Of course no one has to be wrong if its just about divergent opinions.
The most basic "rule-of-thumb" of effective criticism is: "Respect the individual, focus the criticism on the behavior that needs changing - on what people actually do or actually say." Ideally, effective criticism should be: positively intended, specific, objective, and constructive.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Ares Olympus @9:02:

Ares, what the #%@& did you just say?

I’ll focus Anon’s criticism: Stop writing here. No one cares.

Specific enough? Take a hint.

Ares Olympus said...

IAC, thank you for your opinion. I'm sorry I can't oblige. I've have to stay at least long enough to figure out if I'm the only blamer here.