My Blog Motto

"Good judgement comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgement"

~Rita Mae Brown

Friday, January 18, 2013

How Mental Illness Became the Boogeyman-Part 1

Buried deep within the discourse on gun violence and gun control is a much more insidious mechanism of control that is being injected into the mass consciousness. It is presented with the same fear inducing 'professional' research and statistical slight if hand that drives a vulnerable population to the brink of becoming a torch wielding angry mob of outraged citizenry feverishly targeting the scapegoat du jour in an attempt to preserve safety and freedom for all. Even more frightening is that the engineers of this design for social control are making enormous profits by offering the magic bullet that will keep us all safe from this threat to modern society and safety.

See it is not the guns that are the problem, we are now being told, but rather it is the Mentally Ill individuals who misuse this great and glorious symbol of freedom and liberty. These crazy people are ruining the second amendment for all the rest of us. How dare they? Obviously we as a nation would be just peachy keen with our semi automatic weapons, if only these mentally deranged people would just take their meds or better yet just go away somewhere and leave us alone to play target practice or hunt bears or whatever fun and freedom loving activities it is that people do with military style weaponry.

Of course no one in their right mind would argue that someone who is delusional, psychotic and completely out of touch with reality should be given any weapon of any kind. That would be dangerous. Never mind the fact that people with these diagnoses are far more likely to harm themselves than others. But then again there are some people who do not meet the diagnostic criteria, people who mesh quite well within the fabric of 'normal' society who are also potentially quite dangerous. The difference being these people are not dissociated from reality, in fact many of them are quite masterful at manipulating reality in such a way that they appear to be responsible and likable folks.They know enough to hide their prejudices and hatred so as not to appear to be a threat to the safety of society. Many of them probably belong to the NRA. Or Congress. Either way it is unlikely that these people have sought out mental health counseling or have been subjected to involuntary psychological screening, we may never know, right?

The language that is being used to describe the kind of people who should be prohibited from owning weapons is disturbingly vague. The exact type and level of screening, who would administer said screening and the criteria for disqualification of gun ownership seems to be one of those minor details that congress will get around to ironing out at a later date. Or maybe it was ironed out but the state department spokespeople and the media have just decided that those details weren't newsworthy. It was mentioned however that there will be recommendations to reform the standards of client therapist privacy and HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations that will encourage mental health care providers to report incidences or situations where safety may be a concern. But again, the specific criteria the factors that are to be considered when determining if a client is potentially dangerous, or simply not ok to own a weapon, are absent from any report or public statement as far as I can tell. (Please if anyone has found specifics do forward them to me and anyone else who has expressed concern about this.) I have some very serious concerns about this, not because I am a huge fan of guns (I'm not) but I also believe that we need to protect our rights and until otherwise stated, we as US citizens to have the right to keep and bear arms. More than that I am concerned that those rights be equal and accessible to all citizens.

Those of you are familiar with the Wacky World of Mental Health Practice may see where I am going with this. Thanks to managed health care systems and insurance company regulations, anyone who is seeking mental health treatment must be given a diagnosis. Anyone. So if I am stressed about my employment situation for example, as many people in today's economy are and rightly so, I will most likely be labeled as having anxiety or perhaps mild depression, or an adjustment disorder. These labels pathologize the beliefs and emotions which within context, are actually a pretty normal reactions to a stressful environment. Furthermore taken out of context and interpreted by someone who is unfamiliar with the definitions and criteria of the DSM-IV I may look like an unstable tinderbox of irrational emotion, read to explode at any given minute. Will this alone be sufficient 'evidence' to deny me a handgun permit?

Of even more grave concern is the example of survivors of domestic or sexual violence. Many of us would meet the standards to qualify for labels like "depression", "anxiety disorder" of even PTSD. Again, if we are being actively threatened by an abuser is our response pathological or is it a typical reaction to a potential danger? Will the determination of such diagnoses prohibit us from owning a weapon with which to protect ourselves and our loved ones from an abuser? The most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence is immediately after leaving the abuser. It is also the time when most victims seek out support and counseling and are therefore most likely to be hit with a diagnosis.

Again I do want to restate my personal belief that there are many other ways to defend ones self, and most of them are less likely to be taken from us and used against us; but I would not deny a survivor the right to have a weapon if that's what they feel they need to be safe and they are properly trained to use the weapon in a way that is responsible. The question is will the people making the decisions to grant permits do the same?

The next, and final concern I will address is the danger of painting "the Mentally Ill" with a broad brush, throwing us all into some category of unpredictable, potentially dangerous criminals. The DSM-IV regardless of what you or I believe about its validity or appropriateness is the Bible of diagnosis. It is the mental health providers most commonly used tool. It contains thousands of diagnoses and several categories of disorders. Pretty much any single human being could be given a diagnosis using this tool. It is designed that way on purpose Remember the thing about needing a diagnosis to get any kind of counseling? The vast majority of diagnosis describe relatively harmless and very common behaviors. But does the average American realize this? Do they even care? And even those who do know better can easily manipulate the information provided in a clients case summary to paint a very different picture than was originally intended. Don't think for a minute that it doesn't happen on a regular basis. And worse yet, now that the media has created a heavy fog of fear and sensationalism around the "Mentally Ill", I for one am bracing myself for a whole new attack on personal freedom and civil liberties. I really hope I'm wrong, but don't say I didn't warn you.

For more information om the DSM-IV:

© 2010-2013 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant post - I have also been concerned about this same thing.