The Threat Within

Mental health (mal)treatment, as it is now practiced, has become a serious challenge to the freedom and privilege associated with democratic government. School children are being targeted for psychiatric labeling and drugging after the occasional odd act of mass violence perpetuated by lone gunmen. This targeting seems likely to lead to continual oppressive surveillance and monitoring of a substantial proportion of the population over the course of entire lifetimes.

Both our prison population, and our population of people with psychiatric labels, are growing substantially. While we recognize, to a certain extent, the loss of rights that come of breaking the law of the land, we tend to gloss over the fact that we are taking rights away from people in the mental health system, too. When these rights are not restored, and those populations grow even more dramatically, eventually they lead to a more restrictive society blatantly divided along caste lines.

Mental illness is an illusion. No mental illness has ever been proven for a fact to exist. Diseases are physical or they aren’t diseases. Certainly there are things going on in people’s lives that cause them to act in bizarre and incomprehensible, at least to other people, ways, but to call strange behavior the result of disease is to take a leap beyond the known. Organs disease, people misbehave, and a troop of wild cowboys is not the same as a groaning row of patients on a hospital ward.

Using media accounts of violence as an excuse to beef up your mental health system is just asking for trouble. Mental illness, the illusion remember, rates are reported to be at epidemic proportions now. If anyone were in their “right” mind so-to-speak they would be looking for ways to quell this epidemic rather than to escalate it. Paying more for it, in this sense, is merely a way of spreading it. What the mental health system is manufacturing is a steady supply of patients labeled chronically ill.

When the illness is dependency, subsidization is not the answer. Dependency, so-called “learned helplessness”, is one of the results of long-term institutionalization. Given a new stage of development, our total institutions are being replaced by a number of transitional institutions from which there is no real transit. The institution with walls gives way to the institution without walls. Joe Taxpayer pays public insurance to pay Big Pharma, and for outpatient facilities and residences, the secret lunatic bins, that help make up the growing mental health ghetto.

Either we change the documents this nation was built on, or we come back to the need for respecting and preserving rights and liberties, not just of the rich minority, but for everybody. Eventually we are going to have to recognize the humanity of people who have endured mental health maltreatment, and other forms of imprisonment, too. If we don’t, well, we have two choices, revolution or tyranny. The possibility also mounts that creeping autocracy could easily corrode any valid vision of social justice entertained beyond recognition.


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