E. Fuller Torrey

Oh oh, here we go again

The latest high profile killing event, the Santa Barbara stabbings and drive by shootings, have escalated misguided efforts aimed at curbing violence through mental health reform. Preventing violence through mental health reform, in my book, is as dubious a venture as has ever been proposed. This effort has kept me busy though commenting on news stories that would blame the recent violence on folks with “mental illness” labels.

E. Fuller Torrey, PhD, psychiatrist big wig and developer of the cat flu theory of schizophrenia, in a National Review piece, Addressing Serious Mental Illness, couldn’t seem to separate criminal actions from “mental illness” symptoms, and so I thought I would try to help the poor man out.

Murder is a crime. Multiple murder is a series of crimes. Murder is not a symptom of any illness anywhere. I read recently where about 5 % of the population who commit violent acts are said to have “mental illness” labels. This is curious indeed as about 5 % of the entire population have been labeled “severely mentally ill”. I think there is only one possible conclusion to be drawn from this information, namely that “mental illness” does not cause violent crime. If “mental illness” does not cause violence, all these efforts aimed at solving the violence problem by beefing up the “mental health system” are misplaced.

I’m sure I didn’t get very far with E. Fuller Torrey in the endeavor, but then that’s a matter for specialists in the field of Harebrained Psychiatrist Disorder, and that is, unfortunately, a subject somewhat outside the scope of my expertise. Anyway, if anyone does have any expertise in that field, please, get this man the help he needs soon. I fear for the nation if he doesn’t receive that help.

The News Tribune, sounding sufficiently imperial for a Tacoma Washington news rag, had it’s own solution to the dilemma, UC killings:  Sick angry men must be flagged, and I tried to flatter them by way of congratulations. “When in Rome”, as the saying goes. I hypothesize enough intelligence in the reader, at least in some readers, to fill in the blanks.

Yeah, like let’s become a psychiatric police state, and recruit community members as spies for the federal government. That’s really going to decrease the level of violence nationally, isn’t it? Of course, government violence will be on the rise, but so what? Maybe we will be able do something about the obnoxious neighbors in the process. Sig heil, News Tribune!

Wouldn’t you know it! Even the national news services had to jump into the fray. Here is my response to a story on CBS, Mental illness in spotlight after UC Santa Barbara rampage. This headline I find rather confusing. I don’t know how you could get a “mental illness” in the spotlight, unless maybe that “mental illness” was the cat flu virus under an electron microscope lens. Oh, well, what can you do? I imagine if somebody put an ad in the paper a bunch of people might show up, but people and illnesses remain rather dissimilar, if anybody has seen germs under magnification, by a long shot.

Young men have better things to be doing with their lives than murder/suicide. Apparently this message was slow to reach one Elliot Rodger. Calling murder/suicide a “sickness” is not suggesting any of those better things. If a life is a terrible thing to waste, not to mention 7 lives, how do we drive this message home? I, for one, don’t think consigning lives to the junk-heap of the mental health system necessarily represents an improvement. Certainly drugging a person isn’t redeeming a person. What’s more, it’s a lie. People don’t commit murder/suicide because they’re “sick”, people commit murder/suicide because they undervalue human life. We can’t afford so many repeats of this kind of folly before wisdom strikes. The demon “mental illness” didn’t do it. The fool Elliot Rodger did it. There are a lot of other fools out there who can’t seem to make this basic distinction. Another thing. Why is this young man so doggedly “serious”. I’d really like to see some silly. One wants to shake him, and say, lighten up, man. Life is for the living, not for the taking.

Finally, where NPR is peddling another mental health reform bill, Rep. Murphy aims for mental health bill to pass before next shooting, I have to put my heel to the brakes. This is going way too far, folks, and I, for one, ain’t a-going over the edge of that cliff.

Multiple murder is not a mental illness. Multiple murder is a series of crimes. You don’t punish law breakers with “mental health” treatment. Bottom line, murder is a violation of the law, not a symptom of a disease. Endless mental health reform is part of the problem, not the solution. Say you reform the mental health system, and another series of crimes breaks out; what do you do? Reform the mental health system some more? The point I’m making here is that you don’t really deal with the problem by scapegoating an innocent segment of society as Tim Murphy would do with his proposed legislation. Multiple murder is a criminal justice issue. Multiple murder is not, and never will be, a mental health issue.

Faulty logic though is not going to go away through wishful thinking. Watch out! Y is not G unless proposed by N, and N has a large following. Did I say “watch out”? Duck! One thing you can count on, like death and taxes, is bad news. I wouldn’t count on stopping that bad news through more and more mental health reform though. Anybody got a calculator? Isn’t that kind of like compounding bad news with bad news? Since when did bad news plus bad news equal good news? I leave you to judge. Scoot over. If The Terminator is an indicator of a bleak future, he should be here any moment now.