Guns, Meds, and Mental Illness — a guest post by Kate Paulk
So, once again, a troubled young man tries to deal with his problems by going to a gun-free-zone (also known as a target-rich environment) and shooting anything he can find. It’s becoming so common it’s damn near a cliche, and the responses aren’t any better.
On one side you have the cries of “Guns! Evil!” and talk of how all guns must be banned (never mind that almost all these cases involve weapons the perpetrator acquired illegally anyway. Or that if deprived of that method of killing there are others available to those of murderous intent). On the other the shouts are all about how it’s the Evil Medications and how these mentally ill people need to be locked up for their own safety.
You see the rhetoric, right? The trouble is, yet again, there’s no middle ground. No recognition that there’s a very specific subset of mental illness (which, incidentally is one that tends to be difficult to medicate and has issues with those who suffer from it being willing to take their medications because of the unpleasant side effects) which is involved in almost all these shooting incidents.
Given that there is – at least in theory – a means to protect these people from themselves (as well as protecting everyone else from them), I have to wonder how much has been screwed up by the precious PC flowers to get us to this point. Even though I’ve got a pretty good idea.
It starts with the inane idea that self-esteem comes from never having failed (no, self-esteem comes from having overcome failure) mixed in with the anti-competitive bandwagon that removes all the healthy forms of competition from schools. Add in drugging anything that looks like normal boy behavior under the catch-all of “ADHD” (which cheapens the suffering of the families of those who actually DO have ADHD) and a total failure to teach anything resembling logic or reasoning and you have a toxic mixture just waiting to explode in someone’s face.
First up, psychoactive drugs are actively harmful to people with normal brain chemistry. So putting normal boys on drugs to “calm them down” is damaging them. It’s also leaving them horribly vulnerable to the crazy hormonal swings of adolescence because after being doped into passivity for years, they lose the ability to deal with their own moods.
When they’re also being told a bunch of shit that flat isn’t true and contradicts their own experiences and they haven’t been taught how to draw conclusions from evidence (AND they’re being told by all and sundry that their natural responses to most things are evil and wrong), well gosh, are you surprised something breaks?
I’m not. Nor am I surprised that when it breaks, the (by then) young man often does one of two things: he takes the nearest weapon and kills himself with it, or he plans revenge on everyone and everything associated with whatever made his life such a living hell, then carries it out in a particularly macabre form of suicide with help. Whether he’ll turn in or out seems to be a personal thing, although we rarely hear about the ones who simply kill themselves or why there’s a different reaction.
Does that mean I don’t sympathize with the victims? Oh, hell no. I add one (at least) to the list of victims, and that one is the perpetrator.
What all of this does NOT mean is that we should be locking up and forcibly treating everyone who shows signs of mental illness. Frankly, in the USA today, mental illness is a sane response to a world that’s gone rather badly off-kilter. And besides, mental illness can take many forms. Some folks are lucky – they can keep their internal demons controlled without psychoactive medications. Others are not. Still others are living in the kind of hell that no medication can fix. Blanket judgments, whether about who should be able to use what kind of weapon (and never let it be forgotten that in sufficiently determined hands damn near anything is a weapon) or what to do about folks with mental illness, are never bloody good enough. It’s got to be a case-by-case call. Is *this* person in a condition such that he poses a threat to himself or someone else? Can *that* person regain self-control with medication and a bit of help, or does he need something more structured(And the multiple cries of “self-control is evil, you need to gratify your desires” don’t help).
Above all, instead of tring to ban a class of weapons or make it illegal for mentally ill people to defend themselves, it’s about time we started telling schools to stop drugging kids and telling teachers to leave off the indoctrination and teach kids to read, write, do math, and to observe and draw conclusions from observed facts. This of course is a skill a lot of modern teachers lack, so we’ll also need to teach them that or replace them with someone who’s willing to learn.
Because not doing this will only get us more damaged kids who break and end up hurting themselves and other people.
After all, if it saves one child it’s worth it, right? Right?