Guns, Meds, and Mental Illness — A Guest Post By Kate Paulk

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?

190 responses to “Guns, Meds, and Mental Illness — A Guest Post By Kate Paulk

  1. I don’t have much to add to this, you hit the nail on the head.

    Although I do wish that those who insist on free-fire zones, AKA gun-free zones, were present to be among those shot.

    • The idea that you could prevent mass shooting incidents by banning legal weapon carrying is a crazy idea.

      Nobody seriously entertaining so mad an idea ought be permitted to participate in public policy formation, as who could know what other irresponsible ideas they may hold?

      While I don’t advocate drug therapy for such insanity, I believe regular application of an inflated pig’s bladder to such persons is an essential component of sensible public policy. I know of no therapy so demonstrably effective in treatment of such insanity.

  2. How about we let kids learn that actions have consequences? How about helping them learn that hurting others gets you painful punishment? How about we go back to the days when a minor infraction got your butt busted by the nearest adult whether he was “your adult” or not? How about going back to when we would have preferred arrest to telling our parents? How about a return to letting boys, and girls, burn off energy by playing active, sometimes rough games. How about a return to requiring children to respect adults. These things would not stop all killers, they would reduce the number significantly

    • None of that is going to happen until we start having more kids. Right now we’re suffering of the “all precious child” syndrome. No one is going to let them risk themselves. And the results are horrible.

      • There’s also the busybodies who won’t let other people let their children take risks or do anything on their own.

        • I think there’s some trigger, beneath which the species goes into this mode. We should drown the crows of over-population, push out to space, and start having more kids.
          We’re a colonist species. we stop invading new territory, we die.

      • Evolution works awfully slowly.

      • Precious child… *chuckle*

        When I was young, my folks used to say they could have other kids, they’d just stuff and mount my corpse so they could use it as an example of the results of consistent bad behavior. Not so much “precious” as “disposable.” *grin*

        • Bill Cosby (paraphrased from memory): I made you, I can make another… :-P

          • Wise man, is Mr. Cosby. He’s said many things that make sense.

            • I think my only true disappointment in Bill Cosby was his participation in the celebrity boycott of Cincinnati several years ago, because of the uproar after a young man was shot by police.

              • I’d forgotten about that one. *shakes head*

                • We all make mistakes, on the whole I think he’s come down on the side of rational thought far more often than not. Not that he gets a pass, mind you. Celebrity has a cost, and part of it is institutional memory.

                  • Yeah, I give him great props for speaking up about so many of the idiotic crap that a lot of people do, and not backing down when they get “outraged”.

                  • Cosby lost a son to senseless violent attack about fifteen years ago — the number of folk who can suffer that and survive unscathed are few. Cosby’s wife made a number of extreme public remarks after the incident. I cut him slack on certain issues related to that under the Ed Koch Rule: If you agree with me on seven out of ten things, vote for me; if you agree with me on ten out of ten things, get your head examined.

                    Some of Cosby’s remarks I write off as paying dues to certain cultural elements — equivalent to some Amens expressed in Church in response to statements you don’t so much endorse as you endorse the right to say such things.

                    About twenty years ago he gave a commencement speech at Howard University that CSPAN broadcast and which blew the Beloved Spouse and me away. It was laden with advice on the order of “don’t go asking for a million dollars so you can start a business; start your business in your Momma’s basement and learn how to grow it into a million dollar business.” Having heard his advice to Howard’s graduates, nothing he has said since then about self-respect, taking responsibility for yourself or any other “conservative” principles has surprised me.

                    Keep in mind that Cosby had real experience with racism. Back in the Seventies, IIRC, I heard him do a hilarious routine about when he ran track while one of the Quantico Marines in the late-1950s, riding a bus with only one other black member of the team to a meet in the Jim Crow South and being refused service with his white teammates at a diner, only to be welcomed into the kitchen and stuffed so full they could hardly walk. ROTFL funny, especially his descriptions of the anger he and his teammate felt over the insult, and their glee in exploiting the situation so fully that they were unable to compete in the meet (Cosby, a high-jumper, said, “I walked up to the bar and just threw my belly over it.”)

          • That was what we told the kids “I can kill you and make another one who looks just like you. Won’t make no difference to me.”

          • Eamon: The quote you want is “I brought you into this world; I’ll take you *out*. And it don’t matter to me — I’ll make another one [who] look[s] just like you.”

          • I brought you into this world, I can take you out….

    • How about people not looking at medicien to solve every problem? I’m know that some people need their mental health meds. I’m absolutely positive that many people who are prescribed those meds don’t in fact need them and would do better without them

      • They tried to put me on them when I was, yes, incredibly depressed. I was depressed because I’d got SIXTY rejections in a day and I had a raging Urinary Tract Infection that hadn’t let me sleep in almost two weeks. And I had a cold. And it was my birthday. (No, seriously. Everything I had out came back. On my birthday.) I explained this to the doctor (a GP) who then told me, no, that was me looking for an excuse. Depression was caused by something in my brain. I snarled at him, told me to show me the PHYSICAL test results that showed something was wrong with my brain, then. He said the proof is that if they gave me prozac I’d feel better. I told him if they gave me cocaine I’d feel better too — did this mean I was short on cocaine? Stop being a witch doctor and give me my antibiotics, thank you, and confine yourself to what you know.
        He did, I left. BUT how many people — particularly when ill and feeling low — would resist? GP’s are not mental health specialists, and he was clearly reciting cant “no, depression is something in the brain. You’re just looking for excuses for it.”

        • Lately I have been having problems getting antibiotics for UTIs (with my meds UTIs are a given). Is this a problem other women are having? AND, UTIs can cause other problems if not treated.

        • “I told him if they gave me cocaine I’d feel better too — did this mean I was short on cocaine? Stop being a witch doctor and give me my antibiotics, thank you, and confine yourself to what you know.”

          Did you really say that to him? I stand in awe …

          • On the questionnaire at the pain specialist’s office, there was a question on one of the forms I was filling out for my wife, something to the effect of: “Do you think that narcotic pain medications will be a part of your treatment?” (don’t remember the exact wording). I answered, “How the hell should I know? You’re supposed to be the experts.”

          • I did really say that to him. I was pissy — I was tired, ill and depressed and he was bugging me.

      • BTW, as a depressive, he was dead wrong. When I am in one of my — completely controlled. Okay, mostly. I compensate because I know how my brain skews — depressive episodes, the problem is not that I’m sad and want to cry. Which is how I felt that day. The problem is that I seem perfectly controlled and nothing can touch me. It’s like being inside a bell jar, like everything is going away and vanishing.

  3. I recently learned something interesting about this latest kid (Who is not a Tea Partier, no matter how much Piers Morgan wishes it – although all references to his being a devout Socialist/Communist are being memory-holed.) And that is this: His rampage lasted a mere 80 seconds. Why? Because there was a good guy there with a gun. A School Resource Officer aka a Police Deputy was there to respond, and as a result, the shooter quickly did what so many of these shooters do, and shot himself.

    This aspect of the story is getting even less mention than his communism.

    • Of course they aren’t mentioning it! What and break the narrative?

      • And when someone does mention it, it’s pointed out most emphatically that the responder is a “trained officer”, not some random gun nut.

        • because random gun nuts never train, and besides “nuts” — ijits. at least my gunnut friends would never shoot my dog. Or my cat. or my pet bird.

          • When someone points out that most “civilian” (hack, spit – the Police are not supposed to be considered like the military) gun owners have more practice with their weapons than most police, they ignore that and go with, “He was supposed to be there, that’s his job”. Or else they don’t respond at all.

            • And that said civvies have a fraction of the number of hurt or slain bystanders in such a situation that the police do.*

              *: Mostly because of conflicting/insufficient/inadequate/just plain wrong training and orders. They suffer under stress and constraints that most people wouldn’t believe, and I sympathize with that, but as Sanford mentioned above, actions have consequences.

              • Concealed carry permit holders also break the law at a significantly lower rate than do police.

                As to the caveat, we (our culture) have the police we’ve created. The demands and pressure burn out the good ones. And by that I mean the demands and pressure of ‘saving’ everybody, all the time. Much is made of the court ruling that states the police have no duty to protect any given individual, but it’s just recognition of the fact that departments cannot be held legally liable for protecting everybody from violence. Because, that’s just impossible. Frequently, when I hear “why aren’t the police doing something?!” I ask, “What have you done?” In most cases the answer seems to be stand back and lament the sad state of affairs and b*tch about the cops.

                • The police have a very hard job. They have to deal with situations that none of us would want to be involved in.

                  • Police– don’t want help– they are them against us… Regular people are “them.” Just another gang in many places.

                  • Undeniably. There’s a number of professions that fit that bill. The police, however, have a significant degree of power over their fellow citizens. This means they are of particular concern to all of us, and a broken culture that puts unrealistic pressures on law enforcement breaks the system.

                    • Being in search-and-rescue is easier — we go in all-but-certain we’re going to find a corpse or three; we find a live one, hot shit, jubilee celebration time….

                • What Eamon said. I know of a neighborhood where the residents asked the police to come in because of the criminals (dealers and street walk—, er, excuse me, sex workers) forcing kids out of the local park during the afternoons and early evenings. But when the cops asked for info about any specific problem individuals, oh no, “Ain’t gonna say anything, because, you know.” We-want-cops-but-we-won’t/can’t-help-them. The local preacher shook his head and the police sergeant didn’t seem surprised. They did step up the patrols in the area, and more parents spent more time in the park, which seems to have improved things for now.

                  • I’m familiar with this attitude, and the expectations, from Iraq. There is a structural problem, and outside agencies cannot fix it, they can only respond to the aftermath. Until the affected citizenry takes matters into their own hands (to a degree, not advocating vigilantism here) the problem will remain.

            • Quote: Their minds are made up; don’t confuse them with the facts.

              IOW, the narrative inoculates them from facts and reason; to change them you have to change their narrative.

        • mikeweatherford

          Well, y’know, I’m a trained professional, too. I’ve been taught to use a weapon both offensively and defensively. I’ve actually USED that training in a combat situation (Vietham, not the last bunch of craziness). Yet if I were to try to get a concealed carry permit these days, I probably couldn’t. You see, I’m on “mind-altering” drugs, and I “might flip out”. What a bunch of maroons… No sympathy for any of them.

        • “a “trained officer”, not some random gun nut.”

          At that point, bring up the NYPD.

      • I think it was at Glenn Reynolds’blog I saw a post about the common thread of all (most?) these incidents is the non-presence of an active father’s presence in the boy’s life. I wonder if there is any grant money to research that thesis?

        • William O. B'Livion

          Both Harris and Klebold had a father and mother living at home.

          • Were they not the only instance of a multiple shooter incident? If so, then it is an outlier incident in several modes.

            Also, having a father “living at home” does not necessarily equate to “an active father’s presence.”

  4. I wish there were a way for concerned family members or friends to get a mentally ill person help in times when the disease has progressed to far for the sick person to reasonably manage his own care. This is a hard thing to fix though. I don’t want a piece of the government to be about to force drugs and hospitalizations on the public. And I don’t want abusive families to be able to force drugs and hospitalizations on their black sheep adult relatives. Any one have any good ideas for fixes? Maybe some kind of special medical power of attorney?

    • I don’t have a good answer here, especially not in the case of those who are not legally adult. I’m less concerned about abusive families than the abusive state though

      • Yes. All those “mentally ill” Russian dissidents.

      • Having a mix of the two would be terrifying!

      • Me too. The State could hurt a lot more people than one bad family could.

        I’m starting to like a special medical power of attorney. What if an individual could grant another person or group of people a kind of advance directive to decide things about their own mental health? The POA would need to be either non-revokable or require a mental health professional’s concurrence to be revoked. Otherwise the family and friends would just have a useless piece of paper that the ill person would revoke as soon as a bad break came when the thing was really needed.

        • You’d have to have them realize they might need it before the disease kept them from realizing it. People would be sloppy, thinking it wasn’t needed.

      • Yes – you don’t know how scared I am of (parents, siblings) my family having that kind of control over me– I disagree so I must be mentally ill.

        • No you aren’t ill. But if you had a friend who was ill and who was afraid of becoming an Adam Lanza one day, you might have a way to help. Just hiding the guns, knives, and car keys when someone’s off his meds isn’t effective. If you call an ambulance or the police, you get told that they can’t do anything until *after* harm has been done to himself or others.

          • I know I am not mentally ill – I am chronically ill though and my meds can cause an imbalance in my temperament. –however, my parents are something else.

    • Unfortunately, there are many people that must be coerced into treatment or they end up on the streets or in the prison system.

      Because that is what our society has decided to do with people who are mentally ill and noncooperative – let them roam free until they commit enough / severe crimes to be incarcerated.

      My friend Clayton Cramer is writing about this topic – his self-published book “My Brother Ron” talks about it and he is working on some scholarship on the history of commitment laws and the interaction with gun ownership.

      • I would say I like his book “My Brother Ron” only it’s not so much like, as I learned so much from him.

      • Or freeze to death.

        Some, mind you, are harmless. The Times Square attempted car bombing — one of the people who pointed the police at the car was crazy and homeless, IIRC.

    • mikeweatherford

      I’ve mentioned my son many times on here. He had been severely abused before he went into foster-care, and later into our household permanently. That abuse included several incidents so severe he was hospitalized. It left him with some permanent brain damage, especially to the part of the brain that controls such “incidentals” as cause-and-effect decisions, the ability to control the need for gratification, and many other decision/logic functions. He is a legal adult (he’s 39), but we’ve had to watch over him, and do everything we could to keep him from ending up in prison for nothing less than sheer inability to understand right from wrong. It wasn’t that he wasn’t taught these things, or that we didn’t work with him to develop a “moral compass”, but that his brain’s circuitry that handled such things was a total mess. He’s in an assisted-living facility now that is helping him, but not as much as he needs. He’s on all those medications for different mental problems, but they’re just barely effective, if at all (his problem isn’t brain chemistry, but scrambled circuits – Medicare psychologists don’t seem to be able to understand that, or treat it). He’s not violent, and I doubt he ever would be, but he is hard to live with. The fact that he’s in a home with 39 other adults with problems isn’t the greatest thing, but at least the staff know what they need to do, and they keep a close eye on the people there.

      The truth is, for a lot of people with mental problems, there ARE NO GOOD ANSWERS. All you can do is try to meet their minimum needs. While Joe is in a good place, there are ten times as many people that fall through the cracks as there are those that get care. The other unvarnished truth is that it’s not so much a lack of money as it is a failure of recognizing there’s a problem. THAT I blame on all those “right-thinking people” on the far left.

    • Does it have to be a blood relation? And does it have to be one person?

      I know three people who I’d trust to make decisions if I go “off the res” again. Having a document which says “if I go off-res again, call one of these three people; one of them will be able to make the necessary decisions” would be useful. (Why three people? “Two is one; one is none” — phone calls can be missed; one of them might be out-of-play for some reason; etc. I keep thinking of Sparta’s “phrateraes” from Pournelle’s Sparta duology in this situation.)

  5. “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.”

    Not gonna happen while the Department of Education walks the Earth. Friends and relatives who know I work for a public school system (I’m too ashamed to tell just anyone) ask me what it would take to reform it. My answer hasn’t changed in a decade: It can’t be reformed. The only people in the system who could reform it, like it just fine the way it is — either they made it what it is, or they’ve invested their careers in the status quo. Either let it collapse or demolish it outright and rebuild. But make d–n sure no one involved with it before the fall is ever permitted to join the replacement.

    • I can see ‘a’ Department of Education being useful. Small, moderately funded, and dedicated to preventing anything like this to ever happen again… But that’s more the duty of the people than the state, so such a dept. would be superfluous.

      • I could see a state-level D of Ed to run the state-funded colleges. Otherwise nope, and ditch the Schools of Education in the universities. Offer classes on teaching (how to create good tests, how to teach labs without blowing up more than you plan to, classroom discipline techniques for the small and fearful substitute) but none of the other stuff.

    • It ain’t just the Ed Dept although they have a way of locking in the rot. When somebody like Bill Ayers is a leader in pedagogical formation you can expect that the goal of Ed School graduates will not be the Three Rs or even rational thought.

      You want to change the Ed system you have to change the Ed Schools and the Ed Dept and where you gonna find ’nuff people fer thet?

  6. Suddenly struck me that growing up in the 50′s and 60′s, proud member of the class of ’69, all my teachers were a product of the Great Depression, and most of the men and quite a few of the ladies had served in WWII, Korea, or both. Their attitudes on the efficacy of surgically applied violence were far different from those held today.
    As to mass shootings in general, every one stopped when the perpetrators were faced with armed resistance. Sometimes that was law enforcement, other occasions an armed civilian was on the scene. Sometimes the perpetrator was shot or they took their own lives rather than surrender. In a few cases they’ve been captured. But the point is that force, armed resistance, is what always stops the violence. Yet so many of our supposed leaders seem to be in deep denial over what would seem to me to be the obvious solution, enough armed and trained personnel always on the scene to forever more put paid to this scourge of gun free victim disarmament zones.

  7. The routine drugging of active small boys is absolutely horrendous – and I grew up with two brothers, and my childhood playmates were usually boys, because that was all that there was in the neighborhood. I’ve wondered for years how many of the kids routinely dismissed as ADHD actually are. In my life I have only encountered one boy who was insanely overactive. One.
    All the others – by brothers friends, schoolmates, boys that I babysat, taught in Sunday School, children of friends, schoolmates of my daughter – were on the scale of normal to me. Some of them livelier than others – but normal. Anecdote is not data – but still…

    • Though the name, “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” contains the term, “Hyperactive”, ADHD is not always about someone who is overactive. It is primarily about someone who cannot (not merely has a hard time, but cannot) stay on task, and has to look for something else to concentrate on every few minutes. There are still far more boys diagnosed in many areas than are actually ADHD, but physical activity is not always an indication.

      • Reminds me of a conversation I had in college. I was in the clinic for a migraine, hoping they had something other than narcotics that would help (hate narcotics). New doctor comes in with a fat file- my medical history, I presumed.

        “I see you’ve not been taking your medication regularly.”

        “Bwhuh? Medication?” The only pills I take are vitamins and echinacea.

        “For your ADHD. Rather, you were diagnosed with ADD.”

        “Yeah, fifteen years ago. Split from that idiot fast as my feet could move. I’m not ADHD.”


        Long story short, he tried to put me on meds for: ADHD, depression, manic depressive/bipolar, and some other stuff I’ve since forgot. Talked to his supervisor, old-school doc, and explained I’d managed quite well since I was five with all these supposed problems, and managed to graduate with honors from high school and was working on a double major in college (was about four credits short and too broke to finish the second. And the third, about nine credits short), working thirty odd hours a week, tutoring for twelve, and had a girlfriend. Also, If I could manage my five hundred pages of reference material, thirty pages of notes, and three pages of reports in one day (Sunday, no classes), I rather doubted I was really ADHD…

        Old-school doc proscribed bed rest “and I mean it, eight hours horizontal, eyes shut, sleeping.” *chuckle*

        • Clearly, I don’t know if you’re truly ADHD or not, so this is not specifically directed at you, but:

          I said above that someone with ADHD cannot stay on task. This can, over time, be improved, and coping mechanisms can be learned (I tend to fidget in multiple ways to give my brain a secondary task to allow me to keep focused longer – I was never diagnosed, but I have a laundry list of the symptoms), but the intrusions of other subjects, or the growing need to do something, anything else than what you’re doing right at the moment, never goes away. They say that a significant amount of hard exercise will alleviate it somewhat, but some people simply don’t get the opportunity during their everyday life.

          However, regarding your description of managing all those things, it’s entirely possible that ADHD might have helped you with being able to switch between them with less ramp-up after each switch. It’s not always a debilitating thing, and, if you can learn a way to do it, it can help with multitasking (they say that may be what it evolved for, helping men be able to keep track of numerous details while hunting).

          • That’s how I function. Actually, when we had younger brat IQ tested — above a certain IQ — 132 — EVERYONE fidgets, etc while concentrating on things. It’s not ADHD. It’s insufficient intellectual stimulus. My younger son watches movies while working. Husband too. It’s not ADD or ADHD. It’s “too smart for your own good.” I wonder how many geniuses we’re medicating?
            Oh, wait, all of them. Unless their mothers say “To h*ll with you. The kid can learn anything he cares too quickly, he’s not ADD, he’s insufficiently motivated.”

          • Oh agreed, sir. I know people who are legitimately ADHD, my godson’s mother is dating one right now. Great guy, but hard to follow sometimes. *chuckle* He’ll be the one watching tv, reading, and painting miniatures while trying to hold two conversations at the same time. He literally cannot stay focused without his medication.

            While I do have some of the traits as well (need for multitasking in particular), I’m aware of the difference between ADHD and someone on the odd end of “normal human being.” I find I think better after exercise, too, but I think that’s something normal for nearly everyone.

            The point I flailed away at making is that there is a difference between “needs meds to function normally” and “functions oddly but still normal enough to be safe.” Dunno my IQ as I’ve tested both in the low seventies and somewhere over a hundred, but I’m convinced the scale is somewhat screwy, or was when I was subjected to it twenty odd years ago.

            I do see a lot of smart people who need constant stimulus to remain focused, like my bioanthropology professor who had to have her gum (blowing bubbles and all) while she lectured. Perhaps there’s some sort of link between things which cause ADHD, autism, and folks that can grasp and conceptualize complex ideas quickly. We’ve talked about that here before, I think. *grin*

    • I have had absolute strangers in the supermarket and the library (which are my main hangouts) tell me that my boys are ADHD and should be medicated. These strangers always turn out to be public school teachers or retired public school teachers. (My boys are not being bad by my standards, either, they are not whining for candy or throwing tantrums–they are asking ‘How does the conveyer belt work?’ or ‘Where do I find books on nanotechnology’, probably a little too loudly, with maybe some jumping up and down thrown in.)
      Now, my boys very well might be ADHD, but who cares? They’re home schooled, and when they drive me nuts there’s “Outside! Now!” to solve the problem.
      Why do teachers (not physicians, teachers) think it is okay for them to approach strangers and tell them to drug their kids? Probably because the parents they approach like me are polite and don’t tell them off like we should!

      • Teachers who presume to tell anyone, much less a stranger, that their children are *whatever* and should be medicated should be sued for malpractice. Doctors who go along with it should be in jail.

        Your boys sound curious and active. You know, like children. Get you a t-shirt: Busybodies Butt Out!

      • “Why do teachers (not physicians, teachers) think it is okay for them to approach strangers and tell them to drug their kids? Probably because the parents they approach like me are polite and don’t tell them off like we should!”

        Also because they’ve been told throughout their training and professional career that they are the bedrock and foundation upon which civilization is built, that nothing is possible without them, and they know better than the parents because they’ve been — by Gaia! — credentialed.

        A lot of them take it with a grain of salt, but I’ve encountered some jaw-dropping cases of egomania.

      • Accuse them of practicing medicine without a license.

        In Connecticut, they had to pass a law requiring that the teachers could not make diagnoses or require drug treatment for the students.

  8. We just had another shooting in a gun-free zone (hospital campus in Reno, NV– Renown). It was at the neurology department. The shooter in his 50s used a shotgun and shot two doctors and a patient. One doctor died. He walked through two floors to get to this office and was seen by multiple people. He was on an active mission for that particular office. He then killed himself in the waiting room–

    • mikeweatherford

      I hate to say it, but I probably have quite a bit in common with that patient (and I’ll bet he WAS a patient). Chronic pain can drive you crazy at times. When you’ve hurt for four or five days straight, and all the very powerful pain pills do is take the edge off it a bit, and you get absolutely NO help from the medical people, the frustration level reaches danger levels. I’ve never reached the point where I’d want to shoot anyone, but last week I spent quite a bit of time in my home office (my ‘cave’) with the door closed because dealing with anyone else, even Timmy (especially Timmy!) was too much. Different coping methods provide different results. The guy that shot the doctors and then killed himself used a very poor coping method, but I can truly understand it.

  9. Mental health is a dangerous issue. There have been fatalities related to unstable people and their delusions of grandeur. That cannot be denied. It has happened and is happening at an increasing rate. This is worrisome. There are no two ways about it.

    But we’re opening ourselves to a real problem if we allow government to regulate one more aspect of our lives. What would a legal definition of mental illness look like? Would it be similar to a scientific definition? Or would it be something easily corrupted to “disagrees with current policies?” I know, I know. All medical officials are driven by purely altruistic morals and are incorruptible. None of them could ever be corrupted. I mean, look at all the good accomplished in Auschwitz by that guardian of the Public Health, Josef Mengele. Oh wait. Never mind.

    Where do we draw the line? Keep in mind that I don’t _trust_ government watchdog groups. When courts issue writs of assistance to the NSA they’re no longer doing their job and are part of the job and not the solution. There there’s this: Should we require a mental health test before purchasing a gun? See my previous comments about the trustworthiness of health officials with an agenda and then factor in that these tests would create a de-facto registry. Registries can be used to seize guns. Just ask any of the people in New York who received gun confiscation notices. There is danger there as well.

    Is more funding the answer? Possibly. Maybe. I have serious doubts that it could make the situation worse so it’s probably worth the effort to at least try.

    I have a suspicion (I said suspicion. No, I don’t have any documentation to prove this. IF I did it wouldn’t be a suspicion, it would be proven) that we’re creating our own nutcases by spending so much time talking about nutcases. When Seung-Whi Cho shot up Virginia Tech he referenced Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. They were idols to him, people he saw as role models.

    Banning guns is not the answer either. The most recent shooting was stopped by a deputy with a gun. There was a movie theatre shooting that was stopped by a man with a gun as well. All Hollywood BS aside, the only defense against an armed assailant is to be armed as well.

    And yet, what can we do about that either? Mass shootings are news whether we like it or not and the government can’t just order reporters to not cover them. I don’t know what the answer is. Finding one is not going to be easy. I just hope we can find something that might work here because what we’re doing now isn’t working.

    • “Mass shootings are news whether we like it or not and the government can’t just order reporters to not cover them.”

      Sure we can. Just like our Second Amendment rights do not prevent reasonable restrictions, neither do our First Amendment ones.


      • Or request/suggest that police briefings and the media avoid using the shooter’s name, and cover the incident the same way they do other crimes. “There was a shooting at the McFergus on 58th St. Four people injured. An armed customer inside the restaurant returned fire and killed the shooter.” Eliminate the glamor and don’t mention the perp’s name, and you’ll probably stop encouraging (other) sick souls to seek immortality in infamy. It won’t stop the truly determined/insane, but it will eliminate one of the big “rewards.”

        • When you consider how many of these people are literally mentally ill, is it too much to ask that the perpetrators’ names be withheld, using the reasoning that their rights to privacy are being violated otherwise? Perhaps we could even use HIPPA (as vile as that law is in many ways) for this purpose.

          • Withholding the perp’s name is as easy as withholding the names of victims of rape. There is no legitimate public interest in knowing that information.

      • The media self censors all the time. Need I point out the last five years of almost exclusively puff pieces regarding der Leader? Only now that word of mouth and the reality of the looming huge bite ACA will take from most of us are they trying to cover their butts.
        Know for a fact regarding self censor, that news organizations have an implicit rule to almost never cover the details of legitimate defensive gun use. That too seems to be changing, at least in some venues.

  10. Probably to my discredit, I’m much less sympathetic to the perpetrators than our guest. Not that I disagree with her analysis of origins. No, I think she’s nailing it. Our culture and our schools and (most definitively) our media are breeding this behavior. And I ache with sympathy for those who have to deal with these systems. Right up until they pull the trigger.

    You see, I’ve yet to hear anything in a backstory that was particularly worse than what any of the Odds hereabouts could probably relate about their own experiences. Oftentimes not nearly as bad. I’m familiar with shame and anger, with impotent rage, isolation, desolation and fractured hope. Intimately familiar. But I’m also familiar with concepts of responsibility and restraint.

    I don’t follow these things closely (if I’m wrong, somebody slap me about the head, yeah?) but I’m not aware of a diagnosis in any of these cases that indicates the perpetrator was in a delusional state, unaware of their actions or their environment, suffering from hallucinatory episodes or in some other way not connecting their activities with the death and destruction they wrought.

    And so, I think they’re indulgent cowards. Pampered and celebrated by the media instead of ridiculed and mocked and forgotten.

    Desperately in need of an empathy transplant, right? Yeah, I know. For what small clarity it provides, let me reiterate: I am profoundly sympathetic to the difficulties, pain and suffering of living under the modern systems, and sympathetic to the burden of bio-chemical imbalances in neurochemistry. I think our schools and our culture are failing all of our children. And I struggle with finding solutions. But far, far more people are responsible and restrained under these burdens, and I’ll reserve my sympathy for them.

    • But see, you’ve hit upon the difference right there. Almost, anyway. You said, “indulgent”, but really, they’ve been indulged in Special Snowflake-ism, and don’t know that there are other ways to deal with life’s hardships. They haven’t learned that people are supposed to find outlets that don’t involve death and destruction (though they can involved destruction as long as it’s your own property), and when their stress level overwhelms their frail egos, they go off and do something like this, rather than figure out something else.

      • I don’t disagree, except that all the folks around them have been indulged as well.

        They take their Special Snowflake-edness one step further. And hell is hard on snowflakes.

      • In one of the places I worked, we had a scream room. It was so helpful. We would come out and be able to calmly help customers (retail–not a fun place to work other than that room). I wondered when the owner came up with the idea– :-)

        • Worked retail for way too many years, and I am definitely jealous! We didn’t have anything like that, but back then (well, for most of it, anyway) I was running regularly. Oddly enough, my normal 8 minute/mile pace would sometimes drop down to 7 minutes/mile after really stressful days at work.

          Violent video games also helped. And I haven’t been desensitized and shot anyone yet, either, so that myth is busted.

          • Back in my freshman year of college I had the great good fortune to schedule my fencing class right after my pre-Calculus Class. Nothing relieves tension like skewering somebody on a yard of good steel.

          • Violent video games damn sure do help. Show me a MMO player who says he’s never rampaged through a newbie garden with a max level character after a bad day and I’ll show you a liar. As long as it’s only electrons on a screen it’s therapeutic.

        • Worked for a library director who told staff ” After you’ve dealt with a difficult patron, get somebody to relieve you on the desk and take a walk. Then you can come back and deal with another one without going ballistic.” Same principle.

      • “They haven’t learned that people are supposed to find outlets that don’t involve death and destruction . . .”

        I wonder if perhaps they’ve never learned that there are other people. There’s themselves and a bunch of things that stopped being useful, but are still entertaining.

        • Yeah, that could have a lot to do with it.

        • One of the side effects they note in the literature for many of the psychoactives is that they seem to encourage narcissistic personality disorders.

          I don’t think we have the first clue what is going on with these things, or what they are doing to people’s minds. You observe the way they go about determining the prescriptions, and it scares the hell out of me. I watched the military medical system run what amounted to a free-range medical experiment with a lot of the people they prescribed them to: “Here, try this at this dose… Come back in three weeks, and we’ll reevaluate…”. Three weeks later, they ask the patient for his or her subjective opinion, evaluate, and then re-try the test with different dose or drug.

          What’s the key missing point? Nobody is going out and observing these patients out in their environment. They may report “Improvement”, but the reality is that their co-workers and bosses think they’re going nuts. One med may have them sleep-walking through the workday, and another may have them maniacally insubordinate. And, thanks to medical privacy, nobody in the unit has even the slightest idea what the hell is going on. We threw a couple of these guys out of the Army for misconduct, and only found out after the fact that they’d been under treatment with a range of pharmaceuticals that would boggle your mind.

          I’m not going to argue that the meds don’t do good. What I’m going to argue is that they should not be prescribed the way they are. People need meds? Fine, put them into a residency-style program, determine what meds work, and only then put them out into society again. While they’re determining the doses and meds, the patients should be under 24-hour observation and supervision. Relying on the patient to accurately self-report as to whether the drugs are working or not? In-fecking-sane.

          Mark my words: In fifty years, people are going to look back at our use of these things the same way we look back at the fad for lobotomies. We simply do not know enough about the brain/mind interface to be dumping these things into human beings. Good luck trying to get someone in the “system” to admit that, though.

          Another point I’d like to make is the fact we’re ignoring a key bit of information in all this debate: From discussing cases with the military counselors, one of the key anecdotal findings that they came up with was that they were seeing a fairly high correlation between susceptibility to PTSD and other issues, with the use of psychoactives in childhood. Time was, if you were dosed with something like Ritalin or Adderal, you were not getting into the military. Period. A waiver for that stuff back in the late 1980s was virtually impossible to get. Then, they relaxed the criteria. I saw a lot of these kids later wind up over at the PTSD clinics, and the counselors over there told me the same thing. Whether or not it was due to the drugs setting up a chemical predisposition, or my preferred guess, that the kids who took the damn things never developed adequate coping skills or techniques to deal with stress, I don’t know. It’s probably a mix.

          The human mind is a fragile thing. We’re all balanced on a knife-edge, maintaining sanity and sapience. Losing that balance is something that absolutely terrifies me, because I can imagine no worse fate than to be a semi-functional mindless husk, and still live. Screwing around with these chemicals is more dangerous than I think society realizes.

          • One of the reasons (they are legion) I dislike psychiatrists and psychologists: They profess an understanding of the brain and mind that science has not achieved, move blindly forward in ‘treatment,’ cause untold harm, write it up in case notes, and go on about their lives.

            Messing about in that which you do not understand is bad enough. Doing it with an arrogant assumption that you do understand, and that you have the right via credentialing to make these decisions…

            As I said, I dislike much of what goes on in those professions.

            • I’ve never met a psych doctor yet that was sane. My pet theory is they know they are nuts, so they go to school to figure out how to treat themselves, and then diagnose everyone else with mental problems, because self-esteem is important, and they don’t want to feel inferior to anyone else.

          • oh gosh yes! We’ve got a family member who has bipolar disorder and I’m part of a support group – the stories other members tell of medication roulette – and incompetent doctors – are appalling. We got lucky and found a doctor researching how to get physical readings (EEGs) that give a clue to what medication might work for a particular person, and it worked for our family member. When we went to other doctors for maintenance the reaction to that technique was ‘crackpot.’ Any more than guessing by symptoms which could point to any number of diagnoses? I DON’T think so. We need more science and less DSM symptom collections.

            And lots of non-psychiatric meds affect these kids’ brains, up to and including OTC vitamin D and cold medicine. We don’t know nearly as much as we pretend, and there hasn’t been enough interest in figuring out what is really going on with people.

            • It’s like Alzheimers research. The big dogs got fixated on protein tangles to the exclusion (deliberate exclusion) of other possibilities. And now it appears that those tangles do not cause Alzheimers, so . . . The Wall Street Journal had a very good little article about it earlier this year.

      • mikeweatherford

        When I was a teen, I spent a LOT of time angry, confused, frustrated — and saddled with a lot of responsibilities my peers didn’t have. One of my uncles gave me a lifesaving present when I was about thirteen. He gave me a punching bag. There are times when I spent TWO HOURS STRAIGHT banging the snot out of that bag. It kept me from doing the same thing to teachers, fellow students, and many of my cousins (most of them don’t know how close they came to me throttling the life out of them!). Today, very few kids have access to such things, or encouragement to use them as stress relievers. It’s a shame, because it works. Of course, there are problems with encouraging physical development. I got kicked out of both Golden Gloves AND NCAA boxing for “overly violent behavior”. In both instances, I broke the jaws of two people in regulated competition, using 16-ounce gloves. Broke my heart, it did… NOT! I HATED boxing, but got pushed into it because I was good at it.

      • “people are supposed to find outlets that don’t involve death and destruction”

        remembering the time she walked into the D&D session and informed the DM that she wanted to kill something that night

        Channeling that impulse properly can work marvels.

    • “I don’t follow these things closely (if I’m wrong, somebody slap me about the head, yeah?) but I’m not aware of a diagnosis in any of these cases that indicates the perpetrator was in a delusional state, unaware of their actions or their environment, suffering from hallucinatory episodes or in some other way not connecting their activities with the death and destruction they wrought.”

      I don’t want to slap anyone about the head, but James Holmes (the Aurora, Co. shooter) had a history of schizophrenia. I don’t know enough about the case to know whether or not other legal/illegal or prescription drugs he may have been taking might have been aggravating the situation.

      I do know that whenever one of these events happens, the press doesn’t like focusing on things like “what drugs was the perpetrator taking” nearly as much as “gee, why were they able to legally buy an AR-5000?”

      Off the top of my head, there’s also the example of Jared Lee Loughner, who was apparently a frequent user of psychedelic drugs and is also diagnosed as schizophrenic.

      • AR-5000? Pfui. It was clearly an AKR-1547.

        (Runs behind heavy defenses before any gun guys shoot me).

        • With the high-capacity assault clipazine, evil and dastardly barrel shroud, shoulder thingy that goes up, bayonet clip with attached grenade launcher (and special armor-piercing cop-killing implosive bullets, Feinstein Specials). Its painted black, and has a Hello Kitty sticker on the back part you put against your arm to make the bullets spin faster. Definitely evil.

        • Nah. It’s a seven-hunnert caliber sem-automatic GollyWhottaBoomer assualt machinegun with a forty-six bullet clip. (Hell, the MSM — as well as most liberals — couldn’t get the nomenclature right with two dictionaries and a crowbar.)

    • It is possible to be sympathetic of the situation someone is in without forgiving them their crimes or whatever. The situation and acts of others may have actually been a major part of the cause for them to commit their crimes. But they were still the actor and deserve to face the consequences.

      I am, as a result, unimpressed with any “insanity” defence. Bluntly if you are insane, go off your meds and kill someone, then simply from a danger to society you should be locked up (or maybe even executed).

      But that lack of total sympathy for the unfortunately mismedicated individual doesn’t mean I don’t want society as a whole to figure out how to keep these people as sane as possible and keep them in general society rather than being locked away in a prison or asylum.

      • Actually, on average, a person who wins a “not guilty by reason of insanity” plea is locked up for twice as long as a person who is just convicted.

      • If I understood it correctly, the insanity defense originated in the concept of an absence of mens rea, of criminal intent. For example, if while we are camping in the woods you go off for a latrine visit and, upon your return I mistake you for a bear and shoot you I would not be guilty of murder (except, of course, Inspector Columbo would discern I not only knew it was you, I had lured you onto that camping trip and laced your canteen with Lasix …)

        Similarly, if you wake me from a profound sleep because I had been thrashing about, dreaming I was under Injun attack, and I slit yer gizzard with the Bowie I keep under my pillow, I would argue in my defense that i had suffered temporary insanity, had not known it was you and never meant to hurt you.

        A reasonable principle abused and contorted by unreasonable defense lawyers and sob sisters of all genders.

      • This concept recently came up in a conversation I was in: someone proposed, and I think I agree, that “not guilty by reason of insanity” should become “guilty, but sentence commuted for reason of insanity”. The guilty/not guilty verdict should rely only on the facts: did he, in fact, kill all those people? The punishment should be based on his ability to understand what he did. E.g., yes, he killed all those people, but because he couldn’t really make moral choices due to his insanity, it wouldn’t be right to execute him for the crime: instead, he will spend his life in an asylum*. He’s still removed from society and thus will not present a danger to it any longer, but we won’t punish someone harshly** when he couldn’t understand that he was doing wrong.

        * Assuming, of course, that the idiotic “bleeding hearts” have left any asylums still open, but that’s a different rant.

        ** Second assumption: that the asylums are reasonably well-run, and wouldn’t constitute harsh punishment per se. This one, unlike my first assumption, is probably reasonable given some kind of system of checks and balances.

    • Gotta agree with you. I know I haven’t had the worst upbringing by a very long shot, but when a lot of these guys are described by the media, I hear a lot of descriptors that would fit my life. I have to shake my head and think “cowards” and “egomaniacs”…they took the “easy” way out (suicide by cop), didn’t face up to life, didn’t shoulder the responsibility and put forth the effort to slog through each day like a mature human being. I really feel no sympathy towards them, either. They made their choices, and will be judged accordingly by God Almighty.

  11. William O. B'Livion

    First up, psychoactive drugs are actively harmful to people with normal brain chemistry

    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.

    The problem with this explanation is that the incidents of school shootings, over time, have more-or-less tracked the population (especially the population of school aged children).

    It also ignores that much of what you’re talking about is massively US centric but we see shootings in other countries/cultures.

    It also is what I call the fallacy of “counting your hits and ignoring your misses”. For every boy that has an extremely violent reaction there are 10s of thousands to millions that do not.

    This is not to say that medically treating boys on the right hand side of the bell curve for “active” or “boy” is good, it is certainly bad for both the boys and society. It’s a horrible idea.

    But it’s not at the root of the school shooting problem, and it’s not at the root of violence problems.

    A much more likely explanation is schizophrenia or extreme psychopathic behavior.

    • “It also ignores that much of what you’re talking about is massively US centric but we see shootings in other countries/cultures.”

      Astonishingly, I’ve had foreigners tell me how bad the US is about mass shootings – in gun control discussions – to the point of being able to list all the recent US ones but either are or feign ignorance of the European ones. The German school shooting, the Norwegian Brevik, and other European mass shootings.

      Another point, the emphasis on “shooting” is misplaced. The Columbine murderers actually intended to set off propane bombs but failed to get them to ignite before being interrupted. If they had succeeded, the casualties would have been an order of magnitude larger. The largest death toll for a mass murder at a school is in fact eight decades old, and was when a disgruntled farmer in Michigan set explosives at a local school and detonated them. The recent incident in Colorado this last week the attacker had gasoline filled bottles when he was interrupted.

    • “But it’s not at the root of the school shooting problem, and it’s not at the root of violence problems.

      A much more likely explanation is schizophrenia or extreme psychopathic behavior.”

      The problem you’re missing is that these drugs do two things: One, they mask the behaviors in the patients that would serve as warning signs that they’re really going waaaay off the reservation, sanity-wise, and two, they sometimes exacerbate the issues tremendously, serving to magnify the behaviors.

      Any drug that does things to the mind, and which we do not understand the mechanism, should be carefully prescribed only under closely observed and controlled circumstances. The medical/industrial complex does not want to admit it, but there are even drugs used for purely clinical reasons that have tremendous side-effects in a certain segment of the population.

      A case in point: Mefloquine, an anti-malarial drug which has been linked to some very bizarre neuropsychological symptoms. You go out looking, and the majority of the people taking this drug seem to report no major issues. However, huge-effing-comma, there’s a significant fraction of people who take the stuff and then have major issues. The Canadians basically shut down their Airborne unit over abuses committed by the unit while in Somalia. Little known fact? They were using mefloquine as an anti-malarial, and the perpetrators of the incident were later shown to have been experiencing a “bad reaction” to the drug. There’s enough anecdotal evidence out there that makes you really wonder what they hell they were thinking when they issued this stuff to combat troops. An acquaintance of mine was a Special Forces medic, who issued the stuff to his unit prior to a lengthy mission in Northern Thailand. He kept the notes he took on that deployment, and the biggest take-back he had from that was the number of heretofore mentally-stable guys he’d deployed with started having “issues”, ranging from nightmares to out-and-out psychotic breaks. There were even a couple of murders he linked in with the whole thing, because mefloquine apparently continues to affect the patient long after use has ceased.

      If the drug passes the blood/brain barrier, and influences behavior, I think use of it drastically needs to be re-evaluated. No matter what it is, or what it’s clinical use is.

      • mikeweatherford

        I can’t take ANY anti-malarial drugs. Guess where my first two overseas assignments were to — Panama & Vietnam. I’ve never had malaria, but I had some other tropical disease in Panama. I was sick for six days, and lost 45 pounds. The doctors never did figure out what it was… Military(government) medicine at its best???

        • There is nothing like tropical fevers. Anybody know why Quinine is now a restricted drug now?

          • Because they don’t want people making bootleg Gin & Tonic?

          • I think part of the reason is because it can cause coronary problems. And part of the reason in some areas, IIRC, is because it is the last thing that works on malaria. Yes, we’ve gotten medicine-resistant malaria now. Only the original, old faithful still works on it.

            • mikeweatherford

              And quinine is a drug I have a genetically-tagged allergy to! About half the people on Mom’s side of the family are allergic to it, and we all have the same reaction to it — swollen lymph glands.

          • I used to work with a guy who had malaria (got it in Vietnam, once you have it you have it for life), he always had quinine with him. About every year or two he would have a relapse, and quinine was the only thing that worked, sort of, he was still sicker than a dog for a couple days.

            The really stupid thing? He got malaria because he refused to take the anti-malaria drugs in Vietnam because they caused ED.

            • It isn’t true that once you have malaria you always have it for life. In most people, malaria is entirely gone seven years after the last malarial fever. I had malaria at least a half dozen times as a kid. I had only one possible malarial fever relapse in the US. My siblings and parents didn’t have any.

              • Well, I am not an expert, I knew at least one other person that had had it, and don’t recall them having relapses. I just know that is what he told me and since I seen him have two relapses while I worked with him (late 90′s) I assumed he knew what he was talking about. Are there different types of malaria, or did he just have an atypical case of it? (the only times he was sick when I knew him was those two cases of malaria relapse, so I don’t believe it was an overall weak constitution)

                • I know of one person (great-great uncle) and personally know one person who died of complications of malaria following relapses many years after the first infection. G-g-uncle managed to die in North Dakota twenty years after he got malaria while working on the Panama Canal, and the other person was a missionary pilot in Central America when he got it. He’d been living in the midwest for en, fifteen years when he finally succumbed. *shrug* Just anec-data, YMMV.

                  • According to the Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary there are 4 different species of Malaria organism. The life cycle of the critter is almost as interesting as hookworm, but apparently can include a dormant period in the liver that is usually a couple of months but can be years.

      • “Any drug that does things to the mind, and which we do not understand the mechanism, should be carefully prescribed only under closely observed and controlled circumstances.”


        I can tell you that St. John’s Wort effects me just like an SSRI. It *might* be the placebo effect, but before I touched it I read up on the research, and it’s “leans towards a real effect, for some reason especially with those of German descent”.

        A quick search on Amazon shows I can get seeds for chump change.

        Then there’s caffeine. And capsaicin…

          • SSRI = Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor. By having more neurotransmitters in the gaps between neurons you increase neural activity and combat depression. Zoloft and such block the re-uptake (recycling) sites so the level of NTs increase. Downside is that the body becomes accustomed to the higher level – or the body makes less – and you have to taper off, because if you cold-turkey you can get terminally tetchy and pissy, probably from the shortage.

        • Anti-estamines turn off the writing thing.

      • *grabs soap box and makes note to only put one link in comments henceforth*

        Here you guys go:

        Why any idiot thinks we should give these to any helpless little kid unless it’s absolutely life and safety necessary . . . all in favor of forcing said idiots to ingest them instead?

        *returns soap box*

  12. Well, one way to start chipping away at the problem is to stop diluting the definition of “mental illness.” The new edition of the DSM is appalling. If the Credential-ed Ones would quit looking for brand-new “diseases” that they can get funding for, they’d have a lot more time and funds to use looking at things that really do hurt people, including schizophrenia, true psychosis, psychopathic behavior that endangers the ill person or those around him, real depression, and so on. *gets off soap box, straightens it for the next speaker, wanders off*

    • *takes soap box from TXRed*

      And if doctors are required to report people who are mentally ill so that they can have their gun rights taken away, what is the definition of “mentally ill” that they’re going with? Anxiety disorder? If I was, say, a woman with an ex-husband who’d threatened to kill me, I might well appear anxious — so should my only effective means of self-defense be taken away? (Restraining orders are worth the paper they’re written on, nothing else. Good luck getting your overworked local police department — and they’re all overworked, even (especially?) the ones with good cops — to loan you an officer as a bodyguard just on the basis of “I really think he’s going to carry out his threat.”)

      And on the flip side, I was talking to a doctor just yesterday who was ranting about how she’s expected to basically have a future-predicting crystal ball, because if she sees a patient and then five years later he goes on a shooting rampage, she’ll be blamed for “not reporting him as a possible danger”. So if doctors over-report people just to their own asses, that would lead to hundreds of thousands of people getting their gun rights taken away just because one doctor was intimidated by the legal profession. (This particular doctor, being a firm supporter of gun rights, did not seem likely to do such CYA over-reporting, but she was predicting that many others would.)

      *Returns soap box to “Free, Take One” area*

      • New York state law now by the way.

      • I wonder how long it will be before they decide to diagnose you with a mental illness if you don’t go to the doctor at least every five years to be checked out?

      • Minor correction: when I said “hundreds of thousands of people getting their gun rights taken away just because one doctor was intimidated by the legal profession,” I didn’t mean to imply that one doctor sees hundreds of thousands of patients. Rather, each of those people would (wrongly) lose their gun rights because the doctor they saw most recently was intimidated. That would be a bunch of different doctors, but one doctor per patient (with some overlap).

        Which is pretty obvious when you think about it, but I realized on re-reading my comment that I had phrased it poorly. Oh, and I also omitted the word “cover” — last paragraph should have read “if doctors over-report people just to cover their own asses”.

        On a more substantial note, the fact that this law would end up taking away gun rights from so many people is, I’m sure, seen as a feature rather than a bug by the New York State legislature. Tar, feathers, senators: some assembly required.

        • mikeweatherford

          Tar, feathers, senators: some assembly required.
          You left out rope, stake, wood, torch, pitchforks, and other sundry items necessary. Should also include governors, ALL state legislators, and a few of their appointees. Let’s not even get started about the Federal level.

          Oh, and you forgot to put back the soap box… 8^)

    • Re: the Credential-ed Ones and the latest DSM: never forget that there’s gold in them thar ills. In other words, follow the money. More “diseases” require more “therapists,” right?

  13. “After all, if it saves one child it’s worth it, right? Right?”

    Kinda depends on the child, doesn’t it?

  14. What bothers me is how quick even the gun crowd is to hop on the bandwagon of “its the people on medications fault” Am I the only one who sees how dangerous this is… just about everyone is on some sort of medication for depression, stress, anxiety, etc. Whats next? yep lets ban guns for people who take testosterone or women who take estrogen.. they might not be rational. Oh lets ban it for people who have taken aspirin…

    • Nope, you’re not alone. I think it’s a mistake to try to redirect to mental illness. Stick with a straitforward “it’s not the tools, it’s the users.” Leave the parsing of ‘why’ to others.

      Although it’s not been overtly stated, I think most folks around here would agree that giving the state too much power to curtail rights with mental health criteria is an ungood thing.

  15. “When they’re also being told a bunch of shit that flat isn’t true and contradicts their own experiences[....]”

    [waves] Hi!

  16. I think the “mental health industry” is missing out on a few very simple things. They are medicating to reduce the symptoms not curing the underlying illness. Now sometimes it may not be possible to cure the underlying illness so reducing the worst symptoms is all you can do, but I think that in a lot of cases the attitude is the shortterm “take 2 X and don’t disturb me again” not let me spend some time to figure out what is really wrong by actually talking to the patient.

    A sort of example. There’s a Marine Gunny I’ve met a couple of times recently here. He tends to be very intense and verbally aggressive and thus comes across as a dick, particularly to people he’s just met. [Yes he's done multiple tours to "ragheadland", that probably is part of the problem]
    This is especially true when he’s had a few beers and his girlfriend isn’t with him. In fact he tends to get thrown out of bars because of this behavior. I could well imagine him being sent to a Dr and being prescribed prozac or valium or something. I imagine this would stop him from being banned from bars but ti would probably also remove the core of him that makes him (AFAICT) a very good NCO.

    In fact I have found that it is possible to moderate his boorishness with a little care and thought in a response to one of his initial sallies and then if you do that a couple of times he’s pleasant company and doesn’t get chucked out of bars. The trick is to get him to empathise with the people he’s talking to and not think of them as fucking civilian pussies (or worse) that need to have the obvious explained to them loudly. He doesn’t actually like being banned from bars and does want to meet people so you just have to give him some guidelines and hints and he can do the rest himself.

    I think a lot of mentally ill people are not dissimilar. They know there’s something wrong but when they are suffering from their illness they can’t figure out what it is and get stuck in a vicious circle where something they do/say causes a response that exacerbates their problem so they do the same thing only more so ….

    If you can identify the initial trigger and tell/show them how to not do that then they’ll stay sane and not cause trouble to themselves or to others (and yes sometimes the trigger is “always take the yellow pill every morning” but in that case you need to have a way that makes them take the damn thing every morning)

    • The thing is, that all mental illness are in fact syndromes, not diseases. That is, they are a group of symptoms of unknown origin. This is because once we know the origin, we stop calling them mental illnesses. Epilepsy was insanity as long as it was defined by falling down and thrashing about. Severe thyroid deficiency was insanity as long as it was the next thing to catatonia. Etc.

      • Alheimers is both a mental illness and a disease.

        • Is it? Do people describe the victims as insane?

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            I haven’t heard them *called* insane but there are times Mom says things that are so “off the wall” that you have wonder. [Sad Smile]

          • Do you mean to assert that the intersection of illnesses of the mind and insanity is unitary? Is there no mental illness that is not insane? Is there no insanity without mental illness?

      • Yes– I do think that many mental diseases have a genetic basis … I know a familiy where the father’s mother had died young from taking psychiatric meds (1950s I think). Most of the females in the family were diagnosed (it was a large family) with bipolar disease. The youngest girl was diagnosed with schizophrenia (started out as an emotional disorder) when she was 19– The entire family were above average intelligence as well–

        • Schizophrenia is about 50% heritable, based on twins studies. Florid schizophrenia, however, is still identified as a bunch of symptoms.

  17. One of the things that bothers me is that we, as a society, give a very mixed message about mental illness. On the one hand, they’re dangerous and need to be locked up. On the other hand, they have unique insights and just see the world in a different way, so should be indulged so as to teach as all Important Moral Lessons.

    Then, whenever this topic is discussed, someone trots out “the stigma of mental illness”. I don’t get that — mental illness isn’t a choice, it’s almost certainly the result of a mix of genetics and environment. Just like cancer, and does THAT have a stigma?

    Are there people who react poorly when they hear someone has had mental problems? Yep. But there are people who react poorly when they hear you had food poisoning.

    The message we send should be “if you need help, get help; not getting help is as stupid as not getting an infection treated”.

  18. mikeweatherford

    There’s something that hasn’t been mentioned here, and it needs to be. Before we managed to get Joe into a good assisted-living arrangement, he lived pretty much on his own. That was totally wrong for him, but because he was an adult, we couldn’t do anything about it. During that period, he was routinely drunk, and used about every abusive drug he could get: alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, crystal meth, and who knows what else. The crystal meth did more damage to his brain than all the others combined, and the damage is permanent. We have a crystal meth epidemic in this nation, and it’s destroying people left, right, and center. I’m all right with legalizing marijuana, especially for medical purposes (it does help, I guess), and would be willing to legalize heroin and cocaine using equally as strict (or even stricter) controls as we have for alcohol, but anyone that tries to legalize crystal meth just painted a big fat target on his forehead as far as I’m concerned.

  19. I completely agree that ADD is way over diagnosed and children today are way over medicated.

    There are, however, genuinely mentally unstable children and that was true long before ADD became all the rage. When I was going to middle school there was a boy a year or two older than I was, who was in the same grade as I was for a short time. He had spent a few years in a mental hospital, which they still had back in the 1960s and so was behind in school. His father had a legal handgun, which he had hidden in the house. One day the boy found the hand gun and chased everyone out of the house with it. Now the father had the good sense to have hidden the bullets for the gun in a different location than the gun and the boy had not found the bullets. Of course, no one knew that at the time.

    Eventually police and paramedics were able to talk the boy into giving up. He went straight back to the state mental hospital and I never saw or heard anything about him again.

    I’m sure eventually the state released him. I think they closed all those mental hospitals.

    • Idaho still has state mental hospitals. They’re called State Hospital North and State Hospital South. South has the permanent ward: average patient age in it is 69 (according to Health and Welfare’s website).

    • mikeweatherford

      Yeah, I grew up with one of those in our neighborhood. He and I had several run-ins, a couple of which ended up with me talking to someone from the Parish police force. Charlie’s now spending life without parole in Angola, the Louisiana maximum-security prison, for multiple murders.

  20. Thanks for all the fascinating and thoughtful responses (and even the ones that weren’t). I’ve been buried under work so I can’t respond to all of them – I’ve just finished reading them all.