The Mental Illness Cop Out.

We have heard from the politicians of the right and of the left on the latest awful domestic mass killing.From the right we have heard variants of “stuff happens”,”I’d go down fighting”,”it doesn’t warrant gun control”,”It’s the mentally ill”etc.From the left we hear cries for federal gun control.In the afterglow(it sure wasn’t light) of the supreme court support of the non militia “right to bear arms”, it is reasonably clear that federal legislation isn’t going to happen.The dems beating the drums for that must know that.(Clinton,Sanders)The GOP”Stuff Happens” is simply disgusting and unworthy of more discussion.(Trump,Jeb Bush,Fiorina)”Going down fighting”implies that those shot didn’t do enough on their own behalf .(Carson)

All find shelter behind “it’s the mentally ill”.Even were it so, and it’s not,what is proposed to be done about it?Both parties played a role in defunding “community mental health”while virtually allowing the state hospital systems to decay.

There is a kind of profile that emerges about perpetrators of mass gun killings.The perpetrator is apt to be a white male,age 17 -30,socially isolated, celibate and angry about it,somewhat paranoid but highly sociopathic,of average intelligence and with survivalist beliefs and inclinations although bad at it in practice.He is vulnerable to mood swings but generally not classifiable as manic or depressed.(Now that you’ve had time to identify all the known exceptions,let’s go on!)Most show  destructively divided nuclear families with  traditional role reversal not uncommon.Embracing of the gun and paramilitary aspiration and behavior is not uncommon.Ability to plan and execute and not execute with a policeman’s hand on the shoulder,(the old McNaughten rule) are always present.This is not the sort of “illness” the decrepit mental health non system can handle.Nor can any other system without violating the civil rights of all of us.

The NRA bought and paid for solution is “More Guns” and arm the teachers.This is a fine madness!!

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6 Comments

  1. Professor Thomas … not a cop out! Bill Maher, 10/16/15, with Professor Lawrence Lessig … and making the case for further understanding of mental illness/troubles/crying out for help, as highlighted in his last “New Rules” for the evening. I kept thinking of your input!

      1. “There is a kind of profile that emerges about perpetrators of mass gun killings.The perpetrator is apt to be a white male,age 17 -30,socially isolated, celibate and angry about it,somewhat paranoid but highly sociopathic,of average intelligence and with survivalist beliefs and inclinations although bad at it in practice.”

        When I mentioned Bill Maher’s program, his was the profile that echoed your description. While the discussion you introduced was focused narrowly on gun control as is impacted by some manifestation of mental illness, Maher pressed further to an international cultural level … the repression that is being experienced, through religious dogma, in the Muslim world. If we lack understanding of behavioral consequences due to mental illness or damage to our psyches, we fall very short in knowledge of other traditions around us. I’m currently reading “Islam and the Future of Tolerance … A Dialogue” by Sam Harris (author of “The End of Faith”) and Maajid Nawaz (author of “Radical”). It’s not long … just 128 pages. The first 30 pages have already been very enlightening. What am I trying to say? Through life’s experience, and, as you make me think, I am troubled by the seemingly easy diagnose of mental illness. At the risk of further revealing my layperson’s ignorance, I ask: is it a condition like pregnancy (which is not a disease) … brought on by certain actions? And, yet again, the consequences of those certain conditions are dire. We must strive to understand, with at the very least, the empathy of “been there” … not mock or ridicule. I never read “A Clockwork Orange” … but, many years ago, my older son summarized it for me. What did it say about the remedy’s outcome?

        These troubled, frustrated young men are crying out for help in a horrible way. But, it’s through the macho violence that we promote as sign of strength and virility. Really? Obviously, we’re still evolving. In some way, Fareed Zakaria’s column below brings the point to my home:

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/vladimir-putins-interventionism-in-the-middle-east-is-not-to-be-admired/2015/10/15/7c939834-7373-11e5-8d93-0af317ed58c9_story.html

        Equating Ike’s sober hand with Obama’s coolness … isn’t that, as Larry David would say … “pretty, pretty good”?

        Thank you, Professor Thomas, for inviting/encouraging me to participate in your salon. Not too many forums for discussions. As you responded to thaimassagedvd.com … “The spreading of ideas and inquiry is the point of it all !” I await your next subject. Tomorrow a little treat of Cole Porter.

        P. S. BTW, Professor Lessig was promoting, among other reforms, a Constitutional Convention. That pesky 2nd Amendment, the Electoral College to name a couple of 18th Century solutions that the 21st Century needs to address. Not very revolutionary when Founding Father Thomas Jefferson was a strong proponent of such review.

        1. Susanna, you probe some fundamental issues. What indeed is “mental illness”? Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and the late Christopher Hitchens, have provided evidence that religious faith biases judgment to such degree that we can believe to the depths of our soul the existence of that which (with astronomical probability) cannot exist. Such cultivated certitude (separation from selected realities) has many blended consequences for life, (apparently for both good and ill). Is unjustified certitude (which must be a probable separation from reality) a sign of mental illness? If so, any exaggerated certitude, any false conclusion, not just religious, can be considered a form of illness. The cure for this “illness” would be that of correcting one’s beliefs to reflect the truth of things. Given incomplete knowledge, the best corrections must be those of probabilities, not certitudes. Debate is an aid to such correction. With this view, our efforts to be “sane” require us to measure accurately what all the evidence reveals. For instance, will we be more “sane” than otherwise if we believe that: Skin color shouldn’t matter. The main function of a gun is to deter bad behavior. Individuals, not groups, should be the primary focus of equal rights. All cultures are not equally functional. Capitalism inspires excellence and productivity. Great relative wealth which is honestly acquired by producing what others need is a good thing. The founders’ original intent created what has been a great country, worthy of emulation.
          But, there are many who with tenacious certitude hold beliefs that run counter to these. I like to think that we are here to test, measure, and correct our minds to achieve the highest levels of “sanity”.

        2. “I like to think that we are here to test, measure, and correct our minds to achieve the highest levels of ‘sanity.'”

          Oh, Don … agreed. Isn’t it curious, though, that those with unbending certitude are so easily baited? While those pathetic groups with their selected reality lack the sure-footedness of a black … or, white world … by living in the Great Gray Questioning? Thank you for further defining mental illness.

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