Psychiatric Community Not Stepping Up
"Not the simplest crime scene" opined the top cop investigating the Newtown, Ct. school massacre. But what happened is simple indeed: the dangerously mentally ill have struck again. Instead of being confined where they can be monitored and treated, advanced state paranoid schizophrenics roam freely, listening to voices that eventually order them to kill.
The price we pay is the regular occurrence of unnecessary mass killings. The media rarely point out each time that the incidents have the same modus operandi. Reporting is laced with outrage at the perpetrator and demands for swift justice. Vengeance is gradually replaced with the crying need for gun control - followed by a flurry of anti-gun rhetoric which goes nowhere: the large majority of Americans support the right to bear arms. Rarely do the first reports state the obvious: another dangerously mentally ill killer is at it again.
Of course it started in the 1960s, the era of zany theories. British psychiatrist RD Laing posited that schizophrenics were more in touch with the forces of life than normal "square" people. After all, they were usually bright, and particularly lucid while experiencing episodes of the illness. Laing was so convinced of their advanced psychic state, he conducted experiments that switched roles between patient and doctor.
Berkeley graduate student Ken Kesey, an early proponent of LSD - developed to treat schizophrenia - was inspired by the Laing lunacy to write One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, the iconic homage to the advanced spiritual state of the disease in which the protagonist is the mentally ill RP McMurphy. The enemy and antagonist is Nurse Ratchid, who represents the world of square people committed to snuffing out the cosmic philosophy and inner revelations of schizophrenics.
This prototypical identity politics doctrine took hold in the public mind, and became a mantra in the mental illness treatment community, which led to the mass release of previously confined mental patients onto the streets of America. Thus the "homeless" problem overtook America - spun by the compliant media as the failure of Ronald Regan's economic theories. Concomitantly, legal activists challenged and expunged loitering and vagrancy statutes, leaving the general public exposed to pugnacious panhandling and unprovoked attacks.
The proponents of this nonsense had a political agenda. But as happens in surreptitious social change, there were unintended consequences of a magnitude never imagined. The treatment of the mentally ill began to center on patient rights as well as care. Confinement came to be regarded as imprisonment and a constitutional violation
Since this trend has become institutionalized, the frequency of mass killings has increased, directly correlated to empowering the seriously mentally ill and diminishing the ability for relatives or the public to do anything about it. Families lie sleepless unable to take action to commit a spouse, child or other close relative when they know violence is certain to explode. The patients have all the rights, and the power of the bureaucracy on their side.
It is now time to remove guns from the top position in media coverage and implore the psychiatric community to coalesce and present a formula to identify and deal with potentially psychotic patients. As it stands now, the only method to remove dangerous patients is to have them arrested, which requires a process often too difficult and wrenching to contemplate.
The Sandy Hook shootings have affected parents more deeply than any of the dozens of previous massacres since the 1980s. Discussing the event with young children is difficult, and creates anxiety that saying the wrong thing could be permanently damaging. It is indeed a national trauma that requires national therapy. There is a gnawing helplessness that 'there is nothing we can do'.
Yet there is, but the professionals who can construct a solution are the ones who abandoned their duty, leaving 20 little children and six adults dead. You would think they would step up.