Mental illness and misconduct

Misconduct of any serious degree, violent or not, is often perpetrated by people who are labeled mentally ill – on the assumption that only the mentally ill would commit crimes or be criminally assaultive or even lethal.  Nonsense!  There are plenty of evil people in the world in high and low places. 

Trevor Thomas's excellent essay published in American Thinker yesterday helps to reorient the reader to the reality: there are evil and immoral people, and they aren't mentally ill.  They suffer from behavioral malfunctions.  If you will, they are bad actors, and they are immoral and evil.  They are to be characterized as vicious in the classical sense: full of vice, bereft of virtue. 

Trevor Thomas does not dwell too much on the reason for the majority of the criminal misconduct: personality disorders.  Personality disorders are persistent adult maladaptive, antisocial behaviors that vary in intensity and expression all the way from sociopathic and borderline on the severe end to the less problematic and disturbing dependent or schizoid on the other end.

Knowledge of personality disorders is essential to the assessment of behavior.  They are not crazy or psychotic; they are malfunctioning, and at the extremes, they have no conscience or sense of morality and civility.  They choose their lives and their behavior.  They are not victims or suffering from a disease; they suffer for lack of proper growth to mature, socially competent, and moral actors.    

John Dale Dunn, M.D., J.D. is an emergency physician; inactive attorney in Brownwood, Texas; and policy adviser to the American Council on Science and Health of NYC and to the Heartland Institute of Illinois.

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