Mental Health After Newtown

On March 5, 2013, a bipartisan panel of leading mental health experts and parents of children with “mental disorders” held a conversation (that’s newspeak for meeting) in Washington D.C. on the topic: Violence and Severe Mental Illness.

The invited panelists were:

Thomas Insel, MD, Director of NIMH
Harold Koplewicz, MD, President of Child Mind Institute
E. Fuller Torrey, MD, Founder of Treatment Advocacy Center
Michael Welner, MD, Founder and Chairman of The Forensic Panel
Michael Fitzpatrick, MSW, Director of NAMI
And three parents of “diagnosed” children

 The panelists were asked to consider the following questions:

1.  In what ways is mental illness more – or less – treatable than other serious medical conditions?
2. What are the greatest obstacles to seeking treatment for individuals suffering from mental illness and their families?
3.  Among individuals with untreated and severe mental illness, when, if at all, is violence – directed at the self or others – most likely?
4.  What is the record of federal, state, and local programs geared towards improving health outcomes among individuals with severe mental illness?
5.  What are the most effective federal, state, and local programs for prevention and early detection of severe mental illness in children and young adults?
6.  How can federal programs be improved to reduce barriers to access and improve outcomes for individuals with severe mental illness?

Often the questions one asks determine the kind of answers that one will receive.  In my opinion, it is pretty clear where these questions are going: – more drugs and more involuntary “treatment” for more troubled teens.

After the conversation, the panel issued a statement, which contains some interesting quotes:

 “…this subcommittee is working to identify precisely what federal resources — in support of both research and care — are being devoted to those among the mentally ill who are most prone to violence: the severely mentally ill who are not being treated,”

Note the assumption: that the “mental illness” individuals who are most prone to violence are the “seriously mentally ill who are not being treated.”  They formed this panel presumably to enquire open-mindedly into these matters – but after just a few hours’ meeting (sorry, conversation) on day one, they’ve already got it all figured out:  it’s the ones who are slipping the net who are the violent ones.  And by “seriously mentally ill,” they mean “schizophrenic, bipolar, and depressed.”

So the name of the game is:  identify those individuals who might someday become violent, and get them drugged up.  Then we can all relax.

Amazingly, no mention was made of the fact that SSRI antidepressants have been linked to episodes of serious violence, including homicides.

Another quote:

“…we must confront the realities of severe mental illness and the connection to violence. We must also learn about the barriers and challenges facing parents who are trying to take care of someone who has a severe mental illness.”

What they mean by “barriers and challenges” is the fact that since deinstitutionalization, it is difficult to get someone, particularly a child, into a state hospital.

Another quote:

“The subcommittee’s forum is part of an ongoing review…into whether federal dollars devoted to mental health are reaching those individuals with the most serious mental illnesses and to ensure the most effective treatments are available to them.”

The issue here is that the mental health centers still offer some psychosocial services, such as counseling, case management, social skills training, etc…  Many of these services have been supplanted by drug administration in recent decades.  The agenda here is to accelerate this process.

The MDs on the panel are an interesting group.  Three are ardent supporters of  the brain disease theory and the pharmaceutical psychiatry.

Dr. Insel is Director of NIMH, and made his reputation in psychiatry by promoting SSRI’s!  Read more here.

Dr. Harold Koplewicz is described by Wikipedia as a “…pediatric psychopharmacologist and biological psychiatrist known…for his often-controversial advocacy of the increased use of psychotropic drugs for children diagnosed with ADHD and other mental health issues.”

Dr. Torrey is a psychiatrist and schizophrenia researcher.  He is executive director and founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center whose stated goal (per Wikipedia) is the elimination of “legal and clinical obstacles to the treatment of severe mental illness.”  He has been outspokenly critical of deinstitutionalization and is in favor of involuntary drugging of people diagnosed with “mental illness.”

Dr. Welner is a forensic psychiatrist who has provided testimony in many high-profile cases involving criminal violence.  He does not appear to be a staunch brain disease supporter.  For instance, here’s a quote he gave to the Huffington Post:

“Mass killers can be men who “are painfully aware of themselves as social and sexual rejects in a society that values social desirability”.”

Wow! A psychiatrist who sees a person as a person and not just a broken brain.

The fifth professional on the panel is Michael Fitzpatrick, Director of NAMI.  NAMI’s website has a brief biography which states that he “…held senior management positions in state government, in nonprofit agencies in both the mental health and primary health sectors and in the private sector where he developed successful education, employment, housing, outreach and rehabilitation programs.”  This certainly sounds pretty good.  But I have never known NAMI to be anything other than a mouthpiece for Big Pharma, from whom they receive substantial funding.  Whether Mr. Fitzpatrick can impact the panel in anything other than a more-screening-more-drugs direction remains to be seen.

It looks to me that what we have here is a government-sponsored enquiry with a stacked deck.  I predict the following “findings:”

1.  We need more pediatric psychiatrists.
2.  We need regular mandatory screening of all school-children for “mental illness.”
3.  We  need to make it easier to commit people, especially children, to psychiatric hospitals.
4.  We need to have mandatory injections for individuals who won’t take drugs orally.
5.  We need to divert mental health funds that are being used in psycho-social areas to drug “treatment.”

Meanwhile, the petition to the White House to investigate the link between SSRI’s and violence has disappeared.  Vanished!  You might wonder why.

Here’s a clue.  The pharmaceutical industry spends more money lobbying Washington politicians than any other industry

There are no mental illnesses.  It’s a house of cards – a great ploy to medicalize every human problem and to sell drugs.  And it has been phenomenally successful.

So let’s keep busy.  Read about the SSRI-violence petition here and here.  Write to politicians.  It’s a relatively small research question.  What proportion of people who commit mass murder had been taking SSRI’s or other drugs that increase the availability of serotonin or dopamine in the brain?

  • cledwyn bulbs

    That’s a real panel of walking, talking adverts for suicide and misanthropy listed in this article.

    Torrey says that the problem is that dangerous schizos need to be treated earlier. He has a point, a stupid one, but a point? Yeah, I’ll concede that this tragic agglomeration of molecules, this waste of amino acids, at least has a point.

    I fear that the truth on this matter will never out, because, as is so often the case, it would implicate far too many people, heck, practically the whole of society.

    Society reaps what it sows. It persecutes and torments people, testing them beyond the limits of endurance, and then has the cheek to blame what is often counterviolence on “mental illness”, anything to avoid taking responsibility for its own shameful mistreatment of other people, whilst denying such people what is the entitlement of all those whose dignity it rides roughshod over; to wit, the right to have nothing but contempt for a society that at worst, preys upon you, and at best, leaves you at the mercy of hounds, as is the case regarding society’s general indifference to the problem of bullying at school, which creates a class of victims, understandably hostile to society, for whom a career as a drug addict, a mental patient, or a mass murderer, is pretty much a logical progression from their role as victim of the nano-predators always in the majority at school, schools located in a society that just doesn’t give a shit, so much so that it doesn’t even give a shit about its not giving a shit.

    What it resents is being told that it doesn’t give a shit. Injustice and iniquity? Fine. People love it, can’t get enough of it, they just don’t like being told about it.

    Nah, the truth on this issue will never out in a society like ours.

    Society is largely made up of people who are content to wallow in their own filth and corruption. The average man has no sense of justice, no higher ideals, and the loftier sentiments rarely stir in him. Enlisting his support for collective and state-sponsored persecution is as easy as giving candy to a baby. At best, he dignifies his own self-absorption and egotism by attaching them to lofty causes and ideals, professing to desire only the good of others, when in truth he is incapable of seeing further than his own good. He resists every attempt at reform of his nature, instead spending his whole life devouring the tripe served up in large quantities by the media (and no, not programs like The Wire or Yes Minister, but obscene, depraved nonsense like Big Brother, and other such crap that corrupts him and that, if watched enough, is equivalent in its effect to having a lobotomy), staring inanely into a virtual ocean of crap and gratifying his basest instincts, all the while making sure that the world is sufficiently unpleasant enough to give the act of suicide the allure it has for so many poor sods, unfortunate enough to bear witness to the sickening spectacle of human society, which is little more than a zoo run by the chimpanzees, little more than a gallery of grotesques, a coming together of rogues working in confederacy against justice, truth, genius, taste, and the true individual.

    In this, he is aided and abetted by all the populist propagandists out there who would have us believe that the average man exists in a state of almost prelapsarian innocence, kind of like a Gary Cooper character in a Frank Capra film, when the average man is, I would say, little more than a mass of flesh in which depraved sexual proclivities and extreme political sympathies reside, and its mostly his own bloody fault, because it gives him greater pleasure to be an absolute swine than to follow a more noble example.

    In such a society, only someone labouring under a delusion of the democratic variety would have any faith in the truth prevailing. Society hates the truth. Samuel Johnson was right when he said that, to paraphrase, in this world, truth is ascertained through the persecution of the truth-teller. Truth-tellers are usually treated like lepers, and the truth emerges usually only through the dialectical struggle of the individual with just about everyone else.