Friday, April 20, 2007

Mental Health

So now the gunnies are pro-ing and con-ing. The PROS say at least part of the VaTech tragedy might have been averted if students could pack heat and, thus, defend themselves during German class. The CONS say that there are too many guns, too easily obtained, too easily concealed and irreversibly lethal when in the wrong hands.

Yeah, whatever. Both camps annoy me though I‘m not sure which causes the most annoyance: guns, the debate over guns, or the pursuit of short-term political advantage by the debaters.

The bigger issue, though, seems to be that this country’s mental health establishment is totally, completely, utterly inept. For God’s sake, if literature professors could tell how disturbed this kid was, where the hell were the mental health PROFESSIONALS?

I’ll tell you where they were: with their heads firmly up their collective asses, saying things like “Oh, we know he’s disturbed and withdrawn and his writings are drenched with violence and anger, and, yes, his ‘affect is flat’ but he ‘denies suicidal ideation’ (and of course his denial is good enough for us) and he’s scary, weird and intimidating to those around him to the point that teachers don’t want him in their class and students refuse to attend when he does, but he’s done ‘nothing’ that warrants arrest or confinement, so, what the hell, we’re gonna recommend medication and outpatient treatment and hope for the best (and that he’s on someone else’s caseload real soon.)

“And when the patient disagrees with our recommendations (as he surely will since he’s crazy), that’s OK too cuz we can’t force him to do anything, and, hey, crazy is just a state of mind after all and the odds are in our favor since MOST crazy people don’t shoot up college campuses… just the occasional nutcase and he’s not one of them…probably.

“And his right to absolute privacy trumps everything else so we’re not gonna tell anybody about any of this, certainly not someone who might actually be able to do something constructive with the information. And he’s still cool to buy a gun since he wasn’t confined against his will and the Judge didn’t check the little box on the form and, really, when you think about it he’s just another wack job walking. Next!”

Shame.

UPDATE: Don't like my argument? Read "Bedlam Revisited" by Jonathan Keller in the April 23 Wall Street Journal (I can link to it but you can't read it unless you're a subscriber.) He makes essentially the same argument I do...only better.

1 comment:

smarty said...

I couldn't agree more...our mental health establishment is dysfunctional.

Another thing I ponder though, is why do we seem to have more wacked-out people like that in the U.S.? What is it about our culture?