Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fuller Torrey in today's Wall Street Journal

I have no problem acknowledging society's right to shoot its enemies, and I've said many times that the technical distinction between a bullet and a shot of Haldol seems frivolous to me.

But when the public official holding the gun or the syringe says he's only trying to help, he lies - probably because he's a coward.

Psychiatric practices, drugs, shock, could be legitimate (if limited) tactics in the fields of public safety, criminal justice and punishment, emergency crowd control, and warfare. But the pretense of "medical treatment" ruins any utility. Absent that pretense, I might have no real complaint about psychiatry.

E. Fuller Torrey is perhaps the leading pretender in the whole macabre scene of psychiatry and civilization. His arguments degrade human dignity and public safety. Torrey endangers well-intended human beings with his nonsense in today's paper.

Supposedly, various people's "untreated schizophrenia" has caused senseless killings over the years, and if we'd only made sure people had been treated, the world would've been safer. The latest occasion for this ridiculous proposition from the fossil Torrey is the Tucson shootings by Jared Loughner.

Curiously, Loughner's "diagnosis" is presumed to be an obvious conclusion, despite the fact that no one has said he was ever evaluated by a doctor for any mental illness. Likewise, the other examples of "untreated schizophrenia" offered by Torrey may be complete speculation. Nobody worries about that though, because the function of the psychiatric diagnosis is merely to justify "treatment" after the fact anyway. Loughner and other killers obviously needed to be "treated" because they did violent harm, so the "diagnosis" is accepted. It just lacks normal medical sense, insofar as medicine has any purpose to help the patient who takes it.

Of course it could be said that it would help society if we put everyone who's likely to commit a violent crime on meds to disable them from violence. This could perhaps be justified, if we could only predict who's likely to commit violent crime and who's not. But we don't know how to do that. Psychiatrists and psychologists don't usually pretend to be good or reliable at it, unless an attorney is paying them lots of money after the fact of a crime.

(One notable historical exception to the characteristic professional humility occurred in the Nazi era, when psychiatrists exercised plenty of official authority over who needed to be killed and who didn't.)

E. Fuller Torrey isn't even responsible enough to argue that psychiatrists can predict violence, he just plays to pervasive public ignorance. He knows that we all wish Jared Loughner had been "treated", and we're all eager to believe in violence-reducing medicine.

But the only violence-reducing "medicine" may be forcible restraint, the real threat of justice and retaliation. Psychiatry thus becomes the utterly illusory "reason" into which we retreat from tough social responsibility. We buy into it to the extent we are cowards, incapable of personal responsibility for justice, unwilling to protect ourselves, our families or our communities.

When someone threatens to harm others, they should be stopped. Pretending that they should be "helped" rather than stopped, or that stopping them should be the same thing as "helping" them, is nonsense.

Indulging such nonsense will ruin all attempts at worthwhile culture and reduce our civilization itself to dust.

E. Fuller Torrey will be remembered for far worse harm than Jared Loughner.

4 comments:

  1. In 2001 or 2002 when Fuller Torrey, Tom Szasz and I spoke on National Public Radio, Torrey claimed he couldn't comment on my specific case or condition. This was AFTER dozens of his colleagues in the psychoquack business had solemnly swore that I had the worst case of mental illness they'd ever encountered and I was certain to go about machine gunning others if not "treated". These Torrey colleagues SWORE this in courts, inter alia, under PENALTY OF PERJURY. (In Illinois lying in court is punished by five years of potential ass rape.)These pronouncements could not have been "mistakes" or lies, right? Torrey was WELL AWARE of all this when he played dumb about me. When given a SPECIFIC case Torrey displayed ABYSMAL MORAL COWARDISM and dodged what was right in front of his face in his zeal to promote forced psychiatry on a national media forum I had myself provided to him.

    I today am free and UNTREATED. NOTHING has changed since Torrey's pals were swearing I was more mentally ill than anyone they'd ever encountered and consequently more DANGEROUS than anyone they had encountered. If, by chance, you are reading this you snivelling punk Torrey, why are you not writing op-ed pieces urging that I be psychiatrically imprisoned or controlled? Alternatively, why are you not writing op-ed pieces marvelling at the corruption and mendacity of your fellow psychoquacks. Or even urging that they be prosecuted for perjury? I think we all know: it is because all you are is a coward unconcerned about justice or public safety and solely motivated by your own narcicism, penury, and hatred of those INNOCENT people you call "mentally ill".

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  2. Perhaps we need more public dialog on mental illness, that we all better understand the kinds of disassociative and delusional thought that, really, we all experience at times. I have recently seen a tv ad talking about how important friendship is to those with mental illness. It has been shown in various studies that real, honest human interaction can be better than drugs or other treatments that do not adequately show respect for the mentally ill person's humanity and healing ability. Yet, I do understand we often feel uncomfortable in the presence of those who are not "normal," probably for good reason in terms of what may be a threat to our own safety. Perhaps we need safe havens in all of our communities where people can relate in more meaningful ways than is usual.

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    1. Awesome commentary! I'd be one to champion your fresh and reasonable perspectives. Least it seems logical to me , and sensible. Believable, if you like... But then, I'm a Libra moon sign myself... as well as an Aquarian... We as Aquarian's practice friendship.. every Aquarian is first and foremost, a friendly person. There's no possible way to undervalue the profound good that a good atmosphere of friendship offers in a society or culture. But then I'm echoing your proposition.. I'd go a step further and suggest that friendship skills and values are something that could be taught in classrooms and thus learned as skill sets and value formations. which is what you imply. Thanks for being on a healthy track intellectually. its refreshing!

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