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.